Quick quiz on your ecological effect. (1 Viewer)

Angela

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That quiz doesn't really make sense with permacampers. I have no electricity, gas, or running water, and I don't have much clue with what kind of mileage I rack up either. Dumpstered meat really depends on if you have a good nose- I keep telling people to smell everything they eat, because your nose will figure out what makes you sick... but I still don't know about raw meat. I guess Swiss people are gross.
Yeah don't feel bad Finn, the quiz doesn't really make sense for most people on this site. It should tell people something when the lowest income option they have for a household in the US is $29,000 a year. I'm just guessing but I would think that for quite a few of us that's more than many of us make and consume in five years or more. These kind of things are for yuppies or hipsters that want to feel like their not destroying the environment around them while consuming far too much, none of the questions even have options that account for our existence. I had a professor years ago in school that assigned a quiz similar to that one in a "sustainable development" course(which are pretty much also designed to make people that consume/waste too much feel like their not that destructive), I've been very disillusioned with those kind of "quizes" ever since.
 
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I don't currently have control over most fo these factors because I live with other people. I rent a room at my brothers house. so.. I don't like this quiz. that and I have no idea how much I really travel in a car.. I drive a scooter for fucks sake. and I get rides from people now and then. there's no option for anything less than a small car.
 

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Pilgrim
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that is funny Dillinger, I myself was cmfortable not eating anything with a face until I started thinking about scallops amd oysters and such that I don`t eat, but whom admitedly don`t have much of anything resembling a face, and wondering if I`m being prejudiced against them- is it my moral obligation to eat these guys now that I`ve recognized that they don`t fit the criteria? And Now, a poem by Leonard Coen (from memory so don`t tell me if I get it wron:

Those who eat meet want to sink their teeth into something
Those who do not eat meat want to sink their teeth into something else
If either of these thoughts interests you for even a moment, you are lost

2.75, but the quiz doesn`t really accomodate the homeless
 

Calea Spots

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cool quiz.

annnnnnd not sure what all these "if it can't suffer you can eat it" arguments are all about. supposedly lethal injection is painless... doesn't make it acceptable.

but back to meat. if you treat it with respect you can eat it. if you raise and eat a goat who has grazed on wild oregano its whole life your goat burger will taste GODLY. if you buy and eat a pig who has never seen the sun, never moved more than a few feet, never tasted anything but slop, never spent a day free of fear... all that stress is still in the meat when you cook your bacon and will treat your body accordingly.
 

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Pilgrim
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Treating an animal with respect doesn´t include killing it. I´d rather be treated terribly than get deaded, call it anthropomorphism, but I assume other living things feel the same. Glad your goat burger tastes good, but the goat could give a shit. I´m not advocating vegetarianism btw, just arguing your logic
 

macks

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dont you all feel too bad about these numbers. if everyone did all of these saving the world list things, the industry would still destroy everything at practically the same rate. changing your light bulbs isn't going to save the world - we need a massive cultural shift or collapse and the decision may already be made for us.

and in response to the veganism thing I agree with respect when taking life to sustain your own. someone once said to me that veganism is a response to a culturally toxic situation, which is more or less my view. i've seen a lot of friends get and stay very sick from strict raw vegan or vegan diets. not to knock on their ideals because i share a lot of the same sentiments, but it sucks watching your friends waste away and have to go to the hospital. im not a nutritional expert so im not going to say what we're 'supposed' to eat, but yes we did evolve from raw meat-eating ancestors, but thats not all they ate. and they sure as hell didnt feed them a bunch of narsty chemicals before they ate them!
 

veggieguy12

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We could each work on lessening our own footprints, or we could think big and lessen everybody's footprints.
And that only takes a few people doing enough, instead of each of us.
 

hassysmacker

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Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change

by Derrick Jensen

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.
© 2009 Orion
Derrick Jensen is an activist and the author of many books, most recently What We Leave Behind and Songs of the Dead.
 

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Pilgrim
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I like it too, but I disagree with the premise that personal change is not political and that reducing or modifying one`s consumption of goods is futile, as far as affecting real ¨change¨ goes.
For one thing, deciding not to swallow what is being fed you is inevitably a creative process, as it brings you to think about what you actually want and try to figure out ways of getting there.
Any green or environmental initiative in today`s world is precluded by an act of freethinking, a willingness to diverge from the status quo, the status quo being materialism/capitalism, and therefore the aforementioned initiative(s) being precluded by divergence from materialism/capitalism, you see what I`m saying?
Furthermore, the suggestion that better ways of living can be created in a vacuum that is in no way a reaction to where we now are is trouble from the get go: to me it suggests a totalitarian approach where one person or group dictate life based solely on their own ideas/desires. This is a fine way for an individual to live, but when you talk about applying it to ¨politics¨ or a ¨political structure¨, what you have is more akin to the power structures in ¨Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia¨ than to the people who fought them (Don`t see what antebellum united states has to do with anything, if you bothered reading all this and know the answer, please tell me).
 

LovelyAcorns

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I like it too, but I disagree with the premise that personal change is not political and that reducing or modifying one`s consumption of goods is futile, as far as affecting real ¨change¨ goes.
For one thing, deciding not to swallow what is being fed you is inevitably a creative process, as it brings you to think about what you actually want and try to figure out ways of getting there.
Any green or environmental initiative in today`s world is precluded by an act of freethinking, a willingness to diverge from the status quo, the status quo being materialism/capitalism, and therefore the aforementioned initiative(s) being precluded by divergence from materialism/capitalism, you see what I`m saying?
Furthermore, the suggestion that better ways of living can be created in a vacuum that is in no way a reaction to where we now are is trouble from the get go: to me it suggests a totalitarian approach where one person or group dictate life based solely on their own ideas/desires. This is a fine way for an individual to live, but when you talk about applying it to ¨politics¨ or a ¨political structure¨, what you have is more akin to the power structures in ¨Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia¨ than to the people who fought them (Don`t see what antebellum united states has to do with anything, if you bothered reading all this and know the answer, please tell me).
Well, yeah. The article briefly talks about that (So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity.) but its not given much focus. My view is that their is a shitload of reasons to alter your lifestyle to limit your complicity, but lifestyle choices isn't going to create the changes needed.

I'm having a little trouble understanding your wording, but I'm assuming by the totalitarian approach you are referring to the whole "a small group changing the world" thing. Well, this has never actually happened, and unless some group steals GMO diseases or a nuke, its not. However, the social movement that could be considered "positive", even if they did end in weak liberal reform, have started with small groups fighting, which in turn has inspired others, creating a snowball effect. Propaganda of the deed combined with normal propaganda, basically. Usually the "negative" changes, for fairly obvious reasons, happen when people are not allowed to fight under their own terms. I know I'm doing a bad job explaining, but oh well.

P.S. You can't understand what the fight against slavery has to do with anything?
 

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Pilgrim
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not in the context it´s given no, where the author is talking about small groups opposing an overwhelming political structure, like in the other examples given (nazi germany, Stalinist Russia), as I understand the civil war and events leading up to it as being primarily about two established political entities vying for overall supremacy. It could make sense, but the term antebellum United States is a pretty nebulous way to allude to emancipation if that´s what being got at.

I don´t see the article briefly talking about the issues I discussed, I see the article being about those issues, as stated in the title, and as referenced repeatedly throughout the article.

the social movement that could be considered "positive" ... have started with small groups fighting, which in turn has inspired others, creating a snowball effect. Usually the "negative" change... happen when people are not allowed to fight under their own terms.
I don´t disagree with this at all, but my reading of the article is that the author is speaking directly against the importance of the small group/snowball effect, since the initial unit of movement in this scenario must be individual change, no?
In other words, you and I are talking about somebody with an idea, doing something with that idea,other people become involved, said idea takes hold in an important way and real change is affected.
Unless you believe that people´s actions are guided by the purely theoretical (I don´t), then people´s actions represent their ideals and values- in organizing the kind of snowball/social movements that go against the status quo, individuals are displaying exactly what the article is attempting to discredit: personal change, affirmation of personal values (since the values are different from what is around them, they must be personal, no?)


and the whole totalitarian regime thing, that is what I see this article offering as an alternative if you follow it´s logic, since political structure imagined as something other than a way of assessing and furthering individual values is really only a renaming and emphasizing of a particular value set- like Stalin, who believed that his ideas were beyond subjective opinion and somehow of a greater design.

I think this type of article strays too far from the actual action it seems to be advocating and gives armchair activists a reason to order Domino´s again.
 

LovelyAcorns

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Really? When I think of pre-Civil War I think of the underground railroad, attempts to arm slaves, etc. But yeah, the war itself was a battle between two powerful entities, and I guess thats the way history portrays the lead up too. But on that point, how was the defeat of Nazi Germany any different?


I think, however, the rest of our debate has gone moot. If I'm understanding you correctly, we share the same view, but are interpreting the article differently. Useful to know - I was tempted to copy it and leave it around liberal places, guess I need to find a better article.



P.S. This quiz is just plain weird. Somehow, human consumption is taking 1.5 planets, yet while scoring less than average on every category I consume 2.4 planets? The hell.
 

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Pilgrim
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you might not want to use me to gauge the effect of this article on liberals, as I myself am not one and really like to argue. okay, I´ll drop it too
 

veggieguy12

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...you are referring to the whole "a small group changing the world" thing. Well, this has never actually happened...
How many Americans do you think conspired and executed JFK? RFK? MLK?
How many people do you think conspired to and did actually attack and destroy the World Trade Center buildings, along with the Pentagon?
How many people tunneled under the Berlin Wall?
How many people worked on the Manhattan Project which eventually destroyed two Japanese cities, evacuated and radiated islands, and began the Cold War which bankrupted the USSR?
How many Iraqis do you think are actively attacking occupation forces?
How many Nigerians do you think are fighting their government and foreign oil companies?
How many Venezuelans deposed the President in 2002, and how many people overturned the illegitimate govt. and brought Hugo Chavez back to office?
How many English agitated the colonial population of New England to rebel against King George's rule?
How many spies/informants saved Fidel Castro from some 800 US plots to kill him?
The answer to all these questions is, I think, very few indeed.

And, of course, very few people actually planned the US invasion of Iraq, very few Germans actually made the Third Reich and planned the death camps, very few Bolsheviks took over the interim government, and very few Chinese commies plotted the Great Leap Forward. Most of these things were the work of very few, but came to fruition through their power to influence or command others to actually do the work. That doesn't happen everywhere, certainly environmentalists aren't going to have armies to command, nor do I see them seizing any notable amount of power.
But with the first cases I listed as questions, these are examples of a small number of people doing things which had deep, and profound ripples in the 'world pond'.
 

LovelyAcorns

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How many Americans do you think conspired and executed JFK? RFK? MLK?
Honestly, I fail to see how their assinations changed much. People cried, then moved on. Leaders are replacable.
How many people do you think conspired to and did actually attack and destroy the World Trade Center buildings, along with the Pentagon?
And western civilization collapsed, just as planned, right? The deaths were tragic, but Patriotic America is who created the changes since then.
How many people tunneled under the Berlin Wall?
I'll give you this one, kinda.
How many people worked on the Manhattan Project which eventually destroyed two Japanese cities, evacuated and radiated islands, and began the Cold War which bankrupted the USSR?
According to wikipedia, about 130,000.

How many Iraqis do you think are actively attacking occupation forces?
Last time I checked, they are still occupied.

How many Nigerians do you think are fighting their government and foreign oil companies?
Don't know, when their government and foreign oil companies are gone, we'll talk.

How many Venezuelans deposed the President in 2002, and how many people overturned the illegitimate govt. and brought Hugo Chavez back to office?
Fine, small groups are able to create 47 hours of change before a return normalcy.
How many English agitated the colonial population of New England to rebel against King George's rule?
."Most of these things were the work of very few, but came to fruition through their power to influence or command others to actually do the work. " Even ignoring that, zero. The colonial population was starting to revolt already,they just tried to save their own wealth.
How many spies/informants saved Fidel Castro from some 800 US plots to kill him?
How many people does it take to keep a single person alive?
 

veggieguy12

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LovelyAcorns, I'm pretty sure you're an intelligent fellow, so I have to sigh and think that you're intentionally being obtuse here, trying more to be oppositional than see the points I'm making. I'm not fighting to win an argument, work with me here.

Most of those examples I listed are of a 'Few Actors, Many (or Powerful) Backers' type.
The three assassinations created ripples of change, and without knowing you I am certain you could see how if you weren't instead just being contrary.

Again, with 9/11, you undoubtedly know how catalytic that was for the neocons (and Zionists) to get into Iraq/remove Saddam. If you buy the official story, some 30 people killed 3000 in the USA, and got the ball rolling on the US/NATO invasion of Afghanistan and the US military/corporate takeover of Iraq (and its conditional bankrupting of the US government).
The Berlin Wall being weak at stopping traffic because of a few German renegades is perhaps the weakest of my examples.
The Manhattan Project was the *work* of a handful of physicists, you should know. Of course there were 45 janitors in the facilities, but that's not my point, is it? They didn't split the atoms, nor did the Generals, nor probably even Oppenheimer.

Perhaps a better way to think of my question is, "How many people were essential to ____?" or "Who irreplacably made this happen?"

Yes, Iraq is still occupied - this fucking country is occupied, to my mind - but out of a nation of millions, a small percentage have cost and are costing the US millions of dollars and thousands of lives. At every level there are essential people, gathering the bullets, firing the guns, surveilling and reporting on targets, rigging IEDs, giving refuge to wanted people, donating money. The whole country isn't doing it all. Most of the people support the insurgency, as I understand it; but moral support is one thing - there are a relative few who are actually essential to sending Americans home in boxes and bags, and escalating our financial cost (and draining public support here).

Of course, the MEND has not expelled Shell or Chevron; for this you write them off as ineffective? Avalanches begin with a tumbling pebble. Do you instead expect that the Nigerian populace would spontaneously rise up armed? Or do you realize that the groundwork must be laid by a few in the beginning, and built-upon? Those few are not to be denied their credit (for what it's worth) in making change through their labors, simply because the most drastic changes come with many people assisting.

In Venezuela, a few people removed the popular President - that is changing the world. Within 48 hours, a larger group of less-powerful people - but still small, by numbers - ousted those people and reinstated their President. That too is changing their world, and your dismissive statements do not make it less true or diminish the impact those few people had on the world via their acts.

I don't believe that the overall population of the English colonies was ready to overthrow the King's rule; the "Americans" most affected by the British monarchy were the wealthy, and it was a very few of their class who stirred-up shit to persuade farmers and blacksmiths to risk their lives in fighting the redcoats. Why, it's Common Sense!

"How many people does it take to keep a single person alive?"
Gee, I don't know. But that's not really addressing my point, is it? To make it explicitly, the world would have been severely changed if any of those 800 plans had been successfully executed against the Cuban. And those plans were thwarted because of a small group of counter-intelligence and security personnel of a tiny piss-poor island staying on their toes against the biggest military and espionage budgets the world has ever known.
And you might not think much would be different, but then ask yourself why the US bothered to attack Cuba in '61, and why they wanted to make Castro croak.

A few people put together the 1982 assassination of elected fascist Bashir Gemayel. Ask some Lebanese, Palestinians, or Israelis if that didn't 'change the world'. I guess it depends what kind of change you're looking for. One incident that will stop an entire government, or something that erases a nation from the maps? Such standards would never be met in one single act, not by the largest or best armies of the world's history.
Isolated actions done once and never followed-up don't have much sustained impact, obviously.
Small groups and individuals, however, can indeed change the world, if successful against the right targets.
 

hassysmacker

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I feel the argument is that personal change is great and fantastic and important to fully discovering yourself, but at the rate of ecological devestation it simply isn't enough, and a more appropriate strategy would be an effective and tactical dismantling of the system, as we don't have the time or momentum to effect serious change by personal lifestylism change.

It's a liberal vs. radical thing.
 

finn

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How many people does it take to keep a single person alive?
I looked at this and it gave me a thought. It doesn't take many people to keep someone alive, sometimes just one. Haven't you been in a situation where no one is doing something useful in a bad situation- where someone who is dead drunk is being taken advantage of, or maybe is in need of more medical attention than you can give- and you're the one who takes charge and does something useful? Or when people are being stupid on the subway and they need a voice to prevent them from being stupid- as in letting people get out before you try getting in?

Even a cynic can see that one small action can make a huge difference to a few lives. As for the global ecosystem, well, that small group needs to be proportionately bigger...
 

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Pilgrim
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It's a liberal vs. radical thing.
It`s funny you put it this way, because I agree, except I have a feeling we are at odds over which approach is which. I see not being subject to all social norms as the basis of radicalism, whereas articles like this where just made for the consensus taking, academically correct crowd. I just typed that, might as well submit...
 

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