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Supreme Court: Police need search warrants to track cellphones

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Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court's four liberals in the 5-4 decision, wrote that "an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements" as they are captured by cellphone towers.
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toddgrotenhuis
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Gospel Without Borders: Romans 13 & The Children

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Those are the words of a friend who messaged me this past weekend, searching for an answer to the anger she felt over Jeff Session’s defense of separating immigrant families by using the bible, as well as the anger she felt towards the bible passage itself.

I responded to her later in a jesting manner by saying “Don’t let Jeff Sessions be your biblical interpreter”, but I knew that the problem was deeper than that.


 

This blog post is not a news article. I am not here to inform you of the topic any further than seeking to tap into our common morality that will hopefully bridge the gap between competing political opinions.

Regardless of when this policy started, or when some of the pictures are from, lets agree with this, no matter the side you are on:

Separating children from their parents, or anyone who would care for them, for an extended period of time is NOT okay

Agreed?

We know that illegal immigration is still a problem, we know that the immigration system is a broke system.

Let’s start the reform that is needed by figuring out what to do with these children, who regardless of what some may think of their parents, deserve our compassion AND action.

The compassion of the Gospel knows no national borders. 

 


Getting back to Romans 13

While we may accept that something isn’t right here, Jeff Sessions is sweeping morality under the rug of Romans 13.

Romans 13 has hidden many messes in the past, so I am not surprised that it is being used to hide this one.  What better way to shut up the religious folks than saying, “Hey, God appointed your leaders, and you are to do what they say and respect them!”.

Just recently, I saw a post on facebook from someone explaining that although they don’t like what is happening to the children, Romans 13 gives the government the authority to punish those who break the law.  Thus, any progression to help the children is halted by the crimes of their parents, and this individual cannot do anything because they are called to respect their government.

But Romans 13, if taken 100% literally, 100% of the time, would mean that Paul should have stopped preaching about Jesus when Nero said to stop.  It would mean that the early church should have ceased to exist when Roman rulers before Constantine outlawed it.  It would mean that the Nazi regime should have never been resisted by the confessing church in Germany.  It would mean that Christians should never resist evil, so long as evil is coming from the government.

Something is wrong then in how Jeff Sessions is interpreting Romans 13.  I am confident that Paul never meant for his writings to be applied like that.

Maybe Romans 12, and the rest of Romans 13 after verse 7, are meant to show the contrast that is supposed to be there between those who have come into the faith community of Jesus, and those who did not, including secular governments.

Perhaps Romans 12, which tells us how Christians are to act, is meant to be a way for us to interpret when the government is not following the will of God in their actions and laws…


When Paul wrote Romans 13, Nero was the emperor.

Nero was a known tyrant, and after this letter would have been written, there was a fire in Rome that was falsely blamed on the Christians, and Nero then started the state-sponsored persecution of Christians.

“But he was appointed by God.  We are to follow his authority and rule. ”

Yet, Paul, the author of Romans 13….didn’t follow the law of the land.

Paul did not live in a democratic republic like the United States.  He did not have a political voice. But he rebelled to the point of death when his higher authority superseded his earthly authority.


We have one authority that deserves our allegiance.

All other authorities in our lives are superseded by the authority of God.

If an authority on earth goes against our call to action from our supreme authority, we must not support the action of a lesser authority.

And in situations where we have a voice in the political sphere, we are called to speak up when we feel that a wrong is committed.

And that wrong is what is being done to the children. We agree on that.

For our God is concerned about the oppressed, and the broken, the foreigner, and the immigrant.

The book of Amos is full of God becoming angry at the arrogance and wealth of his people, while others starve.

Even Leviticus calls the people of God to care and welcome the stranger – Leviticus 19:33-34.

The bible cannot be held by a political party. And our politicians cannot be our pastors.

But what is being done should not require articles and podcasts that seek to get Christians to rally against it – we should be leading the resistance.

Let the church rise against the evils of the State, and be the example that we were always meant to be to the world.

The compassion of the Gospel knows no national borders.

620201800352469918.jpg

I thought this cartoon got a good point across.  Source Link – Click Here

 

 

 

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toddgrotenhuis
3 days ago
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What does Romans 13 actually teach?

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Ted Grimsrud—June 18, 2018

What does it mean for the United States to be a “Christian nation”? For many, it seems to mean that people should support the political status quo, and they will quote the 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans to support that support (“be subject to the governing authorities”). We find this most often when Christians want to offer “biblical support” for obeying the state’s call to go to war. But it comes up in many other circumstances as well.

Just lately, our evangelical Attorney General used Romans 13 as a basis to demand acceptance of Donald Trump’s policy of separating would-be immigrant children from their parents when they are arrested trying to cross the border into the US. Many commentators have noted that such a use of Romans 13 is not appropriate. I agree, but I also think that when this passage comes up in a public and controversial way, it is good to take the opportunity to offer some suggestions for how this oft-cited text might best be read.

The message of Jesus

The first step for thinking about the issues that Romans 13 are purported to address (our relationship to the state, our responsibilities as citizens, et al) is to start with Jesus—just as the New Testament itself does. Though Paul wrote Romans decades before the gospel writers wrote the gospels, the early church used these writings in a way that placed the gospels first. I think we can assume that the stories about Jesus that make up the core of the gospels circulated from the time of his death.

Paul himself insisted he simply reinforced Jesus’ message. If our basic question in looking at Romans 13 is a question of social ethics, we need to set the context for Paul’s own life and thought by taking note of what Jesus did and said that establish his own approach to social ethics.

The social ethic Jesus articulates has as its core two key elements: imitate God’s love even for God’s enemies (Luke 6:35-36) and practice a style of life utterly different from the “natural law” behavior of people in the world (6:32-34). That is, go beyond simply loving those who love you and doing good to those who do good to you—love even your enemies.

Jesus embodied an approach to politics where compassion, respect, inclusion of outsiders, non-retaliation, forgiveness all stood at the center. He taught his followers to subvert the standard political dynamic of Empire where the rulers lord it over their subjects. “Not so among you!” (Mark 10:43).

Those who make Romans 13 central to their political theology act as if Paul then came along and intentionally moved things in a different direction from Jesus. Does Paul make the necessary adjustment of Jesus’ radical ethic to something more realistic and responsible in the “real world”? Is Paul a teacher of accommodation that helps make Christian faith politically relevant? Or, is it rather the case that Paul actually reinforces the radicality of Jesus original message?

Before we look at Romans 13 itself, let’s note a couple of key elements in Paul’s thought more generally.

Paul’s social analysis

Paul introduces a way to speak of the structures of human life using the language of the “principalities and powers.” He refers to realities beyond simply our individual persons. He has in mind our institutions, traditions, social practices, belief systems, organizations, languages, and so on. This Powers language speaks metaphorically about the discrete “personalities” and even “wills” that these structures have.

(1) The Powers are part of the good creation.  They were brought into being by God as a “divine gift” that makes human social life possible.  When God created human beings, necessarily elements of human life such as language, traditions, and ways of ordering community life all came into existence alongside the individual human beings.  And like the original human beings, the Powers were also good.

(2) The Powers are fallen. They are so closely linked with humanity that when human beings turned from God—spoken of traditionally as “the fall”—so, too, did the Powers.  It is as if the Powers, as part of created reality, turn against human beings when humans are alienated from God.  The fallen Powers then seek to take God’s place as the center of human devotion, often becoming idols.

(3) The Powers remain necessary.  In spite of their fallenness, the Powers retain their original function. Human life still requires ordering; we still need elements of life such as language, traditions, and ways of organizing our communities. The Powers are still used by God in the sustenance of human social life. Consequently, the Powers are both a huge part of the problem human beings face in living in our fallen world and a necessary part of whatever solutions might be found.

(4) The Powers must be redeemed.  What is required for a potential resolution of the “Powers dilemma” is that the Powers be transformed (they cannot be abolished or ignored). The Powers must be “put in their place.”  We need them but they should be our servants (on behalf of life) not our masters (idols that make us become like them).  Such a putting the Powers in their place can only happen when we see them as what they are—creatures, not God substitutes.

(5) Jesus does redeem the Powers. Jesus lived free from the Powers’ control and as a consequence was crucified. In his death the Powers (representatives of religion and politics) collaborate. However, Jesus remained free from their allure, even in face of the deadly violence.  In doing so, he brings to light their true character. As Colossians 2:15 states, on the cross he “disarmed” the Powers, “making a public example of them and thereby triumphing over them. In Jesus’ resurrection, it becomes clear that his challenge to the Powers was endorsed and vindicated by God.  In Jesus, God has ventured into the Powers’ territory, remained true to God’s loving character, and defeated them.

Living in a broken world

Paul knew, all too well, that freedom in Jesus must be lived in a broken world.  So, he reflects on how Christian freedom may be lived most faithfully in an unfree world. Pauline writings concerning subordination in interpersonal relationships may deepen our analysis of how Paul reinforces and applies Jesus’s ethic.

Paul does not simply endorse status quo power arrangements that require those in the “lower” positions to give all their power to their “superiors.” Paul writes to people in the “lower” positions and treats them as responsible moral agents who have full (and equal) worth as human beings with those of higher social status.  These addressees, according to Paul, have indeed been liberated in Jesus and welcomed into full membership in Jesus’s assembly.  However, likely these addressees are not in positions to claim that liberation fully while at the same time remaining wholly committed to Jesus’s path of loving their neighbors.

Paul echoes Jesus in holding up two equally crucial convictions.  We are free in Jesus and we are called to love even our enemies.  In this love we refrain from smashing existing social arrangements.  Paul’s points on “subordination” are best seen as part of his thinking on the processes of negotiating this liberation/path of love tension.

The main term that Paul uses, hyptoassesthai, could best be translated something like “subordinate yourself to,” better than flatly “submit to.”  It is not connoting slavish obedience.  It is best defined in relation to Jesus.  According to Paul in Philippians two, Jesus, being free, subordinated himself for our sake and gave himself for us.  And, Paul emphasizes in Philippians 2:5, believers should “let this same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

In Romans, Paul cares about mutual subordination among the Christians in Rome.  He emphasizes, by the end of the book, the crucial importance to the Roman Christians of loving one another (13:8-10), refraining from judging each other (14:1-12), avoiding making one another stumble (14:13-23), pleasing others and not oneself (15:1-6), and recognizing that the gospel is for Jews and Gentiles together (15:7-13).

Paul advocates a genuine revolution against the Roman Empire’s hegemony; his readers are called to conform to Jesus’s way in resistance to the world’s (12:1-2).  However, the revolutionary means he advocates are consistent with the healing mercy of God extended to the entire world.  The certainty Paul has—and all followers of Jesus should have—in the world-transforming efficacy of God’s healing mercy undergirds lives of patient love, extended even (as with God Godself) toward enemies.

The broader biblical context for “Romans 13”

Romans 13 (specifically 13:1-7) often serves as a counter-testimony in the Christian tradition to the belief that Paul taught nonviolent resistance to the Roman Empire—calling for submission, not resistance. I believe such readings of these verses fundamentally misunderstand Paul’s thought.

Our interpretation of Romans 13:1-7 should begin with consideration of the broader context of biblical politics.  From Egypt in Genesis and Exodus, then Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and down to Rome in the book of Revelation, the Bible tells us that empires rebel against God and hinder the healing vocation of God’s people.  The entire Bible calls people of faith to follow Torah in seeking to love God and neighbor. And it shows how to navigate the hostility, domination, idolatry, and violence toward this healing vocation that almost without exception characterize the world’s empires.

Romans 13:1-7 stands within this biblical framework of antipathy toward the empires.  Hence, we should turn to these Romans verses assuming that their concern is something like this: Given the fallenness of Rome, how might we live within this empire as people committed uncompromisingly to love of neighbor?  Paul has no illusions about Rome being in a positive sense a servant of God.  However, we know from biblical stories that God nonetheless can and does use the corrupt nations for God’s purposes.  Yet these nations also remain under God’s judgment.

Romans’s message

The message of Romans as a whole reinforces the broader biblical perspective—both on the problematic nature of human empires and on the relevance of the message of God’s healing love to the faithful response to the reality of empire.

Paul discusses two major strains of idolatry in chapters 1–3: (1) the Empire and its injustices that demand the highest loyalty and (religious) devotion and (2) a legalistic approach to Torah that leads to its own kind of violence (witness Paul’s own death-dealing zealotry before he met Jesus). However, Paul believes these widespread problems provide an opportunity for him to witness to the universality of God’s healing response.  Indeed, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Nonetheless, all may find salvation in Jesus.  The sovereignty of hostility to God ultimately bows to the sovereignty of God’s healing love.

In Romans 4–8 Paul further develops this message about God—reflected in Abraham’s pre-circumcision trust in God that serves as our model (chapter 4), in God’s transforming love even of God’s enemies (chapter 5), in Paul’s own liberation from his idolatrous “sacred violence” (chapter 7), and in the promise that creation itself will be healed as God’s children come to themselves (chapter 8).

Chapters 9–11 involve Paul’s deeper wrestling with his own earlier experience as a God-fearer who had failed to recognize God’s mercy revealed in Jesus.  However, Paul’s failure (and the failure of many of his fellows) did not stop the revelation of God’s mercy.  This mercy will have its healing conclusion even with the unfaithfulness of so many of the chosen people.

Finally, in chapters 14–16, in response to his certainty about God’s mercy, Paul sketches the practical outworking of living in light of this mercy—all for the sake of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth (i.e., “Spain,” 15:28).

Romans 12 and 13 should be read as a single section (contrary to the common practice of isolating 13:1-7). And this section should be read in the context of this broader flow of thought in the book.  In this section, the first word is a call, motivated by God’s mercy, to refuse to conform to the power politics of the world (“Do not be conformed to this world,” 12:2). Such nonconformity takes the positive shape of mutuality within the faith community and suffering love in response to enemies. Then comes 13:1-7, followed by a reiteration of the call to love in 13:8-10.

Zeroing in on Romans 13

What, then, does Paul actually say in these seven so-often cited verses?

(1) Paul calls for a qualified subordination in relation to government.  These verses begin with a call to subordination, not literally to obedience.  The term here that is often translated “submit” actually is better translated “subordinate yourselves.” It reflects Paul’s notion of how God orders the Powers.  The subordination has to do with respect for God’s work through the social structures of the world—not with unconditional obedience.  For example, the person who refuses to follow directives from the state that are discerned to be immoral but accepts the consequences for doing so is being subordinate even though not obeying.

(2) Paul intends to reject any notion of violent revolution. Paul rejected a reaction to the tyranny of the Roman Empire that relied on violence, even in the face of Rome’s devastating anti-Judaism and overall tyranny.

(3) Paul also intends to relativize the affirmation of any particular government.  Though opposing violent revolution, these verses do nothing to imply active moral support for Rome (or any other particular government). Paul here echoes Revelation 13, a text often contrasted with Romans 13.  Both passages advocate subordination in relation to whatever governing Powers are in place—even along with the implication (more clear in Revelation) that this particular government is idolatrous and blasphemous.

(4) God orders the Powers—a different notion than ordaining the Powers.  God is not said to create or institute or ordain any particular governments, but only to order them. This sense of “ordering” implies that God’s participation in human life is more indirect than often understood.  All states are “ordered” by God and thus in some sense serve God’s purposes.  However, no states are directly blessed by God as God’s direct representatives—least of all the Roman Empire that executed Jesus.

(5) Nothing here speaks to Christians as participants in the state’s work. When Paul mentions several functions in 13:3-4, he does not have in mind tasks that Christians themselves would take on. He expects readers to give what is “due to the authority” (13:6-7), but none of this involves direct work for the state. Whatever it is that the state does, Paul does not endorse Christians themselves having a responsibility to perform tasks that violate the call to neighbor love.

(6) Paul calls for discrimination.  “Pay to all what is due them” echoes Jesus’ call for discernment. When Jesus stated, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” he meant: Be sure not to give Caesar the loyalty that belongs only to God.  Paul writes in 13:7, “render to all what is due them.”  In the very next verse, 13:8, unfortunately often not noticed when we quit reading at 13:7, Paul states “nothing is due to anyone except love.”  This is Paul’s concern—is what Caesar claims is due to him part of the obligation of love? Only that which is part of the call to love is part of the Christian’s duty.

Romans 13:1-7, when read in light of Paul’s overall theology, may be understood as a statement of how the qualified subordination of Christians contributes to Christ’s victory over the Powers.  Christians do so by holding together their rejection of Empire-idolatry with their commitment to active peacemaking.  Their most radical task (and most subversive) is to live visibly as communities where the enmity that had driven Paul himself to murderous violence is overcome—Jew and Gentile joined together in one fellowship, a witness to genuine peace in a violent world.

Paul’s punch line in Romans 13 comes at 13:9-10: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor.” Only by not reading past 13:7 have interpreters been able to imagine that Paul here offers a rationale for participation in violence. However, the paragraph break between 13:7 and 13:8 is not present in the original text. When Paul wrote “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities,” (13:1 NRSV translation), he meant that truth to complement the call to love all neighbors.

Living without idolatry

Peaceable faith communities empower a freedom from the Powers idolatry.  These are some of the imperatives from Romans 12–13 for living out such freedom:

• Nonconformity to the world of violent nation-states is fueled by minds that are transformed, being shaped by God’s mercy shown in Jesus rather than by the culture’s “elemental spirits.”

• Active love for one another leads to a renunciation of vengeance and a quest to overcome evil with good rather than heightening the spiral of violence with violent responses.

• Respect God’s ordering work in human government that, fallen and rebellious as it may be, still serves God’s purposes.

• Commit to doing good (following Jesus’ model that implicitly recognizes that genuinely doing good as defined by the gospel could lead to a cross) and repudiate temptations to seek to overcome evil with evil through violent resistance.

• Work at discerning what belongs to God and what is allowable to be given to Caesar.

• Make an overarching commitment to authentic practice of Torah, summarized (following Jesus) as love of neighbor.

What truly matters

Romans 13 calls upon Christians to hold together two uncompromisable convictions: resistance to empire and commitment to Jesus’s way of peace.  Resistance without pacifism ends up only heightening the spiral of violence and serving the domination of the fallen Powers.  Pacifism without resistance validates the stereotypes of the cultured despisers of pacifism—parasitic, withdrawal focused on purity, irresponsible.

Jesus and Paul both challenge people not to let the Empire set our agenda or determine our means of resistance.  We must not, in seeking to overcome evil, add to the spiral of evil ourselves. The true problem with Empire is not that some empires are not benevolent enough in their domination. It is the practice of domination itself.  Resistance to Empire that serves God’s intentions for human social life must repudiate domination itself.  Resistance that leads to more domination ultimately is not nearly radical enough.

 

Syndicated from Thinking Pacifism

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toddgrotenhuis
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Is Elon Musk an Anarchist? More like a Libertarian Lenin

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Elon Musk is trolling on twitter. A celebrity billionaire wasting his time making inane provocations would hardly be worthy of note but in the process Musk has declared that his politics are in line with Iain Banks’ anarcho-transhumanist utopia and that he aspires to see a world of direct democracy. There’s few spectacles like a billionaire in a labor dispute essentially fronting as a proponent of fully automated luxury communism. Yet when a number of his statements wander close to left wing market anarchist takes it may be worth responding.

In particular I want to focus on the line, “Socialism vs capitalism is not even the right question. What really matters is avoiding monopolies that restrict people’s freedom.”

There’s a lot to pick apart here, and it’s not remotely clear how much historical context Musk is aware of. Free market libertarians like Bastiat sat on the left of the French assembly and many advocates of free markets that modern Libertarians see as forefathers like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker considered themselves and were seen as socialists. There is a long and storied history of those who would problematize the terms “socialist” or “libertarian” and “capitalism” or “markets”, putting forth myriad conflicting definitions and frameworks, each in hopes of illuminating something lost in partisan tribalism.

But Musk is a billionaire and in any coherent libertarian analysis a plutocrat whose success is in no small part dependent upon his collaboration with the state. Most self-identified socialists, not to mention the chattering classes of twitter, despise him.

There are basically three core claims widely made against Musk. 1) That he occupies a tyrannical position over his workers. 2) That the seed wealth that enabled him to become a billionaire in the first place was unjustly acquired. 3) That his act of holding onto his wealth in the face of far more beneficial investments is unethical.

It’s this latter charge that I want to explore, in part because the former are so clear cut. But let’s hit them briefly: Musk faces charges of unsafe conditions and terrible demands at his plants. And despite his attempts to sound open to unionization Tesla has harassed, intimidated, and fired workers for expressing pro union sentiments. He claims workers prefer to have no negotiating capacity, supposedly recognizing the benevolent benefits of his absolute dictatorship, and yet in the same breath Musk has threatened workers’ benefits should they unionize and recently initialized mass layoffs without warning. Musk has started to claim he built his fortune from pocket change, but it’s worth remembering that as a teenager, his white south african family was so rich Musk casually walked around with emeralds in his pocket. One is reminded of nothing so much as Trump’s claim that he built his fortune of a mere few million dollar loan from his dad (and countless risk assurances). I’ve known single mothers that worked longer hours and homeless heroin addicts that made smarter stock investments, but below a certain threshold of wealth the barriers are just too great. Musk has some talent and commitment, to be sure, but he has hardly made his fortune in fair competition with the billions without his privilege of birth.

But however you acquire wealth, once you have it there is a certain ethical obligation to wield it towards good ends.

Fans of Musk argue that he has done precisely this. The most common refrain is “look he may not be perfect, but he’s the only person with a shot at getting us to Mars.” There is, I will concede, a rather potent utilitarian argument that getting our species out into the stars is worth almost any price. This is an evaluation that weighs the potential lives of trillions of future people against the living today, that says we should do anything to ensure the survival and spread of the only known consciousness in the universe. But it is decidedly unclear that Elon Musk is truly our best shot at such. It is true that his wealth has enabled Space X to make serious strides, but it’s hardly like the the scientists, engineers, and general workers of Space X didn’t share such a vision before Musk. Rather, his wealth enabled them to get started. As a staunch proponent of our expansion to the stars I will happily concede that Space X is a more ethical investment than gold plated bath tubs. But these are hardly the only options.

Musk talks of supporting direct democracy, yet his projects are run tyrannically, hyper-centralized around him. One basic insight of free market economists is that there are limits to knowledge and calculation — in particular limits to what a single central planner is capable of. Musk may be talented, he may work 80 hour weeks, but he is limited, and a hierarchical centralized organizational structure is deeply inefficient, never mind the psychological damage it does. Indeed many of the early problems Tesla faced were reportedly a result of Musk suddenly showing up to make unilateral decisions while being stretched too thin to be constantly involved in every nook and cranny. In short his tyrannical position within the firm became an organizational bottleneck. They may have been insightful decisions, but Musk’s distance from the shop floor and the absoluteness of his power caused deep organizational problems. Even the most intelligent and committed Soviet planner, running himself ragged attempting to oversee everything, will cause deep inefficiencies. This is part of the reason why, when the playing field is fair, worker cooperatives do so damn well.

Musk talks of “decentralization” — of avoiding monopolies — and this is valorous, but anarchism extends deeper than the mere opposition to monopolies per se; anarchism opposes power, domination. Combating monopolies or oligopolies is necessary but not sufficient, because hugely abusive and scarring or enslaving power can exist in diffuse structures as well. Systemic racism for example, or normalized spousal abuse. But more to the point, an upstart firm may shatter an existing oligopolistic market, but itself reproduce the same structures it claims to oppose. Not just in terms of market position, but especially in terms of the firm’s internal structure — the hierarchical and abusive organizational norms that the existing oligopoly was able to establish and defend.

There is a widespread tendency in silicon valley to diagnose the problems of the world in terms of centralization alone, and thus to fall into a kind of naive support for any and all underdog competitors.

In its most pernicious variant this looks like the neoreactionary prescription to shatter existing polities down to smaller competitive governments. As if small town police can’t be more intimately oppressive and as though a single right of exit can supplant deeper issues with bargaining power or enable fluid responsiveness. Musk’s ostensible support for direct democracy is better — although anarchists still have a critique of democracy — but his comments focusing on monopoly are suggestive of a broader naivety or get-out-of-ethics card for himself, so long as he can cast himself as an underdog to a bigger monopoly.

The naive decentralist take uncritically defends any and all upstarts to the dominant powers. The taxi medallion system for instance was one of the most abusive and horrifically clear-cut instances of state created capitalism, an almost feudal order, maintained by the state to the benefit of a few capitalists. Socialist taxi organizers were clear that the root injustice was the state’s regulatory regime. Uber was able to leverage titanic investment wealth to fight and erode this unjust order, but it also utilized that capital to cement its position as a new monopoly, a rent-seeking middleman between drivers and riders. Consistent libertarians, anarchists, and socialists supported the overthrow of the medallion regime while also warning of the monopoly Uber was trying to establish. But throughout silicon valley culture Uber was presented as a noble upstart.

This story is replicated widely where new “disruptive” would be tyrants end up replacing those they set out to overthrow. What much of the self-congratulatory rhetoric in silicon valley amounts to in practice is a horde of Lenins out to overthrow Czars, but with barely concealed hunger to seize power for themselves.

Freedom, if it is to come, must come through their benevolence. Just don’t ask when.

Musk might claim that his ends are socialistic in some utopian sense, but it’s his means that give him the closest parallel to the tyrannies of “actually existing socialism.” And those libertarians that cheer him on are much like those socialists that cheer on the despotic regimes of Assad or Kim under the illusion that these geopolitical underdogs in competition with the US empire represent the only practical hope of resistance.

I want to be clear: I’m as sympathetic to Musk’s ostensible ends as you could ask for. We at the Center for a Stateless Society have studiously worked for over a decade to get past past the gridlock of socialist and libertarian rhetoric, to parse the value of markets and an egalitarian world of possibility where cancerous monopolies or oligopolies of capital don’t constrain our freedoms. We come from a long and rich history of left libertarian crossover, of left market anarchists.

But there are a world of means that do not replicate the structures we seek to replace.

I cannot know the level of sincerity to Musk’s comments, whether the obvious contradictions arise out of malicious opportunism or innocent ignorance. Yet if I had to the opportunity to turn his ear I would encourage him not just to fight monopolistic power within his own organizations by allowing and collaborating with unionization efforts, but to invest more of that wealth on projects that Iain Banks would actually recognize as anarchistic.

Hey Elon, why not donate a million dollars to something like the IWW, a scrappy, idealistic & anti-state union that organizes where no other union will go? It’s nothing to you and will affect the lives of thousands while enabling labor to help compete against giant corporate monopolies. It’ll rile the commies on twitter and maybe allow Grimes to show her face in public, but mostly it’ll help real existing people.

I ask sincerely.

If you need more examples we at C4SS have helped coordinate donations to a host of small highly efficient activist efforts before and we can point you towards myriad projects like community centers, mesh wifi projects, indigenous radio stations, etc. I’m not interested in showboating or tribal purity. I’d take a million dollars from the devil if I could redistribute it to the tens of thousands of activists working themselves to the bone around the world, using the smallest scraps of income to make a huge difference in combating power and expanding the freedom of everyday people. You want to talk about effective altruism? Small direct payments to activists across the global south who already work for free and stretch what funds they have to absurd lengths are by far the most efficient means of seeding liberty. No NGO bureaucratic oversight and a fierce anarchist resistance to corrupt state regimes that would try to steal those funds.

You want to talk about decentralizing infrastructure? Throw some of that money at the cypherpunks and hackers keeping cryptographic tools and free software afloat. I’m dead certain that your company depends upon cryptographic libraries that are maintained by on a shoestring budget by a small number of idealists. You want to talk about resisting monopolies? How about throwing money at open source hardware projects that face incredible barriers to entry in the market?

There are countless unsung heroes around the world working tirelessly to combat power, to erode the centralized systems that constrain freedom. And most of them do it without trying to accumulate yachts. What they understand is that heroism isn’t a zero sum game. We can each of us revolutionize the world, we can each find exploits to change everything. The anarchist insight is that the most potent and lasting change comes from the bottom up, rather than being imposed from the top down.

Figures like Lenin will never see this, so enraptured are they with their own status, their own profile, their own absolute rulership, their own brand-building. And so trapped are they in the same cycle of false opposition, the empty revolutions that are structured to merely replace one monopoly with another. Many of the radical science fiction authors Musk claims to love knew this, but it sadly seems to be a lesson he failed to grasp.

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Smarter, Not Harder: How to Succeed at Work

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We each have 96 energy blocks each day to spend however we'd like. Using this energy blocking system will ensure you're spending each block wisely to make the most progress on your most important goals.

Warren Buffett “ruled out paying attention to almost anything but business—art, literature, science, travel, architecture—so that he could focus on his passion,” wrote Alice Schroder in her book The Snowball. This isn’t unique to Warren Buffett. Almost all of the successful people I know follow a similar approach to focusing their efforts.

The key to better outcomes is not working harder. Most of us already work long hours. We take work home, we’re always on, we tackle anything we’re asked to do, and we do it to the best of our ability. It doesn’t seem to matter how many things we check off our to-do lists or how many hours we work, though; our performance doesn’t seem to improve.

While we like to think of exceptionally successful people as being more talented than we are, the more I looked around, the more I discovered that was rarely the case. One of the reasons we think that talent is the explanation is that it gives us a pass. We’re not as talented as those super-successful people are, so of course we don’t have the same results they have. The problem with this explanation is that it’s wrong. Talent matters, of course, but not as much as you think.

As I looked around, I noticed that the most successful people I know have one thing in common: they are masters at eliminating the unnecessary from their lives. The French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry hit on the same idea, writing in his memoir, “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” This principle, it turns out, is the key to success.

Incredibly successful people focus their time on just a few priorities and obsess over doing things right. This is simple but not easy.

Here’s one method to help you choose what to focus on and how to use your time (it’s a mix of time blocking and a variation of Warren Buffet’s two-list system):

Step 1: Change how you think about your day. Think of your day as having 96 blocks of energy, with each block being a 15-minute chunk of time (four blocks per hour × 24 hours = 96). A week has 672 blocks, and a year has 34,944.

Not all of those blocks are direct productivity blocks — they can’t be unless we’re androids. Given that we’re human, we need to allocate some blocks to activities that humans require for good health, like sleeping. Sleeping for eight hours uses 32 blocks of your 96-block day. Let’s say that another 32 blocks go toward family, friends, commuting, and general life stuff. That leaves 32 blocks for you to apply your energy toward keeping your job and doing something amazing.

Think you can get more done by sleeping less? Think again. Sleep has a way of affecting your other blocks. If you get enough sleep, the other 64 blocks are amplified. If you don’t get enough, their efficacy is reduced. Almost every successful person I know makes sleep a priority. Some go as far as getting ChiliPads to regulate their bed’s temperature and going to bed at exactly the same time every night; others use the same wind-down routine every night. Almost all of them go to bed early (or least before 12), and wake up early to get a start on the day.

Step 2: Write a list of all the goals you have. When I did this, I stopped at 100 and I could have kept going. I would venture to guess that if you sat alone for half an hour, you’d come up with just as many. Writing them down not only frees up your mind from keeping track of them but also gives you a visual representation of just how many things you want to do.

Step 3: Circle your top three goals. Take your time; there’s no need to rush. It’s hard to narrow them down, which is why so few of us think about these things consciously.

Step 4: Eliminate everything else. This is where things get interesting. When it comes to the 32 blocks of work time you have to allocate, everything that’s not on your top-three list should be dropped. You can pick up the “everything-else” list after you’ve achieved a goal, but until then it’s what Warren Buffet calls your “avoid-at-all-costs” list.

The Power of Focus

Let’s look at an example. Say we’re working on 10 projects. We have priorities that we try to focus on, but we also give the other projects a decent effort. Let’s say we allocate our 32 blocks of energy to our 10 projects as follows:

1. 10
2. 5
3. 5
4. 3
5. 2
6. 2
7. 2
8. 1
9. 1
10. 1

Not bad, eh? But if we do the above exercise, it will look more like this:

1. 16
2. 8
3. 8

Focus directs your energy toward your goals. The more focused you are, the more energy goes toward what you’re working on.

Eliminating things that you care about is hard. You have to make tradeoffs. If you can’t make those tradeoffs, you’re not going to get far. The cost of not being focused is high.

The direction you’re going in is important to the extent that you’re applying energy to it. If you’re focusing your energy on 10 goals, you’re not focused, and instead of having a few completed projects, you have numerous unfinished projects. Like Sisyphus, you’re constantly getting halfway up the mountain but never reaching the top. I can’t think of a bigger waste of time.

It's not about working harder to get better results. You have only so much energy to apply. Pick what matters. Eliminate the rest.

FS Members can discuss this article on the Learning Community Forum.

The post Smarter, Not Harder: How to Succeed at Work appeared first on Farnam Street.

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List: New Collective Nouns for 2018

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An anger of women

An apparition of crisis actors

An assertion of sexual assault victims

A bigotry of Ambien

A bluster of diplomatic summits

A carnage of AR-15s

A courage of high-school students

A cowardice of Congresspersons

A culpability of NRA members

A deficiency of federal workers

A diatribe of think pieces

A disappearance of refugee children

An escapism of hedgehogs

A fallout of nuclear threats

A harassment of prominent men

An imprudence of reboots

An infinity of Avengers

An ingestion of Tide pods

An invective of pundits

An irrelevance of Bernie bros

A kickback of Kushners

A klan of presidential advisers

A leak of memos

A malevolence of trolls

A misapprehension of hot takes

A mortgage of avocados

A murder of millennials

A murmuration of memes

An outrage of police shootings

A pestilence of anti-vaxxers

A prevarication of press conferences

A purgation of bots

A reverberation of Russian trolls

A righteousness of school walkouts

A sacrifice of schoolchildren

An upsurge of female candidates

A vilification of undocumented immigrants

A White House of assholes

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