If E2 had node discussions, this is what it might have looked like for anarchist army (I'm not sure what the e2quette for polite company is, but I've left out user names for now):
A says: There is a historical example of an anarchist army (I mean an army that fought in the name of anarchism, not necessarily one that had the structure one might guess it should have based on the fact that it's comprised of anarchists), namely the anarchist battalions of the Republican force during the Spanish Civil War. They might make for an interesting case study as to how anarchists adapted their ideology to the circumstances, and how their ideology contributed or detracted from their effectiveness as a fighting force.
B says: The problem with this would obviously be that the voices of those who are actually well-versed in strategy and tactics wouldn't be worth any more than the views of the dumbest illiterate private. And no-one would be able to impose the required discipline to carry out any large-scale maneuovre, they'd have to try and persuade everyone else to take part.
gate says: Your comment presupposes that the person imposing the discipline is well-versed and not some "dumb illiterate" - how can you guarantee that this won't happen? One of the reasons that democracies tend to fare better than dictatorships is that in trying to convince others, you have to educate them / share your "secrets" - in other words, the entire organization becomes smarter - the more knowledge that is flowing in your system, the more "fault tolerance" you have to assassinations of individuals. This is, after all, why the US government worked on developing Arpanet.
B says: Well, I can be sure the person imposing the discipline is smart and well-versed because modern militaries promote people who are smart and well-versed into positions where they have authority. They have all sorts of mechanisms for doing so which seem to work pretty well, at any rate much better than having no mechanisms.
gate says: Those mechanisms also resulted in people like Stalin and Pol Pot, no? Do you believe they were experts at running nations? If you don't, then how do other countries do it better, if not by using democracy?
B says: Well, no, neither Stalin or Pol Pot were the result of the mechanisms used to promote officers within modern militaries. You can't draw an analogy between running a country and running a military because clearly the two things are very different and no-one is arguing that the same methods ought to be used.
gate says: so explain to me how you believe modern militaries decide on their leaders and how that differed from how Stalin / Pol Pot assumed command. Earlier you said " I can be sure the person imposing the discipline is smart and well-versed because modern militaries promote people who are smart and well-versed into positions where they have authority." Assuming you also like smart / well-versed people to run a country, why do you not support the same method of choosing a head of state and doing away with democracy?
B says: Modern militaries pick their commanders according to specific rules set out by the society which they are a part of, and according to the laws in that society. For instance, you can read about one part of the U.S. army's system here. There are all sorts of inputs into this system and some internal democracy in the military in the form of promotion boards. Pol Pot took power through a violent and illegal insurrection and by the physical destruction of other authority structures. Stalin is more complicated. But I don't see why you want to draw an analogy between a dictator and people with authority within an institution which is part of a democratic society; they're very different things. The reasons I don't want national leaders picked in the same way as military ones are numerous, but take three: military ability is much more of a science than running a country; the rulers of a country are supposed to embody and express the will of the people, whereas military leaders are supposed to run an effective military; and the power of leaders is much more wide-ranging than that of military leaders and includes controlling those military leaders.
gate says: So you are saying part of the reason a "normal" military structure is valid is that the structure has democratic input. So the question becomes how much democratic input should it have? One might say that those who are asking for more democracy are pushing it in the direction of an anarchist army. Why do you believe military skill is more "scientific" than, say, running an economy or anything else in a country? A military is also supposed to express the will of the people, is it not? If military rulers can make better decisions for the people than the people can, why not say the same for politicians? Military leaders have the power to kill all the country's citizens and overthrow the civilian government - I'd say that's plenty of power.
B says: Okay, you've made a number of points there. Firstly, yes, there is a question about how much democratic input it should have - how its decisions should be made internally - and clearly a balance needs to be struck. I agree that those who want more democracy are pushing in the direction of an anarchist army, and that's why I and most military experts would not push for more democracy because discipline is paramount. This merges with the second point, which is why running a military is more technocratic than running a country. A military has a well-defined end which isn't under dispute: destroying the enemy. It's effectively a tool and it is directed by the democratic process, which picks who the enemy is. The difference between running it and running the country is that the country doesn't have well-defined and tautological ends, it needs its ends to be defined by the people: the national government expresses the will of the people. Now, specific parts of the administration of the country are indeed technocratic - say, the economy, or the logistics of procuring office equipment for the ministries. Some of these, like the economy, are fundamentally political, because how resources are allocated is a political issue which involves horse trading between interest groups, consensus-building, confidence-building, and all the other nuts and bolts of democratic politics. This is nothing like running a military. Running a military is more like the logistics of procuring office equipment, in that it's a technical skill that the general public don't understand particularly well and which is hence rarely the subject of democratic elections. Military rulers can't make better decisions for the people about anything other than how to fight wars, just like the bureaucrats who run government departments can't make better decisions apart from about technical matters like how to procure office equipment, how to adminster welfare, etc. It's not like we routinely elect the heads of our civil service. We instead elect the people who give them political direction, which we also do for the military because we elect the commander-in-chief. Which brings me to the final point, about their ability to overthrow the government: this is precisely why discipline and not anarchy is important in a military organization, because discipline keeps them from inflicting violence on their own population or dissolving the constitution through violence
gate says: There is indeed "horse trading" in the military - or at least there would be if it were not authoritarian. Because when it is authoritarian, then commanders have a free hand to sacrifice whichever units they want - do the people in those units have a say over whether they should be sacrificed? Indeed I agree experts should be allowed to be experts, but I disagree as to who should be the final judge as to whether a person is a valid expert or not. You believe that discipline prevents military heads from attacking their own people - who enforces the discipline then? The people vote for the head of state, who then appoints the military heads. However, you come down to a few single points of weakness - all you need to do is corrupt, blackmail, or otherwise compromise the head of state or general, and you endanger the entire country. If all power didn't rest with a single authority, but were dispersed across the population, then you don't have single points of weakness - it's not like people are going to choose to oppress themselves. As far as electing of heads of civil services goes, I'd say it's the public's job to choose which way they want those departments to go, then it's the civil servants in those departments to decide on the technical matters to accomplish their mission, using internally democratic means and voting out bad civil service heads if necessary.
B says: The people that enforce the discipline are the entire military command structure, and the military police, and the judiciary and the civilian executive's enforcement branches, etc. That this works is demonstrable from almost every European country, the United States, Canada, etc. It's down to a whole array of cultural and societal factors as well as legal and coercive ones which prevail in these countries; the military in western countries is professional and used to obeying, not to commanding, and their ambitions don't extend to commanding. You musn't confuse the ability to commit violence and the ability to exercise legitimate, legal power: they're very differerent things. I also think the military is much less authoritarian than you think it is. It's not like a dictatorship at all - it has a lot of internal democracy and flexibility at crucial points. That doesn't necessarily mean it needs more. It has enough. If you're arguing that we need to ensure the military is properly controlled and doesn't take over the country, then sure, I agree with that. But we don't need an "anarchist army" to ensure that.
gate says: If the entire command structure "enforces discipline" then do subordinates have the right to disobey their superiors when they believe their superiors are wrong (for example, when they authorize torture or gassing or massacres)? If not, then it's not really everyone "enforcing discipline" is it? If so, then how much and for what reasons are they allowed to disobey? The more loose that is, the more it resembles anarchism. You're right though, I don't think you absolutely must have an anarchist army to prevent military dictatorship - democracy has worked fairly well, although it has come close to falling apart sometimes like in the case of Smedley Butler. Anyway, the point of this node isn't to say, let's start with our current political system and use those principles to design a military. The point of the node is to imagine an anarchist society and how they can incorporate their principles into their own structures of military defense.
B says: When I read your node I thought it sounded like you were trying to argue that an anarchist army would be more effective than a conventional army rather than just imagining a hypothetical anarchist army, so I apologize for that misunderstanding. As for when they can disobey, the standard practice is that they can disobey when they're ordered to do something illegal, which again ties them to domestic law and the civilian government and for which there are enforcement mechanisms: the military police, higher commands, civilian law enforcement, etc. That's still "imposing authority" because it's the difference between legitimate authority and illegal violence. "Enforcing discipline" involves picking out rogue commanders and those committing illegal acts and subjecting them to the weight of the law; this is implicit in the mechanisms of control in the institution and its subordination to the higher authority of the civilian government.
gate says: It would be nice if subordinates could recognize an illegal order and had the guts to act on it, but is it true in practice? In the node about My Lai, it quotes a soldier saying "I was never told I had the choice" - Vietnam wasn't so long ago, and America had supposedly been a democracy for over 100 years. Do you think it was just an isolated incident in which soldiers didn't know they were allowed to disobey, or perhaps most soldiers didn't know that at the time, and still don't?
B says: You say Vietnam wasn't that long ago but it was actually a long time ago, and the American military has changed beyond all recognition since then, not least because of lessons learned in Vietnam. Armies have different levels of success in keeping their actions legal - Russia does very badly and America does very well. None of this is really relevant to the very different concept of an "anarchist army", which one could easily argue would be the most prone to illegal actions because it has no enforcement mechanisms to prevent them. A bit like, in fact, the Russian army. Western militaries train soldiers thoroughly in the wars of law and and the appropriate use of violence, and history shows they do well at enforcing them. Armies which are more "anarchist" - have fewer control mechanisms - do very badly at enforcing them, like in Russia or militias in many civil wars.
gate says: so assuming you believe American democracy started in 1776 (which isn't really true, since they did have some form of it before the revolution) - why did it take so long between 1776 and sometime after 1975 before a "democracy" produced the kind of military "worthy of democracy"? Why didn't America produce one sooner? Say a new democracy is formed today in some part of the world - would it be 200 years before they produce their own military "worthy of their democracy"? If everybody believed in authoritarianism, then the enforcement mechanism is that they all listen to their superiors and punish those their superiors want them to punish (and the authoritarian himself is never punished). If everybody believed in democracy, then the enforcement mechanism is that they vote out bad commanders or vote against decisions that they believe violate the principles of democracy. If everybody believed in anarchism or Christianity, then the enforcement mechanism is that everyone acts according to the principles of anarchism or Christianity, regardless of what their commanders order them to do.
B says: Well, I don't believe it took until after 1975 to create a military "worthy of democracy". The process is a constant struggle to maintain and raise standards, in which there will always be lapses. Nor is there ever going to be a military where everyone believes in something, which means you can't rely on them acting according to certain principles, you need to force them to do so in certain circumstances. I know there's this anarchist idea you can "educate" everyone to act how you want and then leave them to it but, well, good luck with that.
gate says: So what percentage of the military do you believe are ready and willing to disobey their commanders (and know they have the right to) if the case should arise? Is the percentage close to 100%? If it's not, do you believe we should move it closer to 100%? If so, by what means are you willing to use to achieve this? As far as "educating" about anarchism - it's just like any other idea, be it democracy or authoritarianism - you make your arguments as to why you think this idea is good, and then it's up to the other guy to judge whether it's good enough to spread or needs to be "mutated" before spreading.
B says: I can't put a percentage on it. It's high. And the means to move it higher are training and experience, and better enforcement mechanisms from outside the chain of command. But I must admit I'm a bit lost in this discussion. It's not as if we routinely have a problem with western military commanders issuing illegal orders which need to be disobeyed. Current military practice seems to deal with this problem just fine, despite the occasional lapse like Abu Ghraib. And they certainly deal with it better than military structures without comparable control structures. So I'm not sure what this has to do with an "anarchist army".
gate says: What do you think of the case of Ehren Watada? Should he have disobeyed? Did he have the right to disobey? Should he be punished for disobeying? How can you tell Abu Graib and waterboardings are only occasional lapses? You don't believe every "bad" thing that has happened is already out in the open and none of it is hidden? For example, is this merely another non-routine occurence? You're right though - I don't think a mere decentralized structure can prevent angry soldiers from committing atrocities on those they perceive to be their enemies. However, one of they ways authoritarian military structures can convince their soldiers to kill others without thought is to dehumanize them - make their soldiers see them as vermin - and they can do this because the authoritarian structure has ultimate control of what their soliders see and hear. What motivation, in your view, would anarchists in an anarchist army have for dehumanizing their opponents?
B says: Human nature? I think it's pretty clear from history that dehumanization of the enemy and atrocities predate modern structures of military control and are more widespread without what you call authoritarian structures of control. And I think that America's inability to even keep waterboarding or Abu Ghraib or the two detainees who died in Bagram a secret says a lot about exactly how good they are at hiding things; I'm sure the odd thing is hidden but it's not credible to believe that the problem is endemic without us knowing about it. These things tend to come to light. If there was a problem on a widespread enough scale to discredit the military, it would be plain for all to see. (As it is, for instance, in Russia.)
gate says: So what do you think it is about "human nature" that motivates them to dehumanize others? Do they all do it? Or do only some do it, but not others? If some people don't try to dehumanize other groups of people, what do these "non-dehumanizers" have in common? When an iceberg is huge, obviously you'll see little bits of it pop out every now an then. But just how big is the part of the iceberg that you don't see? Sure, almost everybody knows about Abu Ghraib / waterboarding now, but how many people do you think know about this and this?
B says: Your questions about human nature are too broad for me to answer. Clearly it's a mixture of environment and temperament which makes people what they are, and those can in turn be split into countless sub-factors of which it's not possible to conduct a scientific analysis. What are you trying to drive at with your questions? As for war crimes, I don't know how many people know about your examples, but they're there in the media to be known about, and if the problem was more widespread then it would be more widespread in the media. The U.S. military and the federal government is terrible at keeping secrets, and the media is very good at uncovering them. History teaches us this. In conflicts where atrocities are more widespread - and often when the media are operating in much less permissive conditions than they are in Iraq or Afghanistan - we find out about them. See Russia in Georgia or Chechnya, for instance.
gate says: The point about "human nature" is that it can be manipulated by society / the media - under different types of governments, they would probably be manipulated for different purposes. For example, if oil moguls or banana moguls have a lot of power in your society, then one would expect a lot of manipulation would be done to favor the interests of the oil or banana moguls. As Smedley Butler said, "the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag." So while the node itself was about an anarchist army, one also has to assume it came out of the environment of an anarchist society - in other words, one in which oil and banana moguls don't have any more power than anyone else (if they existed at all). In a scenario such as this, what motivation and what purpose do you think the society would have for its media manipulation? I would say you're much more naive about the role the media plays in society. Yes, while it would be nice if the media is going to hold the government, other corporations, other media outlets, and even themselves accountable for the nasty things they do, that is not how it works out in real life. While many reporters may major in journalism with idealistic plans of saving the world by reporting the truth, the fact is that primary purpose of most media outlets is to increase shareholder value - and the shareholders who have the most power are the ones who least want to change their current positions in society (unless, of course, it's to make themselves even richer).
B says: People were comitting atrocities and illegal acts in war before there was a modern media. Are you suggesting that the only reason people were be violent is because they were manipulated by the media? The weight of history shows that violence is the norm in human behaviour, and that structures of authority are needed to control violence. And, with respect, I don't think your view of the media comes from any practical experience of it. I've worked in the media for a long time and I can assure you the representatives of big business were not hovering over my shoulder making sure I didn't write something detrimental to their interests. That's just not how it works. Media outlets derive their sales from their credibility as objective sources; if this was compromised, they would lose sales and hence the profits that shareholders are interested in. You'd have to come up with quite a lot of evidence to convince me there is some sort of giant conspiracy in the free press of western democracies. And you'd have to explain why the media consistently prints things that go against the interest of powerful groups and the government, which they do. Most journalists are not corporate hacks. I'd be interested in how exactly you think this media manipulation is carried out. If you don't think the media holds governments to account, I've got to ask: what media are you reading? Because that's exactly what it does. It's only taken me thirty seconds to find this and this and this - all examples of newspapers holding governments to account.
gate says: So before the modern media, who do you think controlled the lines of communication? Hierarchical societies have existed for a long time, just as hierarchical militaries have existed for a long time. No, there are many reasons for violence, but to organize the kind of mass violence in a war, yes, you do need a lot of propaganda. Structures of authority are just a tool - they can be used either to cause violence or to prevent it - if some stuctures prevent violence more than others, then it's probably because they are structured differently. What media organizations have you worked for? From what I've read of your writing, I consider you somewhat of a "right-winger" - for example, if Fox News only hires right-wing reporters, obviously they don't even need to hover over their reporters. The reporters themselves would be happy to skew their reporting with right-wing points of view. Media organizations can hide news simply by devoting different amounts of resources to different news departments. For example: 60% of reporters might be assigned to news about celebrities, 30% might be assigned to news about the stock market, and 10% might be assigned to news about labor unions, poverty, and unemployment. Those first 2 news stories you mentioned are hardly scandals on the level of war crimes. The 3rd is better, but is it the media's own investigative journalism or is it just reporting on other people's investigations? You're right though - the media doesn't always bow at the feet of the government - for example when the mainstream press published the story about warrantless wiretapping. Sometimes the media tries to get the government to bow at its own feet... and sometimes the media and government basically merge. Also, I'd like to get your take on this and why do you think more media outlets haven't made this more widely known?
B says: I'm not going to discuss my employers, and given that they're all English it's unlikely you would have heard of them anyway. But given that the media spans the whole ideological spectrum, what you say about right-wingers equally holds for left-wingers - in America, most of the print media is to the left of the government, and most of the talk radio is to the right of it, so the government gets criticized from both directions. Despite what you say about resource allocation, there are a massive quantity of resources in the American media devoted to serious political stories. Who broke Watergate? And My Lai? And wiretapping? And the Bagram detainees? And waterboarding? The media thrives off showing the government up. Here in Britain we just had a great example of this, with the expenses scandal, which was basically a giant "fuck you" from the media to the government. I just find it absurd for anyone to suggest the media somehow kowtows to power in either the U.S. or Britain. Italy is different, but it's just one example of where things have gone wrong, and not one replicated elsewhere.
gate says: Indeed I agree if a left-wing media outlet hires only left-wingers, then they don't actually need superiors telling them to report with a left-wing point of view. However, who has the resources to fund media? In capitalist societies, obviously it would be the rich who has the resources - and they get to determine the size of various departments, who heads those departments, which stories to get more airtime, and where to send their reporters. Sure, there are left-wing media outlets, but by definition in a capitalist society, they don't get the same funding - it's not like wealthy investors are going to be putting money in an organization that believes in employee democracy and abolishing the concept of shareholders itself. Just because you believe the media is mostly "left of the government", I'd hardly say I'd consider any of it left-wing. I'd only consider them left-wing if they were constantly promoting employee democracy in all companies. Since they themselves don't have that, then no, I'd say they are still right-wing. Like I wrote earlier: "Sometimes the media tries to get the government to bow at its own feet" - during election season, it likes to feel it has a role to play as the king-maker. Whether it's the media, the government, the finance industry, or the energy industry, when they fight each other, it's just different factions of the wealthy fighting other factions of the wealthy. Of course the media isn't completely worthless - even state-run Chinese media isn't completely worthless, but then again, have you read John Swinton's "We are intellectual prostitutes" speech? If the media were truly left-wing, how come I don't see stories like those at the bottom of July 2, 2009 regularly being plastered all over "mainstream" media at the time they happen?
B says: It's clear that we're operating from very different definitions of left-wing and right-wing. The fact is that your opinions on things like "employee democracy" are far outside the ideological mainstream and not supported by a significant proportion of the population, so obviously there can't be mass media catering to people with those opinions. We also probably have different definitions of what it means for the media to hold the government to account, because in my definition it means checking they stick to accepted legal and ethical practices but in your definition it involves adhering to the political principles you hold. So we're probably going to have to agree to disagree, especially about the definition of "left-wing".
gate says: It's a vicious cycle, isn't it? Stuff that isn't in the mainstream don't get reported on. Stuff that doesn't get reported on has no chance to make it into the mainstream. That's the entire point of my objection how mass media is controlled in capitalist societies - those who currently have ultimate control over the media fight actively against employee democracy because they don't want to lose control over their own organizations. See also: Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. When you say "accepted practices" - accepted by whom? The media plays a direct role in convincing people what to accept and what not to accept. If the media itself is fighting for the right to lie, do you consider that "accepted practices"? Left and right wing are relative terms. Some countries fall further to the "right" or "left" than others. How right-wing do you have to be to oppose democracy? But then again, when the right-wing already holds the reigns of the media, think tanks, and political campaign contributions, the job of those in power is then to make democracy sound like a left-wing "fringe" idea.
B says: I've got to disagree with the way you make it sound like there's some sort of explicit conspiracy among media owners to sideline "employee democracy". Employee democracy is a fringe political idea that the mainstream media don't address because not many people are interested in it, not because of a conspiracy - it would never occur to them that they explicitly needed to discredit it anymore than it would occur to media owners that they had to discredit monarchism or Stalinist central planning. It's just not on the radar, and you are a part of a very small minority of people who think it should be. On the subject of "left/right wing", I personally feel they're useless terms which are usually arbitrarily defined - in your usage "left" appears to mean anarchism, is that correct?
gate says: So how would you discredit employee democracy? I see plenty of descriptions about how monarchism or Stalinism are bad in history books, but no mention of employee democracy. I suspect it's just not mentioned because even in the act of criticizing it, people will start to think about it - and that becomes a threat to those running authoritarian organizations. It's like an employer firing employees who try to organize a union or employers closing down stores or departments that have unionized - it's just damage control - an attempt to "quarantine" a "memetic virus". China does the same when in tries to block access to internet content mentioning democracy. Indeed I agree that "left/right" is far too limited. For example, American liberals are generally against gun ownership, however, I am with the American "right-wingers" on that issue. However, usually when I use the word "leftist" I am referring to "economic leftist" - someone opposed to plutocracy and opposed to indifference toward other people's poverty.
B says: Well, sorry, but we've got a long way from our original topic and I'm not interested in debating the merits of "employee democracy". But I can assure you that media men across the country are not walking into their offices every day thinking about how they can suppress it. Most of them have probably never heard of it. I'm terminating our conversation until you comply with user C's request.
gate says: Indeed it is the job of authoritarians (such as in China, North Korea, or anywhere else) to prevent as many of their citizens as possible from hearing about democracy, isn't it? The people at the bottom obviously never get to hear about what has already been censored.
REDACTED leadership REDACTED critical
REDACTED United States superiority in multiple theatre operation
REDACTED U.S. REDACTED Afghanistan
gate says: Haha, no, I doubt the US will be destroyed in Afghanistan - it will probably just be a long drawn out battle like Vietnam - the US may even eventually "win" but only be able to hold part of the country like the situation in Colombia. I agree with the US commanders that say the key to winning Afghanistan will be winning over the people, rather than through military might - military might hasn't done much good for either side in Israel / Palestine and that fight has been going on for generations. In fact, I believe the US should arm every Afghan and let them decide for themselves how they want to rule themselves ("anarchist", remember?) So when you say "military leader" do you mean someone others listen to because they like his ideas, or do you mean someone others listen to because they will be punished if they don't? The former is what I would consider a characteristic of anarchism, the latter a characteristic of authoritarianism. Anyway, I would say the US is successful militarily in the past isn't due to any great strategists or organization structure, but due to its economic power and technology. You do realize the US spends far more on its military than anybody else in the world, right?
C says: REDACTED reveling in the death of U.S. troops
REDACTED defeated larger, more expensive armies REDACTED organized communication
REDACTED naturally evolved leaders
gate says: In which sentence do you think I'm "reveling" in American deaths? While the opposition in Afghanistan may be more "network-like" I would hardly consider their ideology to be anarchist. If you do, then you have a lot to learn about anarchism. Organized communication? I would say one of big problems in war is that communication with central command is often disrupted - if squads had to waiting around until word finally got back, then they are incredibly slow moving. In a more decentralized structure, they don't wait for word to come back from central command because they can just make their decisions locally. While I think the whole concept of a "Twitter-revolution" is overhyped, it does have its own advantages. I have no problem with "leaders" assuming you mean the same thing I mean - in other words, people others listen to because they like his ideas, and not people others listen to because they will be punished if they don't.
C says: REDACTED publishing private correspondence REDACTED without attribution REDACTED writing privately REDACTED open audience
gate says: If you are ashamed of what you said, maybe you shouldn't have said it. If you are hurt in some other way, for example, if you sent your social security number or personal phone number to me, then sure, I can respect that - but please explain more to me how publication of criticism of someone's writing hurts the criticizer.
C says: REDACTED impolite REDACTED be rude REDACTED asserting my copyright REDACTED illegal reproducing REDACTED
gate says: So you're going the Scientogloy route? Assuming the E2 servers reside in Michigan, can you point me to the relevant sections of US copyright law regarding internet correspondence? Then again, you do realize you're talking to an "anarchist" don't you - I could simply say it's an act of civil disobedience. Even if this day log happens to disappear from E2, you'll note that on the internet, the Streisand effect sometimes causes the exact opposite to happen. Have you read The North Wind and the Sun? If you can convince me that I am causing you great personal harm that you don't deserve, then yes, I will remove it.
However, I believe there is great value in the discussion we're having and in the points you have raised, which is why this day log is even here. If all I got in replies to anarchist army were a bunch of spam, then obviously there isn't much point in reading a "discussion" full of spam. So what do I find valuable about your criticism? I think the point about "reveling in the death of Americans" is very important - I am in fact a (non-suicidal) American citizen living in America, so obviously I don't want to see our government doing things that will alienate Afghans and those who sympathize with them around the world. If our government is doing stupid things that will only cause more people to "oppose America" in varying degrees, then our government should stop doing those stupid things. As the old military joke goes: "Don't draw fire. It irritates everyone around you."
says: As far as this node
is concerned, I think person C has been very polite and civil in asking for you to remove his comments. No, you are not under any legal obligation to do so but it is generally in very poor taste to reveal private correspondence in public. There is no longer front page space linking to your writeup so I would think that there is little point in updating it aside from the implicit purpose of putting the thumb screws to person C. Please do as he's asked you to do, not because you have to but because it is the polite thing to respect another person's wishes when you publish their material.
gate says: So why is it in poor taste? Are other people going to treat that person differently because of what is here? Do you think the person is embarrassed by what that person has written? What I'm trying to get at is, how is the person hurt by what is here? This day log is an attempt to address ideas and objections to ideas - discussion and dissemination of ideas are part of what makes democracy a valuable tool for knowledge, whether it's about organizational structure or about whatever those discussions morph into, such as internet communication. What do you think that person has really lost, other than an argument? If you don't even believe the person has lost the argument, then that person hasn't lost anything at all, right? ...in which case, it would just be me putting thumb screws on myself.
D says: I do not presume to know how he feels so I'm not going to make any claims as such. I'm certain that there have been moments in your life when you've had private conversations with someone which you would not want to be made public, even unattributed. His request is not unreasonable and acquiescing to it would cost your writeup little in terms of its overall message. Principles of 'democratic discussion' and 'civil disobedience' are all well and good but there is a certain something to be said for respect. The nature of your comments make it seem (whether this is an accurate assessment of your actual reasoning or not) as though you are taking a certain pleasure in having 'won' the argument and that his asking for the comments to be removed will deny you of this public display of your argumentative acumen. Do the right thing please.
gate says: You haven't yet convinced me that your way is the right way. How would unattributed comments harm a person, especially if they are unattributed political comments that are probably common in society? In fact, it is precisely because I respect the person's ideas that they are here in this node. Those ideas are important to discuss because if you don't, then nothing ever gets accomplished and we as a society can't move forward. If there is an entire group of people that misinterprets a message and thinks it implies something completely unrelated (such as assuming "supporting anarchism means supporting the Taliban"), then it definitely needs to be addressed. What would you have me do instead? Paraphrase every one of those messages and keep my own replies the same? How would that improve things and not just be an unnecessary waste of time, possibly leading to the person accusing me of distorting the original objections or taking them out of context?
D says: Whether or not unattributed comments harm a person depends on if they feel harmed, not whether or not you think they are justified in feeling harmed. Messages sent specifically to a person are usually understood to be private correspondences unless stated otherwise at the onset. You did not state as such and so it is not unreasonable for Person C to want to change the nature of your communications both past and present now that they are aware of the standards of the conversation. While you claim that your publication of their private messages is a sign of your respect for their ideas, your actions speak otherwise as you clearly do not respect their ideas about privacy. As for what I would have you do, yes, I would have you paraphrase any message sent by a person who did not want their words repeated in public verbatim. Persons A and B seem to have no issue with their words appearing in your daylog and so I have no issue with their reproduction. You could clarify supposed misinterpretations of your message far more effectively by editing your writeup on the subject (which gets more exposure) than by continuing to edit a daylog which is most likely only being read by you, myself, and Person C at this time. I am also perplexed as to why my own messages to you have been reproduced in the daylog as they do not concern discussion of anarchist army whatsoever. By the nature of your actions it is clear to me that there is very little that I could say to change your mind. More to come? I think not.
gate says: One of things about freedom of expression is that you are allowed to try to convince others that they aren't harmed, or shouldn't feel harmed, or that the amount of harm is so small that the potential gain to the advancement of knowledge is well worth it. When I say "respect for ideas" it does not mean I like those ideas and it does not mean I won't try to fight them every step of the way. What I mean is, if I believe a certain set of ideas are dangerous and a threat to society, then those ideas have my "respect" just as the mafia may have my "respect" - it means it is worth devoting time to challenging those ideas or those groups of people, not just brushing them aside as if they aren't worth my time. So tell me, how would you paraphrase each one of those messages? Obviously, if it were me paraphrasing, you'd expect my own bias against those ideas to creep into the paraphrasing. If I added a section to the original node about how anarchism and supporting the Taliban are different things, my guess is that most people who read that section are just going to say, "What? Why is this section even here?"
There can be all sorts of objections to a set of ideas - some are more common and some are more tangential. If you attempt to address every single tangential objection in the main node, then it loses its focus and relevancy. This is why I prefer to address the more tangential objections apart from the main node, where readers can go for further reading if they so choose. Your choice to oppose this day log and my response is documented here because I am using this day log to defend itself. For example, if you privately go to "The Authorities" to have this day log removed, I would not be around to defend it. Therefore, in order for everyone to see both sides of the issue, it is documented here.
says: Hello there. I've received a request from C
that you remove the messages C sent to you which you have since published in this daylog. The messages were private correspondence and were not intended for publication. We would all appreciate your co-operation here. Thank you.
gate says: Can you suggest alternatives to answering the points brought up by the peron's replies? I believe it is important that these points be answered.
E says: I think that you've answered them by replying to C, and that is what is significant. If you can integrate the responses C's questions into your original writeup (for example, 'If it is suggested that... then...') then that is a good option. You don't have to quote C, but the points you used to answer C's questions can strengthen your argument. I don't think that a point-by-point public rebuttal of C's private messages to you is necessary.
gate says: Simply replying to one person is fine when it comes to personal issues, but I believe in the realm of political issues, it is not nearly enough. In my view, political discussion needs to be as widely disseminated as possible. As far as integrating all of C's points into the original node, I've mentioned this above: "There can be all sorts of objections to a set of ideas - some are more common and some are more tangential. If you attempt to address every single tangential objection in the main node, then it loses its focus and relevancy. This is why I prefer to address the more tangential objections apart from the main node, where readers can go for further reading if they so choose."
E says: Evenso, I believe that if someone wishes to maintain the privacy of their exchanges with you, you ought to respect that. For some people, politics is personal. Thank you for amending that writeup. It is appreciated.
gate says: True, sometimes politics are personal - such as in the case of politically motivated death threats. Obviously, if someone sends you a death threat, keeping the death threat to yourself in order to respect the other person's privacy is pretty silly. Of course, this instance doesn't even come close to a death threat - however, if people should exercise caution when sending internet communication to people they don't even know, they should be doubly so when sending politically antagonistic communication to people they consider to be their opponents. It is merely the logical thing to do. Sometimes even your supposed friends fail to preserve your privacy - why should you expect the same from your political adversaries, particularly when it comes to the issues directly related to the political ideas being discussed?
E says: I think that there is a great difference between political adversaries and private communication between two writers regarding an intellectual construct. But the issue here was that someone did not want that person's private communication that was directed to you and only you published in a public forum. C had every right to expect you to respect C's privacy.
gate says: Two people can both be political adversaries and communicate with one another, can they not? Here are 2 scenarios: 1) I stake out someone's house, camera in hand, snapping nude photos of them or searching their computer for embarrassing files, and then publishing them. 2) Someone sends me their own nude photos and embarrassing files, without my request, and then demands I not publish them after sending me hate-mail. #2 is just asking for trouble. Let's say someone sent me private messages saying that while he was the most respected researcher on ADHD, he was also secretly taking millions of dollars in funding from pharma companies marketing ADHD drugs. Say someone who was on the board overseeing greenhouse gas emissions sent me a private message saying he also happened to be on the payroll of major oil companies. Say someone working in the intelligence agency admitted to me that he was a Soviet spy. Say an E2 dev sent me a private message saying he was deliberately leaving security-related backdoors in the code. Should I be "respecting the privacy" of these people in each of these cases? Here's a more related example: say a person is a closeted racist and doesn't want any non-racists to know he's a racist. If he sends me private messages promoting racist ideas, am I "outing" him by allowing him to defend racism, anonymously and in his own words? The audience of a racism debate, to me, would be other racists. Without presenting the racist side of the argument clearly, then other racists may not see the argument as relevant to them.
E says: I'm sorry to say that you are being deliberately obtuse in order to justify your position. There are of course instances when one is expected to reveal the contents of private correspondence in order to uphold the law or protect security of some description. However, there is also simple respect for the privacy of personal correspondence that does not have deeper ramefications. I don't think we need to discuss this any further. It is now becoming a circular argument.
gate says: The thing is, if there are some situations that justify publicizing personal correspondence, then a line must be drawn somewhere. Different people may believe the line should be drawn at different places. Is it even a binary line? Some examples of different revelations: take the correspondence to law enforcement only, reveal it to the national press but not reveal the identity of the source, reveal it only to that person's family, reveal it to the person's family / friends / employer, reveal it only to personal friends (though it may sometimes go further than expected), reveal it only to people who don't know the person perhaps with all identifying info removed, reveal it perhaps as an example of something. Indeed I understand where you're coming from, which is why after the first set of examples, I offered the "more related" example of publicizing a hypothetical debate on racism - you wouldn't say that exposing the reasoning behind racist thought patterns and then debunking them in public is a good idea?
E says: I'm not entirely certain why you are so determined to embark on such a protracted conversation with me regarding the privacy of correspondence. The correspondence that you published without permission was in no way revealing a threat to an individual or a potentially illegally act. It was a fairly simple decision, albeit one that you didn't like, so I think you need to accept it. The world is full of shades of grey and decisions depend very much on personal judgement. Even the law is interpreted by judges and isn't always clear-cut. That's just the way that it is.
gate says: It takes two to have a protracted conversation, doesn't it? =] Sure, there are lots of things people don't like, but why accept them all? What is the point of freedom of expression if you have to accept the status quo? Let me ask you again: would you say that exposing the reasoning behind racist thought patterns and then debunking them in public is a bad idea?
says: Quite the epic correspondence here. I only wish to offer the vague opinion that C is overreacting and that I personally never express an opinion in an electronic fashion that I wouldn't want everyone to see, especially on E2 where dropped messages are quite common.
gate says: Thanks - I didn't even consider the dropped messages possibility...
F says: It's what makes the whole thing so absurd to me.
says: Good luck.
says: I think making a conversation public without the consent of both parties is rude and twattery. However, if we made illegal everything that is simply rude, our society would lose much freedom. I offer to host your full uncensored conversation offsite and thumb my nose at Z
's copyright claims. Let's see Z try to sue a non-US site for infringing on his petty copyright. >:-)
gate says: Uh, thanks (I think)?
H says: Actually, never mind. They're backing down on trying to defend the copyrightability of /msgs. I have no further desire to defend your twattery. :-/
gate says: Thanks for the info - we now return you to our regularly scheduled twattery =)
More to come?