Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Actually Awesome Anarchism: Valve Software

Note: I now blog at  It's much prettier to look at, and more focused on fun stuff like weird fiction, extreme music, and awesome art.  Also check out my Tumblr at

In the semi-weekly discussion group run by the Tampa Anarchist Collective, we have several time broached the topic of examples of anarchistic ethics and practice that can be found in the world around us today - particularly those that don't explicitly declare themselves as such.  Many of these can be found in the world of software, particularly in the Open Source movement (file sharing communities are another one that has been thrown around, but I have some issues with that example as my views on copyright evolve).

Another sterling example has just come to my attention - Valve Software, probably the single most creative large video game studio in the world, is run on nonhierarchical syndicalist lines.  Projects are not assigned, but are created and spearheaded from the bottom up by self-constituted teams subject to flux.  There are even serious elements of communalism, as pay rates are at least in part based on a system of mutual value ratings.  You can read more about these practices at The Wall Street Journal and Develop Online.

The example does highlight a consistently emerging caveat - obviously, a software development company is generally staffed by people who are already highly trained, motivated, and disciplined.  And even within the company's own literature, there's an acknowledgment that when someone who doesn't fit that mold lands a job at the company, it can be disruptive and take some time to shake out.  Does this indicate that anarchism, for all its bottom-up rhetoric, works best at its highest level of institutional development when it's being used to organize the elite?  Regardless, it's yet another exciting sign that we're looking at the political philosophy of the 21st century.  Not only is it right - it works.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My New Yoga Culture Blog: Flexy Beast

For anyone potentially curious, I've started a series of posts on Yoga culture from a critical/cultural studies perspective, on a new blog tailored to the purpose.  As on this blog, a lot of the material there will amount to rough drafts of future essays/more polished work.  The first post on the series is about culture and personality in Yoga:

Yoga for Type-A Americans . . . and Type-A Indians?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Subverts Unite!

We've got a pretty great thing going here in Tampa, what with all the Free Skools, collective spaces, art warehouses, and various mishigas.  But somewhere beneath all that, there's something sinister . . . something bleak and desperate.  A perverse Dadaist conspiracy!  Evidence of it only surfaces in fits and starts, but here is the latest sign that something sinister is afoot, replete with mind-bending tone poems of Reichian Orgone Therapy, violent insurrection, and subconscious mental manipulation.

Subverts Unite!  Issue 2