Socialists Question Time AKA 'Ask a Socialist' Watch

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Lord Hysteria
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#3541
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#3541
(Original post by Aeolus)
What I was getting at is that generally a libertarian will put their faith in the market, in the same general way that a certain type of socialist will put their faith in the state. There is little to no compromise and it just strikes a me as a little irrational. Of course it is in perhaps the majority of cases influenced by ideology and moral belief, and that is why I fell you can give each a derogatory comparison to religion. Reason dictates the imperfections of each system and I would think one would infer a combination. It is akin to fixing a puncture with only the pump because the new inner tube cannot inflate itself.
With respect, I don't know why you keep on making the assertion that the free-market is some mysterious system where one has to cross-his-fingers and have faith. At least, you're no longer calling it "a perfect system" ... which is a remarkable step-forward. But I thought I made this whole point clear in my last post when I said:

"My second point regarding the overwhelming evidence of the improvements in the standards of living was meant to flow from the above statement regarding the free-market. I was trying to explain my position wrt the free-market and why I think it is beneficial."

There is an enormous amount of literature that indicate that societies that have a free-market tend to have better standards of living, than those with central planning. No "faith" is needed. I wouldn't be arguing for this position if I had to rely on "faith".

I shouldn't really have to acknowledge it and I have never denied it. Well whether inequality is good or bad is a big debate. You obviously think that equality is good in some cases I would just like things to be a little more equal than you would.
I am not sure this means. You're being incredibly vague. But nevermind.

I would endorse a system of rights based on more abstract Rawlsian principles. I reject any deontological conception of rights on the same grounds that most people do.
I think the social contract is as flawed as natural rights, but that's my opinion.

What go you mean by logical? This is all entirely normative. Given previous injustice I feel that society ought to be run via an almagamation of both systems so as to balance the imperfections and attain the most advantageous result according to my own intepretations and conclusions.
Logical means following from A to B to C. It means "making sense" in the usual sense. Logical is simply an adjective. What is normative about that?

Look Alex. You are the person who brought up an injustice - property theft - as some sort of basis for your taxation system. You're the guy who keeps on saying it. You made me think about it for a few days, and then get back to you. When I try to see how "logical" the connection is, I can't seem to make one. How does imposing a tax on everybody on society deal with a historic social injustice? It simply doesn't. You see some injustice in society, you then want to redistribute the wealth, and "social injustice" would appear to justify that. It just doesn't! Syllogistically this is nonsense. So, instead why don't you just say "I want to redistribute wealth" and we'll leave all this malarkey about social injustice alone.

Urgh, yes I got the reference and didn't take it seriously for a reason. I could quite easily compare property rights to slavery. You are born chained to certain areas of the earths surface forbidden to walk upon the others on pain of potentially violent punishment.

...But I don't. Because there are far more reasonable ways to conduct a discussion.
By all means make the comparison that property "rights" is slavery. You may have a point on an abstract level, I suppose, but practically speaking, people aren't forbidden from moving on other people's properties otherwise they wouldn't acquire the capacity to inflict "potentially violent punishment". To be able to do that, you have to trade .

It's a shame you're not taking my reservations seriously. I have seen you compare other TSRians and their systems as being slavish, based on theft etc ... but you clearly can't take criticism yourself! I know you understand what vicarious redemption is, and I am sure you can make the connection of (1) born in sin (2) having to constantly be punished for a crime one never committed etc ... with your tax system as a means of dealing with the "social injustice." I made my point about how on an abstract and practical level it is a repulsive system, and since you don't wish to refute it, I think I'll move on.

No because given the reality it is utterly unrealistic and ridiculous. It is not as simple as evil vs good or anything like that. It is accepting the past and its legacy on the present and trying to rectify any injustice that one perceives according to ones own moral conscience. We disagree on a moral level so it is hardly worth debating the complexities of our economics.
What do you mean by "we disagree on a moral level"? For the umpteenth time, I said I don't like theft and think it is something that ought (and would) be rectified. I am assuming you don't agree with theft? That must surly mean we agree on a moral level with regards to the subject matter? Right.

Moreover, you're idea of justice is flawed. One doesn't "accept the past and present" if one wishes to "rectify any injustice". The idea of justice is *not* accepting land theft. Perhaps, come to think of it, we do have different morals. I disagree with theft, and you don't mind it (if you can get to put in place redistributive taxation on everybody forever).

Yes but I don't really care about all of that. As far as I am concerned the legacy of that orginal iniquty is something that should be addressed. If it means taxing those who are more free than others in society thanks to material wealth also a consequence of the legacy then so be it.

In the same way that I would oppose a hereditary succession of absolute monarchs who have inherited their property legitimately and without force or coercion on their parts. The fact that it is the staus quo means nothing to me.
Yes, you have made it clear that the actual crime is irrelevant to you. It doesn't even matter if it happened.

Out of interest, two questions:

(1) You said, above, "As far as I am concerned the legacy of that orginal iniquty is something that should be addressed". How is it being addressed with your taxation system? I have tried to go through a step-by-step process of discussing justice in terms of land theft, and you don't care about it. So, how do you even begin to try to remedy the problem with such an attitude?

(2) Let's assume there is a family whose family have never stolen any land. You'd be punishing them. Do you care about that when it comes to justice?

I'm sorry it took a long time, I have just dismissed rather alot of it because it simply does not apply. I do not subscribe to any ideas of good/evil justice when it comes righting the wrongs of the past. That is probably because we disagree on a moraly fundamental level. There is not much more to say really :dontknow:
You clearly do "subscribe to any ideas of good/evil justice when it comes righting the wrongs of the past". I have seen you blog about the Vatican and anti-Semitism, and discuss Saddam Hussein and various other things in the religious forum. You accuse several libertarians of being on the side of evil & tyranny for supporting private property despite it's origin. And so, I decide to think about it, and respond in a way that challenges the precept of justice only to be told that good/bad don't matter! I am not sure if I am still debating the famous Aeolus!

Liberty is not my main focus here. Freedom is. I am at perfect liberty to jump out of my bedroom window, flap my arms and fly. Yet I am not free to do so because I do not posess the means. Liberty is overrated.
... in your humble opinion ....

Thats just ribbish. because you only have private property rights when you have a state. It is entirely possible to bypass property and still retain rights to free speech.
We'll discuss this another time. One subject at a time, Alex. Could you deal with the two questions above.
Aeolus
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#3542
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#3542
(Original post by Lord Hysteria)
With respect, I don't know why you keep on making the assertion that the free-market is some mysterious system where one has to cross-his-fingers and have faith. At least, you're no longer calling it "a perfect system" ... which is a remarkable step-forward. But I thought I made this whole point clear in my last post when I said:

No you misunderstand. I was implying that you consider it a perfect, mysterious and sacred system. Evidently you made the concession that it is far from perfect so this point is largely irellevant.

"My second point regarding the overwhelming evidence of the improvements in the standards of living was meant to flow from the above statement regarding the free-market. I was trying to explain my position wrt the free-market and why I think it is beneficial."
Yes and I acknowledged this about two posts ago before countering it with my contention. I do not contend that the market system improves standards of living though I know you would like me to because it is so easy. My point was concerning the evident inequality in society created by our current system and what I feel to be injustice. (I will address your concept of justice below)

There is an enormous amount of literature that indicate that societies that have a free-market tend to have better standards of living, than those with central planning. No "faith" is needed. I wouldn't be arguing for this position if I had to rely on "faith".
Once again you would like me to be arguing to the contrary but I am not.



I will repeat the part of my post which you called vague.
You obviously think that equality is good in some cases I would just like things to be a little more equal than you would.
You cannot simply refute my point about inequality by saying that it is not a bad thing because you are obviously in favour of equality in many respects. (ie: Property Rights)

I would just like things to be a little more equal than you would.

I think the social contract is as flawed as natural rights, but that's my opinion.
How exactly? I will certainly admit that it has its critics but I really do not see how it is as readily refuted as natural rights. In fact, given its abstract nature it dodges many of those refutations.

Logical means following from A to B to C. It means "making sense" in the usual sense. Logical is simply an adjective. What is normative about that?
Because it was not logical in the usual sense. For the most part our points have been value judgements on what ought to be.

Look Alex. You are the person who brought up an injustice - property theft - as some sort of basis for your taxation system.
Perhaps you misunderstand. I consider the distribution of property to be an injustice. There is more to this interpretation than a simplistic conception of right and wrong.

It simply doesn't. You see some injustice in society, you then want to redistribute the wealth, and "social injustice" would appear to justify that. It just doesn't!
In your opinion it doesn't. I happen to believe it does.

Syllogistically this is nonsense.
So is everything you have been saying.

So, instead why don't you just say "I want to redistribute wealth" and we'll leave all this malarkey about social injustice alone.

But that is exactly what I have been saying and what you have been saying. Like I stated above this is all normative. I want to redistribute wealth based upon what I consider to be social injustice. You do not based upon your own interpretation of justice. It is just impossible to say with any logical consistency on the part of yourself that this is wrong


By all means make the comparison that property "rights" is slavery. You may have a point on an abstract level, I suppose, but practically speaking, people aren't forbidden from moving on other people's properties otherwise they wouldn't acquire the capacity to inflict "potentially violent punishment". To be able to do that, you have to trade .
Tht makes no sense. It is the violent coercion that prevents one from being able to move on another persons property without permission. How is that any different from the violent coercion actioned upon an individual right now if they fail to pay taxes without permission?

It's a shame you're not taking my reservations seriously.

Because it is not a serious reservation. You are using and emotive and flawed concept to back up a shoddy point.

But I will play along with a question int he context of your own. Why is it right according to you for society to be able to inherit the unequal distribution of property, but not to inherit responsibility for the inequality?

Do you not agree that rights and responsibility are one and the same?


What do you mean by "we disagree on a moral level"? For the umpteenth time, I said I don't like theft and think it is something that ought (and would) be rectified. I am assuming you don't agree with theft? That must surly mean we agree on a moral level with regards to the subject matter? Right.
Of course we don't agree because we have different conceptions of what theft entails. The fact you are not willing to redistribute property (even in an abstract way) immediately highlights that we disagree on a fundamental level.

Your argument concerning theft is fallacious anyway. You said you were not willing to 'punish' one generation for the 'sins' of the last. Yet you are willing to allow this generation to inherit the distribution of property that was established by means you claim to be against.

At least try and be consistent.


Moreover, you're idea of justice is flawed.
This proves my point.

One doesn't "accept the past and present" if one wishes to "rectify any injustice". The idea of justice is *not* accepting land theft. Perhaps, come to think of it, we do have different morals. I disagree with theft, and you don't mind it (if you can get to put in place redistributive taxation on everybody forever).
If you disagree with theft then why do you condone a system established by it?


(1) You said, above, "As far as I am concerned the legacy of that orginal iniquty is something that should be addressed". How is it being addressed with your taxation system? I have tried to go through a step-by-step process of discussing justice in terms of land theft, and you don't care about it. So, how do you even begin to try to remedy the problem with such an attitude?
I am not explicitly addressing land theft anymore because given the state of society the widespread redistribution of land as a physical entity would herald its collapse. Instead I believe in taxation to redistribute some of the wealth to address the inequality which is part of the legacy. Offsetting this inequity to ensure every member of society is given the ability to live without being exploited. This includes many of the things we ahve in our society (minimum wage, welfare state, NHS etc.etc..) But also many more.

(2) Let's assume there is a family whose family have never stolen any land. You'd be punishing them. Do you care about that when it comes to justice?
Not particularly no. After all for every one family wealthy and more free through inheritance there are one hundred living in realitve poveryt because of the same legacy.

Your system would punishing many more families than the one who are forced to give a portion of their wealth to society. Do you care about that when it comes to justice?



You clearly do "subscribe to any ideas of good/evil justice when it comes righting the wrongs of the past". I have seen you blog about the Vatican and anti-Semitism, and discuss Saddam Hussein and various other things in the religious forum. You accuse several libertarians of being on the side of evil & tyranny for supporting private property despite it's origin. And so, I decide to think about it, and respond in a way that challenges the precept of justice only to be told that good/bad don't matter! I am not sure if I am still debating the famous Aeolus!

Sorry you have misunderstood. (My fault) What I meant to say was that I do not subscribe to your ideas of good/evil/justice which is why we disagree etc...etc...etc...



... in your humble opinion ....

Thats a pretty silly comment. Of course it si my opinion and it certainly is not humble. Who elses opinion could it be?
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Oswy
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#3543
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#3543
(Original post by Bax-man)
...

There is only one right - the right to property. Without it, all other rights are meaningless...
Apart from that being an obviously arbitrary and human construction it also has you painting yourself into a corner. The 'right to property' is an unmistakably human invention to suit specific economic, social and political arrangements, not some universally observed physical fact, like human needs for food and water are. Seriously, if this is your philosophical fortress you need to get the surveyors in
Ocassus
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#3544
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(Original post by Oswy)
Apart from that being an obviously arbitrary and human construction it also has you painting yourself into a corner. The 'right to property' is an unmistakably human invention to suit specific economic, social and political arrangements, not some universally observed physical fact, like human needs for food and water are. Seriously, if this is your philosophical fortress you need to get the surveyors in
You do it in this thread to. Cutting out parts of peoples posts and taking them out of context.
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Bax-man
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(Original post by Oswy)
Apart from that being an obviously arbitrary and human construction it also has you painting yourself into a corner. The 'right to property' is an unmistakably human invention to suit specific economic, social and political arrangements, not some universally observed physical fact, like human needs for food and water are. Seriously, if this is your philosophical fortress you need to get the surveyors in
I think property can be described as a legitimate right to exercise control over an object. I think that this relationship between man and external objects (including his own body) is a fact of nature. What you might disagree with is how one defines with constitutes a "legitimate right" but that is another discussion. In a system where all objects are owned communally (or collectively), you still have property in that there is a right to exercise control.

Out of curiosity, did you read the chapter of The Ethics of Liberty to which I referred, which explained rather well the view that rights are, without the existence of private property, muddled and meaningless?

Edit: And what Ocassus said.
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Melancholy
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#3546
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#3546
That is an immaterially small concession.
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Oswy
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#3547
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#3547
(Original post by Bax-man)
I think property can be described as a legitimate right to exercise control over an object. I think that this relationship between man and external objects (including his own body) is a fact of nature. What you might disagree with is how one defines with constitutes a "legitimate right" but that is another discussion. In a system where all objects are owned communally (or collectively), you still have property in that there is a right to exercise control.

Out of curiosity, did you read the chapter of The Ethics of Liberty to which I referred, which explained rather well the view that rights are, without the existence of private property, muddled and meaningless?

Edit: And what Ocassus said.
Ooh, a blatant non sequitur. I might agree that 'property' is a human-made concept designed to allow individuals or groups to claim exclusive power over objects, that doesn't make the subsequent application of property in any meaningful sense 'natural' just because humans have 'natural' relationships with the physical world.

No, I didn't read the chapter you identified and I'm not likely to.
Bax-man
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#3548
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#3548
(Original post by Oswy)
Ooh, a blatant non sequitur. I might agree that 'property' is a human-made concept designed to allow individuals or groups to claim exclusive power over objects, that doesn't make the subsequent application of property in any meaningful sense 'natural' just because humans have 'natural' relationships with the physical world.

No, I didn't read the chapter you identified and I'm not likely to.
Do you believe self-ownership (that is, a right of property in one's own body) is artificial?

So you're not going to read texts that disagree with your own worldview? That strikes me as being an awfully convenient, narrow and limited approach to take.
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Melancholy
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#3549
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I think the issue is more complicated than that. If we equate 'rights' to 'exclusive ability to control', then to some extent you don't have a 'right to self-ownership' if you believe that somebody should be able to stop you from murdering others. You really only have the right to do things to the extent that (a) it's within your ability (remember, this sounds odd, but we're talking about the 'ability to control' - and we can't control some things which interfere with our body), and much more relevantly in this case (b) it does not interfere with another person's rights. So really, your version of 'right' is defined within a coherent web of the rights of others. There's nothing really stopping another person from extending this coherent web of rights by adopting, say, a broader definition of 'harm'. He could change the set of rights altogether. But this is not the important point.

Furthermore, the existential question surrounding property rights isn't terribly useful. I would accept that if we can talk about the ability to exclusively control, which exists in reality, then we can talk about 'rights' that actually exist in reality. So entitlement, duties, rights, control, ownership, power and such concepts may actually exist, but this concession is so immaterially small for the Socialist. It makes sense to talk about property rights in the USSR, but the State has most of the rights (and this does not entail no rights granted to the property-less, because the owner of the property - the person who controls it - may allow free speech and other rights upon his/her property). It makes sense to talk about property rights within a Libertarian society. It makes sense to talk about property rights within a liberal and democratic UK mixed economy. The real debate lies over the distribution of property rights (i.e. rules of entitlement) and the owner of the rights in general, as well as the nature and scope of the rights (crucially, how they interact with other rights).
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Oswy
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#3550
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(Original post by Bax-man)
Do you believe self-ownership (that is, a right of property in one's own body) is artificial?

...
I believe that 'self-ownership' is a human ideological invention. There is nothing about the material fact of the self's existence that requires 'ownership', the latter is merely a politically motivated addition. I've noticed, however, that libertarians pursue that question a lot, almost as if it's something they're told to ask when debating with the unbeliever
Oswy
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#3551
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#3551
What do fellow socialists think of the universal income idea? I'm vaguely aware that some on the left and right of the political spectrum have advocated the idea (though necessarily in different forms and with different wider aims). I've already offered up a couple of quotes in another thread so I thought I'd see what people made of them here.

Both Callinicos and Glyn represent a Marxist-orientation in their proposals.

In my view, the best way to do this would be to introduce universal direct income. In other words, every resident of the country would receive, as of right, an income that met their basic needs at a relatively low but nevertheless decent level. This would serve two goals. First, it would ensure a basic level of welfare for everyone much more efficiently than existing systems of social provision. (People with greater needs because they had children or were disabled or whatever would receive a higher basic income.) Secondly, having a guaranteed basic income would greatly reduce the pressure on individuals to accept whatever job was on offer on the labour market. One of the main presuppositions of capitalism - that workers have no acceptable alternative to wage labour - would be removed. The balance of power between labour and capital would shift towards the worker, irrespective of the nature of their employer.

Alex Callinicos, Bonfire of Illusions, (Polity, 2010), p. 141.
Under a Basic Income scheme each person would receive a regular and unconditional cash grant from the state. It would be unconditional in the sense of being received by everyone irrespective of other income or whether they were in work or not, and it could be spent on whatever the recipient wished. At one level it would replace many means-tested benefits which are becoming an increasingly important feature of some welfare states as governments strive to both reduce poverty and restrain social security budgets. Means-tested benefits have very well-known problems. First, take-up amongst those in need and eligible is often low as a result of the stigma attached to claiming and the complexity of so doing. Secondly, means-tested benefits impose very high effective rates of taxation as a claimant has a proportion of these benefits withdrawn as her/his income rises, as well as paying income tax and social security contributions. So Basic Income would involve a big saving in costs of administering social security and would tend to increase the incentive for those on existing benefits to take paid work, especially part-time work, which would at present leave them stuck in the 'unemployment trap' of benefit withdrawal. Certainly marginal tax rates across the board would have to increase to pay for Basic Income, but for the low-paid the fact that they were no longer losing benefits would more than compensate...

Andrew Glyn, Capitalism Unleashed (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 180-1.
Given that there are, apparently, right-wing versions of universal income I'm necessarily cautious, but as the idea is presented here I think it has some merit. What do you think?
Collingwood
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(Original post by Oswy)
I believe that 'self-ownership' is a human ideological invention.
Unlike ownership of other people, clearly, which is divinely ordained by Nature.
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Lord Hysteria
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#3553
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(Original post by Aeolus)
x
Hey. Unfortunately, I have become lost in the endless multi-line quoting. So, I just want to clarify one thing before I proceed. You said:

Perhaps you misunderstand. I consider the distribution of property to be an injustice. There is more to this interpretation than a simplistic conception of right and wrong.
  1. Why do you consider the distribution of property unjust? And by the contrary, what would make the distribution "just"? Does taxation bring about justice*? Justice is a term you use quite a lot, so I am wondering what is justice to you.
  2. What do you mean when you refer to the "conception of right and wrong". I am assuming your belief regarding the distribution, as unjust, stems from some moral basis? But perhaps you could explain what you mean when you say "there is more to this interpretation ...", because I, genuinely, don't seem to grasp what you're view is.


Thanks. Hopefully the conversation will become challenging and interesting .
simontinsley
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#3554
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#3554
With SciFiBoy leaving the house, who's in the running to be the new C1?

(Original post by Stricof)
x
Are we going to see a return?
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username202682
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#3555
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#3555
(Original post by simontinsley)
With SciFiBoy leaving the house, who's in the running to be the new C1?


Are we going to see a return?
There have been some rumours circulating around.
And quite frankly I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement in any of the current procedures
cambo211
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#3556
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#3556
(Original post by Stricof)
There have been some rumours circulating around.
And quite frankly I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement in any of the current procedures
That's not what i've heard...

:p:
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username202682
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#3557
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#3557
(Original post by cambo211)
That's not what i've heard...

:p:
:blah: wha?
paperclip
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#3558
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#3558
I might have to request duel membership again if Stricof becomes C1 :daydreaming:
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username202682
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#3559
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#3559
Hey. Hey. What?!
cambo211
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#3560
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#3560
How's the search for a new C1 going?
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