Under the Dome

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Agent of the International's picture
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Sep 6 2013 22:04
Under the Dome

Has anyone seen it or read the book?

And assuming you have disagreements with the book or tv show, what would you think would happen if a dome like that was to encapsulate an entire town? And also, if it was to be representative of the world we have today, what town or city would have to be used? Because the town Stephen King came up with doesn't really work out.

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Sep 7 2013 00:03

I haven't read the book, and I didn't care much for the first few episodes of the TV show I watched (even with Hank in them). From the little I know, it quickly descends into a scramble for limited resources and a corrupt Big Man who takes control of the town by force, right?

If that's what it is, it's not a very good or original thought experiment, in my opinion. It's like a lot of post-apocalyptic, zombie, or disaster-type movies, where suddenly its all Mad Max and dog-eat-dog and fuck everyone else.

I know high body counts and kill-or-be-killed morality supposedly makes good drama, but it's all really quite tiring. I would love to see people in these kind of situations not acting not like fucking sharks the moment society crumbles. I'm not saying they should all be drinking tea together or whatever, but enough with the back to nature bullshit for once.

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Sep 7 2013 02:42

In the TV series at least, nothing seems to have changed; there is still a police-state-capitalist-mafia alliance that rule over the other social classes. Of course the ruling group have fractures inside it but even that is not something new. So the dome basically a small contemporary world with all the barbaric trends and tendencies preserved.

What is striking is the absence of any workers except the farmers (who seems to own their own land) and the service sector workers. But even that makes it a small toy town version of the US I think.

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Sep 7 2013 10:54

I think it's almost as if Stephen King watched The Simpson's Movie in 2007 and thought, "Hmmm, that would make an adequate novel and TV adaptation!"

Not read the book, but the series so far is what you would expect as far as how the towns people behave, for a mainstream show/novel. OMG! It's teh anarchy! We need a good dictator leader!!1! Also there seems to be hints of The Stand* and Tommyknockers already, and probably other King books I haven't read. I suppose at least it didn't have a horror novelist as one of the main characters (it is set in Maine, though, which is probably the worst place to live other than Cabot Cove****).

* I watched the 1990s TV version of this again recently. At one point they are supposed to be holding elections in the Free Zone to determine who the leaders will be, when someone stands up and shouts out "Hey! You guys should be the leaders!" and everyone jumps up and shouts "Yeah!" and then they all sing The Star-Spangled Banner, then God sends a bunch of them off to die for no reason at all**. The only thing I learned from reading The Stand in the 90s was that God was a dick.

** One of the bad guys kills all the bad guys off without any intervention from the good guys, so all the good guys who were sent off by God via Mother Abigail to stop the bad guys died for no reason at all.*** Yay for God!

*** Oh, I meant to say, **SPOILERS**

**** ETA: It just occurred to me to check, but it turns out Cabot Cove is actually***** in Maine. For your own safety, people, stay away from Maine! eek

***** Well, not "actually" but "fictionally". You know what I mean....

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Sep 7 2013 12:16

A fun book.

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Sep 7 2013 18:44

We should write our own story.

'Capitalism under the Dome'

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Sep 7 2013 20:58
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
We should write our own story.

'Capitalism under the Dome'

That'd be a pretty short story, I'd think! (Either: everyone kills everyone else in a desperate grab for resources; or: the workers kill the capitalists and work together, and it's no longer "capitalism under the dome".)

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Sep 7 2013 21:47
omen wrote:
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
We should write our own story.

'Capitalism under the Dome'

That'd be a pretty short story, I'd think! (Either: everyone kills everyone else in a desperate grab for resources; or: the workers kill the capitalists and work together, and it's no longer "capitalism under the dome".)

Everyone always thinks the former, although I would say it is representative of the bourgeois view. The latter is correct, although I would say how they get to the point where it's no longer "capitalism under the dome" can be interesting. The actors: the state, the capitalist class within which competition still exists (the basic laws of capital continues to operate regardless of the circumstances), and then you have the working class. And the story basically looks at how the working class deals with the situation; where at one end, they are just a class-in-itself, competing among themselves for jobs, and sometimes embracing reactionary ends like taking up arms for renegade capitalists, fighting and looting each other. And then at the other end, they unite and become a class-for-itself, abolish capital and the state, and share the limited resources they have left under the dome. And they live happily ever after. The End! smile

And then after the credits in the tv show, we see life-stylists passing the dome, saying "see, their an example of what's possible. If only the rest of the world took a look, then they'll be convinced and adopt anarchy."

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Sep 7 2013 21:51

It would have take place in a big town with a good combination of agriculture and manufacturing. Any suggestion?

omen
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Sep 8 2013 00:33
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
Everyone always thinks the former, although I would say it is representative of the bourgeois view.

Yeah, it's like that thing Zizek says about it being easier (for Hollywood?) to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. (I can't apologize enough for mentioning Zizek embarrassed , but it seemed apt.)

Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
And they live happily ever after. The End! smile

Well, I don't know whether you're serious about writing a story, or just thinking aloud. But if you are serious, a few suggestions. (And you should probably take them with a big pinch of salt.)

Happy endings, while they seem like a good idea (everyone wants a happy ending), don't underestimate the power of a tragic ending. Example, Nineteen Eighty-Four has the impact it does because Orwell makes us care about Winston, and we care when he's beaten at the end. Back in the '50s, Hollywood, in its infinite stupidity, decided to tack on a happy ending to its film adaptation of the same novel - the end result was a film no one cared about. (Which was probably just as well, seen as they were using it as anti-Communist propaganda.)

Think who you are writing for. Personally I wouldn't write for anarchists (not fiction, anyway). It seems too much like preaching to the converted, plus the twelve anarchists that actually read it would probably pick holes its politics anyway. (Plus if you decided to sell any fiction, anarchists are cheapskates (well, I am) and there aren't enough of us to pay enough to make a living as a writer.) If you write for a general audience of non-politicos then you can't mention anything overtly political or you've lost your audience straight away. And for God's sake don't use words like "bourgeois" or "life-stylist" or even "class". Show don't tell, as the saying goes.

Following on from the above: keep it simple. Follow a worker, or a small group of workers (don't try to show us the whole town, we won't be able to keep up with it), show us why we should care about them, develop the characters and show us how they come into conflict with their bosses (and each other). And I'd also say don't fall into stupid bourgeois good-and-evil stereo types - maybe show that a boss is well meaning, even generally a good person, but that they have little choice but to screw over the workers (if they still want to remain a boss). (Too many books/movies play the good capitalist vs bad capitalist game -- see for instance Orwell's essay on Charles Dickens.)

Do some research. The dome thing has been done loads of times before - and personally I wouldn't touch it unless I had a fresh take on it (and probably not even then). As well as those movies or books already mentioned in this thread, I'd add (off the top of my head): Logan's Run (book and movie) and Dark City (a pretty good slightly offbeat movie), maybe Elysium (I've not seen it), and maybe Stephen King's Storm of the Century (not quite the same thing, but people trapped in a small town by a storm having to deal with a demon that turns up wanting their children). And there's also plenty of post-apocalyptic fiction, too. I know this is going to be all bourgeois stuff - but I'd say give it a look and think about how you can do it differently.

Maybe you know all this already, but I just felt like saying it anyway. And don't assume I know what I'm talking about.

On a semi-related note: I've got this plan I've had for a while now, for a sprawling series of essays on Hollywood - tracing how it developed ideas about collectivism and individualism, how these ideas largely have their roots in the '50s sci-fi movie, and largely as a result of the Hollywood blacklists and purges (Ayn Rand even makes a guest appearance!), how the next generation of experimental film makers in the '60s and '70s inherited these ideas, and how these ideas became deeply embedded into modern sci-fi culture (from the Borg to the current glut of superhero movies). I'm also thinking about a companion piece on ideology and propaganda, comparing The Matrix with Terry Gilliam's Brazil (another film originally ruined with a happy ending, at least in the theatrical US release). I'm thinking about something on apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic movies, too, but not quite sure where to go with it yet.

Fuck, this is too long now. Sorry about that! embarrassed

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Sep 8 2013 03:16
omen wrote:
I'm thinking about something on apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic movies, too, but not quite sure where to go with it yet.

I've been thinking about this a bit too. With particular reference to zombies and 'The Machines' taking over. Have a go at it even if you don't have a conclusion, I reckon.

P.S. Is anyone beyond bothered to the point of thinking it may be parody how incredibly sexist that show Walking Dead is?

omen
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Sep 8 2013 10:04

(Excuse the long post again, just thinking aloud.)

RedEd wrote:
I've been thinking about this a bit too. With particular reference to zombies and 'The Machines' taking over.

Zombie movies will most definitely get a look in, and although technically post-apocalyptic, when I said about also writing about apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies I meant much more generally. I will cover zombie movies in detail in my stuff on collectivism vs individualism.

You can trace the lineage of the "modern" zombie movie roughly like this: in the '50s, at least partly as a result of all the Red Scares, Hollywood blacklists and purges, and guidelines for movie producers etc, you get plenty of films like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which is essentially an allegory about communists taking over the US from inside (the whole "enemy within" rhetoric). You have a few surviving individuals, whittled down to one, being replaced by evil collectivist duplicates (alien "pod people"). The movie shows the horror of collectivism, and the threat it poses to the individual.

In the '60s and '70s when Hollywood became a lot freer, you get a lot of experimental film makers. These often took the anti-communist logic of the earlier films, and turned it back against contemporary American society. So you have films like Dawn of the Dead, essentially a critique of American consumerism, where a group of individuals are slowly whittled down and effectively replaced (infected in this case) by collectivist duplicates (zombies). Similarly you have a pro-feminist film like The Stepford Wives, where the women in a small town are slowly being replaced by emotionless, obedient, robots - satirizing the 1950s ideal housewife.

Now, although these last two movies appear to be radical and challenging accepted norms (and they do do that), at the same time they reproduce the horror of collectivism in much the same way as the earlier movie, repackage it for more liberal minds, and end up reinforcing the '50s anti-communist message (which was as much anti-collectivist, if not more so, as it was anti-Soviet).

And by now this anti-collectivist logic is embedded quite deeply in popular culture. A recent example, from the first series (I think) of True Blood. Bill Compton (vampire) explains to Sookie Stackhouse that the reason he hasn't lost his humanity is because he's lived by himself, and not with a group of vampires, and that vampires turn evil and lose their humanity when they live in groups.

RedEd wrote:
Have a go at it even if you don't have a conclusion, I reckon.

Oh, I have plenty of conclusions... plenty... mwahahahahaha! (<-- evil cackle)

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Sep 8 2013 10:20
iexist wrote:
I read an article that the CIA actually got Orwell's work edited to be pro capitalism.

Not his written work, AFAIK, but to some extent the film adaptations. There were three adaptations of Nineteen Eighty-Four produced after Orwell died in the '50s alone. As I said above, in one version, they tried putting a happy ending on it to show the capitalism could beat Communism.

Certainly there was CIA involvement with the first adaptation of Animal Farm, which tends to tone down certain aspects of the movie, and removes then ending where the pigs become indistinguishable from the humans (capitalists), and has the animals successfully defeat Napoleon. A more recent adaptation (which didn't seem to need the CIA to fuck it up) has a nice family of happy, smiling humans turn up at the end to take over and run the farm for the Animals (yay for capitalism!).

omen
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Sep 8 2013 10:26

Oh, and to add to my post #13. I forgot when I wrote it, but the most obvious source for all these people fighting against one another type films/books is The Lord of the Flies (which has an island instead of a dome).

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Sep 8 2013 10:58

Are you writing a story omen? Can we get the first draft?

omen
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Sep 8 2013 11:38

In the past I've been working on a novel (3 in fact, see my first comment under the Juan's recent blog on writer's block here), but had largely abandoned it about 2-3 years ago. I'm planning to give it another go very soon, writing from scratch. And no, I'm not sharing anything I've written so far, as I don't really want anyone to see that! embarrassed

I want to write the essays I've outlined above first, as they effectively provide the theoretical underpinning of the novel. It's essentially a satire of individualism that ends with an apocalypse much like the kind being discussed in this thread - although I'm trying to poke fun at this kind of apocalyptic nonsense (though how successfully, remains to be seen). (I have a detailed, chapter by chapter synopsis, which I'm probably going to rewrite anyway, and, no, I'm not sharing that either! wink You'll just have to wait!)

Sorry to be so secretive, but it's really not at the kind of stage where I want to share any details. I had a massive problem with writer's block which was the result of just that. cry

In the mean time take a look at this if you haven't already seen it. (It's not very polished, but I only wrote it quickly. It's also a bit too derivative and in the style of William S Burroughs "Roosevelt After Inauguration" or in the spirit of J G Ballard's "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan". It also makes too many UK celebrity references to make much sense to US or international readers.) I'm willing to share short pieces like this as and when I write them, if only to gauge other people's reactions.

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Sep 8 2013 19:42
omen wrote:
In the past I've been working on a novel (3 in fact, see my first comment under the Juan's recent blog on writer's block here), but had largely abandoned it about 2-3 years ago. I'm planning to give it another go very soon, writing from scratch. And no, I'm not sharing anything I've written so far, as I don't really want anyone to see that!

If you ever do finish it and decide you need a beta reader, just drop me a PM. Would be happy to help.

omen
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Sep 8 2013 19:53

Thanks, guys. It might be a while though...

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Sep 8 2013 19:57

http://nanowrimo.org/

smile

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Sep 8 2013 20:20

I called dibs first.

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Sep 8 2013 21:13
RedEd wrote:
P.S. Is anyone beyond bothered to the point of thinking it may be parody how incredibly sexist that show Walking Dead is?

The first season had a very ugly misogyny. Once the Shawshank Redemption screenwriter guy was fired they seemingly toned down but I stopped watching mid season 2 so I don't know what happened afterwards.

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Sep 9 2013 13:52

I just came up with an awesome list of names for a class struggle themed six-part series. See what you think.

Class War Episode I: The Fascist Menace
Class War Episode II: Attack of Dead Labor
Class War Episode III: Revenge of the State
Class War Episode IV: A New Revolution
Class War Episode V: The Bourgeoisie Strikes Back
Class War Episode VI: Return of the Proletariat

omen
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Sep 9 2013 14:41

That's fine, but you have to make the last three first, and the first three disappointing.

omen
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Sep 9 2013 15:20

Here's the first part of a story about capitalism under the dome, written as a comedy sketch. The next part will follow in a few days or so, when I've written it, assuming anyone is interested. There will probably be three or four parts. In my head it is performed by The Kids in the Hall (search youtube if you don't know what that means).

Dome Sketch – Part 1: Beans

THE SCENE – A large glass dome stands in the centre of a laboratory. Outside it scientists in lab-coats, with clipboards, are monitoring the dome, and collecting data on old-timey comedy sketch computers (big tape reels spinning, lots of flashing lights and beeping sounds). There is a lot of noise and commotion. Inside the dome are three men dressed in shirts and ties: Steve, sat a desk, his legs on the desk, chair tipped back, hands behind head, eyes closed; Gary, sweeping the floor in front of the desk with a broom; Dave, pointlessly unstacking and restacking cardboard boxes from a stack of boxes behind Steve. There are two empty chairs opposite the desk.

Cut to inside of dome. No noise can be heard from outside of the dome.

DAVE: Only six weeks to go now.

GARY stops sweeping and leans on broom.

GARY: You know, it seems like only yesterday that we three noble test subjects volunteered to enter the dome for the first time to take part in this momentous, ground-breaking science experiment.

DAVE: It was four hours ago!

GARY: Oh yeah! I forgot. It seems longer, somehow. The days just drag on and on.

DAVE: The hours.

GARY: So why are we here?

DAVE: Well some theologians believe...

GARY: No, no, I mean: why are we here? What’s the experiment for?

DAVE: Oh, I see! Beats me! Before we got in here I asked one of the scientists, and he just walked away cackling maniacally. A nice fellow – likes to laugh a lot. Anyway, I guess they know what they’re doing. They’re the ones in lab-coats, after all.

GARY: Yeah, I guess you’re right.

STEVE [Without moving, eyes still shut.]: Will you two keep it down! Some of us are trying to work, here!

GARY: How come he gets to be in charge? How come you get to be in charge?

STEVE [Eyes open, sitting up now, feet off desk]: I called dibs on the beans.

DAVE: He called dibs on the beans.

GARY: Oh yeah! I forgot about the beans. [Pauses, looking at cardboard boxes] But why beans though? I don’t think they thought that through properly.

STEVE: I like beans! You have a problem with beans? Hmmm?

GARY: Oh yeah! I like beans as much as the next man! But only beans? And with the three of us trapped in here for the next six weeks. It’s going to get pretty ripe in here!

DAVE: And has anyone noticed they didn’t put any toilets in here?

GARY: I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

STEVE: Will you two quit yacking and get back to work! I’m not paying you two stand around gossiping all day!

GARY: You’re not paying us at all!

STEVE [Getting up, walks to boxes]: Here! Have some beans!

STEVE tosses two cans of beans across dome to GARY, who catches them.

GARY: What am I going to do with these? Does anyone even have a can opener?

STEVE: We could develop some kind of primitive barter system and you could use them to buy stuff.

GARY: OK, I guess... . [Walking over to STEVE] I think I’ll have errr... [Looks about.] one can of beans, please.

STEVE [Pulls a can of beans out of box]: OK, that’ll be two cans of beans, please.

They exchange cans. GARY ends up with one can, which he stares at suspiciously.

GARY: Thanks, errr. I think... .

STEVE [turning to DAVE]: You want your beans as well, I suppose?

DAVE: Eh, I’ll just take the one, now, to save time.

STEVE: Suit yourself! [Hands one can to DAVE, tosses the other casually into box]

GARY: What shall we do now?

DAVE: We could eat the beans!

STEVE: Ha! Not likely, when I’ve got the only can opener!

STEVE takes can opener from top pocket, and waves it at GARY and DAVE who try to grab it, but he climbs up on desk and holds it out of their reach.

GARY & DAVE: Give it here!

STEVE: Oh, I’m not just going to just give it to you. Do I look like an idiot? You can borrow it, I suppose. For a small fee...

STEVE climbs down from desk.

GARY & DAVE: How much?

STEVE: Oh, I don’t know... [Idly fiddles with his fingers] Maybe just one tiny, little, insignificant can of beans... each!

GARY & DAVE both sigh, and sit down dejectedly in their chairs. STEVE, swaggers around and sits confidently behind his desk, puts his feet up on the desk, tilts back in chair with arms behind head, grinning, gently nodding his head in satisfaction. Everyone remains this way for a moment

GARY [Suddenly standing up.]: I could just steal the can opener!

STEVE: Oh, you could! You could! But then I’d just pay Dave to steal it back again. And give you a beating. [GARY looks worried] Just a small one. [GARY doesn’t look any less worried] Isn’t that right, Dave?

DAVE: You’re the boss! [Thumbs-up]

STEVE: That’s right, I am! I am.

GARY: And who says you get to be the boss!

STEVE & DAVE: The beans!

GARY: Oh yeah, I forgot about the beans.

STEVE: I’m the Bean Baron!

GARY [Unimpressed]: Steve the Bean Baron.

STEVE: That's right, Steve the Bean Baron! Now get back to work, you two, these beans aren’t stacking themselves!

Cut to outside of dome. The scientists begin dashing from computer to computer, and shouting excitedly to one another.

Fade to black

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Sep 9 2013 15:17

Holy shit that was amazing!

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Sep 9 2013 17:32
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
I just came up with an awesome list of names for a class struggle themed six-part series. See what you think.

Class War Episode I: The Fascist Menace
Class War Episode II: Attack of Dead Labor
Class War Episode III: Revenge of the State
Class War Episode IV: A New Revolution
Class War Episode V: The Bourgeoisie Strikes Back
Class War Episode VI: Return of the Proletariat

But this implies that, despite having a revolution, this world hasn't abolished the proletarian condition! It's almost as if an independent rebellion was suddenly hijacked by hokey ideologies and ancient modes of production.

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Sep 11 2013 13:22

Well, the revolution in Episode IV wasn't really successful. They may never go beyond capitalism at least until the latter half of Episode VI. You don't want a happy ending midway of the series. Otherwise one couldn't possibly make any more entries.

Or I'm just making this up as we go along.

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Sep 10 2013 03:17

awesome idea!

a good model could be harvey swados standing fast?

Class War Episode I: The Fascist Menace
state uses brown and red facism to repress rev post ww1
Class War Episode II: Attack on Dead Labor
follows organisating in keynes era anding with paris 68
Class War Episode III: Revenge of the State
trying to organise under neoliberalism
Class War Episode IV: A New Revolution
state has become advanced technocratic neoliberal transnational etc, somehow revolution happens

Class War Episode V: The Bourgeoisie Strikes Back
capitalists coopt rev and transform system to ancap, detach themselves from the state but use private security to protect means of production instead, very dark,repressive world, maybe insurrectionists could play a big part?
Class War Episode VI: Return of the Proletariat
global revolution!

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Sep 11 2013 13:33
vicent wrote:
Class War Episode V: The Bourgeoisie Strikes Back
capitalists coopt rev and transform system to ancap, detach themselves from the state but use private security to protect means of production instead, very dark,repressive world, maybe insurrectionists could play a big part?

I believe it's been said many times before on this site, but to repeat it again, the capitalist class will never accept the an-caps' vision. To use individual private security forces would be far more inefficient and costly than the state's own repressive apparatus.

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Sep 12 2013 03:18

sorry just an idea i know very little about ancap theory,
but surely its possible that they could promote ancap idelogies to fight a strong ancom movement? out of reaction that is, not because they necceseraly desire having to use private security - like when the state used anarchist theory in 1917 "all power to the soviets" etc.
also arent enourmous amounts of money already wasted on private security ie guard capital?

omen
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Sep 12 2013 10:24

The way I see it an-caps, "Libertarians" and Randian Objectivists are the useful idiots of capitalism. (They also make conservative policies look relatively sane and reasonable by contrast, even though they share similar core ideas. A bit like the "swivel-eyed loon" Tory activists in the UK.)