Citizen Tleilax


Is Your Position Intellectual or Emotional and Egotistical?

One of the fundamental aspects about an intellectual position is that it is always open to improvement and modification when new, relevant information comes along. It is never completely closed off because it inherently seeks to be constructed out of the most effective pieces of data available. A position may be strong and well-developed, but it would be difficult to ever consider it “complete” because it is unknown when previously unconsidered information may be presented.

When people take their positions personally, their attitude ceases to be intellectual and they become blocked off from learning when the opportunity presents itself to them. Because they have now invested emotional and egotistical energy into the position, they find it too difficult to face challenges without perceiving them like personal attacks on their own character. The position becomes too interwoven with their individual identity to continue viewing it objectively–thus the position is “complete”, because any modification to it would consequently cause emotional stress, and incoming challenges are thenceforth treated as negative and threatening. Under these circumstances, not only are challenges difficult to face without becoming heated, it becomes much more difficult for an individual to accept that they may hold an incorrect view on something. The occurrence of a view being incorrect is raised to the much more potent feeling that they as a person are incorrect. Thus they may reject relevant information, even when it is clearly presented to them–essentially they behave in a manner exactly opposite to the behavior involved in holding an intellectual position, and focus on limiting rather than improving themselves.

There is nothing bad about being incorrect at any given point, as long as one makes an authentic effort to hold correct views; therefore there should be no embarrassment in being effectively exposed as wrong. Being wrong and moving on is far superior to attempting to save face while attaching oneself to a lesser position in order to do so–not to mention this behavior is relatively easy to observe, so face is not saved regardless; it is in fact further damaged. One should be grateful for the opportunity to be shown exactly how one is incorrect, for it will help improve their understanding and increase the efficiency of their operations. Every flawed position that is corrected helps not only the individual, but by extension has a positive influence on everybody the individual interacts with from then on, since every interaction influenced by an improved position will be coming from a more advanced level of conceptual development. All this being the case, I encourage everyone to be honest with themselves about whether the positions they are holding are informed more by a desire to learn, or or an emotional resistance to being challenged and a fear of being proven incorrect. It is by nature the sort of difference that frequently cannot be hidden, as whether one reacts emotionally or intellectually to a legitimate challenge is often clear to all observers.

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Pseudovegan Freeganism, Pescetarianism, and Flexitarianism – Linguistic Accuracy and the Appropriate Usage of Dietary Terms

What I call “pseudovegan freeganism” is when a supposed “vegan” eats i.e. a dairy product because they received it for free, but someone else purchased it and any generally reasonable non-vegan would just as readily have consumed it were it given to them instead. One cannot, for example, have a friend buy a cheese pizza and then receive slices from it for free if one is authentically freegan or vegan. The product and industry were economically supported, therefore making this sort of freegan not actually a full vegan, and instead a person who either misunderstands or simply likes the title but does not follow the logic all the way through. If one is freegan, one does not eat non-vegan items unless they come from or are absolutely destined for the trash.

I feel that clear definition and usage of terms is important for linguistic accuracy and understanding each other better. Similarly, people should call themselves “pescetarians” instead of “vegetarians” if the only meat they eat is fish, and “flexitarians” if they occasionally eat other meat. These words exist for this purpose (and are actually pretty cool sounding), so they should be used accordingly. I believe that those who know the differences between these words but still prefer to call themselves vegan or vegetarian despite their diet being in another category are being dishonest because they think it is “cool” to be vegan & veggie, but don’t want to make the commitment that actually makes it cool. It is a manipulative act to control how other people view oneself by purposefully using incorrect terms.

Each of our choices are our own responsibility and we should accept them authentically. If you would like to be vegetarian or vegan, then you should make the commitment to what those terms refer to, or be honest about where you currently stand. It’s ok to not be there yet if that’s the case, and if you don’t ever want to be there that’s up to you alone to decide–either way it’s much better to not be fake about it.



Adventures in Living… Ethical Homelessness for the Sake of Personal Creativity and Philosophical Authenticity

At first, the implications of the title may sound strange. Homelessness for the sake of creativity? That certainly isn’t how we’re used to thinking. Society is very thorough about implanting the idea that we have to have a “place to live”, such as an apartment or room. Don’t we need something like that to work on our projects and move towards our goals? And thus don’t we have to work for somebody else to pay for it? The answer is no, at least not always. In fact, not worrying about paying rent bestows an amazing freedom that most people never get to experience as adults. That alone frees up a massive amount of time and energy for the pursuit of creative goals, provided one possesses or has access to the basic tools and/or social network required to maintain what I consider to be one’s real work.

And what do I mean by “ethical homelessness”? This simply refers to the fact that homelessness may be a more ethical option for those who cannot secure income from a source that is at least predominantly aligned with their philosophical ideals. It is an inherent contradiction to hold any sort of advanced views of how society should operate while working for a company that is simultaneously working against those views and using your labor to accomplish it. I personally feel like it damages my very existence and suppresses my personal power to follow that path.

It was a powerful realization to me that I could actually accomplish this type of lifestyle switch-up and essentially remove my enslavement to society’s traditional work/rent exchange (which I believe only exists due to an intentionally exploitative structure, but that’s another topic). Thus, after years of feeling repressed and oppressed by a rigid, life-sucking schedule, I decided that I was no longer willing to sacrifice my time, soul, and energy to things which I am not directly interested in pursuing. If a job cannot educate me extensively in ways I want for my own personal reasons, significantly further goals in the directions I am naturally drawn toward, or deploy my creativity in the exact way I want to do it myself, then I don’t want to be involved. Though I’ve found that it is possible for me to tolerate such utter submission, I have grown tired of it.

I would feel similarly even if an otherwise ethical job was taking too much energy and focus away from following my own drive. I feel like it’s important for me to do my own work since I have the compulsion to do so, even though it may not currently be financially productive enough to retain a home. But that is less of an ethical matter and more a personal commitment to what I myself want to spend my time doing. To be certain, if I could make enough money from my music, writing, art, or whatever else I want to do then I would prefer to have a home. It’s convenient, comfortable, private, and very useful for storage. But it is a luxury, and the exchange of comforts and convenience for freedom is worth it to me.

A question has been posed to me–isn’t that what going to college is for, so you can get a degree and pursue a career doing what you like? This question reveals a very innocent view of higher education, one which tends to dispel itself quickly as you age and begin seeing how the job market works. I do, incidentally, have a college degree: a Bachelor’s in philosophy, the only formal program I found I could tolerate at the universities I had the option to attend. To me, the degree is useless. And of course it goes without saying that many people with degrees in all fields end up in various sorts of tedious jobs anyway.

My time is valuable, far more so than most jobs are worth. The creative contributions to society and culture that I am capable of deserve my attention. All bottom level jobs I’ve worked were simplistic, a waste of my talent and intellect, as they are for many people. Many “good” jobs are painfully dull or at the very least distracting, and I’m no longer willing to disrespect myself by participating in such wasteful activity. By leaving that world behind, I will be thrust further into learning many things that I want to learn, and I will fill the space left vacant with more work on my own projects. I’d rather live my life as an uncertain adventure than as a struggling worker drone, and I look forward to being immersed in the issues that such a lifestyle presents.

Purposefully operating without a secure home can be very difficult, uncomfortable, and even dangerous due to an increased state of vulnerability (to cops, thieves, and other shady characters), and I don’t want anyone to assume that I am an expert simply because I am writing about the topic. I’m still figuring it out and doing my best to strategize. But I am willing to make the necessary sacrifices to see how it works for me, and I am now immersed in what could be a long stretch of homelessness. To be clear, I am living in my car (not a van), so I do have a bit of private space and shelter which could technically be considered my “home”. It would be immensely more challenging to have no owned space whatsoever while still devoting consistent attention to one’s work, though still possible as long as the general location was strategic enough.

I plan to compile a list of basic practical tips which have helped me, once I’ve gotten my methods fairly established. By far the most difficult aspect of my experience thus far has been learning to let go of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years, since I no longer have the space to accommodate such possessions. While most of the things I’ve held onto had artistic or educational ends, they were in a sort of homeostasis until I found the opportunity to utilize them. Losing almost all personal space has emphasized how much of a luxury it is to maintain any possessions whatsoever outside of what’s immediately useful. Though it is difficult, it is liberating to cut down on these sorts of attachments.

To allay any potential misinterpretation, I want to clarify that when I refer above to a “social network” that does not mean people whose houses one can stay at all the time, nor people whose food can regularly be eaten, etc. It is very important to make sure one is not exploiting friends and acquaintances and taking advantage of their kindness. Success in this venture requires being as self-sufficient as possible, because repeatedly using the fruits of another person’s labor to support yourself is, rather obviously, actually less ethical than working yourself (it is analogous to the flawed logic and externalization of unethical activity at play in what I call “pseudovegan freeganism”). It’s fine to occasionally request a favor from someone who has offered their services, but it is essential to rely mainly upon your own means of support.

Finally, since I refer so frequently to myself in this essay, I want to specifically express that I don’t think myself superior in any way for taking this step (or any other, for that matter). Everybody is in their own unique circumstances and I think it is another flaw, a very common one, to expect others to do things that you feel are right for yourself. I think practicing elitism in any form is detrimental to the common social good. I am merely writing about my own personal reasons for the way I live my life, for informational and inspirational purposes. I hope that I can provide some interesting thoughts and directions to consider for those who may be in similar situations, fed up with a frustrating and restricting life. The 6th paragraph might even be read aloud to yourself as a personal affirmation of your own worth and power. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts, whatever they may be, as they help me develop my own.

And if you’re able and inclined, you can help me out by donating any amount to my general survival / productivity fund.



Third Parties are Critical for an Informed Public – Multiple Perspectives Should Be Considered When Making A Decision

In general, I value open discussion and the consideration of multiple perspectives when searching for solutions to particular issues. I feel that weighing what everyone has to say is a crucial process in formulating a stance on something, and whenever I neglect to do this I end up wishing that I had been more thorough. This is why it is very important to not limit our sources for information to only a few channels–if we do we tend to absorb the bias inherent in them. Naturally, it can be assumed that just about everything is biased at least to some extent, making it our duty to analyze multiple perspectives if we intend to have a logical and objective opinion. We must listen to as many sides of the story as possible.

When it comes to politics this multi-sided approach to issues is of the highest importance, because both public policy and public edification (not to mention the state of the world) is at stake. Essentially, each political party represents a perspective on any given issue, and as a society, America currently seems to believe that out of all of them only two are important–those of the Republican and Democrat parties (and it’s arguable those perspectives are in many instances quite similar in practice). There are obviously more ways of thinking about things than represented by just these two views, and other approaches are just as important to be aware of when trying to figure out what we should be collectively doing in the world of politics. Though there are people who exert the extensive effort required to educate themselves on an individual basis, as a whole Americans are not hearing all sides of the story and are thus making intrinsically uneducated decisions about who should be running things and how.

The blame for this falls primarily upon the media and the political establishment represented by the big two parties (the “Titanic” parties), because these powerful organizations are, of course, concerned more with using their power to push their own viewpoints and achieve their own goals rather than letting others share the spotlight for the good of society. It’s an unfortunate reality that the establishment does not share my affinity for open discussion about a topic regardless of party affiliation, and that its agenda rarely seems to involve solving a problem effectively. The two-party system has a stranglehold on American politics, and it actively attempts to prevent the public from hearing critical perspectives that are necessary for understanding issues. Third parties (“independent” parties) such as the Green Party and Libertarian Party represent these wrongfully suppressed perspectives on issues, and when they are consistently excluded from the discussion, everybody loses.

I want to be very clear–I’m not talking about independent parties winning elections. I don’t necessarily think that’s an absolute requirement for improving our society, though certainly it would speed things up a bit in many cases and I’m quite supportive of it. For my purposes here it doesn’t matter who actually wins, but what they’re saying needs to be included in the debate–even if the Titanic parties keep winning, more stimulation and competition is absolutely necessary to keep them in line. By introducing important points into the arena, all candidates who are participating can still influence the platform and the expectations of the winner. I’ve seen this exact thing at work in local non-partisan elections. Even establishment candidates will adopt something they otherwise wouldn’t if they were faced with a wall of people who demanded it. People get smarter when they consider things from more angles–for example, they might take one thing a Green is saying and start asking all Democrats to adopt it because it makes sense. But if it’s never shown to them they may never think to take that step, and we collectively fail to progress.

Voters’ final choices should be made once they’ve incorporated information from every side of what’s going on, otherwise their decisions will be flawed*. When media outlets, organizations, Republicans, and Democrats try to keep independent party philosophies away from the American public, they are purposefully trying to create a herd of ignorant voters who they can easily take advantage of. They are giving a presentation that is far from comprehensive under the guise that they hold the only plausible options. When they pretend that independent parties don’t exist it should arouse suspicion about their true motives. Why do they want to hide information from the public eye? I think it’s generally safe to assume that when one group suppresses the voice of another group, they have something to lose should the other group’s message be publicized. I tend to think it’s because they are scared that people will recognize the faulty logic that’s been pushed on them once fresh perspectives are floating around. And people might actually do something about it, like evict the status quo.

Some may object that it is independent parties’ own fault that they do not receive coverage, claiming that they are not “getting themselves out there” enough, or that they are not presenting “viable” enough candidates with enough pre-existing public support to justify their inclusion in debates or articles. Independent parties actually try very hard to be included and are consistently blocked from the most far-reaching channels. The doors are not exactly standing open to anyone who comes, and anyone who claims they are is simply inexperienced or has other motives. And as regards the latter objection, it is fundamental that the logic of any given argument should be weighed for its own merits, regardless of how popular the person saying it is at the time–a lesson that frequently seems to be lost on those who consistently support philosophically inferior politicians simply because they come from a more established organization. In addition, I think the label of “viable” as used today to refer to candidates is purely a result of our current election system. If certain election reforms were enacted–such as public financing and instant runoff voting to name a couple–then there would be more “viable” candidates running because the system wouldn’t be so frontloaded towards Titanic candidates from the beginning.

In any case, these objections are beside the point. Ultimately it seems to me that the media should itself be at least to some extent institutionally responsible for including candidates who have qualified for the ballot in debates and public forums, regardless of how much popular support they currently have when compared to the Titanic parties. As the primary way that most people receive information, it is the media’s duty to report on things relating to the public interest, and an inclusive approach to all sides of the pinnacle of our supposed democracy–elections–would be among the highest ways of serving that interest. It’s not just a fair way of operating a democracy, it’s simply more intelligent and beneficial to society for all the reasons I’ve discussed here. We should therefore demand that independent parties be regularly included and each strive to pay more attention to them, instead of passively allowing ourselves and the rest of our communities to be strategically manipulated through the censorship of alternative viewpoints.

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(* Voters’ decisions are also flawed when they vote for the “lesser of two evils” instead of what is actually the best choice. Doing so is adopting a loser mentality that perpetuates an inferior government and corrupts the very purpose of democratic voting in the first place, creating instead an indirect and crippled version of democracy based on a fear to risk expressing our true desires. I believe we should instead be authentic and vote for what we feel is best regardless of whether or not we think it will “win”. I find it a far more potent statement than voting for something I know is worse and don’t actually support. It’s a choice we’re given and I personally wouldn’t want to be on record saying I want something that I really don’t. Additionally, an efficient and totally necessary election reform called Instant Runoff Voting completely solves the “lesser evil” problem in the current voting system. Look it up!)

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So because I believe that philosophy should lead to action, I wrote to Warner Chabot–head of the California League of Conservation Voters, a prominent environmental organization. The CLCV created a website for the 2010 California gubernatorial election called “GreenGov2010” and didn’t even deign to mention that there is a Green Party candidate in the race, while shamelessly using what obviously sounds like a Green Party website title. I find it absurd that an environmental organization would refuse to allow the Greens into the room to talk about being green, and plain deceptive to not even acknowledge that they exist. It is abundantly clear that something is fundamentally wrong when such a contradiction is presented without saying a single word, especially when they are well aware of what they’re doing. Ultimately, the CLCV damages its own mission when it ignores what the Green Party has to say about the issues.

I am writing to express my disappointment with the GreenGov2010.org site and its failure to include the Green Party candidate Laura Wells.  I can’t help but feel like you are playing party politics again.  The one thing that I’ve never liked about the CLCV is that one of the unstated “conservation” goals it seems to have is to maintain the status quo of the two party system and block valuable third party candidates from participating.

If we are to truly progress, people need to be aware of what everybody is saying about the issues.  I don’t understand why it seems like you’re so determined to keep your thought process directly inside the box when it comes to this type of thing.  The Green Party brings valuable, important insight to a wide variety of environmental issues, and can help to stimulate collective thought that will quicken our arrival at beneficial solutions.  Why line up with everyone else who thinks that Republicans or Democrats are the only people who should be allowed to have a voice in discussing important issues?

Your latest decision to exclude the Green Party and Laura Wells lowers your credibility and that of the organization you direct.  When an environmental organization stonewalls a political party that has been concerned with such issues for decades, I can’t help but feel that you’re far too biased to be trusted for real objectivity.  While the work you do is good, you are unfortunately stunting the progress of the very things you fight for by refusing to at least allow them into the discussion.

Sincerely,
D. Bene Tleilax



Compelled To Take A Stand

I’ve been reading through the blog Please Pass on the Plastic by Michelle Walrath, executive producer of the anti bottled water film TAPPED (which I actually still have not seen), and it is a very potent example of the experience and concerns of a real person motivated to “green” living by what seem to be essentially survival concerns. She has young children and so lives the life of a mom, writing about normal things that she naturally comes into contact with that, upon investigation, are fraught with chemical danger.

If one wasn’t into this sort of thing–being concerned about what surrounds us Americans by default–they might think she’s gone a bit over the edge with all the “restrictions” placed on her or her children’s lives. The way she is with plastic reminds me of the way some people are with animal products in their diets, though she is not as completely exclusionary since plastic is even more omnipresent and potentially more difficult to completely avoid than animal-derived consumables. In addition to my environmental health concerns, I myself am an ethical (and environmental) vegan and have had much experience with being concerned about the ingredients and origins of everything.

There are several parallels in the way one who adopts wide filters to their behavior must interact with other people who don’t, whatever those particular filters may be. We often appear to be at least a little crazy, overly anal, and potentially offensive just on the fact that our own restrictive behavior implies that we don’t approve of things that other people are themselves commonly doing, which can make them feel uncomfortable and defensive in various degrees. And, of course, they are right–we don’t approve. But a little common sense and consideration leads rational abstainers to not hang the fact over everybody’s head all the time. I mainly just want to do my own thing unless it’s appropriate to discuss the philosophy of it to someone who wants to listen. Friends could do without a berating every meal you share together, or whatever the case may be.

Ultimately the difference here all comes down to logic, and how far one takes it. An understanding of logical implications is what compels people to make sweeping changes to their behavior, to take a stand on things and live their lives differently. Some people choose to not pay any attention to all the things that are presented to us as normal, whether that be food types, packaging methods, product origins, political choices, whatever. They either don’t care, won’t dedicate the effort to care, or simply can’t afford the time to research potential issues and alternatives, or even come to the realization that research might be necessary. They all end up just taking what’s given from whoever is doing the giving, because that’s where things end for them–the end product and their obvious use of it. There is no further investigation beyond those surface functions. The process of things arriving to our possession is far enough removed from the end-user that it’s easy to not think about what negative things might have happened on the way, or what negative things have yet to result from those processes.

Other people, however, have connected an array of evidential dots in their minds that has led them to the realization of undeniable facts: that there are significant problems involved in current socially established procedures which affect the whole of humanity, and all life on this planet. Following the facts to their logical conclusions clearly shows that regularly contributing to and participating in these social procedures represents many more serious problems, ones that we ourselves as individuals are responsible for.

In the end, these problems are very basic and deal with things that almost everybody is concerned with on some level, things such as health, and death. “Sustainability” means staying alive. “Green” means preventing debilitating disease and suffering. People who are very short-sighted often overlook the real meanings of these words. They are only concerned with what affects themselves personally, and even still in only particular, limited moments. It’s a simple fact that many people are blunderingly self-centered, and cannot or will not expand their consciousness beyond their own compact and immediate little existence. Perhaps they are overly stubborn or have yet to deal with personal issues that prevent them from seeing pieces of a larger picture. Or perhaps they’re waiting for a convincing presentation to release the cerebral chokehold that false arguments designed to stifle change have locked them into.

In any case, I myself find it intellectually and creatively stimulating to find out all the things I should not be participating in, everyday things that are commonly taken for granted. It’s a fun challenge to see how much I can alter my life beyond the status quo everybody operates from in their average consumer lives. I look forward to having multiple filters that to the uninitiated might make my behavior seem like that of a strange and obsessed neurotic.

My economic protest means that my energy (finances, time, focus, etc) is sent in more appropriate directions and ends up working more for me, my goals, and my philosophy, instead of supporting people that make exploitation their business and pass it on to you in the form of life-destroying products and processes. I become more self-sufficient; instead of depending upon people who care more about money and power than anything else, I reclaim that power for myself and extract myself from their oppression. I reap the benefits of my truly increased freedom. The logic of these benefits is yet another compelling force encouraging me to take a stand and actually change my life to match the moral and practical philosophy that I have developed.