Saturday, December 20, 2003

I believe in the heart. I am a cynical bastard, but ironically that doesn't mean that I don't hav a heart or have compassion, quite the opposite. My heart is a deep flame mouldering within the darkness, illuminating what it catches.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Hitler was a sign of the times in the modern age.
The man, once we get right down to it, was a tyrant who was driven crazy by World War one. But flesh and blood like anyone else.

Hitler was the product of two of modernism's accomplishments: the breakdown of the family and the total mechanization and depersonalization of war. Hitler came from a broken home which wasn't just broken in one generation or in one part of the family.....his whole immediate family was divorced from each other and inbreeding with each other, with no traditional family support at all, so that when his mother passed away he literally had nothing in the way of family support and had to assume life as a begger in Vienna.

One wonders what would have happened if Hitler had had a more traditional family structure to pursue life through; would he have settled down to be a middle class man from Linz?

So that's the first break that modern society created in his life, the second was the experience of trench warfare and exposure to chemical weapons in World War I.

People who have done research on his pre-WWI life have found that, no, unlike the propaganda put out later, he wasn't this flaming anti-semite; a right wing person, for sure, but he had jewish friends----this has been positively documented. One author looking at the skin head scene in contemporary Germany has written that a lot of these kids are like Hitler was before he was radicalized by World War I---hateful and violent, but not really deadly serious about it, more trouble makers than zealots.

I theorize that modern warfare combined with the already lacking family structure for support in Hitler's life led him to accept a skewed sense of values as normal. In Hitler's world it was ok to be super militant, harsh, and cruel to people because that's what experienced as the reality of life during combat in World War I. I think that the breakdown of order in World War I meshed with the harsh outlook he got from growing up without family and confirmed to him that this was in fact right---and even to be desired, since his exploits in World War I earned him an Iron Cross, a very high honor for an enlisted man conferred on him by authority of the Kaiser Reich itself. This couldn't have been taken as anything but a confirmation that the values of a war where people died in waves were in fact noble an honorable and conducive to his idea of a conservative utopia.

It's been said, and I believe it, that families introduce a vital reality check for the kids; if that isn't there, they're liable to go off in any direction not realizing that it's out of line and out of the ordinary. Who's to stop them?

So the destruction that capitalism brought on the modern world summoned forth a person who took capitalism's real life lessons to heart and spewed them back at the world, with consequences that we all know.

If competition and the capitalist ethic are really what the world operates by, if that ethic was really taken seriously, we'd be living in a world similar to Hitler's, and we're already drifting towards it---not because it has any truth to it but because that's where society is leading, that's where society is indicating to people that it's right to go.

Hitler proves the lie to capitalism. He is ecce homo for the capitalist system---you want a true exemplar of all that you put out as being right and normal? Herr Hitler is there to stand as a prime specimen.

The danger from people like Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh isn't that they might say things that are insensitive or nasty, but that they promote an ethical system which cares so little about other people and collective interests that if put into action would legitamate genocidal politics.

That's what we have to avoid.

Nastiness and aberration aren't neccesarily the base line for judging society, although they're present, and if something better isn't proposed, we'll end up with the cry of people with nothing left to lose and no hopes bound by ethical principles overpowering us all and imposing their pain on everyone else.

So again, whether you look at it in terms of general economic productivity or you look at it in terms of possible social consequences, promoting vindicative, ultra-competitive, capitalism to the exlcusion of all forces which could moderate it, leads to very, very bad outcomes, which are totally avoidable provided that we can break the hold that greed has on our political and social system.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Never have so many suffered for so few....

I've come to a few conclusions about capitalism.
The first one is that it's a system which actually inhibits growth and productivity in it's pursuit of profit.

There are a few things going on in the U.S and Iraq right now; the first one is that a few people heavily connected to the administration are benefitting from contracts and, at home, from tax breaks and a general pro-business climate.

On the other side of the coin you have society simply not functioning, not functioning whatsoever on many different levels.

And this can be attributed to the pro-competition pro-capitalist bias of the administration.

Dig a little deeper and you see increasing poverty and want among people who had secure jobs a little while ago.

I've come to the conclusion that there are many economic setups out there that benefit the people as a whole while also being extremely productive and fruitful, and that in fact people have to work against this tendency for the classic small group of people profitting at the expense of the many to actually come into existence.

It makes sense on many different levels to share the wealth, but to actually hoard the wealth for yourself requires the crippling of society on many different levels to prevent any sort of sharing from going on and inhibiting your high living.

This is what I feel is going on. We're in a situation in the U.S. where freemarket capitalism has been pursued to the point where it cannot advance any further while still being anti-socialist, so, instead of giving in, the administration and the capitalist system as a whole is committed to taking the hit that not allowing socialist reforms gives and instead live with a lower standard of living, as well as social anarchy, for most of the people while enjoying the very tender and abundant fruits of society's labor themselves.

Is it worth it? Madelaine Albright said it was worth it to starve half a million Iraqi children. Why did she say that? Because in Iraq a movement from within to topple Saddam Hussein would have led to a progressive regime coming to power over substantial areas containing oil reserves in the middle east. Starving children to death instead of supporting internal opposition prevented Saddam Hussein from embarking on an independent course in the middle east while ensuring that no one more egalitarian than him came into power.

So Iraqi society slowly died, starved out of the neccessities of life by the sanctions. U.S. society is slowly dying as well, only this time it's dying because capitalism is completely inefficient and dishonest, yet the administration turns a blind eye to poor people being victimized by the system in their daily lives.

Throw you out on the street with no where to go? Fine. Market a product that kills? Fine, we're not going to anything about it.
Object to working enourmous amounts of hours a week? Fine, we'll black list you and then you'll see if there's anything you can do about it.

What's killed is the soul of the nation, being sacrificed at the altar for the gain of the slim capitalist class which takes everything and calls the nation it's own.
About the UN: it should be noted, among all the jubilation about the power of international cooperation in opposing the Iraq war through the law on which the UN is based, that the UN isn't a spotless institution.

It's better than nothing, but as progressives we should realize, for example, that the structure of the UN as it was incorporated after World War II not only allowed for colonialism to continue but legally sanctioned it by creating the legal category of "UN Protectorate".

A "UN Protecterate" was a country which was a colony, which was controlled by the mother country which was granted the rights to "administer the UN protecterate".

So Britain, which owned Uganda, was granted the right of adminstration of Uganda, which became a "UN Protecterate" after World War II. The citizens of Uganda didn't think that they were under 'protection' for their own good since they overthrew the British (and were crushed by a counterrevolution).

The category of "UN Protecterate" replaced the category of "Mandate country" which was established by the League of Nations, which fell apart some years before World War II. So Palestine was a British Mandate territory after WWI, meaning that they were a colony which was being adminstered 'for their own good' by the British until the time somewhere in the future when they'd be allowed elections and self determination without the Bwanas controlling everything.

So the UN recognized British Protecterate countries and French Protecterate countries. I believe that Germany's oversees territories were wiped out by WWII. Belgium had the Belgian Protecterate of the Congo, and the Portugese had the Protecterate of Indonesia, I believe.

Think, for a second, about how democratic an institution really is that sanctioned the domination of one country over another in the legal sphere.

The UN was set up to accomodate the capitalist nations. Although it's a very good tool to use against the Bush administration, we shouldn't be too optimistic in what the structure of the UN would really allow if given the chance.

And we really shouldn't pay much attention to George Monbiot's idea of a global parliament. I mean, really, do we have to go through the arguments of
Oh my god, I just got done watching the film "Winter Soldier", about Vietnam....

Imagine if we lived in a world where capitalism and communism had never existed, where instead the Vietnamese were just one more ethnic and cultural group in the third world, wanting self determination.

Although I don't believe that peace and love are good as organizing principles, I believe in human values and that despite taking militant stances we have to keep ourselves and keep inside the human values that make life decent, that make community life, life with other people, good and stable in any sort of way.

There isn't a contradiction between the two. Compassion isn't adverse to militancy.
Ethics and militant protest.

A concept which has gotten currency among older activists is that if you choose to do civil disobediance and direct action and not be nice about it, not approach it from a peaceful or loving angle, that you've therefore forfeited your claim to be acting ethically and are just acting wildly and immorally.

This is most definitely not the case. Ethical action is based on obeying the law, pure and simple. It is not based on going above and beyond obeying the law, the moral law, and bending over backwards to be extra nice and on your best behavior, which is superrogatory.

Now when I say law, I mean law. Civil Disobediance and direct action break laws, but it isn't as though the laws that are broken are randomly selected, and that therefore if you break these laws without the proper mindset that every other law is up for grabs.

Breaking the law by sitting in an intersection and refusing to move is much different than breaking the law by getting into a fight with someone and hitting them.

Within the scope of moral law it's possible to break laws which don't compromise one's moral character while keeping the laws which matter intact.

And if those laws are still intact, and being ethical is based on obeying the law----not going beyond it---then, yes, it's more than possible to engage in civil disobediance in a spirit other than that of peace and love and still be a moral and ethical person.
The time when peace and love was neccesary as a measure to stop the world from going over the edge and destroying itself is long gone. Now it's time to fight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Militant vs. non-militant tactics, or, that goddamn "violence" vs. "non-violence" debate again.

Before you get your hopes up, oh law enforcement agencies that watch this site, I'm not going to argue for either personal violence against people or property destruction, I'm just going to argue for militant civil disobediance vs. non militant civil disobediance.

We have a problem in this country, and that problem is that the veterans of the sixties movements, along with quite a few people who act like they were part of it but were born a decade later, don't quite understand why people of my generation are taking very non "peace love and kindness" stands when protesting various transnational entities and agreements. They see it, and it includes everything from doing a civil disobediance where the people engaged aren't putting flowers in cops' guns, for example, to graffiti and other vandalism, as totally destructive, counterproductive, and going no where.

Maybe they should take a closer look at where Peace and Love came from, then look at what we believe today, and then come to some conclusions.

The issue is civil disobediance. CD is based on putting your ideals into action even if it means enduring consequences from the authorities or from society for your determination to do so. Direct Action is a form of CD which directly tries to stop a problem by interfering with it so that it ceases to function, or to be a problem. Direct Action is, among other things, sitting down in the white section of a segregated restaurant. It's marching without a permit in Montgomery Alabama. It's having a sit in in front of a business.

It's a lot of things. And surely in the early civil rights movement it was done accompanied by a spirit of love and kindness, but love and kindness aren't the only attitudes that one can take when engaging in exactly the same activity.

What determines the exact nature of the activity you engage in, how you go about doing it---whether you make an effort to be kind to the authorities or are visibly hostile----depends not on the ideal it's self so much as on the associated set of ideas which make up your general world view and which determine how you will put your ideal into action with a civil disobediant direct action campaign.

I'd argue, and this is important, that there are quite a few different worldviews possible which will support the same ideal.

They don't develop from the ideal itself so much as they are taken from life and the circumstances of history. The peace and love aspect of the sixties movement is an example of a worldview as opposed to an ideal.

You can support racial integration without supporting peace and love.

If we can dissect where the peace and love part of the sixties came from we can realize how it is that the two parts---the ideals that the sixties movement had and the general atmosphere in which they wanted to accomplish these things---are not inextricably linked and how the same sorts of ideals can be fought for today, genuinely, in a very different atmosphere.

Fortunately, we know very well where exactly the atmosphere of peace and love came from.

It came as a reaction to the horrors of World War II. The world had just seen millions massacred, had found out about the extent of Nazi atrocities, had seen the atom bomb used twice against a civilian population, and, after Stalin's death, had seen the extent to which the USSR had brutalized it's own people in the name of fighting for a better world.

People felt, I believe, that with the end of World War II coming with the dropping of the two atom bombs, that the world had come perilously close to destroying itself in the course of war.

Not only that, but that modern society had led to a veritable charnel house of horrors, with millions dieing for nothing at all.

World War II was fought to destroy aberrant political structures which had gone out of control. No one was seriously arguing that the fight against fascism was anything other than a containment of something crazy.

So when WWII ended, and, also, when Stalinization ended, and people looked back at all the dead, they saw a whole lot of people who had died purely for some crackpot ideology, and few that had died for anything more substantial.

In response the left backtracked quite a bit away from strategies based on anger and hate, based on provoking confrontation, and instead promoted strategies based on taking a breather and acting against the current of the system which was swiftly going over the cliff as much as possible. Which meant hard core peace and hard core love.

As a temporary measure, this might have been ok. It certainly was the climate that generated a lot of progressive reforms in Europe and in the international community.

But beyond that, it's usefulness is only as one strategy among many.

Let me share another analysis and response to the same events.

While the new left preached love, believing that hate was the cause of much of the recent pain, and peace, believing that beligerrance was a cause of the recent slaughter, the anarchists in Spain believed, to the contrary, that the reason for all of this was that Capitalism had merged with the State, had started promoting traditional conservative values, and had made a cult out of technology and progress.

The solution, then, wasn't to fight hate with love, although that's important on a personal level, but rather to oppose capitalism and the corporate state with non-hierarchical, non-statist, worker controlled, worker generated, culture and political and social formations, not to mention economic (eventually).

The slaughter of Europe in the second world war, including the gulag system and the deaths from Stalinist industrialization, came about because people, under capitalism, had willingly given themselves up into this borg like combination of culture, state, and economy, which was being promoted by the fascists, nazis, and communists, and simply went along with the flow to their graves-----or facillitated the slaughter of others by going along with the flow.

The use of the atom bomb can be seen as a direct result of the beaurocratization of war, where the State apparatus can kill millions based on unaccountable internal decisions and then expect all it's citizens to just go along with it and support it.

What is wrong is that people let themselves be formed into this Leviathan like mass which had no will but just accomodated itself to the prevailing opinions of the powers that be instead of leading independent lives organizing for real change.

So, based on that analysis, we don't need 'Peace and Love' neccesarily , to oppose the current regime while being cognizant of the lessons of World War Two, and of the cold war. Peace and Love are great and neccesary on the personal level, but militant tactics based on independence, spontaneity, and confrontation with the State coming from an analysis of it rather than a stop gap conservatism designed to keep the world from going off the edge, don't require it as a basic organizing belief to work and be effective.

The way I see it, the people who oppose militant tactics are afraid that we'll become an incoherent destructive force which will take this planet the rest of the way to destruction, even if that's not what they consciously think about it. To the contrary, we oppose the very forces which are taking this planet to destruction, but we oppose them based on an understanding of how they work to do this from the perspective of people who have seen it happen to their country rather than from the perspective of people who cleaned up the mess afterwards and formulated ways to deal with the juggernaut after it had gotten close to the very edge of destruction.

The people who started the U.S. new left saw a partial view of how fascism and the modernist state came to be, and how they functioned.
The spaniards saw it from the start. It's better to go back to before this all happened and proceed from the basis of rationality than to be stuck in a world where it's either the irrational and the suppresed or total destruction.

We don't need that anymore. It served it's purpose, now it's time to move on.

Ranters, English Civil War.

The English Civil War has been a gold mine for people looking for anti-capitalist writings and thoughts which preceded the rise of the established left; the Diggers have been found and commented upon, before them the Levellers were resurrected.

Now I think it's the Ranters' turn.

I read a little of an anthology of Ranter writing last night, and let me tell you it's some powerful stuff. They go beyond the Diggers in their conception of things and their program. While the Diggers are mainly boring agrarian communists, the Ranters are full out hedonistic anarchists.

They have much more in common with what we think of today when we think of the Anarchist movement than do the Diggers. They were extraordinarily libertarian oriented......and the stuff is still fresh today.

So check them out.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Is it any wonder, then, that Karl Marx described the class he thought would overthrow capitalism as the Proletaires, a Roman term?

The philosophes, the partisans of the Enlightenment, saw what they were doing as being part of the restoration of true civilization to Western Europe after the thousand year long eclipse of the middle ages. They saw the freedom and liberty and forms of government being proposed and restored as taking up where Greece and Rome left off after the fall of the Western Empire. Indeed, Classical authors read as being more 'modern' and fresh today than do medieval authors, so they were accurate and succesful in this regard.

To say that the whole point was to enable people to make money without the central state interfering with them is a total prostitution of everything they fought for and believed in.

Needless to say I reject the money=virtue and hard work equation of the Federalists. If this is what they felt the political thought of the Enlightenment added up to, then it would have to be the biggest protitution of theories designed to aid human freedom that has ever been pepetrated.
Oh yeah, and you had to be rich too. Madison initially believed that the 'better sorts of people' were the ones that gained wealth through their virtuous actions, and so were the ones who were most qualified to run the country.

None of this was ever voted on; it was just put before the people as a fait accompli, and then echoed as the wonderful truth by primary school history classes forever more.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The usual explanation for the Constitutional system; that it was put into place as a form of government that was 'realistic' in that it recognized that men were selfish etc... and tried to channel that into positive channels or control it, or defuse it, is pretty interesting.

The same rationale has been used by dictators since the beginning of time; particularly, Louis XIV believed that the people were naturally disobediant and sinful and had to be controlled; therefore, all rights of the people were taken away and they were instead subjected to absolutist and personalist rule by the Sun King.

With the Constitutional system, the transformation of vice into virtue is described as coming about largely through the suppression of Democracy.

In the original system only members of the house of representatives would have been directly elected. Senators would have been selected by the House of Representatives and the President would have been selected by both without any sort of direct election involved. The theory behind this was that limiting Democracy meant that most positions in Congress would wind up being filled by people based on their Character rather than based on any sort of program or idea which they had and which the people they represented agreed with and supported.

Can't have that, right?

So government was turned into an aristocratic club where the opinion of the members was more important in gaining access than the opinion of the people who you theoretically represented. The effects of this have lasted down into today, with the least of them possibly being that the actual links between the radicalism of the American Revolution and the French Revolution are completely obscure and most people couldn't outline them if you asked.

Another one is that when people talk about the American Revolution, they inevitably mention the Constitution as the primary positive product of it, when the Constitution was put into place six years after the fighting had stopped and the Treaty of Paris had been signed.

American Revolution:

Following up on the previous post having to do with the American Revolution and the English Civil War, I think it's safe to say that in addition to radical democratic currents that the American Revolution was based on the realization of currents which called for the equalization of property as well.

It was expressed in the idiom of pioneers on a new continent vs. large landholders and lords back in England, but the meaning was clear: these people now were freeholding yeomen and they didn't want political power vested in any place but them. Back in England they might have been poor peasants, but in the U.S. they had property and status, closer to what they felt life should have brought people of their origin back in England, and they wanted to keep it that way.

So the leveller's and other group's ideas about the ideal state were fullfilled, although the Digger idea of eliminating property altogether and living communistically wasn't realized.

No wonder that the people of the French Revolution, where property was redistributed as well as democracy put into place, felt that the American Revolution was an immediate precursor. It was. And if the Constitutional system hadn't been put into place to stop the radical democratic and egalitarian impulses of the American Revolution, the links between the two would be plain enough for every American to see.

So vote Bush out of office.
There are a few considerations which I think people should keep in mind when looking at how the rest of the world looks at the Saddam business.

The first relates to how the rest of the world sees the world; this was tipped to me by the Zapatista article linked to in a previous post. In the opinion of the author, the reason why people in the Third World supported the Soviet Union was because 1) they didn't have much experience with democracy and so didn't neccesarily see why the USSR's lack of it was such a problem and 2) they did know about economic inequality, and they saw that the Soviet Union was a country which 'developed' in a non-capitalist way and in which people did live in a rough sort of equality.

I like democracy; I like the democratic tradition in the U.S. and I wish it went as deep as can be. But in the running of a state which doesn't have much of a democratic tradition in an area which in general doesn't have much of one, which was run somewhat autocratically by the Sublime Porte (the Sultan) in Istanbul for centuries, people look to other values to judge a ruler.

Which explains why people, while of course not liking that the guy ordered people tortured and suppressed dissent, can nevertheless have positive feelings about him. He did, if my understanding is correct, take power as a populist and engaged in some redistribution of wealth, and in a society in which the monopolization of land and resources by the wealthy has been a chronic problem since time immemorial this is a very big deal.

Pursuing an independent course and standing as a symbol for Arab nationalism, even though corrupt, is also a big deal.

I'm sure that people in the middle east have no illusions about Saddam, just as they have no illusions about the regime run in Syria by the military officers associated with Hafez Assad, but in a world where the political choices are few, people tend to take what they can get.

Secondly, the idea that a president of the United States who spurns the idea of democracy, was arguably elected in an undemocratic way, could lecture another country on it's lack of democracy is astonishing.

The domestic program of the Bush administration has been geared towards scaring people away from exercising their democratic rights by
passing bills like the PATRIOT act, which includes the threat that they can take a look at anything you'rer reading or anything you're writing in libraries and on the net, and by keeping up a continual high pressure 'Alert' status by scare tactics, trying to convince people that there's going to be an attack any minute, and even frankly telling the media that 'You better watch what you say from now on' which Ari Fleischer pronounced at a news conference earlier this year, everything, all of this has been done to stop democracy in the United States from functioning.

How dare we come out as the champion of democracy and human rights in Iraq when we have our Guantanamo Bay prisoners and the unknown numbers of Arab men who were arrested without warrant or warning and now sit in jails with no way to contact their families to tell them what has happened to them. Or why.

How dare we do this when we fire on demonstrations of the unemployed in Iraq it's self and prohibit trade unions from forming.

Is this how we'd like to conduct business within the States?
Is this what they'd want if only they were given a chance?

I have my own feelings on this, but whatever your opinion, it gives the U.S. no moral right to dictate a liturgy of democracy and human rights to the Saddam government which will soon be on trial for war crimes in Iraq.

We probably don't even have a legal right to do so, since the invasion was illegal since the start.

Anyone can condemn the Saddam regime for it's rights violations, but to do so while positioning yourself as the fairy godmother of democracy and human rights is a disgusting and arrogant stance, not to mention hypocritical, on the part of the U.S.

The slum lords of Washington are riding high; don't be surprised that a lot of people in the middle east turn out to be less than happy about what we do next.

So Saddam has been caught. Thank goodness, maybe now the Iraq war will segue from meaningless domination into some real questions about what the U.S. has been doing and has done.

Saddam has an advantage that may not be recognized by people in the U.S., but which certainly is known about abroad, I believe. It's this: that even though he himself was a dictator who ruled his country with an iron fist, had opponents tortured, he still knows an awful lot about what conditions the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people, as well as what the record of CIA collaboartion with Saddam against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war in the eighties entailed.

And unlike the many nameless functionaries of his regime who have no 'pull' in getting their opinions or names on TV or in print, because the U.S. has pumped Saddam up into a tyrant who can destroy the U.S. with nuclear weapons on ten minutes notice, he himself won't be so easily silenced, unless he's executed outright, which would enrage the international community and provoke the same kinds of responses which would happen if he wasn't but instead stood trial.

The U.S. is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't here, because of what we ourselves have been doing over there.

I can imagine that dodging questions about his own regime by pointing out, say, the number of children that died yearly from the sanctions we put on the country could make the trial pretty interesting.

And....for those of you just tuning in, a question: since Saddam, the dictator and the torturer, has had his country invaded and is now going to stand trial, how long do you wager it'll be till Islam Karimov, the dictator of Uzbekistan, who has ordered opponents to be boiled alive, will be next?

When hell freezes over? That's about right. I love the United State's sense of moral consistency.

Friday, December 12, 2003

The English Civil War and the American Revolution......again

Where did the American Revolution come from? It's already been established that the creeping authoritarianism of the British state is simply less than what one would expect an event which caused such fiery rhetoric to be.

The people in the American Revolution thought that they were the descendents of an originally free group of people which was brought under authoritarianism by the introduction of feudalism into England, and that America was their chance to recreate that primitive democracy and freedom, and now, look, the British state is messing it up.

What needs explanation isn't the reason why the British state started to infringe on the colonists' rights---it had had a pretty lax control over colonial affairs and was now gearing up to be an empire with a presence on every continent. What needs explanation is why the colonists thought that the scenario outlined above was true and why they thought that the infringement of the British state on them was threatening this primal entitlement.

I suggest that what was really going on in the colonists' minds was a rationalization for pursuing the realization of democracy and liberty which they felt they should have attained through victory in the English Civil War but which was then snatched away from them by the forces of reaction.

England in the 18th century became a conveniant target for excuses intended to justify the carrying through of the radical revolution which wasn't to be----a few thousand miles removed from the original events.

What the English Civil War actually established was the right of the aristocracy to collectively rule England as opposed to a royal family and a monarch having absolute power ruling the country with the help of a beaurocracy answerable only to the king/queen and the royal family.

As much as that included rights for the people, so they recieved them; as much as the events of the civil war, then the restoration, then the Glorious Revolution---where it was decided once and for all that an absolutist monarchy was not coming back---only meant something for the upper classes, so the people never benefitted from them.

But, as in many cases, the actual firing up of the troops in order to get them to fight this war led people who sided with the aristocracy to actually think that real, deep, social change would come out of it. And many sects developed which saw the war as the millenium and which saw the consequences of the war as being the establishment of heavenly society, where everyone was equal, on earth.

When the roundheads turned into dictators, then were deposed, then the monarchy was deposed again and a much milder reform enacted, the people who wanted the radical alternative were left without an avenue to realistically attain it.

Some came to America. Some people in America, most if you believe the social histories, sympathized with the radicals already and thought that they were living a life close to what they wanted in England.

So after the radical hopes were dashed in England, the radical ideology still lived on in the United States, and when England decided to integrate the U.S. into it's colonial and imperial system, the radical citizens of the U.S. decided to finish the job, but they expressed it in occult terminology which made references to ancient England, not to the events of the civil war which had just happened.

And so the radical democratic program which formed the core of what American politics is distinctively distinguished by came about as the realization of the utopian hopes of the lower classes in the English Civil War.

Which explains a lot, like why the American Revolution seems to come out of nowhere and then go nowhere after the constitutional system is put in place, while one can trace the origins and the repercussions of the French Revolution with comparative ease.

The American Revolution was the end point of a struggle which had started a hundred and forty years before. Now maybe we can start to add the lessons of the French Revolution to our understanding of things, since we now have a competent view of ourselves and can understand ourselves in relation to the outside world a little better.
What people fail to understand about the origins of the American anti-globalization movement is how virtually everything about it grew up in defiance of the organized left in this country.

In general, the organized left in this country turned into a personality and self aggrandizement game long ago; the old left was replaced by a Maoist, Stalinist, and even stranger organized left which was if anything more authoritarian than what they set out to replace.

This whole culture, the culture that goes to all these demonstrations, grew up in defiance of people like those constituting the Workers' World Party, which organizes many anti-war demos through ANSWER.

It also grew up in defiance of single issue or identity politics groups which, like the established left, thought more about their own selfish agendas than actually making change.

It's one thing to be a feminist, another thing to use feminism as a platform to get fame, fortune, and notoreity.

It's one thing to be an African American who wants to fight for the rights of blacks; quite another thing to use your skin color to make your self into a television personality at the expense of the very people you claim to be representing.

So...'anarchist' or 'autonomous' or 'libertarian'....all of this represents the products of a movement and a group of people pissed off with everything, both capitalism and what the establishment left was doing,
that was, and is, looking for alternatives to the types of systems which surrounded, and to a lesser extent today still surround, them.

Most of the opportunists have faded into the woodwork at this point; others sold out so much that they don't even pay attention to the same issues as the anti-globalist left.

It's better now, but the rebirth of anarchism isn't so much due to people looking for an ideology to believe in as it has to due with people shut out from capitalism looking for alternatives.

Five years of rebellion in Mexico - Understanding the Zapatistas

Good article on the Zapatista's from the WSM movement. This is what opened up the left to productive alternatives; the Zapatista friction with the indigenous, as well as the slow collapse of the Soviet Union, finally broke the Leninist or even Guevarist conceptions of politics in movements and opened up the mental space of the movement, and the community (which probably already had it's own views, thank you very much), to a combination of libertarian and left-communist ideas which otherwise would have been discounted as impossible or counter-productive.

So begins the history of the modern left.

It might be argued that this argument has a lot in common with Jacques Maritain's view of religion and society. It might also be argued, by extension, that what Maritain was advocating doesn't need religion backing it up to be believed in, that what's being advocated here is an epistemological and psychological approach to human society which can be understood rationally and acted upon rationally by people who have no religious beliefs whatsoever but who, instead just believe that there are greater things out there, with things possibly meaning 'society' or 'history' than meet the eye. Yes, exactly. And that's precisely why admiring such a take doesn't commit one to any theological principles but instead suggests a path by which secular politics can benefit by the introduction of a limiting, orienting, point of view of this sort---which connects man with the transcendent aspects of life which are all around him, thereby empowering him and chastising him at the same time.

It's sort of like the Zapatismo rejection of Marxist-Leninist politics in exchange for the greater principles of political thought that the indigenous community already had in Chiapas.

Opening up to possibilities both empowers and warns against exploitative actions.
Interesting take on things.....I ran across a book called "Marxism and other Western Fallacies" a little while's concluding essay is pretty good. The author makes a good argument that western culture is too fixated on the existential aspects of life, and needs to have that balanced with an awareness of social justice issues and a basic, primitive, mystical awareness of the relationship of self to something greater in life, in order for a decent sustainable balance to be established. Sounds good; I like the idea of an non-establishment understanding of man's place in the universe as religion puts out there off-setting some of the excesses that a worldview focussed exclusively on existential issues can bring with it.

Usually in the west alternative religion is looked at as an outgrowth of the existential search for self-fullfilment, not as a limiting and checking factor.

And balancing it out with social justice, this too is good.

Just need to add communism to the mix to make it better....

Chavez! Chavez! Chavez! check out

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The causes of September 11th.

Festering sore on American foreign policy leads to worst terrorist attack since war of 1812.

The above should give you some idea of my opinion of why 9/11 happened. I'm of the camp which assumes that the Saudis and Bush knew ahead of time that something like this was going to occur, but that Bush didn't want to do anything because it would jeoprodize relations with Saudi Arabia and effect the oil business.

But first, imagine what would have happened if a left wing group in the middle east had tried to organize an attack on the U.S. The response to them would have been overwhelming and preemptive. No, the people who attacked the U.S. were people protected by our policy of turning a blind eye to right wing religious extremists if they happen to generally go along with our views about world politics. Bin Laden is a rogue only in that he's a dissident member of the Saudi royal family; the U.S. doesn't have a problem with the fact that Saudi Arabia itself is a right wing theocracy without any form of democracy whatsoever. Just like at home, where people like Eric Rudolph, who probably bombed the Olympics in '96 as well as a gay bar and an abortion clinic, are mysteriously 'At large' in the Carolinas for a few years while people like Leonard Peltier are stuck in prison, under continuously bad treatment, for just being associated with militant movements, with no evidence against them actually committing crimes having any weight, Bin Laden and his comrades are the fruit of the blind eye we turn towards right wing extremists.....and this time, because politics and economics coincided so well, the Bush administration couldn't do anything to stop it even though they probably knew it was going to happen.

Well, they could have, but that's assuming that they have a conscience which goes beyond their pocketbooks, which is unlikely.

I would urge people to go out and buy a book called "Inside 9/11" which is an investigation done by the editors of Der Spiegel magazine in Germany. Germany, as you may recall, was where most of the actual hijackers came from.

Their case is pretty damn compelling. What they outline is that 9/11 was planned by militant Islamists in Hamburg who have since disappeared, or are protected by rich movers and shakers in business sympathetic to them, and actually carried out by people who weren't originally radical and anti-U.S. but who became so because of culture shock in going to graduate school in Europe.

Doesn't mean that afterwords they didn't become as guilty as can be, but it pisses me off to no end to know that the people who were recruited off the streets for 9/11 are now dead and that their handlers, who were the actual, committed, lifelong Islamic militants, have got away scot free.

And that investigations into the actual financing of 9/11 have been stymied in Europe because the German government is unwilling to investigate this rich businessman from the middle east who probably funded the hijackers because he's well connected politically.

Just like in the case of war crimes, the people who were actually responsable for it have gotten away, and are protected.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Smirking Chimp

Amazing story by a Vietnam vet on Smirking Chimp.....I have no guilt about Vietnam....of the people who raised or created me one was exempted because he had had jaundice as a kid, another was exempted because he was older than draft age, and another was exempted because he was the only surviving son of a soldier who had endured life in a Japanese prison camp....

Clinton, the Republicans, and fantasies

It's pretty damn ironic how, god I hate how they appropriated this term, Republicans, hated Clinton, but hated him for all the wrong reasons, and then turned a blind eye to this president.

Clinton was not a perfect person; but the imperfections which actually mattered were the propensity to invade other countries under the guise of "Humanitarian Intervention" as well as his willingness to dismantle the social welfare system.

He liked women; but as far as I know all that happened with them were affairs; he never coerced sex from anyone, and certainly never committed a sexual crime, although the Republican propaganda machine probably has created some false evidence for that as well.

The point is that he had consensual affairs with women who were not his wife. This isn't quite as serious as enforcing the Iraq sanctions and invading Somalia, for instance. There's no law against it; if he choses to do it, well, that's his choice, not something that I should be concerned with. But that's just me.

Anyways, one thing that his presidency really brought out, and the fact that his presidency was followed by another Bush presidency has brought into further relief, is the difference between a President who has gotten into office through working his way through the political system and one who owes his position to wealth and power.

It's very instructive to remember, and this isn't mentioned in the press even when Bush Sr. is discussed, that George Herbert Walker Bush
only served one term in congress. He was elected to the House of Representatives, the lower house, once. Beyond that his involvement with politics stemms from his money and connections; he became head of the Republican Party, with his one term in the House under his belt,
then served as the government's liason to China in the Ford administration; then he was appointed head of the CIA, after which he decided to run for President, but accepted the vice presidential nomination from Reagan.

He tried to get a seat in the upper house, the Senate, twice as a representative from Texas but lost both races. Additionally, it was mentioned in a book on the CIA I read a while ago that his term as head of the CIA was disasterous because it was a pure political pay off; he had no qualifications for heading it whatsoever.

But he felt, obviously, that this extremely thin record of political experience was enough to base a run for the presidency on. To give a comparison between the amount of time that a person who is succesful in U.S. politics spends as a representative and how much time Bush spent, Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders, who doesn't belong to any party and who proudly declares himself a socialist, has representated the state of Vermont since 1991, and is still considered an outsider and an upstart.

That's twelve years as an elected representative. Bush only served for four.

So before Clinton you had Reagan, who owed his position in politics to pandering for corporations like General Electric, and a person who owed his position in politics to having been born a Senator's son and being the heir to a lot of money, as well as being an oil man.

Twelve years of Reagan and Bush, twelve years of fantasy taking the place of actual politics. No wonder Baudrillard wrote that the Gulf War didn't really happen; it didn't, if by a war you mean something that in a democratic state needs the approval of the population in order for it to happen. It was Bush's personal fantasy. It didn't 'Really' happen in the way that politics is supposed to really happen.

Then you had Clinton; Clinton came from quite a different background than Reagan and Bush. A working class kid from the South, Clinton owed everything he had to his skills as a political worker, no matter that his policies ended up conservative. If he couldn't pull it off by working for it, there was no saving grace, no sugar daddy in the background ready to write checks and use influence to get him positions. Because of this, he was really beholden to the people for any influence and position that he aspired to; it forced him to work and be serious about his politics.

Clinton's presidency ushered back in a level of seriousness and accountability in American politics that had been lacking in the Reagan and Bush years; that Clinton manouevred within that seriousness to put a conservative platform into action doesn't change the enourmous gap in style and character of his administration.

Now we're back in a television presidency, a time when issues don't so much come before the people for them to discuss and comment on as they float before them as fait accompli's decided by the people in charge in a magical far off land...

We've been reduced to spectators again. Victims of fantasy again. The attacks on Clinton by Republicans, in my opinion, stem more from the disbelief that they really had been living in a dream world and now real politics were reasserting themselves, politics that they didn't like, than from any actual flaw in Clinton's character etc...

They can relax again because Bush the second has taken up the burden of lulling them to sleep.

But, like all dreams, this one has to come to an end.

Maybe that end will be coming very soon. Al Gore has just endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination for President, saying what just about everyone already knows: the Dean is the only candidate the Democrats have that really has popular support.

We Kucinich people are working on it, but currently Gore's statement is accurate.

And it's so obvious as to be banal; however, the way things have worked here in the past few years is that even the obvious and banal have been suppressed under the drum beat of so-called 'patriotism'.

Maybe we're waking up from our leaden slumbers.

Oh, yes, and the parallels with Fascism are extremely ominous. Don't be surprised after the Democrats take power that a fascistic movement forms out of disgruntled Bush supporters and tries to contend for power later in the future.

As Hans Magnus-Enzensburger said about how Germany was in the '60s, the authoritarians here emphasize a concept roughly equivalent to Weltanschung. Denying the fantasy of the twelve years strecthing from 1980 to 1992, and denying the fantasy which we're currently living under is denying their Weltanschung, and we know where that can lead to.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Did I say I liked Novatore? I must have been joking; taking a look at his philosophy again it's too much of the wrong Nietzsche and too little of a critique against capitalism. I don't have much use for people who's main topic of conversation is to put down democracy and condemn democratic civilization. And that's Novatore.

But the strand of Italian anarchism which can be called Communist-Individualism is still where I feel most at home. Indeed, Individualism can probably be realized most fully and radically in communism---not collectivism but communism.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Imperialism packaged better.

Conservatives admit, sometimes, that we put our nose into everyone else's business around the globe; but they say "This is a libertarian empire!" "It's not based on Aristocracy like the British Empire, and we're because America was a democracy before everyone else somehow that transfers by osmosis to us, making our colonial ventures really ventures in liberation". It's a Soulful Empire, in other words, just like the corporations used to be called Soulfull Corporations.

Free Trade vs. Trilateralism.

I think that, while opposing Free Trade is good, it's also very important to realize that the idea of Free Trade is largely a chimera behind which U.S. imperialism and corporate domination lurk. Despite the press about multinational corporations, I believe that the place where the corporation started out, whether it be in the U.S., Europe, or in Asia, and in any realm where those models hold sway, is of paramount importance in determining how it acts in the multinational scene.

I don't think there are, then, pure multinationals in the sense of them being totally indpendent from the country they began in; they at least have cultural links; although most multinationals have more in common with each other in terms of goals than with any other group, social or otherwise.

So behind the facade of free trade lies Trilateralism; the idea that there are three different models of business action that divide the world between themselves.

What we haven't heard about are the other two axese of the trilateral sphere.

Maybe they're not the most important thing at this time.

But it's good to keep in mind that even if we defeat free trade there are still going to be battles to fight.

And Free Trade is definitely an American phenomenon....the economists who created neo-liberalism are painfully american, painfully irrelevant to the European scene, and so the endorsement of their policies is also an endorsement of the U.S., although they may make claims for neo-liberalism to be value neutral.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Why we all went crazy after 9/11.

I was thinking; we didn't freak out after the Oklahoma City bombing; we didn't freak out after the Olypmic park bombing; we didn't freak out after the first World Trade Center bombing; so why did we freak out after 9/11?

I hope that enough time has gone by where we can pose answears to questions like this without fear.

Why did people go crazy?

Well, to begin with, it's a matter of psychology. There are a few different psychological responses possible to traumatic events, and the fact that one person responded in one way and another in another way is due somewhat to personal psychological issues.

I say, then, that the reason why we went nuts after 9/11 is because the social psychology of the United States changed in some way between the other events, with the Olympic park bombing being the closest to us, happened and 9/11/2001.

How did it change?

Well, to explain that it might be neccesary to look at the antipode of the 9/11 bombing, the 2000 election.

In many ways the attitude of the public and the media in wake of the 2000 election debacle prefigured the way the public and the media responded to 9/11.

The fulcrum issue? Greed and corruption and our attitudes towards them.

The 2000 election, our response to it and the media's response to it embodied a complete abandonment of democratice principles to the power of money and influence.

The fact that the 2000 election was not decided in a different matter, that it was allowed to play itself out in the way it did, is a testimony to the degree of comfort a majority of people, and a supermajority of the media, have to power and money deciding things.

What happened between the last disaster and the World Trade Center bombing is the collapse of civil society in America, to be replaced with a social system based on the power of capitalism and survival of the fittest.

The '90s may be remembered as the most greedy decade, the decade where money and power eroded democratic values, corrupted neutral institutions, and took over society; a process which accelerated in the first years of the 21st century and which sees no brake upon it on the horizon. Society is still being eaten away from the inside out by corruption. It's still getting worse.

So why were we so surprised by 9/11, and why did we react like chickens with our head's cut off? Because a great many of us had gone along with the corrupting trend and had abandoned any pretence of caring about anything except getting more for ourselves, by any means necessary.

Those same people, who said "Fuck you, I just want to make money---and look! The system's on my side.", came out of their moronic slumbers after 9/11 and demanded answers, and demanded action. Moronic slumbers---is there any other way to describe the state of debasement that occurs when a person is so focussed on themselves and their own life, and in getting ahead in the system, that they don't even know the basic facts about world history of politics, and only have a clue about American history and politics?

Yes, those same people who forfeited any claim to being participating members in a functioning democracy suddenly found out that they were citizens of the United States, and started pounding their fists, trying to think of things that they'd hear in Cub Scouts about America and repeating them like mantras.

I've cared about politics for quite a few years, quite a few years before 9/11 hit. Where were all of these flag toting fascists when the U.S. government decided, alone out of the international community, to recognize the Taliban government as the legitamate government of Afghanistan, thereby adding to the Taliban's strength and virtually legalizing their rule in the international community?

Where were you on any issue before 9/11 hit?

No where?

Then what right do you have to impose your opinions and your plans for the United States and the world on us.

Not so full of it now are you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Well well, it's been an long day here at the LHT....just wanted to say that I don't endorse Renzo Novatore's denunciation of democracy or a lot of the macho postering in that rant; but I do have to say that if you scroll down past the bluster at the beginning that it is in fact a pretty good piece. I don't know much about Venomous Butterfly Press or Willful Disobedience, but I'm eager to learn.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Oh fuck....I take back what I said about Green Anarchy. The real enemy is the forces of the state and capitalism out there. We have more in common with each other than with any of them, and when we fight amongst ourselves as if we had all the luxury in the world to do it without consequenes, it weakens us and creates opportunities for the cops to come in and clean up. To turn that minor disruption into a serious rupture with bad consequences for individuals and for the movement as a whole.

So, Green Anarchy, you're ok in my book, even though we may disagree on some points.
Italian Individualist Anarchism is very nice....I shall have more to say about the subject later...
Translator's Introduction

Here's some work of Renzo Novatore, an Individualist Italian Anarchist (Which means that he was really a half individualist, half anarcho-communist anarchist, like myself). It's a name to keep in mind.

And....Fuck you Green Anarchy. You praise Novatore because he's an individualist yet you condemn the movement that made people like him....Anarcho-Communism...through calling him an alternative to boring papers like the Northeastern Anarchist. Surely he would have preferred to be in the organizational millieux rather than to throw it away for some superficial anti-civilizational eco-anarchism.
I'm reflecting on how it all began.

I started out as a Nietzschean anti-authoritarian. While people may associate Nietzsche with the right, to do so would be a serious error.

Nietzsche can be read both ways; I think that the basic breakdown is where you choose to focus-----do you choose to focus on the individual or do you choose to focus on how messed up society is?

In the world of Nietzsche what the response to that question signifies is the opposite of what it would signify anywhere else....people who read Nietzsche and see primarily personal liberation tend to be on the left end of the spectrum, while people who read Nietzsche and are preoccupied with his condemnation of society tend to be on the right end of the spectrum.


Because Nietzsche condemns society in some places as decadent and inferior to those who would pursue the 'will to power'. This can easily translate out into thinking that the whole world is worthless and you and your friends have the right to do anything you want to it and to the people in it that you please, because you see yourselves as superior.

I don't.

I focussed on Nietzsche and personal liberation; society might be oppressive, somewhat, but I don't dwell on it; neither do I believe that there's something inherently inferior, or lesser, about the society I live as compared to myself. And I most certainly don't see other people as inherently inferior, even if they are bad people who do really bad things to others. I may not like them, but I don't think that they're sub-human in any way, which is what the Fascists would say.

We're all human, and we can all achieve liberation and experience freedom. Collectively and individually.

Nietzsche was a great teacher; I was just rereading "Twilight of the Idols" last year, and reading it from the perspective of having a lot of philosophy under my belt changed the reading.

Nietzsche came across as the comsumate human anthropologist, critiqueing human folly from the point of view of one who has studied history, society, and culture, and knows the limitations of the human experience. But also, I suppose, the potentialities, although Nietzsche clearly doesn't think much of them.

However, in terms of anthropology and philosophy, Nietzsche's fundamental concepts of the Will to Power and the Eternal Return have become absolutely central in 20th and (21st) century study.

Nietzsche was a philologist, that is to say he studied human culture from a perspective not unlike that of the cultural anthropologists who came decades after him, with the caveat that he depended on literature and secondary sources rather than on first hand observation.

Interpreted in this light, the Eternal Return exists as a tendency because, as cultural anthropology has told us, the same fundamental mental, social, and cultural, functions that make up the human universe exist across the board, in 'primitive' tribes as well as in modern civilized man. This is surely a blow to the ego, but that's essentially what the Eternal Return is---the fact that try as we might the forms of human culture, the forms of life, remain relatively static despite some minor differences here and there.

The Will To power is the human urge to try to overcome this sameness and create something, whether in individual life or in an actual production of something or in an actual act which brings something forth, which transcends the cultural relativity which we're confronted wtih.

Can we do this? It remains to be seen. I think we can; but the actual working out of it is almost as valuable as the solution itself. And fun.

Well, that's left wing Nietzscheanism for you.

Final note: It's extraordinarily disappointing that left wing 'theory' authors appropriate Nietzsche's formal method of doing philosophy and organizing philosophical inquiry but discard practically all of the real spirit of radicalism in Nietzsche's thought.

The left has become a group which only touches Nietzsche when they want the machinery for abstract reasoning and not a group which uses his overt spirit of radicalism for their benefit, which is a shame. It can be done and it can be productive. Embrace his radical individualism and you'll have gained some authenticity for your theories of radical collectivism.

Monday, December 01, 2003

It's interesting to note, coming on the heels of the previous post, that Christopher Hill, in his introduction to "The world turned upside down", describes the type of government that was created in Britain after the Restoration of the monarchy (after the Civil War), as a commercially oriented empire controlled by the aristocrats and merchants.

That is to say, the effect of the English Civil War, which has been hailed endlessly as the birth of democracy, etc.. stemming from the fact that it stopped the consolidation of a classical absolutist state in England, really only led to a tempering of the absolutist nature of the State. The State itself continued, and evolved into the British Empire, but was commercial friendly and not exclusively monarchical, sort of a compromise between continental Absolutism and the commercial colonial regimes which evolved in small, but capitalistic, countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal.

The classical absolutist regimes would be Spain, France, and Prussia, with Russia being sort of a wildcard because although it was absolutist it got there from a totally different historical evolution than did the western European absolutist states---all of this just for your general info, by the way.

If Britain post Restoration was an semi-libertarian, with the semi being emphasized, combination of a commercial empire and an absolutist state then the State which the producers of the Constitutional system in the United States, the former colonies, intended for America was an amplification and exageration of this, along commercial lines.

It was a little more democratic, and more commercial, while maintaining the basic State power of keeping geographically near areas physically in check and sending armies to ensure the viability of commercial interests in less immediate parts of the world.

But it was, and is, a State in the tradition of England, France, and Germany, and an Empire in the tradition of the Dutch, the Belgians, and the Portugese.

This is how America presents itself to the world; and this is how most of the world knows us.

As for the citizens themselves, they think we live on an island which has never interfered with the rest of the world, and doesn't have an interest in doing so, either.

tributable to U.S. action that Ward Churchill has compiled in his latest book makes on realize the sheer violence that a pro-State government can create.

I think, of course, that a lot of it, although not all of it, can be attributed to the fact that in creating the constitution the so-called founding fathers decided to embark on state building and empire building instead of doing what most of the public wanted at the time----a break from empire and a somewhat conservative non-interventionist government.

If you think that the phrase American Empire is out of place you should consult the Federalist Papers wherein Alexander Hamilton, the power behind the throne during the Washington administration, says right out that if all the colonies joined together under one government then they’d for a geographic bloc which would be able to control all of the commerce of north america and the carribean and would become a power on the world scene as well.

This was their little experiment in empire building. Instead of saying “No thanks, I think we should just have a limited, democratically controlled, government”, the rich people of the United States decided to build up a State and then impose that State on the rest of the world, for their benefit.

Violence internally was probably speeded up; violence externally was immeasurably speeded up, as the places where the United States intervened in the western hempisphere and elsewhere were places which had meaning only for merchants and industrialists who knew how to make money there, or knew the potential for profits that likely existed. Normal people, who should have been the ones controlling the government, didn’t know about the interventions then, didn’t know where the places were if they did know about them, and didn’t know why we were doing it if they knew where they were. They wouldn’t have thought of invading them if they had been in charge, not from benevolence but simply because regular people have no interest in invading central and south america.

I think that the State, with the big S, the State as it exists in a form parallel to the absolutist States of Europe, old France, Spain, and later Prussia, has to be established by force and violence because it is not a natural growth coming from society.

Society may establish a state with a small s, but large imperial States are the product of the people in power in society and go against the natural grain of democratic progress.

So it is with the American State. Some people got the idea that the new world would be a great place to start a new State which could compete with the European States for global power, they formented a coup, put the Constitution in place, got their goal, and started interfering all around the world for greed and profit, oh, and ‘glory’, whatever sick mind invented that term, for the ‘glory of america’.

The American State, with a big S, has to be dismantled, so that only the American state, with a small s, remains. It would solve a lot of problems. Why don’t you call your congressman about defense spending right now?

Sunday, November 30, 2003

I've just added RSS capability for this blog. What is RSS you may ask. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, which means that, yes, if you to, you can have a feed on your site which essentially publishes the first paragraph of every frickin post on this site on your site with a link to more.

Personally, since I have no idea what I'm going to write, or where this site is going to go, and this site is totally at the whims of my depraved imagination, I think you'd have to be on crack to feature a lost highway times syndication on your website. But if this stuff floats your boat, go for it.

At the very least a few of our premier law enforcement agencies will probably appreciate the new service...;)

Oh, and by putting this out on syndication I'm also saying that syndication for private use isn't a copyright infringement. It's gratis on my part. Just don't take money for it; and don't reproduce any of my posts in any hard-copy collection without my permission.
I believe in non-violent direct action; I also believe in peace and love.
Think a minute about how those two can be reconciled if you want to understand where I'm coming from.
It's a good time to reiterate the purpose of this blog.
The purpose of this blog is for free discussion of a diverse number of topics. Although this blog supports non-violent direct action and civil disobediance, it does not encourage individuals to break the law of the land. Additionally, any subjects which, in terms of action, go beyond non-violent direct action and civil disobediance are discussed here only for academic reasons and are not to be construed as endorsements for the actual carrying out of them. Mostly, this refers to things like off hand comments that an equivalent of the Zapatistas would be good up here. Theoretically, yes, but I'm not suggesting therefore that y'all go out there and actually do it.

Anyways, when militant language is used or when a militant situation is discussed off hand, it's usually in the process of talking about an point regarding a feature of society or an observation about history, so it's not like I'm going around saying "Wouldn't it be nice to do this, this, and this, and, oh, by the way, you could do this that way, or the other way, or another way.".

My declaration that the militant stuff only exists on a theoretical level is accurate. Additionally, it is my right as an american to discuss controversial issues without it being assumed that if I discuss it I must secretly participate in it.
Comanches and native america...

Following up on my extreme dissatisfaction with how contacts between native americans and european settlers have been dealt with, and how native culture in general has been dealt with, I went on an expedition to my local academic library to try to find some solid ethnographic research on native american culture and society.

I have to say, as a non-Native American, that if I was a native and was looking through that book section I would feel like tearing the whole section down and getting rid of %90 percent of the books contained therein. I don't know which is worse, old anthropological texts which believe in some sort of evolutionary view of societies, which, increasingly, are hard to actually find although they're talked about a lot, or the sappy '70s esque personal writings by 'academics' who, in seeking to overthrow the old prejudices substitute a thousand new ones in their place.

My god, if these people had been writing in any other field they'd have been drummed out of there long ago. It seems that the first things which they discard, in trying to get beyond the now-only-found-in-history-books style of prejudice in the early literature are objectivity and the most basic scholarly considerations about dealing with a subject from a disinterested point of view. Things which apply to any subject. Any.

What I found....hmm...a book about the Chippewa (Anishanabe) which, in it's first pages waxed eloquent about the "Red Man's" (actual quote) way of life in the Great Lakes region, his harmony with nature, and about the terrible things that have happened to the region since it became an industrial hub.

While I sympathize with the thought, the expression of it has no place in a book which is supposed to be an informative study of actual Chippewa beliefs, social organization, and history. Pure and simple.

Neither does the confession by another writer, this time on the more specific theme of religious beliefs of native americans, that ever since he went to a summer camp which made the children dress up as indians and even say some indian prayers over the camp fire that he'd been a secret devotee of the Lakota supreme deity.

The idea of that not only being included in an academic book but being featured in the introduction to it is a horrifying thought. It perjures everything that this man may have been trying to say, at the least. At the very least. At the worst it's an indication of what's to come. Unfortunately, since I have no tolerance for these things, I didn't read much of it beyond the first part and so cannot say if this person is somewhat befuddled but has important observations or if his writing contains nothing of value whatsoever.

And these two books were only a selection from the best ones which, in my investigation, looked the least flaky. There were plenty of others which were obviously worthless popular books by either white people posing as indians and explaining native american spirituality or by natives cashing in on white people's thirst for Indian-esque writings and ideas and spinning their own, perhaps only slight I don't know, knowledge of their traditions into Guru level authority.

And this in an academic library. And this in an academic library, I'll say it again. These books have no more place there than do books on making mixed drinks although, like fake native american books, these surely would be popular with the student and possibly faculty population as well.

I went over to the Anthropology section, only to find that there was no Native American or even Meso-American anthroplogy section. It had roughly four times as many writings on anthropological theory as it had objective field work based studies. The Native American anthropology section was consolidated with the history section, where I had been looking.

And then there was Hultenkranz. I don't want to dwell on Ake Hultenkranz except to say that in a field where, if my library is any indication, there is a dearth of actual primary studies of native american history, religion, and culture, there isn't the luxury to indulge in Eliade (Mircea Eliade, anthropologist) style speculations about where the myths of native cultures fit into the structure of the so-called 'History of Religions'. Without better, objective, studies, speculation like that is just bull shit, pure and simple, and insulting bullshit at that.

But I finally did manage to find what I was looking for; a basic study of a native group which was aware of the most elementary principles for doing history, sociology, anthropology, analysis, and which included, amazingly enough, actual source material gathered from native americans by the author. He actually did field work.

It was a doctoral dissertation about the Comanches, and, as I work through it, is very good and enlightening.

Now that the bitching is out of the way I'll comment on what the work says about euro-american colonization and native american survival.

Well, the story of the Comanches goes a little like this: they migrated down into the plains from further up in the northwest, maybe from present day idaho or wyoming. They were a hunting people who depended on fresh meat for survival. They didn't cultivate crops, they migrated throughout the year. Prior to settlement, which I'll get to in a little bit, they scavenged vegetables to augment their diet, became great horsemen and horse breeders, and made beadwork and other products to trade with other groups as well as Europeans for western goods.

They weren't really a tribe, but had a loose system of comradery; life on the war path, which was what every man was prepped for, was decided by either individuals or war chiefs; life on the home front was decided by peace chiefs and occasionally a council convened in conjunction with the whole band.

What happened to the Comanche is that, in order to break their power, because they had been attacking white settlements and resisting white incursion into their terrritory, the government and private people killed all the buffalo in Comanche territory.

So they made it physically impossible for them to follow their old ways by obliterating their staple food, which they also used to make their tents, clothing, pots, bags, utensils, and parts of their weapons out of.

Then, when they persisted, they killed all their horses. The horses were the other animal they depended on.

Now with the infrastructure for their way of life totally destroyed they were totally at the mercy of the government. The government forced them onto a reservation where they were forced to become farmers and ranchers. Both were dreams, because once they were deprived of the means of resisting the government and gave themselves up to them they were treated as badly by it as could be. Every aspect of life was managed by the government in the reservation. Can you say totalitarianism? I thought you could.

What people don't realize is that, not being westerners, they couldn't adapt to western ways of makeing a living. What if a whole bunch of Americans were dropped into a nomadic civilization in central asia and told "Here, now your nomads, go off with them and live like nomads, there shouldn't be any problems if you just follow the rules"? Oh yeah, and you can't ever come back to the U.S.A., you're stuck living in central asia as a nomad for the rest of your life.

Do you think that a lot of suburb bred white americans would like that?
What if they had no choice and were just ripped out of a normal suburban life, shipped over to central asia, plopped down in a nomadic society, whose language they can't understand, and told, here, here's your new life, accept it or else. You can never come home.

What happened to the Comanches after that the reader can probably guess; it follows the pattern. They did get some relief in the New Deal, though, when the genocidal policies were officially stopped, replaced by policies that stopped short of officially wanting the end of all native society and culture, if not of native americans in general.

I want, then to focus on the issues of a people who do not come from a western background forced to exist within a western society, with no resources for engaging in a traditional way of life which is based on different principles from the surrounding society in order to resist this culture.

'Society' is a funny word; it's almost never total---one person's idea of a stable society can be shown in the next instant to be as flimsy as a leaf; there isn't any reason to assume, before the facts have come in, that western society really surrounds Comanche society in as a decisive way as some people believe. There's still room, in my opinion, for a resistance based on traditional ways of forming society and interacting with the land, to form, and to form a counter society within itself.

Maybe the point of this has been lost in these paragraphs relating opinions and facts. The indians of today have a few options open to them; either be totally dependent on the government for a subsistance existence, because their way of life is so totally counter to mainstream U.S. society that they can't survive in it except by hand outs, resist, or assimilate.

A person from a euro-american background has a lot of paths open to him; they can get a job and go to college; they can learn a trade, get a house and a wife and settle down; they can open up a business or join the ranks of a corporation, if they so desire; they can seek fortune and fame as a writer. All of these paths are accepted, approved of, and recognized as legitimate within euro-american culture, and the fabric of society is set up to facillitate the movement on these paths of individuals.

What if you come from a society which doesn't have all that? Which has different cultural institutions, different ways of organizing society and life, different ways and different ideas about 'making a living', different outlooks about the point of life, in short a different society altogether? And you're not allowed to pursue status, life, your future, within the bounds of your society? What if the means of developing your culture so that it could have comparable institutions, if wanted, to the settlers' culture are denied totally, and are not only denied totally but denied to such a fierce extent that it only lets you live at a subsistence level if you want to pursue alternate, for them, ways of living?

I think, as an outsider, what needs to happen, or what would be awfully nice to see happen, would be an evasion of the constraints put on indians by the government and a reclamation of the traditional economy and society in spite of it's protestations. Then self definition could happen.

After all, this is what happened with the Maya and the Zapatistas.

The Maya reclaimed their way of life, instituted their own forms of government, and kicked out the spanish-mexican influence.

Maybe, if they're not crushed, we'll see a crop of writers from San Cristobal expressing their views about what happened from a Mayan perspective, in the future.

What happened with the Zapatistas and the Maya could happen in the United States as well with native american groups, indeed, has happened to a lesser extent in various occupations and stand offs.

While I don't suggest a Zapatista paramilitary group for the U.S., in theory resistance of this sort makes an awful lot of sense.

My god, I'm trying to get away from the brain fry that I've gotten from trying to learn 'Childhood's End' on the guitar....

Good time to settle some old business. The people and the aristocracy....

A really principal difference between French and American politics is that the French are much more descriptive and aware of what their politics mean, what groups are referred to, what aren't, and what allegiance to one group means as opposed to another.

Looking at the French Revolution, the concept of the People springs out as something which citizens of the United States don't have any understanding of.

You see, in French history there's a difference between the idea of general liberty and of a government of the People. The first can coexist with an aristocratic system, and can mean nothing more than the prerogatives of the ruling class extended to the whole of the nation. The second implies actual self-rule by the non-aristocrats to the exclusion of any inherited noble traditions.

The first road leads to monarchy or constitutional monarchy of some sort, with provisions in place to ensure some sort of general liberty and equality, while the second leads to a true Republic.

Most politics in the United States doesn't recognize that between liberty and the will of the people there exists the potential for a very serious and deep gap of meaning and understanding.

Consequentially, political discourse in the United States revolves around liberty, and to that effect resolves into discussions between various members of the upper classes while those in the lower classes, the People, just come along for the ride assuming that if the concepts and ideas which are bantered around by their favorite upper class demagogue are those which they themselves would come up with if they were asked, or given a chance, to formulate them for themselves.

The people are used and abused by an upper class which has convinced them that there are no issues which divide the various estates, and that an impoverished discourse on liberty, where nothing is really said about the subject in a meaningful way, is inclusive enough to address all important aspects of life.

The People aren't exactly the working class, that's a later development, but they are those who lie beneath the veneer, the film, of aristocratic politics and culture, the film which appropriates the voice of the nation for itself while the mass of the People are forced to lay silent and are not called upon.

The 'founders' of the United States evaded the question of aristocracy by saying that there's enough land for anyone to become a freeholding yeoman---the basic unit of acceptable society under the aristocratic regime in 18th century England. Never mind that there wasn't ever any evidence put forward to support that, never mind that that essentially dodges the question by assuming that the best of all possible worlds exists and is not only possible but fated to become reality.

So, despite the early and serious class divisions which attended the beginning of the United States, the 'founders' denied there was a problem and continued using the language and concepts of an aristocratic society which spoke largely to and from itself. The emergence of the People on the political scene of the United States is long overdue.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

If you want a counterpoint to all of the corporate media coverage of the FTAA protests, which I attended and participated in thank you very much, you couldn't do better than to read "Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times" by Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury, particularly his essay on enthusiasm.

In a wonderful coincidence, or maybe the unconscious intuiting the future, whichever way you want to look at it, I read most of the essay a few days before the protests, not knowing beforehand what it was about.

What Shaftesbury says is that enthusiam, by which he means riots and explosions of social chaos, are actually good for society in general because they work out social tensions that people carry with them in their day to day lives. Shaftesbury comments that the amount of police neccesary to assure that these riots never break out would kill everything valuable and good about society in the process of making sure that any hint of rebellion was suppressed.

Miami is a good example of Shaftesbury's ideas in action. Some people wanted militant protest; the cops didn't want to have it work it self out, or to deescalate it; instead they attacked and tried to destroy the entire protest, militant and non-militant included, and in the process created more problems for themselves than they would have had if they were a little less psychotic and vengeful in dealing with the people protesting.

And Miami was totally shut down; at least downtown. It was a police state where, if you weren't confronting the cops in a mass demonstration you were dependent on their every whim, totally in their control, for the ensurance of your treatment as a citizen who had rights as opposed to an enemy which was to be destroyed.

Not exactly conditions that encourage the finer points of civilization---or of basic society and culture.

I'd rather not live life with a gun pointed at my head.
If you want a counterpoint to all of the corporate media coverage of the FTAA protests, which I attended and participated in thank you very much, you couldn't do better than to read "Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times" by Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury, particularly his essay on enthusiasm.

In a wonderful coincidence, or maybe the unconscious intuiting the future, whichever way you want to look at it, I read most of the essay a few days before the protests, not knowing beforehand what it was about.

What Shaftesbury says is that enthusiam, by which he means riots and explosions of social chaos, are actually good for society in general because they work out social tensions that people carry with them in their day to day lives. Shaftesbury comments that the amount of police neccesary to assure that these riots never break out would kill everything valuable and good about society in the process of making sure that any hint of rebellion was suppressed.

Miami is a good example of Shaftesbury's ideas in action. Some people wanted militant protest; the cops didn't want to have it work it self out, or to deescalate it; instead they attacked and tried to destroy the entire protest, militant and non-militant included, and in the process created more problems for themselves than they would have had if they were a little less psychotic and vengeful in dealing with the people protesting.

And Miami was totally shut down; at least downtown. It was a police state where, if you weren't confronting the cops in a mass demonstration you were dependent on their every whim, totally in their control, for the ensurance of your treatment as a citizen who had rights as opposed to an enemy which was to be destroyed.

Not exactly conditions that encourage the finer points of civilization---or of basic society and culture.

I'd rather not live life with a gun pointed at my head.
A thought about the economy......

If no one showed up to work one day, then no one would be missing work, and system would be forced to negotiate with the strikers, thereby ending pure capitalism as we know it.

Colonization in North America, and in the Americas in general, unansweared questions and mysteries.

The strange thing about contact between Europeans and the indigenous people's of the Americas is that there appears to be no comprehension of the indigenous people as living in societies that were understandable to the Europeans.

Inidgenous culture has come down to us as being largely a mystery, and I'd like to ask why that is.

I would suggest, to begin, that people in Europe, especially navigators who were attached to merchants, were not as provincial as they were made out to be. People in Europe, not people in general maybe but more than a few, were surely aware of the Ottoman empire to the east, and that east of that there was India, and that east of that lay China. They were aware of Africa, if only of it's trading and merchant centers.

Now in all of these cases, even in that of Africa, whatever the Europeans may have thought about the culture they acknowledged it as possesing a structure similar to their own. Maybe Africa is the exception to this due to the lack of contact between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, but surely one can trace similar forms of government stretching from Eastern Europe into the middle east, into the area now occupied by Afghanistan and Pakistan, into northern India, and even into China. If my understanding is correct the great powers didn't treat these political and social groupings as totally primitive but instead bartered with them over power and only gradually were able to make them dependent on the Europeans. Russia in the Caucasus and in Central Asia is a similar, if more brutal, example of this.

So why, given that certain parts of European society were comfortable with dealing with non Western societies, did the indigenous people of the Americas, particularly of North America, appear to be such a question mark, one which inspired some writers to revolutionary scenarios based on their wonderment at these new and exotic societies?

What difference is there between tribal organization in Central Asia or in the Caucasus and tribal organization in New York State, Michigan, Wisconsin, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia?

For that matter, if we're talking about beliefs, are the beliefs of Native Americans more different, in terms of degree, from European concepts of religion and worldview than are those of Siberian tribes, or of Chinese folk beliefs, or of Hindu concepts of the world?

Why are Native American beliefs, out of all the range of belief systems out there, regarded by citizens of the U.S.A. as being incomprehensable and mysterious, only being able to be touched on by sappy cliches, not understood as what they are---valid ways of seeing the world?

It may be somewhat different in South America, where the Inca had more of the hallmarks of 'civilization', and fought the Spanish to preserve it, but there's no reason why American Indians had to be regarded as outside of history and beyond the pale. Surely a reckoning could have taken place which placed them somewhere betwen Europe and Asia.

The idea that the presence of a new continent and new people's inhabiting it shook things up because such facts were not accounted for in the Bible is false. Although, in my understanding, the bible does mention africa asia and europe, the sketchiness of it's description is surely overpowered by the variety of people's and places which actually exist either in the hinterlands of Europe or in the actuality of Africa and Asia.

Marco Polo's account of his time spent in China, getting there, coming back, were a great hit in Europe. Qualitatively, there isn't any difference, after a certain point, between people's totally foreign to the European world in the Asian continent and those totally foreign to the European world on the American continents.

So why was there not an incorporation of them into the general world view of the times?

Why was there not a recognition of the complexity of native culture?

I can't answear this, except to say that maybe there was, but it was just swept under the rug. And forgotten about.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Derek Seidman: an Interview with Michael Yates
Good interview with Michael Yates...a radical economist and labour educator.

Ah, I remember my semi-working class youth.....semi-working class because when I got to be about 15 years old a really nice reversal of fortune allowed us to move on up out of working class wasn't without it's bad points, like, for example, leaving the neighborhood, but that's for another entry...

I came from a radical family anyways, and so that put me apart, but, anyways, back to the point of this entry, which is....

I never really felt guilty about leaving my neighborhood and trading it for better conditions, although I've since started to work for social justice and working class power, because, quite frankly, there are as many cons in the working class world as there are in the bourgeois world.

What I hated then, hate now, and will never stand for, is the false sense of working-class gravitas that people were expected to put on in order to get anywhere. Being a virtuous worker was OK, it meant that you conformed to all of the bullshit, and ultimately bourgeois, standards, sold out, and got ahead; but it wasn't OK to be working class and be a rebel, or to be working class and to be a Punk, or to drop out of society instead of giving blow jobs to the school administrators.

I was a punk and a virtual drop out; I moved from a regular school to an alternative school, and probably wouldn't have even finished high school if I hadn't gotten the chance to go to a really nice, academically rigorous, private school in the suburbs.

I have no regrets about taking that opportunity, because it meant moving from an Alternative school, full of other working-class miscreants, where I would probably not have learned a damn thing or gotten any sort of an education, to a passport to freedom.

And, most importantly, if the working-class leaders in my school system had had any say about it I'd be pumping gas right now while their kiss up progeny advanced on to college.

I'm for the working class, am part of it, but I have no sympathy for people who do the boss's work and agree with the boss's values.