About Anonymous Alcoholism: Notes on the Cultocracy

Column by Kevin M. Patten.

Exclusive to STR

Lest I be accused of throwing every problematic drinker under the bus, let’s get the boringly obvious out of the way: There’s no doubt that the institution of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped a few people overcome their addiction. But I find it refreshing that after decades of monopolistic influence on the courts and rehabs, AA is finally facing the opprobrium that it very rightly deserves. Jack Trimpey, founder of Rational Recovery, and one of the original malcontents, described AA as (however unoriginally) a “Cultocracy.” It is, that annoying word, systemic, and so Charles Manson and Jim Jones would have their competition cut out for them. AA could further be defined as an “Open Source Cult”: you can either be the vulnerable drone, the convenient torchbearer, or the high priest who bashes you over the head with “how many days” he has, looking knightly for the young ladies and saintly for the hapless dregs.

But this is mainly for those who are here voluntarily.

If you will, consider an erroneous comparison. Between what? The near-universally mandated “12 Step” attendance with your mother forcing you to eat broccoli. Is the broccoli itself coercive? In this vein, neither is the gun that you know will be unholstered for refusing to file your taxes, or the car that takes you to the jail, or the building in which you’ll be housed. Just the people who actually do the coercing.

Technically, your mother is acting coercively, and while vegetables are good for you – and she’s your mother! – being threatened with jail unless you attend a religious meeting, this for merely walking down the street intoxicated, is ultimately harmful to the individual. If we do get into the libertarian semantics – who owns the sidewalks: private companies or sovereign municipalities? – I think it’s fair to ask about the federally-worshipped institution that enjoys a tax-exempt status while also receiving thousands of drunks who are quick to throw a dollar around. If they have to pay nothing for helping boozers, why should I have to pay the State for being a boozer?

Suppose that Lockheed Martin is completely absolved of collusion with the State, despite negotiating billion dollar contracts to sell off their armaments. Perhaps the best analogy: Would I be a voluntarist if that same State ordered someone to come and wash my car? Could I look them in their eyes and insist that I’m respecting their volition, even after I said “you missed a spot”? I venture, negative. Therefore, if the cheerleaders of the Cultocracy want to defend the notion of a “100% voluntary organization,” they’d agree with me, and demand that AA make some sort of statement about their concealed reluctance to sign those damn court cards. This can’t be done – maybe seeing as they “have no opinion on outside matters” (10th Tradition) and that “every group is autonomous” or whatever other cowardly datum is at hand. Alas, the very strong mixture of Church and State will still likely be served up regularly.

Cult! It’s usually a stupid verbal missile that gets thrown overhead without validity. In this case, AA actually does have its genesis in a Christian cult – named the Oxford Group, which during the mid-'30s was its parent organization. Ken Ragge, another early critic, wrote an excellent expose in 1998, first titled More Revealed and later republished as The Real AA. My mangled copy still draws a strange history.

The story starts in 1919, with a man named Frank Buchman, who was holding a series of meetings in China called “house parties.” Buchman was “attempting to bring about a revival of what he perceived to be the first century Christianity, hence his group’s first name: First Century Christian Fellowship,” writes Ragge. He then “capitalized on perceived but nonexistent ties to the internationally prestigious Oxford University after the name ‘Oxford Group’ was reportedly coined by a South African baggage handler and adopted by the group in 1921.” The only relation to the famous college, according to the Wikipedia page, was that several of its students were members and held some parties here. (The organization brought in many thousands, and parties were held everywhere.)

The Oxford Group had the modest goal of taking over the world, this through “God-Control,” which, Ragge quotes straight from Buchman, “make[s] God-Controlled nationalities. This is the aim of the Oxford Group. The true patriot gives his life to bring his nation under” . . . we got it. (Browse Wiki for all this repeated.) Those who were “too insane” to join on their own were given special techniques to assist them, these deemed “the five C’s” – Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Continuance.

Ragge continues: “The Oxford Group was most concerned with bringing rich, famous and powerful figures under God-Control so their influence could be used to sway the public.” One such person was the son of rubber baron Harvey Firestone, the former with a hostile drinking habit. An Oxford member who had discovered the man took him to a conference in Denver, where they joined up with God, who supposedly told Firestone to knock his shit off. January, 1933: The senior, very impressed, invited Buchman and a team of 60 to come to Akron, Ohio, to “conduct a ten-day campaign,” gathering in the house T. Henry Williams. Among them was the local surgeon, Dr. Bob Smith, now credited as one of the two founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The other founder resided in New York City. The name and subject of so many hagiographies is Bill Wilson (for balance, hear the man tell his own story), a Wall St. stockbroker as well as a vicious drinker. Hospitalized numerous times for his habit, he soon met Dr. William Silkworth, who “impressed on him the hopelessness of alcoholism.” Silkworth’s theory was that he had “an allergy combined with a mental obsession.” As told by the Big Book – AA’s text from heaven – Wilson was visited by a friend who had also met up with God. What the Book doesn’t say (at least not my “fourth edition”) is that the man’s name was Ebby Thacher, a member of the Oxford Group, which by now had a side chapter for those with drinking problems.

Wilson, along with his wife Lois, began attending these meetings, becoming a regular by 1935. Taking up the fifth “C” – “Continuance” – the inaugural alcoholic saint realized that, “If he did not work he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die.” For six months, he was a total failure at this game, not saving a single drunk. Despite being dazzled by the Oxford Group, Wilson was having squabbles with its methodology. Dr. Silkworth advised him to try a different approach, to “deflate these people first. Pour it right into them about the obsession that condemns them to drink…” That is, fear. This was quite the obverse from the Oxford Group’s tactic of arousing guilt.

In May of ‘35, Wilson made a business trip to Akron, Ohio. Feeling and fearing himself close to drink, he had a revelation that would become a cornerstone of AA: “You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you.” Phone calls were frantically placed. After talking to a few local groupers, he came into contact with “Dr. Bob.” Fireworks without the cocktails. The pair quickly teamed together and began obtaining new members for the burgeoning theocratic sect.

Elsewhere, schisms widened. For one thing, Buchman was an open supporter of Hitler’s regime, and the public was getting tired of these political sympathies. (I’ve never seen any evidence that Wilson shared these politics.) Ragge notes, “Another major issue was that the alcoholics preferred to remain anonymous, which was contrary to the Oxford Group methods of public witness.” As furtherance, “Bill W.’s” new means of recruitment was aggravating the NY chapter of the Oxford Group. By 1937, in the Big Apple, the two had separated. A year later, Wilson was hard at work synthesizing material for the Big Book, released in 1939 (which I’ll be selecting from). As an aside, demonstrating the program’s utter silliness, Wilson decided to pick the number “12” (for the steps) simply because Jesus Christ had twelve apostles, thus why it’s hardly surprising that the steps seem repetitious.

Returning to our delineation, the most significant indications of AA’s “cult status,” in my humble assessment, is the dogmatically relied upon “disease model,” which refuses to accept other theories; nor does the Cultocracy allow disagreement of their “non-opinionated policy”; and then the members who avoid the pesky noun leftover by the Big Book’s main authors: “Creator” – a clear definition of what kind of god they had in mind. So long for, “Your Higher Power can be a doorknob.” The next person who tells you that should be put, not in rehab, but an asylum.

All three of these are intertwined, but let’s try to untangle them separately, in careful turn.

Of course, it will be said that the whole program is one big “suggestion” – textbook AA terminology – and it’s not ironic that I can’t suggest that AA operates cultishly. Suspend the language for just a second. Keep in mind that the doctrine is predicated on the “disease model” – you are powerless because alcoholism is a verifiable disease, and even questioning it is your “stink’n think’n.” A perfect failsafe! (As well as sounding like something that a statist would tell their subject.) Absolute abstinence is everything, and your last sip is the equivalent of your birthday – literally. Therein belies any “suggestion.” Grimly, this disease is “progressive,” and you will die from it if not for our grace. Right! Exactly what we tell kids in a cancer ward: “You’re powerless. Give up on this idea of self will and inner strength and permit that only through faith in the doctors do you have a chance.”

Apart from the sardonicism, the “science” of Disease Theorem has been much studied and debated. The best thing that the State and the Rehab Industry has going for it is knowing that the layman can’t be an expert in neuroscience and biology. Me neither. But we can defer to more qualified minds. The one that has faced some recent ire belongs to Dr. Lance Dodes, an addiction expert who has written three books on the topic. His latest, The Sober Truth, was released in 2014.

Among the most interesting of Dodes’ findings is this: in its earliest days, AA was viewed as nothing short of quackery, with the American Medical Association calling it “a curious combination of organizing propaganda and religious exhortation.” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases was even more scathing: a “regressive mass psychological method” and a “rambling sort of camp-meeting confession of experiences.” Ouch.

AA then hit a series of lucky strikes, starting with two articles in popular journals. The first was written in ’39 by Morris Markey, published in Liberty, a magazine run by Fulton Oursler, who was an Oxford Group member that would later serve as a trustee of the Alcoholic Foundation, AA’s governing body. The article tells us that the alcoholic is “genuinely sick” with a “specific illness of body and mind.” But, as a miracle, working with AA, they would experience a “psychic change. Their ‘compulsion neurosis’ was being altered-transferred from liquor to something else.” That was, a “psychological necessity to rescue their fellow victims from the plight that made themselves so miserable.” Sounds liberating!

The second piece came in The Saturday Evening Post, which at the time was probably the most widely read magazine in the country. Written in 1941 by one Jack Alexander, the long piece tells how a skeptic came to be swayed into believing the good that AA was doing. Disingenuously, Alexander informs that “the rate of success is exceptionally high.” No citation needed except for AA’s self-reportage – and self-promotion. One chapter claimed that 87% were saved; and that 50% “recover immediately.” Reification was on its way. (We’ll come right back to the topic of success.)

From there, AA teamed up with Marty Mann, a wealthy Chicago woman and one of the first females to join the club; and then with E.M. Jellinek, called the originator of Disease Theorem. The former soon formed the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, still in operation today, then testified many times for the medical community. In 1946, the latter, Jellinek, produced a legendary paper that would become bedrock for AA. His research? A questionnaire mailed out to 1600 of its own members, this through their magazine, the Grapevine. Of the 158 returned, 60 were “thrown out either for being incomplete, from women, or for having multiple responses,” writes Ragge. “Progressive” – “denial” – “intense physical craving”: the usual claptrap at its nucleus. Jellinek is said to have distanced himself from this work, urging AA not to interfere with new medical discoveries. (Also, it’s rumored that the idea of addiction as a disease was foreign to early AA congregations, as addiction was supposed to be a “spiritual sickness,” not a medical ailment.)

But by now the wind was already in AA’s favor. Dodes reports the following. In 1951, AA was honored with the Lasker Award, “given by the American Public Health Association for outstanding achievement in the fields of medical research or public health administration.” In the '60s, AA “won a landmark decision” when “two decisions from federal appeals court upheld the disease concept of alcoholism.” Lyndon Baines Johnson – monster of a man, JFK’s likely killer (just to throw that in there), and a heavy consumer of Cutty Sark scotch – proclaimed to the nation that “the alcoholic suffers from a disease which will yield eventually to scientific research and adequate treatment.” In 1970, Congress passed the “Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Act,” which also established the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Yes, Marty Mann and Mr. Wilson spoke before our dear leaders. In ’73, President Nixon was presented with the millionth copy of the Big Book. The clincher: Dodes cites a 2009 paper that examined state-sanctioned physician health groups, finding that 95% of all programs were – are – based on the “12 Steps.” Journalist Gabrielle Glaser, writing for The Atlantic, citing another work, says that there are 13,000 rehab facilities in the U.S., and that 70-80% subscribe to the One True Path laid out by a narcissistic louse. Enrollment in these centers can cost thousands of dollars.

Regarding addiction, there are, of course, several theories. However, as many have pointed out, the irony is striking: if we’re dealing with a disease – a la cancer or diabetes or high blood pressure – why do we treat it with . . . faith? Glaser recognizes the contradiction. She writes about certain medications used to curtail problematic drinking, with only three brands approved by the FDA. Although these pills are not outright forbidden by AA, personal stories indicate that usage is largely chagrined by their membership.

Naturally, anybody will look stupid when speaking about such technical subjects without a doctoral degree hanging above their heads. So it’s best to quote the experts. A neuroscientist named Marc Lewis took up the study so as to understand what he suffered from in his youth. His 2015 book, The Biology of Desire, is subtitled Why Addiction is Not a Disease. “The brain disease model,” he writes, “is supported by two pillars that have proven rather difficult to crack. First is the corpus of evidence that the brain really does change with addiction.” The other is the “control issue. Addicts really do seem to have lost control.” But Lewis goes on to explain that behavior is strengthened every time an action is repeated. “The kind of brain changes seen in addiction also show up when people become absorbed in a sport, join a political movement, or become obsessed with their sweetheart or their kids.” He then describes the brain’s function of a “feedback loop”: the more we humans do something, the more likely it is that we’ll do it again; the synapses grow stronger. “Addiction,” he writes, “may be a frightful, devastating, and insidious process of change in our habits and our synaptic patterning. But that doesn’t make it a disease.”

For Dr. Dodes, addiction is inextricably linked to compulsiveness; Dr. Lewis, similarly, believes that it must return to its place as the bedfellow of psychology and personal experience. So far so good. And then the unexplainable: Why is it that American Vietnam vets, hooked on heroin in the oversea swamps, instantly stopped after coming back home – some 90% of them? Same with cigarettes: when the Surgeon General required warning labels on packs of smokes – 1970 and 1985 – smoking decreased dramatically. Again with hospital patients on a daily diet of morphine: they never seek the stuff out upon being discharged. If the disease is permanent, unmalleable, and indeed progressive – why does this happen? With alcohol, many studies show that the bulk of people who drink excessively can and do regress into moderate consumption, as stated by every source I’ve listed here.

That gets us back to Alcoholics Anonymous, the “12 Steps,” and Dr. Dodes, who appeared on Tom Woods’s radio show to discuss. Dodes, better at crunching numbers than I’ll ever be, ascertains that the amount of people who attend AA and stay sober remains within 5-10%. Not that great. As anyone who looks at AA will tell you, it’s extremely difficult to investigate a place that keeps no names, no numbers, and guesses no measure of accomplishment. Retyping the key word: anonymous. As well, the definition of “success” is a conundrum; one can often hear it said as “I’m not drunk today” and/or “prolonged sobriety.” Doesn’t help much either. Finally, Glaser reports that The Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches ranks AA as 38th out of 48 methods. At the top were those that encourage – imagine this – “motivational enhancement,” i.e., empowerment.

At this point I should confirm the reader’s guess: I have been arrested for breaking the drinking laws, afterwards coerced into AA. Moreover, a recent episode (I won’t detail here) in my life saw me not just inside the meetings, but also another drug treatment flock, to whom I was to bring said-signatures to.

Surely it has been seen: scores of AA goers who, when the meeting is over, dart to the table that holds their court cards, snatch them up, bolt for the exit. This scene is pathetic in its mechanicalness, labeled for what it really is: obedience training. The people-in-the-magic-black-robes don’t give a fuck about you, your drinking habits, or how many dumpsters you piss on whilst making your way home. They want to watch the poodle jump, and then come back for a second or third round. This is why I theorize (and it’s a theory without evidence) that the State knows that AA is a failure – similar to “rehabilitative” prisons – and thereafter sends you onto a hamster wheel so they can watch you fall off and on again, all while cashing their checks. Likewise with the Rehab Industry, that, like a friendly casino, wants you to come back and blow another $30,000.

Nevertheless, the circular self-assurance is heard everywhere: “You’re obviously in here for some reason.” The thinking goes, if one faces the wrath of the law, even for something minor, it is still evidence of a disease, and thus justly warrants AA attendance. This is facile reasoning, a presumption that all laws are righteous by their mere existence, or that AA is the only dignified place to be. Interestingly, if that line of thought is pursued, we would immediately notice parallels with Mr. Wilson’s case: when it was discovered that Wilson was experimenting with LSD, the AA board of directors felt themselves “violently opposed” to it. As a result, he removed himself from his position. That’s not much different than getting in trouble with your mother: someone of authority has figured that you have broken a rule, and punishments follow. (It’s unclear what might have been the outcome if Wilson refused, but with you and me, fellow drinker, things are more predictable.)

Drudging through the meetings, I twice had unexpected encounters with admitted pedophiles (they kind of blurted it out, and I’ll forego recollection of the details). This is when I engaged in some Googling, book-collecting, note-taking. I came across a project by Monica Richardson, a Los Angeles activist and longtime AA member, who had become disillusioned after learning about the amount of crime taking place between and beyond those walls. The name of her film-in-development was The 13th Step, a euphemism for the process in which seasoned members prey and take advantage of newer, younger, usually female attendees. Monica and I had a phone chat, and she promised to invite me when the documentary debuted at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, April of last year.

Her investigation is horrifying. The stories, heartbreaking. The numbers, staggering. And the absence of accountability – consternating. Monica once told me that she’s received calls and letters from “hundreds” who’ve attested to sexual assault and other forms of abuse. Dual revelations are revealed when reviewing her work. 1): The State, all states, are sending violent criminals – as well as convicted sex offenders – into these rooms. (I haven’t seen a number for how many, but Monica’s petition claims that 150,000 people – altogether – are sentenced every year. Check out this video for some chills.) And 2): Every time AA is sued as a part of a subsequent crime, a judge dismisses them as counter-defendant.

Compare this to the judgement just made by a Colorado court, ruling that four victims of the Aurora mass shooting owe Cinemark, owner of the theater where the massacre happened, $700,000. Why: they tried going ahead with a lawsuit, but the judge had already determined that there was no way the cinema could have possibly known that a psychotic gunman was coming to do what he did. Costs are now authorized for reimbursement.

How can this be said of Alcoholics Anonymous, which must know that the State is sequestering predators inside their rooms? If AA is so beneficial and voluntary, why aren’t their groups ejecting these people? Does voluntarism not entail the authority to regulate “their own” and maintain a safe setting? (It’s upsetting that libertarians typically grant a positively-charged definition, coming together, instead of the negatively-charged, going apart.) I haven’t heard of a single occurrence. (Though I’m sure I’ll hear someone tell me about the time they . . . .) The scum who prey on women – and men – who are at their weakest are as despicable as those who let it go on unchallenged. And the logic follows that, since addiction is a “disease,” and drinking could be the same as touching kids or preying on the downtrodden, they can all be equally summarized as symptoms of Disease Theorem. After all, “It’s not my fault . . . . I’m powerless against the disease.” Personal responsibility sold separately. Though again, “everybody is welcome.” As the Big Book says: “We want to stay out of this controversy. We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct. We all have sex problems. We’d hardly be human if we didn’t. What can we do about them?”(I’ll apologize for lumping child molestation together with what I think is inappropriate womanizing . . . they’re not equal in their immorality. The point is that the courts sentence all sorts of predators, and it’s hard to know who is who.) What else to expect from a program that has as its “4th Step” a requirement to make a “fearless moral inventory” – which translates into divulging everything personal to someone who is not a professional, not beholden to any legal repercussions, and could very well be a deranged psychopath? “But,” warns the holy text, “they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone all their life story.” The emphasis is Mr. Wilson’s.

Speaking of whom, our favorite drunken saint likely set the standard, as he was the original “13th Stepper.” Taking advantage of his newfound veneration, Wilson became a “compulsive womanizer” who was “imaginably adulterous.” It wouldn’t be difficult to envision a druid, immersed in this interesting literature, getting the hint that following in such big footsteps leads one to the top of even bigger mountains (if you know what I mean). When will AA become opinionated on this controversy? Seems tricky, as another “A” is always important in this debate: amorphousness, which is all the more reason for the courts to change direction. Although it’s vital to read the “Ninth Tradition” in full: “AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.” Directly responsible. There, grounds for solicitude.

(Monica ends her film by listing several alternative treatment programs: SMART Recovery; HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol; LifeRing Secular Recovery; SOS: Secular Organization for Sobriety; Women for Sobriety; Moderation.org. To the extent that these programs are recognized by the courts, I am unsure.)

An additional grievance came to mind during my stretch with the Cultocracy: mandatory lying. When someone who disbelieves in Alcoholics Anonymous is ordered there regardless, and also told to secure a “sponsor,” it should be realized that a lie must be given to that prospect, convincing others of a commitment that won’t be sincere. As successfully argued in a Shasta County courtroom, Barry Hazle is correct: A.A. is a religious gathering, and for the State to force someone to abide is for the State to violate their First Amendment rights. As a secularist before a libertarian, I am hereby utterly appalled. We can’t all be Zeligs, thank you kindly.

The word “God” is almost endlessly replete throughout the Big Book, along with such descriptivism as “Spirt of the Universe” and “Father of Light” and “Creative Intelligence.” This theistic language isn’t necessarily foolish. I am an agnostic, not an atheist (it’s a big universe out there). If troubled individuals get strength in the belief of a “higher power,” it seldom perturbs me. When it does, however, is after insisting that I, or anyone else, must also hold a faith, in direct violation of my belief that I needn’t hold any such thing. Mr. Hazle is one of a number of rewarded plaintiffs who feel the same way. In 2006, paroled on a meth charge, this combative atheist was sent back to prison for refusing to attend “12 Step” meetings. He then sued, contending that his First Amendment rights were violated. He’s now a happy millionaire. (Other courts in the nation are waking up to this too.)

Wait! “It’s spiritual, not religious.” More of the elastic locution. A basic definition of religion is: “A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.” This fits tightly with AA and its adherence to the “12 Steps,” the doctrine that disavows the idea that a “real alcoholic” can ever become a moderate drinker. It is a faith in the conduit to “God” – the group, which is the only thing that can save you. Precisely why the fourth chapter of the Big Book is “We Agnostics.” Bill Wilson had the foresight to know there would be disbelievers: “Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God.” Religious? Cultish? Aren’t they often said the same: religious-cult? A clue is provided by the divine writ: “It is seldom wise to approach an individual, who still smarts from our injustice to him, and announce that we have gone religious.” Emphasis mine, but unneeded to determine whether or not this program is secular.

Anyways, I was made to frequent a number of meetings a week, then show those signatures at my substance abuse class. Sure. No worries. Besides, the homeless population is more than willing to give a scribble in exchange for pocket change. I’d then have to tell the facilitators that I had that “sponsor,” and was in regular contact with him. But this can’t happen with honesty: any frank criticism of the Cultocracy would impede such a compact (not to mention wasting everybody’s time). As they say in AA, “fake it until you make it.” Accordingly, this produces an imperious falsity, at least via omission of one’s true thoughts.

Some members probably endorse other programs, but as a monolith that has a headquarters in New York, they don’t advocate for it; they simply hold no position on the matter, exactly as their mantra proscribes. Glaser asked the General Service Office, AA’s administrative HQ, their stance on this. The reply: “Alcoholics Anonymous neither endorses nor opposes other approaches, and we cooperate widely with the medical profession.” As already detailed, the last part is a redundancy, seeing as “12-Step” programs are part and parcel of America’s medical monstrosity. If we want the courts to recognize alternative treatments, it is up to us to protest and sue until these things are granted.


This mobilized pushback against the Cultocracy has upset a few people. (For more muckraking, check out Orange-Papers.org, a longtime compiler of anti-AA articles; Stinkin-Thinkin.com, where I’ve borrowed a couple of these pictures; and LeavingAA.com, Mrs. Richardson’s blog). Truth is, it’s hard to be anodyne when criticizing AA, because it is a faith, and faiths – especially communitarian types that provide friends and lovers and free coffee and occasionally seeks to remedy a serious condition – hits the next person right in the liver. Still, this has to be done. AA is hardly as magnanimous they would like it to be. Every time the institution is challenged, an AA devotee screams: “What about those who are getting a benefit from it!?” A guess: they’re afraid that their skills of proselytization – the 12th Step – lack refinement. Thus, the State needs to be involved. It’s devastating to admit that your faith is incorrect, let alone harmful. But these are the same charlatans who would say, “It doesn’t work for everyone,” and then five minutes later, seeing a drunk on the street, ask him: “Wanna go to a meeting?” It’s not a one-size-fits-all. Except when it is.

Nearly lastly. Although this is a bit heavy-handed, I don’t mean to say that AA is full of cult members who’re there for dumb or egregious reasons. Certainly there’s decent people just trying to get help and to help others. In fact, I want to stress that AA is in no way comparable to bureaucratic cults like Scientology, with its central authorities and black-sites and “specialized knowledge” and the fear that apostates have of going public. If one were to “fall down the rabbit hole” with AA, they likely wouldn’t go a foot below the surface. It’s the function of the program, which mimics or acts cultishly, usually amateurishly but always dogmatically – that is the concern. Indeed, I’m not even saying that it’s sinister to use AA as a dating site.

No. My venom disgorges from the anger of having to violate my own principles, namely deceiving certain persons who want to hear me confess to “what step I’m on,” knowing that my heart isn’t in it, but doing so for the sake of severe consequences. It comes from befriending Mrs. Richardson, moved by her film, and concluding that “anonymity” is extremely dangerous when combined with the inordinate amount of sex offenders court-ordered into those rooms. And then the bad science of Disease Theorem, taken as gospel throughout the land. When technology and medicine become outdated, we do replace them. Kind of like the world that is free of reinforced religiosity. That too will be coming.

Sure enough, the best thing that can be said about this institution is that you don’t have to “work it.” If your only intention is to jerk off the judge, then AA is the perfect place for you. Find a big meeting, sit in the back, put the headphones in, drink coffee – perhaps spiked – and zone-out.

And yet Alcoholics Anonymous, with its Siamese twin, the “12 Steps” (you really can’t separate the two; they were both created in the same 1939 book), needs myriad reforms, and us activists need precisely zero permission to document and bring them to the attention of 

others. However, as I’ve just repeated for a thousandth time, now appended with an actual justification for AA’s continued existence, I don’t wish to close down all the rooms or convince everyone that they’re always detrimental. I simply request that, if we are going to have courts that send people to rehab, and if rehab centers want to be brought into the 21st Century, other programs and better science ought to be accepted. We’re getting there, slowly. In the meantime, people can continue to “volunteer” where they wish, maintain sobriety, and take comfort in knowing that so many in the State and Rehab Industry have milked the sacred dead cow for so long.

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Kevin M. Patten's picture
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Comments

Samarami's picture

Haven't read the whole essay as yet, Kevin -- you spent a goodly amount of time on it and did your homework nicely. Glad to see you posting. But I've gotta be up and on the bike (82, still biking to work, not because I need the work, but need the bike ride).

I'm one of the "old timers" around AA. Over 50 years, with a substantial number of "slips" -- over 35 years and counting since last drink. Haven't been to a meeting in over a year, but that's not because AA is going downhill. It's because I'm gettin' too damned old.

AA is perhaps the last of the truly libertarian organizations. There are no rules, no leaders -- lots of parasites (folks who take the "12 steps" as their own, then make it appear we are part of "them"). It's probably one of the factors that eventually led me to STR. I had never heard the term "libertarian" in the 50's, when I first began attending (from lockup). It's nobody's business if or when I go back to drinking, and that's why the Tripey's and all the naysayers (most of whom have their own brand of "recovery" to sell) are so vociferous against AA.

It's like reading "anti-libertarian" garbage on mainstream media. They have no real idea what they're talking about. And, no sense arguing with neocon and/or leftist anti-libertarians -- they know everything. And that is that. To them, the idea of no central authority is cult-like.

And, as to the religion thing, there are now many, many agnostic groups about for those who tend to wear their feelings on their sleeve against the religious drunks. In the old days, religion was the "cure". Since day one I merely sidestepped the religion and religious lamentations concomitant with many in recovery. When they say their out-loud prayers I count heads.

Dissing religion is stupidity personified.

Hope you continue to crank us out some good essays.

Sam

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Kevin, this seems an awful lot of vitriol in order to establish the undeniable facts that a.) no one should ever be forced into AA -- or any other recovery program -- by the State or anyone else, and; b.) AA could use some more prominent competition.
 
Otherwise, it's a good essay.
 
This was my take on the subject from a while back:
 
http://strike-the-root.com/voluntaryist-vitriol-anarchic-attacks-against...
 
 

Kevin M. Patten's picture

In fact Alex, your articles prompted mine. This essay was finished MONTHS ago. But I had to take out all references to yours, and then BEG (like one does with all publishers) to have it put up. 
So...since you agree that nobody should be forced into AA -- but that AA meetings by and large have no problem with people being forced to enjoy their company -- we don't disagree on much. 
Thanks for weighing in. 
Cheers. 

Samarami's picture

First of all, use of the term "cult" is the prerogative of the beholder. If your group differs in doctrine or litany from my group, then your group is a cult. In my humble opinion.

Anybody reading these words must definitely be considered as leaning toward what the dictionary defines as a cult. (I'm ashamed to admit, however, that STR didn't even make the "fake news" list).

But Kevin, most who know anything -- anything about AA -- will stop reading upon seeing this:

    "...But this is mainly for those who are here voluntarily..."

The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. There can be no (legal) "mandated attendance" -- any more than there can be "mandated attendance" over at Catholic Catechism. Of course the Catholics are authoritarians, and would probably not complain if judges or appointees claiming jurisdiction in such matters would start sending their convicted drunks to Catechism. They'd probably welcome them with open arms, and gleefully sign attendance sheets.

The problem with AA is that it is pure libertarian. You and I live in a world full of people who do not understand or even process the concept of liberty and freedom. Therefore, you began your essay with the mentality that there can be such thing as mandated, or involuntary attendance at AA. Which is as understandable -- as it is universal.

I have a standard opening statement whenever I chair AA meetings:

    If you are here with a paper from someone claiming jurisdiction to require your attendance at this meeting, please pass all such attendance sheets up to me now before we start the meeting. I'll sign them, and you will then be free to leave. You are welcome to stay for the meeting. But you should understand that the only requirement for membership in AA is a desire to stop drinking. Nobody has authority to require your involuntary attendance here.

Your essay could be shortened by 80% with that understanding.

Sam

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Sam, I love that opening statement for an AA meeting chair.  That is pure genius.  In fact, if you don't mind, I'm saving it.  :-)

Kevin M. Patten's picture

Sam, I really do appreciate you opening your AA meetings with that line. In my experience, that's very, very rare. I've tried to have people just sign my court cards beforehand, and while that can happen pretty often with the guys smoking outside, never have I heard a meeting faciliator act so libertarian. Until 95 percent of AA congregations say "LOOK...we don't want you here...we're not signing courtcards anymore," I will continue to view AA as an involuntary organization. I theorize it's because they want more people who are quick to throw a buck around. Also, as I say in the article, plenty of state-sanctioned health programs include AA....maybe somebody is worried about losing their subsidies. We dont know because their HQ remains so damn quiet. 
"Dissing religion is stupidity personified"........I agree. I was just heeding the word of God, and therefore slaughtered a ram in His honor, afterwards sprinkling its blood in the right corner of the temple, just before scolding someone for eating shellfish and then watching homosexuals getting stoned to death.
I kid, I kid. Religion is totally rational. 

Kevin M. Patten's picture

How the hell do you break up paragraphs on here?? I still can't figure that out. What's the secret?

Jim Davies's picture

Try hitting "Enter" twice, to make a para break. Doing it once merely starts a new line.

Glock27's picture

Thanks ever so much for that bit of editorial advice. Life saver-in effect-for me. I have never been able to figure out how to drop all those little blue poop trails of reference, I guess it's because I am somewhat lazy, but I would greatly appreciate it if you would share that piece of information. It would be wildly helpful. Thanks.

Jim Davies's picture

Alas, you've got me there. What is a "blue poop trail of reference"? Can't recall ever seeing blue poop.

Samarami's picture

    '...Until 95 percent of AA congregations say "LOOK...we don't want you here...we're not signing courtcards anymore," I will continue to view AA as an involuntary organization...'

Kevin, I believe you've detected the pulse of and identified an underlying diagnosis as to why the "libertarian-movement" has experienced difficulty getting off the ground and going anywhere. I'll attempt to explain by using the AA example that you've so colorfully explored in your essay and pinpointed by your personal experience. AA exemplifies the one truly libertarian exercise that I'm aware of. There could be others of which I'm unaware.

Individualist thinking in a collectivist world is virtually unheard of -- unthinkable. You can witness bickering and squabbling and "divorce proceedings" among participants right here on this supposedly "libertarian" forum over trivial detritus like definitions for and existence of "law" and/or "rights", etc. The term "libertarian orthodoxy" was mentioned -- an oxymoron of oxymoron's in my book.

AA fits the libertarian model. Lots of quarreling and arguing over nothing definitive. And religion. Religion formed the backbone of AA, or so it seemed at the time. But "they" (treatment centers, rehabs, organized religions) have nothing to do with us, and we have nothing to do with "them". One would think that libertarianism, by the nature of the definition, would absolve all squabbling and dialectic polemics. Not so. Bill W was quoted as defining early AA as one gigantic squabble.

Long before forums such as STR and the internet I stood in AA Intergroup meetings and chairman's workshops belaboring your above quoted argument. I would pound tables and insist that "we" should abstain from signing court attendance papers. That would elicit some-are-sicker'n-other looks so common in AA -- particularly after the influx of intellectual "treatment center" graduate types. Some would always counter that chairmen should hold court papers until the end of the meeting before signing, to insure that the parolee "would-get-the-whole-treatment".

It took years of cyber-fellowship here and other anarchist forums to turn my authoritarianistic mentality around. I eventually stumbled upon an unknown libertarian/anarchist writer, the late Delmar England, who wrote one un-acclaimed essay, then up and died. "Mind and Matters" was published posthumously.

At times it is AA slogans that present solutions. I learned "live-and-let-live" is the only path to freedom. For me. Along with "one-day-at-a-time". My sponser of soon-to-be 40 years once took me aside at an AA clubhouse (after bailing me out of "treatment" for the n-teenth time) and said, "Sam, all those slogans over there on the wall are important. But there is one you should ignore. It does NOT apply to you: "Think, Think, Think". Because, for you, that one always seems to translate into "Drink, Drink, Drink".

So, with this I'll quit thinking and leave y'all alone. Sam

Jim Davies's picture

So Sam, in your opinion "libertarian orthodoxy" is an oxymoron. Really?
 
You also wrote 'I learned "live-and-let-live" is the only path to freedom.' That phrase is not at all a bad summary of libertarian orthodoxy, and you say that it's exclusively so.
 
Which is it, then? - an oxymoron, or the only path to freedom?
 

Samarami's picture

To me, anybody I suspect to be promoting a "libertarian orthodoxy" appears to be simply acting out her latent desire to be in charge. It is my prerogative ("right" if you please) to so believe. I sometimes wish I were wrong (cognitive dissonance with respect to you, since I've known and admired much of your writing and conversations for years). Perhaps I am. That, too, is my prerogative. Being wrong, that is.

Because I believe the libertarian philosophy allows one to believe what she has come to believe without need to subscribe to a list of libertarian "rules". Obviously, when one subscribes to the libertarian way of life, s/he will not continue to aggress, insult, or defraud. That rather comes with the package. But liberty is liberty. S/he need not check her brain or her personality or her philosophy in at the door.

"Live-and-let-live" appears to be the only viable path to freedom -- for me. It might not be so for you. That is your prerogative, as long as you understand that folks like I might see folks like you as innate managers and controllers.

But please remember this, Jim my dear friend: the world revolves around MY belly-button, not yours. My world. Your world revolves around YOUR belly-button, whether you admit it or not.

The advantage this philosophy offers me -- right up to and alongside "live-and-let-live" -- is lots of freedom. It is not necessary for me to expend emotional angst worrying about what you think of me or how you might phrase some imagined insult toward me.

You're much more concerned about your affairs than you are about mine. Sam

Jim Davies's picture

So, beliefs and principles are purely relative and subjective. What seems to you "the only path to freedom"  might be quite different to someone else. Do I read you correctly?
 
If so, would the same be true about ethics, for example, since they derive from beliefs? To you, live-and-let-live is your chosen, guiding principle and therefore murder is, to you, immoral. But to someone else, live-and-control is the preferred principle, and to him, should someone decline to be controlled, it would be entirely ethical to kill him. All is relative and subjective, yes?
 
By the way, in your wholly relativistic universe, what definitive meaning, if any, do you attach to the word "freedom", as you used it in the quoted phrase? - or is that, too, open to an infinitude of defintions?
 
 

Samarami's picture
    "...beliefs and principles are purely relative and subjective..."

We're both here, are we not? And most of us are here to discuss and share and sum up succinctly as practical, "beliefs and principles". Some are more succinct than others.

Most of us are here, Jim, to discuss and share beliefs and principles without attempt to impose "libertarian orthodoxy" upon other participants at STR. Not to bicker with each other over "relativism" or other "ism's". A few months back there arose quite a vivid exchange regarding "circumcision". It ended well. It motivated me to research further. I found myself moving a ways to the left -- or the right -- wherever a less opinionated stance leans.

You've become "hard shell" with age. As I see it, with you it has become "...my way or the highway..." -- literally. If I don't totally agree with your concept, for instance, of "freedom", you feel it incumbent upon yourself to petition the administrator of this forum site to "ban" or somehow eject me from participation here. Then you appear resentful if he doesn't rise to the bait.

I believe, for instance, that I can be free. Here. Today. At this very moment. I'm 82. Don't have a lot of time to fool around about it. "If it don't happen now, it ain't a-gonna".

You appear to believe that there must be a large amount of "orthodoxy" to assimilate by me (or anybody else) before any of us can become truly free. With you providing the orthodoxy. I believe you have the "right" (I prefer "choice") to hold and expound that, just as I have the "right" to challenge you on it; but the consequence of squabbling is the attrition of major participants.

So I'd better quit here, while we still have a few on board. Sam

Jim Davies's picture

Let the record show that you did not answer the questions. You don't have to do so, of course; but the omission is very significant.
 
It means that you, who write here on a freedom site so profusely and so often, decline to tell readers what definition you attach to the word "freedom."
 
It means that you decline to explain why a subjective belief in tolerance ("live and let live") is in any sense better or superior to a belief in rule ("live and control").
 
Hence it means that you've provided no basis for distinguishing between good and evil, or even for defining the term "evil." And yet (as you note) you are still "here", on a site at whose mast head is the phrase "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root."
 
You're a nice guy, Sam. Your response to Kevin Patten's article, with which you obviously disagreed passionately, was a model of courtesy and restraint. But you are not up to the job of striking at the root of evil, for you cannot coherently identify (or at least, have not identified) the target. You're out of your depth, as I suggested recently in another thread. That is not BTW a criticism; all of us come eventually to the limit of our intellectual abilities, and I clearly recall how and when I met my own.
 
What's important is that we don't then pretend we haven't.

Glock27's picture

Sam...I have always liked you the day I stumbled into this world. Your remark here is beautifully laid out, simple, straight as an arrow flying into the wind. Remarks I have always trusted and felt safe with because of the honesty which exudes from each carefully chosen word. Your words represent safety, and gives the sense of the freedom to be with you. Ten years my senior and you teach me so much. Thank you for being here, thank you for your time honored wisdom, thank you for being a giant among the, uh, hm-m-m, well thank you Sam. I deeply appreciate what you have to say and giving me the freedom to define freedom for myself.

Jim Davies's picture

So you need Sam's permission before you can define what you mean by "freedom"? If so, the poison has penetrated deeper than I thought.
 
From your bio, Glock27, I see that life has treated you roughly. You have a painful back condition, and you suffered the agony of trying to teach kids in a government school who wanted not to be taught.
 
I'm sorry about the former and wish I could help, but about the latter, why did you continue? You were delivering good value, I'm sure; more value than you received in pay. Therefore, you were making government a net gift. Why? Does your concept of "freedom" extend to the freedom to assist the foremost enemy of freedom? Or does it define the word (as many do) to include government as a promoter or guardian of freedom? Is your definition, perhaps, infinitely elastic?
 
Perhaps you belong, like Sam apparently does, to the Charles Lutwidge Dodgson school of language, in which words mean whatever the user says they mean. But he was an Oxford man, and through his Humpty Dumpty character he was, of course, kidding. I fear that you two are not.
 
 
 
 
 

mishochu's picture

This guy certainly doesn't need Jim Davies' permission to define freedom for himself.

It appears that Jim Davies is so concerned with everyone getting on his "freedom academy" and adhering to its syllabus that he defines freedom for himself as when enough other people (external to himself) accept its tenets then he will be free. This goal is tantamount to dying an enslaved (or not fully free) individual.

He refuses to accept the premise that other people will to be free (mentally/internally, where it counts according to some) without waiting for the rest of society (a sadly unlikely goal).

Perhaps these people really are free, particularly, free to ignore Jim Davies.

Jim Davies's picture

Quite right, Mishochu, in your first line. He certainly does not, and nor does anyone else.
 
But he, like you and quite a few others who comment here, certainly needs to get his head together. The Academy will help, I hope; but it's built upon a huge resource of works by scholars far better qualified than I am.  A short sampling appears here.
 
Your second paragraph is nonsense.
 
Your third is false, as a very simple bit of homework would have shown you. An internal sense of liberty is marvelous, but cannot be compared to the practical liberty of a society rid of government. The goal of achieving one is readily achievable once the brain is in gear, as above.

Will Groves's picture

I stand by my assertion that "Jim Davies" is an AI-trollbot.  A real person who wanted to promote freedom in the world would recognize that perfection is the enemy of the good, and that this focus on purity (by its definition and no-one else's) among freedom-loving people is totally counterproductive.
 
Also, you gotta love the programmers who added the spambot code to "Jim Davies."  Has ANYBODY here been to that site in the last 2 years??  The one time I visited, the premise of the site stunk like an old-school chain letter gimmick.   In the real world, exponential growth of freedom isn't fostered when anyone who strays 0.000000001% from perfection is shot down.  A bot might not "know" that, and more importantly, it wouldn't "care."
 
I don't have enough data to figure out what triggers cause "Jim Davies" user-ban-request subprogram to go into action and start sending emails to Rob, but I congratulate Paul Bonneau and Alex Knight on their accomplishment.  In any case, kudos to everyone keeping the transistors in "Jim Davies" hot.  With a little luck, one of those puppies will fry soon.

Jim Davies's picture

Just in case there is anyone remaining on Strike the Root's Comment section still interested in striking the root of evil rather than those attempting to strike the root of evil, I'll remind them that the concern about "old-school chain letter gimmicks" was expressed and answered a long time ago.
 
The STRticle is here.

Jim Davies's picture

About that impressive term "AI trollbot", Will.  I enjoy haunting sites like that of The Guardian, which boasts that it is open to all viewpoints but is widely regarded as a Leftist stronghold, and have been unjustly accused there of being a troll (though not yet of being an automated one.)
 
So I had thought a "troll" was someone who invades a forum with a particular and advertised basis or viewpoint, to disrupt it by expressing the opposite. Would you agree with that?
 
If so it follows that an open site (like The Guardian's) cannot have any trolls on board. A closed one, on the other hand, may. One example would be someone who argues that paying income tax is a noble and patriotic duty, on a site such as the Simply Schiff Club, whose purpose is to expose the illegal nature of that alleged tax and share ways to avoid it.
 
Another example would be someone who invades Strike the Root, whose purpose is to advance liberty by striking at government as the root of evil, and argue that government is a necessary institution or that it cannot possibly be abolished.
 
If we agree on that definition of a "troll", then alas there are several here on STR; Paul Bonneau for example, who openly denied the very core of libertarian philosophy by denying that anyone has any rights; Alex Knight, who subsequently did likewise; Samarami, who cannot or will not define what "freedom" means or why one ethical principle is better than another, etc etc ad nauseam.
 
Now, several of these may just be confused, rather than deliberately disruptive; it's hard to judge. But one thing is certain; I am 100% in favor of the purpose of this web site, and therefore am the very opposite of a troll. Your apology would be welcome.
 
 
 

Glock27's picture

Ah! cum on Will Groves. Jim can't be that bad is he. I think he is just tryin to do right. I think of him kinda like a hall monitor. You remember those. I think it is kinda nice theres someone willing to try an keep things straight.

Jim Davies's picture

Congratulations, Will, you won the prize! - for the most lurid expression of loathing in the recent torrent of detestation by the squalid bunch of pseudo libertarian whiners and wannabe psychoanalysts here. It seems to have abated following Keven Patten's sobering and hilarious comment yesterday, so I took the chance to look over the lot of them, and yours was head and shoulders above the rest.

Your success was all the more remarkable for being unprovoked; I cannot recall having done you harm - unless you count the question I left with you recently on another thread: about how you can (a) deplore the effect of robots on society while (b) earning a living by designing more of them. Yes, perhaps that was a bit cheeky.

You would have faced stiffer competition had not Alex Knight stood aloof above this contest, for he is a professional writer of horror fiction and is very good at it; but he did, so you didn't, and so you won fair and square.

Two of the highlights were your shrinking of the difference between libertarians and others by a factor of a hundred billion, and your coining of that phrase about frying my transistors. That was a masterpiece, and deserves an entry in the Compendium of Contemporary Curses and Maledictions - perhaps in the form "May your brain be fried in canola oil and its transistors pop loudly one by one."

It reminds me of the scene in Hannibal, where Doctor Lecter seats his sedated victim for dinner, surgically removes the top of his skull, slices off portions of his brain and sautées them for an appetizer in a skillet over a table-top fondue burner. Except that I think he used butter instead of canola oil, perhaps with a little garlic.

Be that as it may, I have great pleasure in awarding you the Order of the Black Rosette. I hope you'll print out the image, trim the paper with scissors and wear the result on your lapel when you go to work at your robot factory.

 

Jim Davies's picture

I was hoping, Mishochu, that someone else would point out your discourtesy to Glock27 when you referred to him just as "this guy" - but since nobody has, I will.
 
By doing that, you behaved like an ill-mannered lout.
 
The opinions he expressed were deplorable, and I responded by rebutting them; but I took care not to direspect him as a person. You took no such care. You should, therefore, offer him a public apology; ad-hominem attacks have no place in civilized discourse. His chosen name is "Glock27".

mishochu's picture

You should go look up the definition of an online troll. It has no bearing on having "oppositional views" but is rather related to sowing discord. If Glock27 is male he is "this guy" (or that guy). I'd imagine he didn't take offense or he would've mentioned it. I also imagine he doesn't need you as his knight in shining armor (particularly if he's comfortable with glocks).

You can ask for all the apologies you want. Boy you are amusing. With your charm wit and empathetic nature I can't imagine why you don't convert all commenters on the Guardian website.

Jim Davies's picture

A distinction with very little difference. A troll infiltrates a forum with a particular view, and sows discord. How? - by opposing that view.
 
Regardless of Glock27's tolerance, you did behave like an ill-mannered lout. That you now refuse to apologize doubles the repugnance of your conduct. 

mishochu's picture

I guess next you'll need to go look up the definition of ad hominem : )

Jim Davies's picture

Sorry, the STR software duplicated my post.

Jim Davies's picture

Nope. There are plenty of examples of that on this very page. Yours was one: you disrespected a fellow commenter by ignoring his name and calling him "this guy."  You then compounded it by refusing to apologize, and now by attempting to deflect attention from your rudeness.
 
If I were to call you an ill-mannered lout, I might be accurate but that would be ad-hominem; it would disparage your character, which may be pretty hard to fix. So I don't; I merely point out that on this occasion, you are writing like an ill-mannered lout.  You've shown no interest yet in fixing that, but you could.

Kevin M. Patten's picture

*Yawn. Stretch. Crack* 
 
WHAT.....you guys are still here?!?!
 
Well, at least you're constructively discussing the merits of my arti....
 
HUH?? What in the name of an unholy fuck is going on here?
 
BUH GAWD~!!!! The carnage! The madness!
 
That's it....you're all hereby sentenced to 30 days of Libertarians Anonymous. 

Jim Davies's picture

Ha!

Glock27's picture

Damned Mishochu yous is xactly rit. I isn't Ohfended. An yep, dat guy is purfectly o.k.s wit me. an yep. I doez lub my Glocks.

Glock27's picture

Hey. Thanks Jim, but honestly I don't carry no offense, not after what I have gone though on this site.

Jim Davies's picture

You are an example to us all of tolerance and patience. Or of a thick skin - a valuable asset here.
 
So you served government all your working life and only then discovered the libertarian alternative; that explains it. I hope the QuitGov site is useful when you encounter younger, former colleagues.

Glock27's picture

Well Jim, I am making a wild guess that you may not remember me, or perchance you really do. Maybe two years back we had some sharp words and one of us made specific threats. My absence for reflection has matured as much as a 72 year old man can reflect. But micro-aggression or full blown aggressions are simply not worth it. Simply respect one mans position Yea or Nea and move on. A kind remark seems to be reasonable, or care in crafting ones words together so as not to stimulate the emotions overflow into the exact opposite of which would not be becoming the Liberty and freedom. My concepts of this idea will probably be way off from others perspective, but that is where I am at. A kind of "Live and let live". I try to focus on the Non-aggression principle with any remark I might make, making sure I don't offend anyone. I may be wrong but sites of this nature I believe should be amenable to everyone who participates. I am going to stop here before I make a mistake and undo what I have or am attempting to do. Enjoy the ideas to mold my brand of ideology.

Glock27's picture

Well Jim, thank you for the kind consideration of my condition and my latter ignorance. I too wish you could do something or suggest something to amelorate the condition. Yet, in government education at the time, regardless, I may have persisted in education and yes, gifting government my services because the pay was shit. Had I received a degree in engineering I would have made at least double if not more than what I would have received far greater respect for my profession--my specialization was teaching Special Education.
My concept of freedom did not exist in STR terms until I arrived on this site. I think, if you attend to todays news, Freedom is not a well known concept, especially when people of grandeur, and excellent intellect, destroyed, and looted recently.
Also, please feel free to fear all you wish. That is not of relevance to me as much as the fascinating ideas presented here.

Glock27's picture

Ah geez Sam. I have always been under the impression that AA did not particularly subscribe to a religious perspective, but more of a spiritual aspect, my ignorance there I guess. as I have, to this very day have believed that one (a person) could invoke Budda, the Tao, or the democrat party if they wished. I think they just accepted the idea of a higher power than ourselves without a descriptor, ah poop. I am not an alcoholic, so I really don't know and I guess I have never given it a second thought or I would have researched it. Give me a boost and tell me.
Forever indebt to your wisdom.

Glock27's picture

Sorry. Double posted.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

P.S.  Sam and Kevin:
 
Here's another AA piece I wrote some time ago (Sam, you'll likely recall it).  Enjoy:
 
http://strike-the-root.com/fine-and-functioning-anarchy
 
 

Glock27's picture

Hi Alex (do I have one of your books?), I perfectly understand what you are saying. Sometimes common language is just that, common, and well understood by hundreds of thousands of people. I am familiar with Oxford College, an institution of higher learning. Hope all is well with you and your wagon is on smooth grounds for miles and miles and miles.

Jim Davies's picture

You must be referring to Emory University in Georgia.

Jim Davies's picture

Kevin, please allow me to offer a very minor correction: Oxford is not a "college", as stated. It is a University (and incidentlally a city.)
 
Like its immeasurably superior rival Cambridge, it consists of about 30 affiliated colleges, such as Christ's, Trinity, Baliol, Lady Margaret, etc; see here. In broad outline the University furnishes the laboratories and lectures, appoints the professors and awards the degrees, while each of the colleges provides student accommodation, fellowships, scholarships and tutors.
 
I'll not take sides with or against your thesis, for I'm fortunately not an alcoholic (cheers!) but I was interested indeed to notice that AA has roots in Keswick, in 1908. In a former incarnation I was a Christian, and still believe that the annual Keswick Convention, which I once attended, is possibly the very acme of that religion. Its influence has been profound and worldwide, and now I know it even includes AA, for good or ill. Keswick is a small town on the edge of the most spectacularly beautiful area of England, called the Lake District. If ever you get the chance, pay it a visit. When it's not raining.

Kevin M. Patten's picture

Thank you much Jim. I might get around to correcting that. Hope you enjoyed my rant. 

Jim Davies's picture

Well done. "Internationally prestigious Oxford University" will soothe the most ruffled Oxononian feathers.

D. Saul Weiner's picture

I really must say that I don't understand why the author has seen fit to smear Bill W by including a meme which says that "he takes LSD", like there is something inherently wrong with him for doing so, or by extension, it is wrong for others to do so. LSD and other psychedelics have been, and continue to be confirmed as very beneficial for overcoming addiction, when used in the right setting.

As it happens, Bill W was treated medically with LSD by 2 Candadian doctors, Hoffer and Osmond and received great benefit from his experience. As a matter of fact, Bill W thought it should be added to the AA protocol, but he was overruled by the AA medical board.

Hoffer also treated him with high-dose Niacin, from which he obtained great benefit, as did the other alcoholics he recommended it to. Again, the AA medical board did not support him adding it to their program.

So if the intent was to decry the monopolization of recovery programs with a quasi-religious approach, it makes no sense to denounce Bill W, who actually tried to bring a more holistic approach to AA.

Kevin M. Patten's picture

The meme is no doubt an inarticulate smear. But I wonder what our resident AA proponents think about introducing LSD into the regimen. The point is, far too few people know about that little factoid (as insignificant as it was in my arguments), and we should have a fuller understanding about AA and it's creators. 

Samarami's picture

What the late Bill Wilson did in regard to LSD is his responsibility, not mine. My AA program does not depend upon Bill W or anything he might have said or done. Naysayers will have him convicted of adultery, drinking in secret, drugging -- all kinds of other "evils". Such is the reward of gaining a high level of celebrity in any endeavor. Again, not to affect my AA program -- truth or lies. I'm not his judge, your judge, or anybody else's judge.

John deLaubenfels's picture

The author is carrying a huge chip on his shoulder; why, I cannot guess.  I can't speak for every chapter of AA, but the one my friend attends is nothing like the author's lurid hell.  Nobody crams the 12 steps down anyone else's throats.  My friend describes it as a supportive, extended family.  He's been sober for several years now, after multiple drunken run-ins with the law and ever-longer jail sentences, all pre-AA.
 
Of course no one should be compelled to attend: it's axiomatic among libertarians that no one should be forced to patronize any particular organization.  But the author is not content with making this point; he feels compelled to tar AA with every brush in his palette.  I find the result extremely uncompelling.