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The Brooklyn Free Store is today! We are doing it for the people and for the earth we share!
The Brooklyn Free Store is located at Lafayette & Marcy Aves in BedStuy, one block from the Bedford-Nostrand G train stop. All are welcome to come and share what they have, or just take what they’d like. We will have crates of books (some bar review and law text books!), household goods, as well as bags and bags of used and new clothing. Come by cause “It’s the people not the money that makes the neighborhood.”
The location where Radical Movie Nights will take place is The Sci Fi Center, which many locals already know from its longstanding tradition for showing independent movies and cult classics that are often not available in a large screen setting. (Disclaimer: the Sci Fi Center is not actually involved in the Radical Movie Nights, outside of permitting us to use it as a venue for showing movies.)
In order to coincide with the national Day of Action Against Police Brutality, which is held annually on Oct. 22nd (for more info see: http://www.october22.org/) October’s screenings will involve movies that relate to police abuses. On October 24th we will be showing “30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle” a documentary about the demonstrations during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in 1999 and the police response to those demonstrations. (RSVP on Facebook here)
This film was one of the first to show large scale demonstrations from the perspective of those within the demonstrations. It also was in many cases the first time the average viewer saw uncensored and candid depictions of police tactics toward protesters and the way in which they often incited or even staged incidents within the protests in order to justify arresting and in many cases assaulting even peaceful protesters.
30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle
The level of organization, number of people participating, and type of tactics involved were all beyond what had been seen during any modern protests in the United States. For many years afterwards the “Battle of Seattle,” as it is often referred, was used as a sort of template for demonstrations both by protesters and the police.
“30 Frames A Second: The WTO in Seattle, is a compelling first-person account of the events that unfolded during the week the World Trade Organization came to Seattle in November of 1999. It’s told from the perspective of 15-year veteran network news cameraman Rustin Thompson, who covered the WTO as an independent journalist. It is the story of how Thompson’s objective point-of-view evolved into a subjective account of what became an unscheduled, unruly outbreak of democracy.
Thompson, who had press credentials for the event, takes the viewer into the fray of tear gas, pepper spray, and police abuse; behind the lines and inside the convention center and press rooms; and along the marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations. His dynamic, up-close footage captures the passion, the confusion, the anger, and the courage of everyone involved, from protesters to police to delegates to bureaucrats.
Radical Movie Nights: Every 2nd and 4th Friday
With Thompson narrating, the film asks viewers to emotionally engage their own conflicting feelings about the demonstrations and behind-closed-doors meetings. “I was intrigued by taking a singular, personal approach to the events,” says Thompson, as he recounts how the protests affected him as a journalist and a common citizen. The result is an impressionistic journal of a decisive week that exploded into a massive expression of freedom: of speech, of assembly, and the press.”
ALA Video Round Table’s 2001 Notable Video for Adults
Chris Award, Columbus International Film Festival
Best Documentary, Portland Festival of World Cinema
Gold Jury Prize, Chicago Underground Film Festival
Best Documentary, Seattle Underground Film Festival
Most Inspirational Short Film, Reel to Real International Film Festival
Today I’m going to try to coalesce some of the notes I’ve assembled about the
second, and possibly most important, period of Quaker war tax
resistance — between the establishment of the Quaker colony in Pennsylvania and
the relinquishment of political control there by Quakers during the French and
The Pennsylvania experiment ()
The advance of war tax resistance among English Quakers had ground to a halt.
Quakers in England still would not pay certain explicit war taxes like
“trophy money,” nor pay for substitutes to serve in their places in the
military, nor buy goods stolen at sea from enemy nations by
government-sanctioned pirates, but attempts failed to extend this testimony to
other taxes that were clearly designed to pay for war.
For example, Elizabeth Redford tried to convince Quakers to refuse a new tax in
on the grounds that it was obviously meant to
fund the Seven Years War (the act that enacted the tax was entitled “For
granting to his majesty certain rates and duties upon marriages, births, and
burials, and upon bachelors and widowers, for the term of five years, for
carrying on the war against France with vigour”). Her meeting brought her up on
charges of violating the discipline and declared that whatever the purpose of
the tax, it was being raised by the crown for expenses of its choosing and
Quakers should not inquire further into what those expenses were but should pay
the tax without question.
Several years later, during the War of the Spanish Succession, this got thrown
back in Quaker faces. William Ray, in a letter to Quaker
Samuel Bownas, argued
that Quakers should stop resisting tithes because they had stopped resisting
war taxes: “though the title of the act of parliament did plainly show that the
tax was for carrying on a war against France with vigour” he wrote, “since the
war against France began your Friends have given the same active obedience to
the laws for payment of taxes as their fellow subjects have done.” Bownas did
not deny this, but instead he tried to argue that tithes were different.
Meanwhile, Quaker William
Penn was granted a royal charter for a large North American colony, to
which many Quakers emigrated and established a colonial government that would
be run, to some extent, on Quaker pacifist principles. I say “to some extent”
because it was still a royal colony, under the military protection of the
crown, and with an explicit colonial mandate to engage in military battles
against enemies of the home country. The Quaker Assembly of the colony was also
subservient in many ways to the crown-appointed governors and to the British
Occasionally during wartime, that government would appeal to the Pennsylvania
Assembly to raise some funds to help out the war effort — to help defend
Pennsylvania against pirates, Frenchmen, hostile Indians, and the like. The
Assembly would sometimes respond to such requests with noble-sounding
statements of Quaker principle, like this one by Assembly Speaker
David Lloyd in
: “the raising money to hire men to fight or
kill one another is matter of conscience to us and against our religious
But most commentators on the period, even those who are sympathetic to the
Quaker pacifist position, tend to read these statements cynically. The Assembly
used these requests for money as opportunities to try to wrest more control
from the governor and from London. These statements of conscience seemed often
not to be principles so much as gambits in the negotiation process. The
Assembly would usually, in the end, grant the requested money, or some amount
anyway, but would thinly veil its nature by eliminating any wording about the
money being intended for the military and instead would simply decree that it
was intended as a gift to the crown from its grateful subjects, “for the
Queen’s [or King’s] use.”
This was such a transparent dodge that it became hard for anyone to take
seriously the part of the Quaker peace testimony represented in Lloyd’s quote.
On one occasion, according to colonial legislator
Franklin, the Assembly refused to vote war money, but instead granted funds
“for the purchasing of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain” knowing
that the governor would interpret “other grain” to include gunpowder.
The Assembly were able to get away with this, in a colony full of ostensibly
conscientious Quakers, because the orthodox point of view about war tax
resistance in the Society held that only explicit war taxes were to be
resisted, while generic taxes that only happened to be for war were to be paid
willingly. So long as the government kept the name of the tax neutral and
didn’t detail how it would be spent, a Quaker could pay it without having to
worry about it.
But some Quakers were unable to remain blind to the Assembly’s sleight-of-hand.
In , the Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting sent
emissaries to some of its rebellious Monthly Meetings who were beginning to
refuse to pay state taxes on these grounds. In
, William Rakestraw published a pamphlet in
which he agreed that “we ought not to ask Cæsar what he does with his dues or
tribute, but pay it freely,” but added: “if he tells me it is for no other use
but war and destruction, I’ll beg his pardon and say ‘my Master forbids it.’”
He argued that the latest “for the Queen’s use” grant, in spite of its generic
name, should fool nobody: it was meant to fund war, and no Quaker should pay a
tax for it. Thomas
Story, who visited the colony from England, defended the orthodox position,
and had traveled Pennsylvania encouraging Quakers to pay their war taxes.
During the French & Indian War, Pennsylvania was invaded from the West. The
westernmost European settlers in Pennsylvania were largely non-Quaker, and were
impatient for a military defense — they felt that the Quaker pacifists in
Philadelphia were using them as a shield. The Pennsylvania Assembly eventually
gave in to their demands. It organized a volunteer militia and appropriated
money for fortifications. This time it did not use the “for the King’s use”
dodge by giving the money to the crown and letting it allocate the
funds to war expenses, but instead the Assembly appointed its own commissioners
to spend the money, and so became responsible itself for the war spending. (The
legislation itself still tried to put a happy face on things, saying the grant
was “for supplying our friendly Indians, holding of treaties, relieving the
distressed settlers who have been driven form their lands, and other purposes
for the King’s service,” but it was that last clause — “other purposes” — that
hid where most of the spending would actually happen: largely building and
supplying military forts.)
This compromise pleased few. Back in London there were calls to ban Quakers
from colonial government entirely for their refusal to support the military
defense of the colonies. London Quakers were urging pacifist Quakers to resign
from the Pennsylvania Assembly as a way of forestalling complete
At the same time, a set of American Quakers felt that this was the last straw
and if Quaker legislators were going to abandon their pacifist principles and
enact a war spending bill, it would be up to Quaker taxpayers to refuse and
resist. Several of them, including
sent a letter to the Assembly announcing that “as the raising sums of money,
and putting them into the hands of committees who may apply them to purposes
inconsistent with the peaceable testimony we profess and have borne to the
world, appears to us in its consequences to be destructive of our religious
liberties; we apprehend many among us will be under the necessity of suffering
rather than consenting thereto by the payment of a tax for such purposes.”
That petition was not viewed sympathetically by the Assembly. They reminded
everyone that nobody had had any problem paying those “for the Queen’s use”
taxes in the past, and that this new tax was really not very different, even
though the fig leaf had been removed. Meanwhile, the anti-Quakers in London
got word of the petition which further enflamed them and gave them ammunition
in their fight to get Quakers disenfranchised. The London Yearly Meeting was
furious about the petition and it sent two emissaries to the colonies with
orders to “explain and enforce our known principles and
practice respecting the payment of taxes for the support of civil government.”
The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting held a conference in
to try to come up with some guidance for
Friends on whether or not to pay the new war taxes. They were unable to reach
consensus. A group of them, including Benezet &
John Woolman, sent a
letter to quarterly and monthly meetings that set out the reasons why they were
choosing to resist. The Assembly’s attempt to hide its war tax as a “mixed” tax
with beneficial spending in the mix did not impress them. They wrote:
[T]hough some part of the money to be raised by the said Act is said to be for
such benevolent purposes as supporting our friendship with our Indian
neighbors and relieving the distresses of our fellow subjects who have
suffered in the present calamities, for whom our hearts are deeply pained; and
we affectionately and with bowels of tenderness sympathize with them therein;
and we could most cheerfully contribute to those purposes if they were not so
mixed that we cannot in the manner proposed show our hearty concurrence
therewith without at the same time assenting to, or allowing ourselves in,
practices which we apprehend contrary to the testimony which the Lord has
given us to bear for his name and Truth’s sake.
This is one answer to the dilemma many Quakers find themselves in today. The
U.S. government is
in a constant state of war and threatens the whole world with its vast nuclear
arsenal and its drone assassins. But it pays for this out of the same budget
and with the same taxes as it pays for everything else it buys — including
today’s equivalents of “such benevolent purposes as supporting our friendship
with our Indian neighbors and relieving the distresses of our fellow subjects
who have suffered in the present calamities” — so what is a good Quaker to do?
Benezet, Woolman, and the rest took the position that mixing good spending and
bad doesn’t erase the stain from the bad, but stains the good.
The capitulation by the Quakers in the Pennsylvania Assembly was not a
compromise that satisfied either the militant Pennsylvanians, the anti-Quaker
antagonists in London, or the prominent pacifists in the Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting. In , under pressure from all sides,
most Quaker legislators resigned from the Assembly, and the experiment in
Quaker government in Pennsylvania came to an end.
Meanwhile, what had become of those London Quaker enforcers who had come across
the pond to knock some sense into the war tax resisting faction? Something
unexpected happened: they met with representatives from both the taxpaying and
tax-resisting factions, held a two-day meeting on the subject, and ended up
agreeing to disagree. The London representatives, rather than chastizing the
resisters, instead recommended that Quakers “endeavor earnestly to have their
minds covered with fervent charity towards one another” on the subject without
taking a position one way or the other.
That’s not what the London Yearly Meeting had in mind. But the logic of the
war tax resisters’ position, and the sincerity with which they presented it,
had an infectious tendency. Not long after the emissaries returned home, the
London Yearly Meeting had been expected to issue a strong condemnation of the
resisters who had signed the letter urging Quakers to consider refusing to
pay the war tax. Instead, the topic was dropped from the agenda entirely. Why?
Because the more Quakers in England heard about the war tax resistance in
Pennsylvania, the more sympathetic they became. The Yearly Meeting authorities
decided it was better not to discuss the matter at all rather than risk facing
the sort of enthusiasm for war tax resistance that had rocked the Philadelphia
Paul Krugman, in denouncing the excessive market power of Amazon (“Amazon’s Monopsony is Not OK,” New York Times, October 19), proclaims that the Robber Baron Era ended when “we as a nation” put an end to it.
There’s a powerful story in the book of 2 Samuel about the prophet Nathan confronting King David after he arranged the death of Uriah the Hittite and took his wife Bathsheba for himself. Nathan told David of a rich man, with enormous herds, who had a guest to feed. The man, to spare himself killing one of his own many livestock, instead stole and slaughtered the pet lamb of the poor man next door (which, the Bible says, he fed from his own plate and loved like a daughter). Upon hearing this David became outraged and swore “As the LORD liveth, the man who hath done this thing shall surely die.” And Nathan replied: “Thou art the man.”
Not only did the rule of Robber Barons in fact never end, but in denouncing them Krugman reveals himself as one of their foremost apologists.
Far from bringing Robber Baron rule to an end, the Progressive Era stabilized it in a web of government protections and subsidies. For example, the FTC’s treatment of below-cost dumping as a “unfair trade” practice, by outlawing price wars, made stable oligopoly markets possible for the first time.
Let me state up front that, while Amazon doesn’t actually qualify as a monopsonist (that is, a market actor with monopoly buying power that can unilaterally set terms for sellers) it is at least an oligopsonist (in this case the largest of a relatively small number of major buyers/distributors). As an anarchist who viscerally hates large corporations, and hates perhaps even more all kinds of proprietary, walled garden platforms, I’d much prefer to see an open-source or cooperatively owned platform taking over Amazon’s current role.
But that being said, if Krugman wants to fight Amazon, he’s picked a mighty peculiar hill to die on. Specifically, he objects to Amazon’s use of its market power as a buyer to force down the prices of traditional publishers like Hachette. But those prices are themselves enormously bloated to begin with, because of the monopoly premiums attendant on copyright. Amazon’s use of its purchasing power to shave off that monopoly premium is analogous to, say, Medicare D using its market power as a large-scale purchaser to negotiate down the price of prescription drugs under patent. (Of course we know Medicare doesn’t actually do this, or hardly does it, because of the drug companies’ lobbying power.)
Support for draconian “intellectual property” laws, like the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the Uruguay Round TRIPS accord, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the “intellectual property” components of all the so-called “Free Trade Agreements” proposed over the past decade or so, are strongly supported by both Republicans and Democrats. But the Democrats have an especially close relationship with proprietary content industries — the RIAA, MPAA and Microsoft are at the core of the Democratic coalition.
To repeat, the Robber Baron Era never ended. And far from being the Robber Barons’ enemy, the US government has been their chief tool for survival to this day. And perhaps the single most important function of the US government in upholding corporate power is enforcing “intellectual property,” so central to the business models of the proprietary content industries in the Democratic coalition. The most profitable industries in the global economy — entertainment, software, biotech, pharma, electronics — all depend on “intellectual property.” “Intellectual property” is central to the dominant industrial model by which Western corporations outsource all actual production to independent shops working on contract, but use patents or trademarks to retain monopoly rights over disposal of the product.
And perhaps more importantly “intellectual property” is at the heart of the business model of the new “green capitalism” or “progressive capitalism” personified by “patriotic billionaires” like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and their ilk. Their business model depends on using “intellectual property” to enclose new, green technologies as a source of monopoly rents, or — as in Buffett’s case — using heavily subsidized “smart grid” infrastructure to make his wind farms profitable.
The Robber Barons are with us just as much as ever, their power depends entirely on the capitalist state, and “progressives” like Paul Krugman — wittingly or unwittingly — are their shills.
I’ve been recommending them to my friends for years. I really expected more from them, but it’s just another hero to add to the list. Movie bob, adam sessler, Jim sterling, Tim Schafer, joss whedon, and now extra credits, basically all of my nerd heroes hate me now.
Yes, it’s quite surprising isn’t it? Could it be time for some heavy introspection maybe? Naaaah…
not sure if this applies perfectly here but whatever
For many libertarians, the most important argument for private property is what Garret Hardin has labeled “the tragedy of the commons” (though the basic idea goes back to Aristotle). Most resources are rivalrous—that is to say, the use of the resource by one person diminishes the amount, or the value, of that resource for others. If a rivalrous resource is also public property, meaning that no member of the public may be excluded from its use, there will be no incentive to conserve or improve the resource (why bother to sow what others may freely reap?); on the contrary, the resource will be overused and swiftly exhausted, since the inability to exclude other users makes it risky to defer consumption (why bother to save what others may freely spend?). Hence private property is needed in order to prevent depletion of resources.
It might be argued that this the-more-the-merrier effect occurs only with goods that are wholly or largely nonphysical, but could never apply to more concrete resources like land. As Carol Rose and David Schmidtz have shown,  however, although any physical resource is finite and so inevitably has some tragedy-of-the-commons aspects, many resources have “comedy-of-the-commons” aspects as well, and in some cases the latter may outweigh the former, thus making public property more efficient than private property.
For instance (to adapt one of Carol Rose’s examples), suppose that a public fair is a comedy-of-the-commons good; the more people who participate, the better (within certain limits, at any rate). Imagine two such fairs, one held on private property and the other on public. The private owner has an incentive to exclude all participants who do not pay him a certain fee; thus the fair is deprived of all the participants who cannot afford the fee. (I am assuming that the purpose of the fair is primarily social rather than commercial, so that impecunious participants would bring as much value to the fair as wealthy ones.) The fair held on public property will thus be more successful than the one held on private property.
Yet, it may be objected, so long as a comedy-of-the-commons good still has some rivalrous, tragedy-of-the-commons aspects, it will be depleted, and thus the comedy-of-the-commons benefits will be lost anyway. But this assumes that privatization is the only way to prevent overuse. In fact, however, most societies throughout history have had common areas whose users were successfully restrained by social mores, peer pressure, and the like.
It’s not about being governed or not, it’s about who is going to do the governing. Who would we want to sit on the Iron Throne if not a “specialist?” Someone who wouldn’t be driven by politico-ideological passions, but by the “industrial values” Veblen cherished. Someone to oil up the gears of this great machinery that is society.
That is all hogwash, of course, because when we talk about politics, we talk about ideology — about prioritizing, about choosing one collective goal as preferable to another. However, there are no macro social ends, at least not apart from a sum of individual goals or as a mere metaphor. Which is also the reason why it isn’t possible to put public management under the control of experts, because the very definition of what constitutes “public management” is an ideological question subject to political negotiation and resistance.
Sunday the 19th of October seen the first International Anarcha-Feminist Conference, aka AFem2014. The seed from which it would eventually grow fell from the tree back in August of 2012. That tree was the St Imier International Congress anarcha-feminist round … Continue reading →
Anarchoblogs is a collection of blogs from
self-identified anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, anarcha-feminists,
anarchists without adjectives, libertarian-socialists, autonomists and
other assorted anti-statists.