Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two questions here for the price of one. "Do Demonstrations Achieve Their Goals ?". Good question. If you were to sum up the total number of demonstrations in the world and ask whether they achieved their goals as an immediate result of the demonstration the answer is obviously No. this sort of thing is very rare actually. But there are caveats. How about 10 demonstrations over the course of several years around a given issue ? Do they contribute to the achievement of the goal ? What sort of thing is necessary in addition to the demonstration ? Political action ? Direct action ? How much do demonstrations actually contribute to achieving a goal ? The answer obviously varies with the situation. What sort of importance should be given to demonstrations in general ? Are there tactics that are more effective in demonstrations than others ? Are these always (a doubtful proposition) the best tactics ? Can demonstrations, if they are poorly attended or use the wrong tactics be worse than doing nothing ? What do you think ? Add your comments here.
"Is Space Exploration a Worthy Societal Goal ?" This one is one of Molly's hobby horses, being as one of her hobbies is amateur astronomy. The flip leftist response is, "No, spend it on the poor and other goals instead". Not being a leftist, Molly is rather unimpressed by this. take your average million dollars. Translate it through the first government bureaucracy (the giver) with all the costs involved in skimming the cream for the managers there. Translate it again through either a foreign government with both bureaucratic costs and "corruption costs" or through an NGO with perhaps less "corruption cost" but equal "bureaucracy costs", taken by the "professional leftists" that staff such organizations. How much is actually left for "the poor" ? The answer varies, from a low of about nothing for many evangelical religious outfits to perhaps 2/3rds for the best run aid outfit.
I am hardly willing to replay the technological benefits of space exploration here. They are many, and they have been well documented elsewhere. If nothing else I am willing to hazard the guess that the provision of satellite communication has done more for the world's poor by several times over than all the aid directed by both public and private agencies over the past half century. Is this wrong ? If it is how far off is it ? I will also merely mention the fact that much of so-called "aid" is siphoned off by either the donor country, the government of the recipient country or the professional leftists that staff NGOs. Some things are obvious and gross. Sending people from North America to hammer nails on a house in Honduras is obviously silly beyond belief. That puts the cost of each nail well above the dollar mark. How much actually does reach the presumed recipients ? How much does this compare with the "unintended consequences" that space exploration has delivered over the past half century ? Think about these things and reply here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Molly's latest poll asks, "What are the five most important things for anarchists today". I have tried to be as exhaustive as possible in the list. All items actually are things that anarchists do today and also feel are quite important. I have also tried to not let my own prejudices get in the way of making the list as complete as possible. In my view it ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime, with excursions into the inadvisable and the absolutely necessary. Despite this I am sure that I have missed more than one hobby horse in the listing. Feel free to comment here about what should be added.
The whole point of this is to try and get people to think "strategically". What should be the major focus of attention ? What should be given less attention ? What should be ignored entirely ?