amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, April 21, 2019


The simple takeaway from the Mueller Report is the President betrayed his country and spent two years lying and breaking the law to try to hide that fact. He should resign and be tried for his crimes.

Sunday Walk And Brunch

April, but it might as well be June, bottle-blue sky, psychedelic blooms everywhere. Still feeling strung out and burned out and ready for end of term, frankly, three weeks out. Michel Foucault and Angela Davis on the prison this week. Enraging, inspiring, exhausting. Hope all goes well, I think the Angela Davis piece Are Prisons Obsolete? is the first piece I've taught all term with which I actually completely agree. That's rare.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, April 19, 2019

Endorsing This Not-Yet Endorsement

Same. Same. Same.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily


Not saying they will, insisting we must.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Green New Deal Futurism

Shows what a mainstream vision the GND really amounts to, and it exposes (yet again) the bleak blinkered limits of capitalist imagination that this provokes the panic and patronizing prognostication it does... All that said, this is a heartening change of direction for Democratic framing of this issue and it is a heartening change as well how comparatively well this seems to be resonating and provoking, at least so far...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

How About All Of Time And Space?

I have a few days' break before the final push for end-of-term and I am feeling queasy after an illness and also utterly burned out and in need of a restorative vacation... but where can I go for a few short days that will take my mind off this cruel stupid world and all the work to do done?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, April 15, 2019

Ten Theses On Taxes And Democracy

An Amor Mundi Tax Day tradition:
Hostility to taxes is commonplace among self-styled anarchists, as well as for right-wing "conservatives" whose advocacy of "smaller" or "more limited" government might as well be anarchism, since always only advocating ever smaller, ever more limited government without ever indicating what good government actually should be and alone can accomplish is substantially equivalent to blanket anti-governmentality in principle. Exploitation of discontent over taxes is also commonplace among neoliberal/neoconservative right-wing politicians and thinkers who want to ensure taxes subsidize primarily the fortunes of incumbent elites through extractive-industrial-financial corporate-militarism backed by complacent consumerism and organized violence. I for one do not want to smash states, but to democratize them. And an understanding and championing of taxes should be no less indispensable to the work of democratization as its obfuscation and demonization is indispensable to the work of anti-democratization.
Taxes are not really the price we pay for a civilized society -- in Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s, influential phrase -- for civilization is priceless. This is just to say that commonwealth is not a private commodity but a public good. Taxes are not, for example, fees for discrete services that might be provided otherwise, nor are taxes a price for which there might be discount alternatives. Perhaps the true spirit of Holmes' phrase is captured best in a negative formulation: anti-tax zealots would appear to believe that civilization is the only free lunch.
Certainly taxes are not theft, as anarchists of the right and the left are so pleased to declare, since taxation is a precondition for the constitution and ongoing intelligibility of the claim to ownership on which notions of theft depend in the first place.
Neither should taxes be mischaracterized as forced contributions to what might instead be charitable causes, since the basic rights secured through taxation cannot be regarded as matters of charity else they are not truly rights but mere favors bestowed by privileged elites.
Taxes are not, however annoying they may seem, burdens on our freedom so much as essential enablers of freedom. Taxes, government bonds, and public fees support the public investments maintaining the legal, infrastructural, and administrative material conditions alone within which political freedom can abide.
Taxes ameliorate undemocratic concentrations of wealth and authority to secure sufficient equity among citizens of diverse fortune. The equity valued by democracy ensures that the diversity also valued by democracy does not disable the demanding and costly democratic processes facilitating collective responsibility, expression, criticism, problem-solving and the interminable reconciliation of the aspirations of all the people with whom we share and contest the present world.
Taxes pay for the maintenance of institutions providing nonviolent alternatives for the adjudication of disputes. Taxes pay to secure basic needs to ensure that the scene of consent to everyday association is reliably informed and is non-duressed by the threat of deprivation, inequity, or insecurity. And taxes pay for the accountable administration of commons and public goods without which they are inevitably violated and exploited for short-term profit-taking by minorities to the cost and risk of majorities. Far from representing quintessential state violence, taxes are the enabling condition of a democratic state facilitating nonviolence.
Taxes coupled to representation itself ("No Taxation Without Representation") tie the maintenance of government as such -- an organization invested with legitimate recourse to force with all the clear dangers inhering in that state of affairs -- inextricably to public accountability and democratic legitimacy.
Taxing more those who profit more by their personal recourse to the shared inheritance of human knowledge and culture, to the shared substance of precarious environmental resources on which we all depend for our survival and flourishing, and to the ongoing benefits of collaboratively maintained infrastructure, institutions, norms, trust, legitimacy, and security is not unfair in the least. Progressive taxation follows quite simply from a recognition of the indisputable fact of our radical inter-dependence as both productive and vulnerable beings in the world. This same recognition, of course, is also the foundation for fairness.
Whenever a right wing politician declares all government wasteful, criminal, or corrupt you should pay close attention, because he is revealing his intentions. Wherever government is meant to be of by and for the people, to be anti-government always means to be against the great majority of the people.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily