Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why not a Stateless Society?

My post on a forum, in response:

Human nature is not chaotic. We are a very ordered species, having evolved as such by a process of organization perpetuated by the evolutionary advantage that it confers. We instinctively organize ourselves into family units and tribes. The complexity of the modern world has necessitated a larger government with more specialized functions than in the past.

Those who propose anarchy as a solution to the world's ills are offering either a thinly veiled return to agrarian society, or the very frightening prospect of submitting to corporate rule. It is an instinctive, although illogical proposal: Society 1 does not function properly, therefore its opposite system, Society -1 must be adopted instead. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Corporate Theft

What is theft? Very simply, it is taking something that is not yours from someone else. If you take a chocolate bar, and leave the store without paying, that is theft. A simple concept that has served humanity well. For the most part, there is a strong social stigma against theft: we perceive it as being wrong. (Yes, there is a great deal of ambiguity - a man who steals a loaf of bread from a wealthy merchant to feed his starving children is probably commuting a far less heinous crime than a man who steals money from a child beggar.) And yet today, we allow theft to occur constantly around us, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, all around the world.

I shall be blunt: the world's natural resources do not belong to corporations. Corporate exploitation of natural resources is theft. It is not a business opportunity, nor a potential source of feedstock for the industry that we have grown to love oh-so-much. It is theft, plain and simple: taking what does not belong to you, as I'm sure any six-year old will be quite happy to tell you.

The world's natural resources do not belong to corporations: they belong to the inhabitants of this planet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Religion Switch

I have a smart friend, who is quite religious. I'm not quite sure how we ended up friends, but I will attempt to surmise the form that our religious convictions (and lack thereof) play in our relationship: he is a devout Christian, accepting the scripture as not just a form of morality, but morality itself. I, on the other hand, if labels must be applied, am a nihilistic militant atheist. Our conversations tend to be quite interesting as a result. He disowns organized religion, for the most part, but carries the evils of religion along with him: discrimination against homosexuals, is a 610k, and insists that adaptation does occur, but gradual change that can be demonstrated in an organism is not evolution(!).

Now, talking to him about religion and morality is quite odd; it's not the first time that I have observed this phenomenon, but in him it is particularly pronounced. An example of a fairly standard conversation between the two of us is as follows:

Me: Well, what about homosexuality, do you honestly think that it's a sin, or any such garbage?

Him: Yes, the bible says that a man shall not lie with another man.

Me: What about women? Can a woman lie with another women?

Him: No, you have to actually consider the meaning of it, not just the actual words.

Me: Yea, we seem to have to do that a lot, don't we? Well, why is homosexuality immoral?

Him: Well, the bible says that a man shall not lie with another man.

Me: Yes, I know, but why is it a sin?

Him: Because the bible says-

Me: Yes, I'm quite aware of what it says, but do you think it's a sin?

Him: Of course.

Me: Why?

Him: Because the bible says-

Me: I know, but why do you, independently of the bible, consider homosexuality to be a "sin".

Him: But the god is the source of all morality, and the bible is his word.

Me: How do we know that the bible is the word of god?

Him: Well, the bible was written over many years by many different people, and the message is all the same, and there is not a single contradiction in the whole thing.

Me: Yes, there are... well over a hundred, at my last count, and I'm sure that there are many that I've missed.

Him: If god isn't the source of morality, then what is?

I could go on, but I feel quite sure that you get the point. I'm sure that any skeptic of religious dogma has experienced this disconnect before: you're talking to a quite sane person, who seems to look at the world in a way that supports rational thought and scientific inquiry.... and then religion is brought up.

That's when the indoctrination and isolation from alternative points of view and an actual education kicks in. I personally call this "The Religion Switch", as I imagine it as a switch that flips whenever religion is mentioned, which temporarily disables the part of the brain responsible for any actual thought.