Archive | March, 2007

Lampkin’s Cat Is a Mechanical Daggit! Pass the Word!

Great! And I'm still stuck on this frakkin' sand planet. Good news for Galactica fans: the Sci-Fi Channel is extending the show’s fourth season from 13 to 22 episodes.

Moreover, a Galactica tv-movie is in the works (purportedly involving a backflash to the Pegasus, so we may hope for a reappearance of Michelle Forbes) to tide us over between the seasons.

(Conical hat tip to AICN for both points.)

In the meantime, season 3 concludes this Sunday, when we’ll find out … well, a number of things.

The Readiness is ALL

Agorist Action Alliance In the wake of the recent shadow falling upon MLL, which has affected not only the listserv but the very term “Movement of the Libertarian Left” – now claimed by the list moderator as his legal “property”! – several new institutions have formed to carry on the authentic MLL legacy. I’ve blogged previously about the LeftLibertarian2 listserv and the Left-Libertarian blog aggregator (started up by Kevin Carson and Jeremy Weiland respectively).

Alliance of the Libertarian Left The two latest entries are the Agorist Action Alliance or A3 (webpage launched by Brad Spangler) and the Alliance of the Libertarian Left or ALL (webpage launched by your humble correspondent). These both may be regarded as continuations of the original spirit of the MLL, but with the A3 emphasising the MLL’s specifically agorist focus, while ALL emphasises the MLL’s broader ecumenical tradition. Simultaneous membership in A3 and ALL is both possible and encouraged!

Last Throes

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Brindisi column Writing of the defeat of the Byzantine forces at Brindisi in 1156, John Julius Norwich observes:

It was the same old lesson – a lesson that should by now have been self-evident, but one that the princes of medieval Europe seemed to find almost impossible to learn: that in distant lands, wherever there existed an organized native opposition, a temporary occupying force could never achieve permanent conquest. Whirlwind campaigns were easy, especially when backed by bribes and generous subsidies to the local malcontents; when, however, it became necessary to consolidate and maintain the advantage gained, no amount of gold was of any avail. … The outcome of the recent campaign – however promisingly it had begun – had not been unlucky. It had been inevitable.
(Byzantium: The Decline and Fall (NY: Knopf, 1995), pp. 115-116.)

Two Riders Approaching

Cylon on board Okay, I’ve just seen what, if true, is an absolutely insane, over-the-top set of spoilers for Battlestar Galactica’s two-part season finale.

If you are even slightly spoiler-averse you should most emphatically not, NOT, NOT click here. What is once seen cannot be unseen.

You have been warned, human.

Left-Libertarian Space Opera

Hey, this is Europe. We took it from nobody; we won it from
the bare soil that the ice left. The bones of our ancestors, and the
stones of their works, are everywhere. Our liberties were won in
wars and revolutions so terrible that we do not fear our governors:
they fear us. Our children giggle and eat ice cream in the palaces
of past rulers. We snap our fingers at kings. We laugh at popes.
When we have built up tyrants, we have brought them down.
And we have nuclear fucking weapons.

– Ken MacLeod

Geoff Plauché’s recent post on John Wright’s “Golden Age” trilogy (see also my review from a few years back) reminded me that I’ve never gotten around to blogging about Ken MacLeod’s “Fall Revolution” series.

Ken MacLeod Despite rather different political sensibilities, MacLeod’s and Wright’s series share some similarities. Like the “Golden Age” trilogy, the “Fall Revolution” tetralogy focuses on conflicts between different varieties of libertarians, not just between libertarians and statists. MacLeod also shares Wright’s zest for injokes; MacLeod’s books are filled with sly references for libertarians, leftists, science-fiction fans, and even philosophers to pick up on. (His chapter titles, for example, include “The Machinery of Freedom,” “To Each As He Is Chosen,” “The Summer Soldier,” “The Court of the Fifth Quarter,” “Looking Backward,” “News From Nowhere,” “The Coming Race,” “Vast and Cool,” “In the Days of the Comet,” “Another Crack at Immanentizing the Eschaton,” and “What I Do When They Shove Chinese Writing Under the Door.”)

The “Fall Revolution” comprises four interlocking books – The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, and The Sky Road – that cut back and forth across vast swathes of future history, from the pubs of 1970s Glasgow to farflung planetary colonies centuries hence – though thanks to life-extension technology the same characters keep showing up in all the different eras, with minor characters in some of the books showing up as major characters in others.

The Cassini Division But what is most distinctive about the characters is their dizzying varieties of antistate radicalism: MacLeod gives us anarcho-capitalists, anarcho-primitivists, Tuckerite mutualists, Stirnerite anarcho-communists, and even market-friendly Trotskyists (not an oxymoron in MacLeod’s universe), all arguing with or scheming against each other, loving, fighting, and mourning each other, against the backdrop of wars, revolutions, and social upheavals in which they play their parts. MacLeod mostly doesn’t take sides or play favourites, and indeed seems to relish his wrangling protagonists in all their ideological diversity (well, except he doesn’t much like the primitivists). For example, an encounter between a sort-of-anarcho-capitalist society and a sort-of-anarcho-communist society in The Cassini Division highlights the strengths and flaws of each. (Austrians who’re wondering how the anarcho-communist society solves the calculation problem will find the answer, however unsatisfactory, in The Sky Road.) MacLeod isn’t pushing One Big Answer here; on the contrary, each entry in the series subtly deconstructs the central assumptions of the previous one.

Nevertheless, one character’s speech seems to express MacLeod’s own perspective, broadly speaking:

[W]hat we always meant by socialism wasn’t something you forced on people, it was people organizing themselves as they pleased into co-ops, collectives, communes, unions…. And if socialism really is better, more efficient than capitalism, then it can bloody well compete with capitalism. So we decided, forget all the statist shit and the violence: the best place for socialism is the closest to a free market you can get!

Good reading, comrades!

Cylons Is Golden

golden cylon This post concerns possible SPOILERS for Battlestar Galactica.

Accordingly, I’ve buried my remarks in the comments section to prevent inadvertent spoilage.

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