Group Notice From: Smoke Wijaya
Going to attend a local celebration/demonstration on May Day?
If so, please consider writing a short report on your local event/demo, with maybe some pictures.
It would be nice to get a post up on our website with different accounts of May Day from across the globe, highlighting the international membership of the SLLU and showing the other members what happens near you.
You can pass the reports on to me (Smoke Wijaya) and I will make it all into a post for our website. Thanks in advance.
Monday, 26 April 2010
Group Notice From: Smoke Wijaya
Saturday, 24 April 2010
anti-capitalism.“ -SLLU website
“Well, let's see how far I can stretch that statement, shall we?” -
Hi there, my name is Joseph Hubbard, Second Life
resident for over four years. I come to SLLU as (it seems) a half-fit to
the ideology of the cause. I share a sympathy of viewpoints on pragmatic
actions with the SLLU cause on several fronts, which means that my
interests aren't diametrically opposed to yours. Whether I am welcome
depends, perhaps, on this introduction, so please let me know in
comments if I would be wasting my time or yours with participation in
By way of background, I was born, raised, and continue to live in the
United States of America. While in college, I successfully attained both
a degree in physics and a degree in philosophy. Perhaps I have some sort
of love for the “F with a Ph” sounding topics, though I stayed far away
from pharmacy. The physics isn't particularly germane to me giving my
bio to SLLU (I never had a single physics professor make an even mildly
political statement. It was all about figuring out the guts of the
universe), but the philosophy is. Several of my favorite courses were in
the social and political philosophy vein, with a particular focus on
philosophy and race relations due to the academic specialty of the
particular professor involved. To paraphrase Charles W. Mills, I was a
fish who began to recognize the water of race-based and gender-based
privilege he was swimming in.
I remain, though, rather enamored of the capitalism of my youth not
because of the unsavory results it can produce when loosed, but for the
bottom-up structuring it provides. I like the idea of socialism in
theory except for the need for a top-down hierarchy, which is inherently
unstable, to use a phrase from my training in physics. I see both
systems as unworkable in practice if employed to their logical extremes.
I'm sure I can make a rather thorough blog post about my views on this
at some point and let you fine ladies and gentlemen find the weak joints
in my arguments. For now, sufficed to say that if SLLU is
“anti-capitalism” and this is interpreted as 'the full and utter
revocation of the concept of personal ownership,' I'm likely not
eligible as a member.^*
By turns I'm a pessimist and an optimist... a pragmatist and a
realist. I am an idealist in the classical sense, if there is one. I
believe in the power of ideas to illuminate and empower, if one merely
takes the bold step of following the truth regardless of how it may
square with one's own preconceptions. It's a temptation to all of us
(and I exempt myself from this in no way shape or form) to view any
circumstance, argument, or position that doesn't square with our own
point of view as inherently oppositional. It's a habit we could all
stand to train ourselves out of as much as possible.
The greatest recent example of that one in Starr's life and mine was a
chain email from a conservative (U.S. brand conservative) family member
making some predictably hyperbolic claim about “Obama has just done
this-or-that with taxpayer money! OMG!” With about five minutes on a web
browser, I had gotten the information about the event from the
government financial institution actually involved, clarifying the
nuance of the event and simply showing no need for alarm. I typed this
up, replied to all senders, taking exquisite care to state only plain
fact in evidence, and call for people of all political affiliations to
pursue only the truth.. The next weekend Starr and I visited said family
member who insisted that my reply was highly partisan.
It takes all kinds, they say.
What might we agree on, and why am I interested in participating in the
The social, political, financial and intellectual systems of
racism and sexism must be dismantled.
A state has no legitimate interest in enforcing any religious
belief via law or de facto discrimination.
Progressive income taxation makes sense (within limits).
A war of a nation against an idea is wasteful and self-defeating.
As a species we have some enormous challenges ahead in the area of
resource consumption, not just in terms of our impact on climate,
but also in terms of the dwindling supplies of certain elements
* I mean by “personal ownership” something in the vein of 'A person can
reasonably say that “An object, X is mine. That is, it is my sole
decision what becomes of this object in the future, even if X can make
copies of object Y.”' If there are no localized objects X which fit this
model of “personal ownership” then I'll have nothing to do with the
theory because it's simply not cutting the reality of people embodied in
this world at the joints. Where I think a socialist will disagree with
me is on X being able to make Ys, which makes X a means of production.
My hands can make Ys. They are mine. My computer via my ability to
program can make new Y computer programs. It is mine. On a subtler
level, extend X to include one's own body and I think there's an
argument to be made that all oppression takes the form of a rejection of
I'm excited to be here!
Arizona passes immigration law that urges law enforcement to detain people that appear to be illegal immigrants.
(The above link is simply news. What lurks beneath is my personal opinion, and not the viewpoint of the SLLU.)
Unbelievable. How exactly does one identify what an 'illegal citizen' looks like? (If they should be harassing them in the first place.) While this law was largely created in response to the very real and very brutal drug cartel violence that is becoming prolific in border areas, this response goes to show what civil liberties we are willing to strip away in order to feel safe. What's going to happen after the next attack on the level of 9/11? Mandatory I.D. cards? I.D chips?
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Starr Luna is a new member of SLLU. These are her words!
Disclaimer: The following post is not representative of SLLU, or its core values. It's written from my perspective, a new member.
Hello SLLU Members! I'm Starr, a proud to be a new member amidst your ranks, very nearly 38 years old, happily married to Joseph Hubbard, another newbie with SLLU, and disabled with a few chronic neuromuscular illnesses. I became introduced to SLLU through Plot Tracer, and the Avatars United website. He had kindly united with me some weeks back, and lately, when I read about the issues related to the false allegations, and premature suspension of his account, it piqued my curiosity. The situation didn't sit well with me, and to make a messy story short and sweet, I ended up involving myself a bit in “Plot's plot”, and upon his being free and clear, he has been generous enough to befriend Joe and me, and bring us into the fold.
I have never considered myself as being very interested in politics, nor have I ever thought I was 'any good at it', per se. What I have had an interest in, from an early age, is society, people, and equality. I herald from an area of the world that is largely very right-wing. Still, in speaking to my friends up North, and elsewhere internationally, and I am somewhat dimly bemused at many of their view of the states, particularly the Southern states, and especially Texas, as this conglomeration of overblown stereotypes and generalizations, a wild caricature straight from a satirist's panel, or a television skit. Texas is a beautiful dichotomy. The boys in my parochial school, our senior year of 1991, showed up en mass to the KKK's annual demonstration on the courthouse lawn. Every year the foul hate group would exercise their right to assemble and free speech to gather, and the town would hole up in their houses, and ignore them. The hooded morons would stalk around, waving bibles, and attempting to recruit, though nobody ever came. When a couple cars full of healthy young Caucasian boys showed up, they were muchly enthused, until those boys used the years of bible classes they had perhaps less than enthusiastically endured, to nail them regarding the numerous ways that they were misquoting and twisting the words of the book they'd never actually read. It resulted in quite a row. That was the last year the KKK bothered to assemble in our town. I had driven back and forth and hollered at them, but somehow, I think being shamed by the boys was more effective. =) Today, each of those fellas are as right-wing as their fathers and grandfathers taught them to be. I love them all regardless, and always will.
My first experience questioning political authority was also in my Senior year, when our Congressman visited our school for an assembly, during which he boasted a policy in which he would oust persons from public housing who were found to be illicit drug abusers. I was a 'good girl' back then, and fairly shocked everyone when I raised my hand, and challenged him, inquiring as to how it would improve the situation to toss a person afflicted with a drug problem out onto the streets, so that they could be homeless, too. I then inquired as to why our county didn't have any drug rehabilitation resources available to the people at all. The gentleman was a bit taken aback, but gave me a typical mealymouthed answer that said nothing at all, and was pleasantly condescending about the whole thing. I then proceeded to write a letter, to which I received a slightly more respectable reply.
I do not believe in the “war on drugs”. I believe that drugs should be decriminalized, and that the funding that has been poured into 'the war on drugs' should be put into education and rehabilitation, including providing clinics with clean needles, Methadone, and rapid detox programs. Marijuana being illegal just insults my intelligence, and is hardly worthy of discussion. It is no more harmful than alcohol, and its being illegal is purely a matter of right-wing politics and taboo. Its medical potential is abundant, and I could be benefiting from it immediately, should it be available to me. I believe that prostitution should be decriminalized, and that the women should have access to healthcare, and education, including and particularly counseling and group therapy, focusing on self-value and personal safety. Safe sex education and birth control should be made readily available to the public via the education system and clinics. Abstinence is a viable option to be taught to young people regarding sex, as a healthy, holistic choice, not as a religious more that is being applied arbitrarily on another person.
It is essential that there be a stark separation of church and state, because each person has a right to their belief, and as soon as someone puts commandments in school, or in the courthouse, then they are no different than the militant theocracy that tortures and commits genocide with those that believe differently than they do, elsewhere in the world. People, regardless of gender, have the right to marry and share benefits. Deciding that homosexual marriage is immoral is a purely religious knee-jerk reaction, and is therefore inapplicable as a matter of government. I believe, strongly, in socialized healthcare. Everyone should have the right to help when they're sick. The fact that the technology exists in the world to assist a human being that's suffering, or in pain, and that person, man, woman, or child, wherever they are, languishes without that assistance, proves how very far from having attained true civility we really are.
It is clear that the big corporation has been allowed to erode away at the environment until it is all but destroyed. Lobbying in the U.S. Should be illegal.. period. Corporations buying votes should have never been allowed to happen, and horrible things have resulted.
'The War on Terror' is the most counter-intuitive phrase I can possibly conceive of. One cannot attack the intangible, and in our terror, and paranoia, post-9/11, we recoiled into a defensive posture, allowing ourselves to find a reason to be the first to strike out in a war against an ideal. In doing so, we have simply fueled endless hatred, and it's the song that never ends. A dirge, playing the loss of lives, both figuratively, and literally, on both sides of the conflict. I support my brothers and sisters who have chosen to defend their country, but I have protested, and will continue to, protest the war, since its inception.
Socialism is my ideal world, but I don't know that pragmatically people will ever allow it to happen. How does one get all of the people in a nation in one accord, working together, in order to support the utopia? What happens if people decide they don't want to be productive? They have the right not to be. What will happen to society? What will happen with the people who are not content with what they have? I fear that capitalism may be a necessary evil. Libertarianism or minarchism comes close to espousing my ideals, in that I am very pro-people's rights, and civil liberties, and personal freedoms. But then I am forced to wonder, if our nation were Libertarian, and I had no husband, no family, no one to watch after me.. being sick as I am, what would become of me? Would I languish and die, homeless and in agony? I heard one Libertarian say that they would not have offered support during Hurricane Katrina, but the people would have had to rely on themselves to take care of things. I can't get behind that.So where am I, politically? I am -not- Republican, and I am -not- Democrat. I loathe the parties. It has almost come to the point in the States, in my opinion, where as soon as a person espouses a party, they rescind their ability to think for themselves. I have a particular seething dislike for pundits, the talking heads that dominate the airwaves, and say everything and nothing at all. The truth is found in small print, buried in documents on government websites, it is in the sum and total of the actions of the man or woman in office, and the truth will eventually be found through my own self-explorations, and my armchair activism, through petition signing with moveon.org, and elsewhere, and now through SLLU. I am fervent about protesting sexploitation sims (rape/incest/snuff) and racist groups in Second Life. In my downtime, I roleplay, and explore. It's my hope that I can exist in a zen space somewhere between my righteous rage, and the better world we all hope to attain through SLLU in Second Life, and indeed in RL, because, of course, while I can love my opportunity to 'live my voice', via SLLU, and activism, I can't force anyone to listen to it. That is just one of many ways for me to begin to grow with you all. Thank you for the opportunity!
Monday, 19 April 2010
Europe has shut down, it seems. Airlines have been instructed not to fly because of ash being spewed into our atmosphere by Iceland (some have joked, because of the fact that Iceland was hit particularly badly in the capitalists ecomomic crash, the ash is from the Icelandic banks burning our money!)
In times of trouble, and when a friend is in need, we as human beings, neighbours, family come together and help each other. Tony Benn, the famous left wing Labour politician from the UK once spoke in Parliament on the ousting of Thatcher and against Thatchers famous statement that, "there is no society", and illustrated his belief that there very much is a society by way of his interupted train journey that day. He told the UK Parliament that at the beginning of the journey, the train was a capitalist train - all seperate, reading their papers, punching their calculators, not inter acting etc. But when the train broke down and they were stranded somewhere in the English countryside, the train became a socialist one - people sharing food, drink, talking, helping each other through the mini-crisis.
Lots of people stranded in countries far from their homes are acting in a socialist way - groups of travellors hiring buses etc in order to get home - the young helping the old and vice versa. Others working together to make sure the airlines give them their rights - meals/ hotel accomodation for three nights etc.
However, reports are coming in through the news - and through friends and family stranded in Spain, Malta and Greece - of hotels, as soon as the airline legal responsibility of 3 nights accomodation is up - bumping up prices. One friend has phoned me to say the hotel he is in in Alicante has more than doubled their price from 45euro a night to 110Euro a night. Prices a lot of working class people cannot afford as they had went on budget holidays to escape their daily working drudge.
Governments need to step in. The European Parliament need to act quickly and prosecute hotels, transport companies and food sellers who are now trading on people's misery.
This is not a crisis on the scale of Haiti or the recent earthquakes in other countries around the world. Nor is it on par with the poverty and misery caused by capitalist imperialism and the victims of market forces in Afghanistan or Iraq - and various other poverty stricken countries and warzones in the world.
It is, however, an illustration of the insidiousness of this disgusting exploitative system we live in. The airlines are already crying to Governments for "bailouts". Who will bail out the poor people now having to spend their hard earned savings - or those who have to beg from other people in order to survive in foreign lands away from family and friends?
There is an alternative to this system - and the more of us meet and talk and plan and force our political class to properly represent us against the machinations of capitalism the more likely we have change.
If you want change - we need a clean break from what we have now. The socialist train is a happier one - sharing and interacting. Let's hop on it!
PEOPLE NOT PROFIT!
Another, well attended and lively meeting of the SLLU Feminist Network met last night. People from across the real world came together to discuss the upcoming anti-racist/pro-tolerence event; our response to Rape-play role play games in SL and for gaming platforms and representations of women in SL (including the Emerald viewers "bouncing breasts" facility).
The Feminist group will meet again next week at the usual time - keep an eye out for notices!
Photos: Starr Luna
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Noah Gearbox, a journalist from New York and SLLU member, in discussion with Plot Tracer about organising in SL.
[8:00] Noah Gearbox: Hi!
[8:02] Plot Tracer: Hi :)
[8:02] Plot Tracer: What can i do for you, Noah?
[8:03] Noah Gearbox: Well, I'm kind of curious about what you think has been most effective inSL
[8:03] Noah Gearbox: In terms of organizing
[8:03] Plot Tracer: depends what u mean.
[8:03] Plot Tracer: there are different events/ conditions need different kinds of organising
[8:04] Noah Gearbox: Of course -- what are the main things that generally get addressed in-world these days
[8:05] Plot Tracer: :) tbh, I have been out of the loop since February (I was banned... you can read about it on my blog - http://plotsplot.blogspot.com/ as well as my Avatars United site... i intend writing a longer article soon... but up to my eyes with General Election in UK...
I personally think that it is rl issues that are most effectively addressed in SL. I think SL is a brilliant platform to raise awareness and help educate potential rl activists.
I mean for example
The Italian contingent in SLLU have effectively educated people from across the world about the anti-Berlusconi movement in Italy through music events that coincide with rl events in italy. Also, the IBM strike in Italy a couple of years back was extremely effective - it was a "virtual" strike - and it lead to the sacking of IBM Italy’s ceo and the workers won their rights
[8:09] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, the IBM strike is really interesting to me.
[8:10] Plot Tracer: Personally, I think raising awareness through events/ demonstrations/ meetings/ exhibitions all have their place.
[8:10] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, totally. Do you think that people make the real-world connection more often than not?
[8:12] Plot Tracer: I think people do make a rl connection. For example - when we led the anti-Front National demonstrations inworld, a lot of people who had no idea of what fascism means learned about it here - through dialogue and personal research.
[8:13] Noah Gearbox: That's good -- so if you tackle real-world issues, people will make the connection
[8:13] Plot Tracer: Also - something that was unique about the anti front national thing at the time was the noobness of the sl platform, so we managed to get press releases about the fight against front national into press across the real world - from San Francisco through to Japan!
I think inworld issues... like issues of privacy / LL's policies are just like complaining to McDonalds about the fact there is too much pickle on their big macs. (Tho not entirely- I will expand on this another time).
[8:15] Noah Gearbox: Hah, yeah. OK.
The point about criticizing SL kind of brings me to something I've been thinking about in my own RL work, which is that it's really hard to escape capitalist means of production.
Because ultimately SL is run by a commercial enterprise, so how do you square doing organizing on a platform like SL with that reality?
[8:24] Plot Tracer: well - it is no different than organising through facebook or twitter - or blogspot or whatever - all of these are "enclosed" parts of the web - ie. parts of the web ran by commercial enterprise. Capitalism is insidious - hard to escape! Unfortunately in order to exist reasonably comfortably in society we must interact with all kinds of compromises - shopping in ASDA/Walmart/ Tesco/ Lidl/ Marks and Spencer... climbing on board a Greyhound/ Stagecoach bus/ buying petrol/ etc. Lot's of the political parties in rl stand outside supermarkets in order to give out leaflets etc - because that is where people are.
SL is a great place for people to come together to share ideas etc. In a socialist society, places like this would exist without the profit intention. Good ideas survive the fall of societies. Look at roads... the Romans refined that idea... and we kept them :)
[8:27] Noah Gearbox: Well do you think the attitude about SL that it is a "business" platform gets in your way, or helps you?
[8:27] Plot Tracer: it would be a strange thing to say, "I am a socialist, so i wont interact with capitalist society".
[8:27] Noah Gearbox: mhm
[8:28] Plot Tracer: It is essential for survival to interact in capitalist society - but at the same time, pointing out its inadequacies and pushing for change, regardless of what you call that change (reform/ revolution etc)
Pulling down Linden Lab would be counter active. It is the system that has forced LL to make SL more and more commercial that needs to be changed. If the system is changed, then LL will evolve into that system (call the new system what u like - socialism/ a fair society etc)
[8:30] Noah Gearbox: mmm. Yeah, I see what you mean.
[8:31] Noah Gearbox: I have always struggled with the fact that the technology I use for a lot of my work is on many levels sullied by capitalism and its attendant violence.
[8:32] Plot Tracer: But everything is! From the bike you ride to the car u own to the company that supplies electricity to your house to the rings on your fingers’ and food on your plate
as i said, it is impossible within a system to totally disengage from it. we have to push for change/revolution/reform
[8:34] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, I agree. It's sometimes a difficult matter to explain to people.
It's kind of funny because people have a specific idea of what is "serious," too, I find.
[8:36] Plot Tracer: the start off point is to ensure people realise they are in that system... they have to become educated/radicalised etc. We can’t do that for them, but we can hold up the evidence of the barbarity of the present system. Only through their own education can people become "conscious".
[8:36] Noah Gearbox: Have you found SL residents to be receptive to thinking about their Second Lives in critical ways?
[8:39] Plot Tracer: Well, that is a difficult question. Generally people come to SL to escape their rl in lots of ways. Some in Role play others to make friends others to engage in representations of sex they do not engage in in rl etc. I think people’s reception of SLLU and other "radical" groups in SL depends on how relevant they see the message to them at certain times. eg, i think the radical movement in sl will become more and more relevant in the coming months as the rich make the working/middle classes suffer for the rich man’s crisis. brb
[8:43] Plot Tracer: sorry, rl tends to creep in :) back
[8:43] Noah Gearbox: Haha, that's fine
[8:44] Noah Gearbox: I always find myself multitasking when I'm in SL
Do you generally find that people are more interested in "entertainment" type events like concerts, etc?
[8:45] Plot Tracer: yup - i am at the mo promoting videos I have edited for my rl political party and liaising with activists out and about at the moment lol
I think originally when SLLU started (about 3 1/2 yrs ago) people liked to voice their dissent (eg the 24hr/7 day a week and nearly 2 month long anti-front national demos)
But I think nowadays the best way to get people involved is through music/ exhibitions/ interesting builds etc.
[8:47] Plot Tracer: also
I think avatars united is a brill way to engage with new people and bring them into organisations
[8:49] Noah Gearbox: What are some limitations you see to using SL as a platform for organising?
[8:52] Plot Tracer: I think all means of organising have limitations. I think Sl is one link in a chain of organising. I think some people think, when new types of social networking become popular that "this is the new and ONLY way!" I know rl people who argued that, for example, rl activist organisations should give up old ways to engage (newspapers/ leaflets etc) and bring everything online. similarly i know of people who jumped from yahoo groups to sl to facebook and now twitter - i feel all organisation - effective organisation - uses tried and tested methods as well as new
[8:53] Noah Gearbox: mhm
[8:54] Plot Tracer: I engage in all sorts of organisation/ education activities. Another one i use is youtube (for my rl political party) - http://www.youtube.com/nwsocialist
and blogs - www.slleftunity.com www.campsiesocialists.com http://plotsplot.blogspot.com/
to name a few :)
[8:55] Plot Tracer: these all feed into other things @sspcampsie on twitter and the national Scottish Socialist Party website, www.scottishsocialistparty.org
[8:56] Plot Tracer: and rl publications like red pepper http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Left-unity-in-Second-Life amongst many more :)
[8:56] Noah Gearbox: nice
[8:58] Plot Tracer: at different times different aspects of these interfaces become more important... eg, at the moment i am engaged in rl public meetings and with rl media because of the General Election in UK (where in the world are u Noah?)
[8:58] Noah Gearbox: upstate NY
[8:59] Plot Tracer: k- i am in Scotland. So right away, the importance of SL and this kind of social network becomes apparent :)
[8:59] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, absolutely. :)
[8:59] Noah Gearbox: It's a good place to share our projects with each other.
[8:59] Plot Tracer: absolutely. sharing... collaborating and aiding education.
[9:01] Plot Tracer: http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2008/03/what-it-is-to-be-sllu.html
[9:01] Plot Tracer: the last line of the aims and principles of SLLU reads "As Freire said, and SLLU agree, each individual wins back the right to say his or own word - to name the world."
[9:02] Plot Tracer: Paulo Freire is a huge influence on the work we started here.
[9:03] Noah Gearbox: Love him! I run a radical pedagogy reading group in RL
[9:05] Noah Gearbox: Maybe one of the things that is most intriguing to me about this kind of netroots organizing is that you cannot just name the world but remake it.
[9:05] Plot Tracer: you know, that was something I thought would be a good idea for SLLU - perhaps a fortnightly reading group. Scylla Rhiadra is , along with smoke wijaya, going to build a radical bookshop/ cafe... would u be interested in running such a group here?
[9:05] Noah Gearbox: Yeah, absolutely!
Most of the books we would do are also available for free online. So that's great.
[9:11] Noah Gearbox: maybe I will just ping the group to see about general interest first
[9:12] Plot Tracer: just go right ahead and organise a meeting - perhaps first meeting to see interest and perhaps discuss regularity of meetings and what materials people will want to read.
[9:12] Noah Gearbox: Alright, sounds like a plan.
[9:13] Noah Gearbox: It might be in a couple weeks, I have to wrap up my semester here at school, so I'm rather swamped for time.
[9:13] Plot Tracer: come, I’ll show u were the bookshop etc is going to be - it might be an idea to add links in the new shop to materials so people can come here and access them...
Plot Tracer: nice one. i look forward to seeing the notices! if i am speaking to people in sllu can i give them your name to contact if they are interested?
Noah Gearbox: Yeah absolutely.
Plot Tracer: cool. ok... speak later, Noah!
Noah Gearbox: Ciao!
Friday, 16 April 2010
Back in October, I deleted around 100 avies from our membership as they had not logged in to SL for over a year. This brought our membership down to about 340. As can be seen by the screenshot below, taken from LL's own groups stats page, our membership has increased by around 50 since then. This proves that in SL there is a thirst for left political engagement.
Due to the increase in membership, I am asking new members to write a short blogpiece to say why you are a member of SLLU... add questions you have etc... and your personal political beliefs as they are at this stage (political beliefs are fluid, I know). It would be good to have a cross section of group noobs views/ beliefs/ expectations etc on the blog. We do get decent hits for a SL blog - spesh a political one. Contact me with questions etc. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not a member, please contact me inworld.