Dying for an idea

Tribe by Sebastian Junger is one of my favorite books. A couple of years ago Mr. Junger was on the podcast circuit as a guest, an interviewee I devoured. It was during one of these, I think they were discussing fatalism (its been a while and my memory these days is mostly shot) that Mr. Junger posits the following question, ‘What would you die for, what ideas would you die for?’

On the surface (I think) everyone can rattle off a couple of things they can imagine they could or would die for. Family, close friends, maybe. Whether this is true or not, it’s difficult to judge intent until faced with circumstances in which you are forced to act. Interestingly, I seem to remember the discussion… or maybe this is in the book (or maybe I’m completely misattributing this, I’m too lazy to go look it up right now) about a statistical happenstance that occurs when people fall (or get pushed) onto subway tracks and that people that jump onto the tracks to save them, in cases where they are saved, the rescuer is almost always a young male. (something crazy like 99%)Subway.jpgIn any event, I can think my way through saving actual, individual people with faces. That part of the question never really bothered me, since I could imagine myself dying to save my children for example. Thats an easy one because I feel some deep mammalian instinct there.

Where it becomes murkier, for me at least, is the ideas part. What idea would you be willing to give up your life for?

On the surface of it we are taught (or at least I was) that the American civil war was about the economics of slavery. I’m not going to go into the minutiae of it (and indeed the conspiracy theory aspect). For the sake of my post let us assume this to be true and the only concept. People on the North were against it and the south was for it. A war over an idea as it were.

Only it turned out, that northerners we less inclined to die for this idea (on some muddy field in Virginia) than originally anticipated. Sure some of them were, but the government for lack of enough volunteers to fight for their ideology had to implement a draft (and so forced people to die for this idea).

It’s generally at this point that my libertarian-ness gets all hot and bothered, ie that a government can implement a law that can force you to go off and fight and die for something. Otherwise people with guns will come and arrest you, deprive you of your liberty and if your actions are found treasonable enough, kill you. Just because you don’t want to do something.

Also, as an interesting aside, Theodore Roosevelts father, a wealthy New York businessman didn’t want go off and line up on a field to invite musket balls and grapeshot into his personage. His wife was also a hardcore southern belle whose family were wealthy slave owning Georgians. Theodore Senior hired a ‘body-double’ to fight on his behalf, something wealthy people could afford to do and wasn’t necessarily frowned upon by the upper class elites. Theodore Jr, the later president, took huge umbrage that his father had been (in his mind) so cowardly. It is theorised that this episode influenced Teddy to take on above average risk and adventurism with which to prove his personal honor and valor.

Would I die to oppose slavery somewhere far away? Or fascism? Lots of people fought, died or were injured for that relatively recently. Including my relatives who were on the wrong side of that particular conflict.

The truth is I don’t really know. And I’m finding myself leaning towards probably not. Dying for an idea I mean. Can’t we oppose things we find onerous with facebook activism and blogposts? Maybe product boycotts?

I mean suicide bombers die for ideas that they find troublesome after all… although maybe we need to consider intent there, people going off to fight a war might die, but I imagine that is not their intention, where as suicide bombers mean to die. And therein lies the rub I suppose. Might die in the process versus definitely dying.

For some reason this makes me think of Idmon, the seer that joined Jason and his Argonauts on the voyage for the golden fleece. Being a seer, he knew ‘stuff’ about the future and it was revealed to him that he would die relatively early on in the journey. (I think he was either the first or second casualty) Tough when your party loose their seer early on. I think he got gored to death by a boar… in any event, even armed with this knowledge he was still an eager participant and volunteer because it was revealed that his name would never be forgotten.

Maybe this is the sort of death I can get behind.

Resisting Capitalism

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I don’t want to sound mean… but I think you’re going about this be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world thing all wrong. (Look at me getting my Gandhi on) But this has likely been pointed out many, many times before. Don’t worry, I was also young, dumb and full of… actually, I hope the last part of that axiom doesn’t necessarily apply to you. If I have any life advice (having now sired girl-children) be discerning about the boys that you allow access to your lady bits. We are extra-ordinarily single minded and some of us are very, very cunning.

I’m inclined to believe that people confuse consumerism, greed and excess with capitalism. Off the top of my head isn’t that a lot like blaming modern medicine for the opioid crisis? Which I suppose, some people might do. Oh, modern medicine and the fact that we don’t keel over and die (from pustulant, weeping lesions all over our body)… eh, direct result of capitalism, because while we want to believe that people do altruistic things for the good of humanity with no expectation of remuneration (and some of them do), capitalism blows these achievements out of the water in terms of sheer scale when we compare actual good done for humanity. Seriously its like comparing the sun to the moon and imagining them to be more or less equal… which for those of you who are not cosmologically minded… the difference is mind bendingly massive.

When you resist capitalism what you’re actually doing is denying humanism and obfuscating the only real (and proven) system available for people to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. You are the economic equivalent of an anti-vaxxer. Sure you can donate mosquito nets to poor people living in Africa (one of the effective altruisms goto projects for apparently getting the most ‘goodness’ bang for your buck). But really, in my opinion, poor people need free markets, liberalism, property rights and rule of law so they can pull themselves out of the pit of poverty and help themselves (and then buy their own mosquito nets). But all they (for the most part) get is fucked by their own authoritarian leadership, populist agendas and the vicious bureaucracy of their trade ‘partners’. But… I suppose with mosquito nets they will live long enough to die young from something else.

If you’re going #Resist something. Resist corruption. Or gerrymandering. Or fucken lobbyists. Or a jingoist foreign policy. Or tariffs. Or farming subsidies…  you know, all the things that are actual problems and lead to this perception that capitalism is the villain in the human success story.

Gun control

I had these arbitrary rules that I set for myself about blogging when I started. Try and be nice (especially when reviewing someones book or game or even point of view) And  avoid highly polarizing topics of opinion. I’m getting better at the first one. I don’t write the scathing fuck you reviews and comments I used to. No one writes a book or a blog post to be critiqued or run down by somebody they’ve never met before. I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to do that… lets call it the impertinence of youth (and the associated things that come with that) These days I prefer my comments to be more of a homage than a long list of perceived deficiencies in someones work. And if I really hate it I generally won’t comment.

So… Joeys thoughts on gun control (or how to piss off everyone… since I fall mostly on the pro-gun side, BUT I am likely not pro-gun enough for most of those denizens who dwell on that side of the divide) I am clearly bored today…

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It should probably start with some caveats. I am not a gun-nut. Guns for the most part don’t really interest me other than I accept that they are a tool that serves a function. (its not an accessory that I’ve pimped out, it doesn’t define me and I don’t argue the minutiae of velocity and hydrostatic shock). However, I am almost permanently armed. I carry a Glock 22 (.40 S&W) and at least two knives, a Zero Tolerance 0301 and an Emerson Super Karambit. (Sometimes I further supplement my general bristling-with-weapons-ness with a derringer chambered for .38 special)

I should also mention (right near the beginning) that I am actually a firm believer in the most extreme interpretation of gun control. Ie. That nobody should have a gun. Not individuals. Not the police. Not the government. No one. Since that is NEVER EVER going to happen I have to be a slightly more realistic in what I believe. (Spoiler alert, I have NO real solutions, I’m just rambling)

Let me also start with a story of why I am the way I am because I think things like this should be framed from personal experiences.

Continue reading “Gun control”

Gandalfianism

I think everyone at some point during their tenure with their particular ideology tries to take a literary character from a book that they really like and admire and tries to turn that character into a paragon for something that they are probably not. Except me of course, because Gandalf the gay… I mean grey was SOOOOOOO clearly a libertarian!

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Not only did he smoke copious amounts of weed and always seemed to be packing (a staff), but he also had a very good sense that power corrupts. If you are a purist you’ll have to excuse me quoting the movie instead of the book..

‘Don’t… tempt me, Frodo! I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand, Frodo, I would use this Ring from the desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine’.

He also knew that it’s the little people, and not the governments of the world that will get the job done and he trusted them with that responsibility.

Political pathology

God. I am so irresolute.

I’ve been reading some of my old journal entries lately. It makes for a mortifying enterprise that (for the most part) makes me suck air through clenched teeth. The rest of the time I’m just embarrassed and find myself fighting the urge to smother myself with a pillow. Seriously, I wouldn’t wish this drivel on anyone. So far the flavor seems to be evenly distributed between slutty deviance and angry political writing.

…. although I am fascinated by how much I hated the presidency of George W. Bush. (and the degree of vitriol I had for his jingoistic administration) Which feels really strange to me… since I now view him more like a doddering (and to a degree) kindly old uncle who dispenses sweets at funerals.

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What public relations voodoo have you done on my mind? And perhaps more importantly, where can I get some?

Skipping ahead I get excited about Obama… which slowly over time gets eroded and becomes frustration and even… anger maybe? Although let me not get into how much I dislike the current incumbent (or we could be here for a while)

I am, apparently, difficult to please. Although this might actually explain my libertarian pathology… in so far as I was clearly quite a lefty growing up. And now… well… I’m not entirely sure anymore if I even believe in these labels we use to pigeonhole ourselves to definitively.

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I guess when you’re constantly disappointed you start looking for alternatives…