Thursday, January 30, 2003

Meditation on aesthetics

Partially inspired by Arthur C. Danto's collection of essays...

I take issue with the idea that the aesthetic experience is something which is bound by an inner direction, leading to some set point or realization, like the attainment of self-consciousness for instance.

Art of all kinds is characterized by, among other things, it's self compartmentalization on the one hand and it's standing on the edge of the unknown on the other. In my opinion. Compartmentalization refers to the completeness of anywork in and of itself as an example of that form of work, whether it be a song, a painting, a poem, a story. It's taken as a given that there exists a process of self-development in the production of a finished product in any of these modes of expression, but when a piece of art satisfies these basic formal requirements, it presents a complete idea, no matter if that idea is subsequently judged to be lacking according to some exterior requirement.

So a poem, if it's a finished product, presents an idea expressed in a more or less satisfactory form.

There is obviously more to the signifcance of a poem or other piece of artwork than simply formal or stylistic functionality, but where does this come from?

What are it's boundaries? What is the warp and weave of the meaning that finished products draw from?

Which brings me to the second part, the facing of the unknown by art. It's my belief that the frontiers of expression are unknown and limitless. That is to say that the thing which artistic expression is always striving for is an ideal which can never be directly known or understood, but recedes from the artist as he or she approaches.

In leiu of a final end to art there can exist conditional guideposts and rules which can help define and help give shape and meaning to works of art, which be discovered by increasing engagement with the artistic endeavor itself. The conditional guideposts exist to shed light on meaning in the production of finished products.

The progression of artistic endeaver is the production of a set of finished products, which bring new meaning to light in the mind, and which also demonstrate increasing skill and understanding which can be thought of as due to an increasing understanding of the conditional rules that exist which give cues to the production of meanings beyond formal and stylistic proficiency.

Meaning in Art is then self evident within an artist's chosen field, it is also the production of the new. The contradiction is that in the pursuit of the unknowable is produced meanings which are instantly recognizable by people as relating to their lives but which they haven't ever consciously thought of before.

Art, then, evokes parts of ourselves which we never thought we knew, and expands our view of ourselves and of our world.

The artist, then, is the explorer of the Hermeneutic consciousness of man, and the Hermeneutic consciousness of a given society, of society at large, is revealed by his action to be fluid and moving over a deeper, hidden, landscape, than normal views of self and society would allow.

Eventually, the best art, the highest art, moves beyond hermeneutic exploration alone into direct contemplation of the hidden landscape behind all social and historical views of self, society, and the world.

But of course this is beyond history and historicism.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

America, an idea or a culture?

Whew. Not a good follow up. This is what I was planning to write before I read Robert Fisk's article.

In that ever deepening quest to find some answers about the country I was born in and live in, a startling idea has presented itself, one that is probably not that strange to people outside of the U.S. but which is surely strange to people inside of it.

"Say it! Don't describe it!" I can almost hear an English teacher say....

Well folks the latest insight on my plate is this: I think we've been really barking up the wrong tree, or I have, by trying to find the origin of the United States in a political idea. We have a strange tradition here of identifying our origins not with the culture of our land as it's lived by the people but with political ideas that a few rich landowners understood fully and where fluent in expressing....Is the United States "Democracy"?

No, say what you will about us, we're not a political idea because no country can be described by a political ideal. "We" are a nationality.

America isn't "the home of democracy" so much as it's the home of a unique people, who started off from a colonial mutation of English culture, and who then welcomed a diverse crowd into the fold, coming, as a society, to different values and norms than are found in Europe.

We somehow think that we're English but for the American Revolution, while every New World country has been at best a fuzzy reflection of the culture of origin, which is obviously something different, although possibily related.

Even the most thoroughly European countries of the Southern Cone in South America are self consciously distant from Spain, just as Australians and New Zealanders are self consciously distinct from England.

So why do we insist that we're somehow different, that our parting from England was a political act that wasn't reflected by a difference in culture?

Maybe it's because if the focus is kept on political institutions instead of cultural realities we can fool ourselves into thinking that we don't have to address the real problems of all the inhabitants of the U.S., but can instead pick and choose which to acknowledge, because "real americans", after all, obey Anglo-Saxon cultural norms anyways, and to be a "real american" is to be an heir of that heritage.

So political theory blinds us to the fact of Anglo dominance in America, and to the fact that they're just dirty little descendents of country scum like the rest of us.

But we're going to have to face a reckoning some day.
It's not a fluke that rap artist KRS-ONE started off his record "Return of the Boom-Bap" with the declaration "We will be here FOREVER, do you understand that? FOREVER and EVER, and EVER and EVER, We will be here. Get what I'm saying?"

I think history teaches us that cultural history is thicker than political, and that if you put your money on a political ideal to define who you are then you're setting yourself up for a letdown.

I picture the United States as the Brazil of North America. I think that's a more accurate picture of how others view us, as well.

Democracy might go down, dictatorship might triumph, civil strife might erupt in some sort of war yet again, but through thick and thin it'll be our life ways, not self-enslavement to a historical ideal, which might never have been there in the first place, which will define us.

When all is said and done, then, it'll be how we treat each other in everyday life and what we value and what we abhor which will define us.

Howard Zinn has a good CD out from AK Press entitled "Artists in a Time of War" which I'm exploring. It's good stuff, and I encourage anyone who's devoted some time to pursuing some type of art to check it out, but a really good quote from Mark Twain heads it off, and it's more than worth it to reproduce it here:

"My kind of loyalty is loyalty to one's country and not to one's institutions or officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing to watch over. Its institutions and clothing can wear out and become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags, that is a loyalty of unreason."

Don't get me wrong here; I'm not advocating the idea that America is possesed by some sort of Genius or Spirit which
animates us and makes us better than everyone else, or that
to really describe America you need to invoke some sort of Naziesque theories of identity and national destiny; but I think that we've yet to learn that democracy can be built by anyone.

When the day comes when we realize this I think we'll pay some chastened attention to the writers and thinkers who've defined our culture in less grandoise ways, and that that'll surely be a very chaste day for America.

But maybe in losing political bragging rights we'll discover who we really are.
The Human Cost - 'Does Tony Have Any Idea What the Flies are Like That Feed Off the Dead?'

Very good article by Robert Fisk. I remember last spring when Palestinian activists connected to Indymedia sent out pictures of the people who had been killed in the Israeli offensive in Jenin. I think that one of the reasons that Americans are so jaded about this kind of thing is that by and large we can indulge our fantasies about the world being a machine, about emotions being generated by brain chemicals, and about behavior and response being explicable by genetics and the same, because we live such sheltered lives that we almost never come in contact with the grueling life and death experiences which shock people out of their complaceny and actually test us with their content.

It's easy to be blaise about these things when the most death you'll encounter is staged in a movie, or similarly sublimated. We devalue experience and the idea that simple observation, life, experience, can challenge us because we've created a world where the types of experience which have spurred people on to consider the big questions in life is largely eradicated.

There's a difference between everything really being relative and having experienced nothing which would cause a person to question moral relativism.

Sometimes it comes through, like with the pictures of Palestinian men decapitated by missle blasts, lower torsos blown off, like the ones that came from Jenin.

There's a difference between civilization where such things don't occur because prosperity has eliminated them and denial of such occurances by an elite sector of society which can afford to not see them.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Here's an oddly contemporaneous song by Bob Dylan. Make of it what you will ..hahahaha....



BOB DYLAN'S 115TH DREAM



Words and Music by Bob Dylan
1965 Warner Bros. Inc
Renewed 1993 Special Rider Music




I was riding on the Mayflower
When I thought I spied some land
I yelled for Captain Arab
I have yuh understand
Who came running to the deck
Said, "Boys, forget the whale
Look on over yonder
Cut the engines
Change the sail
Haul on the bowline"
We sang that melody
Like all tough sailors do
When they are far away at sea

"I think I'll call it America"
I said as we hit land
I took a deep breath
I fell down, I could not stand
Captain Arab he started
Writing up some deeds
He said, "Let's set up a fort
And start buying the place with beads"
Just then this cop comes down the street
Crazy as a loon
He throw us all in jail
For carryin' harpoons

Ah me I busted out
Don't even ask me how
I went to get some help
I walked by a Guernsey cow
Who directed me down
To the Bowery slums
Where people carried signs around
Saying, "Ban the bums"
I jumped right into line
Sayin', "I hope that I'm not late"
When I realized I hadn't eaten
For five days straight

I went into a restaurant
Lookin' for the cook
I told them I was the editor
Of a famous etiquette book
The waitress he was handsome
He wore a powder blue cape
I ordered some suzette, I said
"Could you please make that crepe"
Just then the whole kitchen exploded
From boilin' fat
Food was flying everywhere
And I left without my hat

Now, I didn't mean to be nosy
But I went into a bank
To get some bail for Arab
And all the boys back in the tank
They asked me for some collateral
And I pulled down my pants
They threw me in the alley
When up comes this girl from France
Who invited me to her house
I went, but she had a friend
Who knocked me out
And robbed my boots
And I was on the street again

Well, I rapped upon a house
With the U.S. flag upon display
I said, "Could you help me out
I got some friends down the way"
The man says, "Get out of here
I'll tear you limb from limb"
I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"
He said, "You're not Him
Get out of here before I break your bones
I ain't your pop"
I decided to have him arrested
And I went looking for a cop

I ran right outside
And I hopped inside a cab
I went out the other door
This Englishman said, "Fab"
As he saw me leap a hot dog stand
And a chariot that stood
Parked across from a building
Advertising brotherhood
I ran right through the front door
Like a hobo sailor does
But it was just a funeral parlor
And the man asked me who I was

I repeated that my friends
Were all in jail, with a sigh
He gave me his card
He said, "Call me if they die"
I shook his hand and said goodbye
Ran out to the street
When a bowling ball came down the road
And knocked me off my feet
A pay phone was ringing
It just about blew my mind
When I picked it up and said hello
This foot came through the line

Well, by this time I was fed up
At tryin' to make a stab
At bringin' back any help
For my friends and Captain Arab
I decided to flip a coin
Like either heads or tails
Would let me know if I should go
Back to ship or back to jail
So I hocked my sailor suit
And I got a coin to flip
It came up tails
It rhymed with sails
So I made it back to the ship

Well, I got back and took
The parkin' ticket off the mast
I was ripping it to shreds
When this coastguard boat went past
They asked me my name
And I said, "Captain Kidd"
They believed me but
They wanted to know
What exactly that I did
I said for the Pope of Eruke
I was employed
They let me go right away
They were very paranoid

Well, the last I heard of Arab
He was stuck on a whale
That was married to the deputy
Sheriff of the jail
But the funniest thing was
When I was leavin' the bay
I saw three ships a-sailin'
They were all heading my way
I asked the captain what his name was
And how come he didn't drive a truck
He said his name was Columbus
I just said, "Good luck."


Sunday, January 26, 2003

Before I forget, the article directly underneath this post was probably also inspired by Daniel Patrick Welch's article "How to lose friends and influence nobody". Things get into your subconscious and just kick around in there, and out of the mix comes something which is as dependent on the current mixture as it is on one's own creativity, to be honest.
Which America do you believe in?

Before going onto the topic I'd like to announce my debt in the inspiration department to the CounterPunch author from Montana, who's name I can't remember at the moment, who first put this general idea forward in an article on the CounterPunch website.

Sitting here, a few days before the U.S. declares war on Iraq, a few days before the invasion, I can't help but wonder which America people believe in....

There's the America which is an interlocking set of boardrooms and country clubs, private colleges and exclusive churches, which could be transplanted to any country in any part of the world with little or no change....this is the America of the corporate hounds, people who think that this country is just a good staging ground for business deals and for playing king of the hill.

Then there's the real America, the one where our ancestors came to in order to pursue a life of liberty. One where the living of life in freedom is more important than any back room stock deal on Wall Street.

My America is a destination, not a staging ground. I believe that at heart this country remains essentially passive when it comes to world affairs: we're too concerned with living our lives right here and now to care about what's happening in the rest of the world. This is how it should be, after all, because our forefathers made a commitment to start anew here, turning their backs on imperial powers and oppressive regimes in the old country. They didn't want to ressurect that here.

America provides a chance for political liberty and a full range of life options which are denied in other places, but, unlike some authors, when I state this I don't mean to imply that capitalism is somehow implicit in our wide range of opportunities.

The ideals of capitalism and the ideals of a full life are two seperate things in my book. Opportunity does not neccesarily imply the opportunity to declare oneself king and enslave half of the population with your corporations. Opportunity should mean just that: the opportunity to pursue a variety of ways of living which don't threaten the system of opportunity itself. Taking the threat out of the equation we find that what's left is decent choices regarding occupation, relationships, and interests. There's a wide variety of people, places, and cultures in this country from which a person can find a fit, and if none of them suit him he can start his own, or retain his own culture with his fellow expatriots and adapt it to new living in a new land.

That should be enough. After all, that's the stuff of life. The right to pursue all of this untrammeled, the libertarian attitude behind it, is in my opinion the essence of America.

America becomes better the more this ideal is realized in practice for increasing numbers of Americans.

Life and life choices preclude profiteering, in my opinion. Although some economic stratification is unavoidable, the pursuit of wealth for wealth's sake, wealth gained from one's fellow people and used in isolation from them, has nothing to do with this natural order.

Capitalism knows no country, therefore it can't pursue liberty. To pursue liberty one has to actually be based in a locality, and locality is something that Capitalism abhors, because it can't be smashed down into a homogenous commodity and bought and sold just like everything else.

Right now we've given the keys of the castle away to elites that don't understand our country, who just want to use our freedom from a history of bondage to another country to put themselves where England used to be, and to use that platform to dominate the world for their own benefit.

We're not an empire building country, we don't have the basis in tradition and history neccesary to sustain such a thing, and America's elites are going to find this out very quickly when we invade Iraq. We're a people who've spent their whole history fleeing away from empire, American liberty is still something to be pursued and developed, we don't want to draw ourselves away from our country and interfere with the affairs of the rest of the world. We might say we do, we might huff and puff, but an empire cannot be founded on a libertarian premise; and libertarianism is so ingrained into our character that a confrontation with this fact is unavoidable.

We remain, as we've always been, the united States.
Corrections and additions to the ideas about the origins of American liberties.

After doing a little bit more reading it's occured to me that the scheme that I outlined in a previous post, where the liberty of the country-county system of self government was contrasted to the mercantile form of corporate and imperial rule, was missing a large part of the drama which constituted the social and political mix that the American Revolution came out of.

Most obviously it assumes that if a person wasn't involved with the mercantile system that they were therefore yeoman farmers who practiced rural english customs of limited self government and administration. What's missing, of course, are the large land holders who might not neccesarily be enourmous enough to be integrated into the mercantile system but who definitely gained some of the social status, wealth, and prestige, from their holdings that their paralells in Britain did.

So a clarification of terms is in order, in order to make some sense out of all of this. The way I see it there were four forms of colonization, really three with one sort of attached, which weren't strictly seperated from each other but which interpentrated and combined.

First there's the purely mercantile interest: this refers to the colonial activity which was focussed on taking goods from the new world which were ready for export without much processing; this refers to things like furs, pelts, trees, fish, and certain minerals like gold, which had pure market value as opposed to coal discovered later.

Then there was the colonial activity which established plantations and large farms. This was more committed to the new world than the first, had more of an investment in the new world in terms of infrastructure needed to support it, and also produced more money than the first along with being more dependable.

There's a breakdown here between farms which were large and farms which were also integrated into the colonial mercantile plan. I'm not sure what the criteria was; I think that it was a matter of degree rather than a question of recieving or not recieving patronage. But large farms also resurrected the idea of a landed gentry, and the social system of Great Britain accepted this to some extent.

Then there were the small farmers who's holdings didn't give them prestige but did entitle them to civil and political rights which agricultural laborers without land as well as servants didn't enjoy. These people would be the ones who would most appropriately fit into the county system, and who would be the ones to derive a republican understanding of citizenship from it.

This ideal of citizenship too isn't as cut and dry in terms of origin as suggested, but I'll hold off on that until later.

The fourth type of colonization, the one which was a wildcard and which penetrated all of colonial society in different ways, was slavery. This is what made a plantation a plantation.

Slavery was used by all three classes of people outlined above. Although trapping and fishing were individual pursuits that weren't easily integrated into slavery, reports from Columbus' first voyages show natives being used as slaves to extract gold.

This was exploitation pure and simple.

The plantation economy, especially the one which started from large land grants establishing huge plantations and haciendas, was more nuanced in treatment because the type of work involved required it. No moral points here. Just economics.

Then when you get into large farms started from some other basis the ideas behind slavery start to change until you get to the strange interpretation of it which integrated slavery with republican small land holding.

This is what the South likes to think of as the brand of slavery it used, even though this is highly doubtful.

But the fact is that a considerable amount of people with small land holdings saw aquiring some slaves along with more acreage as a way to retain the community of free white landholding citizens in the face of economic stratification. The reasoning was that if you had a planter, as they were known, with a thousand acres worked by slaves and freeholding yeomen living side by side there wouldn't be a class of white tenant farmers who would be a perpetual white underclass.

This was the South's bargain with the devil, so to speak, upon which the Southern ideology of the 19th century up to the Civil War, which focussed on economic achievement through working up to being a slaveholding planter rather than just descending from a family which was given a land grant by the British Crown and upon it established a plantation, was based.

Back to the contest between big land and little.

The ideas of the English Civil War, which had great effect in the colonies, weren't based on a contest between embattled yeomen and mercantile interets: it was a contest between the lesser gentry which were located in the country and the greater gentry which took up residence at the Court in London, as happened in other European states. The conflict generated significant republican thought, even though the Puritan republic was crushed and the monarchy reinstated. But that's another issue.

The war pitted royal patronage, which meant economic benefits, against small titled landholding interests. It's probable that the republican ideal of land being evenly distributed through a population came from taking the idea of a small country lord and integrating it with democratic ideals.

But in the colonies, we're back to them now, rights and liberties seem to have come to those who could get to the colonies and engage in a sort of work which didn't directly benefit the mother country. Excepting the slaves, who had no rights at all, the people who were least in control of their lives were those that were dependent on chartered corporations, followed by those who were dependent on large landholders strongly integrated into the mercantile system, followed by large landholders less integrated into the system, followed by individual landholders who created mostly self sufficient communities and who interacted with the crown mostly in payment of taxes as opposed to providing products for the world market.

Self sufficiency then entitled a person to rights and liberties more like a real aristocrat in England than as a provider to the mercantile system. Titles to land had more claim to being absolute rather than the product of royal grants.
Therefore establishing a basis for American sovereignty in the face of British claims for the dependency of American colonists.

But it has to be remembered that this tendency was only one , which existed along with the dominant conceptions of property and citizenship, during the pre-revolutionary times in the present U.S.

It came to the fore during the revolution, but wasn't succesful in overthrowing the court concept of large landholdings bolstered by patronage and integrated into a social system which included, among other things, state support for religion, completely. The consequence of the revolution was that the purest of these institutions and ways of approaching social and political life were destroyed, never to come back in a pure form ever again. But old habits die hard, and after the government established on a confederal basis was in power for a few years a counter-tendency emerged which was a halfway meeting of monarchist conceptions and republican ones: Federalism.

But this too is getting too far ahead for our purposes.The point I'm trying to make is that the dialectic between society, land, citizenship priveleges, sovereignity, and religion (even though I haven't talked about it) were much more complex than this idea I put out about embattled yeoman farmers confronting corporate mercantile interests.

This being the case, I can't say for certain how South and Central America developed in this sense. How powerful was the Church and the Monarchy in establishing a feudal system? How much did settlers carve out an independent agricultural existence for themselves, and how much was South American society dependent on the plantation system stemming from land grants and directly integrated into Spain and Portugal's worldwide imperial system?

Where was the parallel to the Republican ideology produced by the action of the lesser nobility agitating for rights in 17th century England? Was there one? Did the Catholic church provide a parallel conception? Actually, this one is easy to answer, at least in the 20th century: the Catholic Church did produce liberation theology and distributism, which harken back to precapitalist and non-feudal distributed property relations in order to fight concentrated economic power. But did that exist in any form in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries?

What was the interaction between agrarian interests and urban ones? This is important in as much as the French Revolutionary idea came from the social concentration of cities, and was opposed by country interests (at least in England), and Marxism, as an heir of the French Revolutionary tradition, has gained great popularity in South and Central America.

I reject the idea promoted by some that South and Central America somehow had the whole of feudal Europe transplanted to them, but in general the conflicts between the individual, the State, and the feudal system endorsed by the Church at the very least present a much more complex picture in the story of the development of legal and political rights than does the simple one of gradual extraction of autonomy from corporatist government.

I think I was led astray on that one because my first exposure to the idea came from the experience of the Netherlands in the U.S. The Netherlands, it appears, had a very long (70 years), revolution which established the United Provinces of the Netherlands on a confederal and Calvinistic basis building on the control of small Calvinist Lords over their land holdings in opposition to the Spanish crown which formally controlled the Netherlands.

Holland was also substantially capitalist, on a merchant basis rather than on an industrial one, in many respects, which probably led to some of the fluidity in granting autonomy to the citizens of Fort Orange and Rennsalearwyck.

Hey, the Dutch Rebellion was a big event which is passed over by our history books; it led to the seperation of Protestant Holland from Catholic Belgium. So it's useful to know about...

Anyways, I'd be interested to know about how the concepts of rights and liberties developed in these countries...

In particular I'd be interested in knowing if there has been a clash between urban Marxist parties' political programs and rural pioneer's, farmers, tenants, ideas about what politics should include.

Anyway, that's the history lesson for today.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Texas, me, and you....

That's from an Asleep at the Wheel song, talking about how all there'll be in the world is Texas (meaning the ground below), me, and you (the singer's beloved). Great song...

Even better because I've decided to try to find some way to relocate to Texas within the next year, with Austin as my destination.

I can't get over what a discrepancy there is between the real Texas and the stereotypes that have been associated with it. Absolutely unbelievable. The people there are amongst the friendliest that I've ever met, and certainly among the most tolerant.

Bush is obviously not a real Texan, he just effects the accent to please his constituency.

The charm of Texas comes from the duality of the frontier, I believe: on the one hand you have the harshness and self-responsability needed to live as a pioneer, but on the other hand you have the love and mutual aid that comes from people being dependent on each other in that sort of situation, above and beyond self-responsability.

I couldn't believe it when I visited. My itenerary will be obscured to protect the innocent, well I'm not so innocent, but to protect ME anyways....but it was the damndest thing: you go through plains and brush, hundreds of miles through the middle of nowhere, then you get into the hills, then you go through some small towns on the way to Austin, and then, bam! you find this wonderful oasis just rising out of nothing.

And talk about hip....man, Austin has been effected by hippie culture so deeply tht at night the neon of the stores and restauraunts practicly bleeds LSD....not that I know what that's like or anything.

My god, to think that this place has it's own airport....I felt like I was in this lost republic that should have been arming itself against take over and discovery by the rest of the US.

To think that such a place is allowed to exist.....just blows my mind even farther....

There's counter culture currency enough for everyone.....everything from '90s nihilism delivered through Planet K to the Whole Earth Store, where you can buy camping equipment with your Zen books. Or vice versa.

I was there before Christmas and there was even a house which had an Aleister Crowley inspired Thelemite seven pointed star, huge, lighting arrangement in their window.

Considering that Crowley was for unbridled sex and drug use this is certainly a forward gesture. But it was there...

Even going to Tower Records on Guadalupe, part of the new gentrification I hear, Austin distinguished itself by actually having MORE Albert King CDs than B.B. King CDs.
That is cool as fuck. Trust me, if you're into the blues, and you know the difference between Albert King and B.B. King, the idea of a town endorsing the manhandling of Albert King over B.B. King's sweet composed sounds is astonishing. And wonderful....

Didn't go to the UT campus itself 'cause, well, I'm not in College and I'm swiftly losing interest in what college kids do. The real world is much more interesting.

Man, the Story of Texas at the new Texas History Museum is one of the best designed and most emotional museums I've ever been to.....

And they had a Bob Wills live action theater presentation too! The King of Western Swing was acted out by a lone person on that stage, using props and projected pictures to tell the story.

Well, at least they gave it a shot. The actual theater was too basic an introduction to Wills, but it's the thought that counts...

That's it for now.....Lethe calls for me on this Saturday afternoon and I can't refuse it.


Tuesday, January 21, 2003

(Not connected with Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech)

I have a dream....

I really do have a dream, a hope, a wish. I dream that the Bush administration is defeated, and that their defeat breaks the dam keeping back liberalism and progress in America, and that this will turn into a time of openness and prosperity, that the things that we've fought for and have thought of against the prevailing order will become common currency, and that we'll all look back at this time and laugh about how the old days were.

Bob Dylan had a great phrase in "The Freewheeling Bob Dylan". At the end of one song he said "You can be in my dream if I can be in yours". So how about it--let's dream a new world into existence together.
Bill and Kathleen Christison: Oil Is Not the Only Reason for Opposing this War

Great link from CounterPunch.org , the gist of which is that Israel is being integrated into Iraq war plans as a potential colonial ruler of the middle east acting on behalf of the U.S.

Something to think about
TIME.com: Look Away, Dixieland -- Jan. 27, 2003

I don't know what makes me sicker, Charles Pickering claiming to have suffered a "Legal Lynching" or George W. Bush sending wreaths to Jefferson Davis' grave site.

There is no honor in Jefferson Davis.

I'll let it stand at that.
Why the US is so dependent on technology, and so committed to environment destroying ways of life.

I think that the answer is sort of simple. At least part of the answer is, because, of course, there are a lot of things going on.

My feeling is that the U.S. is committed to high technology and environment destroying products because it lacks a sense of tradition. Americans can't have the sense of tradition that Europeans have, and they refuse to consider Native ways of understanding the place they live in, and so with neither one of these resources to draw on they've constructed and artificial world based on technological domination---which is anti-nature in it's execution and consequences.

I believe that there is a natural order---or at least a sense of natural equilibrium that any society needs to be in touch with and respect in order to be sustainable. Our culture has rejected the natural equilibrium and has thought that it can manufacture a substitute world with no bad consequences.

Fritjof Capra, author of books like "The Tao of Physics", points out that there are two types of scientific views of the world: the first is based on Physics and Chemistry, and is totally analytic, the second is based on Biology and Ecology, and combines a holistic view of the world with analysis.

We've gone wrong in thinking that we can start from physics and chemistry and work our way up to a normal world, bypassing nature and biology altogether. Better living through chemistry, right?

I think that the solution, ultimately, is to compromise with Native ways of understanding this continent, using them as a foundation upon which to build a culture connected with the natural world, replacing the culture based on denial of the natural world that we have now.

This wouldn't be a sentimental movement. It would look to Native Americans existing right now who are in touch with their tribal traditions and ask them how we could be better residents on turtle island. On their land. Maybe their needs to be a syncretism between native culture and the rest of America, of all colors, like exists in some South American countries, like Brazil for instance, for our society to heal itself.

I'm not sure, I'm just throwing out ideas here.

But I can be sure that there are people in the Native American community, Vine DeLoria Jr. for instance, who aren't New Age figures and who would be sincerely interested in such an undertaking.

I don't know, maybe God Is Red (a book) would be a good place to start?


Sunday, January 19, 2003

An argument against slavery and segregation from an agrarian perspective.

Slavery was defended in the ante-bellum South as being the cornerstone on which non-capitalist Southern ways of life were founded. It was thought that Slavery enabled the South to resist capitalism. In reality slavery was an embodyment of exploitation which was similar to capitalism in it's method and it's results.

I guess the problem with justifying slavery on the basis of Southern culture is that the institution violatated the very traditions that it was thought to uphold.

Relying heavily on Eugene Genovese's "The Southern Tradition", I'd argue that the fundamentals of Southern life and the agrarian ethic included a closeness to Nature combined with a self-limiting ethic based on an awareness of human impotence in the face of creation.

Slavery went against both principles: it went against closeness to Nature because it viewed human exploitation as an avenue that that closeness could be legitamately established by. Exploitation of man by man is a purely human invention, not part of the natural order. To say that closeness to the natural order can be established by relying on an anti-natural institution is self delusion.

Second, it established that while religion was to be feared and human frailty acknowledged in the face of God's work that it was alright to totally control the entire destiny of a portion of one's fellow men, and bend that destiny to whatever needs an individual or a society developes.

This duplicity became clear when I lived recently in a town which considers itself very Southern and very Christian. It's also very racist and very intolerant, as well as being very segregated.

The town itself was relatively small compared to the number of people living in the county, and within the city limits, which were large, the town was pretty spread out, with a lot of rural areas. White people in the town, confederacy buffs in particular, probably regarded the chance to live in a rural lifestyle as a great opportunity: they could develop those human bonds which the North and Northern capitalism were threatening, in their minds.

I know that a few people pretty much established their own country outside the city limits, but can't comment on the attitudes of the people as I was always on the recieving end of hostility and wasn't privy to any sort of deep thought going on.

But the black people of this town lived in a concrete ghetto inside the city limits which could have been out of any big city. They didn't get to live peaceful, rural, lives. Instead they were forced to do the lowest rung of work in the town, enabling the white citizens to do better work while cultivating their rural and Southern-ness. So here, in real life, is an example of the duplicity I was talking about: freedom seemingly bought by the unfreedom of others.

I can testify to the fact that this counterfeit freedom contributed to an atmosphere of racial paranoia and agreesive white and religous assertion over perceived interlopers instead of making it a pleasant place to live. Indeed, the paranoia was combined with a complete lack of connection, media and otherwise, to the outside world. It felt like living in a pressure cooker.

The freedom of some cannot be established by the unfreedom of others because such arrangements pervert those who would seek to gain freedom from them. This puts an iron wall between naturalistic ideals and reality that can't be ignored.

"If you plant Ice you're gonna harvest wind", as the Grateful Dead song "Franklin's Tower" puts it.

Moreover, this acquiesence to exploitation, far from taking Southern society away from Capitalism, created in a controlled environment captialistic conditions. The thought by whites that freedom can be bought by slavery, and then forgetting after a time that this was how their freedom was established, is very similar to the way upper class and middle class white collar people have related to workers in the U.S.

In many places around the country you can find enclaves of extreme wealth a few miles from extreme poverty. Although there aren't the legal prohibtions on jobs that slavery brought, the understanding by the rich is the same: we got here by our own effort, anyone can succeed if they want to, therefore workers' rights don't matter. Planters, after all, were often descenents of self made men as well.

They assert their privelege, and then think that the opportunities that their sons and daughters have can be accesed by a person living in public housing two miles away, not realizing that they, like blacks in the South, make the world they live in possible---and that if true equality of opportunity existed they might have a harder time living so easily and so smoothly.

After all, the ideal that capitalism puts forward of the self made man is based on the understanding that someone else is going to be manufacturing their car, house, and goods, for them, and that this can't be easily done if people aren't trapped in working class jobs their whole lives.

Wage slavery as opposed to real slavery.

A solution, again drawing on Genovese, is to go back to antebellum times and try to resurrect the good that the Southern way of life tried to embody without replicating the severe injustice that undermined the legitamacy of that way of life as a sane option.
Something we in the U.S. haven't learned yet....

Listening to a Democracy Now! interview with Chumbawumba, the British folk/techno/punk group, it dawned on me the difference between people here, like Ani DiFranco, who profess to speak about social justice in their songs and people over there who do the same thing: here in the U.S. there's still this feeling that a person has to be acceptable to the mainstream in order to be a legitmate voice, while the British have learned that the only way to really make a difference is just to act, warts and all, and force the mainstream to listen to you.

It even goes down to language....there's Chumbawumba, with their wonderful country accents (maybe Scottish?) and their rich dialects, and then over here you have Ani DiFranco
with her non-accented Standard English, with references to elite culture, despite the fact that she grew up in upstate New York in a working class environment.

I don't think that labor activists in the UK realize how constrained people of working class origin are over here. Even the movement's for justice, which directly involve workers, are dominated by people from middle class and white collar backgrounds.

I personally think that groups from the UK should avoid these fake groups like the plague and try to connect with smaller, more truly working class, groups instead. The more that people speaking on behalf of workers are taken to be the workers movement itself the harder it will be for actual workers to have their issues and views presented to society at large.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

I have the singular privelege of living in a place with a lot of South American immigrants....today there was an anti-war demonstration in my town. I came home, had lunch, then decided to go back out and join them. When I got to the place where they were there were a whole bunch of people dressed in red, yellow, and blue, and holding what I thought was the Columbian flag. A couple of people had signs pertaining to Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. I thought: "okay, great, some Latino organizations are getting in on the anti-war protesting, and look: everyone else has gone home but they still are out protesting." How nice.

I walked up to them, looking for familiar faces, not seeing any, and made a few casual inquiries. Turns out they were anti-Chavez demonstrators. Mostly white ones. One of them commented that "They were against the Indian president". Pieced that together later, 'cause I thought they had said that they actually liked their Indian president.

Now the place I live isn't predominately Hispanic. So these were a bunch of isolated people doing a protest that no one else cared about. Literally. No one gives a damn about Venezuela up here, quite honestly. And those that do are probably on Hugo Chavez's side anyways. Like moi.

So they had a colorful protest which probably came off to motorists as a continuation of the anti-war protest.
Great.

Let me give a few words of advice to the rich scions of indigenous exploitation living in the U.S. : you seem to think that money is thicker than water, and that elites here will take your side because they, like you, are rich. But elites in the U.S. view elites from minor South American countries just like they do backwoods hill-billy rich business owners: they think they're the scum of the earth.

I don't honestly think that rich people in the U.S. are going to care much if a few thousand rich people in Venezuela are relieved of their property, with a few maybe put in prison or worse, if the consequence is a few million Venezuelans getting enough to eat.

Anymore than a member of an elite would think that Homer the racist-idiot big cheese of hicksville is some one to welcome, his tobacco' chewin' 'nigger' spewin self included, into their homes.

So, sorry folks. That shit only plays in Miami, where people have been raised since birth to hate Castro, the real world doesn't care if you all burn in hell for what you've done to your country.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Salon.com | Joe Conason's Journal

All I have to say is "Hell Yeah!" Joe Conason is right on the money......I attended a school for 'gifted and talented' kids for about two and a half years in highschool, and I can't tell you how many stupid rich fucks got some doctor to pronounce them learning disabled so they could sail on through. There was even one guy who was both learning disabled and held back twice.....he ended up graduating from this 'gifted' school at twenty and going to his legacy school.

Ah to be stupid and rich.....one guy who posed as LD came to school in a nice car, and once whipped out a pair of Porsche brand sun glasses, which his dad had bought him. Why did he buy him this? Because his dad, a doctor, had some sort of petty cash fund which had to be spent at the end of the year...who knows, maybe taxes? So come the end of the year he just bought his family a whole bunch of toys....oh yeah, and this same kid worked at an upscale clothing store in the nearest ultra-rich town, leading to the claim that he wasn't really a lazy rich bastard...he had a job after all!

R.H. Tawney had a wonderful phrase in "the Aquisitive Society"....something like "every talent of a poor person has to be proven to exist, while no talent of a rich person is overlooked."....he said it much more eloquently than that...

It's true, true, true.....
And just to prove I'm not racist.....I happen to think that Huey Newton, of the Black Panthers, is a pretty good philosopher....as was Eldridge Cleaver before he found out he could make money by exploiting white guilt.

But the current self appointed leaders of the black community are no Huey Newtons, let me tell you.
Substance and posing.

Recently a book came out about Jesse Jackson entitled "Shakedown". One person, commenting on popular knowledge of the budget, pointed out that a lot of people think that most of it goes to black welfare mothers in Chicago, where Jesse Jackson is from. I remember also reading in a book of David Letterman's top ten lists a derogatory reference to Al Sharpton, something about "More grease than in Al Sharpton's hot tub".

I personally like Al Sharpton. But I think that with other black leaders the conservatives have a point somewhat. My reasons for not putting Sharpton under the same rubric will become clear later.

I hadn't really thought about the issue until I read Adolph Reed Jr.'s book "Class notes: posing as politics and other essays". Reed is an African American, a veteran of the civil rights movement, an academic, and a socialist who's very much involved with the Labor Party. But in the book he indicts people who bill themselves as speakers for the black community as frauds and potential fascist-like leaders.

He singles out Jesse Jackson and Cornel West as two prime examples of this, pointing out that Jesse Jackson just appointed himself moral counsel to black America and running on assumed charisma, and that Cornel West acts like a segregation era interpreter of what blacks want and what blacks think for elite white audiences.

Reed traces the phenomenon of the self-appointed black leader to segregation days when blacks couldn't participate in public life; blacks couldn't really say what they thought because of the consequences that white society would inflict on them, so a few chosen leaders with good credibility in the white world would act as mouthpieces, drawing attention away from people at the local level while expressing the desires of those people in a large forum.

I happen to believe this, partly because I've heard this story corraborated by a black person involved in the civil rights struggle; addressing a school audience she said that Martin Luther King Jr. didn't start the civil rights movement, but that the people who really started it were old black men, who were presumably sharecroppers, and also presumably illiterate, with no status, who decided that the time had come for a change---Martin Luther King Jr. was an ideal public voice for these elders of the black community in the South.

But, as Reed points out, times have changed. Blacks don't have to worry about white reaction if they speak out, at least not in the degree that they used to have to. People don't have to cower while a nice, clean, figure interprets their thoughts to the white community at large.....So why does their need to be a Jesse Jackson? Why does Farrakhan demand attention?

Over the years, as political rights for blacks have increased, according to Reed the demagoguery of self appointed black leaders has increased as well, culminating, with Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition in the eighties, which in Reed's view was formed and held together by nothing other than Jesse Jackson's assertion that he was qualified to run for president. The Million Man March, with the assertion that because Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam could organize such a thing that they therefore were entitled to set the agenda, is another target of Reed's.

I agree wholeheartedly. Cornel West is an embarassment to the academic community. His work pimps rich white guilt so blatantly that it's intellectual level is almost that of a comic book. He once asserted on C-SPAN that Huckleberry Finn was a black inspired book that loosened up America because Jim was some sort of jungle wildman. Yes, it's racist, really racist, but Cornel seems to think that portraying black people as wild jazz crazed savages that contributed to the loosening up of America's hips, in Eldridge Cleaver's phrase, is an acceptable thing to say if you're a black intellectual pandering to a guilt ridden, rich, liberal,anglo-wasp audience.

Jesse Jackson is just a pathetic figure. I heard his speech at the first big anti-war march in October and it was just the same old bullshit rehashed again. Jackson morphs according to the winds of the day, first being a socialist, then appearing on a show promoting blacks becoming small business owners and getting liberated through wise investments in the stock market, you name it. And what has he ever actually done, besides market himself as an 'authority' that should be listened to? I can't think of anything; maybe leading integration in Chicago, but that's about it.

Which brings me to Al Sharpton and why I don't think Al Sharpton is vulnerable to those types of criticisms. I heard his speech in October to, and unlike Jesse Jackson's Sharpton actually had something to say in his speech. And he said it well, invoking the boogy man and appealing to the saner parts of American culture.

You see, unlike Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton has actually done his homework. He's obviously read up on and followed the various debates about globalization and corporate dominance, he's been going at Bush since the election debacle in Florida, and he knows what he's doing. It shows. It shows in that an Al Sharpton speech isn't a repetition of the usual liberal-pandering rhetorical devices but something that showcases Al Sharpton's mind, the mind of a man who sincerely wants to make this world a better place in reality---in the here and now---not in some far off time when the Lion lies down with the Lamb.

Sharpton has been right there with the progressive community in these years, while more high profile black leaders have stayed aloof from progressive issues because of not wanting to sully their reputations by associating their names with these issues.

And that means more to me than you can imagine.

Differing paths to self government and how they impact the current state of the realization of democracy.

Looking at the differing experiences of New World countries in terms of progressiveness and political involvement, in particular contrasting the rise of Leftist parties in South America to the relative stasis of the U.S. in a conservative orbit, I can't help but wonder if possibly the U.S. is behind the curve because we got our rights too quickly rather than having to fight for them.

Let me explain: the consensus is that the U.S. tradition of civil rights comes from the English tradition of "the rights of Englishmen". How was this established? It was established because in the early 17th century England decided to extend the County system of government to it's colonies and make any charter arrangements subserviant to it. With the introduction of counties came the introduction of the rights which Englishmen believed came from the traditions of self government present in the English counties.

In all other New World colonies social living conditions as well as rights were dependent on negotiation between the people sponsoring the settlement and the settlers, with the home country seeing colonization as something which was primarily economic in motive and as such not subject to the same regulations that would apply if the colony was a town in the home country. Because of this many colonists found that they were servants of the charter company instead of free to live as they wished.

The introduction of the county system in the United States regularized the relationship between home country, the colonists, and their sponsors in a way which was similar to how self government existed at home. Although the new world counties weren't mirror images of English ones the message was clear: in English counties there were rotating offices concerned with administration on the local level which established the idea that all people had a piece of power over their own lives and over the places in which they lvied. Everyone performed duties at one time, so everyone was entitled to the rights which came with the performance of duties, rights which were thought to come to people who had something invested in the place they lived. Rotation of duties through a broad spectrum of the population gave the idea that a lot of people had something invested in where they lived. Of course this was limited by class, but it was broad by the standards of the day I suppose.

So in the U.S. the continuance of the county system defacto established the idea that there was a natural system of rights people were entitled to.

It worked well for a while. We had Towns and Villages and Cities, then a little higher in the food chain were Townships, then higher up were Counties, and then States (or colonies) and now National government. But with the growth of population over the years and the passage of time local government has more and more ceased to reflect the political realities of the places which it supposedly includes, and this inability to cope with change has ceded responsability for local issues to larger and larger governmental bodies which are correspondingly less acountable, since they weren't designed to be responsive on the level that local government was.

Although the precendent of the county system no doubt was a great leavening factor in the area of civil rights in the early part of our history, the fact that it was established by decree instead of progressively fought for has left us without the memory of how representation and self government are put into place. No doubt for the English settlers, who could look back at the centuries of struggle which English history is based on, appreciated the uniqueness of it and had a memory of this very process, but the door to that historical experience has been closed to people in America for quite some time, killed by the bare fact of seperation from the experience as much as anything else.

So the much vaunted rights of Englishmen and the system which established them, might be understandable from researching history, but the rights of Americans haven't yet been established in the same way. Which means that in many places democracy is slowly ebbing away instead of building, while progressives are trying to renew the democratic tradition starting from zero.

Contrast this with the experience of South America coming from Spanish and Portugese colonialism. I found out an interesting thing a while ago while researching my Dutch roots, and by extension the Dutch colonization of North America: while the colonial practices of the Dutch were initially much less democratic than were the English, time and increasing population forced the Dutch in New York State to innovate and create new forms of government embodying local autonomy and increased political rights.

This process is paralell to what happened in the Spanish and Portugese colonies: dictatorial colonial policies had self government extracted from them and were progressively weakened as colonists pushed for more rights and more democracy. So even though the countries of South America weren't fortunate enough to have political rights granted to colonists all at once, near the beginning of their foundings, the experience of citizens of South America has produced the same understanding of rights, just arriving at it from a different course.

The advantage to this is that while the county system, and the system of village and township government, in the United States is inovked reflexively as a model for self government with little understanding accompanying it, the South American understanding of sovereignity and rights is much deeper and is a living understanding rather than dead repitition.

So what are the results? Well, South America is now experiencing a democratic renewal under the aegis of Hugo Chavez and Lula, and before that it was at the forefront of innovation with the leftist government of Porto Alegre province in Brazil, not to mention the innovation produced by Salvador Allende and Castro.

And where is the United States? After a serious election crisis we're still not any closer to coming to a real, living, solution to our problems. No one has a clue what to do about it. It's not discussed popularly or understood. Activists are working from literally nothing to try to come to solutions, but their ideas aren't reaching the general public. It's a ghost town when it comes to people actually understanding the meaning of democracy, civil rights, and self government and wanting to renew and make real all three of those concepts.

Which just goes to show you that sometimes it's a good thing to be insulted as being "backwords", because people starting out "backwords" can modernize themselves, while people starting out modern often can't.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

That whole, 'er, 'evidence' thing was a joke y'all...
Want to know what kind of sick shit this site enthusiasticly endorses? Take a look at the links section. I've proudly added a gem of a find to my list: Eight Ball Magazine. A site over the edge, politically incorrect, and proud of it....mostly 'countercultural', although anyone who divides shit up like that is probably too hung up to really appreciate it. So bask in the deviance of eightball magazine. I have....

And can someone please explain this cycle to me? Seriously, sometimes I feel really conservative, other times I just want to torch everything, perform a black mass, and laugh all the way through it. However, I'm much too responsable to ever really do anything stupid. Don't use this as evidence!
I've taken the photograph of Jesse Washington down. This site is often irreverent and brash, and it would be sacrilegious to post that kind of content on the same page as a photograph documenting a person's horrific and brutal death.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003




Image ©2002 collection of James Allen and John Littelfield. All rights reserved

This image used for educational purposes. I'm not making money off of it, don't sue me.

I read with disgust the characterization of the treatment of Charles Pickering as "Legal Lynching
Lynching is a demonstration to all of one group's power and another group's powerlessness to do anything
to stop even the worst, most barbaric, acts imaginable from being committed against them.
This is an image of a man by the name of Jesse Washington. It's from the "Without Sanctuary"
collection of Lynching postcards. He was 17 years old, and a farm laborer, in Robinson Texas
He was accused of the murder of someone related to the owner of that farm. What they did was
Lynch him, then burn his body, after which they paraded it around town in a burlap sack, particularly
in the black neighborhoods of his town, near Waco. Then they put his corpse up on a telephone poll
, where this picture was taken.

I tried to find pictures of an even more gruesome lynching which happened in Indiana where the body
was not only burned, but was shot so many times that the chest of the man split open.

I wonder, upon reading about the GOP using the term lynching, if words have any relation to reality anymore..
Or if they're just floating out there in space to be used by any idiot that wants to make an obscene point
in order to pander to the prejudices which a sizable portion of the population seems to endorse at the moment

I leave that for you to decide, reader. I shouldn't have to say that my endorsement of Southern Agrarianism
doesn't mean that I think things like this are in any way acceptable, should I?
Thee archives have been updated for your viewing pleasure--the management

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Being and Becoming vs. the bourgeois consciousness.

Thinking about all the messed up stuff going on in the U.S. right now, and trying to get a grip on what the future might hold, it seems easier to chalk it all up to a conflict between Becoming and the static nature of middle class consciousness.

Being turning into Becoming is a concept invented by Heidegger, and outlined where I read it in "The question of Technology". Heidegger contrasts the ancient Greek understanding of physics and natural phenomenon with our own, pointing out that Plato and company saw the procession of natural phenomenon as the explication and development of what was implicit within each object or phenomenon. So life is continuous development. This contrasts with the positivist understand of nature as a procession of analytic wholes: when something happens ultimately the explanation for it will be self referential and based on analytic, or logically consistent, postulates, instead of implicating other phenomenon beyond the immediate as involved with the causation. "Causation" doesn't occur, and is then just a province of Aristotelian philosophers.

Heidegger's concept of phusis (physics) as the process whereby the implicit is brought to the surface and developed is an attractive way of representing change and development in a general sense because it avoids framing the issue in dialectics, as Hegel does. Dialectical analysis always is open to charges that it begs the question of how the procession of phenomenon was established in the first place, with the possible answer always being that the person doing the analysis constructed it a priori based on preconceptions and prejudices, as Marx so brilliantly pointed out.

So let us take Heidegger's phusis for the moment and apply it to American society: let's say that the natural order of things is for a certain amount of self explication to happen to any entity over time, with "society" being a grand agglomeration of many smaller entities that are devloping.

Then, let's involve this natural trend to self explication in a non-dialectical way with a counter force, produced by society itself, which tends to retard the trend toward explication. Let's name this thing and state what it is: middle class society and the middle class world view. Middle class, and upper middle class society, is defined for this exercise as being based on the influence of large concentrations of money taking the place of the influence of natural self development in society.

Bourgeois society, unlike both working class society and the upper class society which went before it, doesn't understand or feel important the concept of quality and qualitative development. Craftsmanship is not appreciated, and skill is devalued as superfluous while what makes money is appreciated. Actually, it's not even that what makes money is now appreciated as much as it is that money is made now in enourmous sums by people who have no connection to a craft understanding of themselves or the world, and consequently these same people use that money to dictate society to their own tastes and pleasures.

SUVs are a good example of this, as is the general phenomenon of the middle class philistine: a person who, though he or she has all the money in the world, has absolutely no understanding of what's "good" and "bad" in a cultural and qualitative sense and so builds obnoxoious mansions, fills them with the latest fad in art, and buys whatever the current toys are which are thought to be indications of "success".

I'd put forward the idea that the triumph of the middle class is that triumph of money power over the natural self explication of society and the world, that consequently bourgeois society cannot produce anything on it's own (because it has no understanding of how to produce) and so in exasperation either steals culture from groups which are still in touch with life or stops self explication from happening all together. With the rise of the middle class we see the rise of the dilletante culture: real workers understand their trade, and even if tradeless understand the dynamics of work, and I suppose that way back when upper class people were forced by their parents to gain understanding through scholastic boot camp, but middle class only knows money.

Which wouldn't be a bad thing, after all everyone is entitled to be as insular as they want, except that this insularity comes with the power to force it on society as a whole.

Most countries have seen classical, bourgeois, society in the context of politics deriving from liberalism and the French Revolution and have found it wanting. Most countries have realized that there needs to be more than just a politics based on rights in the abstract sense for society to be a decent place to live. Socialists have pointed out that classical rights amount to the right of both the capitalist and the worker to live under a bridge, while conservatives have made the same sort of argument that I've been making about the cultural consequences of letting the dollar rule, and art of all kinds, radical, traditional, you name it, is sponsored by most countries.

But we here in the U.S. seem to be behind the curve. Our bourgeois culture is inhibiting our phusis, and the consequences are a society which is more repressive and dependent on the status quo and zero movement than almost any other, and the specter that a bourgeois war might break out in Iraq for no other reason than that the president and his friends want to line their pockets.

American culture has ground to a standstill in recent years. I haven't listened to the radio in a long, long, time---but whenever I do hear something "the latest thing" sounds identical to the latest thing four or five years ago, if not more.

We have all the SUVs that a country could want, along with all the faux coffee shops and yuppie boutiques, but look behind it and you'll find that there's nothing there. For the most part. Check out any of the yuppie cable stations and you'll see show after show trying to tell people who don't understand themselves or the world what's hip.

To give an understanding of how bad things are I'll use the example of a recent book about Machiavelli: this book, a biography, was based on trying to find out why in a particular portrait Machiaveli was smiling. The author thought that this had great existential value. No one in the press wanted to point out that this was a stupid book based on an idiot premise.

But that's educated culture in the U.S.! Machiavelli's smile gets printed and read by the 'bohemian' philistines while....you get the picture. It's been said a million times. Insert whatever deserving group finds it hard to survive because although what they do may be wonderful and insightful they can't make any money at it. It's not what the market wants.

Money inhibits phusis and so creates repressed people who are psychologically fallow. We're in a situation right now where the dominance of money is bringing us to the brink of a world war. What we need is a reestablishment of phusis. For that to happen bourgeois society will have to date itself.
It will have to be reabsorbed into history and recognized not as an end but as a stage which has passed and which cannot influence or dominate the whole on it's own terms anymore.

That would take a reassertion of real life against bourgeois society. This would be better than having real life assert itself to the U.S. in the form of bad consequences coming from money dominating the world to the point that it get's shown up by it.

Stopping the war in Iraq before it starts should be the first step in reasserting human needs over the demands of money and the moneyed classes. With human needs also comes a reassertion of culture as something to work for instead of something self evident.

This would truly cause a rebirth in American society.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Now that I've been listed in one blog directory I think it's only fair to warn other members of the blogosphere that I don't participate in it, at all.

The only blog I read is Tom Tommorow's. I have no idea who the big lefty bloggers are, what the etiquette is between bloggers exchanging links, or really anything else in this field. I notice it when a blogger get's mentioned a lot on someone's site, but I don't make a point of religiously reading someone who's blog gets mentioned frequently.

So.....if you'd like to do a link exchange or something please fill me in on the details; it's not rudeness, it's just that I probably have no idea that you're listing my site or that I should be reciprocating it with a link on mine.

To give you an idea of how much this is a personnal effort and not something connected with the greater blogosphere, I don't even have a hit counter on my site anymore. Haven't had one there ever since I replaced the more socialist and communist links with anarchist and countercultural ones.

And people write very infrequently. So I don't have anyway of knowing who reads this, how many people read this, what they think of it etc...I'm in this for my own edification and possibly the advancement of a few causes I believe in. If you like it fine. If you don't, that's fine too.

If I was out to kiss ass and make friends this blog would be a whole' lot more civilized and mediocre than it (hopefully) is.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Thoughts from the Left's music corner:

normally, I don't recommend CDs. But I have to say I've come across one which just aches for more people to know about: Missing Man Formation. MMF is Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick's post-dead band. Welnick was the keyboard player when the Dead broke up, and has a very unique style which combines psychedelic keyboard with Jazz and Latin rhythyms. I was initially attracted to the album after hearing a recording of "Samba in the Rain" from the 1995 tour, then, as my ears perked up, I began to notice that Vince added some very interesting and cool keyboard accompanyment to the Dead's later years. His homepage is http://www.vincewelnick.com
For some unknown reason Nathan Newman has chosen to a link to a mentally unbalanced ultra-left cum Southern Agrarian whiney, bitchy blogger---namely moi, to his weblog directory. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so, if you're sure you want to do this....Actually it's nice to be included in someone's link section. And the reciprocal link has been added. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

"We'll see who comes out on top" should be replaced by "We'll see who's proven right"
Of circles of friends and political movements.

There's a link on Infoshop.org to an article which suggests that people who have a problem with structurelessness in Anarchism are just anti-social people who wouldn't ever get along with others.

Well, there are two sides to that coin. I wouldn't be so sure that if a person feels left out socially from a group that the only explanation is anti-social behavior and the only alternative is to skulk in a corner.

I happen to believe that the people and places that a person naturally comes back to and naturally feels comfotable with say a lot about one. Below the realm of everyday thought a person's habits and preferences are indications of aspects of one's personality that one is barely conscious of. Following this, it makes sense to say that when criminal behavior is ruled out the life choices that a person makes regarding social preference are judgements both for and against certain values and ways of life.

Hume was the founder of this approach. I think, therefore, that instead of being consigned to skulk in a corner that a person who doesn't fit in with an established group should set out on their own and see what living in the way they want yields in terms of friendships and habits.

After all, if a person really does object to a group because of some pathology they won't make anything of themselves once they sever connections to the mother figure of the social set.

But if a person, after objecting to the tyranny of backroom buddy politics in a group, sets out on their own path and creates a viable and possibly superior alternative.......well, that's a pretty good indictment of the politics of the original group now isn't it?

I mean, this sort of secession from some established social sector can't be prevented by the same, right? Because that would undermine it's claim that it's rational and the dissident is not. People who want to control things that are established as competition instead of engaging in dialogue are acting against rationality.

So the knife cuts both ways: you smear people like me as being anti-social and incapable of functioning in society, I show you up by creating an organization or a movement of friends which exposes your group for the incompetent bourgeois that you are.

As the Phil Ochs song goes "So keep right on a talking and tellin' us what to do, if nobody listens my apologies to you".

You can dismiss individuals as beind cranks or anti-social, but when movements are formed and compete the judgement of history begs a fairer assesment. We'll see who comes out on top.