London: Communists, Vandalism, and Diversity

One of the things I wanted to do while I visited London was to go to a show. This isn’t the best time of year for tours, so the best I could find was a tribute band show: OutRage Against The Machine – UK’s Premier Rage Against the…, Nirvana UK, and FAKE NO MORE. By the time the second band took the stage, The Underworld Camden – a respected, below-ground music venue – was packed and everybody was having a great time.

I’m usually not into cover/tribute bands, but I have to admit, these guys were pretty impressive. Their hair, clothes, instruments, and of course, the music were very close to authentic.

They even subscribed to communism, just like the real-life Rage Against The Machine, as evidenced by the Che Guevara poster that you can see in the pre-show pic above. During their set, the singer said something that got a slight cheer from the crowd: “This next song goes out to anybody who supports Trump and Brexit. Ya’ll need to wake the [expletive] up!” [Read more…]

Voluntary Holidays

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s that time of year where the whole country is rushing around, making plans to spend the holidays in a traditional fashion with their blood relations. Not me. For the past several years, I’ve chosen to break that cycle. Not because I have anything wrong with spending time off with family. It’s because I want the holiday to be voluntary, something people do only if that’s what they really, truly want to do.

Think for a moment about how most people conduct their holidays. There’s an event set in stone from the very beginning of the year. Depending on your level of participation, you have to, at a minimum, show up and be cordial, all the way up to planning, executing, and financing a perfectionist feast while performing the role of chief diplomat at an intimate gathering of mortal enemies. For some very few of us, everything works out perfectly: you all live close by, get along, have the same schedule, food tastes, interests, and genuinely like and get along with each other. The holiday itself doesn’t matter, since you would be doing the exact same thing anyway, even without a festive excuse. [Read more…]

13 Nonpolitical Ways to Fight for Liberty – Practice Voluntary Relationships

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Like wildlife fleeing a forest fire, you’ve done just about everything possible to escape from government in the face of this horrible presidential election year. Use Bitcoin? Check. Encrypt? Check. Support black markets, private charity, and nongovernmental solutions? Check, check, and check. You even practice self-defense and the fine art of the keyboard warrior while holding cops and courts accountable. But despite all that, you’re still victim to one of the most insidious ways government still holds sway over your actions: how you conduct your relationships.

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13 Nonpolitical Ways to Fight for Liberty – Join Public Debate

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While some people are crying or fretting about the impending election of one of two monsters to the highest political office on the planet, liberty’s faithful are busy making a better world. They’re taking care of their own while running local economies and defending themselves. They’re protecting themselves against government abuse, filming cops to prevent unjust behavior while encouraging juries to nullify bad laws. And best of all, they’re encrypting their communications and using Bitcoin to get away from government financial control. Now if only they weren’t so lonely and isolated in their beliefs.

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Brazil’s Big Mistake: The Rio Games

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A few weeks back the Olympic Games kicked off in Rio de Janeiro. Thousands of athletes from around the world came for two weeks to compete in all different sorts of events. Along with these athletes were legions of coaches, assistants, trainers, judges, referees, translators, journalists, and tourists. Over the course of the games tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars were spent, giving a significant boost the the local economy. However, Brazil may not be in a position to handle this temporary boom.

Over the past several years the Brazilian economy has been propped up by government spending. Much of this spending is linked either directly or indirectly to public works projects associated with the 2014 FIFA World Cup or the 2016 Olympic Games. Projects such as stadiums, sports facilities, housing, and other infrastructure improvements. The common thread of all this spending is that the assets purchased had very limited life. And unfortunately for the people of Brazil, when the Olympic torch was extinguished that life ended.

Hosting the Olympic Games has always been a costly endeavor and the vast majority of countries cannot actually afford it. In the past countries found thrifty ways to recycle the facilities they paid for with public funds, thereby getting the most bang for their buck. West Germany turned the facilities at Munich into a public park and it has since been used as a venue for concerts, sporting events, and festivals. Even recently, the British government converted the 2012 London Olympic Stadium into a football pitch. [Read more…]

Government Tries to Shut Down Geneva’s Counterculture

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Subculture and counterculture are the backbone of the art world, challenging the established order and values, preventing the arts from falling into complacency and decadence. Much like a single party political system, a cultural scene devoid of counterculture is doomed to be stagnant, elitist, and ultimately counterproductive both to its own progress and to the fulfillment of its members. Yet, as valuable as this natural opposition to mainstream culture may be, local governments seem ever more intent on shutting it down for no better reason than conservative stubbornness and self aggrandizement.

A prime example of such egotistical government is the ongoing struggle that faces l’Usine (one of Geneva’s most notorious alternative haunts) and the Geneva city council. The abridged story goes as follows: about 20 years ago, a group of people took the initiative to make constructive use of an abandoned building that used to be part of a factory which has since fallen into disuse. They did it up at their own expense and developed it into an independent, non-profit cultural center with the sole aim of promoting the arts in all their forms. This, however, did not sit well with the city council, whose world view did not have place for such an organisation and they proceeded to pressure l’Usine to shut down over the years. This was neither the first nor the last clash that Geneva city council had with its local underground scene; over the past 10 years they have successfully shut down several comparable cultural venues, among which are Artamis and Rhino, but where others failed l’Usine triumphed in the face of adversity and has managed to stay open and active. Today, l’Usine serves an average of 5,000 persons per week (more than any other venue in the city) and provides a wide variety of social and cultural activities for the alternative community.

However, the venue’s future has now been put in question once more by Geneva’s city council; they have approved a new law that imposes numerous restrictions on the owners and operators of establishments dedicated to serving food, beverages, and hospitality. Among the many conditions it imposes on such establishments, it requires every bar within to have a separate alcohol vending license on grounds of public safety. They also require the owner, as well as every employee to be officially qualified to exercise their function (that is to say: be in possession of a certificate either granted or approved by the government). Furthermore those running the establishment must have the express authorization to do so from the owners of the premises to do so if they are not the owners. [Read more…]