Sunday, June 25, 2017

I am revealed


2017-June-25

[Friends arriving here for essays on economics are welcome to skip this, which is quite personal. But public, and they are welcome to read this also.]
 
If I had not this tortured, fragmented consciousness, if where cruelty, anger, and despair cascaded down from prior generations there had been respect and comfort, there had been love for the legacy that children are, the powers of my mind would have been applied to the grand mysteries of the cosmos. I might have applied myself to any of physics, philosophy, political science, sociology, economics, ecology, the human condition writ large or small, in articles, novels, book-length essays, by teaching at university or running for political office. Instead I disassociate. I decline to experience the comradery of my peers, I cannot sort out my priorities, my mind cannot absorb the meaning of words as I read them, and those mysteries filter slowly into my mind where they are malnourished, finding a habitat riven by trauma and a desperate, hostile hyper-vigilance. Because I cannot attach, feel friendship, think clearly, offer love, I am shunned and deprived of the social stimulation that might help me. For three decades of adulthood, I anguish over my isolation, insecurity, rootlessness, and raw self-loathing. I long for love and don't know how to receive it. I don't know that my “traumatic stress reaction” is real. Is more real than I imagined. Is the description of my mental illness, and the reason I have foundered. To have a name and to know this is the first time I feel hope of recovery. 
 
A decision in the last decade to engage socially has altered this trajectory. Those who know me may feel the person I am describing is not the person they know. I have done much healing work. But I continue to feel pain, fear of people, unable to attach, and a fragmented mind. I am old enough to compound the cognitive dysfunctions of Post Traumatic Stress with the actual effects of aging. Or are these memory lapses the effect of staring into the eyes of trauma? I don't care. I want , with what is left of my life, to repair my damaged self, and release into the world that mind that might have cracked some of nature's secrets, but wishes today just to do the work it was destined to do. With love and tranquility. 
 
I ride the growing wave of awareness of trauma. I see myself in it and I want to act boldly, because with a long life behind me, life ahead looks short. I have contrived to get an evaluation at the Trauma Clinic in Brookline Massachusetts. The cost is $5900. I cannot imagine earning and saving this much money in a timely way. It feels unachievable, and I must achieve it. Thus, I ask for help. 

Of this cost, I expect to contribute $2000 out of personal savings. I hope to get some siblings and friends to contribute. And I am trying to raise money on the crowd funding sites. I will need to see the money before I can schedule the evaluation, and I need to discuss with them how much in advance they need to schedule, but I picture this as something I do in the fall of 2017. 

I am expecting the evaluation and diagnosis to be a significant healing event, in its own right. The number of therapies offered, and their effectiveness, is quite astonishing, given the nature of the injury, and this evaluation will propose which of these is likely to be the most productive. So my companion goals are 1) to engage the deep process of healing, through the evaluation, and 2) to leave with a confidence in my therapeutic pathway. Of course we don't know the outcome, but I trust in my ability to respond positively to treatment, and to build a future lived in love and not fear. 
 

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Marginal Economy - When is there too much wealth?

June 24, 2017

[Originally posted on Facebook]


Think about Burlington Vermont. 3% unemployment. New "affordable" apartments going for $1000. Homeless people who work who can't afford a room. Is it possible to have an overheated economy? Can we consider the possibility that there is too much demand to live in Burlington, that with employers unable to fill jobs because the qualified people can't find a place to live, that the demand for housing forces prices up and it's the property owners who are winning?
Let's try this, at the risk that the economy might cool down a little: Tax the highest rents and mortgages, progressively higher, as they rise above the median. The overheated high end of the market cools off a little, and the money can be used to build infrastructure to make down market housing more attractive to developers and more affordable to build.
It is said this will drive the rich people out. I want to know why we are protecting the rich people (see below "dream hoarders"). if they are not paying into the budget enough to actually help other members of the community have decent lives, why do we want the super wealthy in the community to start with?
The argument goes on. The reason that Burlington's housing, like most of Vermont's, is so expensive, is that year after year, each time a property is sold, the seller takes a capital gain. The value of their property grew faster than the wealth of the working people who might buy it or rent it. This is supply and demand run amok, where the property owners accumulate wealth, with thanks to an otherwise healthy economy, while the rest of us have to give it up.
Wealth through property is the original American Dream, the motivation of British entrepreneurs, our own Ethan Allen, and uncountable opportunists since the first European settlement of this continent. Property is the original security, the only investment guaranteed to grow in value decade on decade, century on century. How does wealth continue to flow from property for so long? How is that the population of Vermont has been stable for two centuries, but the value of land has risen from something a a broken dirt farmer from Massachusetts could afford, to something most of us only dream of? 
The law has always protected the right of an investor to take a capital gain. It was taxed, but viewed as a public good. Especially since the writers of law tend to be property owners, and operators of businesses, all of them living in a frontier society where opportunity was super abundant, and benefits of the system were spread widely, scrutiny of this logic was never likely.  But let's look. I'm tempted to discuss monetary policy, but I'll try to dodge that issue. 
Supply-and-demand dictates that when a resource is scarce the price for that resource will rise. Once all of the land is owned, and none is available for free, new purchasers will pay a premium (an amount in excess of the seller's investment) to acquire the property. Hence property owners take a slice of the wealth away from people who are trying to live their lives and might otherwise spend that money locally, and the value of the property has risen relative to the community productivity. When this happens incidentally, the owner of a home to a new owner, the transfer of wealth is invisible because both remain in the community. But most property is handled by large investors, and the transfer of wealth is not incidental. Large volumes of wealth are accumulated by a few, and this wealth no longer circulates in the community. It is not being used to stimulate the economy. It is being held and managed to further increase the wealth of the property speculator. Banks are used to under write mortgages, but the money that enters the community to pay for the property immediately goes to the seller, who is most likely to take the wealth our of the community, and will only invest in enterprises that further concentrate wealth. Meanwhile, the interest on that mortgage flows only out. It leaves the community. It cannot be used for local economic improvement.
But let's look again at "cooling off the economy". What do you think the impact would be if the cost of housing were actually adjusted to the incomes of the residents of the city? They would have disposable incomes, and homes to live in, stability and a mind for the future. Quality of life enhances economic vitality, and if there are rich people making a living here in Burlington, they will surely prosper with the rest of us.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quarterly


[Here I address the members of the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, after it's Quarterly Community Meeting, 2017-06-06.]

The Alliance is wide and the Quarterly meeting could not have supported more Alliance people than came. And I am so grateful to those who did. The challenges of planning a meeting to which homeless folks would come and feel safe were met. Enough came and we met leaders. We have introduced the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance to the community of the homeless. We have initiated relationships. What remains is to do the work it takes to help people live in the dignity and safety of their own homes.

That work is intrinsically difficult, because we live in and work in a world where the injustice of unfairly distributed wealth is structural. The economy is healthy enough. It produces enough for everyone's needs to be met. But it does not adequately circulate that wealth. Through the exponential growth of wealth, property ownership, laws that tax investment income at lower rates than wage income, through low tax rates for the wealthy and wages below the minimum needed to survive, the productivity and wealth of the community is channeled into the hands of those who need it least, while those who need it do not have enough. The rhetoric of our society is that those who have deserve and those who do not have do not deserve. The old framing is that if you play the system and bring home the wealth, it is yours, and giving it to the government to spend is a wasteful drag on the economy. The claim, made since the Reagan era, is that wealth is necessary to capitalize the economy, but this is merely self-serving. Without concentrated wealth, there could be distributed wealth, which would benefit far more people, while yet inducing far more economic activity. 

But we know that no one deserves to live in fear of losing their home, no one deserves the trauma of an unstable and unsafe home life. No one deserves for their mental illness to be multiplied by the dangers of living outdoors, no one deserves the hopelessness of a life without productive employment and a place to live. Let us say instead that the wealthiest members of the community have been entrusted with the wealth which represents the productivity of the community, but that that wealth owed to the community, and must be used to bring up the quality of life for every member of the community. Through whatever means. I can think of many. 

I will not belabor my point by making specific proposals. The essential point is this: everything we are trying to do is defeated by the structure of the economy. We are defeated because we worship wealth as our source of personal security, and argue to protect the accumulation of wealth, even when the benefits go to the super wealthy. We are defeated because we admire the super wealthy and try to emulate them, and defer to them when they want more privilege. But the greatest benefit to everyone comes when wealth circulates, when the community has that wealth to spend and when it is spent to meet the needs - housing, education, health, employment - of the people, not when it accumulates. Nothing could be a greater stimulant to the production of wealth than to spend it producing well being. 

And those are our jobs. To produce well being. But the aspiration is at risk. The productive value of our communities continues to be claimed by a few, who grow increasingly impatient with the taxes that pay our salaries. The path we are on takes us to a condition like that of Pakistan or Somalia, lawless places where justice comes from the barrel of a gun, where just to meet needs people wend their way through the alleyways of desperation and violence, and criminal corporate and government greed. People who love democracy and  want to live in peaceful, healthy communities, must challenge the old ways of thinking about wealth. And then demand that our lawmakers change how we treat the accumulation of wealth. So that not only we, but all of our neighbors, will have homes to live in. 

The key notion to  this change is the "normative income". This idea declares that the preferred economic status of every person is in the middle range of  all possible wealth and income. It is a range of incomes defined by their ability to support a family which can pay a reasonable share of taxes, in comfort, with adequate health care, education and housing, It provides enough wealth to allow people to take vacations without fear of losing their homes, and to participate in the economy as fund-holders, but leans against that much wealth that permits a second home (while others are homeless), or to avoid ever needing to take a job.

Public policy would operate to push people toward a normative income. Up from underneath, down from above. Not to make great wealth impossible, but to make great wealth ephemeral, and to make great poverty unnecessary. This public policy would not control incomes, but through incentives and taxation, living wages, sound housing and property policy, free health care, and free education, make wealth accumulation ever more difficult as incomes go up, unnecessary in any person's life plan, and poverty a religious vocation no one needs to choose. This public policy declares huge accumulations of wealth to be as unhealthy and unproductive, as is poverty. 

Wealth bifurcation today is eviscerating the middle class, (that's you) leaving the super poor and the super rich. We cannot do our work as healers in the lives of the unlucky, unwell and unhoused, and have our own lives, while we tolerate structural inequality. The result of structural inequality is structural insecurity, structural violence, and structural poverty. The homeless we met tonight are not poor and out of work by choice. Their fates, and ours, are structural. We must change the structure.


Monday, May 15, 2017

My Job as a person with Lived Experience

May 14, 2017
The homeless community is diverse and I do not represent every person who is homeless. Many don't know who I am, or ignore me. Some seem hostile towards me. And I do not impose my curiosity on anyone. I listen to those who seem to need a listener. I help those who reveal their need to me. I try to be the friend of anyone who needs a friend. But that is how they help me. I learn from and am educated by the homeless and the near homeless. They strain my credulity and challenge my sense of humanity. They explain vulnerability, pain, misanthropy, anger, cynicism, love, generosity, and sociopathy, to me. I have learned about the special vulnerability of being a woman.
What I do for the homeless and the impoverished – as the boundary is barely visible – is speak truth to power. Being homeless can be a trap. Being poor and being uneducated are traps. Being without work is a trap. Being disabled can be a death sentence. Having a mental illness is made 10 or 100 times worse by homelessness. Being an ex-con is a trap. Living in a camp makes alcoholics drink more, invites addicts to shoot more, opportunes socio-paths to use others and take what is not theirs. Living in a shelter may be little safer, and then much more constrained, and therefore an assault on the dignity of the person for whom the rules are not intended. For some, bad luck brought them down, and good luck helps them to rise again. For most – the tenure of the unlucky homeless is usually short – homelessness is just one of their traps. My job is to understand these traps and argue for ways to unlock them. My job is to learn how to escape these traps, and try to help as many people, as I can, to escape them.
I have a life-long history as an activist. Not to say I have moved any mountains, but I have stood beside Nuclear Freeze protesters, circled with objectors to the nuclear submarines in Groton Connecticut, made plans and friends among Occupiers, taught English to Migrant workers, and now I bring the lived experience of homelessness to the Continuum of Care in the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance. But working for the homeless is different – I am not on the outside trying to make plain the wrongness of public policy to those whose choices are already forged in steel. I am invited to work from the inside, I am asked to share personal knowledge of homelessness, and to remind the gathered of the humanity of those whose lives we discuss.
There is among those who embrace the goal of ending homelessness the idea that if we have enough housing the problem will be solved. But enough housing does not remedy childhood trauma or aging out of foster care, and the mental illness that follows, it does not give a job to an ex-con who wants to do the right thing, it doesn't end violence against women, it doesn't get health care for everyone who needs it, and it doesn't provide recovery for those who need it! And even if providing enough housing ought to improve the lives of those who are precariously housed, or un-housed, housing doesn't correct the structural flaws in our economy which makes having and keeping a home, and a job, staying healthy and whole, and staying out of trouble, so difficult.
So really we are not talking about homelessness. We are discussing poverty, wealth inequality, privilege, and the opportunity gap. We are mulling racism, misogyny and bigotry, the internalized hatreds that forms as people try to explain their misery to themselves. We are alluding to the broken promise of wealth as a source of meaning. If we think we can shut down our operations on the day that the last camp is cleaned up for good, that the shelter has no tenants, and there is no one sleeping in a doorway, we are victims of our own privilege.
Homelessness is just the convenient label of the moment for the most obvious sign that life is dukkah, that we all fall and all are made of flesh and feel pain, that every one of us needs the infrastructure of community to survive, and that homelessness is eternal. Homelessness is a metaphor for the mortal terror which we keep at bay only with the help of loving friends, family and community. There will always be “homeless” people, because there will always be bad luck, trauma, and economic hardship. Homelessness is just the label of the moment to remind us that the best remedy to life's chaos is a a healthy community, a coherent vision of community, and a choice by the community to guarantee to everyone the opportunity to practice self care, and to share, socially, in the community which makes those choices possible.
This is my job. To remind you, the institutional actors, that our jobs are the ephemeral expressions of work that is profound, eternal, and necessary, that we are the healers of the communities in which we live, the humanizers of those whose humanity has been damaged, taken, or destroyed, the nurturers and the shamans in suits, who will, over and over again, for the remainder of all time of which humanity is conscious, work to make human society a healthy and nurturing nexus for community, family, and personal expression, for all of us.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Sharing=Security



April 3, 2017

The Trump era is not of Trump's making. The financial stress, promised to us as Conservatives, finally in charge of the purse strings after fighting the New Deal for 80 years, rewrite the social policy priorities of our country, will destroy many of the gains against poverty we have made, and leave millions of Americans and a hundred thousand Vermonters, in a Social-Darwinist gutter. I can't bring myself to imagine the picture that results.

Of course we enter what is for us a new world. Where we are no longer Post New Deal. We are now Old Deal. That very old deal. Where privilege begets privilege, and all of the gains which have been made to bring people out of poverty and improve the health of every person, are under threat. Where democracy, which made the elites subject to law and the will of the people of central concern to those who wield power, is at risk. And because climate change can reset the entire course of life on Earth, and what we choose will determine how that unfolds, the future of humanity and life, is in play, and this is a civilizational moment. Do not take this choice lightly.

As we face the impacts of the “conservative” vision in our individual spheres of interest, I hope that everyone will speak loudly and as one voice, that the problem is not that there isn't enough money, that the problem is not that our group deserves money and the other group does not. The problem is that those of privilege, those who are in control of the wealth, are unwilling to share it. There is plenty of wealth to do what we need to, but the people who control the wealth also control the people who write the laws and govern the people. We must set them straight. They are not entitled to hoard the wealth that the community produces.

The idea that wealth is created through investment is not wrong. But investors, properly, are stewards of the community's wealth, and the work of producing wealth is not done by the investor. The entire community, working as an enterprise, including the law, the labor, the natural legacy of the community, and the social fabric, participates, and the fact that the law is written so that the investors reap the rewards and are able to accumulate that wealth for personal hoards, while others live with too little to meet their needs, is a flaw in the structure of the economy. Such a harvest of the wealth by the wealthy undermines the vigor of that economic engine, and damages the lives that are its purpose. Wealth, the abstract representation of the productive output of the community, must be circulated to bring well-being to its producers, or the society will fall ill, decay, and destroy itself. We are witness to this process now.

Americans seem to regard the acquisition of wealth as the best way to create personal security, and the right to get wealthy as an intrinsic right of self-care. It is elemental in the American Dream, and it is a profoundly mistaken logic.
  1. Only a few people can ever be wealthy, and only a fraction of people can ever achieve life-time well-being and security, in this model. If it were truly possible for everyone to be wealthy, and they were, no one would be wealthy, because the mere ownership of money means nothing if the owner cannot spend the money to get simple things done. Hence the economy and the law are organized to create winners and losers, and to prevent the majority of people from accumulating enough wealth to be secure and comfortable. Private wealth as security opposes community security.
  2. Wealth in a silo is inherently insecure. Every person, no matter how wealthy, depends on the health and well-being of everyone else, and the community, to be safe and comfortable. If you hoard your wealth, you are a target. You resort to guns, increase oppression, become callous to the loss of life, witness the destruction of our planet, and descend into a social-emotional oblivion.
  3. Wealth in a silo ignores the eternal human strategy of sharing to ensure personal well-being. People instinctively reject selfishness on the part of others. If you have nuts, meat, land or money, you are expected to share. Sharing creates long-term stability and security for everyone, and hoarding (including wealth) is damaging to the community. Imagine I have caught game and I hoard it. Before I can eat it, it rots. Others have not enjoyed the benefit of my catch, nor have I. And when another hunter brings home a catch, I go hungry because I did not share when I might have. The difference today is in the immediacy of the harmful effects. The wealthy rationalize that these costs can be avoided.
  4. The most secure and stable societies, in which everyone gets their needs met, value sharing, and the result is a rich and meaningful life. When the social fabric is healthy, there is no poverty, no matter how little wealth there is.
  5. Wealth disparity in itself is a signal of decay. (See "The Spirit Level" by Wilkinson and Picket.) Social, political and economic sustainability are reduced by increasing wealth disparity. We can improve our chances of social and cultural longevity and sustainability by creating institutions which enforce the circulation of wealth from the wealthy back to the poor and marginal.
Since the normal functioning of the economy transfers wealth from the poor and marginal to the wealthy, policies that transfer the wealth back to the underprivileged merely balances the system, creates a circulation of wealth which improves all lives. The question we are compelled to ask is "Will we allow those who are privileged and control the wealth to continue to increase their wealth forever, leaving the rest of us to become poorer and poorer, more and more desperate, and the society ever more divided and combustible?", or "Will we decide that the well-being of the community and its members, is important, that living in one community in which everyone is valued is important, and will we find ways to capture the wealth of the society to correct its ills?"

The change we must make in our thinking is from "wealth=security" to "sharing=security". When we achieve illusory security through wealth, we divide our fates from the fates of our fellows, and make the world more dangerous and more prone to self-annihilation. When we decide that the entire society must be secure and healthy to promote personal security and wellness, then sharing is the logical course of action. This is the civilizational choice we have: whether to share our planet and its resources, or to hoard them, fight over them, and threaten the life of the planet over them. Sharing is the only choice that offers us survival.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

As funding panic washes over us.

March 22, 2017



The Vermont State Legislature is considering whether to reduce funding for the Cold Weather Exception, and share what remains into the General Assistance Fund. I wrote this letter to the legislators who are considering this bill.


We are all in for some shocks, and the proposal to close a budget gap by reducing funds to the Cold weather exception program is a shock to me.
I work directly with people who are using the cold weather exception. I try to imagine them being outside when the weather is below zero, and the image devastates me.


On Saturday morning this week, I spoke to a man who, because he was "late" to claim his CWE room at Harbor Place, spent the night sitting upright in the lobby of the Burlington Police station. I can imagine people heading to the emergency room to sit out the night. Already, people are sleeping in ATM lobbies, where they can get in. Some, intrepid and feeling uncared for, continue to sleep in tents outdoors, or without tents with as many sleeping bags as can be rounded up. Some, not intrepid but truly desperate, subject themselves to a violent boyfriend.


The Trump era is not Trump's making. The financial stress, promised to us as Conservatives, finally in charge of the purse strings after fighting the New Deal for 80 years, rewrite the social policy priorities of our country, will destroy many of the gains against poverty we have made, and leave many tens of thousands of, or a hundred thousand, Vermonters in a Social-Darwinist gutter. I can't bring myself to create in my mind the picture of what we are contemplating.


You have a choice now to steer a new direction. Are we going to design a state that adheres to the motto, "Freedom and Unity"? In which we take care of each other? Or are we going to collapse into the conservative idea of each individual, with what resources they have, for themselves?


There is plenty of wealth in this country, and there is plenty of wealth in Vermont. The challenges faced by the middle class are the challenges of people desperately trying stay out of the impoverished class. When we demand more from the wealthy, we also improve conditions for the middle class. I have a long list of strategies to capture wealth for the benefit of the society and community of Vermont. Failure to attempt any, and take the funds away from the poorest and most vulnerable, is just a concession to the upward migration of wealth into the hoards of those who do not truly need that wealth. You have a choice. The choice to take money from the vulnerable is the choice to perpetuate the downward spiral to economic collapse and the end of American democracy.


Please do not make that choice. Begin by refusing to defund CWE, and continue by rewriting the agenda for the State of Vermont. We can do better.


Stephen Marshall, Homeless Advocate at the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What does calm feel like?

.

I am driven. My energy and my focus do not match my expectations. I need
always to be improving, making, doing. What makes me so compulsive? So
demanding? So malcontent when I am staring into space?

I think it is fear. Fear of being forgotten, of having nothing, of
regretting at some future time that I might have been preparing and
there was time for me to prepare and I was doing nothing. I think I fear
the blank mind which slows down until it is numb. I fear that I did not
live my life completely and as fully as I was able. I fear not having
done the work that would advance my plans, bring me praise, raise my
status, and infuse the world with good memories of me. I fear losing a
chance to have feelings that might bind me to life and living things and
the love of the cosmos. I want to die with a full mind, a full heart,
after a life lived fully.

Is this a necessary emotional logic? The yogis of India teach methods to
overcome the wants of the body and the ambitions of the heart. Buddha
taught us to live for others and want nothing. These methods teach us
not to fill time with business and productivity, but to fill our time
with NOTHING. To exercise, feed and clothe ourselves, and meditate.
Those who do, they tell us, will escape the rat race of material want,
appetite, and ambition. The living beings on Earth now are trapped in a
cycle of unhappy suffering - "samsara" - suffering that only those who
train their minds and bodies can escape.

Trauma has driven me to fear - to fear loss of control over myself, to
fear the intentions of others, to fear the actions by which I might
prove myself competent or improve the lives of others. Trauma has
confused me, complicated my mind and my heart, and has compelled the
anxiety which drives me. Trauma and calm oppose each other.


--

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Friendly Fascist

January 4, 2017

In this excerpt of an interview by Al Letson from Reveal, (https://www.revealnews.org/episodes/a-frank-conversation-with-a-white-nationalist/) Richard Spencer discusses his aspiration for a white ethno-state. We can be grateful that he has spoken so clearly and candidly, because before he demands respect and fairness for his point of view, he has already declared his disdain for fairness and love of domination. Has anyone not heard the story of the scorpion and the frog?
                                                                                                                                                               

Richard Spencer:
...
Fairness has never been really a great value in my mind. I like greatness and winning and dominance and beauty. Those are values. Not really fairness.
...
I think whites are going to be, they're going to have an amplification of their consciousness of being white. That this whole process we're experiencing is not going to bring about racelessness. It's going to bring about a new consciousness amongst white people that actually wasn't there before.
...
But I think the only way forward is through identity politics. And the only way forward for my people, for us to survive and thrive, is by having a sense of identity. And I don't know what the future is going to hold, but we need that.
...
I don't know how history is going to unfold. What I do know is that for my people to survive we have to have a sense of who we are. We have to have identity. And we don't always have it. We don't have an ethnic racial consciousness. Now in terms of an ethnostate, I don't know how that will be possible.
...
What the ethnostate is, is an ideal. It's a thing, it's a way of thinking about we want a new type of society that would actually be a homeland for all white people. All European people. So that would include Slavs, that would include Germans, that would include Latins, it who would include people of all ethnicities that we would always have a safe space. We would always have a homeland for us.
...
But the thing is, I know that in my lifetime I'm going to have opportunities to fight for the survival of my people and my civilization.


Al Letson: What's the difference between you and the Klansmen that burned crosses on peoples lawns? What's the difference between you and you know, the people who don't look at me, an African-American man, as a full human being? Like what's the difference? …  to me it just sounds like the same old thing that I've heard before in a different packaging.

Richard Spencer: Well, I don't think it is the same old thing we've heard before. I think you just said that it's not. That you're actually intrigued by it. I don't, you know, look I'm not going to comment about you know some hypothetical Klansman or whomever.

Al Letson: There's no such thing as a hypothetical Klansman because the people that I'm talking about exist. They have gone out, they have burned crosses on people's lawns. They have lynched people. They've done horrible horrible things. They are the first American terrorists. So it's not hypothetical. I'm not comparing you to this thing that I'm just dreaming up. I'm comparing you to history. And I'm not intrigued by your ideas. I'm saying to you that like your ideas sound just like them, except you wear a nice suit and you can speak to me directly. And I respect that about you. I respect that you and I can have this conversation, that you're not wearing a hood, but it's the same thing. And that's so that's what I'm asking. Like what is the difference?

Richard Spencer: I'm sure there is some commonality between these movements of the past and what I'm talking about. But you really have to judge me on my own terms. Like I am not those people and I don't fully know, I don't know in the specifics of what you're referring to. Like I am who I am. And you, if you're going to treat me with good faith, you have to listen to what I'm saying and listen to my ideas. I think someone who would go down the path of becoming a Klansman or something in 2016, I think that is, those people are very different than I am. It's, it's a it's a non-starter. I think we need an idea. We need a movement that really resonates with where we are right now.
...
If you ask your average white person in America, "Who are you?" they are going to probably never get around to talking about their European identity or their heritage. They're afraid of it. They know it. Everyone's kind of racially unconscious. They know it in their bones but they're not conscious. They don't want to really talk about it and explore it and think about how that inflects their life. So that's what I want to bring. I respect your identity. I respect the fact that you think about it seriously, that you take it seriously. I want white people to take it seriously. In terms of what I was talking about of like we're going to do this together. I think that I want to see an identitarian future. I want to see people, different peoples, different civilizations having a sense of themselves and finding out ways to live together.


Al Letson: But a white ethnostate is not people living together. What you're saying to me now is different from what you said before because what you said before would basically mean that I would live in one state and my son, my white son, would have to live in another state. You know, for me when we talk about like my blackness and me saying that I'm an African-American man. It's true. I am proud of my blackness but I'm not advocating for ethnostate. So I want to respect you as a white man. I see that. I understand that history. I want you to respect me as a black man and see that and understand that history and then figure how we move forward together. That's the difference between me and you is that I want to move forward together. And you feel like those fissures that are between us are too big to pass over.

Richard Spencer: I have to be honest. I think we actually kind of hate each other. And that is a very tragic thing. And that's a very sad thing. And we don't trust each other. And we can talk about how one day we're going to all be holding hands, or we can actually be realistic about this and we can actually look at the power of human nature and the power of race.

                                                                                                                                                               

I heard his ideas, and he is happy with the idea of dominating other people. So how does he deserve to be respected for who he is, when he does not offer the same respect to others? How is he entitled to be taken for his ideas when he is asking us to do so as a distraction from the similarity between his ideas and the ideas of the Klansmen and people who lynched black people? How can we have "ways to live together" when he has already told us that as soon as he is able he is going to come and obliterate us?

Richard Spencer is from that breed of humans who have no interest in a common humanity, a sustainable culture, the idea of a social  contract, or a healthy planet for all of life. He sees only a hostile world around him and therefore we garner pure hostility. Given a chance, he will come for people with peace in their hearts, who would happily share their wealth with anyone, not to share but to take, killing them-us. We cannot negotiate with him or his ilk. If they come to kill us, passivism will not win the day. We will have to take up arms and answer his hate with hate. It might kill us. But would you leave the planet to such a man?

I do not advocate preemptive anything. That such sentiments have currency is deeply disturbing, but we can put some trust in the reasonableness of most of humanity, and try to avoid increasing the numbers of his followers, by working for sustainable, meaningful lives.