Saturday, May 31, 2003

Previously, I had made reference to Jacobo Timmerman's book "Chile: Death in the South", commenting that our lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq may be a paralell to the Argentine government's claim that they had won the Falklands war when they had really lost it. But I only hinted at what actually happened after; now, with people in senior military and intelligence posts voicing their dismay at being lied to, this blog is going to go the whole way with relating Timmerman's argument.

Put quite simply, when the Argentine military had been told by the central government to lie about the Falklands war, and then it came out to the public that they had actually lost it, riots did occur, but what caused the change in government, the deposing of the Argentine generals and a move towards democracy and civillian government, was the military itself revolting against the Generals and pressuring them to step down, in the face of civillian outrage.

People were indeed very upset, but what caused the change in government in Argentina was the unwillingness of the military to lose face and be turned into patsies for the Generals' paranoid schemes. What they couldn't tolerate, as career military people, was being forced to parrot outright lies which insulted their intelligence.

I think a similar situation is going on regarding Iraq right now. Powell has voiced complaints about it, and analysts and military personnell up and down the line, from what I read, have been dissenting---choosing to save their careers as military men instead of sacrificing themselves in order to support the Bush regime's version of things. If the dissident sections of the military could get together, possibly with dissident sections of the civillian government, and push for Bush and his administration to resign, I think that we could do something here.

I think I could be done, and we would be rid of the Bushs and the military would be able to retain some of it's honor.

Civillian elections would be scheduled as soon as possible, pending the outcomes of investigations into the doings of the Bush regime during their three years in office.

Until then, the government could function under the aegis of an advisory board.

But, hey, I'm just one writer out here. I can come up with a lot of ideas, but I have zero influence in getting them realized.
If anyone out in the blogosphere takes me up on this offer, it'll be their doing and not mine.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Note: in a previous post I ended out my exposition of American tropicalia with the justification that, if haiti can show us something about democracy than Brazil can show us something too. I apologize for that remark. Putting Brazil and Haiti in the same category is insulting and goes against the very grain of what Tropicalia was all about: showing that Brazil had a culture as worthy as any other out there. So, sorry about that. The reason you should pay attention to the Tropicalia movement is that Brazil and the United States share some common characteristics in terms of history, and the historical experience of Brazil can inform current American culture, our problems and the possible solutions to those problems.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

On Iran:

Why in the world would the U.S. want to invade Iran? I have an answer, and it's spelled O-I-L . Yes, our familiar petroleum friend is back on the scene in U.S.military operations in the Middle East. Iran has oil; it's also controlled by a nationalist regime which, to put it bluntly, has told western oil companies to fuck off. This was one of the aims of the Iranian revolution which, although it ended up being the vehicle of theocratic tendencies, had a great deal of the usual leftist anti-colonial rhetoric. Either way, the clerics in Iran pose the same sort of threat to U.S. oil and U.S. interests that Saddam did: they present an alternative to having their natural resources controlled by foreign countries.

Not a very nice alternative, but neither was Saddam's military regime. The Leftist states in the middle east were overthrown long ago, leaving only......drum roll please.....our new enemy Syria as the only military dictatorship which is at the same time nationalist and right wing, but which came from a husk of a leftwing party long ago, remaining to represent this tradition out there.

Funny how that works.

Saddam and Syria both descended from Arab nationalist groups, and both ended up with military dictatorships which, like Qaddafi's in Libya, did enact populist programs regarding oil control; and now Iraq's been overthrown and Syria is on the radar screen.

Iran presented another model of resistance with their theocratic dictatorship, and, guess what, they're being toted as the next target.

None of these options are very nice, but they're just that, options: indications to people in the middle east that life could be different than it is, with some sort of self control and independence from foreign interests, even if the method is pretty bad.

So they have to be eliminated in order for the U.S. to assert hegemony over the middle east.

And that's why all the arguments in the world about Iran having nothing to do with Al-Qaeda because Al-Qaeda would consider them arch heretics is not going to matter, 'cause what's underneath the ground is more important than what's in people's heads in this case.
On Guild Socialism: Guild Socialism has to include Agrarianism in it's realization in order for the creative impulse to be free in society.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Triumph of American introspection via a Tropicalia mode equals the replacement of Whig originated political and social thought with the progressive liberal thought that characterizes most cities and places where later immigrants settled.....

Monday, May 26, 2003

An attempt at clarification of what I mean.....

The more things change the more they stay the same; a project of this website has been trying to figure out what comes next, or what should come next, for American culture---to try to stay abreast of possible developments and to try to influence said developments with some interesting ideas....

The problem being dealt with is the same problem that was dealt with by the Surrealists a long long time ago: How do we get out of an age where everything is desacralized, where intrinsic meaning has been drained out of things, leaving us with just the husks of objects?

Interestingly enough, the two main solutions that the surrealists came up with have been dealt with right here: One faction decided that resacralization would be linked to socialism, and so joined the Communist Party, while others pursued ultraleft philosophy as well as esotericism, as well as other even less nameable tendencies.....

But a third option exists between putting your money on a transformation of material society for resacralization and putting it on more or less radical cultural/political movements to do the job----and it was found by the Tropicalistas in Brazil in the late sixties.

That option is, drum roll please, resacralization by means of opening hitherto suppressed parts of American life to the mainstream in the form of music, film, and poetry--to say nothing of drama, and by print of all sorts.

When I say suppressed I don't mean oppressed neccesarily---there are a lot of aspects of American life which, while not being oppressed are certainly supressed and kept off the mainstream media radar.

By opening up the field of what constitutes legitimate America to new experience based on the unspoken lives of overlooked Americans themselves cultural richness will start to flow.

Or cultural riches.

The whole idea of desacralization presupposes that the process by which capitalism does this is a done deal----but what if it isn't? What if real life has just gone underground?

By changing the cultural landscape, getting it beyond the narrow focus on the lives of ethnic groups who have controlled this country since it's founding, we open up the door to already existing sacralized culture----and put the resources before people which can lead them to even more.

This is what Tropicalia aspired to do: in the face of high culture being monopolized by French imports, and the rest of respectable Brazilian culture gravitating around the twin poles of European Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero the Tropicalistas put forward a model of Brazil which emphasized regionalness and mixed race cultural backgrounds; on top of that, in the face of a high culture regime, they turned to American pop culture, including Rock and Roll, as allies in their quest to represent Brazillian reality by means of new myths---bringing popular culture back to bear on the people instead of supporting an elitist inspired left-wing populism and calling it the will of the people.

It provided the opening up of Brazilian culture qua Brazil, and was a means for asserting national importance in the midst of calls to classify Brazil as being part of the Third World.

We can open a door to true American culture too. But it has to be an America vastly different than the one put forward by Fox news; it has to be an America that actually fits the ethnic and racial backgrounds of the majority of Americans.

The secret as to why a cultural movement might have liberating effects beyond a pure economic movement is that the Anglo masters of America are holding onto power by a thread; if we can just push it a little bit farther they'll have to give in to the culture of the majority of America. Traditionally, culture has been a weak force in terms of making political and social change, but given the weakness of Anglo hegemony I think that the pressure of culture is enough to tip the scales.

Once the hermeneutic of America is opened up, then we can talk about the paths that people like me have discovered within hidden and suppressed political, philosophical, and economic, ideas to greater understanding and self benefit.

Once America is opened up to America, then people will be able to help themselves.

And it'll be a lot easier to create a socialist America as well, so with the Tropicalia solution to the crisis of American culture not only is resacralization achieved but the two paths that Surrealism traditionally took---Politics and Esotericism/Leftist Philosophy----have been addressed as well.

Aimed for one, hit three. That's not a bad deal.
What do you say, America? Why not tell your tale, tell your story of your life, put on the video camera and just tape/just write about yourself/just sing about yourself/ I guarantee you what comes through unconsciously will more than make up for any percieved defects in formal execution.

One last thing: to those who would balk at taking advice from Brazil, I'd like to point out that Chomsky had a pretty good quote about democracy, going something like this: "During the Haitian crisis neighborhoods organized councils to get things done; the United States always talks about bringing democracy to other countries, we should be learning from the Haitians about democracy"
"At least Plato's cave would be a fit resting place for the post-modern, neo-kantian anti-mind".....so saith Frank Spinney in a pedantic article for Counterpunch in which he belabors the point that the Bush administration is ignoring the scientific method in defense procurement by giving us the self-centered heros recount of what godlike powers engineers invoke when they create a new product.

Spinney of course is an enigneer.

He even invokes the prime authoritarian Karl Popper, that friend of dessicated humanists who hate the liberal arts everywhere.

Well, Spinney, it's true that the Bush administration is operating on backwords, medievalistic, logic, but don't tar us lefties in with that.
You can engineer all you want, but you'll never know what life is all about by gulping down Popper by the ounce.


I'd take the postmodern neo-kantian anti-mind, with all it's faults, against what Popper offers any day of the week.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Towards a positive definition of what a free society is.

People invoke democracy all the time; they talk about freedom; but usually when pressed they don't have any concrete ideas as to what exactly a free society looks like---and what makes it that way---beyond obvious things like "You won't be shot for writing something critical of the government".

I propose that if freedom really exists that we should be able to tell if it's there or not by looking at societies and how they function, irrespective of our personal definitions of freedom; a free society would exhibit certain sociological and political features, which an unfree society would lack----therefore, by looking at positive features, a judgement about society could be made without resorting to duelling political ideologies.

Of course this wouldn't be everything---it wouldn't be all encompassing---but it would conform to the analytic idea that if something really exists that it should make itself known in the external world by some sort of measurable means.

I propose that the measure, or at least a good measure, for freedom would be the extent to which the power of institutions is subordinated to the power of citizens----which doesn't neccesarily imply that a society where the institutions is present at all is neccesarily unfree, but that the arrangement of power within that presence is what makes the difference between freedom and slavery.

So, we'd agree that a society is free if it's not a theocracy, right? That entails the subordination of Church authority to the citizens, even if the Church still has a very large role in society.

We'd also agree that a society is free if the rich don't control all institutions of government---and decide government policy for everyone else, right? That entails a democratic revolution, as embodied in the French Revolution among others, and the subordination of direct governing power stemming from control of economic institutions to the people themselves.

We'd agree as well that a society is free if corporations don't control all aspects of life, right? That involves the subordination of corporate power to the needs and the will of citizens---a la socialism.

We'd agree too that a society is free if the State doesn't control all aspects of people's lives, right? That involves the subordination of State power, possibly created in order to deal with restraining corporatism, to the will of citizens---so that one beurocracy isn't traded for another.

Another agreement would be that, while families still matter, that people should have the right of self-determination outside of the power of the family structure. Again, another institution subordinated to citizens, although not in the same manner as the rest.

You can fill in the blanks......

But, this method has the advantage of being measurable and researchable. You can research a society to find out if, in fact, the military has real power over the citizens or if any other power group has similar status, and you can measure the degree of citizen control over institutions by real means as well. So it's something that has enduring value beyond polemics.

Just something to think about.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Of living space and Tropicalia.....

We need living space here in the U.S. Not Lebensraum, the German word which denotes the Nazi justification for taking over Europe, but true living space, as in a space to live, where we can live, without being crushed by corrruption.

Living space---something that people who have been shut out of normal life in the U.S. because they refuse to play the game and be corrupt need. We're stuck between the corrupt and the apathetic; to live a normal life in the U.S. entails a balancing act for free time and free life which can't be taken away by a corporation. It entails an ever precarious search for job, security, home, and life by people who reject the trends which people need to obey in order to make any real money, and who also reject just giving up on all of it and blowing out their brains with alchohol in their now permanent routine working class job.

We need space. We need space where we can unfold our lives and pursue meaningful existence in the United States, where we can develop our ideas and do our projects, where we can have a theater of existence, a theater of freedom where what we've learned in our experiences can be shared with the outside world.

Ultimately, what we are are the new discoverers of America. The conscious splinter stuck between the two giants, we, even in our outre researches, are the ones discovering the possibilities of America, and discovering the potentials of life, therefore conributing to a redefinition of it, the sort of redefinition that always goes on with the passage of time; effectively, we're destroying the boundaries between the Avant-Garde and the homespun, as even our Avant-Gardeness is done on the screen of American life.

And we barely exist. We need space,we need living space, we need space to unfurl and to think. We're people who have done all that we thought it was right to do in America and yet have been consigned to the bottom rung because of that, who ahre our hates and our tears, and our epiphanies, in private, while we curse the system and look for a day when we'll be given a chance to do what we want---which is what we've always thought that American society wanted us to do anyways, to write, to think, to create, to achieve, to do something meaningful for self and society.

Our epiphanies are well outnumbered by our tears.

We have the strange idea that culture matters, that something still matters in this vast wasteland called America, and that it's not right to throw in the towel, but that if we want to preserve our sanity as human beings, as citizens of a world which we have to believe is not permanently wrong, we have to keep on going, even though everything says "Your worthless, your stupid, no one gives a damn about what you have to say or about what you're doing with your little art project there".

Someone entitlted their book about their double life "The killing of my years".

We need space to breath, to sing, "To sing our siren song so sweet and warm", as Phil Lesh wrote.

Call me crazy but life here is worth a damn, and what we're doing is what makes life worthwhile, but I wish, I wish to god that someone would just throw us a bone down here, that society would open up to tolerance and caring, to values which would let us be able to function in a normal sense, just for once. Just for a little while.

I perform sometimes at open mic nights. When I succeed I get a few applause, when I go off stage, after a few minutes, I might just as well be someones nigger, another whipping boy who the people at the club couldn't give two shits about in the outside world.

Sorry for the racial remark, but "Whore" and "Nigger" are the only two words that I can think of to adequately describe society's attitude even towards artists who get a little bit of acknowledgement from it.

We need living space, because if we collapse, then America collapses with us.

Oh, and all of this has to do with what Tropicalia was about.

Opposing the AA mentality.....

Once upon a time I had an, er, problem......I recovered from this problem of my own accord but some of the consequences lingered on, sublimated into other things. For some reason, the system Rational Recovery came into the alternative news, and so I checked out the site, and then checked out the book. It took care of the sublimation.

But this blog entry isn't about me, it's about the AA mentality, and about how it is that even good, thorough, leftwing sites like CounterPunch can run articles by people who endorse AA's twelve step program as a model for solving the worlds problems.

I wonder if people know that AA is forever---it says that you have an incurable disease and that the only hope is to attend meetings until the rest of your life where you share personal information with other people who have your disease.

Those twelve steps don't go away---you get stuck on that twelf one forever. Oh, and you meet other people who are as fucked up as you, I suppose. And if you're a woman you might even experience the 13th step. I'll let you figure out what that one is.

AA and it's kindreds propagate a model of humanity as weak and broken, as people who need the all enveloping support of a community of other broken people in order to achieve happiness. Happiness occurs when you into your slave morality, as Nietzsche might say, giving up all claims for personal autonomy or for the right to make decisions outside of communal guilt.

When you stand naked in front of strangers telling them how weak you are, you aren't changing the world, or yourself, for the better.
There is no twelve steps to happiness, only twelve steps to self justification and self pity----a Twelve Step world where rape and murder can be forgiven if we all just give in to the healing process....a healing process like the hand of the pedophile as he leads his young prey to his car.

Twelve step philosophy isn't right for addicts or for anyone else on this planet; it's certainly not right for solving political and social problems. Or for healing people who have had things done to them. The fetishization on reconciliation overlooks the fact that many people who have had crimes committed against them or their loved ones want no part in reconcilliation---they want blood; and if blood isn't possible they sure as hell don't want an apology session where the bastard says "I recognize the inner weakness that made me do this". Bullshit. Bull Fucking Shit. If someone came up to me with that after they'd done something to me or my family I'd slap them around and beat them to the ground.

Twelve step philosophy fosters a nation of codependents, a nation of narcissists and weaklings who use socially accepted confession to escape the personal responsability of their behavior. It's not healthy, not right, and sure as hell not what Liberals should be associating themselves with.

A nation of assholes isn't a good thing; I'd rather have a nation of men.

Why Post-Left Anarchism has lost some of it's relevance....

Post-Left Anarchism is the immediate predecessor to the current Anarchist movement; it grew up in the eighties fueled by critiques by people like Bob Black, John Zerzan, Freddy Perlman, and others which, outraged at the failure of the left of the sixties and seventies, located the problem in the ability of Capitalism to co-opt and bourgeoisify any genuine social movement....

The critique suggested that the way for the left to proceed post-70's was for people living on the margins of bourgeois society, who couldn't be coopted, to regroup on the basis of radical ideas of freedom and, with a heady dose of anti-consumerist wisdom, go from there.

What effectively came out of all this was a radical critique of the way the Left organized itself for an entire century, and the solution
(and the name) followed the maxim that 'if we can eliminate the possibilties for authoritarian organizations to grow, and if we can eliminate the possibilities for bourgeois people to take over working-class organizations, then we can proceed with no worries as to being authoritarians in disguise'. A valuable thing which came out of this was a critique of the ideas that colloquially attached to 'working class organizations', which pointed out that not every workingclass person is neccesarily wild about having a union which will just get him better health insurance, while facing the same crap on the shop floor---same hours, same conditions, etc...

As noble a task as this was, in recent years the anarchism and the revived youth left which has grown up has taken forms which, according to the Post-Lefters, should be liable to authoritarianism and could even be authoritarian in disguise; yet it's a real movement which, arguably, if it grows enough, will make some pretty positive changes in American society.

So we're left with a contradiction: types of groups which Post-Lefters assumed were dead after the failure of '70s politics have come back, and supposed authoritarian-esque organizations are making positive change in society.

Understand that anything from Social Democracy down to many types of Anarchism were considered potential authoritarians by the Post-Left crowd.

But, to return to the point, it looks like the Left has come back, and the we're not in a Post-Left situation. How can this be?

Well, first of all, let me say that what the Post-Lefters was wrong about wasn't the potential authoritarianism of many left groups and the need to emphasize libertarianism in socialism; the Post-Left philosophy still holds. It's still true-----but the context has changed.

The context which Post-Leftism assumed was the dominance of the Left by people of bourgeois origin who sought to take control of the Left and to shut out real workingclass voices; the alternative that appeared to present itself was that of Trade Union and old style Communist politics which had either sold themselves out to the establishment or which were ham-handedly authoritarian.

They assumed that this dual situation was forever, and so while supporting workers against bosses, and libertarians against conservatives, crossed out the idea that a real working class movement could be born which wasn't dominated by beaurocratic unionism, and crossed out the idea that college activists and young people could form a social movement which avoided the problems of Bourgeois dominated '80s style activism.

Times have changed; class has come back into view thanks to the long decay under Clinton and Bush; what people are finding out, or what's happening, is that what corrupted the forms of activism that came out of the '70s was point of view more than structure; the seventies ended with Leftists of Bourgeois extraction jumping on the Berkeley Bandwagon and the AFL-CIO supporting Reagan.
The cold war is now over, and class has reasserted itself, and so people are now coming at the Left from a better perspective, one more in line with what the Left traditionally has been in the West. The Bifurcation of the sixties has ended, at least for a lot of people, and now that the ideas are able to percolate we're finding that a lot of that Left structure wasn't totally bad after all.

It's not that it isn't potentially elitist and authoritarian, but those are potentials that have to be weighed against the sincerity and respect for democracy of people in the new generation of activists. I believe that this sincerity generally mitigates much of the non-libertarian aspects of, say, some social democratic ideas, and so they can actually help society despite their flaws.

What needs to be abandoned is the belief that a Post-Left critique of the structure of organizations and of organizing is the whole story, that we can judge the success or failure of such an organization based purely on it's structural composition, and that the only way to achieve positive change is to do it in ways which aren't simply hard to coopt but are instead impossible to coopt.

The impossibility clause is not neccesary; it puts too heavy a burden on people, way outside of it's usefulness.
It's somewhat connected with Post-Structuralist anti-humanism, but that's another article.

I'll give you two examples of what I mean by all of this: Paul Buhle and Jello Biafra.

Paul Buhle is a labor historian and union proponent who got his start as a radical historian in the late '60s political miliuex, Jello Biafra is a Punk Rock singer, formerly for the Dead Kennedy's, who has taken to promoting progressive social causes.

Both were criticized in the eighties by Bob Black; Buhle, for toadying up to the Union Beaurocracy of the AFL-CIO and generally adopting a more reformist orientation, Biafra, for being basically a bourgeois guy who led the cooptation of the Punk movement in San Francisco with his record company, Alternative Tentacles..

Now both Buhle, who's written some great books, and Biafra, who toured with Ralph Nader, have come back to prominence in this Next Left movement that we have going.

But, aren't those criticisms still valid? Yes, to a degree; after all Buhle is still a Left Marxist instead of a true blue libertarian, and he does support social democratic reforms instead of more anarchistic ones, and Biafra himself is somewhet of a moderate social democrat when it comes to his politics; he's condemned the Anarchists in Seattle, for one. And his record label is still populated, for the most part, by Punk bands that appeal to the middle class instead of to working class punks.

So both charges against them are still somewhat valid, but the question is "Does it really matter?". Does it really matter that these people have anti-libertarian blemishes on their records when they're contributing in their own ways to genuine, progressive, social change, which hopes to help regular working people? Again, I think that sincerity and the continuing relevance of class politics means that although, maybe you should keep your eyes open and not buy into Social Democracy as presented by these people full force, the good that they're trying to do outweighs the bad in their structure of organizing and effecting social change, as well as in the methods that such social change would operate by--like more government programs. Oh no, the G word.

The same could be said for various strands of Anarchism which have been resurrected, although because they're closer to the hard Marxist-Leninist Left more scrutiny should be payed to what they have to say than to the moderate Social Democrats.

Post-Left Anarchism was useful in fighting for an authentic Left in a time when the left was sort of hanging by a thread; and it's radical critique of bourgeois society, and it's promotion of marginal ideas, can be said to have been a direct precursor to today's anarchist revival as well as to the Anti-Globalization movement in the U.S. But times have changed, and the problems which the left faces now are not the problems it faced in the eighties....so I think that the Post-Lefters should kind of chill out---and appreciate their status as people who helped to bring this current movement into being. The future's so bright I gotta wear shades.


Friday, May 23, 2003

Here's a thought experiment for you: say you've found a certain number of facets of personal life which are regarded as fundamental, say, for instance, facets which define what it means to live a human existence---like Ontology, science of reality, Epistemology, how we know, Logic, how we figure things out, Aesthetics, how we appreciate art; so that if you looked at the sum of the list you could say "yup, that just about covers everything meaningful in how we, as human beings, exist and relate to the world". Okay, since people who lean towards this way of looking at things usually try to keep the number as low as possible, outlining only the most meaningful, let's say the total number of subjects like this is six. So you've discovered six fundamental areas of human life which cover such vast areas that you're willing to say that collectively they present a pretty good picture of human existence.

Now, say that you've also found a number of ways that people relate to each other within those modes of existence, for instance, as family, as lovers, as friends, as coworkers, neighbors, fellow music lovers, you get the picture. Now say that you've discovered a lot of distinct ways of relating to other people, say, since we're making this large, 30. That's thirty ways of relating to other people that also make up life. Now all of those thirty ways can be located in some way under the rubric of the 6 ways outlined above.

The question is how many of the second category has to exist before the scheme outlined in the first category loses it's authority as providing a guide for understanding all essential parts of human existence?

They are two different ways of understanding things; one rests on quality---the first---it's claim to fame is to have found out the essential qualities of life, the other rests on quantitative concerns----it's in it's best interest to catalogue as many different types of relationships between people as possible.

A measure for making sense out of this I shamefully borrow from Stephen Jay Gould....one way of seeing if the qualitative claims are valid is to see if there's more variation within the areas supposedly covered by one qualitative aspect than there are between qualitative aspects. If so, then the classification system is invalid---it's not the best way of understanding the data.

But how do you measure that? There's another avenue to pursue, which instead of trying to apply methods like this attacks the supposition that the 30 couldn't invalidate the 6.

An assumption that's being made is that the 6 can actually cover all of human life, and that the thirty can be totally reduced to the six. But what reason is there for thinking that that is actually the case?

If it can't be proven that we know that the six actually cover everything, then we're obligated to keep ourselves open to new evidence which might suggest a seven, or which might lead to a total revision of the system.

If we accept that then we can't overrule the idea that even if the six hold for a lot of cases, or appear to, that new material could be found---and the thirty would be a prime place for the material to come from.

But that depends on the existence of an outside universe.

If we allow that an outside universe exists, then we have to allow that the thirty could present new evidence from that objective universe, which could then shed doubt on the categorization of human life flowing from the six by introducing new principles.

So in the final analysis which is more real----the six or the thirty? I'd say the thirty because it not only proves itself because of it's very existence but also provides the basis by which qualitative analyses could be redefined by.

*cheating* it's assumed by some that schemes like the six originally were reductions from thirty-ish types of analysis, and so the fix was in at the start.

But let's look closer at what this means: Rationalism of the absolutist kind, flowing from Descartes, is invalidated, because the outside world prevents it from ever resting comfortably on a division between two qualities, Mind and Extension.

It also means that reductionist views are wrong; but it doesn't outlaw rationalism altogether.

To the contrary, the classification system of the thirty assumes some sort of rationalist reasoning---but of the kind associated with Leibniz as opposed to that of Descartes.

Leibniz' emphasizes mind as the intermediary between self and the outside, so that political institutions and human relationships could be seen as incorporating both mind and action.

We have a problem here in the U.S.; on the one hand we have obsolete Positivist analytic philosophy, on the other hand we have stifling Maoist inspired French rationalist thought, which seeks to do with human existence precisely what I've described as the first category does.

If a person doesn't accept a scientistic world in which no human questions are valid, they're coerced to accept a French originating system in which all human questions are valid, but they've been totally determined by outside forces from which we can make crib notes----few people are foolish enough to actually ennumerate a set of basic qualitative aspects of life, because they know once they say it they'll be open to objections, but the sentiment is surely out there; even surfacing with Louis Althusser----.

Neither one is satisfactory. Leibnitzian or Whitehead inspired rationalism is a fresh alternative, because it recognizes the undeniable action of mental operations on objective reality----every act has as it's subtext a mental process, and every social institution has a mental undercurrent----.

Scientism is obsolete because there simply isn't enough objective evidence out there to enable even the scientistic philosophers, by their own standards, to make the basic decisions and evaluations which we all make on a daily basis.

I've outlined a problem with the French alternative----that it effectively denies objective reality in it's model of human life----above.

Maybe it's time for something different.

For an example of this type of rationalism consider the institution of property and the great varieties of arrangements in which it manifested prior to the capitalist era. There you're dealing with the same thing in each manifestation---land, property----but the actual terms of understanding and the actual ways of understanding this supposedly same thing are so great that it becomes clear that even though land is land that a great deal of the drama of the middle ages revolved not around concrete material differences in the world but around mental constructs imposed on reality which had taken on great cultural and social significance.

In other words, if you want to understand the conception of property in the middle ages, you have to admit that this conception was mostly mental, and that without the intermediary of men's minds acting upon the soil that there wouldn't be anything that would distinguish the system which grew up from the ways in which soil in similar conditions was cultivated in cultures on the other side of the globe.

Mind is an active part in life.

Deleuze and Guattari have adopted Leibniz to a certain extent, but they're too bound up with the French paradigm to go all the way...
How Argentina fell.....(and how we might have a regime change at home)

Reading Jacobo Timmerman's wonderful book "Death in the South", about the dictatorship in Chile, I came across a passage which has a lot of relevance with today's political situation: Timmerman, in talking about how the dictatorships of South America were eventually overthrown, examines the Argentine situation and passes on this tidbit of knowledge----that it was the Falklands war which led to the demise of the Generals and of the military.

How? Simple: despite having been beaten by British troops, the Argentine military broadcast the news that it had actually WON the war, and kept on broadcasting it for three weeks, until it was impossible to keep the news from the public that they had actually LOST it.

Since it was a dictatorship they were afraid that news of a military loss would destabilize things.

But the shame of lying to their people for three weeks, calling blue red and red blue, was too much: riots broke out, the military dumped the generals, but wasn't able to guarantee themselves amnesty from prosecution---and so had to contend both with losing power and being prosecuted as criminals.

Do I see shades of our non-existant "Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq" story?

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Reflections on the life of Bourgeois youth.

I live in a college town, and although I try as hard as I can not to come in contact with the Drinking-and-Partying-Fuck-School-I'm-Rich-Anyways crowd, every once and a while I'm forced to go into one of their layers, and I overhear some pretty interesting things.

Call it an incidental Anthropological or Sociological reflection gained from participant observation of the Rich, Young and Stupid.

Recently I had such an encounter; Ah, what I heard was the chirping of the young and priveleged in love, of a boy hooked into the upperclass network of privelege trying to get in a girl's pants by telling her how well connected he was and what incidental acadamic awards he won.....with the girl being overawed, her own family being low on the rung of established privelege.

It stuck in my mind, not the least because he commented on my clothes to his find, making the insulting remark that I was buying my friends with a $1000 outfit. An outrageous thought, 'cause my shirt and pants together cost around $30, with my shoes not being anywhere out of the ordinary, and my watch being the same. But they are stylish, and that's what this young turk picked up on.

Ah, the joys of privelege.

Seeing it from the inside, it came to mind that although this guy was relating the Academic acheivments he racked up at his small private school, that he wouldn't have been able to fail anyways.
Sure, he might have won some awards, but if he slacked off and spent his time smoking pot everyday and getting drunk instead he still would have gotten into college, still gotten a degree, and still came out of it with connections leading to good jobs.
Whether it be by enrolling in a rich boy diploma mill or by getting into a mainstream college by subterfuge committed by his advising office on unsuspecting Admissions committees, he would have gotten in. And he would have stayed in, and would have eventually graduated. And after all that he would have still had his family connections, not to mention those which he would have picked up in his hazy college years, and would have gotten some job---maybe not as high up in the ranks as our little achiever, but still vastly better than flipping burgers.

So I wonder, if failure is impossible, how much is achievment worth? If you come from a background so priveleged that if you seriously fucked up things, did things which people without that pull would be put in jail for and effectively derailed from any sort of decent life by, and still succeed, by any working class standards, then what good are your achievements?
Do they stand by themselves?

I'd have to answer no: in my participant observation it became clear that these people have their lives substantially planned out for them; what the guys are going to do, and maybe what they'll do in school; how the girls are supposed to act, and how they're supposed to play the game and pick up a rich boy; and narry an original thought or an honest accomplishment not prompted by forces outside of themselves passes through their lives.

My guess, my understanding, is that if you put a son of the oh-so-priveleged against a working class person with half of the honors and distinctions as the rich boy that the working class kid would mop the floor with the rich boy. I'm talking about academics here.

Critical thought, 'ya know?

It's a distinction which will never, ever depart from my life;

To get a little personal, I came from a working class background, but before I totally resigned myself to my fate I got a chance to go to a Private school in the city (I was a country boy) and possibly change my destiny.

The details of the how and why aren't important, but change my destiny it did; but the price was hard, harder than anything that those born into privelege have to face, harder than what they'll probably ever face.
I had to give up my home, my friends, my town, the whole universe in which I grew up and lived, and move to a city and a neighborhood in which I had absolutely no connections, which I didn't even know existed, if you could believe that (because being a country boy I didn't know the city at all), and go to school facing insults against me by people who, for whatever reason, didn't want a person like me in their school.

Every day was a battle; every week it was something different--the teachers liked me, for the most part, but from the kids I recieved a wall of silence and hostility which continues to this day. I never assimilated to them, they never let me into their society. Without any traditional support----like friends, family---just my abbreviated nuclear family----I atteneded a social slugfest day in and day out in order to get a high-school diploma and an understanding of subjects which would take me beyond the kind of life I would've been fated to lead in the meantime.

I got both, and I'm still drawing on the lessons of that education to this day---a sure sign of it's authenticity and effectiveness. But when I got to college it was too much; I didn't have a break down, but after a crisis my mind went on strike. It refused to process information related to studying, and eventually I had to drop out.

Now I'm finding my own way; the mental scars, first from hostile life at a private school where the aggressors could have no idea of the kind of hell that I was coming from in attending the school. secondly from the agony of having your ideal college, your first choice, hopefully your ticket to fame and fortune, having your life there slowly dissolve, leaving you to go in disgrace rather than being thrown out, still remain.

And I challenge any of those whose life is set for them in advance, who're tied into the Greek system, or just the old boy network, to come up with any comparable experience of effort, frustration, and hardship, which would meet or beat what I've described above.

I'm a renegade, so to speak. A working class person who knows the ways of the bourgeoisie, and I don't forget the renegade's slogan, which is enjoy it, but remember that it's all bullshit and based on lies.

Monday, May 19, 2003

The influence of the Soviet Union on the Left during the Cold War.......

In pointing out the difficulties for the left for reforming after the end of the Soviet Union, it would be good to expand on what exactly the influence of it was and why it's absence has left such a hole in leftist ideology, one which is swiftly being filled by people like me in the next generation, who are resurrecting Socialism, (woo hoo!).

What the Soviet Union did was indirect; in the United States there were few people that were actually in tow to the USSR, but nevertheless it's presence as an institutional factor hung in the background.

As far as I can tell, the main effect of the Soviet Union's existence was a shift on the Left from dealing with social issues in a way which connected them to the real individual to defining socialism as development economics.

In emphasizing development economics a great shift happened which led people to look at society's functions as a whole, and then to abstract the individuals condition from that.

Although on the philosophical level this trend was for a while retarded, it eventually gained power---manifesting in a dense array of philosophical views on all levels of human experience which effectively took the human out of the picture, leaving us with a propaganda of experience.

I refer to the takeover of leftist philosophy by Gramsci, Althusser, Lukacs, Adorno, Horkheimer, etc....

The Soviet Union had books available which would tell you everything you ever wanted to---or were supposed to know---about a particular subject from the correct Communist point of view; latter day immitators on the philosophical left have replicated this feat.

The fall of the Berlin Wall meant not an abandonment of Leftist thought but a redefinition of it, an end to models focussed exclusively on development, economics, and innovative practices created by socialist communities, as well as an end to a totalitarian mode of philosophy which counted on a permanently stratified world in order to exist.

Without the Soviet Union we're now free to reconnect with everyday experience, and to resurrect those, like E.P. Thompson, CLR James, Earl Browder, and others, who in the face of the Soviet Union advocated such a stance.

The fall of the Soviet Union was also the fall of the Nomenklatura, the idea of a priveleged elite which could be counted on to make decisions for everyone else and face no challenge to their power. This is what's shaken the totalitarian philosophy that I've mentioned---such philosophy depends on a permanently privelged status in order to exist, and with the fall of the Nomenklatura in the East, the status of the Nomenklatura in the West was similarly shaken.

Where do the Sixties fall into all of this? As a priveleged time which tried to change the world but was stymied at the door way.

Hopefully we'll go through that door.
A quick comment on Andrew Sullivan

That link up there points to a post on "This Modern World" where Tom Tommorow quotes Andrew Sullivan as saying that the Right wins because it's looking for converts and people to entertain while the left looks for heretics and is constantly expelling people.....


Nope. That's not how it works. The Left only expels people if you think that hysterical liberals from the suburbs who get mad whenever someone says something un-PC on NPR are the Left.

The real left is pretty tolerant, although we do seperate ourselves from each other based on ideological issues.

But about his dig that the Right seeks to entertain and convert while the Left is just dull......let's see.....unlike the Right at this moment, the Left is reforming itself, trying to come to terms with things that it should have long ago and put forward a consistant anti-statist and anti-capitalist message......unfortunately, the Reaganites haven't had their Berlin Wall yet, so they wouldn't understand the kind of crisis in ideology that the left is going through. Hopefully that will happen soon.

It's hard to convert when you don't quite have a message together.

But, hey, guess what, reality is hard, life is hard, the issues of the day that have some importance aren't the ones you'd find in a circus.

It's easy to spin out entertainment when you yourself live in a life of fantasy and are self-conscious of the fact that your books are just satisfying propaganda with no factual value.

Yeah, it's easy to sell people on Bread and Circusses and convince them that that's reality; it's harder to get people to face a truth which is uncomfortable, and which you stridently stick to using democratic means to propagate.

To put it bluntly, it's easy to be a Republican when people are putting up blacklists of celebrities and persecuting those who come out publicly against this whole thing; when people are prepared to force you to let them do your thinking for you it's easy to be entertained.

Which leaves all of us holding the bag.
Major philosophical faux-pas.....in talking about the Neo-Kantians it's not freedom from oppression which constitutes justice but freedom from exploitation......and the playing out of a society free from exploitation leads to a society where all people are ennabled and respected, with respect translating out into the systemic proposals for socialist legislation as opposed to the immediate individual effects of workers' consciousness seen through the lens of ennablement...
Neo-Hegelian philosophy as an underlying paradigm through which to see socialism, anarchism, Marxism, etc....

In this change from Humean philosophy to Neo-Hegelian philosophy, what I'm referring to aren't the actual doctrines of socialism but by what model the improvement of life for the individual and for the group is based on. Marxism and Anarchism, less Anarchism than Marxism, have some problems in actually specifying what exactly a socialist society would do for a person on an individual level. They talk about self-realization in an abstract sense, and such, but what usually happens is that Marxist and Anarchist writers who go into the concrete things that a socialist society would really accomplish for people consciously or unconsciously often bring in another philosophy in order to connect the theory with the real world.

C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya, for instance, brought Hegel straight back into Marxism; E.P. Thompson, by his own admission, relied heavily on Hume's theory of experience when researching working-class movements and formulating his own opinions about what a good society would look like, which took the form of a socialism which relied heavily on the Romanticist model of humanity and of self-realization in it's conception of itself. But, it too was an extension of Humean philosophy because Thompson didn't endorse the more esoteric philosophical doctrines of the German Romantics but instead relied on the philosophy of those romantics----like Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Blake, whose ideas were an extension of the British philosophical tradition.

Others, particularly the Austro-Marxists, have sought to integrate Neo-Kantianism with Marxism in order to formulate what Marxism in practice would really look like: Kantianism relies on conceptions of duty derived from a consideration of men in their natural state, with justice equaling an absence of oppression. Naturally, the absence of oppression can be seen as being the full realization of human potential, which was how the Austro-Marxists and the Neo-Kantians saw it.

So, with that background in mind, the move on my part from a Humean philosophy of praxis to a Neo-Hegelian one is based on the better picture of life, of the experience of the individual, and the issues that face society, that it presents. Neo-Hegelianism, like that of F.H. Bradley, is a byproduct of Left Hegelianism instead of Right Hegelianism, even if they themselves would have rejected that terminology, and so is more libertarian, and with the British Neo-Hegelians this could be seen as being a byproduct of the English tradition of philosophy interacting with German Idealism, although Croce in Italy is pretty darned libertarian as well....but anyways....

The philosophers that I'm leaning towards to give a decent picture of society, whether it be Meleau-Ponty or G.K. Chesterton, or perhaps Cardinal John Henry Newman, or maybe Jacques Maritain, virtually demand that the traditional empiricist tradition of philosophy be abandoned for something else. And what philosophy would be worthy of filling the shoes of that 'something else'?

Don't be frightened by the names above; any inquiry into socialism will show that it needs quite a bit of auxilliary philosophy to work in the real world, and so I haven't given up the cause, not at all.

Neo-Hegelianism......Jesus, when I get far enough so that I'll be able to give a comprehensive account of the Neo-Hegelian conception of man I'll have a friggin' doctrate, but maybe not, maybe it'll just take a few more days........but until then 'depth' would be the watchword for why Neo-Hegelianism is a better philosophical framework than Humean empiricism. Depth and Realism. Trust me on this.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Before the idealism......

I sickening thought just came across: with reports of U.S. troops encouraging looting and burning, what if we burned the Koranic library in Baghdad out of rage at Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? What if it was us who torched it to get back at Muslims which the military might think are to blame as a whole for 9/11.

It's a terrible thought, but one which is too plausable. If we did burn it, the depths of our crimes in Iraq will have skyrocketed since we will have destroyed the fundamental historical documents of a faith which claims over one billion adherents. Think about that for a second. It won't be just the Iraqi people that we've hurt, it'll be the hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 who's heritage will have been destroyed.
Neo-Hegelian idealism as a good alternative to Humean and Utilitarian interpretations of Socialism......

Recently, I've had a sea change in philosophy.....now why would I announce a sea change up here? Well, because I believe in the old existentialist maxim that whenever someone chooses they implicitly choose for everyone; by making a decision or putting your faith in a philosophy you're implicitly saying that this is the philosophy that everyone should abide by----what's more, if you consciously carry out this existentialist decisionmaking eventually you WILL get to making decisions that other people might be interested in knowing about. That said, the difference between Humean Socialism and Neo-Hegelian filtered socialism.....


I'll have to write this later today 'cause I got to go for now, but, it'll come.....
By the company they keep.....

Even though it's old news, the story about Sean Hannity's radio show being sponsored by the Redneck Shop in North Carolina, on a local station up there, sticks in my mind.....the Redneck Shop is run by the leader of the North Carolina Klan.

I went to their site, and after looking around for a little bit, found a charming Klan shirt emblazoned with the logo "The Ku Klux Klan is gettin' bigger; ain't you glad you're not a Nigger?". around the Klan's flame and equal armed cross design.

Gee, I'm sure glad that such fine and virtuous folks are supporting Sean Hannity, that paragon of Conservative virtue and morality.

"The Ku Klux Klan is gettin' bigger; aren't you glad you're not a Nigger?" Pure poetry, pure poetry,

You know, I was certain that conservatives' like those on Fox News had been complaining about the Left and "liberals" unfairly linking them with racists and neo-nazis. I suppose the Redneck Shop didn't get that memo.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Allright Texas Democrats!!! Walking out on a rabidly Republican congress is the most noble thing that dems have done in a long time, hopefully it'll inspire other democratic congressmen in other states to deal with radical Republicans more bluntly than they have done before. In other words, I hope they get the balls to actually function like a party who's aim is to win back control of the government from the Republicans and end this farce which we call the Bush administration.
First up, guys, if you like my blog, drop me a line; I won't bite. I don't mean to intimidate anyone with all of this, I'm actually a pretty civil person in correspondence.....

But to the main topic of the blog: The Bush administration's total lack of justification for invading and taking over Iraq, and what that means in relation to the economic downslide, soon to be aggravated by further bursting of economic bubbles...(See In These Times this week)......how do they relate, you may ask? Simple: the forces that put Bush and company in charge of things are the same forces that have benefitted from, and in the process undermined, our economy during the so-callled economic boom of the Clinton administration.

By forces understand that I'm talking about Capitalism and not about some shadowy secret group of rich people etc...

One of the defining aspects of our society at this time is the enourmous contrast between the rules that govern conduct, job opportunities, expenditures, what you need to get into a good school and a good job, alternatives in possible career paths, for the relatively young and afluent-----and the conduct and expenditures of the relatively old who are ensconced in a secure upper class job, and the corresponding set of factors when applied to working class youth and people settled into working class jobs.

I believe that privelege corrupts, and that what we've been seeing is an ever growing corruption in conduct and lifestyle, and job opportunities, by the rich while the poor have been subject to stricter and stricter demands on them when it comes to even being able to maintain their current jobs and their current standards of living.

In other words, we've been seeing more shortcuts, more bending of the rules, more obscene uses of privelege, more breaking of standards to let in all the progeny of the rich, regarding those who have won the familial lottery while at the same time working class youth are having to jump through higher and higher loops, sacrifice more and more of themselves to the system, which already has them by the short and curlies, in order to go to college, to get some sort of advance in life, and ultimately to avoid being trapped in working class jobs from graduation to cremation.

Does this hint at hypocracy? You bet it does. As the economy crumbles more and more scrutiny is going to attend to the lifestyles of those who benefitted from the Clinton boom, and I'm afraid what we'll find is going to be an encyclopedia of greed and excess. Bush, his installation, his actions, his reasoning behind invading Iraq, is perhaps the epitomie of a system in which standards have been so undermined by money and privelege that the rich no longer require any justification whatsoever for doing whatever the hell they want to do.

Buy Hummers! Fuck the poor, fuck all those people who have to ride the Bus! Screw em all, I have the cash! Logic, I don't need no stinking logic, I'm the President of the United States---and a Yale grad to boot. My daddy was president and my granddaddy was a senator from Connecticut, enough said, so I can do whatever the hell I want. It's this pitiful decline in the standards of the rich which will shock people the most, make them the most angry.

And Bush is at the top of it. He's a symbol. I don't have any personal malice towards the guy, I just see him as a representative of a corrupt social structure. What we need is sytemic change, so don't train your Secret Service people on me.....

Anyways, Bush is probably the prime example of how far money can take you in the U.S. It can take you far enough so that you can become president of the United States without any real qualifications for the job, and wage war on other countries without any justifications, using outright lies with impunity.

All the while we have, 40,000 was it? or was it 400,000? kids today who have the grades to get into decent colleges but won't be going because they don't have the money, and the federal government won't give it to them. So while Bush is up there invading countries just because he wants to, scores of people down here are having to settle for being what---carpenters? plumbers? electricians? maybe working on a line (who knows), may aiming for a career, ugh, in the "service industry"---retail, hospitality, etc...or nursing; I'm hoping that they'll fall into skilled jobs instead of being trapped in unskilled labor; while they could have been studying to be physicists, biologists, doctors, musicians, writers, political figures, lawyers, hell, even stock brokers and upper management for large multinationals, bankers, etc...

All that has been wiped out for them, because they made the wrong choice in parents when they were deciding where to be incarnated in this life.

But Bush abides. The Dude abides, as they said in the Big Lebowski, although this dude is more pitiful than enviable. The Dude abides, while Shakespeare is pumping gas and Marie Curie is selling cosmetics.

I think this country will eventually have to come clean to all of it's citizens about what excess has been flourishing since the '90s, now taking a little down turn. And it won't be pretty. The Truth and Reconciliation committee in South Africa wasn't pretty either, and although it might have achieved truth, I doubt that much reconciliation came out of it. Hard feelings die slow.

I suggest that Bush is the tip of the ice burg, and that if you follow the priveleges of people and their progeny from the top of the pyramid down to the end of the upper-middle class, you'll find enough to make you sick many times over.

I believe, although I'm skeptical of natural law, that there is some sort of natural principle which puts societies in harmony with themselves after crisis occur, that there's a natural flow of society which needs to be maintained---or else there's going to be major problems down the line, like we're having now. My conception of natural flow is that of rough equality with everyone having enough and having jobs that involve dignity and self management, responsibility, and a fairchance at pursuing whatever livelihood you might be interested in regardless of family background. Things like universal healthcare fall into this conception of a natural flow of society as well.

When those simple conditions are violated, I believe that for society as a whole to readjust itself a return to those principles is needed. Capitalism isn't sustainable, but a society based on rough equality and with an eye to sustainability and planned growth is. So for society to right itself we're going to have to become more socialist, and becoming more socialist means looking at the extremes of wealth and privelege in this society, and aiming to end them in order to restore a functioning economic and political infrastructure in society.

I'm a big believer in biting it instead of acting irrationally; maybe this is a bad thing; but anyways, although I don't think that hard feelings are in anyway avoidable in doing what it takes to right society, I do think that outright violence and any semi-violent acts like intimidation are. In fact, I think that if society gets much more unequal that those disenchanted elements of the poor who have totally given up on the system, and have devoted their lives to crime and violence, are going to start threatening the integrity of society as a whole. Having hordes of gang members suddenly rioting and asserting violent rule is not something that we should be aiming for. Compared to the spector of true anarchy breaking out, biting the bullet and stomaching the hard feelings of the poor and the working class if you're one of those people who is well off isn't that bad of a proposition.

Having to give up your SUV, or having to have a vast reduction in income, loss of the scope of power that your job commanded, and other dimunitions like that, are nothing compared to being attacked by angry mobs who don't care if you're really a liberal inside, but who just see what you have and want to draw blood.

You think I'm kidding; I lived in a situation similar to that---in an area that most people would consider a ghetto, even though by any reasonable standards it wasn't really a ghtetto. A white boy in a black neighborhood, in a college town, who doesn't seem to have a regular job? Every ethnic group has people who just reject society and make war on it; at least every oppressed ethnic group; and let me tell you, for people like that, who have truely given up on things and who have decided to live outside of the law in a criminal manner, your radical analysis or your Marxist sympathies are not going to prevent you from being a target----in fact, showing sympathy to these people will increase the likelihood that you'll be a target, since they'll see it as being a sign of weakness from a naive person who can then be victimized easier.

Yeah.

It's not pretty.

When things get to that point reason and excuses have outlived their usefullness. As Locke wrote in the second treatise on government, when someone truly makes war on society, they have therefore abrogated any rights for respect by all other members of society, and have therefore opened themselves up to attacks and retaliation the means of which would be illegal when applied to law-abiding members of society.

I don't harbor any illusions in this department.

My point is that if things get to that level on society as a whole, then we're done for. We as a society which is a decent place to live in, which for most people is not a war zone. It would be much better that the ruling class and the middle class, what's left of it, agree to socialistic reforms before we have to resort to arming ourselves with shotguns to fend off looters, a la Baghdad.

Think about it.

Friday, May 16, 2003

I should add, summing up the last rant, that simply opposing U.S. and Western Capitalism from a cultural perspective does one a fundamentalist terrorist make; if we were to use that standard, then virtually all third world leaders who fought for non-alignment, along with some who accepted the Soviet Union's understanding of third worldism, would have to be considered violent terrorists, which is obviously not the case. Sayyed Qutib's denunciation of Western Capitalism and the philosophical school of thought to which that belonged, even though they may have inspired extremist groups, does not lead to Islamic fundamentalism; Osama Bin Laden and company believe that the apocalypse is at hand, that the U.S. is the great satan, and that god will come down and strike all of us down and institute paradise, and that they somehow fit in with this scenario; this is not a cultural defense of the region of the world which operated by culturally and religiously Islamic standards and may want to retain it's own values and ways of doing things in the face of the West---it's a religious message pure and simple.

So Paul Berman's saying that the events leading to September 11th started with the founding of anti-westernizing schools of thought in Islamic countries is no more true than saying that World War Two was set in motion by Asian countries resisting U.S. colonialism.

I guess my frustration with the pro-patriotism people really has to do with the fact that they're stuck on patriotism and can't get beyond it in terms of responding to 9/11.

American flags, woo hoo, you know a lot of progressives didn't have a problem with people showing solidarity and pride through displaying a flag, but we're now approaching the two year mark....right now we're less than four months away from 9/11's second anniversary----I'd think that two years would be enough time for folks to cool off, maybe read a book or two, and get on with life.

But to continue with the previous post: there isn't this huge islamic backlash against America. What there is are people who are living in desperate situations, which the US has contributed to, who tentatively give their support to Islamic fundamentalist groups because they think that they can help them out. Noam Chomsky, a name which right-wing people love, points out in article after article that when people take public opinion polls in the Middle East, they find that regular people agree with 1)the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to Israel, 2) the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to troops in Saudi Arabia, 3) the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to Iraq sanctions, and 3) the general opposition to corrupt government supported by the west which Islamic fundamentalists oppose, BUT when people are asked 4) would you like to live in a state governed by rules derived from Islamic fundamentalism, the amount of positive responses goes way, way, down.

To prevent another 9/11 from happening, then, a good start would be to address 1 through 3, so that 4 doesn't get any support. We're already doing some of it, but our control of Iraq negates a whole lot of it though.

Additionally, we have to be vigilant about keeping suspected terrorists out of the U.S. and keeping our eyes open for the obvious indicators that someone might be up to no good which were ignored before 9/11. And also about apprehending anyone who commits a terrorist act and bringing them before the World Court for justice.

There's probably no way to prevent people as individuals from becoming attached to Islamic Fundamentalism as a religious and political stance, anymore than there's a way to prevent people as individuals from becoming radical Trotskyists; that's an unwinnable battle that we shouldn't even think of fighting. But we can prevent those that do go that route from being able to function in an illegal manner by cutting the bases of mass support that they might enjoy through addressing issues like 1-3 above, as well as through common sense security measures. Not draconian police state security measures, but common sense security.

See, that's one issue where I radically part company with a lot of Americans-----I don't believe that the ideology is really that important. I don't believe that it's an ideology really representative of Islam as a whole, and neither do I believe that the reason that radical Wahhabis have taken to terrorism has to do with a failure of Islamic civilization. Both attitudes are somewhat popular, but they're mistaking the forest for the trees.

Paul Berman, that Harvard man of dubious journalistic achievement, who happens to write bad books that find their way into print, believes that the framework for 9/11 was started when the Islamist writer Sayyid Qutib, an Egyptian radical, started to outline a defense of Islamic civilization against capitalism and colonialism.

The truth is that Islamic countries formed a non-western culture block which had different beliefs and organization than the capitalist, christian, west; additionally, when the western nations started courting the countries of al-Islam, as they refer to themselves, with trading agreements and colonialist incursions, there was a reaction against this as they believed that adopting western capitalism would lead to the destruction of their social fabric.

There is not one iota of difference between this view on the part of Muslims in the 19th and 20th centuries and that of Pan-Africans, who believed the same thing in an African context, or that of Chinese Nationalists (and Maoists, to a degree), or that of the indigenous people's of the Americas, particularly in Mexico and Latin America where physical colonizing wasn't as thoroughly done, or Japan during the nationalist buildup......

I could go on with this, but it would be beating a dead horse. It's not that Islam is a failed civilization, it's that it's a different civilization and it saw no need to conform to the values and organization of a civilization pretty different than it's own. Same thing happened all across the globe, has been happening since the 19th century. People who want states which express democracy through terms based in Islam and through the philosophic and political heritage of Islam are no different than those Asian activists like Aung Sun Soo Kyi in Burma who want Democracy in Burmese Buddhist terms, or exiled Tibetans who want to preserve some of the cultural heritage of Tibet while meeting the Chinese half way in terms of political and social reforms.....of even of Sun Yat Sen, the great Chinese Nationalist leader....

Development on a people's own terms is not equivalent with failure, and non-development does not automatically equal resentment to the U.S. and Europe since, brace yourself, we're not the default position that everyone naturally agrees with. Iraqis aren't just Americans with a few layers of Arab culture on top.

There used to be a common belief out there that economic development was the property of the entire world, and not just something which Europe, having developed, should keep to herself and her colonies because it was SHE who did it, not them.
I think Kennedy said something about that.....

Suddenly we've done an about face; now, industrial capitalism is a sign of Western success, not just a fortunate discovery on our part, and it's thought not to be able to flourish anywhere that doesn't embrace Western values, thereby enshrining us as the permanent victors in the realm of economic development. But no one's actually tried out that proposition. There's no effort out there whatsoever to try to see if industrial capitalism or economic and technological advancement can flourish under a different cultural model; we just point at ourselves, point at the middle east, and say Ha! You're jealous of us, that's why you hate us!

If, on the other hand, you believe that industrial capitalism is the inheritance of the whole world, then it becomes clear that some attempt should be made to arrive at a state of parity between the West and everywhere else. Just as our developing of industrial capitalism doesn't imply that we should monopolize it, the fact that we arrived at it first doesn't mean that we should eternally be the prime beneficiary of it, with the other countries of the world in some way serving our needs.

I fail to see why western imperialism and neo-colonialism should exist. It used to be, not too long ago, that these ideas could be expressed and people wouldn't look at you like you were nuts, but selfishness reigns, and the world suffers.

Interesting Mail.....Someone subcribed me to a newsletter of a company manufacturing natural clothes and located at the geographical center of America.....maybe this is some sort of not-so-subtle hint that people out there consider me unamerican; at any rate, someone thinks that getting an e-mail newsletter with pictures of clothing, set against the backdrop of cactuses and a sunset, proclaiming it's location as "the center of America" is going to somehow set me off on an anti-american rant. I actually think that the picture is quite nice, and the clothes, although they're not my style, look pretty good in terms of quality and manufacture.....

Which gets me onto the topic of today's blog, which is why it is that pro-patriotism people piss me off; well, let me clarify that, it's not that patriotism in a general sense makes me angry, it's that the current crop of patriots are just so transparent about their beliefs. I mean, the beliefs themselves are so transparent----and contentless; does anyone really believe that they're really saying anything, or demonstrating anything, when they declare themselves to be pro-America and decorate their cars and trucks with tons of flags?

Is there something I've missed here, or is this current patriotism binge just a knee-jerk reaction which has been carried long, long, past it's appointed lifespan?

As someone who studies philosophy I'm inclined to search for the meaning of statements and propositions, logic after all is a subset of philosophy, and when it comes to the Patriotism movement I just can't seem to find any meaningful statements which supply information that hadn't been there before.

What I do think is happening is this: there was a considerable portion of the public before 9/11 who led very insular lives, and didn't really think about the world outside of their community, or even of their state; they didn't really follow the news, they weren't really engaged with the important events of the day, but instead they just quietly pursued their lives.

9/11 presented an undeniable shock to this sort of worldview, saying, by any measure, that whether you care or not things are going on outside of your immediate world which may have a big impact on your life. Undeniably, 9/11 said that you really should be paying attention to what's going on out there, even if it means simply knowing the facts and supporting the Bush drive for war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I'm not making a partisan statement here; either way you stand on the issue of what was the appropriate response to 9/11, the fact that it's now not possible to pretend that we can ignore the doings elsewhere and just get on with our lives was clearly destroyed by the terrorist acts.

And so now there's a big portion of the American public who knows this but doesn't quite know how to go about hooking up with the knowledge that they want; they're not familiar with the issues, they don't know about the ideas that have shaped foreign policy analysis, left and right, and so despite this interest and concern are kind of stuck frozen out of what they want to get and understand.

Enter Patriotism. As peddled by CNN and Fox News, Patriotism has become the universal answer to the question of "What does 9/11 mean for America?", the rightwing viewpoint has been offered as a default, and, hey, most people like their communities, most people don't do anything wrong in their lives, so why not be Patriotic and assert that America is better than what the Terrorists viewed it as?

It's a logical respsonse, although it might now be killing the very things that made America that great place to begin with.

The thing which neither CNN, nor Fox, nor talk radio, or anyone else has drawn attention to is the huge disconnect between that nice local America and the actions carried out by the State in the name of the American people through foreign policy.

We might be pretty OK as a people, but we really don't know what the elites are doing out there in Washington in our names. Who knowss what agreements, subsidies, etc.... are being commisioned by our elected officials? It broke through with NAFTA and Ross Perot for a time, but since then our doings in the Third World and elsewhere have mainly been known by a small sector of the population tuned into this stuff, who get their news from an even smaller sector who know enough to take intelligent dissident stands in their reporting. Not exactly the most accessable source of information.

It's completely true that the Terrorists hated a lot of normal America; they were, or Al-Qaida is, Islamic extremists who think that the U.S. is a den of immorality that's going to be destroyed yada yada....the usual fire and brimstone talk from religious conservatives; but, as George McGovern pointed out in an article commissioned about half a year after 9/11, these people couldn't get support from the normal people of the Middle East in order to carry out their terrorism if living conditions, political freedoms, etc...were better there.

And in those areas the people of the Middle East have some good reasons for blaming U.S. foreign policy for the situation they're in.
Supporting Dictators who work for foreign oil corporations while the populace starves is clearly something people don't like over there.
And since we've eliminated just about any secular opposition to these people in the middle east, what's left but the religious extremists? People support them because it's the only avenue left.

This, of course, is not to excuse it, or justify it, it's just to point out that there is some sort of a cause and effect relationship between the actions of U.S. elites and religious extremists. People of course should choose to support people who won't murder thousands of people, but since when have people choosen the best, noblest, etc...course?

It might be right theoretically, but when it comes down to flesh and blood people, they're as irrational as the next person; good moral argument doesn't mean that anyone's going to obey it....

have to go, will be continued....

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Jewish Sacred music.......

Here's an interesting counterpoint to the charge that opposing what Israel is doing, or opposing Israel itself, is an anti-semitic act, and that the rise of anti-israel sentiment equals a rise in anti-semitism or hostility to Jews within the activist community and the Left.....

In my evergrowing quest to find interesting and overlooked music, Chazzanuth has popped onto my radar; Chazzanuth is Cantorial singing and chanting of prayers, done by the Cantor in a synagogue but also, I believe, sometimes done in personal daily prayers by hasidic Jews. Cantorial singing is great, although I haven't really had a chance to find much of it;

The thing that led me to it was getting a Fado CD, in order to find out more about the roots of Brazillian music. Fado is Portugese folk singing, highly expressive and poetic; called by some "the white man's blues", but that's not really accurate unless your understanding of Blues centers on some of the Shouters and Callers or on the mellow Blues singing that developed out of Jump Blues and other small and big band Blues permutations in the midwest. Fado is pretty good, very enjoyable, kind of dorkily continental at times, but that's part of the fun of it. Another note: if Fado is a European Blues than surely all Italian popular singing, a la Mario Lanza, all popular Operas, folk songs, etc....are surely European Blues as well.

But listening to this "Great Voices of Fado" CD, a spark fizzled in my mind, it jumped the circuits and, aha! I knew I had heard music like this before, and I knew the exact song: the track "Chassidic Chant #3" from Paul Robeson's CD "Songs of Free Men". Looking into it on the net it turned out that the song wasn't really Chassidic Music *per se* but was instead a Hassidic Prayer, belonging to the Cantorial tradition---Chazzanuth.

Listen to that song if you want to hear an example of real power and righteousness in music...."Good Day to you God all mighty, I Levi Issaac son of Sara from Ber'Deach do declare------Why hast thou oppressed this thine people, wherever sorrow, surely the sons of the oppressed, wherever hunger, surely the sons of the oppressed, their is fight among the sons of the oppressed; the Romans, what had they? Our Kingdom is above all Kingdoms, the Persians what means had they; Our ruler is above all rulers; So I, Levi Isaac son of Sara from Ber'Deach do declare---on this rock I will not move......." It's a great song.

And it belongs to the tradition of Jewish sacred music.

So either I'm schizophrenic here or it's not Jews or Jewish culture that I oppose when I say I oppose Israel but instead a very nasty group of people who have hijacked the idea of Jewish history and perverted it for their own colonial ends.

You decide.

Oh, in a final parting gesture, let me tell you that one of the books that started me towards Socialism was Martin Buber's book "The Ba'al Shem Tov", about the origin and roots of the Hasidic movement in Eastern Europe....
The situation, to imitate Leni Brenner on Counterpunch, was like this: I had gone from being a sort of miscreant petty criminal to a straight, law abiding young man who had an intense interest in Esotericism and Radical Spirituality related to it; I picked up Buber's book in my school library because I had read some scholarly articles on REAL Jewish Kabbalah, and it's doctrines, that Gnosis magazine printed, and, with that background, saw that the Hasidim believe in Jewish Mysticism, followed the Zohar and the Sepher Yetzirah (which I never got far enough into Jewish Kabbalism to get familiar with), and the writings of Isaac Luria. All good things in my book. So I picked it up, and what did I find but Buber's description of the Hasidic movement as not just being mystical but being a Populist mysticism which wanted to revive Judaeism and Jewish culture in order to make it living and real to the average person.

I had never quite thought of it like that, but I understood that Mysticism could be a good force in society, and that it was also a good thing, by extension, for it to be brought to the people instead of being the purview of a handful of educated guys with the time and the money to pursue it.

It made an impression, and I still think highly of the book; it wasn't until much later that I became acquainted with him as a straight socialist thinker through his also good book "Paths in Utopia".

Take from all this what you will, but if anything take from it the lesson that it's the ideas that matter, not where they come from.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Notes for a reinterpretation of German history.

An assesment of German history has to get beyond the Third Reich and instead locate the foundations for Germany's current political structure in the aristocratic system of the Imperial Reich under Bismark and the Hohenzollerns. The German state at that time was one of the final holdouts of aristocratic and monarchists ideas against democracy, and the interplay between democracy and aristocratic forms of government was the central battle of the nineteenth and early 20th century, so locating current German history in the context of that dynamic interplay means returning it to the typical forms of struggle which typified European history. Before Nazism washed away the past, Germany experienced the common struggles of European government just like any other country, and we shouldn't take an aberration, no matter how extreme, as being representative of a country's entire history, after all.
I don't know, am I the only one who feels that this country is now operating via the standards and intelligence of Bling Bling the Crackhead? Just wondering....he's a character from Bum Fights, I hear.
Maybe this Joseph Almond guy is alright after all; the site's pretty good, but between noon and five o'clock yesterday it seems that he temporarily morphed into a latter day prophet, or at least a sendup of one (hopefully he was intending it to be self conscious satire). But now he looks sane again. It may have been the rush that finding out that you, yes you, the working class guy who didn't believe he could make a difference, waking up to find out that the world is your oyster, or the guy may actually have some problems. I hope he doesn't; like I said, this quasi-religious stuff has an air of satire around it, he sounds like he's laughing at all of it while he writes,so maybe this is just a temporary stab at inspired prose. Can't say I agree with his anti-tax stuff, I payed. (And like Jello Biafra, I'd pay a whole lot more, if I could afford it, if I knew it was really going to help people in need instead of lining beaurocrats' pockets). But to each his own.

I can't help but thinking about the guy on a hunger strike who's demanding that the IRS explain to him why you have to pay taxes; specifically, I can't help but thinking that the more liberal minded folks in his home town in Texas are calling him "A damn fool" behind his back.

But Mr. Almond's site is pretty good, he knows his stuff, and is rather obsessive about putting all the articles available on the Patriot act on his website, which is good. And if he succeeds in leafletting the U.S. it'll be a mighty big share of good karma points on his bill.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

In my continuing quest to analyze contemporary American history, mothers' day duties being accomplished, I propose a three era interpretation of American history from the end of the reactionary period after World War II to the present day.

In this exercise, like most else of what's posted on my site, I'm indulging in the exploration of ideas in the hope that, even if I don't come up with an all inclusive or a finished product all of the time, exploration of these things itself is a contribution to understanding and so still has value as ideas which shed light and give order to some of the unknowns in the world around us. So indulge me.

The Tripartite analysis that I'm proposing is composed of the era of the sixties and seventies, the conservative reaction of the eighties, the nineties, and up to the present day, and a third period hopefully starting right now---at least with me---and hopefully starting on a much larger scale sometime soon, if it hasn't started already.

We all already know all about the sixties and seventies; they provide no mystery as they've been analyzed to death. However, when it comes to what the conservative reaction was and what's possibly replacing it less ink has been shed.

Tacticly, what I see the conservative reaction of the eighties as doing is opposing the peace, love, and human benevolence present in popular sixties and seventies ideas with a very dark and harsh view of how the world 'really was'. The conservative reaction campaigned and won based on the idea that peace and love was a dangerously naive concept, one that had in fact left the country open to attacks from dysfunctional forces whose existence liberals didn't even acknowledge; so marshalling particularly abhorrent facts about the society they lived in, conservatives convinced the nation that it was rational to be afraid, and that fear and reactionary legislation based on fear were logical responses to the supposed social chaos which the liberals were in some way responsable for.

Throughout the eighties, and even into the nineties, we watched the most dysfunctional, the serial killers, inner city drug dealers, on and on being paraded as examples of how society 'really was'; accompanying them were often extremist Christian religious sects who presented themselves and their views as being mainstream, they were 'how society really was', and only the supposed liberal discrimination kept that fact from being acknowledged.

In gambling terminology the rightwing's response would be called upping the ante; the left produced a radical ideology for positive social change, the right opposed it by putting forward an even more radical picture of society. Instead of democratic socialism and personal experimentation, it was a picture of society as radically bad and in need of radical therapy in order for it to get back on track.

Socialists, liberals, the Left in general, couldn't really counter these attacks well because, in truth, they had never taken that point of view seriously enough to formulate a response. So they resorted to condecension, which automatically spelled defeat.

The right's view was profoundly anti-humanistic; they believed in the total reality of human corruption because of original sin and it's effects, and didn't give appeals to a common human goodness any quarter because of it. The left was somewhat naively humanistic, but the big cleft was really that of class. But that's another essay.

In the second period, the Right has dominated and has gotten de facto approval; that which any left wing organization would be hauled into court for, or worse, is looked on benevolently by the police as being an expression of individual rights. You can start militias, put together paramilitary training camps, arm yourself heavily, secede from the government, stop paying income taxes, set up your own courts, and do everything up to and including bombing the Oklahoma City Federal building and not be stopped. But Mumia abu-Jamal is guilty dammit and he should hang!

The Oklahoma City bombing is perhaps the most tragic product of this long tolerance for extremist ideas on the right; whatever else, McVeigh and company bombed the Federal Building because they believed in an elaborate fantasy world created by a mixture of conspiracy theory, fundamentalism, and racist doctrine, which told them that the federal government was going to declare marshall law imminently and that the Oklahoma City Federal Building was going to be a major detention center for those rounded up in the midwest.

Not a shred of proof; but because McVeigh and his compadres believed that it was going to happen the Federal Building was destroyed and, is it 165 lives? 165 lives, including those of the children in the day-care center, were lost.

Now how can it be that people with extremist ideologies who are obviously violent can percolate through American society and perfectly realize the aims of their fantasies? Not without official support they couldn't, buck-o.

Without the appeal to the worst in human nature, to the paranoid, to the pathological, and societies assent to the truth of such doctrines McVeigh would never have gotten off the ground. But Mumia abu-Jamal has to fry, damn it! You get the picture.

Oklahoma City and prominent evangelists---is there a connection?

But to get back to my story; Bush modified the fear and lothing but didn't eliminate it; Clinton took a stance of passive acceptance of the Conservative status quo, now Bush is trying to reinstate it all. The politics of including those who are radically marginal because of their extreme beliefs---providing that they're right wing, exists right now.

A counter current is growing, and the third act of contemporary politics may be yet to come; what happened was that the right's radicalism came back to bite it.

The current trend of leftwing politics has been fostered by the Post-Structuralist movement in philosophy, which proudly declares itself to be anti-humanist.

Because of this, it provides an alternative to the Right's anti-humanism, and in fact provides a much deeper and better analysis of society through that than what the Right can muster. What's important is that post-structuralism has been able to get under the cultural radar because it doesn't repeat the mistakes of seventies leftist thought---it accepts as it's basic worldview ideas which slightly altered would be acceptable to fundamentalist radicals.

Today's left is the product of a post-structuralist informed view of the world, rather than a seventies revanchist movement. What's been created is an environment where people on the Left can flex their ideological muscle and try to make sense of the world around them. It's the environment of logical argument rather than the ideas themselves which have been the godsend.

The ideas themselves are somewhat undesirable if taken in their pure form; as said, in their anti-humanism there's little seperating Post-Structuralists from Christian Radicals; but the environment produced by them has collectively fostered leftist thought that, even if it disagrees with Post-Structuralists on many counts, nevertheless doesn't repeat the errors of the seventies.
It's this rather more diverse set of ideas on the left which will provide the context for future trends in this country. Hopefully, what is being born of this mix is a set of values that do look back to the humanism of the seventies, but which do so with a critical eye, hoping to bring the country and the society back into some sort of balance after right-wing extremism.

If this does happen it'll happen because people see that there are alternatives to the right-wing extremist point of view, which defeat it on logical grounds, put forward a convincing alternative view of the world, and above all go much further than simply dismissing it as the work of 'stupid people' or 'extremists'.

I think that this project was well underway when Bush II took office; I sure as hell felt it---after eight years of Clinton the Left was actually starting to breath again. Bush II's reign will hopefully be the exception and not the rule, as the patterns of change created under Clinton are not going to go away simply because the Bush administration wants them too.

Think of it, think of the nineties, think of the birth of Alternative music and Alternative culture---what was it an alternative to? Reaganism. The effervescent burst of joy which happened in the early nineties was a declaration that Reaganism was over---forever, for good! and that it wasn't ever coming back. I don't see how the Bush administration can wipe out that sense felt by everyone involved that from now on society is going back to normal----fuck the conservatives, fuck the christian right.

It too was a marginal milleuix;much like post-structuralism, which flourished on the margins of academia because of it's radical beliefs, the Alternative culture of the nineties proceeded by finding the marginal in society and in contemporary history and glorifying it, consciously living on the margins of accepted society and enjoying it.

Whether it be music, politics, or culture, the nineties were surely the era of the weird and the wonderful. But they were much more than that.

The alternative culture of the nineties proved to be an alembec for the creation of positive alternatives to society much as post-structuralism provided a haven for those wanting to hash out a politics for the future in the present.
Witness Seattle and the anti-globalization movement; there's a lot of evidence, which can be gathered mainly from analyzing the web as well as watching some cascadia media films, that the most militant groups in Seattle weren't mindless robots but were instead people who had lived in Alternative situations, communes, counterculture, etc... and through their living had come to the realization that the principles that guided society were wrong, that new ones needed to be put into place, and that a way to start this was to take militant action against the WTO in their 1999 meetings.

So the Alternative counter-culture of the '90s gave birth to the Seattle movement, the Seattle idea, or idealism, which the anti-globalization movement embodies in it's hopes for the future.

Ok, but continuing on, culturally there's a great distance between the mainstream anti-globalization movement and the Seattle idealists who started a militant movement with their actions; the nineties was in many ways a playing out of what was left over after the eighties were done with-----Alternative culture was one aspect of this but another aspect was that of college activists flourishing. College Activism as it came down to the nineties wasn't especially progressive---it was a marginal aspect of college life that had survived the seventies and languished in the eighties, whence it formed it's essential characteristics---but it was still a presence after the Conservative curtain dropped with Clinton's election, and like all relics which looked like they might have something to do with liberalism it flourished, thanks to many happy young seekers looking for a liberal and leftist alternative. But it's essential morrays and folkways were set in the eighties, and so the crowd it attracted reflected the eighties in their temperament and attitude---they were the go getters of eighties days raved up for social justice.

At least that's what the core group of people doing the big time activism have appeared to be; this certainly isn't a condemnation of all of us.

My point is that the Seattle ideal and the anti-globalization movement didn't come from the same source, and that radicals produced by Alternative culture and post-structuralist politics are the real creative force culture today. They believe in what the anti-globalization people believe but they have a fresh viewpoint of it that wasn't hackneyed when Michael J. Fox was a star.

So with that qualification....back to the narrative...

Like post-structuralism, alternative music advanced a counter-cultural idea that avoided the naivete of the seventies; Alternative is really a harsh version of Post-Punk, and it was able to advance the usual hedonism and rebellion while laughing at hippies and company. Because of this, it survived where others died----the sorry carreers of Phish and related bands are evidence of what happens when you don't realize that your time is up.

Hippies, of course, didn't really deserve all of the bile spewed on them by Alternative Artists, but the hatred of naiveness was right on the mark.

It provided, and is providing, the crucible by which a new aesthetic understanding is being formed----one which is more positive than critical. In fact, when it comes to this front in the move from Part 2 to Part 3 of American culture, we're already well advanced, with huge subcultures actually digging Krautrock and bands like Stereolab. Who knew?

The hinge of history swings on the mid nineties, and on a new generation; because of a trick in how people percieve the world and how they develop, the young can see opportunities and potentials that the old have no awareness of, and through figuring the world out for themselves, and developing self identity, can actually bring ideas into fruition which for anyone else would have proved too much work and effort to be feasable.

That's what's happening right now with us. To a certain extent it is a society wide change, but the young are the ones that have the most interest in getting the most resolution possible. What's happening is that the space open for the marginal created in the nineties is gestating a new, postive culture, which will burst on the scene and provide a foundation for a return to a sane society; one not dominated by rightwing paranoia, and one burdened by the naiveties of old.