Here’s my situation: There’s a street in front of my house. Perhaps you can relate.

Let me describe this street. It’s rather hard, mostly smooth, mostly flat, made of some sort of composite material, beveled slightly downward at the edges to accommodate rain runoff, pocked here and there with lids covering access points to sewer and water infrastructure.
The street is connected to the houses lining it by a series of umbilicals we homeowners call our “driveways.”
This street is connected to some other streets, which connect to still other streets, which connect to other streets, some of which arrive at other locations within the city, others of which lead out of the city, to other cities. Maybe you have a similar setup.
It’s the street where I live. This makes it *my* street.

I drive on the other streets, too. They’re lined with houses. People live in those houses. I suppose the people in those houses think of the streets I drive as *their* street.

Almost an unconscious thing.
I drive on *their streets. I don’t ask first. They’re very cool about it. They never complain.
And I pay their hospitality forward, too; other people drive down *my* street every day, and they don’t ask permission either, and I’m extremely cool about it, though my dogs are not cool about it.

They bark.
I use my street every day. It’s how I go places. If my street was gone, I’d miss it. I’d have to hunt for parking somewhere a block away, trudge out to my car whenever I wanted to use it.
If everyone else’s streets were gone, I’d miss them, too. Interestingly enough, if all the streets disappeared, I’d miss everybody else’s streets more than I'd miss my own
Moreover, if all of *their* streets were gone, it wouldn’t really matter if *my* street were still there. I’d have to walk everywhere, or get a vehicle that could handle cross-country driving.

Like an F-Series truck, maybe, or a brace of oxen.
The value of *my* street depends, intrinsically, on all of *their* streets. And the value of *their* streets depends, in part, on mine. And, it seems, the collective mass of streets provides me more value—much more, in fact—than my own specific street.
The value and benefit of our streets are entangled with each other, inextricably. You can’t take one away without diminishing the rest.
Each one by itself would be a bizarre curiosity. Together, they connect a community. Which leads me to a set of perhaps surprising conclusions: there is a community, that actually exists. And: I’m part of it.
None of this happens because any of us—me, my neighbors, you, your neighbors, and everyone in between—actively intend to do it. It even happens if we don’t like each other.
It happens exactly the same way for me and my neighbors even if we disagree with each other on everything—if fact, what we believe or intend or think has no impact on the benefit we receive from our street, or any inconvenience we would receive if the street were demolished.
All that really matters, from a practical purpose, is our connection to one another—that we are where we are, at this point in time.
Everyone I know has a street, in some manner of speaking.

I don’t know anybody who constructed their own street.

How interesting.
Question: Who put my street there, in front of my house?

Who put your street there, in front of your house?

Who put my street there?

Have you ever wondered?
Literally, I mean. Who did it? Who’s the one person who is responsible for my street?

It’s not a confusing question, but I don’t find the answer immediately obvious.

Do you know who put your street there?
I presume at some point there was a construction crew, a group of people who did the actual labor of clearing the ground and digging the trenches for water and gas and sewer and electrical hookups to the various plots...
...then tamping it smooth, and grading it, and then maybe laying down gravel, and then a layer of boroscite, and maybe then five layers of muscelinated grist of various elasticities and torsions, and then the final layer of toprock before planating the asphalt surface.
I would like to be clear: I don’t know how it’s done at all. I am utterly clueless. In fact, I just made up most of those words I used.
But … the road crew knew. After all, they did it. But I wonder: did any one of them know exactly every step of it? Is there any one person among them who could, all by themselves, build the street?

Maybe so.
After all, I assume they had a foreman of some kind, who had the plan for the street, and understood each piece of it, and directed the operation from start to finish. But ...
... could the foreman have operated each machine used in the construction? Did the foreman have the actual physical knowledge of each step and how to practically enact them?
Put another way: if the foreman had been left alone, could the street have still been built, however slowly, and, if so, would it have been as skillfully done?
Even if the answer is ‘yes,’ can you say the foreman put the street there? Did the foreman decide on putting my street there instead of somewhere else?

What about the plan the foreman followed? Did the foreman make the plan?

Probably not.
Probably there was some sort of city planner, a highly trained civic engineer, perhaps an architect, who understood the proper way to build the street, who drew up the plan, and the methods, specifications, regulations.
Perhaps the same city planner was even the one who coordinated the efforts, who assigned the foreman and the road crew, who organized supplies.
But even in the unlikely scenario under which the city planner did every bit of this work, could it be said the city planner could have, all by herself, *built the street?*
First of all, could the city planner have done all the labor? Would the city planner have been in possession of all the same tactical practical physical knowledge as the foreman?

Maybe so.
Even if so, of course, you have all the industries that made the materials and tools and equipment that came in from elsewhere, which the crew used to build the street.
But even if you take away all that support … why did the city planner decide to put the street *there?*
I assume the city planner decided to do that because she was assigned to do it. And she was probably assigned to do it because there were going to be houses put there.
So there was zoning and registration and parceling and all of the civic activity that’s necessary to have construction come out and build houses to which a street might be connected, to connect to other streets, without which the houses would have little value to the city.
I presume it’s because the city decided there needed to be a street there.


The city decided? *The* city? *Decided?*

A city is a collection of buildings, isn’t it?

Who is “the city?”

*Who put my street there?*
I’m being coy, of course.

We know what is meant by ‘the city,’ when it comes to zoning decisions, and it isn’t a collection of buildings.

We know why the street is there.

My street is there because somebody decided to build houses there, and houses need streets.
Someone decided to build houses there because somebody decided they wanted a house there, either to live in, or to sell to someone to live in.
But they wouldn’t have wanted to do that, I presume, if there hadn’t already been streets and houses nearby—would they?
I mean, conceivably, the construction crews that put the houses on my street could have put those same houses in the middle of one of my state’s many forests, but they didn’t.

I'm only speculating here, but perhaps it's because out in the middle of the woods, the houses would have had very little value. Likely nobody would have bought them. And no city would agree to build a street for them.
They’d rot away, unlived in, unknown, a bizarre and eerie curiosity for a hiker to find some day.

Or maybe a bear. Or a wolverine.
The city agreed to build a street for those houses because the city decided there would be value to adding to the city, in the form of more people. And people need houses. And houses, of course, need streets.

And so the street was decided upon.
But we know it wasn’t the *city.* Not the collection of buildings. It was the people in the city. *They* decided.
But we know it wasn’t *all* the people. It was the people appointed to the task of making those determinations. They decided. When we say *the city decided,* we actually mean them.
Those people … they were the city; a brief and targeted manifestation of our collective will.


Of course.

All of us. We decided on them to be “the city.”

At least, those of us that participated in that decision making process did.

Or those of us who were allowed.
And then they decided. And, if they were good at being the city, they listened to what "we" thought of that decision—and also remembered previous similar decisions, and tried to replicate what had worked for the most people from those previous decisions, and to avoid what hadn’t.
And in that way, as best they could, they represented our collective will.

A collective will. And streets are a delivery mechanism—one of many—for that collective will.

Streets are how the collective will delivers transportation to itself.
And then the city planner, drawing out the plans for the street, became a brief targeted manifestation of our collective will.

And then the foreman, and the workers.

And then, finally, me.

Because our collective will decided that a street should be there, for people to live in
And they were right. There are people living in those houses. I’m one of them. We live in the houses, connected to the street, and we drive on the streets, and we give value to the city.
We don’t live there *in order* to give the city value, but we give it value all the same. Nor can we not give the city this value, unless we choose to move away, and give some other city our value.
But of course, there was a time before any streets were built, when people decided to live here instead of there. It wasn’t a random decision. Some natural confluence occurred that people recognized as providing some sort of natural value.
In my city’s case, as with so many cities, that confluence was something human beings naturally understood: water.
Water sustains life. It allows agriculture. It allows easy transportation to other cities down-river, who made the decision to settle *here* instead of *there* for the exact same reason we did.
For my city, as with so many cities, our first street was one we had no hand in building at all—a river.
Nobody did anything to get the river. The river was there, delivering its value, and so people came to it, and from that natural delivery system, we built more systems of our own to deliver value to those living there—things like barges, docks, locks, fish ladders. And houses.
And streets. In a very literal sense, my street can be seen as a branch off a river.

My street … at its very origins, it wasn’t something purchased or earned. It was a natural gift. It’s natural.

But, if I and my neighbors weren’t there, the houses would have no value and meaning, nor the street—unless others came and lived there. If there were no people living in any of the houses, the city would have no value, no meaning. It would be a bizarre and eerie curiosity.
We need there to be a community. A community needs there to be us. And so we come together, and so it comes to be.
My street is there on my behalf, because it was decided somebody should be there on everybody’s behalf, and that somebody turned out to be me and my neighbors.
If it hadn’t been us, it would have been somebody else, unless nobody else came, in which case the houses, unlived in, would eventually cease to exist, and so would the street.
We need there to be a community. A community needs there to be us. And so it comes to be. And so we come to be. Because we are humans.

A street is a part of a *natural human system.* And I am a human. Thus, I exist, in a very observable way, within a system. To perceive it I just have to walk out to my mailbox and look both ways.
How interesting.

Who put my street there?

I did.

/end armoxon.com/2020/10/street…

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More from @JuliusGoat

18 Oct
I feel as if this sort of thing is useful if it helps us know that we are dealing with structural power that is indeed very unlikely to bring any consequence to abusive power, *so that we are prepared to demand it*, but not if it just encourages a sort of jaded defeatism.
We need to demand real consequences, and be prepared to deliver real consequences to anybody who tries to block them.

Yes, empowered liberals *will* bring out the same old toxic nonsense about moving forward to heal, and we'd better be ready to go absolutely nuts on them for it.
Donald Trump and his entire administration must go to prison.

If your answer to that is "that's not going to happen" and that's the end of it, you're aligning yourself with nothing happening.

There's no prize for being most cynical, least disappointed, or most unsurprised.
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17 Oct

Imagine, if you can, a society founded on a series of unjust lies.
A society founded upon a series of propositions which, like a virus, have no place in a healthy society; which, like a cancer, grow out of systems that would otherwise be necessary for health; which like both, exist only to propagate themselves until the system is consumed.
Can you imagine it?

As a novelist, I might be able to manage such a thought experiment.

Let’s see … what would it look like?
Read 40 tweets
17 Oct
So just from memory: Trump owes $1b, he committed 10s of millions in tax fraud, he deliberately concealed a pandemic from America and now 210,000 are dead and he STILL refuses to address it, and he enjoys the enthusiastic support of his party and normalizing coverage from media.
He told violent white supremacists to "stand by", he braggingly admitted to ordering an extrajudicial hit by federal marshals, he has been funneling campaign cash to his business, and he enjoys the enthusiastic support of his party and normalizing coverage from media.
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Read 7 tweets
16 Oct

This is not the proclamation of an expert. This is the confession of a fool.


We know things about ourselves we hate to know, but there’s no going back. There are two questions we have to face, now that we have this knowledge.

The first question is about knowledge and confession.

It’s this: How did we get here?

1. Streets

Question: Who put my street there, in front of my house?

Who put your street there, in front of your house?

Who put my street there?

Have you ever wondered?

Read 5 tweets
15 Oct
news *full of stories of Republican crimes*

wise man: ah, the problem, then...is the news
literally no US media outlets lean left, certainly not CNN, but many of them work overtime to normalize any behavior by Republicans, no matter how shocking or corrupt

Fox is a far-right white supremacist propaganda and disinformation laundering network
There are few things funnier to me than a grown adult in the year of our lord 2020 who still believes that CNN is left-leaning.
Read 4 tweets
15 Oct
It’s best to understand this as the inevitable outcome of our present system, which is designed to consume people for profit.
The attack on our courts and our elections, the refusal to address the pandemic if the effort isn't directly profitable: it's all part of a radical metastasized cancerous ideology that is perfectly willing to kill you for money.

We should desire radical solutions to counter it.
Read 6 tweets

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