Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Fascist Party.

I have a new term to describe the media these days, it's the Fascist party. Not party in the sense of political party but party in the sense of celebration.

Think of it as a long cocktail party thrown by people who benefit from the fact that fascists and near fascists are in power, and don't have anything else to do but report what's told to them and enjoy the good life.

This fascist party seems like a continual bash, just sign on, leave your concern for who's being smashed over the head at the door and relax to a good drink and some stimulating conversation, with maybe some flirtation thrown in.

Which must have been how the Argentinian media operated during Peron's time and during the time of the Generals.

Ah, who cares about the death squads going around Buenos Aires, lets just sit back and report about the national renaissance that the Peronistas are leading, complete with a return to good family values and the religious principles that we all know and cherish.

Yeah, that's how the media operates today. It's a fascist party, but the question is whether they'll let the party be over come election day or whether it'll prove too sweet and they'll take measures to continue the weekend for another four years.

Anyone but Bush, then get back to work

Decent article by Naomi Klein. I usually do not like her stuff; there's the whiff of a rich girl cashing in on the anti-globalization movement in all of her stuff, which isn't, fundamentally, anti-capitalist. Last time I looked at No Logo, which I don't own, thank god, it was saying that the problem was something having to do with the commodification of everything and the manipulation of everyone by advertising.....not that capitalism sodomizes the third world and America with a telephone poll and neglects to leave its number afterwards.

But be that as it may I have to agree that all this 'Boosh Boosh, Boosh is Baaad, he's a Baaad guy, a really baaad guy' bullshit is unproductive. I knew that the first hundred times I read that crap.

So, yeah, lets get the fucker out of the Whitehouse and then press for some real reforms and real issues and forget the fuck about what an idiot Bush was. And still will be out of office.

Friday, July 30, 2004

On the topic of Marx something which has been banging around in my head for a while seems to be presented with an opportune time to come down onto paper, or at least onto computer screens.

I didn't make this up and I'm not sure who exactly said this, but in relation to Marx's later economic writings it's worth repeating that socialism is a mode of production but Marxism isn't.

People familiar with Marx's economic writings may, or will, I don't know, understand what I mean.
Bourgeois and the proletarians....

Thoughts on rereading that section of the Communist Manifesto.

It appears to me that the downfall of bourgeois society is due to the fact that the industrial bourgeoisie has within it two contradictory seeds, or components.

From what I gather the manufacturing bourgeoisie came about when merchants took it upon themselves to sponsor shops and manufacturing concerns, the products of which they then appropriated and sold.

Previously the bourgeoisie had just been concerned with buying, selling, and participating in local government, as well, I suppose, if you want to extend the term to its proper French sense, supplying the beurocracy of the State.

It made its error in thinking that it could master industrial processes while still asserting its commercial values on society. Thinking that there was no contradiction between running a factory and promoting puritan family values developed by a consceientious merchant class.

There is a profound difference between the thrift and general penny pinching mercantile social philosophy on the one hand and the values and realities which come out of industrial society in general and out of the manufacturing and production sectors of society in particular.

The bourgeoisie and bourgeois culture is doomed to fail because it doesn't reflect the actual realities of the lives of workers.

No one believes those soporifics when they've lived in a plant town.
What exactly does Adam Smith and trade have to do with real life and work, except that Smith was one of the first hypocrites to propose that the bourgeois could dominate industry while still being bourgeois?

The focus on this illusory body of people called the Proletariat is misguided, in my opinion. There are people who are engaged in production centered work and those engaged in distribution centered work, and those engaged in production centered work, whether they're factory workers, plumbers, or cooks, greatly outnumber those who make their living through distribution and trade.

It's the philosophy and values of those who work in the productive processes of society which is destined to triumph, because it is the majority.

This is socialist culture.


Here's a link to the French foreign legion recruiting site, in English.

Don't join the Army....join the French Foreign Legion!

I'm going to put this up on my links bar.

In other news

Kerry acknowledges political reality

and says something that politicians should have been saying long, long ago. Nothing new for readers of lefty stuff but significant because it's finally coming out of the mouth of someone with some influence.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


Indonesia might be a good control case to look to for comparing western historical development to the rest of the world because of its decentralized nature and because of the high level of development within that decentralized nature.

Tribal societies are very interesting but unfortunately if we want to find parallels that can illuminate European experience we have to find just that---paralells, which means some sort of parity in terms of social organization and economic development. Although straight out tribal societies have their virtues they don't meet these criteria.

Indonesia might.

It's a series of islands which has not been absent from history, which has had influences of Hinduism and Islam, as well as possibly Chinese culture, on top of its indigenous culture and ways of looking at the world. It had a highly developed industry, by pre-industrial revolution standards, and had a highly articulated form of social organization.

I don't know much yet about the history of the State in Indonesia but, there again, there have to be some compromises. I doubt, but can't prove at this point because I don't know enough, that the Indonesian kingdoms were ever as centrally consolidated as monarchies and empires elsewhere in Asia.

Greece went one Indonesia a case of a similar, by rough comparative standards, society going another, and, if so, are there things that we can learn from Indonesia which can shed light on the European experience and maybe deepen our understanding of ourselves and of the cultural world which we live in? Possibly. It would be good.

It would be really good to find historical paralells to ancient and early Europe in Asia, countries or civilizations which weren't really centralized but weren't at the same time totally tribal either, which occupied a kind of mean between the two.

That way we could get out of this box of seeing, on the one side, the European features which developed in ways which eventually made possible a series of popular revolutions which reasserted popular control within a greater than tribal context, and seeing centralized Asian states where the best thing that you can get is exploring the sort of hidden localized culture lying under the strong central administration of the state.

Indonesia might be a place like that; there probably are or have been places like that in India but I just don't know enough about Indian culture or history to find them and, who knows, maybe elsewhere.

America itself furnishes little hope. I think, based on what I've read, which isn't everything by far, that either there were tribal societies which were integrated to one degree or another within the greater culture and economic structure of the American continent or there were religious based despotships which we really don't want to go about duplicating.

Again, although the tribal societies are interesting and valid on their own terms that isn't precisely where America came from and so they really don't help things in clarifying origins and pointing out possible bridges which might be made between indigenous and European cultures in America.

So, for the sake of argument, in this case, though not in general, other examples need to be found to shed light on 'the problem of the West', where it came from, where it's going, why, and how it can be reintegrated into the world scene. With all of its former colonies and tributaries of course.

Movie on Iraq.

If anyone wants to know about how we armed Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war during the eighties, when Saddam Hussein was in power, they should look up a movie that I believe is entitled "Doomsday Gun", with Frank Langella, which gives detailed explanations of it in the context of following the scientist, played by Langella, who was working with the U.S. government and with Iraq to develop a sort of super cannon which could deliver enourmous bombs to great distances. It's made by HBO, or was made by HBO, and is available on video, and from Amazon in fact if you want to head over there right now and get it....
Interesting corroboration for ideas current but unsubstantiated.

Reading the interesting and scary book "Dreamer of the Day", by Kevin Coogan, about the post-war international fascist scene some tibits about Joe McCarthy come up.

Turns out that Mr. McCarthy was on a committee, or in a group, that argued for the amnesty of SS men and other war criminals during the Nuremburg trials.

So...when people say that McCarthy was a Nazi there's more than a little truth in that statement....since he went out of his way to defend real Nazis who committed real crimes right after WWII when we fought a war against them....that ain't exactly some stupid kid in the country becoming some sort of idiot backwoods racist.

Barack Obama -- In Polish

And he has a webpage in Polish!

Always a plus for me, as, in fact, half of my family are from the Polish neighborhoods around Chicago....which Obama will be representing, in fact, even though they were really Hungarians who sort of passed themselves off as Polish...anyways.

It's a good thing.

Barack Obama -- Text of Speech to the Democratic National Convention

Finally, someone understands.

Thank god for this guy.

Although my endorsement is pretty much meaningless because of the extreme nature of this site, I'd support Barack Obama for president. He seems like a good guy from this speech.

Teresa Heniz-Kerry.

Born in Moçambique, would it really be that different to have someone from Portugese East Africa being the first lady of the United States?

I mean, Alexander Cockburn has called her a "child of empire", but I think that a more appropriate term is "child of colonialism" and that we're part of that tradition just like anyone else...

A Portugese East-African being first lady of a country founded by Anglo colonialists doesn't sound too out of this world.

Better use for oil.

I can't get over this image in Chalmers Johnson's "Sorrows of Empire" where the Zoroastrians around Baku in Azerbaijan used to use the oil in the ground there for ceremonial sacred fires.

That seems to be a good use for oil.

Set up some temples with sacred flames, get the Zoroastrians back, and chuck the SUVs.

I say this only partially tongue in cheek.
War with Europe. That's what I think an invasion of Iran would mean.

How long is Europe going to stand idly by while we encircle it with countries either directly controlled by us or under our dominance, with massive bases positioned on European soil as well?

At what point do you stop talking about 'humanitarian actions' and start talking abut power politics and regional dominance, because the U.S. is surely pursuing the latter while Europe is behaving as if it's pursuing the former and so doesn't have any reason to worry about the U.S.'s actions!

Yeah, the next humanitarian action the U.S. does, if we do make war against Iran, is going to be the E.U. Annexation project to liberate Europe from the tyranny of social democracy.

I can't believe that Europe just stands by without even a peep which would indicate an unwillingness to support or go along with the U.S.'s plans. They could do it, they could stone wall the U.S., and it would have amazing effects, but they're not doing it.

Or rather their leaders aren't because the people are, surely.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Possible consequences if we do invade Iran.

Well, to put it bluntly, if I was Europe I'd be watching this thing closely because if we do invade and takeover Iran Europe will be encircled by countries under U.S. dominance at which point the question of Europe taking defensive action to preserve its own sovereignty comes to the fore.

Invading Iran could mean war with Europe, and they'd be pretty justified in waging it, too.

Sabre rattling about Iran.

Now Iran is on the radar screen, or at least will be if we don't protest and make noise against another war.

I swear, at this point I half expect the Bush administration to argue for invading Iran on the grounds that it would avenge Horst Wessel's death.

Which is a nugget for our foreign readers as few Americans would probably understand.

The Nazis, of course, used bullshit like the death of the paramilitary street fighter Horst Wessel and other supposed affronts to German nationalism as excuses to wage war, persecute people, etc... all done within a certain smarmy self satisfied tone which the Bush administration is approximating quite well at this point.

I am not a wiccan.

Just want to make that clear.

I follow beliefs which are more common to the real old ways of England and similar countries with a smattering of Asian influenced religious beliefs and other European paganism thrown in.

We should really separate ourselves from these Wicca people....I have virtually nothing in common with them at this point and so have chosen to disassociate myself from Wicca.

Manorial culture.

That's what the South is, prett much. You could add a few turrets and old castles here and there and it would fit right in with the real agrarian, localized, sort of locked down, culture which exists there.

Maybe we should look for sources for agrarianism that don't rely on medieval europe....

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Hopi.

Saw some, a small part, of Hopi culture on my western trip.

I have to say that although the Hopi have been commercialized, idolized, fetishized, etc... by whites, the reason why it all started is still there.

The Hopi are different. I had the strangest feeling, in my brief contacts with Hopis and Hopi culture, that I was talking to people from Central Asia, or Western China, or that great region of Eastern Central Asia which encompasses, dare I say its name, Tibet, Xinjiang, Kyrghyzstan, etc...

I have no idea what the meaning of that is. Or I may. The Hopi claim to have escaped several previous worlds which were corrupted; maybe they're the survivors of a bigger civilization which had roots in Central Asia and which was once much more widespread than it is now.

I don't know.

El Paso.

On my whirlwind trip back out west I stopped in El Paso for the night, and it was a weird, dangerous, and interesting experience to say the least.

El Paso is essentially an Aztec town in America.

One thing, the Barnes and Noble in El Paso is the best that I've seen and it in fact beats many independent bookstores in terms of selection and scope. I literally walked around the place amazed thinking to myself that if I just had the El Paso bookstore I could've bought most of the books that I've needed to make this site right there. Which is quite a complement, to say the least.

And, drum roll please, although El Paso does have a college and a community college it's mostly a working class border town, right next to Ciudad Juarez, named after the Mexican reformer and politician Benito Juarez, I believe.

Which means that most of the people shopping in the El Paso buns and nubile are working class folks or the kids of working class immigrants from Juarez.

They're the ones who are fueling the good selection of stuff. Right on.

Bowled me over. They had book after book of Rudolph Carnap, the philosopher....most bookstores won't even touch Carnap except for a token book here and there because he's too damn tough. He's a logical positivist philosopher who'se written a lot on logic and other topics...

But they had book after book of Carnap.

I had lunch in an Indian restaurant in El Paso, which was surreal, because here is a person coming from one non-western culture, or a family coming from one non-western culture, and moving across the sea to another non-western culture.

I'd like to get some feedback on the experience of people from Bharat, India, living in an Aztec city. It would surely be interesting.

Then there's the whole thing about Indians from actual India coming and living in a place with people we call Indians in a land which we thought was India in the first place.

God, it was funny. The owners of the cheap motel I was staying at were joking among themselves that I was CIA or something.

Not quite, boys.

But that seems to be the type of place that El Paso is. Conspiracies seep from every corner.

I fealt lucky to get out of there as things are tense and my skin, which white people mistake sometimes for being that of a light skinned hispanic, wasn't going to save me when the shit went down.

Can't speak Spanish either, which is sort of a giveaway in a Spanish-Mexican town.

The place is a powder keg because of the extreme poverty and inequality; I wouldn't be surprised if riots break out there in the not too distant future.

Maybe then the people who put up the seedy strip joints around the edge of town offering Mexican girls will regret the disrespect that their chosen profession has created.

But I was just passing through as an observer to the whole situation.

Monday, July 26, 2004

The Germans hated the Jews because they benefitted from modern liberal democracy and were perceived as giving nothing back, mainly because they chose to remain jewish in some way instead of totally teutonizing themselves. And why should they have? It's an awfully unreasonable demand to make.

Nevertheless, the perception was that the jews had benefitted from modern democracy, liberalism, the parliamentary system, etc... and that regular Germans hadn't.

And that this system was in fact causing bad things to happen.

I don't believe the last part, it's somewhat inconsistant with the obvious admiration for the achievements of jews in liberalized Germany and Austria.

But be that as it may there are paralells between that conception and how liberals are treated in the U.S.

How many times have people said things like "You've had the benefit of living in the richest country in the world, with all the benefits of freedom that aren't available elsewhere, and yet you criticize it, and yet you turn your back on it and scorn it. How dare you. "

Liberals benefit from the obvious liberalization of the United States, but we serve also as a sort of odious subgroup of 'not real Americans', of people who live in a sort of slime of decadence, for a great number of True Blue Americans who no doubt see themselves as the heart of this country and as the guarantors of whatever freedom they think they have, and that we have.

'Love it or Leave it', is a common expression, the thought being that if you don't support the conservative cause you're not really a citizen of this country. You might have been born here and lived here all your life, as were your parents, grandparents, etc... but you aren't a real citizen to them and they think, deep down, that they can do whatever they want with you because they ARE real citizens and you just exist at their sufferance.

Thanks a lot Ashcroft.

In the absence of structures and traditions to explain how exactly the more modern world should exist in a sort of balance, the jews came to symbolize all that was wrong with modernity. The Communists offered no better program in that they wanted the country dominated and transformed in the image of the Soviet Union and the Social Democrats were dry as dust and not very inspiring.

Who's it going to be this time? Terrorists? People suspected of being anti-American and therefore pro-Terrorists?

The image of the Terrorist is expanding to include everyone percieved as being decadent and contributing to the poor quality of life in America. The Terrorist is taking on characteristics that the Jew did in Nazi propaganda and in Nazi Germany.

Will we all be forced to wear badges and be hounded into concentration camps?

It's not out of the question.

The difference between that reality happening and a more democratic and stable political and cultural reality coming out of this is you and me.
Cultural democracy or democracy in a way oriented towards the modern world.

The theorists who arose in France after the Napoleonic wars died down are very interesting in that they, people like Guizot, Constant (who was a little before that time actually), Michelet, the people in general who came about after the 1830 revolution, wanted to conceptualize a view of a modern society which was rich in content, not deracinated, but which also observed and incorporated the ideas of the Revolution and of modern democracy.

I think that their work is pretty important because it points to a way out of the deadlock which can arise between a liberal, yet essentially empty, version of human nature, on the one hand, and an ultra-conservative semi-feudalist view of how things should be, on the other.

You know, the experience of Germany weighs heavily on me.
It's really important to know what happened and why. Especially why and how Jews came to be demonized.

The tact that the Nazis and others used was that Jews represented a culture which was fundamentally opposed to the kind of traditional life that people thought existed. Werner Sombart articulated a historicist argument which went that there was a Jewish-Capitalist way of life and an indigenous German way of life which was based on non-capitalist, agrarian, values, and that the two were opposed. This layed the foundations for persecuting Jews as being the bearers of social dissolution.

In the face of the hardness of the modern world this idea formed the staging ground for radical solutions to alienation which drew on a semoi-mythical, integrated, German past, which said that if only we can totally go back to how things were before Germany was multi-cultural, read influenced by Jewish culture, then everything would be oK.

The French theorists, on the other hand, put forward an idea of society where the thought that other ethnic and religious groups were bearers of something different and therefore dangerous was nipped in the bud because the context allowed for anyone who wanted to participate to participate.

Jews, of course, are not the bearers of anything bad; what people reacted to was the condition of modern dissolution and the failure of any philosophy to come forward which could offer a viable solution to this dissolution; the Jews were reeling from the same forces that everyone else was since their emancipation in the 19th century.

After the dissolution of the German Reich, the Prussian empire, the last hope of having both a conservative state and a liberal state at the same time collapsed and while people were more than willing to put forward ideas for a new society, from the Communist or Social Democratic perspective, the basic reckoning with the change that the end of the Reich meant never happened. Because of this there appeared to be a vacuum with radical parties arguing on the one side and a flimsy parliamentary system on the other which could not incorporate the radical thought into itself in a stable way. Enter the fascists, who pointed out the weaknesses of the greater social system and pointed towards a radical solution to rectify the vacuum.

If there had been more of a tradition of seeing a sort of way out of it like the French theorists and historians offered Nazism might not have gained the ground that it did.

Why is this important?

Because the U.S. seems to be facing a similar situation.

We have a sort of semi-conservative tradition which didn't function well in the first place but has now collapsed totally, or is on its way to, because of the actions of our government post-9/11.

The veil has been torn off and it appears that underneath the conservative veneer of 'America Traditions' that very little exists.

So there are Bushistas, ineffectual liberals, and the progressive tradition, which is very good.

We're lucky in that in the years prior to 9/11 a real solid grassroots progressive tradition started to develop in the U.S. It's not overtly, table turning, radical as the Communists were, but instead based on some good values like community, democracy, equality, participation, etc...

In a way they're doing already what the French were doing post-Napoleon; I can only hope that this can continue. One thing, though, which would make it better, is if people payed more attention to the more cultural aspects of life and of democracy, in particular paying attention to the thought of people possessing different ways of life and different ways of thought living together in a sort of cultural democracy supported by a system which recognized more subtle rights as an extension of what they're already fighting for.

The arguments of the French are complex, but in a nutshell they broke from the established liberal tradition by rejecting bad materialism and instead recognizing that in a democratic society things which are more mental or subjective matter just as much as the liberal preoccupations with material explanations for individuals and for the world.

Equality, socialist equality in the form of housing and jobs and self management and social welfare, can't be justified by the traditional liberal materialism which argues from people as abstract units that have certain rights within an ordered society and nothing else.

Teleology and teleological arguments to justify socialist programs through backtracking and saying that, yes, decent housing flows from the realization of individual equality in the world, don't cut it because they inject the phrase 'the world', a sort of unknown which can mean anything, into a tradition which didn't really deal with 'the world' as such to begin with.

Instead, social rights were conceptualized by these people as not having a strictly philosophical basis but instead having as their base a combination of recognition of norms of human life, i.e. that we all have to live some place, eat, work, etc..., a kind of conservative respect for this ongoing chain of human existence based around localized activities, the recognition that the individual has a very strong presence in all of these matters and so naturally has individual rights, and a recognition that government or social programs don't have to be linked to the fullfilment of the liberal paradigm to succeed; they can be linked to all of the above and, pending the respect for individual rights,
can succeed brilliantly.

The more abstract things come into play when you realize that after taking the lid off life in the form of easing up on the liberal restrictions on what is permissible, things like art, music, education, literacy, the theater, people using their native tounges instead of the state sponsored one, and people choosing to live in their own way within the greater parliamentary and democratic system, become possible and become things that people clamor for.

As well they should.

The challenge is not to let the unleashing of all of this be destroyed, not to let the framework which makes it all possible be destroyed leaving people who clamor for more mental or non-material things to push radical demands in the absence of traditions and structures of government and society which could restrain and channel this new sort of awareness into more positive and socially integrative ways of life.

The Nazis are an example of what can hapen once, after the cat is out of the bag, everything which supported it in a good way collapses, leaving people not wanting to go back to how things were before, in classical liberal times, but not knowing how to go forward into a world where everything works together without strife or excessive alienation.

Nothing that the fascists said or wanted hadn't been said during the 19th century, the difference was that in the absence of restraining structures their demands were taken much, much, much farther than anyone had every advocated before and put into action in an ultra-extreme way which, of course, had terrible material, physical, psychological, consequences for the people who were the victims of it.

Adorno, Theodore Adorno, once wrote of WWII that 'This is what Hegel has led to', a strange thought considering that Adorno's philosophy drew heavily on Hegel itself, but a snide comeback fitting in with the post-WWII emerging Cold War mentality which sought to do exactly what I said above: to put the cat back in the bag.

The Cold War sought to eliminate every trace of 19th century demands and 19th century social and political philosophy and instead replace it with a cold scientific version of society which supposedly made Classical Liberalism work again. They thought that the 19th century was a sickness and that people who agreed with ideas from that time were mentally ill, irrational, and should be marginalized from society and from the political process.

So one person, writing shortly after WWII, blithely categorzes Goebbels as being both Schizophrenic and Schizopathic, or some such label, meaning both insance and psychopathic at the same time.

How easy people who are the victors can demonize those who they fought against when their tanks are occupying the land which they vanquished.

To say that Goebbels was schizophrenic is to avoid the issue of why a Goebbels was able to build up the Nazi party and serve as the designated justifiyer of the Third Reich in a way which convinced quite a lot of people that Germany was really just another normal country pursuing normal ends, but in a different way.

Saying that the person, whose diaries reveal that he was extremely sane and lucid, was schizophrenic dodges the question of 'Why?' entirely and instead puts us back into the situation of enforcing a hard core foundationalist political philosophy amenable to American style cold war capitalism back into play as being the norm from which everything else which departs is wrong and irrational.

A great philosophy for the victors; however now we're Germany, and the sugar of cold war analytic philosophy is growing pretty bitter. We're going to have to have a sort of real reckoning of our own with these ideas or we will suffer the same fate as Germany under the Nazis and we will never realize why it happened.

Analytic Cold War social philosophy doesn't mean that much when you have people in power who don't give a damn about the meaning of an 'Open Society' and would cheerfully turn the U.S. into the most closed, tradition, authority, bound society that can exist if they were given the chance, which, in a way, they have been.

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, says Santayana. This could be modified to 'Those who mock the past are doomed to live it'.

Hence the need of some real thought, further thought, advancing further along lines that have already been established, by progressives, about the nature of society, if we want to avert disaster.

Michael Moore and Follow the Leader

I don't criticize people based on personal opinion, there has to be some reason for it. In the case of Michael Moore he appears to be a nice guy, funny, and I've actually seen him in person giving a speech in Naders Democracy Rising tour back in 2002. He's also from my home state.

But, you know, there's been a really disturbing trend with Michael Moore lately and it revolves around being so pro-patriotic that you verge on going over the edge into something not that positive. Like the response that he gave to this person who was in the military and had booed him when he saw Moore at the Academy Awards but then loved Fahrenheit 9/11; the guy said he felt guilty, to which Michael Moore responded, I'm paraphrasing, "What do you feel guilty about? Trusting your leaders? People should trust their leaders."

Or something really similar, point being that Mr. Moore is now going around almost saying that being patriotic means falling in line with el-leader and not saying about the idea that Presidents are 'Leaders' rather than elected public servants and that we shouldn't follow 'Presidents' because they are supposed to be working for us.

Remember that Michael? That Presidents are our employees and not the other way around and that talking about giving allegiance to them in the way you're describing brings us perilously close to a legitmation of dictatorship, if not done by the right then by the left.

The idea that we have these 'leaders' which it's natural to support and fall into line with belongs to another time. I haven't seen King Arthur on the American throne in quite a while, to put it bluntly.

Why not, if you happen to read this blog every now and again, or have friends that do, think about the fact that we need to point out how our democracy---remember, that grass roots thing?---is being subverted and can only be rebuilt by citizens working together from the bottom up....and that allegiance to presidents in the way you describe violates that principle up and down the board and even impedes it's progress by encouraging apathy and passive, vicarious participation in the political process rather than real engagement.

How about it?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Porn wars.

Weirdly, it seems that a few of these online porn companies require that their people sending out the spam actually read the posts of the sites that they spam so that they can put a more personal touch on it, and this site is one of those that gets the treatment.

Which is really funny.

That someone is paid to read this site just to find an interesting subject line for porn spam.

I can understand the, uh, government, doing it, but it gives me a sort of sadistic satisfaction to know that there's some guy in a cubicle being ordered to read this site for no other reason than to just send interesting porn advertisements.

Ah, a while ago the porn people were sending me messages like "Summerisle, my head hurts" because they were being forced to read this site and they didn't like the effort. I kid you not.

Today, in reference to the Italian theme of several posts, one porn person ended the subject with a reference to me as a Romano, an Italian from the Rome region.

Actually, to set the record straight, the Italian component of my family is from Lombardy, but if anything I'm much closer to the Napoletano part of Italy than to Lombardy, for reasons which I can't divulge...

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Here's a link to the preface of "Book of Pleasures" Book of Pleasures
I'm back in the Pacific Northwest, greater Seattle area.


Back home, sit down and patch my bones and get that truckin' ah-on the road.

Don't know what to say at this point:

Found two really good books by Raoul Vaniegem, one of which is online.

"The Movement of the Free Spirit", a book about an anarchist anti-capitalist free love cult in the 13th century, and much more, is really good.

the "Book of Pleasure", which is available online, promises to be really good.

Strange how Vaniegem, who with Debord was one of the two intellectual lights of the Situationist movement, hasn't been getting any press in the 'hipper' academic bookstores while Debord's letters and frickin' movie reviews have even been reprinted.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, as Vaniegem explains in his intro to "Movement", he wrote "Book of Pleasure" as a corrective to "Revolution of Everyday Life" in order to put his money where his mouth was and to scare away people who just wanted to bullshit about Situationist ideas like they were a new fad.

I think his strategy worked.

Anyways, they're good books and they totally fit in with the paradigm of this site, which is surprising, and really cool, since I didn't know Vaniegem was interested in this sort of stuff....

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Lost Highway Times Road Trip, pt. 1

Like I said in a previous post, I've said Sayonara to Florida and am returning to the Pacific Northwest after being gone for a month and a half.

I'm writing this from San Francisco; in two days I'll be back home in the Seattle area.

It's been a weird and wonderful trip, by car I should say, across the South, the Southwest, and now into Northern California and onto the PacNW.

Strange things happened; saw someone who was a cousin spontaneously in Flagstaff, which is very strange for me..Found out that the eastern Mojave desert isn't quite as hot as southern Louisiana in July, which was quite humid, hot, and hellish, although the scenery was, of course, beautiful.

Yes, south LA is a place where, when driving across it, you can see the beads of sweat form individually on your arms over each pore, then grow into rain drop sized gobs.

New Mexico was spectacular, although I think that the anti-hippy sentiment of the police and many of the locals somewhat marrs it.

Strange things in San Fran. Had a great time earlier today exploring North Beach, Viva Italia!. Made the trip to City Lights bookstore where I found a rare Mircea Eliade book which had been out of print for twenty years...
Then was having a sandwhich outside of an Italian deli when Michael Aquino of the Temple of Set walked by me in a blue sport jacket furtively talking on his cell phone about commercial matters.

I've never met the man personally but I recognized him from a Sally Jesse show

Friday, July 16, 2004

Sorrows of Colonialism.
It came to me, driving, what all of this American Traditions and getting a political tradition from the American way adds up to, or rather what a huge weakness is: we're essentially a product of European colonialism, so the idea that we could lead the world with a new and revolutionary political idea is somewhat farcial, just as farcial as someone from the Republic of South Africa saying "You know, before Apartheid the white settlers of the RSA had some really groovy ideas about how society should be organized and everyone should pay attention to it."
Maybe they did, I don't know, but the point is that the overwhelming history of South Africa overpowers any unique development in terms of political structure or creativity.
In a phrase, there are bigger factors at work.
Same with the United States.
So how do we get beyond the inheritance of colonialism and beyond being part of the colonial sphere, generalized, to being part of the world community?
My idea, which is piss poor but is an idea nonetheless, is that we can start with being absolutely clear about our political beliefs: this means defining democracy, defining rights, defining how our political system works or how we think it should work explicitly instead of relying on the inherited tradition, which is really an inheritance from colonialism via, of course, English Common Law, to guide us.
The insipidity of the American Commonlaw tradition is that it avoids real statements of beliefs while denying that it hides behind the weight of European authority to give it validity.
We should be explicit as possible and not depend on the coattails of colonialism to define our political structure for us.
Once things are made explicit then they can be argued with other people, around the world, for better or for worse, but not before.
America and Ideas.
I'm a little depressed about things. If you want me to level with you about what I think this country needs, what might be the only thing that'll save this country, I'll tell you: a Socialist Revolution, no more, no less

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Oh yeah, and a happy (belated) Bastille Day to the Counterpunch website points out.
Oh, I have to correct myself; it's not 'The Jena' that I meant it's the Jura, the Jura region of western Switzerland where Kropotkin lived and gathered a sort of confederal utopian society around him, before moving to Paris and becoming the Grandfather, after Proudhon of course, of the Parisian and French anarchist movement.

Jena is the city in Germany where Hegel taught.


The thing that people should know about anarchism, but which they constantly fuck up with, is that it's not just a catch-all term for being a rebel etc... but an 'ism' of its own, with very clearly guidelines and a very clear tradition.

Once that's established you can decide if you're an anarchist or not or whether you want to incorporate some of the anarchist views on life and society into your own belief system.

What's wrong with this "Anarchism is anything you want it to be" line is that, well first it's just factually wrong, but more importantly if something is everything than it's nothing.

If you can't define something by what sets it apart from something else then by all rights as an idea it doesn't exist, although you might have a strong personal feeling about whatever exactly it is you think your idea is etc...

Anarchism is no exception. 'Methodological Anarchism', which is what some people have perverted Noam Chomsky's personal philosophy of anarchism into, isn't a way out either.

Methodological Anarchism is the belief that anarchism is a method of engaging the world and not an actual political tradition on the left and so to be an Anarchist all one has to do is to engage in leftist social criticism and living from an Anarchist perspective or method...which means pretty much saying "The state is usually bad, capitalism is usually bad, and anything which generally and roughly rejects both fits the methodology of anarchism and so one has to go no further than that".

Chomsky's actual views are somewhat different, from what I can tell, but the idea of anarchism more as a tendency and as a method was lifted from an interview in which he said as much.

The reasoning behind it, from what I can tell, has to do with his enlightenment distrust of authority and doesn't mean "Just do something anarchistic and you're cool", but people don't pick up on these things.

There's been a lot of interest in anarchism lately and some of the more retrograde and insular parts of the anti-globalization movement have tried to capitalize on this. The worst example of actions like this came at the 2002 World Social Forum in Brazil, I believe, where some guy, no doubt infatuated by Toni Negri and 'Empire' but ignorant totally of realities on the hard left came up and gave a speech where he said "You're all part of the Anarchist International, just by being here you're part of it, anyone who wants to join just has to agree that they're part of it and they are, the entire anti-globalization movement is part of the anarchist international". On and on.

Besides the fact that an 'Anarchist International' does not in fact exist the pomposity of the speaker, who seemed to want to define anarchism by some philosophical slight of hand instead of actually looking at it, was amazing. From the transcripts I read since, of course I didn't actually go down there.

No, it's not just 'cool to be an anarchist' or an opt-in preposition or something where if you follow a general 'anarchistic' view of things you're then and there an anarchist.

This is a venerable political tradition which has roots in a whole lot of places, from Italy and Spain to South America to some affiliated movements in Germany and Holland, from Paris and rural France to Switzerland and the Jena, and you don't 'opt in' any more than you'd 'opt in' to the Communist Party, to take a really bad example, because you thought that Communism was cool.

So let Anarchy speak for itself and don't be caught up in the wish fulfillment fantasies of gutter punks and poverty faddists who're doing the slumming thing.

If you want to see what Anarchism is really about check out two books, both by Paul Avrich: "Anarchist Voices" and "The Haymarket Martyrs". Anarchist Voices is a record of Avrich's conversations with all these old Anarchists that he tracked down talking about the movement in it's heyday and about their beliefs. Haymarket Martyrs is about the life and philosophies of the people who were hanged for the Haymarket Massacre, which is what started May Day.

The Haymarket Massacre happened when someone in a very large anarchist demonstration in Chicago in the late 19th century threw what we would now call a grenade, back then it was called a bomb, at a police officer.

People were killed and the police cracked down on the radical left in Chicago really hard.

But the kicker, and the reason why the Haymarket Martyrs book is really good, and the reason why they're called the Haymarket Martyrs and why Mayday was named after them, is that the people they arrested and hanged for the incident were not the people who actually threw the thing and killed the people.

No, when the Chicago police cracked down they arrested, railroaded, and hanged, the most prominent editors of anarchist papers, the most visible speakers, and in general the people who were most known, on the grounds that these people inspired whoever threw the bomb.

So the leaders who were executed were all actually quite good writers, interesting thinkers, and good political organizers with interesting histories, not thugs that go around doing random violence, and their stories and their words are therefore really valuable in understanding what was going on in that time.

Check out both books if you want to know what Anarchism is really about and find out if you really agree with it or not. Look at the real thing instead of falling for the counterfeit propaganda that self styled anarchists put out there on the web these days.

Ken Lay in prison....

It would be really funny if Ken Lay came out of prison making support for prison rape advocacy organizations a prime place he invests his money...

Play it as it Lays...

Oh, and about morality improving society....

I doubt that conservatives would actually be able to solve complex moral questions if it was put to them. This talk about improving morals and preserving values rings somewhat hollow when people realize that the people talking about preserving values have about as much awareness of what these 'values' really entail as does an immature ape.

Case in point, the Afghan war. Here in the wake of 9/11 was a great opportunity for these moral thinkers to really demonstrate that they had a grasp of moral reasoning and impress us all with their deft decisionmaking and policy skills.

Instead these geniuses couldn't realize that people in Afghanistan who were Afghanis didn't have moral responsability for 9/11 and that the Taliban didn't include the Afghani people as a whole.

Talks about the humanitarian crisis which would ensue if bombing happened and about the unjustness of probable civillian casualties inflicted as part of the bombing never happened.

They didn't seem to be particularly concerned that a population which depended for a lot of it's basic needs on the Red Cross and on humanitarian aid organizations would have that fragile framework cut out from under it and suffer starvation and total lack of any medical treatment because of bombing making it impossible for the aid organizations to get in.

What sort of moralist fails to take into account even the basic idea that a population shouldn't have to starve to death for the deeds of dictators that rule it with an iron fist, and fails to think that initiating actions which will cause such starvation warrant anymore scrutiny than
a simple black-white, "They hurt us we can hurt them" equation?

So to those who say that conservative values in America would improve society I'd like to ask them to refrain from making such arguments while the conservatives they talk about have no idea what values are beyond the basic propaganda which they create and are fed by the righteously ignorant popular conservative media.

If your idea of helping improve public morality is to bring back corporal punishment at all levels in the school system as a sort of 'get tough' measure, for example, if you believe, in other words, that if you just beat kids enough that they'll behave, you're a moral leper who has no right to preach morality and moral improvement and conservative values improving society to the rest of us.

Individual responsability and social justice.

You may wonder why I don't address tyrades against the personal immorality and corruptness of George W. Bush or his cronies. It's not because I like the people, but rather that that sort of thing has a lot of hypocracy about it.

As members of society we have a certain minimum of requirements that have to be obeyed for the common good of all, things like don't kill people, don't commit crimes, don't cheat people don't abuse people, things like that. Obey the laws of the land within reasonable bounds.

But that doesn't cover personal morality, no matter how much we'd like to think it does. No matter how much a bastard a person is, if they obey the laws of the land people shouldn't be able to touch them. That's what living in a liberal democracy is all about.

I think that the whole issue of hyper-analyzing ones personal conduct in this manner is a perversion of the Kantian system of ethics which puts extreme emphasis on not doing anyone 'injustice'. No one in a free society should have to live up to the criteria of never in their lives treated someone unjustly in order to live a free life without being attacked on a personal level.

Now, social justice is another matter. Social justice is a realm above that of the basic laws of the land where principles and standards do count, but see the difference between working for a socially just society and working for one which emphasizes the maximum of moral and personal purity for the individuals involved, or else.

In the first case you have something concrete and definable beyond the level of individual tastes and preferences for which to base your judgement on----poverty, housing, malnutrition, health care, environmental safety, jobs---while in the second case you don't.

Everyone should work towards being a good person and being an upright person---on the personal level---but I think that this is something that ultimately is up to the individuals involved, and possibly their families, to deal with, not for society to get involved with. We can spread moral education, and awareness of basic moral principles should be more widespread, and intervene as individuals but, you know, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Social justice provides a better mark on which to hang your hat if you want to improve things for the world.

Which is why I'm not overly concerned with the personal life of GW, whether he kicks dogs in his spare time, etc.. except as it effects the running of the nation and the policies that he's implementing. Greed is surely a motivating factor, but greed is better understood in the context of the companies and the corporations within which greedy little people operate than in the person of the greed possessed alone

They matter, but they wouldn't be anywhere without Haliburton and it's ilk.

Social justice can be considered the replacement of the Enron way of doing things with a community centered and just way of doing things.

Once that's what's being worked for individual personalities can be contained and prevented from doing harm, particularly if structural changes are made in the way things operate to make it harder for people who want to act in these fashions to be able to do so on a personal level.

Social justice is something that we can hang our hats on; crusades for personal morality aren't.

All of this is a way, I guess, of saying "Sayonara!". I'm blowing of Florida and coming back to the West Coast post-haste. The writing will, of course, continue in full force, in fuller force than it has been and hopefully as full as it will ever be.
Writing only works by the means of validating inner experiences, it only advances when more inner experiences are validated, thereby causing the audience to recollect in themselves things which they may not have thought of in a critical way before. Therefore, validate as many inner experiences as you possibly can in your writing and then worry about the why and where's of it. Or don't worry about it at all. It is, after all, what you experience as a human being and that's self validating.
The most pathetic creature on the planet is a writer who pontificates and who draws most of his social circle from syncophants who are convinced that he's a genius and who interact with him as 'Herr Writer' instead of as Joe or Tom or Bill or whoever.

Fuck the guise of being a 'Writer' with a big W. I want to be a communicator, no adjectives needed to be added.

I used to get pissed when radical writers would come through town and give workshops or talks where they made a point of saying 'I'm not a writer, I'm not a big figure, I want this whole thing to be interactive and to involve you', but you know what? It's the stone cold truth. Because a lot of what goes into this whole business is just an act, but people don't see the acting, they only see the dazzling style and think about the ideas now and again, but it's the style and the presentation that puts the wall between people and the person doing it.

Style is wonderful, it can be a wonderful thing, a joy to read, etc... but it covers up the fact that people who write are just people engaged in an activity which is done by pursuing a fixed number of steps and executed in much the same way that any job is.

Writing isn't some sort of unknowable strike of lightning, it's a vocation like any other...but with the difference that since it deals with media it gets into people's heads in a way that, say, producing car parts doesn't, and that tricks people into thinking that there's more to it because there's this faux-personal relationship which is the fact that you don't just see the media but absorb it into your mind and have a mental, conscious, connection with it. But it's all the same.
The veil should be torn so that real whatever can get through, the whatever which is indicated as being potentially what media and writing can be but which is dammed up and not pursued because of niceties regarding communication.

Which isn't to say go on and blather in free verse which means nothing, but that communication should be sacrificed for the greater power which comes from communicating reality to other human consciousnesses. Take it all the way and then see if there's a problem, not see if there's a problem, self censor yourself, and never know if what you had to say might fire someone up in a way which otherwise would never have happened.

Yeah, I don't want to just communicate with people who think of themselves as anonymous blog readers but break through that to get to people who read this thing as people, as the people that they themselves are when they aren't reading blogs and are instead interacting with....other people.

Other People.

A concern of this blog, or at least what would be nice, would be to engage Other People in thinking or in at least participating in alternative culture.

What do I mean by Other People? Well, the way I see it is that there's life and then there's the passive satisfaction that people get by reading an intellectual blog like this and chewing it over in their minds.

Life is much faster and harder than passive satisfaction and I'd rather play to life than to that, but to do that you have to break the rules of conventional journalism, shall we say, and move up to a higher, faster, way of doing things.

Then you can actually engage people instead of engaging them in their cerebellums for a little while with an intellectual essay, not that that isn't important, but to break into the stream of life and have words and ideas penetrate the living river which composes real society is a goal which I think is worthwhile, if, at the same time capable of coexisting with intellectual essays.

In the mental life people are slack. In the real life people are much harder because they need to be; you don't get anything done by sitting on your ass and meditating to nothing because eventually you have to engage the real world to support yourself and get the basis for life covered.

So lets not be coy about the legitamacy or need for a higher power sort of social journalism. It's neccesary and works because that's how people live.

It won't fail because failure would be a condemnation of the life that we all live when we're away from our computers and talking to our friends.

That's why I like to write things oriented towards Other People on top of things which are speculative and academic, but valuable nonetheless.

I mean, I've devoted over two years to that sort of thing and am not going to stop now, but maybe more balance coming paradoxically out of turning up the heat with the intensity of stories and the zest and rawness in which they're presented and told is needed to breath some lfie back into things as well.

Playing to an audience of inter-subjectivity is a worthy task.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I've noticed something about being offended, that is, that it's the privelege of the rich.

I don't mean getting upset because of racial slurs directed to you or upset because of insults directly thrown at you but 'offended' because in the conversation you're having with someone they've said something which you can read into as violating some code and therefore be offensive.

The Right has it and the Left has it. On the Right you say the wrong thing and you're accused of being anti-freedom, anti-patriotic, and generally non-appreciative of the greatness of our country. On the Left you say the wrong thing and you're accused of being anti-tolerant and not compassionate enough. Both are scams perpetrated by those with the luxury to persecute others who don't have the means to defend themselves.

It happens like this: guy from a working class background at a school walks into a party with people he knows and they engage in conversation about politics; they hate his clothes his face and his accent; when he says something like "I'm for feminism but I think that a whole bunch of people have taken it down the wrong track or I'm for abortion rights but you know people have a point in not wanting excessive abortions" the hounds pounce.

Surely you're offending our sensibilities! You must be a) racist b) sexist c)masculine asshole....never minding the fact that in backroom conversations the same people who do the denouncing express the sentiments that they're opposing with genuiness and spunk, and gratuitous joy.

The person gets plastered as being outre and dismissed from the presence.

The issue was the face, the clothes, the accent, the background, not the 'offensiveness' of the statement. But power works like that; if you can exercise your own prejudices against someone while making it appear that you're playing the good guy you have power over them. Or at least you think you do until the person get's back into town and confronts you on the street one of these days and knocks your front teeth out....but anyways.

It's an exercise of power, power exercised by class which is covered up by willing co-conspirators. Everyone who goes along with the 'offensiveness' bit knows what's up and knows that they're fucking you over. They can do that. You can't do that to them and get away with it because you have nothing, no backing, no family connections, no influence.

So offensiveness is about the most trite issue that's ever been raised; it's a great way of directing conversation away from uncomfortable topics at dinner parties and keeping the 'intellectual' banter in the media focussed on bourgeois shit which doesn't matter and which doesn't make anyone uneasy.

And it kills the creative impulses of the culture that it dominates. Look at the vast wasteland that is American intellectual culture right now. The Conservatives didn't do all of this. The liberals, who supposedly want to dominate the media with unaccetable ideas yada yada took their very real hegemony and used it to play status games with fashionable authors and ideas instead of playing up to their billing as being destroyers of civilization, which isn't that bad of a thing in the long run...but anyways.

If American intellectual culture sucks it's because the liberals have abdicated from real conversation in order to preserve their status as 'important' people (from privleged white bread backgrounds) from the onslaughts of the unwashed immigrant masses who've read a book or two and actually understand the things that these bastards just front about.

Yeah, so 'Offensiveness' can sit and spin on my brown Italian cock for all I care.

Ed Abbey.

Edward Abbey had a good and entertaining idea for immigration policy, as recounted in the excellent book "America First!", put out by Prometheus Press. Now, Abbey and I differ in that I consider the Southwest to be part of Mexico and therefore that the Mexicans and the Natives have a right to it really isn't 'Illegal Immigration''s their land, after all.

But Abbey, not a racist, opposed it because it would change the culture of the Southwest. He had an innovative solution:

Give every Campesino who comes across the border illegally a rifle and a box of shells and send them back into Mexico "They'll know what to do", says Abbey.

I think this is extraordinarily funny, as it hits the heart of why people are trying to get into the United States from Mexico.

It's also really humourous in its own right since few people would have the balls to suggest such a thing.

Ah, on other notes, I'm trying to be the craziest motherfucker out here but I'm facing stiff competition from Emmett Grogan. Read his book Ringolevio to find out why. I have to get busy if I'm going to try to break his record for sheer chaotic living and anarchism....

Ringolevio by Ennett Grogan. Required Reading. 'nuff said.

FBI and Homeland Security---personal encounters.

Now, I don't publicize my name or where exactly I'm located etc... etc... on this blog not to prevent the authorities from knowing---because they probably already know and me concealing things won't stop them---but to keep right wing wackos from harassing me.

Before I go into this I'd like to emphasize that my experience with an FBI agent and a chance encounter with my local Homeland Security official didn't come about because of this website but because I happened to be associated with a local political insitution that no doubt garners their attention. Both encounters happened at and were related to this said institution, which I won't name or tell you where it is/was.

Ah, the FBI encounter was interesting, mainly because the guy didn't introduce himself as FBI but as a counter-cultural person who was interested in the work that the place I encountered him at was doing..because of this he was really informal and gave an interesting picture of what the inner workings of a person who comes in many cases from the left but nevertheless works for the government look like.

I'm 99.99% sure that this person was FBI because he entered our institution, hung out, volunteered to do a lot of maintenance work, chatted people up for hours, and then left and never returned, leaving people, particularly me, to put together the pieces about why he was asking the certain questions he asked...

The insight is this: this guy, who I won't name and won't give any sort of description of, was the son of a Berkeley professor and grew up in Berkeley. There isn't any reason to doubt that this was anything but genuine. He was really into ecology and really into sustainable living, agriculture, etc... and had a real and thorough knowledge of it.

Into the conversations he had it came out that 1) he had gotten a masters in criminal justice and that 2) the reason, or what appeared to be the motivating reason for this was the fact that, while still having green sympathies, he moved to a very violent area of Oakland where gangs and drugs were ever present and where a person was shot outside the door to his appartment building.

This seemed to convince him that greater issues were at work and that, no matter what alternative background he came from, that the realities of crime and of violence were such that he had some justification in trying to prevent it or to work against those percieved to be spreading lawless violence.

In terms of politics this broke down pretty clearly for him. While being really open and genuine about his green beliefs when he started talking to me the line seemed to be drawn on the issue of whether or not I liked Ward Churchill or agreed with his stands on things.

This is somewhat understandable as Ward, and, forgive me, I don't know the guy personally, takes very public controversial stands on things like violence and could concievably be construed by the powers that be as being a promoter of lawless and uncontrollable violence against the state, society, capitalism, etc... although I don't believe that that's what he actually advocates---people, particularly people in power, just see that he puts his neck out for controversial issues and draw their own conclusions based on that.

But the issue of Ward Churchill seemed to fit into the Agents paradigm of "Good Left=people working for positive chage, Bad Left=People who are promoting extreme measures recklessly and getting kids into something that they know nothing about and which is bad for society".

The thought seemed to be that Ward Churchill's writings would spawn a group of anarchists which would, infatuated by his willingness to say what is otherwise unsayable on the Left, take it as a license to fuck shit up and generally hurt society.

That's what the person was concerned about, although I'm sure that if I hadn't answered all of his questions evasively and had instead expressed support for Churchill he would have considered me one of The Enemy and would have had no moral compunctions about locking me up or seeing that things happened which led to my arrest.

Which isn't very nice.

It's especially not nice to judge people like that or to force your own opinions about people's political beliefs on others when you have the capability of putting them in jail for long long periods of time.

So your prejudices become my jail time.


But nevertheless it offered a good insight into the mind of an FBI agent, indeed, of how someone good reconcile being one of the Feds while considering yourself a progressive at the same time.
In the words of Medea Benjamin, though, who was during the Seattle protests one of the people who had anarchists arrested for property destruction but has since changed her ways, I think at least, "People on the Left have got to realize that since the Patriot Act and since 9/11 the potential consequences to people for collaborating with the police in policing other demonstrators are potentially devastating. These people aren't your friends and thinking that you can work with them to maintain peace will only lead to them knocking on your door and could concievably lead to the people you rat on being subject to the full out wrath of the state. So don't do it. " I'm paraphrasing Medea Benjamin here.

The encounter with my local Homeland Security Officer was much less
dramatic. He showed up at our local institution and after examing it for a while introduced himself as the local Homeland Security guy, who was just flown in from a totally different area of the country to give training and direction to the local police regarding counter-terrorism, and offered, amazingly, to share with us any news of potential threats which came through his office." So far this institution hasn't heard about any potential threats from this guys office although I'm sure he's monitoring us for potential threats.

But these guys are out there and I've actually seen one in the flesh, so be warned.

Funny did a Google search for this site.

One of the links that came up had a subtitle of "Technically Insane?"

Technically! Hardly!

Clinically is more like it!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Things which people shouldn't have to be told.

OK, in an attempt to balance out the turgid theoretical aspects of my writing with revolutionary sexiness I'll contribute this tidbit:

Things that people shouldn't ever have to be told #1 No Returns on Sex Toys.

This should be obvious.

If you've rammed a twelve inch dildo up your lover's ass you shouldn't come back expecting the store to take it back.

Vibrators with female secretions apply in this category as well.

However, I think that it's mainly men who would be the ones actually stupid enough to try to take back a sex toy, so I leave it at that....

Sexiness and the Left.

The below posts contribute to my continuing project to make the left sexy again.

Really subversive, attractive, all the rest.

The left really is subversive, but subversitivity is irreducible. You can't go out saying "OOOH, I read GRAMSCI, he was a COMMUNIST, OOOOH, I'm so subversive". It doesn't work like that.

Real subversitivity is always threatening to the powers that be, unlike Stalinist boot-licker Gramsci.

If this blog contributes anything I'd like it to contribute that the left can be fun and really radical....authentically. Not by saying "Hey, isn't Trotsky cool? Trotsky was THE MAN, homeboy, you know. If he was alive today he'd be breakdancing and beatboxing down in the South Bronx".

No, he wouldn't.

But the left radical current, in its authentic form, is still out there. However, it's not comfortable or particularly likeable to people who aren't really into that sort of thing. And it shouldn't be either.

So you've been warned.
So dont' get on my case about liking Laibach, a group that uses Nazi imagery to point out the uncomfortable similarities between that period and our own, and between that and Communist Yugoslavia (and Slovenia).

Real creativity doesn't play by the rules, or else it would never be creative.
Negativity, then and now.

Some people say that kids today are too negative, that the counter-cuture, as it exists, goes too far and is negative bordering on vicious.

I beg to differ.


There's an incident which happened to Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac at Columbia University. It involves them getting disciplined.

Now, most of the straight biographers of Ginsburg will tell you that they were reprimanded (they were roommates) for displaying signs with obscenities on their windows.

Some people will even venture to say that the truth is that they were reprimanded because the obscenity in question was 'Fuck!'.

But that's not the whole story. It's amusing to think of Ginsburg in his later days trying to pan off the whole thing as kids writing nasty words on paper and putting them on their windows, like saying 'fuck' or 'shit' or cacca peepe poopoo is something other than immature vulagarity and that that is what the Ginsburg-Kerouac group were up to then.

No, the truth is that what they wrote and were reprimanded for was writing "Fuck the Jews!" in big letters and putting it on their window.

This while World War II was going on, and while Ginsburg, Jewish himself of course, was a Communist and the son of a Communist agitator mother and a more subdued Socialist father.

So, no, the kids of today are no more negative than the kids of yesterday; the only difference is that they haven't made it big and gotten the opportunity to rewrite their histories for public consumption yet.


My first recorded ancestor in the United States came to the U.S. from the Palatine in Germany in the late 17th century, probably fleeing religious persecution.

How nice, then, to know that the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany is now a virtual military colony of the United States.

Nice in the same way that stomach-turning and vomiting is nice.

Another interesting tidbit, thanks to Chalmers Johnson.

Turns out that Condoleeza Rice's doctoral dissertation was entitled "The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance".

Surely there's some irony in this as she most definitely studied the career of Alexander Dubcek in putting together the thesis.

He was the author of Prague Spring policies in '68 before the Soviet tanks rolled in.

The ideas of Dubcek seemed to have whizzed right over her head.
Say hi to your new leader.

Sorrows of Empire reveals that the U.S. Military has set up a North American command with its own commander. Not a big deal because, well, doesn't the U.S. Military already, um, live in the United States?

Well it is a big deal because this guy isn't just a commander of a base or in the armed forces but has regional jurisdiction over the U.S., Candada, Mexico, and Cuba. We didn't have Northern Command, as it's called, before 9/11 because, well, we have something called Congress and the House of Representatives and didn't feel the need to install a military commander whose job it was to oversea the operations of the U.S. in the case of a state of emergency.

But we do now!

His name is General Ralph G. Eberhart and his job is to organize military rule in the U.S. in the case of national emergency.

He's the guy who'l be in charge most likely if this country ever goes to military dictatorship.

Ah, the Sorrows of Empire.

Continuing revelations from Chalmers Johnson's book. Details the existence of something called the AMBO pipline which goes across the Balkans. AMBO stands for Albanian, Macedonian, Buglarian Oil. The pipeline connects the Adriatic with the Black Sea and the idea is that oil is going to be gotten from the Caspian Sea, transported west to the Black sea, over the Black sea to Bulgaria, then across Macedonia and Albania to a port on the Adriatic where it'll be shipped to Europe and the U.S.

So in other words the AMBO pipeline completes a circuit that runs from Baku in Azerbaijan, across either Azerbaijan or Georgia then across the Black Sea, to Bulgaria, across the Balkans, and then out onto the Adriatic, which is the part of the Mediterranian between Italy and the Balkan penninsula.

The whole thing is being guarded by an extensive new series of bases, included Camp Bondsteel in Albania which is about a thousand acres of heavily fortified camp...supposedly there to help out with logistics for peacekeepers in the Yugoslav civil wars but way, way, way, more advanced and developed than that. Couldn't have to do with the oil pipeline, could it?

Also, the AMBO pipeline cuts out using Turkey and Turkish ports for shipping the oil, instead using weak post-Soviet states which are, pretty much at the instigation of the U.S., riddled with corruption, bankrupt, and pliable.

Not that the people of these states have anything to do with that, but they haven't had much of decisive voice in their own affairs for the last half century.

Anyways, it's a great arrangement for keeping post-Soviet states poor, corrupt, and authoritarian, and non-responsive to their own citizens,and under the thumb of the U.S.

Turkey, a formal democracy although it continues to commit human rights abuses against its own people, can possibly resist, like it did when the Turkish parliament voted down using Turkish bases and airspace, and ports, for the Iraq war following the publicity surrounding an American cartoonist who compared Turkey to a whore in a positive manner.

He wasn't saying "Turkey is America's whore, what a shame" he was saying "Look guys, Turkey is our bitch and we can do with her what we want", which the Turkish people didn't like all that much.

The insular middle class in America is probably the biggest obstacle to democracy we have. They are the ones who support Bush with a straight face. Middle class is middle class, no matter where you are. We aren't a middle class nation because....the middle class is a sort of parasite on the working class and depends on them for its very existence. How can we be a nation of parasites without anyone supplying the blood?

WorkingForChange-Middle class feels squeeze

Middle class feels the squeeze? Fuck the middle class! Let them be squeezed out of existence! I can't believe that progressive sites still think that you can be pro-worker, pro-left, and pro-bourgeois...meaning middle the same time.

The problem isn't just rich folks, people; it's also the middling stratum of syncophants which takes their paychecks, hates workers, and doesn't give a damn about anything except themselves.
Mr. Cosby, Stop Blaming the Victim

Come on, is this any surprise? Everyone knew that Bill Cosby was an Uncle Tom.

Actually, I've found that the song is called "Live is Life", which is actually a much better translation than "Life is Life", which is unclear, and that it's by Opus, an Austrian band, and that Laibach covered it on Opus Dei.

Inspiring song from Laibach: Life is Life, from their ironically titled "Opus Dei" album (they're communists from yugoslavia).

When we all give the power
We all give the best
Every minute in the hour
We don't think about the rest

And we all get the power
We all get the best
When everyone gives everything
Then everyone everything will get
Life is life!

Life is life
When we all feel the power
Life is life
When we all feel the pain
Life is life
It's the feeling of the people
Life is life
It is the feeling of the land.

When we all give the power
We all give the best
Every minute in the hour
We don't think about the rest
And everyone gives everything
And every soul everyone will feel
Life is life!

And we're all glad it's over
We thought it would last
Every minute of the future
Is a memory of the past
Coz' we gave all the power
We gave all the best
And everyone lost everything
And perished with the rest.
Life is life!


An interesting Catholic organization out there is the Maryknoll Mission, which produces Orbis Books as well as being the people who organize against the School of the Americas and do other really good work. Their "A Maryknoll Book of Prayer" is really good. I appreciate it, even though I'm a pagan.

I think I'll add their links to my sidebar.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Oh, another interesting thing springs to mind:

How Clinton predicated defunding UNITA support in Angola to an accord which stated categorically that the Angolan government, which was socialist, would cease to be socialist and would open itself up to globalization, corporations, and free trade.

UNITA was of course the rightwing death squad/paramilitary operation/army which was funded by South Africa as well and run by turncoat Africans who didn't mind working with Apartheid.
Don't quote me on that Ben-Stalin business because I'm not exactly sure if that was the precise term the Betarists used against him; it might have been something referencing Third Reich figures, which is even worse considering subsequent events, because they believed that not being fascists was tantamount to being pro-nazi. Go figure.

Oh and Douglas Feith's name has come up again in the book.

Who can forget Mr. Feith after one of the interminable scandals regarding the Bush administration...

This one had its consequence in pointing out that Feith's father was a member of Betar, which was a fascist Zionist group which envisioned Israel as a fascist state allied with Italy and other non-German fascist countries prior to the rise of Nazism.

Leni Brenner's book "Zionism in the Age of Dictators" documents that Betar paramilitaries recieved training on a military base in fascist Italy at the invitation of Il Duce.

Yes, pro-Israel are we? These are the same people who christened David Ben-Gurion David Ben-Stalin because they thought that he was too much of a leftist.

You're never going to believe this.

Further revelations from Chalmers Johnson's book "The Sorrows of Empire".

It turns out that the 2000 Republican Convention in Philadelphia, lorded over by Chief Timoney---whos troops gave me a big dose of CS gas, a rubber bullet in my leg, and a plastic pellet in the back of my head during the Miami protests---had a joint military-civillian taskforce on duty to prevent terrorist incidents. In other words, to police the protesters.

Not ground breaking news since the story was covered as it was happening.

The groundbreaking thing is that the force, "Task Force 250", is actually the 82nd Airborne division, which is the Army's paratrooper squad. Paratrooper being people who jump out of planes and act as commandos once they hit the ground.

So back in 2000 the military was ready to send in paratroopers to deal with protesters.

Here's an interesting thought, gleaned from Chalmers Johnson's exquisite new book "The Sorrows of Empire": Talking about our use of Depleted Uranium coated ammunition, which is linked to the Gulf War Syndrome and is being used as standard equipment by U.S. tanks all over the world Johnson has this to say: "Moreover, simply by insisting on using such weaponry, the military is deliberately flouting a 1996 United Nations resolution that classifies DU ammunition as an illegal weapon of mass destruction."

Did you read that correctly? The standard issue ammunition that the U.S. puts in its tanks is officially classified as an illegal weapon of mass destruction.

If you want to find the WMDs in Iraq, look no further than our own troops.

Bush is planning to suspend elections in november.

Read about it here Bush planning to suspend elections

In other new this Counterpunch article by Harry Browne brings to mind the hypocracy of the United States' courting of Ireland.

Although Browne doesn't talk about it, his accounts of Irish journalists putting out pro-U.S. accounts of the Irish-US relationship brings up an interesting point: For all my Irish readers out there the point is quite simple. The U.S. is using you.

When the Irish look across to America they've been coaxed into thinking that the heavily ethnic Irish populations in Massachusets and Chicago are somehow representative of American thought on the Irish and Ireland.

Not the case; the Irish have been used in American politics just like every other ethnic group has been....they get a few parades and a visit now and then by a dignitary while back at home Ireland is completely ignored by the American media, by American politicians, and by the American press.

It is not understood and not talked about; the best Ireland gets is sophomoric books by tendously 'Irish' Americans talking about what a quaint place Ireland is.

So don't let Boston fool you; for most of America the Irish aren't even on par with normal Anglos if they choose to emphasize their Irish identity instead of just showing up for green beer in 'Irish' pubs on St. Patricks Day decked out in green garlands.

It's a hard truth but true nonetheless; the U.S. government has more extensive ties and loyalties to England than it's ever had with Ireland, which again, means more as a jumble of denigrating stereotypes in the minds of American politicians than it does as an actual country with living, breathing, people. At least when those politicians aren't addressing Irish-American societies.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Philosophy, my approach.

I think that my approach to philosophy and to quite a lot of other stuff is pretty much Fichtean.

Fichte was the genius of the inner world, of depth. I admire that, while not really agreeing with things like his unconditional praise of german nationalism as a sort of externalization of the inner world into the outer.
Pierro Sraffa is a much better supplier of theoretical interpretations of Marx's economics than is Althusser and his school.
So, for those not paying attetion, Althusser and company deliberately plugged their ears and ignored radical political economists in compiling their interpreation of Capital.

And this goes for Marxist philosophers who draw on Nietzsche as well.
In using his philosophical conception of the world to buttress historical and economic arguments they're making the same mistake he did---mixing subjective philosophy with supposedly objective social science and acting like the subjective part is objective and natural whereas it's anything but.

And talking about friggin' Spinoza doesn't change matters either; it digs you in deeper.

I once replied to a long drawn out post of a Negri article that someone had put up which suggested that if we want to understand the working class we have to understand Aristotle and how Aristotle concieved of the 'subject' of philosophy that maybe if you want to understand the working class you should take a poll by phone of them and ask a social science questionaire instead of masturbating with philosophy and calling it empirical science.

My verdict hasn't changed.

Negri, unfortunately, has totally sold out. It's sad that the new government in France has made things hard for him but at this point he's quite far from the days when he was writing books like "Marx Beyond Marx" about the Grundrisse and supporting the Autonomist left in Italy.

Now he just bloviates about 'Empire', cowritten, interestingly enough, with a Harvard Literature PhD instead of a sociologist, economist, political scientist, Marxist, (oops, did I say that?) etc.., which is his attempt to denature and cash in on the anti-globalization movement.

It reminds me of the day when I became turned off to Louis Althusser.
I had been really interested in him since reading "For Marx", and had tracked down a copy of his "Reading Capital" at the college I was going to, when I came across a passage in the introduction which went something like this (Reading Capital is a collaborative work done by him, Etienne Balibar, and his graduate students and is acknowledged as such), "We went into this research project not looking at the economic literature connected to Marx, not looking at the political literature connected to Marx, not looking at the sociological literature connected to Marx, because all of those disciplines are fragmentary and only philosophy can address the whole of knowledge."

Therefore a bunch of philosophy students read all three volumes of Capital together without the benefit of any outside help in interpretation, and came up with a load of shit which sounds pretty and which has been the bane of radical theory ever since.

So philosophy is the only 'total discipline', eh? That's a sentiment that would make Marshall Petain or Mussolini proud, and says a lot about where Althusser comes from politically, Stalin worshipper that he was.

So, yeah, Nietzsche as a philosopher or Nietzsche as anthropologist but both. In today's parlance we'd accuse Nietzsche of using anthropological arguments to prove a philosophical point, and a partisan and very sharpened philosophical point at that, which is subterfuge and not a good type of argument at all. It's what the social darwinists used to do.

So what's wrong with Nietzsche's Will philosophy?

Well, I think that his will philosophy and his relativism are mutually exclusive; if you're such a relativist how can you prove that the elaborate mappings of the will which you've done really exist or really matter?

To give a sort of anthropological buttressing to a will philosophy you'd have to renounce relativism and make it more philosophical---which would, in the process, tone done the extremism contained in much of Nietzsche, thereby transforming it into something different altogether.
From Schopenhauer to Nietzsche.

The story of how the prophet of modernism came to his philosophical positions has never been adequately recounted in English.

So how did Nietzsche come to be?

It starts with Kant, comes through Schopenhauer, which is then radically altered by Nietzsche.

In a way Nietzsche is the embodiment of the dangers that were present in the Kantian approach to knowledge, although Kant, bless his heart, isn't responsable for it, from the beginning.

The link between Kant and Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, modified Kantian philosophy in the following way: Kant had pointed out that perception of the outside world is neccesarily bound up between created conceptions and real knowledge, so much so that you can't seperate out the knowledge from the mental organs which create the framework by which the outside world is known.

However, we can know one portion of this mysterious outside world because it's present in all of us: volition. Volition, which is a much better term for it than 'will', which has all sort of inappropriate connotations, is the faculty of motivation and intentionality as opposed to other words when we have an impulse or a sense of things, that's the will, when we combine that with reason in order to act on it or to think about it, that's normal functioning.

Normal functioning is a combination of volition and reason; without volition reason is just a computer cut off from the real world and without reason volition is simply animal instincts.

Nevertheless, while reason can be deduced to logical mental operations on material volition can't, there's always an aspect of where our ideas, impulses, and senses come from which remains mysterious to us and somewhat inaccessable.

Kant linked this will with a series of complex biological motivations, sort of giving a proto-darwinian explanation for volition in the form of biological imperatives which maintain personal and social life.

Schopenhauer, now, steps in, and says that we can reason by analogy from introspection about the nature of volition to the nature of the real world.

The real world, behind the appearances and concepts that we create to process it, operates much like the will does, or like volition does: nature is nasty, brutish, and short, much like Hobbes characterized natural human life.

Which makes a great deal of sense in light of darwinian biology; nature is very unkind to itself in some respects.

Schopenhauer's opinion, though, was that the Will, which was everpresent, was not a good thing and that civilization progressed only to the degree that this primal will was subjugated, suppressed, and trained to reason to guide it.

Which, if you accept his premises, makes a great deal of sense.

Schopenhauer wasn't saying "Throw off all morality and be the superior man" he was saying "If you want to accomplish anything you have to reign in the natural will and rise above it".

He saw, and posited, the Will as a category which was in all of human society at all levels as well as nature and so therefore could make generalizations about society which, in the main part, Kant chose not to do. Schopenhauer's followers, particularly the historian Jakob Burkhardt, developed this thesis much farther than Schopenhauer himself did.

Then there's Nietzsche.

The link between Kant and Nietzsche comes through Schopenhauer in that Schopenhauer supplied Nietzsche with a counter-conception of the world to oppose to the Hegelian philosophers, who were developing the concept of the absolute ideal as somewhat paralell to Schopenhauer's social and natural philosophy, and Kant was the medium by which Nietzsche could oppose the idealists.

What did Nietzsche, then, do with Schopenhauer's philosophy?

Nietzsche kept the socialization of the Kantian will which Schopenhauer introduced but objected to the thesis that civilization existed as some sort of autonomous entity which just happened to reign in the will.

For Nietzsche this was a non-sequitor: if society and nature is suffused by the will then how is it that a foreign entity opposed to what is in all of nature could have developed and, beyond that, met success in the world by going against nature itself?

Nietzsche was closer to Kant in that he believed that since the will was so much a part of everyday life that civilization, no matter what the apologists for it might think, simply could not have developed as a continual sublimation of the will.

Instead, according to Nietzsche, the will in it's raw form had always been present in civilization and was still present, only the niceties of culture had covered up the fact that at its base civilization was still as raw and brutal today as it was several thousand years ago.

But Nietzsche was consistant in his philosophy; unlike what commentators since him have imputed to Nietzsche he himself subordinated the presence of the will to mans inability to go outside of himself.

This is important as it introduces a balance of conservatism into what is otherwise a very radical and nihilistic philosophy: the will is present, it should be recognized, and shouldn't be objected to, but, on the other hand, people themselves are severely limited by the human condition, the sort of anthropological set up that we all find ourselves in, and so whatever truth which comes in recognizing the will has to be tempered against the fact that recognition doesn't end our problems---there will always be human social and psychological issues which will limit human knowledge, advancement, and achievement, and which will sabotage any attempt at social engineering, even social engineering done in service of the 'will'.

In this, again, Nietzsche returns to one of Kants central points, which is that human beings are completely limited by the mental equipment which processes the world and which somewhat creates the framework by which we think about the the world itself.

So in the end the call by Nietzsche for a liberation of the will has to be tempered by the fact that even if such a liberation was to occur not much could actually be gained by it. In the course of things, Nietzsche would probably agree, it would be a very good thing, but it wouldn't perform miracles or abolish the conventional aspects of life that we neccesarily find ourselves in---no matter what different morality would be ruling such a society. Nietzsche was for the sort of principle that even if we can only change one tenth of society that that change of the one tenth would still be a wonderful thing, and the best that we could ever hope for.

The flaw in Nietzsche is his anthropological relativism. Or rather the flaw is combining a philosophy which is certainly not relativistic in the conventional sense of the term---the will related philosophy---with a standpoint which is, anthropological relativism.

Alone anthropological relativism is ok and alone will philosophy is ok, but combining the two leads to a situation where the biological takes precedence over the social through the belief that will is a biological, material, instinct that can serve as a guide out of the situation of relativistic equivalensce that anthropological relativism puts people.

It contributes to a deracinated view of the world for a deracinated time.

Rootless isolation in the modern world and heavy alienation produced by modern techonolgy strip man to the point where the idea that a biological will, which is impersonal, brutal, and unforgiving, is all there is can be believed by many as somehow a 'rational' response to things.

In a more organic society such concepts would be dismissed out of hand as extremist and unrealistic. After all if you do have friends and family and live in a community which has a nice social life the argument that you should fuck over everyone you come in contact with and only live to advance your own will as a manifestaton of THE Will to Power which is present in everything loses some of its appeal.

The overcoming of alienation tends to put such philosophies which praise alienation and which put forward even more alienating solutions to such alienation out of business. People get back to the real world and get on with life.

Nietzsche wasn't a social darwinist, wasn't a racist particularly, wasn't all that much of an anti-semite, even though he disliked mediterranian culture, but his philosophy had an immediate an obvious resonance with all of the above.

It's more as a prophet of modernity that people should see him than as a prophet of all of the horrors which came from modern 20th century society, someone who gave the philosophical underpinnings for all of it by developing similar ideas within the orthodox philosophical tradition.

How you view the modernity which he praised is up to you.

But, of course, I don't think that hyper alienation is something that we should be shooting for as a society.