Sunday, March 30, 2003

The immanence of a seperate materialist strand of history is false---there's nothing that's not contextualized in history and that doesn't include the action and thought of individuals.
There's a great article in the April 14th "In These Times" by G. William Domhoff, author of "Who owns America?", which unfortunately is not available through their website, entitled "Which side are we on?" which brings a much needed perspective to things and which encroaches on a broader topic, which I'll call "The end of the independent dialectic in Marxist thought".

Basicly, Domhoff's thesis in the article is that for the Left in America to win and gain influence it needs to abandon simplistic characterizations of favored groups out of power as being totally virtuous and of those in power, or benefitting from power, as being totally corrupt, and instead come to a coalition of people who are in support of progressive politics and who act against those who despise progressive values instead of scapegoating people.

This is not an abandonment of class and class politics altogether as the issues which Domhoff recognizes constitute the current progressive agenda are solidly rooted in capitalism's abuses against the poor, the working class, and minorities.

But it does signal a turning away from a practice initiated by Marxists long ago which is both logically and philosophically inaccurate and which is harmful for practical politics on many levels---that of choosing a group or sub group and habitually referring to all members of it as being virtuous by no other reason than that they happened to be born into that category, and of villifying all of those who belong to categories thought to be antagonistic to those of the virtuous group as being totally corrupt and against all progressive values.

Which is not to say that capitalists and the bourgeois are all pretty, or that a great many of them really do live up to the stereotypes, but instead to fudge for reason and human realism in the face of a false conception of dialectical development.

Domhoff argues that progressive values are more likely to make an impact if they are brought into the real world--as opposed to going into making signs denouncing "Blood sucking capitalists". It's important to understand the world of fantasy which he's suggesting people wake up from.

That fantasy, basicly, is the notion held in Marxist circles that the history of class struggle represents an insight into the progression of events which is unsullied by anything but itself and so which constitutes a sort of sacred interpretation of history which alots winners and losers, people worthy of support and those worthy of scorn, according to the mechanical workings of the system as it progresses. This I term the Independent Dialectical view of history. Independent because it exists for itself only and dialectical because that's the form in which the theory is couched.

The problem with this interpretation of history has both an ethical and a philosophical prong to it. The ethical one was realized in Marx's contests with Moses Hess, his mentor and a fellow Young Hegelian, when Marx was first starting to formulate his system. Against the general Young Hegelian trend to deduce moral principles from Hegel's system of thought or religious principles in development, which always engaged the mind as well as the material aspects of life, Marx asserted that it was ok for the working class to be motivated by feelings of hate and resentment as long as it was part of the process of the working class coming to power through the class struggle.
The end would justify the means. But, although this was in part a show of sympathy for working class movements which we decidedly not friendly with the bourgeois, it's implications came to mean that if the understanding of history as class struggle was to be accepted that a portion of the workers' individuality could acceptably be annihalated and the consequent mass particpant consciousness be used by others, if it meant that this moved things towards the ultimate end which was favourable for the workers involved.

Vanguard philosophy is not what concerns us at the moment, but the implication of an acceptable dehumanization and consequent glorifying of less than noble characteristics "for the revolution" does.

Because if Marx is right, or his current hard line followers are right, then there seems to be no way for people to progress than to sacrifice the individualism and individual attainment which so much of the time is what is wanted by people out of power---with the whole host of progressive ideas regarding social obligations coming as a part of that package deal.

Ethically, this encourages people to gratify their worst desires if it means skewering the capitalist, and it means disallowing any virtuous conduct on behalf of the priveleged since they are by the same system deemed incapable of any such acts. Not good. From a ritually accepted dehumanization often comes some of the worst crimes that humanity is capable of, and leads to the ascension of the worst monsters.

But the greater error, which involves the ethical one, is philosophical. Namely, if the tides of history have been somehow divined by someone, and are intelligable, and if the values of the future are known and understood by someone, then aren't the people who are to become part of the mass of a working class movement which thrives on cultivated hate capable of percieving this great wisdom as well as the one who discovered it? And doesn't that mean that that knowledge will prevent them from ever again surrendering their individuality for a totally class based movement and cultivating cheap resentment against those who have power over them?

Wouldn't that knowledge free a person to engage in the struggle for social change in a more affirmative and self-realized manner, which combines personal achievement with collective values, and consequently be a good thing, even though it might gum up the works for the Marxist theoretician?

But then if that happened then it would invalidate the idea that the dialetic of history exists totally independently, in and of itself, from all other currents of thought and models of history, and it would destroy it's status as a firm ground from which to base philosophic speculations.

This, I believe, is the reality of the situation. There exists no independent dialectic; instead the reality resembles more of what I've described, with working class movements succeeding the more that they actually bring their members into the fold and encouraging their self development along with pushing for collective social change and mutual aid.

Anarchism, of course, captures this idea quite well, and no doubt Domhoff's ideas will resonate with people from these oppressed classes who do value their own participation in these struggles, and who take offense with the idea that they're 'supposed' to support slogans like 'down with the blood sucking capitalists' because it's in their best interests.

Maybe Domhoff's article, if it gets some good circulation, can serve as a document to facillitate discussion between the anti-globalization movement and the smaller anarchist movement, as it bridges the gap between those two cultures, if only implicitly, quite well.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Instead of the positive aspects of corporate values it should read the valuable aspects of corporate values.

Just to be sure here, I'm not talking about businesses when I use the term corporate, okay?
Clarifying the previous post: if it can work in Europe it can work in the U.S. If we're willing to see that the Founding Fathers only addressed one side of the coin and that taking a more balanced view of things isn't unpatriotic but is just reflecting the historical and social reality around us we could see that socialism isn't such a bad idea, and that there's nothing in it that is inimical to the values of the Founding Fathers. They stressed one aspect of the Enlightenment, but there are others.

Isaiah Berlin's biography of Marx makes this abundantly clear: he points out that the Enlightenment had both positive and critical aspects, and that the American memory of the Enlightenment through the Founding Fathers focusses almost exclusively on the positive while ignoring the critical aspects inherent in that tradition.

Liberty, yes, but isn't Liberty also the opposite of Tyranny? And if Tyranny is to be opposed doesn't that say something more about the kind of society envisioned than contemplating the pure concept of Liberty does?

An awareness of the critical side of the Enlightenment, which was used to skewer absolutism and religious bigotry, could illuminate the enduring values present in our tradition the manifestation of which call for a more corporate awareness of self and society than do the purely positive values.

The critical side of the Enlightenment could point the way back to the positive side of corporate thinking and thereby back to the mainstream of European history by way of posing problems of collective liberty pointed out by the criticism of institutions. If criticism of institutions proceeds in depth then it opens a void up where solution appears to involve members of society en masse instead of as individuals. The positing of libertarian solutions in this context is a way of returning to the collective values which are located within European history.

From libertarian collectivist solutions comes a more balanced view which accepts liberty without making the pursuit of total liberty a game which constantly pits the concept of pure freedom against collective values of empowerment.

This is somewhat akin to Bakunin's concept of supply and demand, needs and production, evening themselves out in an anarcho-syndicalist republic after a period of trial and error, through which libertarian forms are found that work and after which society settles down to it's normal pace.
Socialism as a European Maoism:

It's ofted been said that Socialism is foreign to European--and by extension American---civilization because of the fact that it stresses human relationships in the corporate aspect instead of paying pure attention to relationships of people as total individuals. But this is only the case if you take as European thought the literature and attitudes of the Enlightenment considered in isolation from the rest of European history as the be all and end all of European attitudes.

I should explain the title of this essay. Maoism, to a large extent, is a reaction to western values on top of being a hard-core socialism. True, Maoism is much more westernizing in it's doctrine than are some of the other 'third world socialisms' that developed, but it was the first branch of hard-core socialism to break off from the western streams and declare that there was something more to the difference between West and East than different economic situations.

Maoism subscribed to the values of the Chinese president, revolutionary, and scholar Sun Yat-Sen, who declared one of the three major principles of Chinese civilization to be 'Livelihood' or Socialism.

The point is that Maoism recognized that there was something traditional in socialism which came from Chinese society and which was more fundamental than revolution, or was something to be recognized along with the revolutionary principle.

From there the idea that the order of traditional non-western societies, when translated into modern intellectual terms, contained a great deal of what people would consider Socialism was developed into African Socialism, Asian Socialism, Arab Socialism, etc...

Although these currents of thought, along of course with Maoism itself, fostered some serious reactionary concepts along with the more positive and progressive ones, the fundamental message still rang true: Western society and intellectual life, which considered the individual to be totally on his own in the world, without the obligations of helping anyone beyond himself, and which had no cohesive view of Society in general, was a totally foreign and destructive doctrine----which was wise to avoid, whether one was the most ardent of revolutionaries wishing for western liberalism to come to ones country or the most turgid conservative who just wanted things to stay the same.

So in entitling this essay European Maoism I'm suggesting that what has been done in third world countries with respect to the doctrines considered above can easily be done with respect to European history----thereby making socialism in Europe and in the New World not something totally new which was developed in response to laissez-faire capitalism alone but something which goes to the heart of Western identity, just as the paralell values do in non-western societies. And that an integration of socialism into life, particularly into American life where the concept isn't even understood much less acted on, is not such a radical thing but more of a ratification of cultural values long held over the intellectual developments of the past four hundred years.

In saying this I'm not aligning myself with anti-Enlightenment radicals who want to turn back the clock to a premodern fascistic state, or who think that Liberalism has not brought anything of value to society. Not at all. But there's a difference between thinking of the Enlightenment as a development contextualized within the greater scope of European history and thinking of it as something totally new, a development completely cthonic, which emancipated Europeans from history forever more.

The Enlightenment and the liberalism generally flowing from it I picture as just another possibility within the nexus of European cultural and social values which have developed within the past two thousand years or more. That is, the Enlightenment truely is a new development, and one which has surely led to great strides towards freedom, but it is also one whose basis and orientation lies totally within the scope of European history, meaning that ultimately it's not an emancipation from history but a move to a better position within the realm of possibilities offered by the cultural development of Europe.

It's important not to get caught up in the competition between closely linked yet short historical movements to the detriment of the whole; the contest between the Enlightenment and Romanticism is an example of such a situation, where the competing values have become so overblown by their respective partisans that their place in the whole is frequently overlooked altogether.

If socialism, which proceded from Romanticism, is taken as being a ratification or correcting influence on the Enlightenment, then we're stuck in the same boat we were before with justifying the Enlightenment in the first place; this means that in order for Socialism to be accurate it must be agreed upon that the Enlightenment period was a true emancipation from history, and that we don't have to be concerned with how our actions towards a more social mode of being stack up when compared with the lessons of hundreds of years of history which preceded it. This idea is open to a lot of fire because the Enlightenment has been so hypostatized that I'm curious if people in general would recognize it's values within the presentation that some socialists give it.

Yes, Socialism followed the Enlightenment, but the socialist reaction against the Enlightenment falls to the ground if, instead of taking the past four hundred years as your mark you instead go back much further in European history, to Classical Times even.

Taking the broad look it becomes apparant that for the majority of Europe's history people have seen themselves as being much more corporate in relationship to their fellow man than the individualists advocating Enlightenment values view things.
Far from being a contest between liberalism and reaction, or between radicalism and conservatism, a corporate sense of being has been the status quo for a very long time and so is simply a natural European value, just as it is in every other culture on the planet.

I think a great mistake that the people who preach radical individualism make is attributing the status of eternal truth to things which Enlightenment writers knew were attitudes which they had carefully constructed through a historicist perspective from the thought of the Rennaisance and of the Classical world. The people who constituted the Enlightenment knew that they were basing their ideas on sound historical evidence and precedent, even if what they were advocating was somewhat unconventional within the context they were living in. Peter Gay, in his wonderful history, calls this the Birth of Modern Paganism. Check his account out.

If they knew what they were doing could be seen as at least an emancipation which rested on previous sources for fuel, then why can't we say that liberalism is a valid trend of European thought which can be concieved of as a modality within the possibilties offered by European culture---and so not a-historical at all, and so not an argument against a sense of corporate being or social programs based on it.

If the Enlightenment can be conceptualized in corporate terms which are based on a careful historicist and historical understanding of things, then why can't it be admitted that Socialism as a ratification of the culture which Europe has lived for thousands of years is not in opposition to liberalism---the child of the enlightenment---and that therefore there is no life and death struggle between Enlightenment values and percieved conservative reaction, but just a deepening of our sense of time and of history, and of what that sense means for the politics and social programs, and social movements, of today?
Happy Birthday Blog! This Blog is now one year old.

Friday, March 28, 2003

I don't realize if Fox News and company know it yet, but the rules have changed, and changed out of their favor. You see, before Bush attacked Iraq, the left restrained itself from making the criticisms that it REALLY wanted to make because, well, they thought that acting as a conservative rear guard against radical rightists like Fox was more important. It wasn't that they didn't have any fight in them, but instead that they thought it was more important to fight with common sense than with polemics.

Now, all of that is gone. There is no reason in the world now why progressives should not bring out the big guns, ideologically speaking, and say what's been on their minds this whole time, and start advocating the things that they REALLY believe in but didn't want to push because of fear that it would upset things.

I think that Fox and all of it's neo-fascist kin will find that Leftists can put up more of a fight than Fox's "all bluff, no cards" stance could ever effectively counter.

So, my fellow leftists, let's start cutting the shit and instead of writing nice polite little puff articles on "oh how bad Bush is, and oh how stupid this war is" actually come out advocating the kind of change that America needs by writing about the problems that are really going on in this nation, instead of acting like a bunch of perfumed hacks preying on the long suffering opposition to Bush. What about Health Care? What about Education? What about a Living Wage? What about Unions? What about Jobs in general? What about Poverty? What about homelessness? What about tax breaks for the rich? What about the assault on any avenue to oppose corporations when they have done a person wrong? What about malnutrition? What about Pollution? What about the Racialization of Pollution? What about corrupt cops? What about denial of higher education to the working class, and the exclusion of foreign students from our universities? What about the break down in infrastructure, about the abandonment of large sections of this country by corporations, making them into ghost towns supported by the Prison System, because, well "That's what the market demands!" . What about Corporatization of the schools? What about jobs heading south, heading west, heading everyplace but the U.S.? What about clean elections? Eh?

Why the hell aren't you writing about these things? Why? Is there any reason for holding back whatsoever from pushing a progressive agenda? The worst has happened. It's already happened. The ultra-conservatives have now realized our worst fears by attacking a country which has done us absolutely no harm, pure for the sake of oil interests, and is now massacreing civilians as we speak. What is there to prevent? What use is it to try to be the voice of reason againt Fox news while Fox news and the people supporting it have already done what our worst fears indicated they might do.

Time to take off the gloves. It's not about restraining the Bush administration anymore it's about pushing for a better America in totality.
Leonard Pitts Jr., you wrote a real interesting article lately, didn't you?
Important Message to Readers!


I know you're out there, because in the past week, and possibly longer, things which I have written on this web site, which is all copyrighted by Lost Highway Times, by the way, have been having a way of winding up in other people's article without any attribution at all. Oh, I'm not just talking about a phrase here or there---what about a theme which was covered on this website alone and which the alternative media in general didn't have any idea existed winding up being the centerpiece of a guy's article? That's happened.

And they get payed for it, while I don't. And they get attribution for it, while I don' don't you 1) drop me a line telling me what you think about the site and quit acting like you don't even know it exists and 2) stop stealing my ideas, you god damn sons of bitches.

If you think that you can take articles posted up here, edit out the objectionable flourishes, rework them under your by line, claim them as your own, and get them in print and get paid for it at the same time you've got another thing coming, buck 'o. I read your papers and I know your names. And I have access to lawyers.

Welcome to Iraqland, or not

Great article on Smirking Chimp pointing out the odd ahistoricity of American politics, and, now by extension of American imperialism. This ahistoricity in my opinion comes from the domination of social and political life by anglo-elites who are descended from people who were here around the time of the Founding Fathers and who want to extend that historical moment indefinitely. This isn't just propaganda.

If you look at the histories of the United States written even up to the early sixties you get a feeling that the United States was only settled a few years before the books were written, and that nothing had essentially changed since then. So the history of the U.S. is a March Towards Democracy, with all of the partisan conflicts and, oh yeah, that thing called the "Civil War", just being stopping points on our way to greater glory. I can't think of a better perspective on this than was given by the historian----damn, I can't think of his first name---who's last name is Ostrander (dutch) in his introduction to his book "The Rights Of Man In America", where he states that up until the sixties basiclly all of the prominent scholars of U.S. history could have become members of the "Sons of the American Revolution" if they so desired.

It's the continued hegemony of this class of people which prevents the actual historical sense present with a great many Americans of minority and non-anglo backgrounds, from coming to the forefront and influencing public opinion and foreign policy. George W. Bush is a perfect example of the type of Anglo I'm describing: Grandson of a Senator, Great Grandson of an Industrialist, Son of a scion of the elite from Connecticut who had access to all of the elite instutions of his day and raised his children among them. And who was President after being the head of the Republican Party and a token head of the CIA.

The reason why America looks so damn ahistorical is that the moment which these people are trying to hold onto has aged so much that it has little real relevance for todays life, and is even a gross distortion of the political and social thought of early America at this point as well.

History is being written from the point of the victors, despite the great movements in the '60s and '70s, preceded by efforts during the Depression, to change the voice which defined what America is to be more inclusive of diverse experiences.

We haven't won yet. But we're on the way. Unfortunately, we've been sidetracked by the partial reabsorbtion of the movement into the elite world. But I won't belabor that point.

The fact is, though, that there are a great many Americans out there who do have a strong historical sense---who remember stories of what they're ancestors who immigrated here had to go through and what the struggle of the family, or the community, to gain a rightful place in American society has entailed.

America has plenty of stories of ethnic conflict, of class conflict, religious conflict, frontier experiences, urban experiences, tension, dynamism, just as any other country does; but they don't get listened to, and the possesors of this memory or insight are often confined to communities where they have little chance of ever communicating it to the national scene. But it's there nonetheless.

A person who I saw who was a---damn I don't know the word---doing a live action reenactment of Mother Jones pointed out in her routine that almost none of us in America came to this country with money, that everyone, no matter what their current situation, is a scion of the working class, with all of the blood and struggle of that experience in their family history, whether they want to acknowledge that or not.

The thing for foreign readers to remember is that we're a comparatively new country, and that the excesses which would have been evened out through centuries of history in Europe are still present here. At least some of them. This in turn allows egregious situations, like the continued dominance of an ethnic minority in this country, to go on despite the enourmous weight of common sense against it.

This also mean that it's up to Americans now to act on the stage of history in order to correct these abuses and turn the country into something which is somewhat reasonable in light of internationally accepted ethical standards.

I think that the American situation has to be seen in light of the experience of other new world countries. Brazil, for instance, is emerging as a mulatto republic---I don't mean that as an insult at all---where the traditional Portugese elite have fallen somewhat to an ideal of a racially, ethnically, and religiously, mixed country---which is also somewhat socialist.

This is one road which the U.S. could pursue as well. But actually, before any discussions of things like that, it has to be pointed out that the U.S. is probably the only country in the New World that doesn't even have a basic awareness of the fact that it's a former colony, and that it hasn't been here from the beginning of time, and that with this fact brings others which one needs to reconcile with in order to even have a basic understanding of the place of the U.S. in the international order and in world history.

This goes somewhat deeper than simple ethnic domination, and I don't profess to have the answer as to why it exists. Maybe it feeds into the domination of ethnics and minorities by Anglos, but there seems to be an element there which is deeper than all of that.

I grew up in an intensely ethnically diverse area in the United States; I had friends who were Italian, Ukranian, Jewish, German, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, Hispanic, Armenian, even nearly full blooded Native Americans, and, to a certain extent, African American as well. At least I was on decent terms with some of my areas few African Americans.

Just a statement of fact, not a judgement there.

But despite all of this, and despite the fact that the origins of all of this ethnicity in little Ghettos was only an hours' drive away, it took a great deal of reading and researching on my part to really be aware of the fact that we are a colony and that this colonialism has brought some really bad things in it's wake.

It's interesting that the author points out the great gap between the rhetoric regarding Canada and the reality of U.S. relations, because Canada is another country which has come to terms with it's colonial past.

The difference is that ethnicity in Canada is more compartamentalized and less freely interacting than in the U.S., but it's interesting that even a country within which a great many people cheered on it's continued association with Great Britain has managed to gain awareness of it's origins. Canada is much more conservative than the U.S., which might lead one to think that it would be more resistant to this kind of thing than we are. But it shows that even across partisan lines self awareness is possible.

Maybe that's what we need---self awareness. But unlike Canada the original ethnic rulers of the colonial United States don't have the numbers or the tradition needed to establish an understanding of self awareness regarding the history of the country based on their perspective and viewpoint. It would be as non-inclusive, almost, as denying it altogether. This self awareness has to come from a truly multi-ethnic society, where the experiences of ethnic, class, and religious, peoples who are currently disempowered are the focus of the self awareness. Ethnic America has to establish this understanding for itself, and take it from there, as opposed to letting the WASPS do it and therefore alienate three quarters of the country in doing so.

The emancipation of America will be done by the Americans themselves---and not by a token minority which professes to speak in it's interest.

I think Karl Marx said something similar, no?

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Just a Vietnam produced the ethics for our Central American interventions in the '80s.
Yeah, World War I produced the ethics of the Holocaust.
I've said it before and I'll say it again---European warfare is based on the theory of exploiting alliances and geopolitics in order to obtain the desired result from the state besieged--or, conversely, using an attack on a state to extort a desired result from the geopolitical order. This scenario does not apply to Iraq. In Iraq there aren't any alliances to break, and no greater coalition to influence----unless we by extension are now declaring war on the entire arab world. Thinking, for the moment, that this war is really about wanting to overthrow Saddam for the resources under Iraqi soil, then there aren't any vulnerabilities of the kind European militaries have been exploiting for hundreds of years. Instead, you have a people which is fighting for basic survival and self-rulership, even if in this context that means being ruled by Saddam instead of by U.S. forces. So it's a choice between fighting for survival and giving yourself up to new colonial masters. In a situation like that the option likely to be taken by people is so obvious that it doesn't need elaboration.

It's the same arrangement that produced Vietnam. The U.S., in that case, actually had a glimmer of a chance of using European style warfare against Vietnam, from it's point of view, since it was assumed that the Vietnamese Communists were totally dependent on either China or the Soviet Union; but they soon found out that the Vietnamese Communists were an indigenous movement which had been formed long before the sixties and which was willing to go it alone in basic guerilla warfare to ensure people's survival and basic self-determination against the superpowers who wanted Vietnam as their little colony.

That's why we lost Vietnam. I believe that if people are truely threatened on a basic level, and are provoked into defending themselves in a sort of 'final battle' scenario, that nothing short of the most criminal acts can defeat them.

The European style of warfare was based on an understanding between all the parties involved that this is how the game is played and that diplomacy was the thing to pursue before getting to this dark, terrible, level of warfare. But that implies a two way street. There's no point in engaging in diplomacy if a power knows that there's nothing to get out of it. And if a power truely opts out of the European system altogether---because, let's say, they aren't European---then the pretext by which this type of war is fought is eliminated altogether. Which is what has happened in Iraq.

A further comment on all of this: the reason that WWI was considered an elaborate tradgedy done for no reason was because the understanding of war conducted as politics with a wink and a nod for other means finally yielded a situation in which the playing out of interests in the great game led to the mass slaughter of the people who had been used as the pawns in the great game for so long. Controlled war for limited ends yielded mass slaughter for no real object. Which is why this system of war was eventually restrained by the various agreements, and ultimately, after another mass slaughter whose ethics and principals were born out of the devaluation of human life which World War I produced, as if it were nothing more than fuel for a human catapult by which to break down the enemy walls, by the United Nations.

But of course Georgie boy wouldn't be aware of any of this would he.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Actually, Biafra's "I Blow Minds for a Living", which is all about the first Gulf War, is a great statement on what's going on today---but it's out of stock on Amazon. If you surf on over to Alternative Tentacles , Biafra's CD label, I'm sure they have a few copies left.

Or to put it in the way Jello Biafra stated it on his "I blow minds for a living" CD "Do we really want to wind up the victors of a World War Three? Think About it."
Do we really want to be the masters of a pile of corpses? Which We've Created!!
Why the people who are planning and running this war don't understand what they're dealing with....

Iraq and Vietnam have quite a few similarities, similarities which, in their radical difference from how European wars have been fought in the last several hundred years, make defeat a much less certain proposition. The aim of war is to secure surrender by the government besieged---which is a political and not a military act. To do this governments have relied, in the past, on extorting a surrender by compromising a country's geopolitical strength---by attacking it's allies and breaking it's greater power they've compelled country's to surrender even if they weren't totally destroyed on their own turf. When it comes to one's own turf similar strategic attacks have been used to gain surrender---for instance targetting the German ball bearing manufacturing in WWII with the knowledge that it would significantly hurt Nazi industry. But Vietnam was different, and Iraq is different as well.


Because in both cases you are dealing with countries which are siginificantly removed from geopolitics. Vietnam was and is largely it's own force in the world of Communist countries; it wasn't a vassal of either the Soviet Union or China. U.S. strategy in Vietnam for a long time depended on the idea that if the U.S. could get to China or the Soviet Union diplomatically then they could make them stop supporting Vietnam, thus leading to Vietnam being isolated and ensuring a swift U.S. win. Well, Vietnam proved to be able to survive and fight without checks from Moscow, relying instead on a population who wasn't indebted to anyone and had nothing at all to gain from surrender, who were simply out there defending their homes on the most basic level possible, a level they weren't likely to give up on.

Iraq is in the same situation. It's been isolated for so long that it has no pressure points which the U.S. can influence; there's no country that's going to come to Iraq's aid and therefore broaden the war. Instead, you have Iraq fighting for Iraq, nothing more, nothing less. Basic survival, which can't be bought off with promises of resources or anything else. This situation of basic survival makes political surrender a very, very, distant an unlikely phenomenon, if the Iraqi people can at all help it.

Which leaves the U.S. with two options: either destroy the entire country and then proclaim themselves colonial masters or leave defeated. Again, we run into the concept that any surrender is a political act and not a military one, and that if people do not want to submit politically, if they keep up with resistance, then short of genocide there's nothing that an invading force can do to force them to make a political surrender. But of course that was one of the things that turned people against the Vietnam war: everyone knows that taking the violent way means killing people a lot like themselvs, and so unlike destroying buildings or trying out cool looking or sounding new technology the stakes are different. And the rules are different. It comes back into the realm of international law and international opinion.

European warfare for the last six hundred years, probably more, has been built on the concept of shifting alliances and allegiances, on deals and strengths, weaknesses and interests, but the kind of fighting going on in Iraq and which went on in Vietnam doesn't depend on any of that. It just comes down to John Locke's sense of basic rights: if your home is being invaded you have the right to make war on your invader in order to preserve your home; if your person is assaulted you have the right to defend yourself against your attacker in order to save your life. There's no saving grace for the United States which will make Iraq capitulate. We're dealing with something very different, and I think that the people of the US are going to decide very quickly that mass murder is totally unacceptable in this day and age.

Despite what the shock jocks say on conservative radio about people in Iraq deserving no sympathy, etc..., I think that when the human price of winning is really communicated to people that they're going to have a quite different view on cynicism than they have had in the past, and will take action to stop it from happening.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Failing social collapse.....

On a more optimistic note....if this war doesn't totally destabilize America I think that progressives should push their issues with double the strength that they've been currently doing. I hate to say it, because I know that it's coming at the price of the blood of people who have done the U.S. no wrong, but these last couple of days have been really cathartic for me. Ward Churchill wrote, and spoke, a few times, that if the U.S. did something really stupid (referring to a police state in this example) that maybe it would be a lot easier to make the points that we've been trying to make for a long time. Well, the time has come. It's extraordinarily easy to connect the current war in Iraq with social issues connected to Capitalism, the erosion of the welfare state, and globalization.

It's sort of like, well, you know, I've been having a lot of trouble with health care, for example, and the fact that the guy on top in the U.S. is invading a country solely to make money off of it while people are telling me that we can't have universal health care and that I should just buck up and find a better job, doesn't make me want to really give a flying fuck about the opposition's arguments. Quite frankly. This is just an example of the kind of thing that is probably happening out there.

All the shit that capitalism has produced in the U.S. and around the globe that people either denied existed or downplayed, or blamed the victim for, or said was essential for a free society, well---let's see here. We have the personification of Capitalism's wonderful virtues at the head of the country and we're committing crimes against iraq that the entire world community and a great many people in the U.S. even marginally aware of what's going on around us think are shameful and dishonarable in the extreme. Yippie. This is what Captain Capitalism has gotten us: slaughtering arabs in the Middle East against any and every argument and appeal to common sense, going it totally alone without even a pretense of rightness or justness, extorting the world community with threats and bribes to go along with our plans, issueing the UN an ultimatum for IT to obey US, the list of things we have done to get into this war and who profits from it and how just go back farther and farther into such slime, such total corruption, that there can be no doubt now about what the wonders of unfettered capitalism in the U.S. has wrought.

This war has been bought and payed for by the same people who are destroying the working class and minorities in order to drive SUVs and live in starter mansions in luxury which is totally unheard of in the history of this planet.
The same people who brought you free trade and the end of welfare, the same people who want to take social security and vaporize it by putting it on the stock market, are the same people who are running this war and benefitting from it. There is no difference. Our sludge and corruption, the hollowing out and decaying of this country's standard of living by these bastards, their lies, their way of life, have finally come to the forefront of the international scene and are now dictating world politics. The backroom blowjob scum which capitalism produces have now gone worldwide directly, instead of using more acceptable intermediaries as their lackeys.

See what this all leads to? Injustice never stays in one place. It isn't a local problem any more, it isn't your imagination, it's ECCE HOMO written large and lit up with bright lights over the north pole for everyone to see.

ECCE HOMO, what does that mean? means "Here is Man". Yeah. Here it is, American Man at it's finest, our collective Ich Ideal showing what a great piece of filth he is, exposing himself to the international community, farting in it's face and then laughing about it. Here is American man for you, world, in all his glory. These are the finest products of the finest schools, these are what the American social system produces if you play by all it's rules.

But back to the present. See, there isn't any difference between the people fucking you over at your job, or in your community, or with your health care, or child care, or education, or environment, or WHATEVER, and the people causing this war. Why keep up the pretence that there is something credible about government, or about our established order? Why not stare the facts straight in the face and push for your local issues, your personal issues, while you oppose this goddamn war? There's no time like the present.

Seriously. I'll drop dead if you can paint for me a bigger, more clearer, indication, that the time for deferring to the people in charge is over and the time to press forward OUR politics and OUR issues has arrived.

I'd like to see some serious change.
I'm assuming that the world isn't going to end in five minutes. If we regroup and push our issues, sort of like what I outlined a few posts ago in relation to Austin, we can and SHOULD effect great change in this land. Maybe then we'll get a government and a society which doesn't lead to back alley scum dishonoring us before the rest of the world with their conduct.
I usually don't mix politics and religion on this site; mainly because, well besides the complications that always brings, if you think my site and philosophy is weird you ain't seen nothing yet when it comes to my views on religion.

But sometimes a work comes to my attention that's so good, so revolutionary, so valuable, to everyone on the spectrum, that I have to give it notice. Futhark: a Handbook of Rune Magic, by Edred Thorsson, a.k.a. Stephen Flowers, is such a book. It takes pagan conception of religion to a whole 'nother level which I've never ever seen before. This guy is the real thing; he has a PhD from the University of Texas dealing with Germanic religion and languages, and he blows your mind with every rune.

Forgot about the Blum conception of Runes, which is what I was first exposed to and always thought was the only Rune thing that was out there, Thorsson integrates Runes as representing primal religious concepts drawn from the rich Hermeneutic material of the pre-Christian Germanic Pagan worldview.

I'm not personally an Asatruar, but I respect what they do immensely, and this book is valuable for anyone wanting to get a better fix on what a reconstituted Pagan worldview might look like, or function like.

Please, save me the e-mail asserting that Thorsson/Flowers is a Nazi etc.... that's all bullshit, as far as I can tell.
He's definitely not PC, because he deals with people who racists later appropriated for themselves, but, then, I was never PC either. Ha. And spare me the e-mail asserting that Thorsson/Flowers is a Satanist.....for my view on his membership in the Temple of Set, well how about this: Temple of Set Reading List introduction to Thorsson's Rune books It's the Temple of Set's reading list that it gives to new members, used with permission by the Temple of the Screaming Electron website. At it's head is an essay by Michael Aquino explaining and praising Thorsson. Michael Aquino is the founder of the Temple of Set, ok? I don't know of a better summary of the value of Thorsson's work than Aquino gives. I didn't believe the superlatives until I actually sat down and started reading through Thorsson's explanations of the Runic forces. But hey, I'm a believer.

Honestly, I've been aware of the Flowers/Thorsson/Nazi/Satanism thing since 1997; back then I was pretty damned turned off by his book "Fire & Ice", about a the Fraternitas Saturni, a Germanic Satanist/Ceremonial Magic group with racist overtones which existed before the Nazi takeover in Germany in '33, but, who knows; this Rune material is Thorsson's main focus in writing and none of the sort of morally questionable overtones connected to Fire & Ice are present in this stuff.

So, use it damn it! And don't bitch because Thorsson has written books on material which you don't like.

Go on over to my little bookstore for an insidious link to wherein you can buy this little book of rune magic....
Further clarification: when I say "the passions" I mean what David Hume calls the Reflective Passions in "Treatise on Human Nature", not pure passions. Values don't come about through the contemplation of pure passions like love and hate, aggression, want, but from evaluating feelings and attitudes which come from the pure passions interacting with the world and coming back modified---so instead of "aggression" in general "Aggression in a particular situation when such and such happens and it makes me mad". How you deal with that as opposed to dealing with "Aggression" alone, in a pure form, determines the values that you have or develop over time. Sort of like Freud's secondary drives as opposed to his primary ones.
Ok, I'll admit it, what's described below isn't a true a priori synthetic model of reasoning, but it's sort of a soft a priori position because it assumes that the mind can make rational decsions about the world with pure abstract reasoning combined with non-rational sense impressions. The way I see it the mind just processes this stuff as another application of it's abstract capabilities, and doesn't orient itself to it in the manner that it does to rationally intelligable whole thoughts or complete impressions. So I'm saying that the mind has the possibility to make a-priori synthetic judgements, but that without some information coming in with which the mind can discriminate between the many possibilities available for thought it has no way of telling if it's actually making a-priori synthetic judgements or engaging in fantasty.
So what are these Values anyways?

Writing the below made me think about what exactly these myseterious things called values are anyways; indeed, my description of them as half-conscious things directing our action cried out for more clarification.

To throw in some philosophy, I believe values are the things that connect the subjective world with the objective outside; our minds are very much aware of internal states and of the external world, but values are the name I give to the things which act as translators or facillitators between the two modes of perception and interaction with the self and the world.

So where do values come from? Obviously, we wouldn't be able to function in the outside world at all without some sorts of values present from childhood, so they're natural as opposed to socially created---in the sense that like language no society has ever been found which does not relate the inner world to the outer in some way.

Values, though, since they are internal, although generated with input from the outside, can't be totally pragmatic and so must proceed from some sort of rational plan. However, if they were totally rational there couldn't be any interaction with the outside world since they would be effectively speaking two different languages, so it's my belief that values are generated from the interaction of the abstract reasoning facillity with the ever present underlying passions, in the Humean sense if such unspecificity can be allowed, which are somewhat generated from automatic back and forth of internal states with external impressions. Passions, instincts, intuitions, are things that are developed somewhat autonomously from the stimulus-response of life, but our higher reasoning faculties in acting on this information transform relatively simple conceptions of relations into complex statements about the nature of the world.

How is this accomplished? Probably by an application of the syllogistic method of Aristotle to the content rich section of meaning that the automatically formed passions present. Aristotle, contrasted with Plato, formed his conception of logic on the basis of asserting that no matter how deep experiential knowledge of the world preceding in depth and subtlety goes, it's possible to form relations of identity between facts perceived through this process and so, while not neccesarily exhausting the experiential potential for knowledge which exists out there, at least clarifying matters where relationships are clear enough so that schematic understandings can be generated on a tentative yet certain basis.

We live in a Platonic world. If we proceed towards understanding of the outside world we see a progression towards new information and subtlety which breaks the usual certainty of logic, which throws any logical system trying to present itself as all encompassing a loop and renders it invalid. The same can be said if we go in the other way towards self exploration. But, nevertheless, we need something to make sense of the world around us and in particular of how exactly our selves interact with that world, therewith proceeds the formation of syllogistic identities from the raw matter of passions generated by the interaction of the rational, abstract, reasoning, faculties on the underlying sense experience formed into some general relations of identity by automatic natural processes.

The type of reasoning that generates values is a priori synthetic, in that it takes impressions generated from the outside world and applies pure reasoning to them, turning the raw matter into rationally generated sets of attitudes and feelings which are then reapplied to external action and internal introspection as the need arises, sort of as an experiential eardrum which communicates relevant, external, information to the subjective realm while also functioning as a processing organ which clarifies the information and possibly adds depth to it which can be used by the subjective realm but which overall adds nothing of it's specific essential nature to the information transmitted either way.

Clearly, the generation of values can be built up by moral reasoning and trying out, thinking critically about, moral propositions, for oneself, although, as indicated, a certain amount of attitudes are culturally inherited anyways, leading to the fact that although the basic material that moral reasoning takes is automatically generated, there never have been people who's sense of values are purely generated by stimulus-response.

But moral reasoning and critical thought can clearly improve what we inherit. And the production of good values which can lead a person to right action are effected by such action. This action is accomplished, in the main part, by study in the manner of the traditional liberal arts conception of learning, as opposed to that found in the University or Technical school. So the 'Impractical' arts or the things that a lot of thought is put into but don't obviously impact a person's resume are in fact the things that humanize us and make us better people in general, as opposed to clever provincials who know all about making money and possibly about their own little specialized field but nothing else.

The demise of liberal education in the U.S. is a foreboding fact, because in the pursuit of a total technical pragmatism we may be destroying the potential of our young people to be morally competent,humane, citizens, who can make the essential choices needed to ensure that this country continues to be a decent, human, place to live.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Reflections on what's most important in life.

I've reached a point where I can finally call myself a member of the anti-globalization movement in good conscious. The demonstration I attended in Austin put my total number of major demonstrations over a line which I feel qualifies as a personal indicator for actually being part of a thing like this instead of just being a spectator. I'm not going to actually divulge the number. But I think that I've gained some wisdom from going to demonstrations, meeting people, and finding books and magazines, and ideas, for so long.

The main thing I've learned is that values are the thing that matters, not who you know or where you happen to be.
A person can piggyback on an activist scene, they can know all the right people, and so go to a lot more things than they really should, but a person can't fake values.

If you stick to your values you'll wind up getting involved and getting in touch with people and with ideas that are relevant no matter where you start out. It's not a matter of being born at the right time, or in the right place, or knowing the right people; if you have good values to begin with you won't miss the boat. Actually, there isn't a boat to miss. That's the thing. If you have these values and it doesn't look like much is going on you can always start a movement of your own, and your ideas will no doubt resonate with a lot of people.

There's two things going on here: first, it's apparant that playing the game of trying to associate oneself with the original anarchist or original anti-globalization movement is a losing proposition; because time goes by and that period is swiftly coming to a close---the conditions that gave birth to it are radically changing. But that doesn't mean that kids are going to stop coming of age and get interested in political ideas. It would be a shame if they decided not to get involved for some reason. So it's futile to try to preserve something which is bound to succumb like everything else. So what's left? Well, we don't have the sorts of formative experiences available anymore which led people to this movement but we do have values---values which can be understood and acted upon by anyone, regardless of background or when they were born. We have instincts and attitudes, which, if Carlyle is right, form a person's true religion, and which over time can still make a difference.

That's the first thing, the recognition that timeless values can spring into life again and again to generate real positive social change.

The second thing would be that values can carry you through and lead to connections being made which border on the miraculous at times, and that in the end they're the things that'll really lead you through. If you're true to what you believe in and live it, and support it to the exclusion of current fads you'll be led time and time again back to that relevent center of activity that's congenial to what you consciously believe in. So values, which are sort of vague notions, lead to real, concrete results. Values can be the thing that breaks the barrier down between an idea which may be extremely relevant to you potentially and the reality which you're experienceing in which that idea is totally unaccesable.

When all else fails, sticking to your values will carry you through.

So what's the summation of all of this? Don't be concerned with being part of a particular movement; just follow your heart, and KNOW your heart first, know your conscience and your world, and you'll end up okay, because as C.L.R. James, the great Marxist writer, said, history repeats, but it doesn't repeat the exact same situations twice---what's repeated is the spirit of the times. If you're values are good you'll always be in harmony with the spirit of the times, no matter what the particular historical manifestation looks like.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

The chords for the little ditty below go like this 1)Lyrics:G-C, D, G-C,D2)Chorus:G-C-D-G-C-D-G, every comma is a line break, so it goes like G"I was feelin' sad and kind of blue" C"I didn't know what I was gonna' do", D"Them Terrorists were all around, they was in the air, they was on the ground they was all over", G-C-D-G-G-C-D-G. It has the same rythym and structure as Phil Och's Talkin' Birmingham Blues and other Talkin' Blues....sort of a polka beat through the talking and then a breakdown of the chord progression repeated twice between each chunk of talking, ending with a breakdown with a nice ending chord riff at the end. Remember, it's a Talking Blues, and so this isn't sung but sort of said with rythym and some notes.
Somebody in Austin needs to get a hold of that guy who sang "A Flag won't get you into Heaven anymore" and put the lyrics up on Indymedia or was a great song; I believe the chorus was "A U.S. Flag won't get you into Heaven anymore; it's already overcrowded with people from our dirty little wars" Couldn't have said it better.

Inspires me to tweak Bob Dylan's "Talkin John Birch Blues" to "Talkin' John Ashcroft Terrorist Hunting Blues"

I was feeling sad and kind of blue; I didn't know what I was gonna do;

The Terrorists were all around, they were in the air they were on the ground they were all over;

So I went down most hurriedly and joined John Ashcroft's Terrorist Hunting Society; I got me a secret membership card, went back to the yard, and started lookin' on the sidewalk; under the hedges;

Well I got up in the morning looked under my bed, was looking all over for them goddamn reds, looked behind the sink and under the floor, looked in the glove compartment of my car; I couldn't find any;

looked behind the clothes, behind my chair, lookin' for them Terrorists everywhere, looked up my chimney hole and way down in my toilet bowl; they got away.

I heard some steps from around the front porch door so I grabbed my shotgun from the floor, snuck out front with a huff and a hiss saying "Hands up you Terrorist!", it was the mailman--he punched me out.

Well I was sittin home alone and I started to sweat I figured they was in my TV set so I looked behind the picture frame got a shock that went right from my feet to my brain--them Terrorists did it, Politically Incorrect on ABC

Well I quit my job so I could work alone, got a magnifying glass just like Sherlock Homes, followed some clues from my detective bag found red stripes in the American flag--Betsy Ross

Now Bill Clinton he's a Terrorist spy, Lincoln, Jefferson, and that Roosevelt guy; to my knowledge there's just one man who's truly an American--and that's David Duke. I know he hates Terrorists 'cause he picketed the NAACP.

Well I finally got myself thinking straight and I run out of things to investigate couldn't imagine nothin' else so now I'm home investigating myself--hope I don't find out to much.

Good God.
To the end that I do ascribe to, as indicated below, as a manifestation of the kind of politics I think SHOULD prevail in the U.S., I'm happy to say that I participated in the four hour sit in followed by the march from the capital down Congress avenue that happened in Austin Texas. Guadelupe St. was shut down, and we marched from the capital across the Congress bridge to it's end to show that we were against Bush and for rational, sane, politics and progressivism. It was one of the few places in the U.S. where the type of progressives that I belong to had enough numbers and enough support so that they could actually flex their muscle and say NO! to ultra-radical rightwing schemes, as well as implicitly to far-leftwing ones. We shut it down, there were speakers, particularly Robert Jenson, who's amazing, who spoke of the need for sanity and clear thinking combined with the need for broader political and social reform. This is what the U.S. needs.

It's good that we took Austin, before the right-wing reaction could set in, but Austin is a truly rare city here, and I'm afraid that progressives just aren't strong or numerous enough around the rest of the U.S. to do the same thing where they are, despite the massive grass roots movement against the war which has come into being in the last few months. Sure, it was spreading fast in places that didn't normally have that much dissent, but is the movement as it existed on March 18th strong enough not to be run over by the currents of reaction and radicalism that are likely to spread over the U.S.? I doubt it.

I have no idea what the significance of all of this will be for the future, but it's telling that it was a trial to even flex muscle in the most liberal of America's cities, when it should have been a done deal and one that should have been repeated on a larger scale throughout less solid cities.

If it's a chore in Austin to get people out, and only San Francisco experienced extensive direct action, then the people in nowheresville are fucked, pure and simple.

But at least I marched, and at least I had a chance to see the kind of politics that I like triumph, no matter what the rest of the drift of history may be. We won in Austin, at least. And if the lights are steadily going out throughout the country, at least we raised a new one instead of going quietly into the dark.

The consequences of Bush's actions....

On the domestic front. It's been noted that states that allow the death penalty are more violent than states where it's outlawed, and I've seen that places where it's taken for granted that the cops are out of control are places where people are more likely to live outside of the law themselves, and take it into their own hands. It's a principle which some philosophers have talked about, based on respect: We tend to mirror the views of the people in power when it comes to how we relate to our fellow man; a flagrant disrepsect for rights by people in charge leads to the legitimization of the same sort of disrespect in everyday life. It's not good that people respond to those in power like this; they should live their own lives and make their own decisions; but it's how things are currently, unfortunately.

What Bush has done is to violate this principle of mutual respect on a vast level. The effects of the administration's decision to invade Iraq will be with us for a long time, and they're bound to be a factor in domestic politics indefinitely, or till some new government comes into being which can restore the basic social contract, the understanding of order and mutual respect among citizens, and thereby put the chaos unleashed by the Bush administration to rest. Till that happens, we're in no-man's land.

You know, no matter how radical people on the left have been, I think that there's been a general consensus that any social change is better if it takes place within a time in history where basic social, economic, and political institutions are still functioning rather than taking place in a void. This is why we tried to stop the war before it started, rather than cheer it on in a Machiavellian spirit, thinking that war on Iraq would make radical politics possible. This has been done before, if not at the beginning of a war than at least as it progressed, for example Lenin cheered on World War I as opening up the possibility for radical social change, even though it was the bloodiest and most pointless war in the world's history, and even though it created effects that ultimately opened the door for Hitler and the Holocaust. But Lenin cheered it on. We do not cheer on war.

The want to stop war before it started was a last ditch effort to save a little bit of the preexisting political and social order which started to come undone with Bush's seizure of power through the Supreme Court in 2000. We had the hope that if we could turn back some of the damage done that it could open up the door to positive social change. This has been a constant theme throughout the radical scene during the Bush administration. It was Ralph Nader's theme in his "Democracy Rising" tour: check the Bush administration and push progressive legislation to make the U.S. a more humane society. Yes, check Ashcroft, and then push for more civil rights legislation, roll back defense spending and then focus on domestic priorities with the money saved. Conserve, then progress.

But now that hope has failed. However rational it might have been to try to go backwords in terms of politics before trying to go forwards, now that rationality is just inapplicable. Neither I nor anyone else on the 'net now has the power to prevent the social destruction that may be brewing by people on all sides who support radical solutions to the exclusion of all practical politics. Truly radical solutions, not radicalism tempered by a good dose of reality, but radicalism in the vein of the French Revolution. I can't do anything about it, I'm not helping it out either. But I'm afraid that the future of this country will increasingly depend on those who have the will to seize it.

Bush has opened up the possibility for civil war within the United States, between Americans of different political and ideological pursuasion. There. I've said it. I somewhat implied it in my post about Caesar, but that was made with the objective of putting down the administration, not seriously suggesting that society would collapse and that a war fought by nothing other than competing factions, no thought, just anger, might occur.

I'm extremely scared. I'm not writing this lightly, I realize the danger that I'm describing in full. But not fully, because I've never experienced something like this first hand. I can only imagine what the future might hold in store.

Bush may have opened up the doors for the destruction of America. The center has broken. Not only can it not hold, but it has broken into pieces and can't be restored. As someone who opposed this, who wanted basic order and cohesion as the back bone for revolutionary and progressive change, I'm not at the vanguard of this brave new world anymore. I suspect that I'll be bystander. I don't have the lack of ethics or morals neccesary to assert rule by force and nothing else, and I won't support any group or tendency which has made that moral breach among themselves and plans to act as if nothing is sacred.

Don't come knocking on my door, either, government, because I don't know any group that would fit the description up above either. But these are truly dark days.

It'll be a good outcome if, after all of this is done, I can state that what I did during the revolution was what Talleyrand accomplished: when asked this question he replied "I survived".
I have two interesting observations about New Orleans on the night after Shock and Awe started....NO LA was a stop on my trip, and while trying to avoid Bourbon Street as much as possible I did get a little taste about what revelers were thinking about: first, a bar in New Orleans had temporarily christened itself the "Shock and Awe Bar", kind of like the Auschwitz bar, don't you think? A merry place for people in support of war crimes and genocide to gather in the Crescent city and yuk it up while a people is being destroyed. Second observation: Close to the "Shock and Awe Bar" was a young man talking on his cell phone; he was very excited, because, as he shouted into it, "Think of how cheap gas is going to cost!", presumably when we conquer Iraq, rape it's people, and take over as the new masters. Yeah, think of how cheap gas is going to cost you ignorant little fuck. Yeah, it'll give you a chance to get a Hummer 3 and roll on over this great land pumping smoke from your 4 mpg vehicle while the Iraqi people pay for your life as a great American Sahib.

That's what this should be called, the Great American Sahib Project, not the Iraqi liberation campaign or whatever the hell they're calling it. If you don't know the cultural context for the word "Sahib", pronounced Sahb, I believe, go check out the movie version of E.M. Forrester's "Passage to India". That's the one where a nice, polite, Hindu, is persecuted for an imagined rape of a hysterical English woman, I believe. A Sahib is a racist colonial master, the kind of guy who abuses people under him who're non-white just for the hell of it, and asserts the White Man's Burden for civilizing these damn savages with every step and every breath. That's what the U.S. is turning into....a nation of Sahibs....willing to say to hell with any rights that people in non-european nations of the world may have and instead joking about it by having a drink and partying at the "Shock and Awe Bar", while the money and the Empire roll right in.

Now there can be no doubt about who is and who is not morally in the right. Whatever arguments the pro-Bush crowd gave for going to war, the destruction of the Iraqi people now speaks for itself. Wish it weren't so, but now their rhetoric has entered the theater of history and can't be erased or denied. Or reversed. Posterity will be the judge now, not Fox News.
Update: if you sent me e-mail this past week, I just returned yesterday night, so don't take a lack of communication for ignoring'll take a while to process all my e-mail, but I'll do my best to get back to people. Since it looks like we're not drifting into a dictatorship anytime soon I'm sort of looking sheepish here, since I left town to be in a more congenial place just in case that happened and so didn't do much preperation in terms of letting people know that I was going to be gone....

Slow Train Coming, Coming Around the Bend......

Here are some particularly relevant lyrics from Mr. Bob Dylan about our current situation....I'm back, expect many more posts in the days to come...


Words and Music by Bob Dylan
1979 Special Rider Music

Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can't help but wonder what's happenin' to my companions,
Are they lost or are they found, have they counted the cost it'll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they're gonna have to abandon?
There's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

I had a woman down in Alabama,
She was a backwoods girl, but she sure was realistic,
She said, "Boy, without a doubt, have to quit your mess and straighten out,
You could die down here, be just another accident statistic."
There's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

All that foreign oil controlling American soil,
Look around you, it's just bound to make you embarrassed.
Sheiks walkin' around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings,
Deciding America's future from Amsterdam and to Paris
And there's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

Man's ego is inflated, his laws are outdated, they don't apply no more,
You can't rely no more to be standin' around waitin'
In the home of the brave, Jefferson turnin' over in his grave,
Fools glorifying themselves, trying to manipulate Satan
And there's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

Big-time negotiators, false healers and woman haters,
Masters of the bluff and masters of the proposition
But the enemy I see wears a cloak of decency,
All non-believers and men stealers talkin' in the name of religion
And there's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

People starving and thirsting, grain elevators are bursting
Oh, you know it costs more to store the food than it do to give it.
They say lose your inhibitions, follow your own ambitions,
They talk about a life of brotherly love, show me someone who knows how to live it.
There's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

Well, my baby went to Illinois with some bad-talkin' boy she could destroy
A real suicide case, but there was nothin' I could do to stop it,
I don't care about economy, I don't care about astronomy
But it sure do bother me to see my loved ones turning into puppets,
There's a slow, slow train comin' up around the bend.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

This blog solemnly remembers the assasination of deus julius caeser on this day.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Thursday, March 13, 2003

He He He.

Just wanted to let people know, I collected all this blog's posts from the year--since we're roughly 1 year into this (I started on the 27th of March 2002), and the stats are amazing: including date and time, I've written 93,758 Roman Words this year, which translates out into a 259 page book, using the example of about 367 Roman words per page. Since this blog has a lot of spaces and breaks, if this thing were turned into a book it would be significantly larger than that. This blog in total has 9,725 lines and 3,571 paragraphs. And I still haven't articulated what I wanted to say yet. But it's the damndest thing, and time to break out the cigars! My mind isn't able to process all of this yet....My God....
Here's a quick thing since I'll be gone for a little while....

Rome and the U.S.

Recently Bush and company have been styling themselves in the mold of the officials of the Roman state. Whether this is unconscious or deliberate, the message going out is that the new administration, unlike those damn Greekish liberals, is focussed on manly, noble, things, like patriotism and taking a strong stand against threats from the outside.

There's been an unsaid prejudice in American intellectual society in the last ten years, at least; Greek thought has been praised while the Romans have generally been looked upon as being macho barbarians who stole everything from the Greeks. Liberals have, of course, identified with Greek thought to the extent that anyone on either side of the aisle thinks about the classics, while some conservatives have sort of covertly been playing up Rome, in particular the Roman idea of Public Virtue, or Civic Virtue.

They use Rome just like anyone usually uses the past: to buttress their own thoughts and feelings about the world here and now. It looks like the pro-Roman faction has gained control of the Whitehouse and is trying to style it's policies in the manner of Romanophilia that some conservatives have....

If this looks like an exaggeration or an unlikely story I'd suggest looking at the beliefs of neo-conservatives like William Kristol, who's beliefs follow from the philosopher Leo Strauss, and who believes that for the elite Classical virtues are proper while the masses need non-pagan religion. For social stability of course....and since the neo-cons have the ear of the president..well, put two and two together and see where Bush's posturing is coming from for yourself.

But there's a fatal flaw in this Romanophilia----the Bush administration behaves more like the goths than the romans.
While faking it by advocating public virtue may make them feel like they're superior, the truth is that Rome before it's decay was a society where excellence and real virtue could actually be cultivated and played out by the citizenry, while Bush's America leaves achievement out of the picture except for the god-king himself, Bush, who isn't expected to live up to any particular standard anyways, and who rules because he says so not because he has any mandate.

The Roman Republic, and some later times, where distinguished from Europe by the fact that Royal Absolutism and hereditary monarchy weren't present. To succeed in the Roman Republic a nobleman had to work his ass off, educating himself, cultivating his skills, in order to be elected to various offices on the political ladder, WORKING his way up, possibly to the top. Nobility did not rule absolutely; despite the inequities in Roman society the idea that a person was complete or superior or entitled to rule simply because they were born into a good family, was a foreign idea.

Bush doesnt' seem to understand that; his public virtue is in the manner of Louis XIV rather than any of the Roman rulers.
Louis XIV ushered in absolutism through personal veneration and strict social rules.

The Bush administration is seemingly relying on a great sense of righteousness to succesfully rule America and get it's will done in the world; but, like fairy gold, I think that they'll see that when they look at that righteousness that it's nothing more than air.

The problem is that no matter what posturing the Bush administration does, the factors that led to the success of Rome are still out there, and they still make for a powerful administration and policy. The administration, in ignoring the wishes, the feelings, and the thoughts, of the rest of the world should be careful lest their actions cause a real Caesar to come along.

Monday, March 10, 2003

The Smirking Chimp

Great article; check it out. It compares the situation with Iraq to the feeling at the start of WWI

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Guess what, the Lost Highway Times Music Store is on the air! Stuff that's good and can buy it through Amazon. Check it out.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Come one, come all, to the Lost Highway Bookstore. It's up and running, and there are major doings afoot. Radical books of all stripes (and music, too, shortly) are available, and it'll only get better. Follow thee link.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Damn it, what this country needs is cultural integration; I don't care if it comes through socialism or through a moderate conservatism, this bullshit has got to stop.
The Two Faces of France

Good article on France....not that it would mean much to many people, unfortunately..

It's hard to see what France tells itself from my vantage point, since anything beyond berets and cheese is considered extraordinary knowledge over here.

My take is that France wants to present an image of itself that includes: The Revolution and Napolean, the Monarchy under Louis XIV, French cultural life at the turn of the century, and French Resistance to the Nazis during WWII. Beyond that, I'm not sure what France wants to present to the world because I don't have the info, maybe it wants to present high culture arising out of the Monarchy? Enlightenment philosophy? I don't know.

But just like every other country France is the product of many twists and turns, backs and forths....the Revolution happened, yes, but Napolean changed it, and the next eighty years were a contest between liberals and conservatives, with socialists making a guest appearance towards the end, about just how the ideals of the revolution and of liberalism in general would be played out in French society and government.

And before the Revolution?'s too simplistic to say "Louis XIV created absolutism, the Revolution destroyed it". Way to simplistic. How did Louis XIV's absolutism begin, anyways? If you take a step back a few centuries you see that France was a country sharing the same sort of warp and weft as England and Germany during those days, with nobles, the royal family, and the various aristocratic political offices vieing for control and influence, with the Reformation creating the same sort of civil war that happened everywhere else too.

The Reformation almost split France in two, just like everywhere else, and way before the French Revolution took place a long civil war, the Fronde, an aristocratic revolt like the English Civil War and the Dutch Rebellion, tried to set the terms of French Democracy.

Louis XIV's absolutism has to be seen against the backdrop of the normal European civil and religious strife which characterized the age, with the Monarch distinguishing himself by the extreme reaction that he took to try to extinguish all those elements.

The French Revolution has to be seen as a move for democracy whose stamp was made by Louis XIV's policies, not by Enlightenment thinkers alone. Indeed, if Louis XIV hadn't exercised such total control the French Revolution would probably have resembled either the English Civil War or the American Revolution to a much greater degree than it did.

If the Fronde had been succesful and Louis XIV had never come to power France might have resembled Germany in the 19th Century or a more democratic Austria than the solid Nation-State that it is today.

And what about Henry the IV? He was the Protestant ruler who united Catholic and Protestant France under a regime of toleration unlike what came afterwards.

And what about the French relation between government and law? If the French organs of law weren't atrophied after Louis XIV and were instead sympathetic to either aristocratic or even democratic interests would the French Revolution have retained the strong stamp of the Nation State that it did, allowing for the somewhat decentralist tendencies of the early part of the revolution, if I'm not mistaken?

I'm sort of afraid that I've already made a fool out of myself by skimming over too much French history that I don't know well, so I'll stop here.

But the point is that France lays no claim to being formed out of different forces than have shaped the rest of the world,
and that should be kept in mind.

But, doesn't mean that French calls for democracy and the observation of international law are any less genuine for that reason.

Anyways, just a few reflections on an interesting article.
Action and thought in American life;

recently, the division of American life that George Santayana came up with has become somewhat important to me. Santayana viewed American life as being divided into two camps: first, there is the experience of the man of action which America is so famous for, second, there are the abstract meditations of people who are divorced from reality yet philosophically radical. Divorced from reality meaning not actually getting out there and doing it, but locked into a world where experience of that sort was inacessable.

Santayana put the Puritan experience, with it's Transcendentalist kin, at the heart of the radical but abstract camp, while the second in part came from pioneers and capitalism. In part because Santayana is after all a good conservative, and Capitalism is one of the main things that he's railing against. But still.

I've seen the division in my own life, and in the lives and life paths of others; one of the major shocks which stopped me from seriously considering an academic career was the realization that a lot of people who are professors jump from undergraduate studies, to graduate studies, to doctoral studies, to the classroom, expounding on the real world as part of their job, without ever really experiencing what life was like outside of a sheltered circle.

It's true. And how can someone who hasn't been so priveleged really compete with that, anyways? Just an aside.

I'm trying to move from a radical yet immobile way of life to one where I actually do it and see it, and think it and be it, as Bob Dylan so eloquently put it.

I think America as a whole should consider looking up this train of thought as well; much of the fundamentalist millenarialism which is so much in vogue today has it's roots in the Puritan way of looking at things, as does the lack of perspective that academics enamoured with Post-Structuralism have.

Quietism is no solution to the problems of the world; people have been told that "you should leave that up to those that deal with that kind of thing" long enough...

One thing that Santayana gets at is that truth can be found through the playing out of experience into equilibrium. Instead of truth being deduced from absolutes a la some types of philosophy, truth can come instead from what is found to work in the playing out of a life pursuing realization and experience.

Santayana was a naturalist, of course, so these things are just relative values taken from the world----but I can't help but think that after all the propanda and hate that the U.S. has been engulfed with during these one and a half years that relative, calm, values, deduced from the experience of the good life would be a breath of fresh air.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Indian sage, has a similar view on life, albeit through his own lens; according to Krishnamurti a person can't have any confidence in established forms to give them security and guide them through life; instead, security comes from the realization that all forms are imperfect representations of the fullness of experience. Security comes from realizing how that experience relates to
how people are trained to think and act. That knowledge, which is really knowledge of life ways instead of knowledge of a particular thing, is pretty close to Santayana's naturalistic deduction of values from living in equilibrium with life and natural social experience.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Hi y'all. I'm starting an Amazon Associate bookstore on another page, accessable through the new link on your left. It's totally seperate, so this front page will be staying just as it's always been. But check it out. I hope to stock it with some of the interesting an obscure books that I've come across which are useful in understanding the world. Some of the "Jewels of Knowledge" that I referred to in an earlier post. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Well, he he he, the first Lost Highway Times products are now available from Cafe Press through that little link that's just been added on the side there.

It's not much, but it's interesting....basicly I've come up with a psychedelic design, abstract, and have combined it with a tastefully done "Trabizond" at the bottom, and applied it to Coasters, Frisbees, and Mousepads. So hop on over and see if it's something that you'd be interested in.

However, I will say this: although the image that is used is very high quality, I haven't actually held one of these babies in my hands yet, so if you order one and it turns out to be of lesser quality than you expected, return it and drop me a line---I'll correct the problem and maybe see what I can do....

This offer dosn't apply to pro-war bloggers who would want to bankrupt me by flooding me with phony requests for stuff.

But I don't think that either one of those options is likely to happen, I hope not at least.

So check it out and enjoy, there'll be a lot more in the days to come.

Just wanted to explain/announce the new stuff I'm gonna put together on Cafe press. It'll be an opportunity to flex my creative muscle, so it won't be just a logo with a quip, no, it'll feature artwork around certain themes as well, original stuff.

I'm going to select the products which don't cause a person's pocket book to collapse for my Cafe stuff..

Oh, and explaining about the themes.

A big one, maybe the major one, will revolve around a concept I call "Trabizon". What exactly is Trabizon, you might ask?

Trabizon was the last outpost of the Byzantine empire, which was the eastern half of the Roman empire, which collapsed in the mid 1400s. The amazing thing is that less than thirty years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 the Roman Empire still existed....conceivably a person could have been born in the Trabizond empire, experienced it's fall when they he was twenty, and then heard about Columbus discovering America when he was fifty.

So citizens of the Roman empire could have known about Columbus's discovery of the new world.

Trabizon is a city in northern Turkey today, and the Trabizond empire was a trapezoidal territory on the southern shore of the Black Sea, in Northern Turkey, which, because of natural barriers and a brisk commercial business, was able to hold out against the turks while the rest of the Byzantine Empire was being eaten away....

I like the idea that there's a secret society of fellow travelers, refugees from the modern world, traveling down that Lost Highway that Hank Williams sings about, meeting each other infrequently, but hoping for the return of the old ways....and the old liberty...

It's my Terrapin, as in the Grateful Dead song where Terrapin is the destination of people on that long strange trip, it's where you get to when you get to the top of that mountain.

It's also my Alamut, the mountain stronghold that the old man on the mountain, Hassan al-Sabah, the founder of the Assasins, held up in, creating a hashish filled paradise that was impenetrable by outside forces, but which sometimes raided neighboring villages for loot and stuff...

He's the guy who the phrase "Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted" (Which I think Robert Anton Wilson has emblazoned on his Cafe Press merchandise) is attributed to.

The Lost Highway Roadside Store will be up and running shortly, providing all of us refugees from the fallen city of Trabizond merchandise to please and provoke.

Oh, and this would be a good time to announce that everything on this site, excluding the picture above and the template, are now copyright Lost Highway Times. This goes for the entire archives as well. If you want permission to reproduce any of it, the Contakte button will forward an e-mail to the current head of Lost Highway Times, who will respond to your request promptly.
Ha Ha Ha,

Look pro war folks--no Banners!!!

No space for your adds.

I'll be making some fine products available via cafepress if you want to purchase any....and support your marginal, self-employed, webmaster (Cue the tiny violins)....

But seriously folks, I am gonna make some products, and hopefully they will be entertaining and seditious at the same time, and available at a touch of a button through the web!

Ah critics........
most critics are rich boys that cover it up with right wing populist rhetoric. The above sponsor is no exception, I'm guessing.

Right wing people have a wonderful capacity to explain away their own wealth while pillorying anything that their opponents do which can be made to seem elitist.

So Bill O'Reily is from a working class family, even though they made the equivelent of $70,000 a year and even though he went to a private school, but, strangely, he's in touch with the common man, so much so that he can accuse 'elitist liberals' of treason.

I suppose that all those years hosting Inside Edition, one of the trashiest news programs ever created, while pulling down the big bucks made him bosom brothers with the less fortunate among us, who are never the less virtuous.

They talk about lattes and capucino, but I suppose if I were to suggest that having a big ass SUV is more of an indulgence than Italian coffee, and a much bigger symbol of elitism, then everything would be different---no, SUVs are white america's god given right, but drinking Capuccino is something only rich radical scum do.

Yeah, right.

I'm not the one driving the fucking lincoln navigator here, folks.
Archives updated
As we approach a new milestone both for this blog and for the Iraq situation a bit of reflection is in order...

What I'm curious about is how all the people from the mainstream who have become anti-war advocates thought the world worked a few months ago.

I haven't changed my thinking on all of this stuff since a few days after 9/11. My stand then, as now, is that the perpetrators should have been pursued by an international police force, arrested, and then tried in a court under the rules of international law. Possibly using the principle of "hot pursuit" which Ralph Nader advocated to have the U.S. have a bigger role in the hunt, but either way conducted under international law with the understanding that 9/11 was an egregious act of terrorism conducted by a few individuals supported by terrorist organizations, and that no matter how severe 9/11 was that the resolution of it in terms of justice would come from criminal law, not from war.

9/11 wasn't an act of war by a State. And it wasn't an act of war by an organization either, because, unlike situations in Columbia, Northern Ireland, and elsewhere, it was an isolated act and not the product of a guerrilla war waged againt the United States.

We shouldn't have invaded Afghanistan and we shouldn't have jumped on the "Osama Bin Laden" is the mastermind bandwagon either, elevating a person who was probably just the paymaster into a figure of international repute.

We shouldn't have enacted harsh internal security measures taking away civil rights cherished by the American people.

We shouldn't have overthrown the Taliban and put the Northern Alliance back in power, no matter how bad the Taliban are.

Racial profiling shouldn't have happened.

And Iraq shouldn't be invaded.

Bush and company rose to power illegally and have acted against the American people ever since, and their abuse of the horror of 9/11 to justify their ultra-conservative oil money backed governmental programs, here and abroad, is just the icing on the cake of an administration that should have been impeached long ago.

What else?

That the Bushs have used all of this to get financial gain and don't really give a damn about patriotism?

Well, it all goes into the question I asked first: what in the world have people from the mainstream who have just become anti-war been believeing for the past year and a half, or, alternately, the past 2 and a half years since the Stolen Election?

I welcome them of course, but the revelation that this administration is less than honest and does things for pecuniary gain isn't exactly new.

This sort of feeds into the excessive drama that people here have found regarding the way their lives have been changed by 9/11.

Drama, Epic Drama in this case, is founded on the belief that there's something implicit in the situation that get's drudged out during the performance, leading to an ending where the characters have reexamined a great deal of their preconeptions and have reformulated a great deal of them in light of the previous actions on the stage. Or if the actors don't realize it the audience does by observing the actors through the director's and writer's eyes.

This all implies that before 9/11 there were great truths out there that somehow 1) most writers didn't know about and 2) that people going through the experience of 9/11 happening (not actually being there, but seeing it on TV) somehow gained access to, enriching their lives in curious ways.

I'm curious about just what people who attach a great amount of pathos to the 9/11 tradgedy actually think the world is like? Do they think that Mom, God, and Apple Pie, and Patriotism rule the earth and that the revelation that people out there don't like us is a seriously shocking idea?

What have their lives been about before now? Why are they so out of touch that they can't seem to objectively think about 9/11 without investing it with transcendant significance?

Let's see here: I opposed Kosovo under Clinton, opposed the bombing of Iraq under Clinton, opposed the neo-liberal program that Clinton put in place, opposed Nafta, opposed the WTO and the World Bank, globalization, media consolidation, etc....all before the Bushies came to power. Where was everybody else?