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November 16, 2011

Who destroys libraries?
Posted by Patrick at 09:40 PM *






Who destroys libraries? Who singles them out for deliberate destruction? Barbarians. No, as Teresa points out, not “barbarians.” “Barbarian” was simply the Empire’s dismissive term for the civilizations on its fringes—civilizations sometimes more humane than Rome. Who destroys libraries? Fascists. Authoritarians. People in the grip of a very modern set of perversions.

Calling anything “fascist” conjures up memories of The Young Ones. But it means something. It means a world in which the brutal assholes of society systematically take power by carefully beating the crap out of everyone who might get in their way.

Michael Bloomberg has decisively aligned himself with those people.

Our mayor, our police department. For a thousand years, your names will stink in the nostrils of decent women and men.

Comments on Who destroys libraries?:
#1 ::: Diana ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:02 PM:

To quote George Bernard Shaw, in Caesar and Cleopatria, Caesar, upon the burning of the Library of Alexandria:

What is burning there is the memory of mankind.

A shameful memory. Let it burn.

#2 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:06 PM:

Yep. I think I'm back to calling Mike Bloomberg "Mayor al-Assad."

I hate these fucking scumbags.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:14 PM:

Post slightly revised and expanded since initial posting.

#4 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:24 PM:

This is obviously deplorable, and I am a known respecter of books, but even within the space of reprehensible police action, there is a significant difference between "muscling out protesters and then treating everything they didn't carry out as garbage." either as an offensive tactic or as a cover act to comport with their stated goal of "clearing the park for cleaning", and "targeting libraries for burning, as book-burners".

I don't think they even recognize the importance of the library-- I think they see it no differently from the tents and personalty, as the trash of trash. It's not much better than seeking out a library to destroy, but it's different.

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:33 PM:

BSD, #4: Oh, bullshit. They targeted it. They came back.

#6 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:47 PM:

BSD @4:
Those who destroyed the Library at Alexandria saw it the same way, as trash created by trash.

#7 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:50 PM:

geekosaur, I'm told that the stories about the systematic burning of Alexandria are untrue, and that it was actually an accident.

#8 ::: Loren ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 10:51 PM:

If they are going to go that far what kept them back from burning the library?

#9 ::: Vir Modestus ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:11 PM:

Mayor 1% went Mubarak on the Occupy Wall Street protesters, without a doubt. The most shameful thing about the whole event is, unlike the Egyptian police, the NYPD carried out their orders.

#10 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:16 PM:

For a period of about 10 hours on Tuesday, the NYPD was *ignoring a court order*.

A judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting clearing of the park and requiring that the protesters be readmitted, at about 6.30 AM on Tuesday. The order was temporary, designed to preserve the status quo until an 11 am hearing on a permanent restraining order.

The request for a permanent restraining order was denied at around 4.30, and the temporary order lapsed.

During the intervening ten hours, the NYPD *refused to comply with the order*.

It's extremely difficult for me to draw any conclusion from this other than that the NYPD believes itself to be above the law.

#11 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:26 PM:

"It's extremely difficult for me to draw any conclusion from this other than that the NYPD believes itself to be above the law."

Sadly, it's nothing new.

PNH: didn't they throw everything out, trash everything until the park was a sterile bit of treed plaza once again?

#12 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:29 PM:

Just seen on Twitter, from @mrfaulty:

duh, just fund #ows movement by charging overdue fees to NYPD for all the books they checked out from @OWSLibrary & didn't return. #$$$$

#13 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:29 PM:

BSD, they didn't. They took things to a remote location and held them for some hours. The books were taken to a different location, and returned eventually. Partly. In damaged condition.

#14 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:34 PM:

They smashed the laptops too. While it is entirely possible to break a laptop by stepping on it, it takes a deliberate act to smash five of them. And books neatly boxed up in bins? The only way to trash those is by treating them as trash, opening them and dumping out the contents. No, they destroyed things and then lied about them being safe and sound.

#15 ::: Goob ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:40 PM:

I will say it up front: it is not my intention here to attempt to lessen the miserable activity against books and those who serve them, over there in Zuccotti Park. It was dim work that was done, and shameful too.

If I may, though: it is not like that everywhere.

I am here in Pittsburgh, a city that is still marked deep by the life and measure of Andrew Carnegie, a man who had attributed his success in large part to the kindness of an amateur librarian. Carnegie went on to build lots of libraries in an effort to repay the man's memory; whatever else is true of Andrew, he built many a fine library.

(One of my favorite stories of those early days concerns the genesis of the Carnegie International, a highly regarded periodic exhibition of modern art at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The story I was told went like this: Carnegie wanted to build a library. All of his friends told him that he needed to have an art museum, too: it was the fashionable thing to do. And they wouldn't stop nagging him about it. So he sent somebody over to the old country to buy some art, but he didn't want to spend a lot of money, so he bade them fetch the less costly work of current painters: modern artists. And thus there is a highly regarded periodic exhibition of modern art at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Well. It's a good story.)

So, I am here in Pittsburgh. This is a city of many things with long and storied histories, some of which I know poorly and the others none at all. The bones of past philanthropies lie scattered all over the place, though: foundations for Foundations, Trusts, Symphonies, Universities, Museums, Libraries. They're good bones; through war, downturn, and the loss of half the population as manufacture went elsewhere in search of workers, the city has managed to hang on to most of what those bones hold up. Folks around here seem to have a high regard for that sort of civic thing.

I have verification of that inkling now. The Carnegie Library System has been in a dire way for funding for some time, and in particular need of steady sources. The other day, while casting our ballots, the good people of Pittsburgh had a referendum in the booths before us: do you support a property tax increase to specifically fund the library system?

And we damn well passed that tax increase. We passed it with 71 percent.

I hear some folks out your way need some books. Where can I send a book?

#16 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:50 PM:

Someone should solicit donations of Atlas Shrugged for the OWS library. The site of mashed-up copies of it in a dumpster after the next raid might convince libertarians that something wrong is going on.

#17 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:58 PM:

Stefan, there's a large quantity of Atlas Shrugged *DVDs* which have been recalled; those might suffice.

(They were recalled because of an ... unfortunate ... blurb: "Ayn Rand’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice ...")

#18 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 11:58 PM:

I just started reading Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind today [research for my next unpublishable novel], so the fact that NYPD went out of their way to target the library strikes me as consistent with the observation that OWS has really gotten under the skin of our conservative master class. Also, considering this, I'd say Patrick isn't far off the mark with the answer to his rhetorical question.

I wonder if there were any copies of The Reactionary Mind in the OWS library. I wonder if any of them were recovered.

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 12:15 AM:

They destroyed the entire reference section of the OWS library. (Most of the rest, but all of the reference books, which probably included legal references.)

Bloomberg damned well did know what was going to happen: they kept out almost all of the reporters, and arrested others.

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:06 AM:

I don't know that one needs to convince libertarians that a show of force by state employees is wrong. I think that's kind of baked into the mindset.

The people we need to convince are the authoritarian conservatives and I think this is the image to go out to the Conservosphere in pursuit of that.

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:33 AM:

Also, to be a classics geek for a moment, the original definition of "barbarian"(βάρβαρος) was "someone who doesn't speak Greek*". It predates the Roman Empire. It seems to have come into use in the fifth century, both to describe non-Greeks and people Not Quite Greek Enough.

In the Hellenistic era, after Noted Barbarian Alexander The Great, speaking Greek became increasingly the mark of a civilized person.

I think there's interesting intellectual juice in calling Bloomberg and his hoodlums "uncivilized", since the Occupy movement is a city-based one. These guys are not the kind of people who create and sustain good cities.

* Or, you know, doesn't speak it properly, like wot I do.

#22 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:49 AM:

abi @ 21:

Personally, I like to call them "hooligans" or, in a fit of nostalgia for the year of Russian I took in high school, некультурно. That makes them not just uncivilized but undisciplined and abusive as well.

#23 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:55 AM:

As I recall, barbarians were named after the King of the Elephant Kingdom, who allied with the leader of the A Team in the Second Punic War. (It's possible that I didn't pay enough attention in history class.)

#24 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 02:02 AM:

Terry Jones' "Barbarians" (link to Amazon) is a fascinating work on what was probably going on outside the Roman borders.

As for New York's finest, I think they sent in a team of "the ones who keep an eye on the two intellectuals".

#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:10 AM:

All the talk of putting goods cleared from the Park in storage, so they could be reclaimed, looked dodgy as soon as you realised the timescales. There was no way they were allowing enough time to process any documentation of the seizures to track either owners or objects.

There are solid technical terms for the people who planned the operation and executed it: terms such as "liars" and "thieves". You'd need to know Federal and State laws pretty well, the statutes defining theft and others on such subjects as criminal conspiracy and racketeering, but the organised failure to track and document the property might well get this into RICO territory.

It's only a matter of time before there will be claims that drugs were found hidden in the seized property, but since the evidence trails are so thoroughly broken, and it's after election day, even an ambitious DA will hesitate.

I hope.

#26 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:09 AM:

What is meaningful in a library? The books and media? The access to information, or to story, or to history? The gathering and cultivating and cataloging of those elements so necessary to civilization? The refuge from ignorance? The refuge from isolation? The people who make it all happen and help us understand the resources available to us? The open door?

A library to me is a public place, defined by who is allowed in rather than by public ownership. And on that measure, as well as every measure which I mentioned above, the library tent at Occupy Wall Street was a public library. They had over 5000 published books, original writing and poetry and art, people who volunteered there, and people who used the library. They had all that until New York City made the conscious decision to destroy the library.

That act of destruction was, to me, not qualitatively different from the book burning in Opernplatz in 1933. Both were political acts of destruction intended as statements of power, demeaning and diminishing those disfavored by the state, targeting the tangible instantiations of knowledge and discourse.

I want this week’s act of destruction to feel qualitatively different, because it makes me heartsick to have my birthplace behave in any way similarly to the birthplace of my grandparents, a birthplace they were forced to flee. I want to believe that the authorities’ behavior in New York City was callous rather than calculated. But I cannot find the significant distinctions. Is it because in New York only 5000 books were destroyed rather than the 20,000 in Berlin? Because the books in New York were seized and mangled rather than seized and burned? Because the authorities in New York used police and sanitation workers rather than students to do it? Because the destruction in New York was less fully coordinated with other cities, or because it targeted personal possessions as well as books, or because it was accompanied by police beating and teargassing their own citizens? None of those feel sufficiently distinguishing to allow me an easy rest.

Writing is my only means to scream my outrage and link arms with those who stand against this cyclic violence. I weep that my country would do this.

#27 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:26 AM:

@goob --

Per the OWS library blog, "To Donate, please bring books, plastic bins, and other supplies to Liberty Plaza, at the corner of Liberty and Broadway in New York City or mail them to:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People’s Library
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038"

#28 ::: Mark Richards ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:29 AM:

Did anybody catch Keith Olbermann's show, where in his Special Comment he had more than a few choice words for caudillo Bloomberg's decision to order this travesty?

One major point he made was that there is one small benefit, that this served to energize the movement. Repression of dissent generally has the effect opposite to what was intended ... you'd think these bozos would have learned that over the course of centuries. I think there was a risk, going into the winter, that OWS and the other Occupy actions might gradually have lost steam.

Between this and the pepper spray in Seattle, the SWAT tactics in Chapel Hill, usw, I think there's no danger of that now.

#29 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 07:40 AM:

I am reminded of the burning of the great library of Baghdad and the thought: First they do it for you, then they do it to you.

#30 ::: Dorothea Salo ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:48 AM:

Who's deliberately destroying libraries? (I won't post links because I'd end up in the mod hall, but a librarian or even a well-constructed Google search can help you.)

Philadelphia. Oakland CA. Seattle, at least temporarily. La Crosse WI. The UK is not immune; ask Gloucestershire and Somerset.

And New York started destroying its libraries considerably before OWS.

Not to mention that with "friends" like Bill Maher, who needs enemies?

The destruction of the OWS library is indeed enormously symbolic of what's going on with American public libraries. I hope the outrage expressed in this thread leads to action to preserve this very American institution.

#31 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:54 AM:

Bruce Cohen, STM @22--oddly enough, "nekulturny" came to my mind as well--interestingly, it was the one of the worst non-political insults the old Soviet ruling classes could apply to each other.

Maybe because for so many of them it was true, but at least they knew it was something to be ashamed of.

So, our masters and their minions: nekulturny bastards who do't have the grace to be ashamed of it.

#32 ::: James V ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 10:22 AM:

Xopher @ 13

I believe it was discovered that only 25 out of 5000 books were still in any reasonable condition.

#33 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:26 AM:

The only way this stops is for mayors, governors, etc., to understand, all the way down in their bones, that sending the cops to bust heads, wreck property, and otherwise brutalize peaceful protesters = the end of your political career. Go around intimidating and brutalizing people, and you'll find you can't stay in power, even with lots of money to buy positive media coverage and ads.

To the extent that is true, politicians at various levels will have to decide whether they want to silence the protests more, or whether they want to keep their jobs more.

#34 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:43 AM:

This is just to say
I have taken
the books
that were in
your library

and which
you were probably
for teaching

Don't forgive me
in response
and solidarity.

#35 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:51 AM:

Who destroys libraries?

Enemies of discourse.

We're all engaged in a the process of civilization, and most of us, though we may disagree about details, and about really important things, are still engaged in that process, that work, that conversation. It's possible to fight for peace, it's possible to destroy in order to build. But there are some things that are always wrong, that aren't disagreements as part of the conversation but are attacks on the possibility of having the conversation, on having civilization. Destroying a library is pretty much iconic.

This is what follows from this, when you bring it home.

Gosh saving this world is uphill work. I don't know why we couldn't have had a straight road and an axe and a row of orcs like normal people.

When you take them more books, Patrick, take them some of mine.

#36 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 12:14 PM:

j h woodyatt, #18: Given that article, it makes perfect sense for the library to have been targeted. The act of having a library makes the OWS protesters into people -- semi-human drug users who live in their own waste and urinate on people don't have libraries.

Dorothea, #30: For future reference, you can post all the URLs you like as plaintext for people to copy-and-paste. You only get the gnomes' attention if you make them into actual HTML links.

#37 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 12:28 PM:

#33 ::: albatross:

Are you assuming honestly-run elections?

#38 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 01:08 PM:

If you see a policeman kick a man in the crotch, and that someone yells, "Aaaaaaaauuuuuuggggghhhh! My nuts!" saying, "Didn't that kick land on your thigh?" is taking the policeman's side.

This has been today's installment of Things Which Should Be Obvious.

I took precious lunch hour time to write this.

#39 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 02:12 PM:

Oh, one other thing: Even if you're right, you're Wrong.

#40 ::: John Peacock ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 03:00 PM:

I have the pleasure of being a chaperone for my son's 6th grade Torah School class trip to Ellis Island this weekend. Since we are taking the ferry to Battery Park and then walking to Ground Zero, I've asked that we make a slight detour to pass Zuccotti Park and (if possible) drop off some books.

I've already talked to my son about the police actions and he said "that doesn't make sense!" and "haven't the police been used to attack the Jews before?" I'm treating this as a good teachable moment...

#41 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 04:30 PM:

I'm reminded if the Heinrich Heine quote on the Nazi book burning memorial at Bebelplatz in Berlin: Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.

Roughly, "There, where they burn books, they will, at the end, also burn people"

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:28 PM:

The objective is to make war on the intellect of those who are subject rather than equal. The purpose is to defend the rule of those who believe that inequality must be maintained at all costs, under a façade of democracy. But in taking off the mask they also reveal what they are, and the façade can become a reality.

#43 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:34 PM:

Hear, hear, Fragano. And the Republicans have been doing everything they can to ensure that no one but the upper class can get a decent education. No Child Left Behind my ass!*

*Malicious misreaders: actually, I don't want any children left behind my ass, but that's not what I meant.

#44 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 05:50 PM:

I visited the Occupy Philadelphia library at Dilworth Plaza today, where Occupy is set up just outside City Hall, on the way to picking up my son from school.

Yesterday the city posted notices saying that Occupy's permit had expired due to the start of a planned plaza renovation project, and that people should move their possessions as eviction is "imminent". Those notices are still up now. Some Occupiers have posted counter-notices saying that the plans in City Hall had the project starting in February, so their permit doesn't expire till then. The city's proposed they move across the street (and a minority faction has applied for a permit) but the mayor is also saying they don't want to allow "the same conditions" anywhere else; i.e. they may keep tents and non-portable items out of any other location.

It took me a little while to locate the library, as both it and the main information tent were unstaffed when I arrived. (Since there was a march planned for 4, some people weren't in their usual locations.) The library is set up in the western portal of City Hall. The collection was under tarps due to the damp weather, but seems to consist of about 50 linear feet of low bookshelves, organized by subject, along with a magazine rack, and about 25 boxes of unshelved books. There are also a couple of wooden reading chairs and a table, and some small notes saying "please bring back books when you are done with them".

It is, as far as I know, the only continuously open free library in Philadelphia. After the last round of budget cuts, the main branch of the city's Free Library, about 10 blocks away, is open 69 hours per week, 99 hours per week less than this one.

While there are a few low-value books exposed on tables (like an old thick Who's Who) the items on the shelves appear to be mostly recent books and periodicals in good condition, and on topical subjects. The boxes are more of a mixed lot-- I only had time to open and look at a couple of them-- but there's definitely good stuff in there too. It's hard to get a precise count, but if all the boxes are full there could be as many as 1,000 volumes in all in the main library. (A nearby tent has some CDs as well, though I don't know if they're for lending; and a tent near the front of the Plaza also has a small "take a book-leave a book" exchange.)

A woman in the tent with the CDs told me that all the books had been donated by various people. Some of the material may have come from the Friends Center a few blocks north-- there's a notable Quaker presence here-- but it looked to me like there's no one dominant source of books.

She couldn't tell me exactly who was organizing the library, but said there were some people regularly there. She said she hoped they could move the books if they had to leave, though didn't know of any particular plan for this. (Mind you, she'd also never seen me before, but her answers seemed to be straightforward rather than tight-lipped. She was also used to talking with visitors-- I approached her after a blogger with a camera did a short interview with her.)

The collection is large enough that moving it will not be easy without the help of a bunch of people, even with hand-trucks or dollies. And if things go down like they did in New York, they wouldn't have the time or the opportunity to move things out safely.

On my way out, I saw a banner hanging from the top of the west portal of City Hall, saying "Have a plan. Be ready." I realized that without really thinking about it, I'd formed a plan in the back of my head of what to do if the police arrived while I was there: grab a box or armful of books, and head north to the Friends Center. I don't know how well that would have worked if it came to that, or if more than a few armfuls will make it out when the eviction comes. But I hope that they will.

#45 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 06:26 PM:

Xopher #43: Indeed. Too few people have realized that part of it. Note also how the demolition of American industry threatens to confine anyone but the best-educated (and indeed, many of those) to "service" jobs.

#46 ::: Goob ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:44 PM:

kate @ 27:

Many thanks; that will do most nicely!

#47 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:44 PM:

Umph. I have books I don't want anymore; I think I'll box some up and mail them down....

#48 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:12 AM:


Yes, I think that while there is election fraud, redistricting, and a scary amount of influenceof money on politics, I do think that election results are mostly honest in rhe US. Despite all those problems, people can be voted in or out, incumbents decide not to run again when the public is sufficiently pissed off at them, and a large number of people sayung "this crap has to stop" can force it to stop by appealing to the mostly amoral politicians' desire to stay in office.

#49 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:38 AM:

However, there is a massive and deeply funded Voter Repression movement in operation -- to keep people who would vote against the unspeakables and their unspeakable agendas, bills, laws, regulations, un-regulations and regressive legistlations from voting at all.

Love, C.

#50 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:36 PM:

Constance @ 49:

Which is precisely why it's necessary for the Occupy movement to create some sort of communication channel with real conservatives and moderates who, if they realize what's actually going on, as opposed to what the Noise Machine is telling them, should be able to find common cause.

#51 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 10:00 PM:

#35, Jo Walton: When you take them more books, Patrick, take them some of mine.

Farthing & sequels would (depressingly) be appropriate...

#52 ::: Relic ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:33 PM:

Occupy my mind (hln report):
(Been dithering for half an hour about whether to post in this thread, Occupy Chaotic Good, the Open Thread—or not at all. Hope I chose wisely.)

I'm a lurker by nature (I've been lurking here for years, case in point, but, in this instance, I'm speaking more generally). I wait, I watch, I draw conclusions, but rarely do I summon the courage to act. I shrink from public demonstrations, even as I applaud and admire the courage of those who are doing so. But I have convictions, and I try to stick to them, in my own mousey way.

For some years now, there is one particular conviction that has been growing stronger and more clearly defined in my mind. It crystalized with my wondering, a couple years ago: if we voted every single politician out of office, and voted new ones in, would anything change much? And I had this image of a snake shedding its skin—the beast beneath slithers on.

The simplest way that I can express my reaction is this: I vote with my wallet. It isn't easy; it isn't always even feasible. Wherever, and whenever I can, I try to withhold my money from those that would use it to subjugate me (the corporate powers that be), and spend it where it will support smaller, local or at least more scrupulous businesses (or in some cases, just the least of all evils, as best I am able to determine).

Most recently, I've stopped using my credit card to pay for almost everything (I haven't figured out a way to give it up entirely yet—I still order online from time to time). I've never carried a balance, but nonetheless, it's hard to give up the convenience, and I'm painfully self-conscious about fumbling with change at the register. But, if I'm going to the trouble of giving my money to those that I feel won't abuse the privilege, shouldn't I give it directly to them, rather than letting Big Finance take a cut?

I'm far from perfect, and still way more dependent than I want to be on the System, but this, at least, I can vow: next friday, Black Friday, high holy day of Marketing, our non-elected rulers will get not one penny of validation from me.


#53 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:30 AM:

Relic: It crystalized with my wondering, a couple years ago: if we voted every single politician out of office, and voted new ones in, would anything change much?

Yes, it would, and disastrously, based on the real-world effects of when it has happened in the past. The leading example is embodied by the US Congress: when through term limits or by a massive "throw the rascals out" response there has been a flood of all new faces it has caused a loss of institutional memory which leads lobbyists (paid and unpaid) to moved in to "help." And as Eric Hoffer pointed out years ago, if someone is helping you then you don't give their efforts the scrutiny that you'd give someone who works with you or for you. I suspect this has caused more evil over the years than by malfeasance, bribery, and malice combined. Anyone who has had experience with the art of politics (and public elected office isn't the only example: I've sat enough concoms to testify to that) can tell you that Robert's Rules of Order is a map, not the territory, and that guidelines without someone with experience of how the process can work leads to horrors.

#54 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:29 PM:

That's why lobbyists don't want any election reform that would strip away what enables incumbents to remain incumbents. The lobbyists really don't want to have to get to know all new people after every election.

I was listening to an interview with Jack Abramoff, who is out of prison now and is flogging his book, Capitol Punishment. He insists the only way to reform the political and campaign system is to make it illegal for anyone holding office to ever have been a lobbyist or become one -- ever. But the lobbyists' efforts to keep that from taking effect are too powerful -- at least so far.

Love, C.

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2011, 10:32 PM:

When they evicted Occupy LA, the city sent everything to landfills. None went to recycling, none were returned to owners (most of whom were being held in jail with multi-thousand-dollar bail for misdemeanors).

#56 ::: Dwight Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2011, 10:47 PM:

Belatedly noting: Andrew Carnegie did help to build many a fine library, sometimes over the objections of the "city fathers" of the day in several cities.

Including those of my current home city of Ottawa, Canada.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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