Sorry, Owen Jones, but your British history is not mine (or anyone else’s)

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Owen Jones is a political activist, an atheist and a secularist. That’s a kind of people who traditionally receive a lot of training – should we say programming? – in set thought from an early age from various institutional power settings, such as school, college, university, party, NGO and other parts of the establishment.

It’s a very frustrating environment – the activist scene – and a field of ossification. New ideas, approaches and, democracy forbid, free thought is not allowed.

Owen Jones writes in The Guardian that “Sorry, David Cameron, but your British history is not mine“, but Owen Jones has got the wrong end of (at least) one stick: the Magna Carta. Now, the Magna Carta is commonly thought of across the intellectual and leftist spectra of thought as a declaration of rights of barons et al. to do whatever they please and with time it came to be seen as nothing other than the beginning of what is nowadays called industrial capitalism. And only that.

Cameron probably sees it like that, since he wants it pushed into the minds of children in “his” realm. And Owen Jones sees it like that, he rhetorically provokes his readers, repeating a dogma he once heard in a meeting or read in an liberal, academic book, perhaps: the Magna Carta is the beginning of evil, the work of exploitative nobles. What a shame and what admission of ignorance: Owen Jones and David Cameron do indeed share views on British history: they both have false assumptions of the Magna Carta and mislead people with their rhetoric.

Why are they wrong? Simple: Charter of the Forest (Thanks Peter Linebaugh!). Further information available? Yes, of course….

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Left, Right and Centre: Property is Misunderstood

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This brief reflection on the nature of property was spawned by a misleading statement about the political persuasion of Lawrence Lessig et al. by http://techliberation.com.

If, as it is claimed “they set the intellectual agenda for the Left on information technology policy“, then there is no left.

Lessig et al. are liberals and right of centre in any sensible political analysis. Last time I checked one of the main points of leftist politics was a critique of the ownership of the means of production in the tangible realm and a clear rejection of the predominance of exclusive private property in that context.

Lessig, however, has stated repeatedly that he sees no problem with the conventional liberal understanding of exclusive private property as the best way to organise the tangible realm. This position of his has been brought out in debate with the far right people – or property fundamentalists (like Epstein) – who believe that exclusive private property should also rule in the intangible realm.

Benkler remains “suspicious” of accounts that use the term property, which is not quite the same as accepting exclusive private property in the tangible realm, but it is a clear rejection of property as a protocol for social organisation of the intangible realm.

They essentially reject “property in general” on the basis of a very “particular form of property”, namely exclusive, private property (in the tangible realm) with a collocation of exclusionary and exchange rights. That is a pretty much the same as saying that I am suspicious of Italy, because I once had a bad experience in Rome airport, while in transfer. You cannot simply reject something in general on the basis of a very particular instance. One piece of software might be bad, like Windows, but could I sensibly reject a GNU/Linux system on that basis (without sounding like I had no clue)?

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Drugs and ignorance: a rushed comment on “LSD on the rise”

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Just came across an ignorant statement on LSD in a blog to which I left a rushed comment; however, given the backward, ignorant position of the blogger it is most unlikely that the comment will ever pass moderation, so I thought I’d stick it up here, even if very rushed; but first a quote from the post:

Ø LSD is a mind altering drug and the effects can last for up to 12 hours.

Ø A person on LSD never knows if they are going to have a good trip or a bad trip.

Ø LSD can cause hallucinations and loss of sense of direction and time. It can also cause thoughts of dying.

Ø There are reports of people who have never gotten over a bad trip and were impaired for many years after.

To which I quickly said:

This seems to me to be a rather superficial treatment of a highly complex substance – and does not add anything useful: kids want to try it because it is mind altering, – that’s the whole point of psychedelics.

There is no such thing as a good or bad trip – a proper psychedelic experience will most often include visions of the dark side. What’s so bad about looking into the painful, dark and sinister aspects or reality? Is it better to live in ignorant bliss and Homestore imagery?

Attaining hallucinations is also a key driving factor in taking hallucinogenic substances, obviously. The loss of sense of direction and time is yet another desirable effect. Any reflection on a deeper level ought to cause thoughts of dying: therein lies the revelatory potential to understand life (when juxtaposed with its only alternative).

The last point nails it: pure rhetoric! Did they “never” get over their bad trip, or were they “impaired for years”? Clearly a misleading statement based on lacking understanding.

More information and advice should be given to young people, no doubt about it, but “information” of this kind can only backfire, since any teenager who spends ten minutes googling the subject will realise that it is written in sheer ignorance and it will carry no sensible meaning for those who do so. It encourages unsafe use with the same level of understanding, or no understanding, really.