November 19th, 2013

eyes black and white

Goodbye, Magoo (2010-2013) — Not my pet, not my master, my friend.

Magoo, you were your own cat. Not anyone's pet; not anyone's master; but everyone's friend, big and small. Well, obviously not everyone strictly speaking, since you got into one fight too many — and I know of a few small animals who didn't appreciate your friendship, or at least not very long. You probably thought that that backyard was yours. All of North Cambridge was your backyard. The owner's dog differed. Was it the same Nemesis who almost killed you last year? Probably not. But I fancy that you decided to face your fate and challenge it once again. More likely, you were found in a fenced garden with no way out. In any case, you braved the enemy and fought it. To your ultimate demise.

I'm told you spent your early life being an outdoor cat on some College Campus of Upstate New York or New England. That's probably where you learned to be friends with everyone, surviving on food from whichever student you could seduce, as the cute and independent kitten you were. There, some students were calling you Ferris (Bueller? Bueller?), because you seemed to be more interested in having fun than in attending class. The campus was the entire world, and the entire world was yours. However, as the academic year ended, someone took you to a shelter. Maybe right on time, too, because you weren't a cute kitten anymore, and so seducing students was getting harder, all the while your target population dwindled. But you didn't like your temporary adoption family. How you got to earn your new name from them, I dare not imagine. Imprisoned in however big a house it was, you were already picking fights with whichever older cat thought the house was his and you owed him respect; I remember when you came, you still had some wounds to show you braved superior force rather than submit. The only cat you could get on with was the little Satchy, a shy little darling who would not challenge your claims of sovereignty. That's when we adopted the two of you.

You had obviously enjoyed the trip, Magoo. Unlike Satchy. And you were eager to visit your new quarters. Unlike Satchy, who found the first corner to hide in. You were always friendly, and would let us pet you. Unlike Satchy, at least for a long time, until he learned to let himself bribed with treats. At the same time, there were limits to how familiar we could get: we could caress all we wanted, but you had to remain in control. Thus, no holding you tight in my arms; carrying you more than a few seconds required scruffing. Unlike Satchy, who is the fluffiest furball I've ever got to caress, and never fought back, much less clawed anyone, though he'd run away as soon as you'd release your grip. You were always the dog-cat, when Satchy was the bunny-cat. And you kept bullying him, until that day that Satchy disappeared. Then you called after him, and mewed for his return. Once we found him hiding in the basement, you stopped acting like you had ever cared; but you also stopped bullying him as much.

You were a nice clean cat, Magoo, except when it was time to express your utmost frustration. Then, you would pee in the most inappropriate place. The first time was on me while I was lying on my bed. You soiled me more than once, and in time all the beds in the house got to know your most intimate odor. This didn't happen every day, or even every week, but it kept happening until we understood for good what you were aspiring to. Freedom. The great outdoors.

At first, I was afraid you'd get lost and tried to hold you with a leash attached to a harness. Fool that I was. You probably got to know more about the neighborhood than I did, and faster than I did. You were not the kind to lose his orientation. Unlike Satchy, who when he fell through the window, stayed outside three days. But a walk on a leash was not the real thing; and we both knew it. And I resented being walked by a cat as much as you resented having to drag this human behind, unable to partake in The Hunt up the trees. You seized any opportunity to escape through the door. But you'd be back after a few hours, scratching the door. If we didn't hear you, Satchy would, and he would tip me that you were back waiting downstairs to be let back in. Eventually, we decided that going out was your thing, and that letting you outside was the only way to keep you clean inside for more than a week or two. And after a few weeks, Satchy would follow your example and ask to go out, too. Before you may go out, though, we insisted on the two of you wearing a collar with your name and my phone and email coordinates; you wore your collar proudly, as the jewels of a king. Satchy did everything to remove his, the tag of a slave.

You were clean enough, but the litter box was never a place for you to bury your feces. The garden was. (Or the bathroom rug, though as you found out after repeated tests, it was a poor ersatz.) Whose gardens you were honoring with your personal production, I'm not sure. Maybe that's how you antagonized that neighbor's dog? Or were you chasing some small animal? Did you confront it chivalrously at the rescue of Satchy? In any case, the place for action was outside. Many a time, you followed me to the limits of North Cambridge as I was cycling to work. You also followed me to the subway station. One day while I was traveling, I received phone calls about you visiting an office building on the other side of Alewife. I was not worried. You knew your way. And you knew how to make friends. I was often getting phone calls about you. People on the street would tell me about you. All the neighbors must have known you. Unlike Satchy, who was always hiding from people.

You didn't know not to claw when caressing back, but eventually, you learned not to do it hard with full claws. You would always give your all and fight back against threats; but you'd concede defeat to superior scruffing, and would never hold any grudges. When I took you to the Vet, you were eager to get into your box and travel, and eager to get out of it and explore unafraid — the opposite of Satchy. However, you fought the doctor's needle like a devil, and it took a second, experienced and strong nurse to immobilize you so you could get vaccinated and microchipped — the opposite of Satchy. Once it was over, you just went to your box, hurt, but with no hard feelings — the opposite of Satchy. When we reached North Cambridge, I released you, and you walked by my side all the way home, even waiting outside the grocery store despite a stray dog being around. No one could scare you away. As for Satchy, he seemed jealous of your freedom, so out of fairness, I released him, too, despite knowing better. There again we didn't see him for three days. Was he angry at me, or did he just not find his way? Maybe a mix of the two. You went around with or without me, looking for him, and I suspect he must eventually have followed you home, though he still hid around the garden for a while.

You were always exploring the limits. You kept opening the cabinet doors until you found your way to the treat trove, and we had to move it to an upper cabinet out of your reach; and then you kept at it jumping on the fridge and into the upper cabinets, until you determined that the compartments didn't communicate and it was indeed out of reach. You liked to watch birds on the trees across the window; and eventually you learned to climb those trees and catch those birds. How proud you were when you brought me your first small rodents and birds! How proud I was to have to clean the blood stains from the living room floor. You seemed as sad as I to see that poor bird you once brought, still alive, but incapable of escaping you anymore; how much did you prefer it in good health and capable of opposing you resistance; you didn't want to hurt him, just play; and it wasn't fun any more once you showed your trophy. You left me to put an end to its suffering; I still don't know if that was the more humane thing to do. If you expected me to cook it for you, you must have been disappointed; but you didn't let it appear. Satchy never brought me back anything; I suspect he is incapable of hurting another animal; but I'm sure he secretly dreams about it.

When I installed those cat doors for you, it didn't take you five minutes to learn how to use them. It took Satchy five days to even try, and more to succeed, despite my shoving him through the door. You haven't used your litter box ever since. And those times you lost your collar with that magnet supposed to unlock the door? You just tried and tried again until you forced your way through. No one had told you you couldn't do it. When Satchy lost his, he must have scratched the door and waited, and felt like he had been forsaken once more, until we let him in, and he was once again tagged with a collar of shame.

You were always eager to try out new foods, when Satchy only wanted to eat the same things; more often than not, you'd eat something bad, and would vomit on the floor; then often but not always you'd eat it back later. Maybe that's what made you sick a few weeks ago. You were still not fully recovered when you confronted that dog, and I like to think that, had you been completely yourself, you could have escaped the encounter unscathed. When we chose to let you outside, we knew your life would be shortened for it, though we didn't know how tragically short that would be; but we also knew that this was the only way for you to live fully whatever life you were to have, and that you wouldn't have it any other way. Unlike Satchy who is afraid of everything and everyone, and of living his own life, yet will survive you. But long as his years may last, he might still not live as much as you did. Anyway, you were Satchy's only friend. And he will miss you even more than I will. Now he survives you, and since I don't think he's going to be happy in that house without you, I'll come take him to my apartment, and I'll make him a New Yorker. A sorry New Yorker who always stays home and never goes downtown.

When we were preparing the house for the arrival of Véra, you knew something was going on, but didn't know what. I admit we were also a bit worried how you would react to Véra's arrival. The day we brought her in, you jumped in her bed, and rubbed your head against her. She was to be your friend and your protégée. When she was too young to know how to caress and knew only how to hit, you once or twice did claw back, but only to make her stop, and never with ill intent, bitterness or revenge; rather you would next time expose to her less fragile parts of your body. "Shah", or in French "chat", the word for cat, (maybe also "ça", that) is the first word Véra has been consistently speaking, and you're surviving in her memory. You were not my pet, you were not my master. I was not your pet, I was not your master. You were my friend, I was your friend. You were part of the family. And yet when we moved to New York City, we left you behind, to be cared for by airbnb visitors and house helpers. I knew that you would never want to become an indoor cat again; and Manhattan was no place for an outdoor cat. The times that I came back, you were always friendly to me, though we could both feel that some warmth had dissipated since I had gone away; and you told me, without resentment. Life was just not the same in the empty house with transient visitors. Meanwhile, Satchy would run away from me again. I didn't suspect that these were the last hours we'd spend together. I was planning to find you a new home after I heard of your falling sick. But I didn't try hard enough. And I failed you, my friend. Big time.

Life didn't smile on you. A young orphan, you learned to fend off for yourself. Someone brought you to a shelter for your own good, but that's probably where you earned your Darwin Award. When I met you, you were already an evolutionary loser, the end of your proud line. But it didn't matter to you, because you were not your genes' pet. Nor their master. Just their friend. And so you didn't give a damn. Not about that. Not about anything. You were not merely a dog cat, you were a honey badger cat. You cared not at all for the things that were not yours to care for. Instead, you took everything of what life had to offer; what it didn't, ain't you got no time for that. Satchy was probably younger when he earned his Darwin Award, probably at the same time and place. Whatever he experienced in his young life left him traumatized, and he's the scarediest cat I've met. Yet I'm convinced that you saw pretty scary things, too; who knows what happened to your mother and siblings, I bet it wasn't pretty for you to be left by yourself; and you narrowly escaped death last year against a raccoon or a small dog.

And so, from beyond the grave, Magoo, you remind me how life is all about attitude. You weren't dealt a great hand, but you played your cards to your fullest. You cared for what you could reach, and were always exploring your limits. You weren't worried about what was beyond your reach, but you were trying hard for what was or could be. You always gave your all in a fight, but knew to concede defeat, and never held grieves. You never caught the red dot, unlike all the other toys, made with baryons; but you gave it a run for its life; and in the end, you defeated it, by breaking that automated laser machine instead of chasing the dot it projected. And so, I dream that where you are, you can now catch the Big Red Dot, but are now well past that, instead exploring the great outsides of the Felines' Paradise. I'm sure you've met Bastet, the great Feline Goddess who reigns up there. And yet I know that you're still your own cat. Not her pet. Not her master. Her friend.

eyes black and white

Libertarianism vs Socialism / Libéralisme contre Socialisme

My cousin Marie Michelle doesn't understand the radical opposition between libertarianism and socialism, and to reconcile them wishes for "a party that would attempt to maintain a fair balance between individual and collective rights".

But the very notion of a party already supposes a good amount of socialism: the notion that the politically mighty will be able to legitimately impose their opinions upon the weak, out of their number and their organization — in the name of society, the nation or some other collective opposable to any dissenting individual. The notion of "balance" is also socialistic. It supposes that everything is on the same field, the object of a struggle the stake of which is everything, subject to the arbitrary vagaries of changes in the "balance of powers". Nothing is sacred, noone is safe; political power may decide of anything about anything, and will impose it with its supreme force. Circumstantial concessions will be made to those who will organize back in this permanent war of all against all. Socialism is this total war that destroys everything, it is the radical antagonism between human interests, it is the very antithesis of social peace, of society, of civilization. The motto of socialism is struggle. The principle of socialism is the negative sum game.

To a libertarian, any party that would claim to define and impose upon everyone a same policy is ipso facto illegitimate. Only associations and confederacies of associations are legitimate, that everyone may freely join or leave, where noone imposes anything to anyone but himself. There isn't any balance to establish between interests, there are only borders to delimit between properties. Who decides? About each thing, its owner, according to his own interests. As long as he doesn't violate the property of any non consenting third party as he does so. Property that everyone has on his own body, on the goods he acquires through labor and exchange, donation and good management, without violating the property of anyone else. Libertarianism is peace and justice, it is the emergent order of interests in harmony. It is civilization. The value of libertarianism is creation. The principle of libertarianism is positive sum game.

The very notion of a political party is so heinous to this libertarian, that to me, the activity of such a political party is a case of total war if it is foreign, of high treason if it is domestic: capital punishment is the only conceivable punishment — and is beside the only case that justifies such a punishment. The most sacred of public goods, the one and unique public goods actually, is Law — Natural Law, Common Law, Libertarian Law, as follows from objective principles that are discovered as they emerge from competition between jurisdictions that are voluntarily accepted or rejected by each individual. By expressly defining itself as the Enemy of this Law, Socialism is the ultimate anti-social ideology. Socialism is Evil Incarnate, dressed up as Good. It is the Devil himself, impersonating a Saint to seduce his victims, and to corrupt into ways the purest of souls. Under guise of generosity, it is the justification of force, violence and aggression as means to impose total and arbitrary power of the victors in the very name of their victims.

"Gentlemen, the time is coming when there will be two great classes, Socialists, and Anarchists. The Anarchists want the government to be nothing, and the Socialists want government to be everything. There can be no greater contrast. Well, the time will come when there will be only these two great parties, the Anarchists representing the laissez faire doctrine and the Socialists representing the extreme view on the other side, and when that time comes I am an Anarchist." — William Graham Sumner (1840-1910).


Ma cousine Marie Michelle ne comprend pas l'opposition radicale entre libéralisme et socialisme, et pour les réconcilier appelle de ses voeux "un parti qui essaierait de maintenir un juste équilibre entre droits individuels et collectifs".

Mais la notion même de parti suppose déjà une bonne dose de socialisme: la notion que les plus forts politiquement pourront légitimement imposer leurs opinions aux plus faibles, de par leur nombre et leur organisation — au nom de la société, de la nation, ou autre collectif opposable à tout individu dissident. La notion "d'équilibre" est aussi socialiste. Elle suppose que tout est sur le même plan, objet d'une lutte dont l'enjeu est tout, soumis aux aléas arbitraires des changements de "rapports de force". Rien n'est sacré, nul n'est à l'abri; le pouvoir politique décide de tout sur tout, et l'impose par sa force suprême. Des concessions circonstantielles seront faites à ceux qui s'organiseront en retour dans cette guerre permanente de tous contre tous. Le socialisme, c'est cette guerre totale qui détruit tout, c'est l'antagonisme radical des intérêts humains, c'est l'antithèse même de la paix sociale, de la société, de la civilisation. Le mot d'ordre du socialisme, c'est la lutte. Le principe du socialisme, c'est le jeu à somme négative.

Pour un libéral, tout parti prétendant définir et imposer à tous une même politique est ipso facto illégitime. Seules sont légitimes les associations et confédérations d'associations que chacun peut librement rejoindre ou quitter, où nul n'impose rien à nul autre que lui-même. Il n'y a pas d'équilibre à établir entre intérêts, il n'y a que des limites à déterminer entre propriétés. Qui décide? Sur chaque chose, son propriétaire, selon ses intérêts. Tant qu'il ne viole pas ce faisant la propriété d'autrui non consentant. Propriété de chacun sur son corps, sur les biens qu'il acquiert par le travail et l'échange, le don et la bonne gestion, sans violer la propriété d'autrui. Le libéralisme, c'est la paix et la justice, l'ordre émergent d'intérêts harmoniques. C'est la civilisation. La valeur du libéralisme, c'est la création. Le principe du libéralisme, c'est le jeu à somme positive.

La notion même de parti politique est si détestable à ce libéral, que pour moi, l'activité d'un tel parti politique relève de la guerre totale si elle est étrangère, de la haute trahison si elle est autochtone: la peine capitale en est le seul châtiment concevable — et c'est d'ailleurs le seul cas qui justifie un tel châtiment. Le bien public le plus sacré, le seul et unique bien public d'ailleurs, c'est le Droit — Droit naturel, Droit commun, Droit libéral, issus de principes objectifs dont la découverte émerge de la concurrence entre juridictions volontairement acceptées ou rejetées par chaque individu. En se définissant expressément comme l'ennemie de ce Droit, le Socialisme est l'idéologie anti-sociale par excellence. Le socialisme, c'est le Mal incarné, déguisé en Bien. C'est le Diable lui-même, qui s'habille en Saint pour séduire ses victimes, et corrompre à sa cause les âmes les plus pures. Sous couvert de générosité, c'est la justification de la force, de la violence et de l'agression comme moyens pour imposer un pouvoir total et arbitraire des vainqueurs au nom même de leurs victimes.

"Messieurs, le jour s’approche où il y aura deux grandes classes, les socialistes et les anarchistes. Les anarchistes veulent que le gouvernement ne soit rien, et les socialistes veulent que le gouvernement soit tout. Il ne peut pas y avoir de plus grand contraste. Et bien, le temps viendra où seuls subsisteront ces deux grands partis, les anarchistes représentant la doctrine du laissez faire et les socialistes représentant l’extrême inverse, et quand ce temps viendra je serai un anarchiste." — William Graham Sumner (1840-1910)