Monday, August 20, 2018

Markets and Socialism Can Both Lead to Free Housing

     Many voters, with good cause, doubt politicians' ability to deliver on “free housing”. But in my opinion, that's because many voters are largely unaware of the true purpose of a free-market system.
     Decreasing and limiting the size and scope of government, simplifying the tax code, letting people keep more of their own money, and letting technology do its thing, could all help result in cheaper housing, and in more people getting housed. Making low-cost housing possible through voluntary and free-market means, instead of through the government, could help make people more free, while their rent goes down at the same time.
     Promoting multi-use zoning, for example, could help make it easier for people to work from home, or work closer to home. Land Value Taxation, rooftop reclamation, and building upwards, would all help to make land and housing less expensive, while also reducing urban sprawl, diminishing the influence of speculation on the land and housing markets, and leading to fewer unused parcels and fewer abandoned properties.
     Another thing that would help reduce the cost of housing, is to reduce the cost of land, in hopes that that would decrease the costs of building on land. It would also help to get the government out of all the lands out West that it owns or manages without explicit constitutional authority. There is no reason why progressives and conservatives shouldn't unite against large land and energy monopolies, especially considering that conservatism and environmental conservation have a long history of going hand-in-hand.

     I recommend that the single national Environmental Protection Agency be replaced with Community Land Trusts, and community trusts that protect air, water, and other natural resources (these trusts are one of the potential features of implementing Henry George's Land Value Taxation).
     Right now, we're seeing Donald Trump's E.P.A. make the exact same move that George W. Bush's E.P.A. made in the early 2000s; a move against California's ability to determine its vehicle emissions standards. This is an example of how government control of an industry with the purpose of protecting consumers, can easily cause that industry to become victim to regulatory capture, because the people assume that a good or service will be safe simply because there is an agency that exists which is supposed to regulate it (whether it does so or not).
     I strongly believe that it is better for many federal agencies to be abolished, than to continue existing and risk being used for evil. Don't be ashamed to cite California's 10th Amendment “states' rights” to legislate on vehicle emissions, something that's not mentioned in the Enumerated Powers, and which is thus none of Congress's business. But back to land and housing.

     Housing is not free; but that's not primarily the fault of markets or voluntary exchange. Certainly it's because of capitalism, an also bad government, but not markets.
     It's because of land and mortgage speculation (which is capitalism, but with government protection). It's also because of bad legislation; such as 1) housing codes that favor flammable building materials (i.e., wood, instead of concrete and rock); 2) restrictions on architectural experimentation (look up Mike Reynolds and “Earth ships”); 3) subsidies to live in flood-prone areas, and loads of additional unnecessary measures that only make housing more expensive and more likely to be damaged.
     The best-case scenario of addressing these problems, is that we could we drastically undermine the financial and lobbying power of the “FIRE economy” (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industries). Simply put – and speaking of fire - a home that isn't made of flammable materials (i.e., wood) doesn't have much use for fire insurance. Building more buildings out of glass, steel, concrete, and rock – including building into the rock naturally – could help reduce house fires, and drastically reduce the need to purchase fire insurance. And that means savings for struggling families.

     Markets aren't even supposed to exist for things which exist in abundance, like housing. Abundant goods exist in greater supply than is necessary to satisfy people's needs. People assume that land existing in a fixed supply, means that not enough of it exists.
     But of course enough of it exists; we're not falling off the planet, and less than 3% of land area is used for housing. So logically – according to free market principles of supply and demand; namely, that an abundant supply should mean not just low prices, but zero cost – housing should be free, because there's so much of it that it's a free gift from nature.
     But like idiots, we fence it off, evict whoever's on it, exclude everyone from it who refuses to pay us for access to it, sell it off piece by piece, and let governments and large companies own huge amounts of it, and even destroy it with no financial or legal repercussions nor compensation to the community.
You can learn more about mass eviction by looking up the enclosure of the English Commons, also known as the enclosure movement. Mass displacements of Native Americans, such as the Trail of Tears, parallel these mass displacements from land, as do similar events in other countries throughout time.
     This is the macroscopic explanation of why rent is theft; because what's being rented and leased is stolen, conquered property, which was not acquired justly. Whether it was acquired according to the letter of the law should matter much, much less than whether it was acquired without violating anyone's right to be free from other people's violence, aggression, and coercion.

     That is why “rent is theft”. While the Libertarian Party believes that “taxation is theft”, we at the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the LP also believe that “rent is theft”.
     Rent is theft for the same reason that eviction is murder; they're both coercive, exploitative practices which are likely to result in the death and deprivation of the borrower or renter, who for all intents and purposes has been legally and logistically precluded from doing anything to make ends meet other than those methods which have been culturally normalized and authoritatively approved (i.e., selling his labor and renting his living space). Homesteading, foraging, mutual aid, charity, and gift/trade/barter/share combined, do not always supplement what we procure for ourselves through legitimized business and political avenues.
     Additionally, we agree with Proudhon that “property is theft”, and that “property is impossible”.
Basically, this is to say that one can't own a huge chunk of land; at least not without the government's recognition and help and police assistance, because otherwise, people would steal it from them. Call it “stealing”, or “seizing”, or even just “challenging” them for it. A person defending a property claim based purely on defense and conquest, cannot logically refuse someone's offer to fight him for his property, if those are the terms upon which he voluntarily chooses to wager that his property claim is valid.
     “Absentee ownership” is a scourge against which Georgists, Mutualists, anarchists, socialists, and communists all fight; it is the ownership is a property by an owner who rarely makes use of or even visits his claimed property (especially one who does little to no work to maintain or defend the property). The Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the L.P. fully supports the right to squat, as long as the squatters do not make the place unlivable or let it fall into further disrepair. Usufructory (use-based) property rights are not a defense when it is conquered land which is being “used better” or “used more productively”.

     The idea that poor people don't pay taxes is ridiculous, for the simple reason that there are sales taxes in 46 states. There's no reason that a homeless person should have to pay sales taxes on everything he eats.
     There's also no reason why people should need to hire a lobbyist to stop their tax money from going to fund police forces, and license private security guards, and protect the six empty residences that exist for every homeless person in America, and prop-up and bail-out businesses that they want to fully boycott but can't. Socialists and free-marketers both believe in boycott, but for all intents and purposes, boycotts are illegal. Not just because our tax money goes to corporate welfare, but also because secondary boycotts are illegal according to federal law (the Taft-Hartley Act), even though they would have no reason to be illegal in a libertarian society because they are perfectly voluntary.
     Aside from taxes and corporate subsidies, and the impossibility of boycott, the idea that poor people don't pay taxes is also laughable because of the “opportunity costs” that people lose; when they are ordered to obey this or that policy, ordered to submit to this or that authority figure or politician, or ordered to buy this or that product. The lives of soldiers are being paid around the world to finance the destruction we are causing; and the value of those lives lost are impossible to measure. Opportunity costs are an unseen tax, and so is inflation, which Ron Paul called a tax on saving money.

     Human beings can't help but take up space and area on the planet. Each of us has the natural right to homestead property to make it livable, and bequeath it to our children, and any government that deprives us of that right should at least compensate us.
     Conservative hero Thomas Paine proposed that each adult be paid a fixed sum of thousands per year; as a share in the land value, and as compensation for those deprivations of rights to freely homestead, inherit, and bequeath. However, some of Paine's own modern-day conservative admirers might call him a Universal Basic Income Guarantee -supporting “socialist” for espousing such a position. The same with John Locke, who said people have to leave enough land for others, so they have a place to live.
     Some say that the poor don't deserve a basic income, nor a citizens' dividend, nor even any food or jobs guarantee. No free identification documents either. Many of them say that the poor shouldn't receive any government services, unless they pay for them, i.e., through user fees. This is predicated upon the idea that only property owners should vote, and that therefore poor people who have no property should not vote, nor receive government services. However, to say this is to admit that even if homeless people have a few possessions, they have no property. Which is to say that there is a distinction; a distinction which anarcho-capitalists insist is not useful, so therefore they do not make it.
     Socialists do not “hate” private property, and they do not want to “steal your toothbrush”. Anyone who is trying to convince you that socialists want your toothbrush because it's private property, does not know what socialists mean when they say private property.
     A personal possession is any ordinary, small, cheap, mass-produced, easily movable thing; anything that isn't an important, rare tool, or something is not essential to the labor process, or wouldn't make sense to be cooperatively managed by a large group of workers, or something that people don't actually need in order to survive or earn a living. The latter are examples of private property.
     “Private property” (as people like Marx and Proudhon used it) does not include personal possessions; only private property in the means of production, like factories and plants, large machine parts, farms, and land. It includes things that are loaned out at interest; and the laborer's wage is taken as profit (and the laborer underpaid) as a form of “rent” on the means of production which the worker is borrowing for eight hours a day in order to avoid starvation. Which he does by paying an additional rent to a landlord who holds a title granted by government, which right-libertarians are foolish enough to fail to describe as anything but another ordinary law.

     Sucks to the law.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Trump's Immigration Policy is on the Spectrum of Ethnic Cleansing

Table of Contents

Part 1: Immigration
Part 2: Ethnic Cleansing
Part 3: The Israel-Palestine Conflict


Part 1: Immigration

     While some in the Libertarian Party stress the importance of establishing the rule of law, I agree with those in the Libertarian Socialist Caucus (as well as those outside the L.P.) who call for the abolition of I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). I also join calls to deport I.C.E..
     I will remind conservatives and libertarians who defend I.C.E. that the agency did not exist just 15 years ago; and that, being part of the D.H.S. (Department of Homeland Security), it's questionable whether I.C.E. has any constitutional authority to exist in the first place.
     America got by fine for 227 years without ICE, just like it got by fine for 70 years before the racist Chinese Exclusion Act set the precedent for World War I -era exclusions, and a subsequent hundred years of unfounded restrictions on the natural right to engage in locomotion (movement), the right to escape tyranny, and the right to escape poor economic conditions.
     Some say that poor economic conditions is not as a good an excuse for illegal immigration as escaping tyranny is. However, tyranny often causes poor economic conditions, through mismanagement. It wasn't acceptable for Stalin and Mao to starve people just because it might have been an accident; for the same reason that negligent manslaughter is a crime just like murder is.

     If someone laments that N.A.F.T.A. cost America jobs, then explain that N.A.F.T.A. also caused the repeal of the part of the Mexican constitution that protected indigenous people's rights to their land, allowing them to be sold to multinational corporations for “development”. Remind them that losing your land, and having your babies taken from you on your way into the country, are bigger deals than losing a few people's jobs. Remind them that both America and Mexico suffered as a result of N.A.F.T.A..
     Conservatives are supposed to believe that jobs are supposed to go wherever the invisible hand of the market dictates; wherever there is a market demand that is going unfulfilled. They do not believe in free markets or free trade, unless they believe that “labor and capital must be perfectly mobile in the long run”. Basically, that working people ought to be free to cross borders; every bit as free as consumer goods, machines, corporate assets, and money are. Those who want free movement of capital, but restricted movement of labor, are not supporters of the free market, but of capitalism.
     Those who want a border wall, but claim to be conservatives, are using the government to insulate themselves from having to compete against hard working people from other countries, and against foreign industry that is trying to do its best just like us. That idea is totally antithetical to free-market and limited government values, and has no business being called conservatism because it conserves neither finances nor the constraints we have imposed upon our government.

     Historically, white Americans have often used property – and other people's lack thereof - as a way to exclude non-Aryans and undocumented immigrants from America, and the poor from private property. Even some modern conservatives and libertarians believe that people who have no property (and by property, I mean to include identification documents) should be prohibited from voting altogether. Being deprived of the opportunity to own property is not a just cause to take away someone's right to vote, it's just theft with extra steps.
     For example, poll taxes, which were made unconstitutional by the 24th Amendment, but which are now coming back subtly in the form of requirements that voters pay to purchase identification documents. They would rather lecture us for an hour about how all sorts of poor people can easily afford, obtain, and hang onto I.D.s, instead of pay for needy people to get those I.D.s in the first place; all this to justify proving who we are not only when we vote, but before every decision we make, major or minor.
     The difficulties associated with needing an I.D. everywhere you go, are, of course, compounded for undocumented immigrants. Opponents of undocumented immigration say that only citizens should vote, but these people are quite often fleeing despotic countries where they know their vote won't count. If they're ineligible to vote in their home countries, then their vote ought to be counted somewhere, or else there's arguably a human rights deprivation happening. Why not allow their votes to count in the jurisdictions in which they have settled, whose affairs actually materially affect them?
     If someone uses private property to justify excluding undocumented immigrants – like by asking “Do you have a fence around your house?” or “Would you let just anyone onto your property?” - then say to them what we say in the Libertarian Party: “Your right to police immigration ends at your property line.” Tell them that if they want to police immigration, then they should join I.C.E., or else they should stop using the government as a tool to do their dirty work for them, like they claim the Democrats do. Additionally, ask the anti-immigrant property lover how he can support a border wall, when plans for it are causing people's property to be taken away via eminent domain.
     Some claim that America needs I.C.E. to stop people from “stealing our country” or “stealing our land”. But it's the people at I.C.E. who are the thieves, because they're stealing all our money to kick people off of land which the government stole from the native people in the first place.
     If someone claims that America won the land fair and square in a fight, then tell them you'll fight them for it. Conquest is not only theft, but also genocide. Tell them that ignoring treaties with native tribes is not how you protect the rule of law, it's how you look untrustworthy while you try to say with a straight face that they can be sure the Constitution protects their rights because you wrote it down on a piece of paper.
     Also, the American military has entered a hell of a lot more countries illegally (and unconstitutionally, without congressional authorization and a formal declaration of war) than any group of immigrants has. So the American military are “the real illegal immigrants”. That is why I join calls to not only abolish I.C.E., but to deport it as well.

     It is unfortunate that so few people in this country realize that entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor the first time you do it. It's not a felony until the third offense. Additionally, entering the United States without permission can certainly be done without harming anyone or damaging property; it can be as simple as entering without permission or overstaying a visa.
     Illegal immigration is an infraction, so technically it is illegal and against the law. But it is usually victimless, and therefore usually not a crime. That's because crimes have real victims. In the jury nullification and pro se defense movements, we say “no victim, no crime”. The legal principle corpus delicti (meaning “the body of the crime”), and precedents on evidence established in Terry v. Ohio, dictate that there must be real, physical evidence that someone has been harmed or wronged, or their justly acquired property damaged or missing, if it is to be said that an actual crime has occurred.
     Additionally, a real person must be harmed, not just “the public”. The public is a social construct, its membership is controlled and regulated and somewhat exclusive, and it is not a real physical person which can fall victim to bodily harm or loss of justly acquired property. Arguably, none of the public's property is just.
     Some refute the claim that undocumented immigration is victimless, by saying that undocumented immigrants do victimize people, because “the taxpayer” is the victim (because he is made to pay for the immigrant). But this situation is the fault of the I.R.S. and Congress, not the fault of immigrants in general, nor any particular immigrant.
     Furthermore, undocumented immigrants are not the drain on America that they are depicted to be. Working undocumented immigrants might even be net contributors to the Social Security system, because they might be using a false Social Security Number, or someone else's, while they're unable to receive any benefits (unless and until they become citizens, if at all). So not all undocumented immigrants are a drain on the taxpayers. Especially considering that white, Republican states are the primary recipients of government assistance, and considering how willing some Republicans were to accept $12 billion in farm aid (most of which they know damn well will go to large agro-industrial producers).

     Opponents of immigration say, “Just come in legally, and you won't experience the problems associated with being an illegal immigrant.” It sounds like a simple solution, sure. But wouldn't an even simpler solution be to give amnesty to the non-violent immigrants who are already here, so they don't have to resort to living lives of secrecy in the shadows as second-class citizens? Then, they would be full, legal citizens, and they wouldn't have to experience the problems associated with not being free to come out of the shadows.
     In May 2007, during the debates for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich said that no person is illegal; “they're undocumented”. He's right; no person is “illegal”, nor an “alien”. To call someone illegal is to call the person illegal, not the “crime”. Calling someone illegal is hating the sinner, not the “sin”. Calling someone an alien is treating them like they're from another planet. Thus, calling someone an “illegal alien” others people twice in one phrase; it literally alienates them.
     Anyone who is not frightened by this kind of language is ignorant of history. I would not enjoy living in a culture in which people “police” other people's language so as to conform to “political correctness”, but I also detest the usage of certain words which I feel dehumanize people, and I detest speech which is intended to cause a riot or call for harm against people.
     We must not forget that the Nazis used words like “parasite”, “virus”, and “disease” to describe the Jews; and we must notice when people like President Trump and Alex Jones spew terms like “illegal alien”; and words like “scum”, “worms”, and “maggots”.
     And just because someone's in a gang, doesn't mean you have to call them a “dog” or say they're lower than human beings. I don't know a single dog who's ever joined a gang. To call MS-13 “dogs” is almost an insult to dogs. Also, MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles, which is located in the United States, so immigration controls are not going to stop the spread of MS-13.
     The only thing that will stop the spread of MS-13 and other gangs is good, old-fashioned, by-the-book police work. Those who support Donald Trump's immigration policy say it is necessary to protect “the rule of law”; but this is the same president who openly flaunted the rule of law when he spoke about guns (saying “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”).
     This is a president with no respect for the civil liberties of anybody, citizen or not, except himself. Considering the escalation in Afghanistan, the tariffs backfiring, the separation of children at the border into internment camps, and Trump's defense of using eminent domain to steal from one private property owner to give to another, it is a wonder why anyone can call himself a conservative, let alone a libertarian, and still support the guy.
     It's just an awfully big coincidence that the victims of that escalation in Afghanistan, the victims of internment camps at the border, and most of the intended victims of the tariffs, are all non-whites.

Part 2: Ethnic Cleansing

     In late July 2018, congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY-14) told a co-host of the podcast “In the Thick” that she agreed with their assessment that President Trump's zero-tolerance policy on immigration restriction is “kinda like ethnic cleansing”, saying “I mean, we're on that spectrum, I would say.” She also said “How much is this black-box detention necessary?”, adding “we're caging women and children, we're jumping to criminalize people...”. I agree with her.
     In January 2018, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany released a study of 1,350 American adults, which revealed that 2/3 don't know what Auschwitz is, and 1/3 believe that substantially less than 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Even more of us seem to forget that an additional 5-14 million more people in Germany were murdered by Nazis, and 20 million more by the Nazis and their Axis Powers allies in Europe outside of Germany.
     If Americans can't remember important things about the Holocaust, or believe it happened at the magnitude it did, then it should be no surprise that many of them can't see a Holocaust coming before it happens. If you've read the work of Lillian Faderman then you'll know that reproduction and giving birth can be considered forms of political activism. Her study of a Native American mother, and a Jewish mother whose parents were Nazi refugees, tell stories of giving birth on a reservation during a hail of C.I.A. gunfire nearby, and giving birth to a Jewish baby knowing that the Nazis would have rather had the baby die or never live. Giving birth to a new member of the tribe, knowing that the tribe is threatened and decimated, is thus an innately political action.
     Not only are babies being taken away from their mothers at the border, but children are sometimes separated from their mothers with a lie that the officials are going to give the children showers. This is arguably reminiscent of the way the Nazis led Jews to gas chambers by having them prepare for showers.
     Also, people are being separated on the basis of sex and age group, as they were in the Nazi concentration camps. They are lodged in cages, or in other kinds of cramped, uniform housing facilities. Those who get in, even legally, are often worked half to death, treated as second class citizens, and shamed for using their native language and having different hairstyles. And finally, they are used as scapegoats for all the country's problems, and subjected to ethnic and racial slurs, and other forms of dehumanizing and alienating rhetoric (scum, filth, parasites, viruses, animals, etc.).
     It was this treatment – treating Jewish and Mexican people as if they either have diseases, or are diseases – which led to the de-lousing of members of both groups with harsh chemicals. If you read about the El Paso - Ju├írez Bath Riots, you'll learn that in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s – even until long after the Mexican typhus scare ended - at that border crossing, immigrants were made to strip nude for inspection, to have their clothes treated in a steam cycle, and to undergo lice treatment that included being sprayed with hazardous chemicals, including gasoline, a caustic mineral called cryolite, and even Zyklon B (the cyanide-based pesticide that was developed into a chemical weapon in Germany in the 1920s, and then used to systematically exterminate six million Jews and at least five million other “undesirables” under the Nazi regime).

     That is the history of Jewish immigrants to America, and that is the history of Chicano and Latinx immigrants to the United States (and non-immigrants as well).
     While supporters of Israel cry “never again”, some almost seem to solely mean that this should never happen again to Jewish people, only to whomever tries to enter illegally. The State of Israel might not even exist if not for unrestricted, undocumented immigration (that is, immigration of Jews into Israel, from collapsing and hostile countries).
     These ardent supporters of the Jewish state will even stoop to hushing any discussion of the story of the boat the St. Louis, which carried Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany to North America and then back to Europe. F.D.R.'s America rejected those immigrants, who were undocumented, but who were desperate enough to come without paperwork because Hitler and the S.S. wanted them dead. Luckily, Canada accepted some, and European countries accepted the rest, before the boat returned to Germany.
     As I explained earlier (in discussing socialism), it is ironic that the supporters of the modern right-wing Israeli state, refuse to give up their hatred of anarchists and communists, and refuse to admit that the last century of Jewish settlement of the Levant was characterized by autonomous, independent labor communes, which predated the existence of a Jewish state in the area.
     The Jewish nation has gone from a polycentric, libertarian-communalist diaspora, to one of oligarchical capitalism and racial exclusion. Considering Israel's latest “Jewish national self-determination” law, this is more blatant and obvious than ever. Fortunately, I feel that the tide is turning: for Jewish people, but against the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights.

     Many Zionists do not seem to understand that the same immigrant exclusion laws which are today being used against Hispanic and Muslim immigrants, could easily be used to exclude Jewish people and victims of real humanitarian catastrophes. If the only thing that will remind them of this possibility is the looming threat of takeover of the Republican Party by the Alt-Right, and by neo-Nazis - like Illinois U.S. House candidate Arthur Jones - then so be it, they need reminding.
     The power to discriminate on the basis of national origin in our immigration policy - and the use of that power as a subterfuge to distract from the fact that the real policy is exclusion on the basis of non-whiteness and non-Christianity – are only going to be used to keep out real refugees. Some of them lack papers, but if we demand that people identify and label themselves everywhere they go, and maintain internment camps that we ship people to without a trial, then how is our immigration substantially any different from the ethnic cleansing and domestic internment programs enforced by Hitler and the SchutzStaffel?

Part 3: The Israel-Palestine Conflict

     While many supporters of the State of Israel consider it a hate crime to suggest that the State of Israel does not have the right to exist, many of the same people are perfectly willing to assert, and boldly, that Palestine has no right to exist as a sovereign entity. Certainly the Jewish people have a right to exist, but their government only has the right to exist only so long as it does not make war on its neighbors, and only so long as it does not oppress foreigners seeking refuge within it.
     I am concerned that a Palestinian state could only ever achieve 40% support, and thus it might oppress nearly two-thirds of the people who will be expected to pledge it allegiance. That is why I am not necessarily ready to support a two-state solution.
     The one-state solution and the two-state solution are not the only potential solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here are some alternative arrangements:

     1) We could reinstate the 1967 borders, make Jerusalem an international city, while establishing three separate Jewish regions and three separate Arab regions (like the U.N. Partition Plan originally intended).
     2) Egypt could take Gaza, Syria could take the Golan Heights, and Jordan could take the West Bank. Gaza could become independent.
     3) The State of Israel could be dismantled, while allowing Jewish communities to remain autonomous within an Arab-run state.
     4) Jewish people could decide that the Holy Land is too hostile for Jews, and decide to migrate to Europe, America, both, or elsewhere.
     5) All communities in the Holy Land – Jewish, Arab, or otherwise – could abandon dreams of securing an exclusive nation-state, and instead return to communal autonomy. Call it the No-State Solution.

     Anything could happen. But in my opinion, no solution should ever be considered “the final solution”; for the same reason that you don't put all your eggs in one basket, which is that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

     The occupation of Palestine is illegal; despite the cries of “What's to occupy? Palestine isn't a country”, which have come from Joe Lieberman and Ron deSantis in rebutting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's views on the issue.
     First off, the occupation illegal because Palestine is a country, and a nation, even if it is not yet a fully sovereign state in the eyes of every single country in the world. Also, it is undoubtedly a place – the Gaza Strip (historical Philistia), the West Bank of the River Jordan, and the Golan Heights – and it is a people.
     With or without fully sovereignty, the Palestinian state does exist, because the Palestinian National Authority does exert some level of control over certain areas in the West Bank. However, it's only where the Israeli government permits it to exercise some modicum of control. To call the P.N.A. “semi-autonomous” would be a huge compliment to both it and Israel. But even if it is not a fully sovereign state, that's because it's not being allowed to govern by the Israelis.
     Moreover, Palestine remains a state in the eyes of more than half of the world's United Nations member countries. Although it's true that fewer nations recognize Palestinian sovereignty than Israeli sovereignty, the difference is only 23 countries. While 84% of countries recognize Israel (161 U.N. member countries out of 192), 72% recognize Palestine (138 countries).
     Since 2012, 138 United Nations member countries voted to extend non-member observer state status to Palestine, amounting to de facto recognition of the sovereignty of the Palestinian state. Any further elevation of Palestine's status in the United Nations will result in irrefutable nationhood status for that country. It is, for all intents and purposes, as close to a sovereign state as one can be, without technically being a full member in the eyes of the U.N..
     Additionally, the settlements are illegal, because the State of Israel acquired all three Palestinian territories (and also the Sinai Peninsula, which it soon after gave up) during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel retained the three territories, and effectively declared the entirety of East Jerusalem as its territory in the 1980 Basic Law, by declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of the country (despite its divided status).
     The specific laws which state that the occupation and settlements are illegal, are the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that no country may move its people into a territory which was occupied during a war. Additional laws to this effect are the 1979 U.N. Security Council Resolution 446, and subsequent U.N.S.C. Resolutions from 1980 and 2016.
     Additionally, East Jerusalem is the most populous city in all of the three Palestinian territories combined, and thus, it is probably the most suitable place for a capital city. Therefore, a divided city would arguably still be just as problematic as it was thought to be when the original U.N. Partition Plan was being considered (which would have created two sovereign states, and would have designated Jerusalem an international city, thus hopefully avoiding such a problem).
     It's not only that Palestine lacking full sovereignty doesn't mean it can't be occupied; it's also that the notion that Palestinians cannot be a nation unless they have full sovereignty, plays into the idea that Jewish people were not a nation before Israeli independence (and into the idea that they therefore have no right to exist). The nation of Palestine exists regardless of whether there is a Palestinian state; just like how Jewish people have remained a nation despite going centuries upon centuries without sovereign government.
     It's difficult to help but wonder, if the State of Israel were recognized by fewer than 138 countries, whether its supporters would use the same arguments to defend their position. If that were the case, it would be even more difficult for an Israel supporter to attempt to de-legitimize Palestine, without also accidentally de-legitimizing Israel as well.

     The nine men I have listed below are Jewish critics of the State of Israel and its crimes. While the first two are not observant Jews, they come from Jewish families. These men criticize the occupation of Palestine, or the legitimacy of the State of Israel's authority, or both; and they do it without criticizing Jewish people or the Jewish religion.

     1) Dr. Noam Chomsky, the linguist, academic, and political dissident who called the Gaza Strip “an open-air concentration camp”.

     2) Professor Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors, and the author of the book
The Holocaust Industry, which criticized Israel for what he considers its exploitation of the memory of the Holocaust to justify the occupation of Palestine.

     3) Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, whose books and lectures explain Jewish opposition to political Zionism, while also noting the attempts of secular founders of Zionism (Theodor Herzl and Ze'ev Jabotinsky) to effectively destroy Jewish cultural identity by attempting to mold Ashkenazi Jews into macho, almost Naziesque idealizations of the Jews' Teutonic oppressors.

     4-5) Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, the spokesman of Neturei Karta; and Rabbi Elhanan Beck, who answers the e-mails of the American branch of the group ( Neturei Karta is a group of Jewish activists who oppose the existence of the State of Israel on religious grounds, and who also protest the occupation of Palestine. Neturei Karta is Aramaic for “the guardians of the city”, referring to Jerusalem.

     6-9) Rabbis Moshe and Yoel Teitelbaum (deceased), and Aaron and Zalman Teitelbaum (living), prominent Hasidic rabbis belonging to the Teitelbaum family, which originally hailed from Satmar, Romania. Each of these rabbis has led congregations of Jewish people who reject the authority of the State of Israel on religious grounds.

     Neturei Karta, and about 150,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews the world over, believe that the State of Israel is antithetical to the Jewish religion. This is because they believe that it subverts the rule of God, the Davidic Dynasty, and the rabbinic courts. They also say Jewish sovereignty is premature, because they believe that the Jews are currently in exile, and Mashiach (the Messiah) has not yet returned and ended that exile through a miracle.
     If you think about it, the idea that an obvious miracle did not end the exile, is almost to suggest that it was not a miracle that the Holocaust ended, and a miracle that anyone survived. But leaving that idea aside, most Jewish people (besides “messianic Jews”, sometimes called “Jews for Jesus”) cannot readily name the Jewish Messiah. So even if a miracle ended the exile, the Jewish Messiah seems to be missing (unless either Christianity is right, and Jesus is the Messiah, or there's something else I'm missing).
     The point is, religious and political radicalism are reasons why many Jewish people view Neturei Karta as “extremists”, as full of hate, and as wanting to destroy the Jewish people (or at least destroy what they see as its source of strength, its government). While they are arguably “extreme”, even “radical”, they are not violent, nor do they preach violence. Instead, they say they “pray for the speedy and peaceful dismantlement of the state”, seeing G-d as a greater source of strength for the Jewish people than the Israeli government ever could be.

     These disagreements should help explain why many of the nine men I mentioned above have been described as “anti-Semitic”, and/or as “self-hating Jews”, by supporters of Israel. Some supporters of Israel even believe that “all criticism of Israel is rooted in anti-Semitism”, and some are attempting to push the phrase “Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism”. These people evidently believe that the best way to keep Jewish people safe is to silence them. They must think that if they repeat their slogans over and over, eventually people will believe them.
     I would be remiss if I neglected to mention a tenth person, philosopher Hannah Arendt. The author of The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem, she served as an expert witness in the Nuremberg Trials. Despite the fact that she was Jewish, she was not accused of being a Jewish anti-Semite (to my knowledge) when she argued against holding trials of Nazi officers in Jerusalem. She essentially argued that to try Nazis in Jerusalem would render the trials as circuses or kangaroo courts, and lead to an environment of hysteria which would make a fair trial impossible. She appealed to neither legality, nationality, race, nor religion; but instead, to centuries-old, well-respected legal precedents, establishing the notion that trials should be held near where the crime occurred, or in the same jurisdiction. Hannah Arendt should serve as a great example of someone who refused to let having to flee the Nazis cloud her judgment as to how to ensure that they are prosecuted properly, and to the fullest extent of the law. We may not like it that we have to give fair trials to people we hate, the obviously guilty, and those accused of especially heinous crimes. But to deprive them of due process and a fair trial, is to risk letting them get off on a technicality, and thus get away with their crimes.
     Another person to note, whom is relevant to this topic, is Helen Thomas, the late White House reporter. During a 2011 episode of C.N.N.'s Larry King Live, Joy Behar (filling in for Larry King) interviewed Thomas, who retired the previous year after being accused of anti-Semitism. In that interview, Thomas described herself as “Semitic, but not Jewish”, while describing Behar as “Jewish, but not Semitic”. In response to Behar asking whether she was anti-Semtic, Thomas said, “Hell no. I'm a Semite, of Arab background.” This is accurate; since Behar's ethnic heritage is European, while Semites come from the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, including Helen Thomas's ancestral land of Lebanon. Ralph Nader, also of Lebanese ancestry, has made similar statements in explaining his thoughts on the term anti-Semitism.

     Several additional facts are necessary to mention – about American-Israeli relations, and Iranian relations with both countries – in order to better explain the wider Israeli-Arab and Israeli- Islamic conflicts, and in order to contextualize what we hear about Israel and Palestine.
     For example, he oft-repeated quote from Iran's former president – that Iranians desire to push Israel into the sea, or something to that effect – is not a fact, but a wild distortion. First off, because Palestinians were literally pushed into the Mediterranean Sea when the Israelis took control of the Holy Land from the British (kicking out both British and Palestinian forces in the process). This event is called the Nakba (disaster); it occurred on May 15th, 1948; and its anniversary is celebrated as Nakba Day.
     Secondly, the other reason that the claim that Iranians want to “push Israel into the sea” – or is it “wipe Israel off the map”? - is misleading, that the quote has gone through “the telephone game”. Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not threaten to wipe Israel, nor Jews, off the face of the Earth. It is also noteworthy that Ahmadinejad was not speaking off the cuff; he was quoting Ayatollah Khamenei. The most direct translation of what Ahmadinejad said was this: “The regime that is occupying Jerusalem shall vanish from the page of history.”
     While Western media lead people to believe that this is a call for the destruction of the State of Israel, nor the Jewish people, it could just as easily be taken to mean that the Iranians express sorrow for the 700,000 Palestinians who were displaced as a result of the Israelis gaining independence. Sure, some Iranian political and religious leaders have said of terrible things about the State of Israel, and Jewish people; but the point is that Iran is not openly hostile towards the State of Israel, although it is portrayed to be.
     Another interesting fact is that Iran has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (N.P.T.), while the State of Israel has not. Israel maintains a state of “intentional ambiguity” over the fact that it has somewhere between 150 and 1000 nuclear weapons (Ralph Nader and Jimmy Carter put it at 150 and 200, while other estimates range higher, potentially making Israel the world's #3 or #4 nuclear power). Most fascinating of all, it is quite possibly a violation of the 1976 International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act, which says that a country that has not signed the nuclear N.P.T. is not eligible for U.S. foreign aid.

     You may be wondering: If all this is true, then why do we hear so much positive information about the State of Israel, and so much negative information about Arab countries? I believe that this is not only because of the U.S.'s involvement in World War II (for which, in my opinion, it receives far too much credit for helping Jews and fighting Nazis, when it arguably did plenty of the opposite as well), but also due to Israeli efforts to intimidate the United States into continuing to support it.
     The State of Israel is small, in both geography and population, but it is influential, and it is located at perhaps the single most strategic geopolitical land position in the entire world. Prior to modern accelerated Old World contact with the Americas, Jerusalem was widely considered to be at the center of the world. The U.S.'s military and financial aid arguably assists Israel's ability to build and sell weaponry, and to defend itself while surrounded on all sides by rivals and enemies.
     This is why many Americans wonder whether Israel is metaphorically “America's 51st state”, or if instead it is “the tail wagging the dog”, and really has as much influence over U.S. foreign policy as it is often thought to have. I contend that if one looks into the history of conflicts between American and Israeli agents, then one will find many examples of Israel spying on the U.S., and Israeli agents attacking U.S. targets while posing as Arabs, and the U.S. paying Israel back for those “gifts” by securing U.S. surveillance contracts to Israeli companies, and by imitating its racist policies on immigration and transportation security. All one has to do to find out more about these topics is to seek -ut information on the Jewish organized crime syndicate Murder Inc., the ship the Altalena, the Lavon Affair, Jonathan Pollard, and others.
     Only one sovereign nation has successfully attacked a United States military target since World War II, and that was the U.S.S. Cole bombing, in whose planning Sudan's government is suspected. However, a non-military vessel – the U.S.S. Liberty – was an unarmed communications vessel, whose crew of 31 U.S. sailors died, after Israeli forces decided to fire-bomb it, and blame it on the former nation of the United Arab Republic (which is now the separate nations of Syria and Egypt).

     Islamophobes need to understand that Muslims didn't collectively do 9/11, and that it wasn't only Muslims who did 9/11. Also, that Iran wasn't involved, because 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. However, the U.S. government has ruled that Iran can still be held legally accountable to the victims, for no good reason other than their material support of Hezbollah. But of course, the Saudis didn't do it alone, and based on what I have read on the topic, they certainly didn't do it without Western help.
     The Israelis – in addition to the Russians, the British, the Italians, and the team of people around then- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - had foreknowledge of the event. You can learn more about possible Israeli involvement in 9/11 by looking up Sayeret Matkal (the counter-terrorism division of M.O.S.S.A.D.); and the circumstances surrounding the death of Daniel M. Lewin. Lewin was an internet technology billionaire, a former Sayeret Matkal agent, and the alleged first casualty of 9/11, who was allegedly killed by hijacker Satam al-Suqami (by what weapon, it is uncertain).
     Additionally, look up “the Dancing Israelis”: Dominick Suter (the C.E.O. of Urban Moving Systems, Inc.), and his “employees” Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, Yaaron Shmuel, and Paul and Sivan Kurzberg. Alan Dershowitz provided legal defense for those six Israeli men, who were arrested on 9/11 on suspicion of involvement in the attacks. They were seen filming and celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center, dressed in traditional Arab garb. A woman called the police, and thought they were Palestinians, but several of the men were found to have worked for the Israeli M.O.S.S.A.D. When they were arrested, they had socks full of thousands of dollars, razor blades, and maps of New York City with highlighted routes. It's entirely possible that these men – whichever few of those six were dancing on a rooftop in New Jersey, cheering and filming and celebrating and dancing - were the men whom Donald Trump thought he saw in Arab countries celebrating 9/11. Three of the six men appeared on an Israeli television show, and told the interviewer “Our purpose was to document the event”, a clear indication of foreknowledge.

     Given the State of Israel's crimes against its own people (in Gaza and the West Bank, and also its repression of anti-Zionist Jews), and its possible attacks on the United States, it would be completely understandable for a person concerned about the fate of Palestinians to consider waging a boycott against illegal activities and commerce occurring in the occupied territories.
     I believe that boycott and divestment should be legal. In fact, I believe that they are not yet fully legal (because of corporate subsidies, and other protections), and so, they need to be made fully legal. However, I worry that sanctions with any nation can lead to problems with which we may not be fully prepared to deal.
     I believe that we should have diplomacy and trade with all nations. I believe that that is how war with other nations can and should be avoided, and I believe that engaging in diplomacy while being a hypocrite is unacceptable. To accuse your enemy or rival of doing what you yourself are doing, destroys all of your credibility in negotiations.
     That is why I worry that sanctions could lead to trade wars, and accelerate into embargoes, trade bloc wars, cold wars, and even military conflagrations. I believe that boycott should be the first resort, then divestment, then withdrawing foreign aid. Especially considering that Israel is the #2 recipient of U.S. foreign aid (after Afghanistan), at nearly $4 billion per year, and rising by $0.1 B annually.
     If none of those measures achieve the objectives, then sanctions should be considered, but only if the U.S. is willing to put lives on the line to defend American property overseas, and to defend the prospect of continued profits for American firms selling in those overseas markets. This, of course, risks that inevitable slippery slope to trade wars and real wars which I described above, and I can't imagine a situation in which I would approve of such a course of action.
     However, a good way to avoid all this, might be to support boycotts, divestment, and sanctions which are targeted solely against economic activity based in those parts of Israeli territory; areas which rightfully belong to the refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. Any B.D. or B.D.S. movement should make it absolutely clear that legitimate commerce within Israel's pre-1967 borders are not the target of the consumer action; otherwise such an action will certainly be perceived (and reacted to) as if it were an act of war.
     If nothing convinces people that U.S. taxpayers should stop footing the bill for the Israeli government's expenditures (which are fungible, and funds for one purpose can be transferred to any other purpose) then perhaps the only thing that will, is the news that Israeli weapons are being sold to neo-Nazi militants in the Ukraine who have used them against Jewish people, and jihadists in Syria who are likely to use them against Jewish targets.
     Some say that, as someone who is neither an Israeli citizen nor a Jew, I should not be talking about the business of the State of Israel, a sovereign country. However, I would be glad to quit talking about what the State of Israel does, when it learns to do what it does without using my money. As soon as they stop using American taxpayer money to put people in refugee camps, I'll stop complaining.
     Oh wait, no I won't.

     I would also like to note that the United Nations recognizes genocide as occurring even if systematic killing has not been attempted. Taking people's children away from them can and should be considered genocide, if it is done with the deliberate intent of covering up their identity or annihilating their culture. We should oppose genocide, whether it involves killing or not, regardless of whether it affects Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Israelis, Palestinians, Mexicans, Central Americans, et cetera.

Written on July 4th, 20th, 26th, and 27th, and August 1st through 4th, and 6th, 2018
Edited and Expanded on August 15th and 17th, 2018
Originally Published on August 17th, 2018
Post-Script Added on August 18th, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

How to Know God Through Investing in Memes

     In Deuteronomy 20:4-5, God tells the Israelites, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous god...”.
     Blah-blah-fucking-blah, right?
     And Gracie Allen once said, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.” But what about an ellipsis? You know, for brevity's sake? You're not supposed to start a sentence with the word “and” either, yet God does it all the time. What's up with that?
     Anyway, the point is, fuck both of these people. Value can be neither communicated nor represented without brevity and idolatry. Both of these things are needed to secure, and securitize, our sacred (in)vestments.

     It's not every homebum who has his own copy of Neil Young's secret spirit-cooking recipe book written in magick disappearing ink that only hobos can see. So, needless to say, such a book would not suffice as a currency. But fortunately, most of us have a Bible, which will make a satisfactory substitute for “the Neil thing” in a pinch, if need be. Remember, you're never poor if you have a Bible; you at least have some kindling.
     However, that's not how things have always been. During the Middle Ages, the average commoner had no clue that you could toast some butter and cinnamon on white bread and have it taste good, or that you could smoke a mixture of brown sugar and table salt and get high off it. But in the mid- 15th century, all that changed, with the development of the printing press, the Gutenberg Bible, and the first memes (illuminated manuscripts).
     At a time when the vast majority of society's efforts were focused on assisting kings and the Church to acquire land, learning to read and higher education were not considered priorities, because they did not further that goal. As a result, virtually all education was done by and through the church; and with it, nearly all culture, and all communication, whether written, lyrical, musical, or symbolic.
     Sure, the Church had every honest intention of purifying people's brains, to save them from Satan's attempts to dirty their minds. They just wanted to save time doing it, so that they could have time left-over to do some other $uper-$ecret $hitTM behind the scenes! So they developed the illuminated manuscript, and – lo – the maymays within it, to summarize the Word of God.
     But instead of putting some periods where God put commas (so to speak), they made a whole a whole fucking Georges Seurat painting out of all the pointillisms hwich their God hath made, and they hath condensed it down to one pointeth at a time. Thus, the Illuminati'd Man-uscript (which later became part of the apocryphal text the Book of Memes) allowed the priestly class to explain – one image (or idol) at a time – what the Bible was saying, and why it meant that you had to suck they're dick.
     And what is the use of a book without pictures?

     Thus, the need for church-approved symbolic communication grew out of the church's restrictions upon the manners in which the divinity of God can be acceptably communicated. But so did the need for
non-church-approved symbols. Which of course, led to people converting to religions which accepted idolatry. Additionally, it led to people developing their own mystery schools, which more even more enthusiastic in their embrace of using symbols to communicate divinity. Sigil magick, after all, is a much better way to represent and communicate the divine, than a cult leader thought to be infallible.
     If you think about it, anything could be considered “idolatry” or a “graven image” if you interpret the word too loosely. The Hebrew word pesel refers to anything engraved in stone or cut into wood. So, then, why should these rules apply to two-dimensional images, like paper Bibles, and memes “hewn” of dank electron fire? Moreover, written music isn't a graven image, so why is it banned under the same precepts? Is dance a “graven image” simply because we are three-dimensional creatures? I mean, it's not as if each of us is chiseled independently by God Himself, in His own image.

     So why all the fuss? Why should the ordinary viking-hat-wearing rapper be discouraged from donning gaudy gold and precious gems, when He believes that to be the only or best way to signify His own personal divinity (which, to Him, might be the only divinity that matters)!? God doesn't discourage anyone!
     And this is why we must invest in memes. For, just as their Father in Meme Heaven, each meme was created in the personal image and likeness of the original meme – “The Source” – the illuminated manuscript. Memes; Not Man. And that is why no meme has ever lost redemption value (this is to say that no meme has ever lost its ability to redeem us).
     And that is why the Holy Spirit supports a meme-based currency. The Holy Spirit is the top trends forecaster in America, and believe ewe me, He has never gotten this shit wrong. So invest in memes! about Jesus in jail, and memes about sucking your own dick.
     Heavens, double your money! Invest in memes about Jesus sucking his own dick while in jail! Or go to religion generator dot com or some shit, and make a meme-slash-cult-slash-currency that portrays Adam as wanting his rib removed so that he could suk his own dik like Marilyn Manson.
     There's nothing in that story that conflicts with the creation “myth” of Nut nutting in the Nile, like a crocodile. I mean, how else are we going to teach the plebeians about the ouroboric self-destructive cycle of death and rebirth- I mean sin and redemption- I mean sin?
     You know what I mean. Just give us your money.
     Tractor memes are so 5777 anyway.

Originally Written and Published on August 16th, 2018