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Jaks View from Vancouver

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Artists For Peace

Vancouver's "Artists For Peace" organized a naked rally for peace today. It was damn cold down on English Bay, but the folks patiently sat or lay there facing the stiff wind off the water and the cameras of the crowd.

Bravo folks!

Voluntary Taxes Only

It is an unfortunate truth that anarchism is unlikely to take hold across the world in the next few years, and while we wait we are obliged to live under the yoke of the fascist-capitalist system. That being understood, and recognizing the dangers of the desparate slope of reformism, I want to examine an idea that could lead us in the right direction -- the idea of having voluntary taxes only.

Get rid of all taxes except consumption taxes. No income taxes, no corporate taxes, just sales tax. Certain items -- all food, a certain level of rents and mortgages, a certain level of financial charges and legal fees, transit costs, health and education costs, a certain level of utilities -- would be tax-free. A sales tax on all other items would be the sole revenue of government. No taxes would be payable unless one CHOSE to purchase above the tax-free minimums; thus all tax-paying would become entirely voluntary.

The voluntary nature of the whole exercise is the primary purpose, but this plan has two other major advantages. First, the system is perfectly progressive -- the rich will always pay more taxes than the poor. Pools of capital become valueless unless they are used. In other words, there is no point, no pleasure, in being rich unless one can spend the money. By spending the money, taxes are paid; the bigger the spending, the bigger the taxes.

Second, by concentrating government revenues into a single and highly visible source, I believe governments will become more open to demands that all spending be identified and agreed to in advance. It becomes a simple calculation to work out exactly what percentage of sales tax is represented by each and every government program or expenditure. When an individual government program can thus be specifically identified with a particular percentage of sales tax, it becomes more vulnerable to attack.

The only way to introduce more government spending will be to openly and publicly increase the sales tax. The only way to reduce the sales tax will be to lower the cost -- and therefore reduce the size -- of government.

As soon as people understand that by reducing government interference in our lives, they will also be reducing the cost of goods and services, I don't believe it will take too long before government is far smaller than it is today. And that can only be a good thing.

I'm Cheering for Salzburg!

After big business poured $700,000 into a campaign for the YES side -- a campaign supported by big business's toadies at all three levels of government, and opposed by a NO campaign budget of $2,000 -- the people of Vancouver were conned into voting 64% in favour of throwing their tax dollars down the drain in support of the 2010 Olympics.

Now our only hope is to cheer for Salzburg's eventual victory when the venally corrupt IOC makes the choice in July.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Vote No to the Olympics

Tomorrow, Vancouverites get the chance to vote in a plebiscite about whether or not we want to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Olympics as we all know are a big business scam to get even more government revenues into their own pockets. For that reason alone we need to vote a resounding NO. But more generally, to think that taxpayer's money should be taken and used for sport -- hobbies, really -- is simply obscene.


Saturday, February 15, 2003

My Anarchism Is Not Well-Tutored

My anarchism is not well-tutored. About thirty-five years ago, when I was 18, I read a collection of Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, which in turn led me to read Proudhon's "What is property?" and sample a little Max Stirner. That was enough to turn me away from the Marxist-Leninist-Maoism I had been sipping up until that time. However, I didn't follow up on any of that reading by delving further into analysis (except for a brief foray into Emma Goldman twenty years ago), and over the years I have read much more Socialist material of all kinds than I have of anarchism.

It is true that I have devoured Chomsky for decades. However, while acknowledging his social anarchism, I have always read him as a Cultural critic (possibly the Cultural critic -- his and Ed Herman's Propaganda Theory explains a great deal about capitalism-democracy's success) rather than as an expositor of anarchist philosophy.

Recently, as a part of this project of defining my own anarchism, I have begun to look further. I discover that at first glance I am -- unlike most of the elders whose works first inspired me -- an Individualist Anarchist as opposed to a Social Anarchist.
"Instead of social ownership [as in Social or Communist Anarchism], individualist anarchists propose a more market based system in which workers would possess their own means of production and exchange the product of their labour freely with other workers. They argue that capitalism is not, in fact, a truly free market. Rather, by means of the state, capitalists have placed fetters on the market to create and protect their economic and social power (market discipline for the working class, state aid for the ruling class in other words). These state created monopolies (of money, land, tariffs and patents) and state enforcement of capitalist property rights are the source of economic inequality and exploitation. With the abolition of government, real free competition would result and ensure the end of capitalism and capitalist exploitation ...

"The Individualist anarchists argue that the means of production (bar land) are the product of individual labour and so they accept that people should be able to sell the means of production they use, if they so desire. However, they reject capitalist property rights and instead favour an "occupancy and use" system. If the means of production, say land, is not in use, it reverts back to common ownership and is available to others for use. They think this system, called mutualism, will result in workers control of production and the end of capitalist exploitation and usury ...

"[T]he Individualist anarchist argues that social ownership places the individual's freedom in danger as any form of communism subjects the individual to society or the commune. They fear that as well as dictating individual morality, socialisation would effectively eliminate workers' control as "society" would tell workers what to produce and take the product of their labour. In effect, they argue that communism (or social ownership in general) would be similar to capitalism, with the exploitation and authority of the boss replaced with that of "society." " Anarchist FAQ

Now, I have to think about this stuff some more, but that sounds good to me on a first pass.

35,000 plus March in Vancouver against America's Imperialist Terrorism

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The Beginnings of A Definition of My Anarchism

I have decided that I must become more active in the politics of this radicalized world. Not just writing screeds, but getting out on the streets and sharing my views. Before I do that (or rather, simultaneous with this movement) I need to settle exactly who I am, to clarify my belief system -- to myself, if no-one else. Without this, I will not be able to recognize a true friend or foe. I have decided to work this through publicly and leave postings here that are works in progress. Comments, of course, are welcome but will be ignored if necessary.

First and foremost, I am an anarchist and the real question is, why?

Of primary importance is my belief that everyone -- everyone -- has the right to be themselves and that sanctions (rules, laws, guidelines, "punishment", etc) are only appropriate when one person is clearly harming another. That makes me an anti-statist.

I believe in NO elites. That means that while I appreciate the end results of socialism, I am opposed to Socialism (regardless of its flavour) because the State or the Party or the Vanguard are simply another, usually intellectually arrogant, elite. I am also opposed to Democratic Centralism, which has ALWAYS resulted in the formation of a controlling elite. And I do not believe in the transitional state: I believe that elites (vanguards, etc) automatically attempt to protect their position and that the "transitional" state becomes fixed and permanent. Finally, my opposition to Socialism is rooted in my belief of classlessness; that EVERYONE is equal as a HUMAN BEING -- workers, peasants, bosses; that to choose one "class" (defined of course by some elite) over the other is to automatically deny the rights of the others.

I am deeply opposed to Trades Unions. They are tools of the capitalist state that have steered the masses of workers away from the overthrow of the system and into an accommodation with the system.

I am deeply opposed to reformism because that, again, brings accommodation with the system.

I believe in a borderless world; that nationalism is merely another branch of capitalism.

These are the immediate thoughts that come out. More (and more specific programmatic ideas) later.


One more thing, I believe that Revolutionary Anarchism is an oxymoron.

Revolution is the violent changing of people's lives, often against their will. There is no way -- no logical way in the world -- that that can be considered anarchism. It is, in fact, the very opposite of anarchism.

I realise this severely limits my options for federating with others (most of all anarchist material I find, on the net at least, is revolutionary), but we'll see.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

George Bush and Saddam Hussein

The Excess of Ego meets the Axis of Evil.