[tor-teachers] tor-teachers - politics

Alison Macrina macrina at riseup.net
Tue Oct 20 15:58:21 UTC 2015

> Thanks for asking what I think Jacob,
> My personal stance is that when we start including political discussion
> we implicitly begin excluding people.  Rational people, given the same
> evidence, can reach the same conclusion.  Opinions simply don't work
> this way.  You can't cite a reference, or make argument based on agreed
> upon fact.  Well informed opinions, while based upon fact, imply a
> certain attachment to the idea. 
> Now let's play with an example:
> "The founders wanted a democracy."
> I think this is faulty decorum.  Has the above statement advanced the
> discussion in any meaningful way?  If there's a disagreement, is there
> any particular idea contained above that I can ask for a reference to
> formally refute or am I stuck arguing about the difference between a
> republic, democracy- and even more basically if a group of politicians
> can agree on /anything./  It's easy to state opinions which require no
> rigor or substance. 

I'm having a hard time understanding your argument, and I totally
disagree with the last assertion. The conversation that's already
happened on this thread shows that the political opinions shared are
hardly without rigor or substance. Personally, my rigorous political
praxis is the very thing that led me to Tor in the first place.

Who are you worried about excluding? The spies? The police? The ISPs?
The advertisers? Eric Schmidt? Let them be excluded. Individuals who
have political disagreements with other individuals on this list will
not be rejected.

> I think that it's chiefly about exclusion.  It seems sensible to me that
> TOR benefits from any member- not simply those who subscribe to a
> certain ideology.  You absolutely need a dominant culture in the
> development community.  That's sensible.  I would argue that this is
> counterproductive on the teaching front.

What certain ideology is being espoused here? The people I've met within
the Tor community have pretty widely varying political beliefs. I think
I can reasonably say that what we *do* agree on is that the work itself
is political.

My full-time work is teaching privacy-enhancing technologies, mostly
across the US. When I teach, I make it clear what is politically at
stake -- that is, the internet that we all depend on is increasingly
controlled by a handful of intelligence agencies and giant
multi-national corporations, and this threatens many of our basic human
rights. And for marginalized people, this is more than just a nuisance
-- it's a matter of life and death. This is fundamentally about power
and control vs autonomy. I don't know how to make an argument for Tor
that excludes that, nor would I want to; it feels equivalent to someone
saying "let's do something about climate collapse, but not make it

Echoing what Kenneth said, I am personally wary of any argument for
political neutrality. There is no such thing as 'apolitical'. As Desmond
Tutu famously said, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you
have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on
the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not
appreciate your neutrality."

> What does everyone else think? 
> All of this aside, I was hoping that we could create some coordination
> for classes.  Again, I already fly around the country teaching.  I'd
> love to be able to teach TOR as well.  I just need students. 
> Thanks,
> Stephen

I responded to this inline in your earlier message. Which country are
you flying around in? What are you already teaching? Where are you
teaching? What strategies have you already tried in reaching folks who
are interested in Tor?


More information about the tor-teachers mailing list