I wouldn’t usually eulogize the recently dead for fear that upon investigation they might turn out to be less than what appeared at the moment. But in the instance of Aaron Swartz I feel moved to put a few lines down.
First I should note that as a 60′s baby I am only moderately computer literate, and that other than ranting, watching movies, and enjoying porn my skills at the machine are limited. That said, Aaron Swartz was clearly one of the folks who put their money where their mouth was to maintain the internet as it is, a Wild West show of all possible opinion available to almost anyone (almost anywhere) in an instant. This guy, who in spite of wealth and fame, would sneak into an MIT basement to pry loose academic journal articles, and just about anything else not nailed down to be posted, free of charge, on the internet must have rattled the dogs of law. So much so that they saw fit to arrest him and prosecute him. The punishments proposed for Swartz were daunting, 35 to 50 years behind bars and from 1 to 4 million dollars fine.
Some of the liberal media have bemoaned the “obviously” depressed state that led to his suicide which I take as pure CNN psycho-bullshit. When someone does something honorable make it psychotic — its the only way to have it make sense in these the waning days of Babylon. He saw where he was, the fines, the bilge rat prosecutor, and took his life back by taking his life. Never, ever relinquish freedom to the state, if you must kill to keep it kill. Swartz lived the same truth, his solution was the taking of his own life. I honor this internet pirate, this reboot buccaneer, as cunning and freedom loving as any of the marine version, and hope that the prosecutor who is responsible finds himself in hell, where there’s a special circle reserved for his ilk. Thanks Aaron for the example of your life and of your death — who will stand next in the breach you have left? And who will avenge this tragedy?
Spending monotonous hours among the common people, the resigned ones, the collaborators, the conformists – isn’t living; it’s a vegetative existence, simply the transport, in ambulatory form, of a mass of flesh and bones. Life needs the exquisite and sublime experience of rebellion in action as well as thought. –Severino DiGiovanni
Every once in a while I stumble on a quote, or a photo, or a piece of music that grabs me and shakes me furiously, reminds me who the hell I am, what I believe and why I believe it — and then pushes me on. The quote by DiGiovanni above is one such artifact, there are many others. Sometimes holding on to simple, evocative imagery, quotation, memory is as important to me as the more turbulent climate of debate and theory. As if everything I’ve ever read, or written, or thought, can be distilled down to momentary sensation. The feel of a plastic tie handcuff on the wrist, pulling a combatant away from a cop and releasing him — then blocking the cop with my body to stop him from the chase, or the image of lowering halogen street lights on a humid summer night in Tompkins Square. Whatever it is in each moment that keeps one oriented towards the final goal of a life that is lived and not endured is the most valuable thing one can claim. And whether held closely by the individual or shared in song, image, or word these artifacts hold me fascinated, hold me engaged in this work that must be done, and that will be completed.
Nineteenth century anarchist thinkers were all about elevating science to a place where it would strip the masses of superstition, the sacred, the seeming inevitability of the system of State and Capital. Suffice it to say, science has drawn up short on all these promises. In fact as the lapdog of technology, science has done more in the past hundred years to further enslave the species than virtually any other social component. I loathe the arrogance of science and scientists, and so like Charles Fort I love it when observed phenomena occur far outside the safe, rational, reproducible boundaries of any scientific field. To begin this series on the Death of Science let’s start with the moon, one of the great enigmas, that has astronomers still spinning and looking for explanations.
The biggest mystery of the moon is the most obvious, as any child knows one side of the moon faces the earth all the time, and the other side, the dark side, does not. Clear enough, but that also makes the moon the only known heavenly body that does not spin on it axis. The moon, based on mineral tests is about the same age as the solar system, 4.5 million years. Meaning it was formed separately from the solar system and in some fashion got trapped in the earth’s gravitational field (“capture”), or did somebody put it there? The “capture theory” fell apart quickly as the earth doesn’t have enough mass to redirect the moon into orbit from any trajectory. After the Apollo program a number of startling discoveries about the moon were made and one speculation, voiced by MIT scientist Sean C. Solomon, “The Lunar Orbiter experiments vastly improved our knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field … indicating the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.” Frightening? You bet, because as astronomers know, and as voiced by Carl “Billions and Billions” Sagan in 1966,” “A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.” Hmmmm. Finally the moon does an interesting thing when you hit it—it resonates, like a bell or a gong. NASA has, on occasion, hurtled space junk at the moon to see what kind of seismic activity occurs. Apollo 12 radio controlled the Lunar Module stage to crash onto the moon, and the surface reverberated for about an hour. The ill-fated Apollo 13 went one better and crashed the entire third stage thruster into the moon and set reverberations off that lasted over three hours. Totally unconvinced of anything, the NASA guys really wanted to see what would happen when a large, natural object struck the moon, and they got their chance on May 13, 1972 when a large meteor struck the surface with the force of 200 tons of TNT. Ideally, the shock waves should have traveled to the moons center and the bounced back to the surface. What happened was that the shock waves never came back, indicating some type of damping material near the core, or possibly, once again, a hollow space that swallowed the shock waves whole. So there it is, what is up with the moon? And to our intrepid, arrogant priests of astrophysics and planetology–how about an explanation?
So to continue on in a military vein for another entry, I ask you to consider the Battle of Thermopylae, not its import or impact, not the proto-fascist interpretations in recent graphic novels and films (“300″), but the real deal. There on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with 10,000 other Greeks staring off at the hordes assembled by Xerxes for the sole purpose of enslaving you, raping the wife and kids, and carrying off the livestock. I am always drawn to the second day of the three day battle, the 24 hours sandwiched between the first day and the hope of success and possibly relief from other Greeks, and the grim destiny of the third day when the progress of the elite Persian Immortals down from behind the battle front means that death is only hours away. What of the second day? Where a combatant has lost hope for both victory and defeat, when the only thing that occupies the mind is the battle itself. Who is fighting, the vast historical and spiritual forces behind the conflict, the political ramifications pale into nothingness on this day. The Mediterranean sun booms out overhead, the armor and greaves become leaden and burn in the heat, sweat pours down the neck and a wound scabs with dust as the battle roars on and the dead of Persia pile high. Is the only real thing in those hours a sip of water, perhaps some bread and cheese, the taste of hot wine? What happens when the fighting and dying become a meaningless never ending round of toil, when spear and sword have been broken and discarded and one is left with nothing but the will with which to continue to do battle? And the day ends in the twilight reflected off the sea, the sounds of gulls and the cries of the wounded and dying echo in the ears, the helmet is laid aside and sleep and weariness overtake mind and body. Is there a grim satisfaction that one is still alive, still able to fight one’s foe and to stop this madness from invading the homes of those one loves. Or is there a final thought — I did all I could to protect my freedom today, tomorrow, tomorrow I will fight harder.
I have an interest in revolutionary military science, and as such tend to look for resonance with all manner of movements aimed at destroying authority regardless of their place in time. One of the overwhelming examples of this is the image of Boudicea, queen of the Iceni Tribe (Central coast of Britain, circa 60 CE). The story goes that her husband had decreed upon his death that the kingdom of the Iceni was to be shared equally between the Roman interlopers and his surviving wife–Boudicea, and their daughters. At this time wealthy Romans had been making outrageously large loans to the Iceni that upon the king’s death were meant to be immediately repaid. Thus for those of you who think the US Treasury, Wall Street and IMF Criminal Triad is something new and have been pulling monetarists tricks on colonial powers to drive them into poverty and servitude is a modern invention, think again. Evil men have used greed and steel since the beginning of history to destroy societies with purer hearts and minds. The local Roman commander summons Boudicea and her daughters to his presence where the mother is flogged and the daughters brutally raped by Roman legionnaires. Once released Boudicea begins enrolling other tribes like the Trinovantes, among others to destroy the Roman occupation of Britain, and brother does she mean it. The first city to fall is Camulodunum (modern Colchester), and she leaves very little living, in the process destroying the temple to the Emperor Claudius in flaming ruins. She also destroys the IX Hispana Legion sent to relieve the city. Next stop is Londinium, (London) and here one truly sees into the heart of woman as nemesis. Suetonius, the Roman Governor, realizes that he has far too few troops to defend the burgeoning city, and leaves it undefended. Boudicea with her allegiant tribes murders virtually all the inhabitants ( all told some 70,000 were put to the sword) and then systematically destroys the city, block by block. There is a coring sample in the British Museum that shows a full several inches of blackened, bloodied soil that attests to Boudicea’s anger and her rather thorough plans for London’s very first Urban Renovation. Unfortunately the time spent destroying Londinium also allows the Romans to regroup and attack. » Read more..
So I attended the LA Anarchist Book Fair this last weekend (September 8, 2012), and had a pretty good time. The Usual Suspects were there selling books that spanned the range from working class anarchism all the way to the post-left anarchist experiment. A nice mix of folks, old and young, Latino, white and black swirling past the tables picking up this pamphlet and that book. I had a table given to me by the organizers that had belonged to a group who had canceled last minute–if they read this Thanks! You folks did an awesome job. So I sold a few Modern Slavery’s and enjoyed the sun; topped it off with a vegan tamale and left at about four. One striking thing in all this is the level of energy that happens at these events, and the sneaking suspicion that given the chance these folks could, in a heartbeat, make this great sprawling city into a garden, a refuge, a place where poverty had become impossible, and where the measure of life is happiness, and not suffering. I also, for the younger folks, felt a deep sentiment of appreciation and gratitude, when in the late 70s and 80s the world was turning into a global insane asylum a handful of holdouts were stubborn enough to keep a thin black flame burning–and hoping for better days. I count myself as one of those last men and women on the barricade. And better days are here, at last, let’s not waste them. The police fear us–they tell as much in their press releases, the FBI is sure that we’re all putting acid in eggs (LSD?) let’s make that shock and awe stick. Better Dead than Fed! Every night this week a cop should wake up in a cold sweat and feel his sphincter tingle at the thought of a line of anarchists facing him down, or even worse because he’s thinking of joining us because he knows he’s on the wrong side. We have an entire world to take back from our enemies. Lets do it quickly–before they have a chance to try and smother the flame yet again.