Please click through the above photo or link, and read Andrew’s blog post on the London riots. And then come back here for a rebuttal:

Criminal opportunism? That’s called capitalism, dear. You can’t inculcate a whole (global) culture with the religion of the market, and then expect the poorest members to wait patiently outside the carnival, observing the spectacle of wealth without any prospect of partaking themselves.

Mr. Sullivan sounds confused – why would you need to draw a distinction between a race riot and a ‘social inequity’ riot? Racism is a form of social inequity, and social inequity is often a form of racism. And besides, just because Tottenham itself is relatively integrated does not mean that the pernicious effects of past and extant racism are somehow magically dissolved. That suggestion is laughable.

And if Andrew’d done three minutes of historical research (or listened to a bit of punk rock or hip hop as a youth) he would have discovered that many, many “looting” riots occur within the neighborhoods where the rioters themselves live. This isn’t because of “soft” police response, it’s because the police (or, more to the point, their bosses) are very calculating in their policies of ‘containment.’ Riots are allowed to rage on, and to burn poor neighborhoods, as long as they do not encroach too much on richer neighborhoods. Blaming the violence on unredeemable “criminals” and “sheer thugs” from “elsewhere” is a way of ignoring the fundamental problems that create BOTH ‘legitimate’ riots AND ‘sheer thugs,’ as well as the overbearing police state that strategically manipulates the threat of underclass violence.

Believe: Unless the ‘harder’ police response Andrew romanticizes would be swift and sure investigation, trial, and PUNISHMENT of cops who wrongly shoot civilians, his prescription will not help the malady. More cops with more guns and more water cannons and more rights to harrass more civilians and break up more demonstrations will not mystically mean more security, just less freedom. The Sikhs have had the right idea during the riots: if you want to protect your home and family, depend on yourself and your community, not the state.

Until and unless the police actually start behaving as trustworthy guardians of the public good, people will keep having reasons to form their own clans, gangs, neighborhood patrols, superhero squads, civil liberties unions, block watches, revolutionary cells, and other forms of what the legal profession likes to call “self help.”


While I was galavanting about on ‘The Continent’ last fall, the secession of Cascadia drew just a few micrometers closer to realization, with the nearly-official renaming of Puget Sound. Puget Sound is now the Salish Sea.

Did you know about this?? Then why didn’t you tell me? Shocking. But that’s how fundamental change occurs: Tectonically. Nearly imperceptibly, the ground shifts beneath our feet. I was born on the shores of Puget Sound, but now my homeland abuts a different body of water: The SALISH SEA. This sort of migration – finding that, without having moved, you’re in a different city or country because the border has crossed you, is not unfamiliar to residents of, say, the Balkans – I have a friend whose mother has been issued 3 different passports by 3 different countries, without ever leaving the village house where she was born. These geographical re-nominations are significant, and should be read very carefully.

This new name is meant to acknowledge the ecological commonalities of a previously-divided area. The Salish Sea comprises the bodies known as Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and a bit of Desolation Sound. None of these names have been officially discarded; they’re just encompassed by a bigger entity now, and will presumably be phased out of textbooks and maps as the Cascadian revolution progresses. We’re already referred to as the “over 7 million people” who “live within the immediate watershed of the Salish Sea,” rather than as seperate American and Canadian populations. According to Knute Berger, “The Salish Sea helps promote “trans-boundary” awareness between the U.S. and Canada.” Well, yes….perhaps. Or, it helps promote intra-Cascadian national pride AMONG those Cascadian citizens who are currently artificially divided by false borders.

Since I was a wee lass, I’ve heard secessionist rumblings in my homeland. We’ve often felt remote from the maneuverings of the East Coast aristocracy, underrepresented by the “two” party system, and culturally distinct from our neighbor-states. And, of course, characterologically superior to the fabled Average American, with our self-sufficient craftiness, our alchemical union of bookish erudition and rough lumberjack strength, our innovation and openmindedness and, well, generally unique-as-a-really-unique-snowflake Northwest spirit. (Here’s a little piece in Sightline about the ‘Northwest personality,’ and this is a pdf of some research that measured personality traits and ranked their prevalence state by state.) We’ve long suspected that we are a breed apart. We Western Washingtonians often feel that we are even distinct from our own Eastern Washingtonian population – west of the Cascades, Washington is green, moist, and socialist; east of the Cascades is brown, dry, and right-wingy. We have more in common with our brethren in British Columbia, Oregon, and maybe Northern California. This coastal strip is affectionately known as Cascadia. And we have the nagging feeling that we might just be better off Doing It Ourselves.

Cascadia has a long and storied history of utopian movements. General strikes, communal religions, radical unions, and all manner of civil disobedience are our proud heritage. As early as 1803, Jefferson himself envisioned a sovereign “Republic of the Pacific” in our portion of the continent. Since then, multiple fictional and aspirational accounts of a Cascadian nation have simmered on the back burner of our collective consciousness.

Lately, our secessionist dreams have gotten a bit steamier. From the Snohomish Freedom County activists to the proponents of bioregion affiliation, momentum is building. Recently, 25 Washington State legislators supported an act that would declare the sovereignty of Washington State and divert all Washingtonians’ federal tax payments into a state-held escrow account – they were supported and inspired by 10th Amendment federalists, who have been increasingly active in many states.

There’s a divide, already, between clashing versions of the new nationalism: West Cascadians tend to fantasize about a sort of environmentalist socialism, while East Cascadians are more of the tax-revolt right-libertarian stripe. My personal intuition is that we’ll need both organic gardeners and well-armed 2nd Amendment paramilitaries to make this thing work, so let’s not preemptively slice ourselves into politically homogeneous sub-states. Once we’re formally independent, we’ll need all the internal cross-pollination we can get, as we’ll probably suffer trade and travel restrictions from the hostile and shrunken American States during the initial nation-building years.

Yes, there will be sacrifices ahead, my compatriots. But recall that the beloved Cascadian flag includes a field of red, symbolizing the “volcanic forces” that burn within us – ALL of us. As we’ve long assured the world, when Rainier goes, it’ll be BIG. Our volcanic forces are mobilizing. We don’t know precisely when the eruption will happen, but it WILL…it’s inevitable. A tectonic shift. If you will.


This morning’s coffee conversation centered on rape. In particular, mass rape as a tactic of war. Discussion veered toward rape prevention, rape counseling, the whole cultural constellation of psychologies, techniques and frameworks for processing rape, as individuals and in communities. I said something strident, something like, “If your program for dealing with rape does not include training in streetfighting for women, I am not listening to you.” And I’m not. There is an obvious response, readily at hand: prepare women for the possibility of rape. Prepare them by teaching them ‘effective negotiation.’ How to say ‘no.’ How to recognize when saying it isn’t going to suffice. How to make ‘no’ a reality: delivering a warning shot. And when a warning shot does not suffice, how to fight a rapist. How to fight with everything you’ve got. There are ways to reduce or eliminate the usual discrepancies in physical power between rapists and their targets. Eye-gouges, testicle attacks…use your imagination or your experience to illustrate. If you are training women in how to fight, I will listen to your therapeutic suggestions. If you’re not, then I respectfully decline to listen.

A woman in South Africa invented a device that is sold as a rape-preventative. It is worn in the vagina. It assaults any intruding penis with painful spikes. Now, I wouldn’t classify this as a preventative measure, rather, it is a punishment device. And punishment is an appropriate response to rape. On what moral grounds could one possibly deny that?


SEED Magazine (tagline: Science Is Culture) does a once-in-a-while feature called Workbench that reveals the tools and techniques used by working scientists. This edition visits an urban bug-collector who studies how biodiversity is affected by human alterations to the environment. He’s got a bunch of neat jury-rigged gadgets that will appeal to your DIY spirit.

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