Friday, August 29, 2003

War of 1812, the Civil War, and the idea of American patriotism.

What seperates us from other countries, countries which can see their past and which do not think that they have existed since time immemorial in an unchanging, static, state? France knows when France wasn't France but Gaul. Germany knows when it was simply the Confederation of German Princes. But we don't. I think the blame for this, for the manufacture of an American brand of patriotism which does believe this and which brooks no detraction, lies in the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

True, the ideology of America as a virgin land which could lead to a regenerated society when seperated from monarchy had been around since the Revolutionary War and before, but in practice people still lived in their former colonies, which were all somewhat different from each other, even if they did believe that utopia was at hand.

The War of 1812 obscured sectional and ethnic differences within America because of the fight against the British. It asserted a solid front of America and Americans out of the heat of battle. In practice this meant the first solid ascension of ethnic-based white supremacy to power in the history of the U.S.

Andrew Jackson, his military career, and his presidency, are shining examples of this.

The Civil War further obscured sectional and regional differences, only this time the people rebelling weren't ethnic minorities like the French in Louisiana or the Cherokees in Georgia but the Southerners themselves---the same people whose parents probably supported Andrew Jackson.

After the defeat of the Confederacy the idea of an 'America' which was pure and transcendent, which had no identifiable history but which was a pure ideal on earth, was firmly established in the national consciousness.

The first, the war of 1812, was a battle against an outside enemy by an inward people, the second, against an internal enemy by an outward people, but both took what actually existed at the time---a collection of colonies formed by different nations on the North American continent which had different histories, patterns of development, and cultures---and tried to meld them into something which hadn't existed before and which, as a valid concept, was totally imaginary, as it still is today.

When the War fo 1812 was fought the U.S. had only been independent for about thirty years, if you judge independence by the date the Treaty of Paris was actually signed, and so, with only three decades of experience behind them, suddenly all of these colonies supposedly shed all of their divergent skins and revealed a hitherto unknown concept---American--beneath them? I don't think so.

Neither do I think that the Civil War established that the Union was permanent. Why was the Union worth fighting over, or, when was the idea of the Union as a strongly united body first established? Why in the War of 1812! And what preceded the War of 1812? A much more confederal system which recognized differences stemming from different colonial experiences.

So you get into this pattern---why did Lincoln want the Civil War? To preserve the Union. Why did the Union exist to be preserved? Because the propaganda from another war established it as a fact.

So why in the world should Lincoln seek to preserve it, if it was itself only an artificial proposition?

If you need proof, a nifty little fact is that after the Federalists (the guys who made the constitution) lost power to the Republicans (Jefferson's party), the Federalists of New England seriously debated leaving the Union and forming their own mini-United States which would reflect their political beliefs.

Obviously they didn't think that America over all else mattered as much as later generations did.

Which brings us to today.

If Patriotism is in the air today it's patriotism which refers to an entity which doesn't exist and which is just an extreme view which has been introduced by force by certain parties in the United States at various times during it's existence.

I believe in the real United States, the one you can actually travel around, see, touch, feel, and hear, not some abstraction. A person can be shut up in a small cell their whole life and generate the type of pseudo-patriotic dribble that passes for love of country these days----it's automatic, and doesn't require actual experience of America to create. But I think that my America is better.

And it would make the rest of the world much more happier if we all started looking at what really exists rather than what we think exists---or what we're told exists.

I agree...and then we can go from there.

No other country treats it's period of independence as being so distinct from it's colonial period, or it's early period as being so distinct from it's current period. We alone read the space of thousands of years into relatively miniscule periods of time. If we were honest we would integrate our history back into the history of the colonial period and before---that would give us a wakeup call as to where we really stand in the lineup of history.

But will we?

Dreams are great, kid.
Hey, if there's anyone from a certain college in the North West who reads this site and, doubting the veracity of my submission of text from this site as being genuinely mine, this is me telling you that, yes, it is me. Enough said.

I've just re-edited the Arnold Schwarzenegger post....something that I rarely do. The post was a picture of Arnold campaigning from the site and my caption was "Let's Kill Some Jews!". I think this may be a little inappropriate.

After all, the new Oui! interview that's just been unearthed by presents Arnold as a guy who likes to smoke the occasional hash and engage in group sex with body builder groupies in front of his friends....and he also sticks up for gay rights in the interview. He said, among other things, that when he got to Munich he hung out with strippers and whores, and that he, a young man coming from an Austrian farm town, wasn't too worldly but grew up fast in Munich.

This is not a guy who would have anything to do with the Nazis, even if he is a conservative who has no credentials whatsoever for being Governor of California.

In fact, to go deeper, and to be on a more serious note, Arnold appears to be part of what is called the "Lost Generation" of German and Austrian youth--kids who were born shortly after the end of the second world war but who were never taught what exactly happened during it or what the Nazi dictatorship was like, because, in part, the people who participated in it were so numerous and so entrenched in society that telling the truth would be an indictment of a substantial number of people.

Witness Arnold not knowing that his father, a police chief, was not only a Nazi party member, but was also a Brown Shirt (something that's just come to light recently). Considering that the information was found by the Simon Wiesenthal foundation, a foundation run by an Austrian Jew, and that Arnold requested it, I doubt that Schwarzenegger was brought up with any kind of knowledge about either his parents activities or their beliefs.

What happened in the late sixties was that eventually these kids got into college and started doing their own research on the Second World War and the Nazi period and basiclly freaked the hell out and became ultra-radicalized. Schwarzenegger is probably nothing else than what he says he is---an Austrian boy who got interested in body building, moved to Germany, then moved to the U.S. and started winning big in tournaments (As well as investing in Real Estate) and, well, the rest is history....I doubt that there are any secret ideological currents running around there stemming from his Austrian-ness. I can't intuit what his brand of conservatism is, but it probably has more to do with Ronald Reagan and Berry Goldwater than it does with any German or Austrian conservatives from the Nazi era....

And, hey, Austria IS a pretty damn conservative country, so Arnie being a conservative isn't that surprising...

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Class of '99, or, paralells between the sixties and the nineties, and what it means for human liberty.

I'm somewhat lucky in that I've been part of a miracle, a bona fide miracle. The miracle? that in the last years of the Clinton administration people my age---who had come of age largely after the end of the Cold War--came together and broke from young people of earlier years by taking an active interest in politics and society and demonstrated for social justice.

Seattle happened in '99.

I call this a miracle because that's what it feels like, or appears like, to me. I was relatively isolated in my political interests during highschool, and was delighted to find that in the outside world a bunch of people had, also on their own accord, taken the same interest in politics and current events as myself. It's a miracle because if we didn't do this en-masse, then the political culture of the U.S. would be in much worse shape than it is today.

So what caused it, and how did it jibe or conflict with the sixties? Well, to explain that you have to put yourself in a pre-9/11 world where there was, if you will, a much greater sense of innocence in American society. Innocence in the sense that people back then pretty much just groped along according to their own desires and interests---there wasn't a disaster which forced people to consider the world on it's own terms.

With that in mind, I suggest that what happened in the '90s was proof of the idea that, given a chance, people will become engaged in politics and political thinking, and naturally take an interest in it. The Cold War was gone, there was nothing to tell us NOT to get involved in politics, the economy was fairly ok, although it was extraordinarily unequal....and so we did what came naturally out of a sense of security which we percieved surrounded us.

It was similar during the sixties, I believe. The sixties and seventies were a time when, even though the Vietnam war was going on and the Cold War was in full swing, people were making convincing arguments that, fundamentally, we weren't under a threat from the Soviet Union, we had solved the problem of a cyclical economy through Keynesian management, and that these conditions made it possible to engage onesself in politics and put energy into changing society in ways in which, if there were serious constraints, it wouldn't be feasable otherwise.

It was OK to take an interest in politics because one could convincingly argue that the paranoia of the Cold War was so much B.S. and that peaceful solutions could work.

While the sixties took us to the moon, the seventies saw a joint U.S.-Soviet space mission in Soyuz, as well as mutual nuclear disarmarment treaties being signed.

Which isn't to say that there wasn't strife, but the strife of the sixties, and somewhat of the seventies, was done under a background of prosperity and stability, which was assumed to be lasting indefinitely.

Of course now we know that this wasn't exactly the case---for example, workers were disempowered during this time, and the prosperity guaranteed by the Keynesians still concealed structural inequality between classes...and upper class liberals dominated the discussion in public.

But at the time the kids growing up in this era weren't aware of all that. The foundations for this disempowerment were layed when they were in diapers, and they grew up in a world where disempowerment of this type was taken for granted.

They had security---and having security the natural impulse towards personal involvement in political and social issues took hold. Once the veil of security was lifted, during the economic crisis of the late seventies, support for hippy and leftist political and social ideas on a national stage quickly dwindled, leading to the Reagan Revolution.

Likewise, with us, once 9/11 happened it became much harder to ask the types of questions that the anti-globalization movement had asked, at least in the same way, because people were more concerned with personal safety.

What can be drawn from this is that governments have it in their best interest to keep their citizens cowering with fear and insecurity, because if they can convince them that you have to renounce all of this more abstract political concern for more immediate life and death issues then they can convince you to shut up and give your assent to the status quo.

Hopefully, the foundations layed in the Clinton era are strong enough so that this time we can turn back the reactionary tide and the force progressive politics and analysis back onto the political map---on a nationwide scale. That would be a good thing.

We need it.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Considering that I've just been to Austria, and that the socialist system in Austria appeared to me to have rendered the country infinitely more livable and humane than the U.S., I find Schwarzenegger's statement that he became a republican because Hubert Humphrey sounded like the Austrian socialists to be pretty short sighted.

Yeah, free health care, the bastards, what were they thinking? It'll just take away our freedoms.....
Oh to be in the land of Coca-Cola......

That's a line from a Dylan song some of you might know. I've found my land of milk and honey, and friends, come this January, I will be living in the pacific northwest in the greater Seattle area...

A week spent up in Washington and Oregon has made me pause and think, what the fuck am I doing in Florida? Good question. No good answer, so, I'll be saying hasta la vista in a few months and moving out to the wild west coast where the pioneer spirit still lives and the Espresso and microbrews flow freely......

I wouldn't mind eventually finding an isolated place on one of those obscure little islands in Puget Sound and sort of living the life of a hermit of those places where you'd have to take multiple ferries and wind your way through bad dirt roads to find an address. Yes, me, and my laudanum, sweet laudanum, just living together there in obscurity.

Strike that last part, I don't do drugs. How about just me and a carton or two of imported Italian cigars, braving the Washington rainy season.

I could live with that.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Couple of things, first, did anyone else catch the article linked to on where Kirk Cameron is revealed as being a born again Christian, who now gives talks about hellfire and brimstone at bible camps?

Ha ha ha. It seems appropriate. Here's one of the biggest Reaganite sitcom whores from the eighties, and now he comes out as being one with the spirit of his age both in chronology and in thought. I never liked that damn show anyways....

Of a more interesting, but possibly more puzzling note, there's a new book out called something like "Left Crosses" (Not Christopher Hitchens' book), which, published by a right wing publisher and written by a lefty-cum neo-conservative, tries to make the case that the Democratic Party is being taken over by the extreme left and that if something isn't done the Democratic Party as we know it will be gone. .

I have two questions here: first one, why the hell is someone who doesn't give a damn about the Democrats anyways so concerned about the Left having influence on them, and two, why, if you hate the Democrats anyways, do you expect people sympathetic to the democratic party to give two shits about your opinion of them?

I mean, if Ann Coulter came out with a book asking why it was that the Dems were being taken over by the left, and calling on people to resist it, I think people would feel that she was out of her mind (more than usual).

So, do the publishers think that the reading public is totally ignorant of what the right wing press has been doing for the past decade? Do they think that if you put a book styled like a Clinton hit squad job from Regnery press out there, but say it's for DEMOCRATS, not REPUBLICANS, that no one will notice that you have absolutely no credibility from which to issue such a thing?

Why, oh god, do these republican bastards care so much about us? I can live with being plastered in with the Democrats, sure, but give me a break folks, do you now feel that the Buchanan Brigade is qualified to look after the well being of the Democratic party?

Heres something you can use, it's a little litmus test to determine whether or not you have the right to judge the Dems as an objective witness: if you think that Bill Clinton is going to hell for his affair with Lewinsky, and that his administration corrupted America, and you think that Hillary is a mean spirited woman hell bent on seizing power, then it's safe to say that you have no more credibilty talking about the dems than Jimmy down at the leather bar in the South of Market district of San Francisco has talking about the internal politics of the Republican Party.

'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

About the future:

I don't believe in the future; which is not to say that I don't believe that life will go on, people will live and die, or lead productive lives. What I don't believe in is the idea that there's this utopia waiting out there, fueled by technology, which the course of history is inexorably drawing us towards. I just got back from a meeting where one of the participants, talking about the newest technology available, said that if we adopted it we'd be going where the zeitgeist of the future is going.....and my reaction, although I didin't voice it, was that this person was full of shit. What future are we talking about here? One where all of the unemployed tech people suddenly get the piles of money they thought were waiting for them if they got into computers?

I don't think so.

There ain't no future of that sort that we're being drawn towards, and in fact I think that we'd do better if we took a huge chunk of the technology we're already using, put it in a pile, and cast it off to sea, never to be seen again.

Please, take your future and stuff it, I'm concerned with life, not with technophile pipedreams.

And, gee look how things come together, the only reason people in the U.S. think that a technological utopia is coming is because the reasoning behind it is similar to the reasoning behind the Fordist types of engineering on which our modernization and industrialization was founded. It's because of the peculiarities of American history that we picture the future as robots or computers doing everything for us......which is even more cause to laugh at it and get on with life.

Commenting on the below post: if, indeed, mechanization and with it the process of globalization as commented on in Benjamin Barber's work "Jihad vs. McWorld", is due not to the inexorable march of capitalism but instead to the U.S.'s own particular mode of capitalism taking over the world, then the argument that all of this is inevitable goes down the toilet.

What we have, then, is not an inevitable process, but a process which is due to the historical experience of a particular country, the U.S., being imposed by force on the rest of the world.

If the McDonaldization of culture is due to peculiarities in the U.S.'s model of capitalism, then in a world where the U.S. is demoted to just being one power among many, sharing power with the rest of the world, we should see opposition to this brand of globalization gathering and then easily triumphing.

It would still leave us with the problems of global capitalism and the third world, but in this scenario it would be recognized that Capitalism means the brands of capitalism put forward by Europe, the U.S., and Japan, and not some transcendent Capitalism which was destined to triumph over all.
Here's a good article by Pierre Tristan about the origins of standardization in American culture. He links it to the invention by American engineers of standardized parts for machines.....and takes that forward to fast food and sprawl.

What he neglects to mention, or doesn't know, is that standardization in American industry is more than just something that happened to come into being in the course of America's economic history:

What the history books don't tell you about America's economic developement is that we weren't part of the initial wave of the industrial revolution; until the end of the 19th century the U.S. was pretty much a backwards agricultural society, with a few centers of industry on the east coast.

What made America's fortune, what caused the U.S. to become an industrial powerhouse, was the invention of standardization of parts and, particularly, of the machines used to manufacture goods.

This was part of what is known as the second wave of the industrial revolution.

Because it made our fortune, the standardization process has had a deep impact on American culture.

An example of another country which used the second wave of the industrial revolution to modernize is Germany, which cornered the market on synthetic chemicals and materials as well as light metal processing at about the same time that the U.S. was developing standardization.,,,

Sunday, August 10, 2003

The preceding prompts me to ask: just what constitutes a concentration camp anyways?

If you read your history, you know that concentration camps evolved out of 1)prisoner of war camps and 2) alien internee camps. Which means, well, in the coming days when you hear the phrase "Prisoner of war camp" or "Camp holding prisoners of war" or "Jail for prisoners of war", what they'll really be talking about is American Concentration Camps. Doesn't that make you feel all nice and fluffy inside?

Oh, and if that's not enough, there's also that little matter of Concentration Camps turning into Slave labor camps turning into, surprise! Death camps.

It's a logical progression, folks, and our American boys are nothing if not logical in trying to find a final solution for the arab problem in Iraq.
I should add to the list of things that the Reagan paradigm introduced a belief in the normality and superiority of all things American and the degradation of everything that isn't. Reagan and company fervently believed that America had a superior culture and that because of that there didn't need to be any cultural sensitivity to anyone----they should all be like us! This was preserved under Clinton's Third Way bullshit, and perserveres to this day with wondeful consequences for all.

One of those consequences is documented here, by Haroon Sidiqui on Commondreams . The statement about one of Saddam's worst prisons being reopened by Americans for their prisoners has the erie echo of a passage from Willie Brandt's memoires....

At the end of the Second World War, after the Nazis had surrendered and after the Communists had taken over the east, Willie Brandt interviewed the new Russian commander of East Germany, and asked, in passing, if it was true that the Russians were reopening the concentration camps and using them for their own political prisoners? The commander repeated, if my recollection serves me right, something like "Yes, yes, they're still operating---but they're only for the really bad people". Of course...........

I can't resist, this piece is so goddamn's from Maldoror by Lautreamont (which I've started)......I respect your right as a translator, but this is purely for enjoyment, not money...


I have made a pact with Prostitution to sow disorder infamilies. I remember the night which preceded this dangerous liason. Before me I saw a tombstone. I heard a glow-worm, big as a house, say to me:'I will give you the light you need. Read the inscription. It is not from me that this supreme order comes.' A vast blood-coloured light, at the sight of which my jaws clacked and my hands fell inert, suffused the air as far as the horizon. I leaned against a ruined wall, for I was about to fall, and read: 'Here lies a youth who died of consumption: you know why. Do not pray for him.' Not many men perhaps would have shown such courage as I did. Meanwhile, a beautiful naked woman came and lay down at my feet. Sadly, I said to her, 'You can get up.' And I held out to her the hand with which the fratricide slits his sister's throat. The shining worm, to me:'You, take a stone and kill her.' 'Why?' I asked. And it said to me:'Beware, look to your safety, for you are the weaker and I the stronger. Her name is Prostitution.' With tears in my eyes and my heart full of rage, I felt an unknown strength rising within me. I took hold of a huge stone; after many attempts, I managed to lift it as far as my chest. Then, with my arms, I put it on my shoulders. I climbed the mountain until I reached the top:from there, I hurled the stone on to the shining worm, crushing it. It's head was thrust six feet into the ground, a man's height; the stone rebounded as high as six churches. Then it fell down again into a lake, and for a moment the water-level, eddying, dropped as the sinking stone created an immense inverted cone. The surface became calm again; the blood-red light ceased to shine. 'Alas! alas!' the naked woman exclaimed. 'What have you done?' I said to her:'I prefer you to him. Because I pity the unhappy. It is not your fault that eternal justice has created you.' And she said:'One day men will do me justice; I will say no more to you. Let me go and hide my infinite sadness at the bottom of the sea. Only you, and the hideous monsters who swarm in those black depths, do not despise me. You are good. Adieu, you who have loved me.' I, to her:' Adieu, once more adieu! I will always love you. From today, I abandon virtue.' And that is why, oh you peoples of the earth, when you hear the winter wind moaning on the sea and by it's shores, or above the large towns which have long been in mourning for me, or across the cold polar regions, say:'It is not God's spirit passing over us; it is only the shrill sigh of Prostitution in unison with the deep groans of the Montevidean.' Children, it is I who say this to you.Then, full of mercy, kneel down. And let men, more numerous than lice, say long prayers.
The insidiousness of the Clinton years....or, how the Clinton Democrats paved the way for George W. Bush.

You can't be neutral on a moving train, so goes the title to one of Howard Zinn's books; indeed, you can't, but that doesn't stop people from engaging in it when they can. We're living through a crisis, and it behooves us to look at where this crisis came from: my culprit, the one that I'm fingering, is the irresolve of the Democrats during the Clinton years, particularly during Clinton's second term in office, to use their power to promote solid, liberal, programs in the tradition of the Democratic party of the New Deal and the '60s.

Acquiesence was enough for them, and acquiesence paved the way for George W. Bush to take power.

It all began at the end of Carter's presidency; the economy was in shambles, it wasn't responding to traditional liberal-Keynesian economic policy, Carter was percieved as being a president who was weak on the international front, as the hostage crisis following the Iranian revolution demonstrated.

Carter, we know now, actually had dispensed with Keynesian wisdom and was moving his economic policy towards the stands that Reagan would later publicly advocate and endorse, but nevertheless he represented the rump of the liberal consensus which had dominated American politics since the late fifties; the core liberal values of not abdicating public responsability for our fellow citizens were still present in Carter, albeit attenuated both by circumstances and by Carter's southern Democrat background.

The Reagan revolution changed all of that; fundamentally, when Reagan took office, the liberal consensus that Carter still upheld was smashed. In it's place came a conservative system of belief which trusted the market to solve problems and, in a note from Friedrich Hayek, declared that not only was interference in the free market bad for the economy, but it also had negative moral consequences for the collective character of America. Translation: if you interfere with the free market you're not only sabotaging the country you're also providing incentives for people to become criminals.

Large sections of the previously held consensus were sacrificed over the alter of 'Realism', as the conservatives tried their hardest to point out examples of sordid reality lurking behind government programs, which liberals supposedly had overlooked with their rose tinted view of human nature. These examples of human depravity were then used, without any accompanying context, to then discredit the very concept of using government programs to help people, or even of trusting your fellow citizens whom you might not know personally but who you might live in the same town with.

The consequences of the Reagan Revolution were broad. George Herbert Walker Bush came into power as a moderating force; he reversed some of the Reagan policies and even, with the breaking of his pledge for 'No New Taxes', restored some sanity to our tax code, but, though he reformed the system he did not fundamentally alter it. Within the bounds that the Reagan conservatives had established, his reforms left the new paradigm intact as a guiding spirit for legislation and public policy.

Clinton, though a Democrat, came into office convinced that in it's essentials the Reagan reliance on the free market was justified by the economic crisis of the seventies, and indeed he did little to change it although the cultural conservatism of the Reagan and Bush years, which was being ridiculed during the last days of the first Bush administration, abated during Clinton's term in office.

That was the political context. The social context, the social context which I experienced and which many others similarly felt, was a collective sigh of relief that the social conservatism of those days was over and that now liberals and others could come out of the closet and start to get the country back to normal.

But between the enthusiasm coming from the change in office, along with the end of Communism, and the reality of the policies enacted by Clinton, there was a dangerous gap. It existed for anyone to see; indeed, for those who had actually lived through the heyday of American liberalism it must have appeared as stark as anything that the end of the Reagan/Bush years hadn't signalled a return to how things used to be.

So, faced with a disjunction between hopes and reality the democrats and those allied to them had a choice: they could either have pushed for Clinton to have gone all the way with returning American policy back to pre-Reagan standards, or they could have accepted that Clinton's office gave them enough cover to live in peace, taken it, and not asked questions.

They followed the second course. Clinton, although, for example, he evicerated the social welfare system, nevertheless was a true liberal when it came to things such as art and culture, and the silence from the white house, after twelve years of attacks, was greeted as a tacit endorsement of freethought and the free exchange of ideas.

Society reformed itself. It even got a dose of bohemian culture making the mainstream with the ascent of "Alternative culture", stemming from youth culture, making it's impact in the early nineties. But, despite the security provided by Clinton's silence, the dreams and hopes manufactured within this context could not get translated into practice whatsoever.

Call it the Espresso manacles, if you will, but the quiet neutrality engendered by Clinton led America down a path towards morbidity. The centrism of the Clinton years eventually had to be paid for, and when the next election came the lack of willpower manifested by the electorate to change the Democrat's policies came due in the form of a contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Nowhere in the running was a liberal candidate who represented the silent democratic revivalists. The closest thing, amazingly, was Republican candidate John McCain, who people supported simply because he made vocal progressive comments about campaign reform. They ignored the rest of his platform.

Nader was in the running, of course, but the fact that the candidate who should have been with the Democrats was not only in a third party, not only excluded from the official debates, but was running his campaign essentially as a protest of, and to bring attention to, the corrupt nature of the party system speaks for itself.

The bill for acquiesence during the Clinton years came due, and so progressive Americans were denied a chance to even field a candidate who they believed in---the price for giving assent to the Clinton status quo for 8 years.

And, additionally, the strategy of quietism, or of just carving out your own little liberal Utopia and forgetting about the rest of the country, paid off in that when the centrist doctrine split open with George W. Bush being elected, and was then checked further by the events of September 11th, lo and behold reactionary currents which were thought by some to have been long dead suddenly rose and took center stage.

Where did they come from? They'd always been there, only the liberal belief in living and let live during the Clinton years had translated out into people not seriously taking a look at what the country as a whole was thinking, and additionally into being cautious with advocating controversial causes.

If the democrats had been politically engaged, like they should have been, during the Clinton years, the reactionary currents would have been recognized, and maybe there could have been some dialogue on them---thereby almost assuredly blunting their severity.

But none such advocacy was forthcoming, and so America, liberal and conservative, lefty and far right, was allowed to go on stewing in the pot until the breaking point was reached, whereupon all hell broke loose.

I believe that the reactionary statements and sentiments which we're seeing now would never have blossomed like this if there was any effort, whatsoever, by the Democrats to engage their fellow Americans in discussion about issues essential to our democracy.

But nothing. Simply enjoying the relative freedom of the Clinton years, paying attention to ones' own projects, maybe making an inroad here or there into activism, but not much, collectively. And the expectation that this lull in activity would go on indefinitely and that there would be no consequences down the road for acquiesing to a candidate who they didn't agree with but who provided enough shelter from the storm for ones' own comfort and security.

What needs to change now is not just the party in office, what needs to change now is the basic paradigm in which politics in America is pictured. The Reagan belief in the free-market has to go. It has to be replaced by a paradigm which recognizes economic and social rights as human rights, comparable with civil rights, and which refocusses the burden of proof from individuals to the system which has made this social destruction possible. We need social democracy as well as political democracy.

But, be advised, those who sat and did little to change the consensus during the Clinton years share in the blame of the Enron's, the multinationals, the corporations, the Arthur Andersons, all of them. They deserve a little bit of the blame for letting this country go down the tubes.

After all, wasn't it Edmund Burke who said "In order for evil to triumph, good men must do nothing"?

Well, this is enlightening, it's a story from the Washington Post outlining just how the administration cooked the books on the supposed nuclear threat from Iraq.

I was recounting to a friend a while ago my apprehension about the administration, "What's worse?", I said, "That they're just cynical bastards manipulating the public for their own benefit, or that they actually believe the stuff the put out?"

Now I have an answer: they actually do believe the stuff they put out, but they finesse the facts with more intelligence than a garden I guess it's not that bad.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Explaining America to Europeans....

Recently I was in Europe, and I made an observation to an acquaintance that it's really hard to communicate how America actually is to them because of the lack of a common context for, now, I'm going to try....

Among the many things which could be commented on in American life, one which stands out the starkest is that Americans value, and have developed, an infrastructure of consumer society which can satiate any desire of an individual in a hundred different ways, and yet have devalued the worth of the individual who may sometime be engaged in being satiated to the point of valueing human life less than that of house pets.

People don't seem to realize the contradiction here; after all, those roads and buildings didn't make themselves; supermarkets don't spontaneously generate, neither do cars; it was all, to use a Marxian form of analysis, made there by humans for humans, and yet we act as if our fellow human beings aren't fit to lick the piss off the roads that we've built.

Those car dealerships don't make themselves, yet, while having a car which is essentially a hunk of pure steel with wheels, with an engine and a space hollowed out for a cockpit--a Hummer in other words--is considered a good thing, acting like the homeless man's life which you've just snuffed out by crushing his bones with your Hummer is worth one one hundredth of the value of the car is unheard of.

There's a certain sickness to creating extreme wealth out of forests and wilderness and then denying that we ourselves are entitled to any of it, but that's America. It's a place where the means of satisfying our desires are more important than the actual life of those who's desires are being satiated.

The social and cultural impoverishment of America is astounding, absolutely astounding; the equation that human society exists for humans has been overturned, apparently, human society exists for the production of things, and the enjoyment of things, so that the constitution of society is denied altogether.

We're not humans, of course not! What secular humanist bullshit! We're things inhabiting a world of other things, and if some of those things get crushed by us, well, since we're all animals it's the law of the jungle and there's no appeal from that.

Ha ha. Dare say that there are common human values or attributes which bind us together and which behoove us to squash the market in favor of basic human decency and you'll likely to get a sermon about how all humanity is vile depraved and sinful, and that trusting those human values (like, for example, people shouldn't die of exposure while next door there are plenty of resources to house and feed them) will likely get you to a worse state of affairds than you started with.

Shame on you for mistaking that piece of rawhide with bones and movement over there for a human being with feelings and worth such as your own; don't you know that's what led to the holocaust?

Just saw a wonderful new film from Germany called "Nowhere in Africa", about a jewish family that avoids the holocaust by moving to Kenya.

I couldn't help but notice that it was produced with the funding of the Bavarian film board. It figures that the only movie about Jews during the Nazi period that the Bayerische state would fund would be one where the Jews left Germany within the first few minutes of the film. Ha Ha.

Friday, August 08, 2003

My take on the blogging phenomenon: I really don't have any use for it. I'm somewhat more sceptical of it than Tom Tommorrow is, because not only do I not think that it's a quote-un-quote phenomenon, but I personally never check out other blogs, unless requested to do so. I don't read any blogs except Tom Tommorrow's, either.

This, personally, is an extension of generally hating the media and instead deciding to cut myself off from the Glass Teat and instead enjoy the peace and quiet of real thinking and contemplation.

I'd never have thought that people would blow blogs up into something this large; but it really doesn't apply to me anyways, since even if no one else was paying attention to the blogging phenomenon I'd still be here plugging away at my website.

I think this is what's enabled me to have been publishing this thing continuously, sort of, since March of last year. I don't have any expectations from the greater internet community at large regarding recognition, opportunities, and I don't feel I'm riding any sort of Zeitgeist either. I just put this stuff out there; if you like it, fine, if you don't, fine. It's not going to crush my ego.

In fact, I've been trying to get off of the current American Zeitgeist for some time now, and I think that I've just about succeeded.....what this means personally is that I'm so far removed from mainstream America at this point that nothing that happens there has any ramifications for me personally. I'm alone, and damn glad to be in that position. I don't represent youth, I don't represent Generation X, I don't represent any other trendy phenomenon. I've gotten old enough so that the people generating commercialist propaganda have forgotten about people who grew up when I did, which was actually not that long ago, and instead have moved on to the fertile fields of those schmucks who had the bad luck to have been popped out of the womb a few years after me.

So, finally, after all this, I get some blessed silence, where I an now do what ever the hell I want to do without someone breathing down my neck and making value judgements about what I'm doing in relation to the rest of the brats my age.

I once quipped that, like Bob Dole in the Onion article, I was digging a tunnel back to the eighteenth century (like Clinton was building a bridge to the 21st, get it?), and, like in the article, I wasn't building it for everyone, just for myself. Well, now it appears that I've fuck all of you still trapped in this decadent society, I'm in the hills now and will see y'all after Bush and his cronies lose power and the real America steps up into the light. Until then, I'm content to whittle away with these words and this computer, and a couple of good books in front of the space which used to contain a TV hooked up to cable, but which now only plays VHS tapes and DVDs.....

And now to lose my remaining audience....

Well well, before we get to the meat of this post, let me tell you a little bit about where I'm coming from. You see, when it comes to freedom of the press, personal liberty, etc... my roots go deep; I saw Faces of Death as a teenager (several volumes), and practically inhaled the Loompanics Unlimited catalog (even if I didn't order much from it), and on top of that practically lived on "Outposts", from the folks at Fact Sheet Five, for a I'm pretty committed to pissing people off by defending a few core principles...

Onto the meat of the post, which is, surprise surprise, about the magazine Southern Partisan.

You might remember it as the magazine which John Ashcroft gave an interview with, consequently leading to his denunciation as a racist neo-confederate from all quarters.

Well, I happen to live in the South, and my library stocks Southern Partisan, so a few days ago I went looking around.......and found it's issue wherein it responds to the John Ashcroft uproar...

My impression of the magazine? Well, practically everyone who commented on it distorted it. It's not a neo-confederate rag, it's not a hate magazine, what it is is a somewhat sedate academic journal put out by conservative intellectuals in the South that takes a pro-South stand from the point of view of the South having a history and cultural tradition which is misrepresented by the media.

It's close to the ideas of the Vanderbilt agrarians, who in fact contributed articles to it when they were still living. What that means is that there's a lot of talk about the South, ante-bellum and otherwise, from a philosophical and political standpoint; one of the issues I saw featured an insightful interview with David Livingstone, who is a philosopher specializing in Hume studies---not exactly a ranting and raving confederate flag waving guy....and he was pretty good.

Southern Partisan pointed out that a lot of the merchandise which they supposedly offered, like the Abraham Lincoln/ sic semper tyrannus/ shirt, was either offered by merchants who were a click or two away from the actual site or which, as in the lincoln shirt, there was some confusion about the product being offered on the part of Southern Partisan.

When you look at the actual articles, well, let me put it this way: dig up a copy of their response issue, and you'll see that the reporters truly did take everything out of context and ignore the meanings intended.

A lot of the ammunition came from a symposium of scholars talking about racism; this was an issue where people gave their personal opinions. A few gave some pretty extreme ones; but Southern Partisan filled in the blanks by saying that these people were actually fed up about the tameness of Southern Partisan with regards to racism, and consequently stopped contributing articles on their own accord soon after the racism symposium issue came out.

In this context, it's not surprising to see John Ashcroft submitting to an interview; he's a Southerner, this magazine deals with Southern politics in an academic way, why wouldn't he give an interview?

It's only the distortions of the media which have turned giving an interview with a pro-South journal into talking with an Aryan Nations newspaper.

Actually, I kind of like the magazine; I respect intellectually astute journals, no matter where they come from politically, and the quality of being a quirky sort of asynchronous magazine defending a cause which constantly gets short shrift from the media appeals to me as well.

Hell, I like Eugene Genovese's writings on the South. But do check this out on your own; it's an issue of a journal which does not deserve it being tarred and feathered for being politically incorrect rather than any sort of ideological issue, and so has universal import.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I've just added a link to Liberty Fund books; Liberty Fund is a funky little publisher in Indiana which issues good editions of rare and important books on political philosophy and history. It's conservative, but, conservative in the right way: despite it's bias it's concern with presenting quality political ideas leads it to publish some essential, staggeringly good, classic books of political philosophy.

My heart goes out to them whenever I see their catalog because, although I don't agree with some of their political ideas, they truly love and understand this stuff, and it shows.

It's sort of a policy on my part not to link to commercial sites; but this is one which justifies the exception to the rule.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

It's an appropriate term for this blog, but it also referrs to an essay by French revolutionary theorist Camille Desmoulins which spells out what rule by aristocracy leads to; Leze-Majesti figures large in his analysis of decadent aristocratic society.
Some of you may be wondering what Leze-Majesti, the new subtitle of this blog means....may I suggest doing a google search for "leze-majesty"? The way I spelled it is the older French spelling, but if you search on google everything will be spelled out. Have fun!

Monday, August 04, 2003

By the way, while I'm addressing non-blog issues, what do people out there think about Bob Dylan's latest CDs? I'm not thinking about that new "Masked and Anonymous" soundtrack which I haven't heard, but "Time out of Mind", "Love and Theft", and in general the records stretching from the release of "Oh Mercy" in '89 up to "Love and Theft"?

I'm partial to the new stuff, personally, but then, with the exception of "Saved" I think that a great deal of the records Bob has put out post-"Street Legal" (after Desire) have been pretty good. Shot of Love and Infidels are favorites, although there are surely duds in the crop of records released through the eighties. I even think "Slow Train Coming" is pretty good.

"Love and Theft" is more familiar to me than "Time out of Mind", but, of the two, it sounds the better to me....although Bob's pessimism is welcome any time.

I recently saw him live, and he clearly delighted playing songs condemning society while gloating because of the fact that writing such songs has projected him again into superstardom. Hey, if I could pull that off I'd be fuckin' happy as a clam too.

Bob the artist prevailed as opposed to Bob the stadium rocker......the reverse of the show that David Vest saw and wrote about on Counterpunch....

And am I the only person who thinks that Bob's new sound, even down to the song "Man in a long black coat" from "Oh Mercy!' has a hell of a lot to do with how Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has sounded and the poetic lyrics that Nick Cave has wrote?

The parallels between "Man with the Red Right Hand" by Nick Cave and "Man in the long black coat" by Bob seem too compelling to be coincidental; both are Southern grotesques, and I'm pretty sure that Nick Cave got to that particular space of mental real estate before Bob did....

I'm a nice guy.

You just have to write, y'know? Well, one person who did was the proprieter of Left-I on the news....It looks like a good site analyzing the lies and distortions of our wonderful media concerning the Iraq war, among other things.

The Blogosphere has a certain division of labor to it; this site, for example, hasn't ever tried to be a supplier of links; if anything, this blog will point it's way to my Master's thesis quicker than it will to the relevant news links of the day; but just because I don't personally do it doesn't mean that such things aren't extremely valuable and even neccesary in this time of intense media obfuscation of the truth, so kudos to Eli and good luck on a promising news analysis site.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

America has been a bad deal:

I'm confronted with two paths of inquiry or two rival identities when concerning my ancestors who were here from colonial days on; on the one hand, two are recorded as having served in the Albany militia during the revolutionary war---they were Dutch-German---but despite this flair up of patriotism, the genealogical record shows that the Dutch part of my family largely decided to keep within the insular confines of the Dutch community in Albany, and, failing that, to move en masse to the German colony in Onondaga county in western New York at the beginning of the 19th century, where they largely still live.

It's a tradition not of patriotism to the United States but of evasion of it---first in an ethnic community, then, within a community close enough to be recognized as a fellow ethnos.

Why did this happen, and what can this incident tell us about the impact of the formation of the United States on the lives of the non-English settlers of the region?

Well, first of all some clarification is in order: many accounts of the Dutch during the Revolutionary period, at least the popular accounts, point out that as subjects of a foreign power, the British, they had little to lose from America becoming independent. Not true, not true at all; in fact, it's the rankest distortion available.

What happened when America became independent from Britain was that a hitherto colonial people, who recognized that their fathers or grandfathers came to this island from Europe, and that by extension they were just Europeans occupying New World land, suddenly transformed themselves into a new breed of man not seen before: Americans. Not English transplanted to the colonies, not Scots descended from the same, but a seperate identity not chained to countries and nationalities already established across the atlantic in Europe.

It was a short trip from declaring independence to declaring the right of dominance of 'Americans' over this new continent; any colonial understanding with the tribes, or with the land, which had neccesarily arisen because of the nature of settlement was now overthrown. These were Americans, dammit, they could do as they pleased.

Unfortunately, what this meant in practice was that the settlers now thought themselves justified in continuing English-style colonization, turned up to the maximum level, and also thought themselves justified in asserting English identity by any other name as the only normal and acceptable one, also turning the shrillness up to the maximum level in this.

America may have become independent, but English folkways lived on, unchained by colonial agreements and understandings.

And so, in due time, the Dutch of the Hudson valley, who had been there before any English settlers had set foot in New York State, found themselves harassed and discriminated against because they were not sufficiently 'American'. Why should they have been? Americans didn't exist before the 1780s, so what were they not being? What force did that denunciation ever have?

So instead of being welcomed into 'America' as a people making up a new piece of the tapestry of the new country, the New York Dutch were excluded, and then tarred with the stereotype of being insular, monolithic, and xenophobic. If Americans (People who had been English a few years before) had been serious about the ideals they professed the stereotype of the ingrown Dutch of New York state would never have been formulated in the first place.

America as an idea is dangerous, because it conceals and has been used to justify relations of force lurking just under the surface. What we are is a new world country, not an 'America' existing out there like a 'France' or an 'England' lurks out there; we live with the colonial baggage of that time through an inheritance of their descendent progeny in our life ways and governmental, social, and economic institutions. Concealing it behind the flag and waving it as vigorously as possible does not make that go away.

Again, if American democracy is going to mean anything it has to be inclusive of ethnic traditions and different cultural ways of doing things, and not addicted the conception that America was made as a pure land, without blot or blemish, which was given to the Americans (English) to do with as they saw fit immune to any criticism or opinion coming from the outside world.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

From T.S. Eliot and modernism, to structuralism, post-structuralism, and now back to T.S. Eliot and modernism.

The way in which the major developments of literary theory in the last half of the 20th century were presented to me, by a mentor who I hold dear in my heart, went something like this: T.S. Eliot had monopolized criticism so much in the fifties that 1) it was now being used to buttress his own poetic style and 2) it left no room for something other than a radical attack on it in order to try to return things to normal. Structuralism was then needed.

What was Eliot's point of view? Eliot was one of the few synthesizers of a theory of modernism which held up; modernism began by acting on a critical space between the mind of the author and the writing put down on the page which had been opened up by the rejection of romanticist priveleging of the intensely felt emotion over contemplation. The critical distance left room enough for extensive experiments with meaning which could be more and more detached from the immediate poetic awareness of the individual reading the work; alternately, it provided a space whereby consciousness itself, and states of consciousness, could be examined in a way which opened up the door for authors to try to get to the roots of our consciousness of the world which, in the case of Joyce for instance, meant pursuing consciousness to the origins in history, language, literature, and thought which generated what we normally think of as everyday reality.

The two approaches were not mutually exclusive and indeed the exploration of consciousness and meaning was buttressed by the addition of artificially introduced works of literature and thought which the artist could then use to flesh out ideas which, in the language of consciousness and social reflection alone, could not be adequately presented. Ezra Pound is the prime example of this, with the enourmous extra-textuality of his Cantos being put into place in order for otherwise impossible communication to occur.

T.S. Eliot struck a mean between the two approaches; on the one hand a modernist, he turned the project of supplying fire for the modernistic approach into a recognition of a conservative tradition of literature which, he thought, formed the reasonable collective means for educated western people to understand literature and the world through it.

On the other hand he insisted that the critical detachment which was the hallmark of modern literature and poetry was essential for any serious work of literary art, so that analysis of literature became a question of how an author was trying to create meaning, using this critical distance, drawing on the extensive tradition of the western cannon.

Not that bad but, unfortunately, not the only way to concieve of art as being made.

Whether through emphasis on the artist's concsiousness or through emphasis on the extratextuality of his works, this brand of criticism focussed on how meanings were to be reconstructed through careful examination of everything outside of the text, while deprecating the actual mechanics of the text beyond the minimum accorded to decent writing.

Structuralism stepped in with a theory which, in contrast, put all the emphasis on the construction of meaning by the reader from within the mechanics of the text itself.

Post-Structuralism modified this by including a critical emphasis on the origins of the writer's background, along with that of the reader, which nevertheless excluded the criteria which Eliot and company had erected for extra-textual subject matter.

So what now?

I find myself drawn back to the modernists, but with the knowledge that, from structuralism, a great deal of meaning of the text comes from the actual workings of it as a mechanism, and that, from post-structuralism, a great deal of that meaning is actually representative of social issues and structure rather than purely dealing with the artist's intention or lack thereof.

Modernism, while extremely aware, didn't posses the critical understanding of itself which has been made possible by the successive waves of anti-modernist criticism. It can now do it.

The implications of this are, of course, that the importance of the individual consciousness and his or her dealings with literary tradition are somewhat downgraded, but with relativity we can take the actual production of meaning which is the heart of literature farther than we could have before.

Europe and America.

Coming back from Europe I recognize that, yes, America does have some interesting innovations and unique ways of doing things which are absent over there, and which add to our charm and identity. But, in the words of the Grateful Dead, sometimes your cards aren't worth a dime if you don't lay 'em down.

Europe understands quirkiness; she understands difference and regional charm, and is willing to recognize such in the United States, but the terms which the Bush administration is laying down for her, and the world, to accept are totally unacceptable and unreasonable.

For America's uniqueness and value to truly be recognized and respected by the rest of the world we need to sumbit to the internationally recognized conventions governing how states act towards the rest of the world and towards their own citizens. If we don't do that, then a common language between us and the rest of the world will never be possible, and if that's not possible then the valuable things in American society will never be recognized as such by the rest of the world.

At the worst, the impact of the Bush regime, in stating that America's uniqueness entitles it to do whatever it wants in the world, will have the effect of increasingly isolating the U.S., thereby throwing the baby out with the bath water. It won't just be the political regime that'll be isolated, it'll also be any good features of American society which will now be disparaged and thought not to exist because of the corruption of the political regime at the head of the country.

So, if we want America to be recognized for the valuable things which she has, and which her citizens have done, what we need to do is learn how to put out the tourist signs, be content with our own uniqueness, and come away from the pretensions to world domination and instead carve out for ourselves a much more modest position within the world community.

Socialism and the breakdown of the liberal-bargaining interests model.

This country's political system, as John Kenneth Galbraith informs us several times in many different works, is based on a model in which interest groups band together to effect policy, and in which the resultant action taken by the state in response to those interest groups amounts to a brokerage of a course acceptable to all. By this sytem, we are told, the extremists are shut out and everyone gains something; what is decided by means of interest group bargaining represents a best of all possible worlds in response to policy options.

It also, effectively, cements a new chamber of government onto the two that we already have.

What's neglected in this example of ophelimity, from the Paretan idea, applied to political processese is two fold: first, there's an assumption that the state always has to shell out money and create programs to mitigate the imbalances of industrial society, and second, that there aren't basic issues regarding forms and structures of government and society which preclude the possibility of a broad agreement among interest groups even to take part in the system at all.

The first objection has, in it's background, the idea that capitalism shouldn't be enshrined as sancrosanct, only to be mitigated by a mildly interventionist state when the need presents itself; instead, the avenue should be open for people and social movements to abolish it altogether or to put a radically different regime in it's place. This may or may not be done or concieved of as being done through statist means, but either way the stasis which the idea of shelling out money to mitigate industrial capitalism enshrines precludes a serious challenge to the system itself.

The second objection, obviously, connects with the first, but in a different way. It's assumed that if you decide to participate in the bargaining process of interest groups by formulating yourself as a member of one that you assent to the system as it is in general, but, beyond that, there's the assumption that the needs of definable interest groups can be met within a general bargaining system and that the agendas of different interest groups don't conflict so much as to render cooperation or mutual participation impossible in any meaningful sense.

I submit that the idea of interest group bargaining is dangerous because, like all market models, it ignores the fact that there might be something to pay attention to which can't be solved through a value-neutral approach where all issues dealt with are deemed to have the same basic level of signifigance at the outset.

There are issues which, because of their nature, destroy the applicability of a market model whenever they enter the arena.

Moreso, though, is the idea that the lion can lay down with the lamb, so to speak: that industrial capitalism is balanced such that inequalities regarding power and influence from outside of the political system can't distort what goes on inside of it. Or that the issues which politics have traditionally dealt with---the society, culture, economics---don't have points of view varied enough to preclude a stable consensus being reached even within the particular area and even taking for granted the autonomy of political life from the power structures which exist outside of it in the world at large.

As an alternative to this, I present the idea that politics always has to deal with social issues, issues dear to the composition of society and the state, and that the political process, political life in general, is just a medium through which arguments about substantial issues having to do with the composition of society in it's most inclusive sense are presented, argued about, and eventually realized.

So the important part of politics is the exo-political realm, and therefore no neutrality can be presumed to exist within the political sphere, because none exists outside of it either. This means that while politics serves as a sounding board for many interests that as a sounding board any intra-political concepts of decisionmaking which refer to politics as an autonomous sphere are invalid.

If politics is to be a medium, then the best medium is that which transmits clearest with the least addition of noise from it's own composition.

Clearly, the bargaining agreement model, which presuposses a peace or potential peace between rival interests which it only can provide, doesn't meet this requirement. If politics is stripped of it's uniqeness, then the bargaining agreement model appears as so much obfuscation of the real issues at stake, as it, in my opinion, clearly is.

Transparency means the willingness to undertake structural innovations with regards to the functioning of politics and society, and freezing structural innovation by enshrining a static system designed to stop underlying issues of form from being brought to the surface is not only ineffective but actually stands in the way of just and expected, normal, political progress and activity.

Let's get a politics of being rather a politics of evasion.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Addendum to the note on Wayne Madsen's article:

Yes, go to Europe, enjoy the freedom, but remember: we're not talking idle talk by a stupid president anymore, like it was pre-9/11. Bush is now drawing blood; his policies are killing people in Iraq as well as adversely effecting Europe itself, so the rules of the game have changed. As stated below, people seem to be much less forgiving, even if you swear up and down that you've opposed Bush from the start and oppose his doings now.
My take on Europe's opinion of dissident Americans:
Responding to an editorial Here by Wayne Madsen which, although very good, states that we should take heart that European's are on our side, I don't know if that's the truth.

My experience with Europeans, being there for a week, sort of devolved into this: first of all, you have to go to some damn good great lengths to prove to them that you're not part of the Bush cheering choir, then after that's accomplished, they're still disappointed because despite your feelings as an individual, a great many people in America really do support Bush.

It's an issue of collective responsability, I suppose. In Europe you had over a million people demonstrate in Italy against the Iraq war, while, out of a country of 280 Million people, only a possible 250,000 showed up last August for the first big anti-war march.

The point is that even if there are some of us out here who dissent, the fact that so many go along is a black mark against our country that our personal stances cannot erase in the eyes of Europe.
True libertarianism and social order:

I've been thinking about writing a book, or something here, entitled "Socialism in a conservative context", and that's what I'm going to write about here today.

Notice the title doesn't say "Socialist Conservatism" or "Beyond Socialism and Conservatism", implying some sort of "Third Way" ideology, allied to fascism, which claims to be beyond left and right.

Instead, it refers to leftist programs and ideas which can flourish best, in my opinion, within a social context which recognizes a minimum of conservatism with regards to the social and cultural spheres.

What do I mean by this? Well, to quote a woman writing against the Beats, I mean that knowing the customs of a place, knowing the appropriate way to act, the history, etc... allowes one to do more, experience more, and ultimately excersize more liberty in practice than simply saying : "I can do whatever the fuck I want, I don't recognize any laws at all, fuck all of that, fuck history, I'm beyond it all" allows.

I submit that liberalism today has gotten off on the wrong foot in accepting a sort of vulgar materialism when it comes to explanations of society, explanations which, while emancipating the individual from all supposed fetters, leave nothing to point the way to how to make a decent life in the newly found free state.

Instead of pointing the way to the exercise of freedom, modern liberalism in the U.S. has condemned people to being just one more atom in a world determined by biology, where if you're not a genius then, well, sorry, you can't participate in cultural production, and where economic theory combined with an individualist social darwinism destroy all hope for individual meaning in most other areas. What we're left with is dependency on a mass throwaway culture, where no meaning sticks, where the good isn't pursued, but where where pop stars, songs, styles, wars, politicians, etc... are all paraded out in the appropriate season for the passive approval of the masses, who then are told to wait until the next season for the next dose of meaning, and are shooed away from history by the admonition that, well, it's all too hard for you anyways so don't even try....

In short, our culture has fallen on it's own sword in an attempt to use vulgar materialism as a thorough explanatory tool for social, cultural, and political phenomenon.

Can't we do better than this, or, more to the point of this essay, is this really what liberty is all about? Freedom to know that your brain chemistry and genetics determine everything, and that if those don't cover it, studies in ethnology and primate behavior do? Where beauty is reduced to a hormone and romance is similarly reduced to ape behavior added to the quirks of the human nervous system?

I propose, then, that the vulgar materialism of American culture isn't a fit basis on which to really practice liberty, it's not a foundation from which liberty can really be found or exercised because it doesn't recognize what other ages have deemed valuable in the living of a human life to have the status of autonomous phenomenon at all.

So history becomes worthless, culture becomes worthless, just another thing to throw away, live in the moment, just let the commercial buzz run through your brain.

Instead, for the actual living of liberty I believe that what's needed is a basic recognition that there are things which we may call social facts, features of something called society, which are inherited collectively through our culture and which in fact give meaning to and open up avenues to get greater meaning from society.

Only a culture which recognizes it's own history can allow an individual to navigate through the present in an intelligent way in order to try to determine and effect the future as best he can. Only a culture that recognizes the value of human interactions, customary human interactions, can allow the individual to locate meaning through his personal interactions and push for greater variety and multiplicity in his ways of living and interacting with others. Only a society which knows about it's artists can allow an artist to produce good art today. Only knowing political history allows one to judge the politics of the day.

So, I propose, that there be a social minimum, a minimum of social and cultural history recognized as inviolable and irreducable for human society, for any decent form of human society to actually exist as such.

Once one is no longer thinking about how one's conduct fares against the biologists and psychologists one looks to explore and create meaning out of the contexts qua content that have been opened up because of such.

And from there, in the exploration of content, provided by society, history, learning, books, people, music, one can proceed to action in true liberty, in the truest liberty which human society can afford---the actual production of society, in it's economic, cultural, political, and social, facets--as opposed to being a passive docile consumer of what society puts out.

We need this reevaluation of things desperately; without society, beating back all of the psychologists from it's door, we can have no liberty, because without society it's all determined, to a degree far beyond that accepted by Marxists and Anarchists. At least, within society, there is room for change and growth.