Sunday, February 29, 2004

Within less than an hour this blog will be within a month of having been going for two years straight. This blog was started on March 28th 2002 as a solution to the frustration of posting comments to articles on the web which ended up being longer than the articles themselves, and I think of all the solutions to that this blog is a pretty good one.

So it's appropo that I'm posting something that has pretensions of being from a sweeping historical perspective for this event.

Where did the counterculture of the nineties come from and where is the country going as a result?

I think that what happened in the sixties was that people really got down to the roots of what liberty and democracy were about. They didn't mention class, but class is anterior to the basic ideals of liberty which, to be honest, weren't actually part of America before the sixties, even though we had enourmous claims to that effect.

So the 60's in effect made good on American liberty, but it was a foundationalist experiment, even if some people did take it and try to extend the liberty as much as possible. Since they were trying to reroot it and got tangled up in some pretty basic issues, I think that over all the extensions of liberty that happened on individual bases weren't as far as could happen in a situation where the liberty was already established in it's root form.

Enter the '90s. This is precisely what the people interested in marginal culture and the weird were doing. It wasn't a negation of the sixties and seventies but rather an extension, an extension which had to come from the turning of the liberatory urge in on itself, maybe superficially looking like it was destroying what was accomplished but in actuality looking for an equilibrium beyond the confines of both the foundational notions of liberty and the marginal subcultures.

To the extent that that's been accomplished it presents a very cohesive base from which to extend notions of democracy into areas like Socialism, Communist Anarchism, and, of course, social democracy, more welfare state things and all the rest.

We can participate in these programs now without jeopradizing our liberty because the negative and the positive of liberty, the foundations, the borders, and the sense of balance of the whole which arises from being aware of both as part of a cohesive unit, has been established.

Of course the urge now is for the U.S. to return to the '50s, in effect.

We're winding the curve from dialectic back to epic, supposedly, in how our culture functions, but, like the epic consciousness of the '50s which was pierced and destroyed by the counterculture of the '60s this too can be pierced and destroyed by a new generation of rebels, who will tear down the facade of society and reveal our lives and bring them forward as the new norm for American society. And we will win together. Fighting for the same things.

The glory of the counterculture will rise again after the sunset reaches it's limit at midnight and the earth prepares again to see a new golden dawn.

Signs you're getting adjusted to living on the west coast #1

You trust the LA Times more than you do the New York Times.

Hey, the writing quality might not be the same, but what they lack in skill they make up for in relevance of content.

Signs you're getting adjusted to living on the west coast #1

You trust the LA Times more than you do the New York Times.

Hey, the writing quality might not be the same, but what they lack in skill they make up for in relevance of content.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Fun with Fascism, or, how we can offer up some quotes from an authentic fascist thinker and see how they stack up to what's issueing from our current administration.

The thinker: Carl Schmitt. It's hard to find a much purer totalitarian thinker than Schmitt. Schmitt was an ardent Nazi who wrote the legal briefs which justified the Nazi seizure of power, and his legal and political philosophy reflects this. Here are some quotes from an anthology entitled "Political Theology":

"Sovereign is he who decides on the exception"(footnote explains that 'exception' refers to the breaking of laws).
"It will soon become clear that the exception is to be understood to refer to a general concept in the theory of the states, and not merely to a construct applied to any emergency decree or state of siege."

"From a practical or theoretical perspective, it really does not matter whether an abstract scheme advanced to describe sovereignty is acceptable"
"What is argued about is the concrete application, and that means who decides in a situation of conflict what constitutes the public interest or interests of the state, public safety and order, le salut public, and so on."

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

What does it take to make a free society? Economic equality.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

More about the Cockburn lecture.....

I especially liked the young man at the end who asked the question about the difference in views on Palestine between American Jews and Israeli Jews. He was a man after my own heart, and I'm sure, from the sound of his voice, that asking that question somewhat hurt his throat.

A quote from the beginning of the book, Michael Neuman's essay: "Haider's Austria is not considered dangerous for Jews". I can testify this, although not being Jewish myself. There are a lot of street vendors from West Africa in Vienna, and they generate a lot of tension between conservative Viennese and themselves. In fact, unfortunately, along side the wonderful shops by Marienhilferstrasse which sell imports from West Africa you can find graffiti declaring "Neger Raus!", Nigger Out. Some have been regraffitied to say Nazi Raus, but that's something else. Anyways, during my stay in Vienna I only witnessed a group of people making slurs against blacks, among themselves because there were no blacks around, only once.

It was in the U-bahn, the subway, when I was waiting for a train. A group of people were talking, and, although it was in a foreign language, I managed to pick words out here and there and figure out that they were talking about the blacks who sell things on Vienna streets. They used the word Neger a lot.

Then one guy, I shit you not, actually went into this stepin' fetchit' minstrel act where he imitated what he thought was black dancing, and everyone got a kick out of it.

I realized what the language was and who these people, who were young people about my age, were.

The language was Hebrew and these kids were tourists from Israel on their summer vacation.

Why Israel is wrong.

I heartily recommend that people check out Alexander Cockburn (editor)'s book "The politics of Anti-Semitism".

In it, among other things, it makes the case that U.S. policy towards Israel has not been dominated by U.S. concerns in the region, i.e. that the U.S. just supports Israel because it fits in with it's own plans for the middle east, but that Israel and the Jewish lobby in America exercise an inordinate amount of power over U.S. foreign policy towards Israel.

Why is this the case? Is there some sort of conspiracy? Not really.

Israel largely acts for itself, and wants to cajole the U.S. into supporting it's own self interest. Why?

Because Israel is a near fascist state that was founded by people who were real fascists, Jewish supporters of Mussolini and the Fascist ideal before Hitler and National Socialism made the word Fascism synonymous with extreme racial hatred and warfare.

Before Hitler there wasn't just Italian Fascism, there was Austrian Fascism, Romanian Fascism, Ukrainian Fascism, Hungarian Fascism, Spanish Fascism, Portugese Fascism, all the way down the line, and these Fascist parties largely cooperated with each other instead of seeing Europe as a country which could only be dominated by one force.

So the Jewish Fascists threw their lot in with these folks. You might know the names as being the founding Zionist fathers of the state of Israel.

It's this legacy of authoritarianism, which the U.S. gives a green light to, which motivates Israel's extreme actions and manipulations of the U.S. government for it's own self interest. And as much as Jewish communities in the U.S. buy into it they're at least complicit in it's fascist strategy.

You don't have to be a Jew and be pro-Israel. Israel is a political state, not the Zion which is thought to presage the coming of the messiah, and Judaism lived self contained in exile for almost two thousand years quite well.

There's a distinction between a Jewish homeland, which would be a series of settlements in Palestine which are nonetheless under the control of a Palestinian government, and a Jewish State, which is a political entity unto itself.

One does not have to condemn the homeland idea when condemning the State.



David Cole: 'Guantanamo Bay continues as a blot of shame on the U.S.'

It's interesting that, in this article, Donald Rumsfeld is quoted as saying that because the people at Guantanamo are Enemy Combatants that you have to treat them differently than car thieves and other more run of the mill criminals.

Exactly.

But not in the way that Rumsfeld thinks.

You see, the people in Guantanamo Bay were not Al Qaida members, they were people from foreign countries fighting in Afghanistan for the Taliban. It wouldn't make a difference if they were in fact Al Qaida members, either, the same conclusions would follow.

Those are that political crimes are not as serious as common civil crimes; fighting in a foreign army is not the same as murdering someone in cold blood in civilian life. Being a terrorist motivated by political convictions is not the same as being someone who just wants to cause random chaos and damage against people, although both may inflict real harm.

It's recognized that political crimes are largely crimes of ideology, as opposed to pathology, and that because of that the people involved are not dangerous to others in the same way that a psychopath on the street may be. Because of this, international law says that, yes, you should treat these people differently---you should be easier on them.

Which doesn't mean not bringing them to trial for crimes they've committed and giving them lengthy prison terms if they are found guilty, it means, instead, not subjecting them to torture while you hold them.

POWs have legal rights, and they have these rights because if you said that someone fighting in the opposing army was a dangerous psychopath because he was out there killing people you'd be laughed off whatever podium you were on. What exactly does the U.S. army do, then? Would we like it if the opposing forces took our soldiers and handcuffed them blindfolded to a fence in a kneeling position because we were 'imperialist psychopaths bent on destruction?'.

No.

And if the crime of masterminding terrorist operations mandates people treating other people like dogs then Ken Lay of Enron should be going to Guantanamo, because essentially mental crimes like conspiracy are what he's facing too.

International law is a bitch;
If you don't want our soldiers to end up being treated like those people on Guantanamo if, in some conflict, the other side gets an upper hand, don't set the precedent by treating POWs caught in Afghanistan the same way now.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Oh, You Mean Those Immigrants

Great article.

I say, let 'they', adapt to 'us' rather than expect 'us', the children, grandchildren of and actual immigrants themselves, adapt to them. Either 'they', meaning the anglo culture dominating the united states, lose power and cede it to the real majority of the country or we aren't fit to call ourselves a real democracy.
McGovern and Cockburn.

Alexander Cockburn and friends were in the Seattle area over the weekend, and I went down to see Cockburn talk about the politics of anti-semitism in a small theater kind of an hour and a half south of town.

Cockburn was amazing. He pulled no punches. But it brought to mind another speech by someone that I saw which may or may not have been attacked by someone pulling the line of 'anti-semitism' that Cockburn talked about.

The speech was given by George McGovern at the University of Florida in March or April of 2002, when we were only in Afghanistan and Iraq was a year away.

McGovern was talking about what he has been concerning himself with since he retired from politics: trying to end world hunger by promoting sustainable agriculture and trying to promote literacy in girls living in the third world. Both are extremely noble and sound causes to devote ones self to.

McGovern talked about that but then of course he got into talking about his views on the current administration, which were pretty sane and balanced and can probably be intuited by the readers of this blog is they have any familiarity whatsoever with McGovern as a politician.

Then, in the question and answer period, a guy, who had a strong New York accent and looked ethnically jewish got up there and accused McGovern of being soft on terrorism to the point of being pro-terror.

I say he looked Jewish more out of revulsion that someone like that would identify themselves with the sort of virulent conservatism that this person was spewing than anything else.

Well, George McGovern is probably the most peaceful, soft spoken, nicest, man that there is. He's a northern midwesterner, from North Dakota, and a son of a minister. You can't get more subdued than that. Picture 'Fargo' crossed with being the son of the preacher man.

So taking this guy, who is actually working to relieve world hunger and promote education, and slamming him, ripping into him as being soft on terror or pro-terrorist because he sought to examine what leads people to support groups like Al-Qaeda and people like Osama bin Laden, was an outrage. A total outrage to every sense of decency which is out there.

He was saying, basicly, that if the situation in these countries wasn't bad then bin Laden would be preaching to an empty hall.

This wasn't good enough for our cowardly frame up artist.

Parallels would be hard to find.

I think a good one would be with East Germany.

East Germany allowed the Lutheran church to still exist, it couldn't get rid of it entirely, but the government sent professional hecklers into the services to stand up and shout insults at the pastor as he was performing it.

This is what the attack on McGovern reminds me of.

These conservatives say that they stand for everything right and noble in the world, but they don't have the sense to give a modicum of respsect to a person who deserves it whatever you think of his political positions.

Without that sense of social order, conservatives are no better than gangsters, and will run our country into a gangster state if we let them.

Friday, February 20, 2004

You might wonder: why is he saying that Witchcraft is the natural American religion? Well, let's put it this way: there was a reason that those witch trials happened in Salem.
Witchcraft is the natural American religion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Dave Zirin: Maurice Clarett Gets Off the Plantation

Good article about amateur sports in the U.S.

I have nothing against sports or athletes, no matter what conservatives may stereotype liberals as believing, but there's a time and place for everything.

There are plenty of talented kids who have the potential to become professional athletes out there, but we squeeze them through the farce of college sports before they actually get a chance at playing pro.
This hurts both them and colleges in general, which, despite whatever propaganda gets put out there, can't be training grounds for pro sports and educational institutions at the same time.

So, this article about a guy skipping the NCAA to get into the NFL is good news.

There's no reason why a person should have to go through the rigamorole of going to college when they just want to play sports, just like no one should have to submit to the dictat of college sports when they just want to get an education.
The possibilities of socialism.

Despite these posts talking about social democracy, I believe that a vital, authentic, socialist state is possible. I use the term 'state' in place of 'nation', I don't mean a socialist government.

I believe also that Soviet society and the Eastern Bloc countries, as well as some Third World countries which became socialist made some real advances and innovations in how a society can function equally and honestly, and to the benefit of all.

The components of these societies which are progressive have to be balanced against the fact that in all of them, including those existing today, the progressive accomplishments took place on a background of authoritarianism which flowed from the centralized control of society by the state.

Many people devoted their lives to building socialism, as authentically as they could and as idealistically as they could, on the background of a state calling itself socialist but which really in the end betrayed the socialist ideal. This does not negate their accomplishment or the innovations they created.

The question, then, is how can the positive accomplishments of people who attempted to build socialism on a very grass roots level can be implemented in a society which does not have authoritarianism as the basic social framework.

I think that the authoritarianism of the socialist states and the vacuum of power which manifests itself in capitalist states are equally abhorrent.

In one society everything is dominated by ideological interestes, in the other there is no authority which the people have over their own lives and society becomes ruled de facto by the most powerful institutions in it.

What is neccesary is some social structure to fill in the gap left by capitalist society which is in tune with human nature and human needs but is not monopolized by any group and is not centralized in it's functioning.

On such a basis a real, living, existing, socialism can be made in the most authentic way possible.

Talking Socialist Democracy Blues

On the one hand, I'm anti-state, on the other I can't deny the gains that social democracy has made in Europe. Why did it happen there...well, my guess is that it isn't really statist programs in their pure form which exist over there, although the State surely is bigger and in people's lives quite a bit.

Europeans are comfortable with social democratic programs because they really do control their parliaments, so that if a state sponsored program is enacted they have a real yes or no say about it through the fact that they can kick out the legislators who voted for it and enacted it.

It's that accountability that makes social democracy possible. Without it you just have a state dominating society, which is what we in the U.S. usually consider 'socialism' to be.

Actually, if we started socialist programs in the U.S. at this point in time the 1984 scenario would probably come true, because we don't have democratic control over our government.

So in a sense the people who are sceptical of government programs in the U.S. have a point, but the problem doesn't lie with programs in general, although they are far from flawless, but with the lack of accountability which the government of the United States has to the citizens which it's thought to work for.

Monday, February 16, 2004

The Awful Truth about 9/11

9/11, the tragedy, is probably the opening and closing salvo in the war of Islamic fundamentalists against the United States.

What people don't realize is that when you're dealing with small terrorist groups belonging to movements instead of armies the groups disappear into thin air as soon as the tide turns against them, leaving nothing in their wake.

One has only to look at the pathetic posturing of people connected with the Black Liberation Army in the United States, which refers to a raid that George Jackson's younger brother and a few accomplices committed against an LA courtroom as 'the (can't remember the name of where the courtroom was) rebellion', to see this phenomenon.

I once contemplated making a parody of ultra-left groups which used reasoning like this wherein a person handing out pamphlets on a street corner was madeout to have struck a victory for the revolution against capitalism which will be remembered for years to come.

Anyways, Islamic fundamentalism is an idea, and movements based on amorphous ideas don't exactly have staying power, despite what the government might tell you. They can issue press releases till they're blue in the face, make people think that they're more powerful than they actually are, but in truth there is no extensive underworld organization (i'm guessing on this, folks) ready to go out and strike terror into the west at any point in time. 9/11 will likely go down as a tradgedy without a sequel as the years go by and common sense security measures eliminate the chance for the remaining Islamic fundamentalists to do anymore.

Or, we could be living in a dictatorship by that time, wherein we won't be threatened by militant Islam anymore but will now be slaves to the government and capitalism, which will really not be pleasant, considering that there probably wasn't much of a threat to begin with anyways.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I should comment on the "Art of Being Ruled" that I suspect the title is partly a joke on Lewis' part. A Britishism if you will.

In Britain "being ruled" by someone is a thinly veiled reference to being the submissive partner in a homosexual relationship, and when it doesn't refer to that it refers to some equivalent of a man being dominated by someone else and therefore being emasculated and weak.

Lewis' opinion, as far as I can gather, is that people in general shouldn't 'be ruled' by anyone or anything, and that all government and politics is therefore an attempt to bugger the people at large.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

A personal note....

I'm from the Detroit area, but I now live in the Northwest, and I'm happy as a pig in shit, but I cannot understand this whole 'Detroit' being a hip place or a place where cool music is from business.

I simply can't.

When I was a kid I wanted to live in the Northwest, and here I am. I never thought of that stinking pile of burnt out buildings known as Detroit as a hip or very desirable place to be. Even the people I knew who were pro-Detroit were never the less making plans to get the hell out of the state, and they saw no contradiction in holding these two beliefs at the same time.

So.....the White Stripes hit it big. Kid Rock breaks out of being laughed at all over the Detroit area and makes it big. Those coke heads known as ICP hit it big....am I missing something here?

My understanding of the actual city of Detroit is that there are only a few streets which are 1) safe to walk down and 2) home to some sort of counterculture, and they are the streets around Wayne State University in the Cass Corridor and the area around Broadway which houses a few cool theaters and venues.

The Heidelberg project has been destroyed, so that rules out another interestng place.

There's an awfully big difference between 'Detroit' style proper and Detroit area style. There are over two times as many people who live in the suburbs of Detroit as actually live in the city itself, and I suspect that when people talk about the music scene what they really mean is the Detroit area, not Detroit itself.

I think the White Stripes were really lucky that they actually did grow up in and live in Detroit because it gives their band some cash value which it wouldn't have if they were white kids that lived in...South Field, or Roseville, or Pontiac---which is a whole different story---or down river some place, Dearborn.

It's not so much a claim to fame to say that you grew up in the mean streets of.....Dearborn....as it is to say that, yes, I'm a caucasian who happened to grow up in the city of Detroit!(oooooh).(aaah).

Detroit is a shit hole that's only getting worse.

The only cool place in the Detroit area is Book Beat, and the streets of Ferndale and Berkeley (which are SUBURBS of Detroit and therefore not REALLY the Detroit Style).

If the coolness or relevance of the music is represented by how fucked up and marginalized you have to be to embrace the shithole you live in as a paradise and promote it incessantly, then why not have the Buffalo sound, or the Milwaukee sound, or the Pittsburgh sound? I'm sure that there are people there who say "Nope, Buffalo's a good place, you just have to live here and stick with it, you'll see!!", and can rattle off a list of the virtues of Buffalo (or any of the other towns) which people who are visiting just don't understand.

Mediocrity isn't the same as spunk.

If you dress up a demolished building as being a spectacular work of art, it's still a demolished building once the artist takes his con away.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Post Fordist ideas.

I don't think that this whole idea of Post Fordism is actually accurate. I don't think that we've gone into this new phase of capitalism, rather, post-fordism to me looks a lot like a return to pre-fordism and pre-industrial ideas of work called by different names.

The idea that the human mind, or human beings, applying their energy in a creative way to the manufacturing process, in effect working together with machines instead of working for machines, can increase productivity isn't a new idea.

Human ingenuity has always been able to accomplish much, whether within trades or within agriculture, the new element is the idea that hooking someone up to a machine where instead of using that skill they perform senseless repetitave tasks will somehow lead to a prosperous economy that produces a huge amount of productivity.

Industrialism has always gone against the tendency of the human spirit, and the fact that in some limited areas the creativity of the human spirit is being recognized as having value in terms of increasing producitivty isn't a departure from what we understand to be reality but rather a confirmation of how things really are which corrects the distortion which industrialization has brought.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Harry Smith, the film "Heaven and Earth Magic", Mystic Fire Video. They go together. Go and find it.
Mickey Z.: Meet the Oxmans

A good Counterpunch article talking with people who put on an alternative film festival.

My favorite part is where, when in France they bring the subject up with a bunch of rich Americans, who get upset and ask why, the reply being that these guys can't sleep at night because of the decay this country is going through...and the rich don't understand. These guys say that the wealthy shouldn't be able to sleep at night either.

I have to say, if you don't see that there's a problem with this country, if you can sleep at night soundly despite Bush's policies, despite 9/11 hysteria, despite a crumbling economy, despite huge inequality, despite increasing poverty and bad health care...you're a fucking pig and I have no respect for you.

It's the perogative of the rich and priveleged that they can feel well of while others suffer, and if this system gives you that freedom right now, you're beneath contempt.

Might as well be nice and perky while undesirables are forced into death camps.

Do something with your time....vote.

It'll tell the people in power that they don't have an automatic right to office.

I have a proposition for you....

This is for all those people out there who are employed in finding e-mail addresses for spam. If you can publicize my website somehow, whether at work or through some other means, I'll give you a discount on Lost Highway Times Cafe press merchandise.

More thoughts on Miami....

I had the fortune of being at a preceding workshop and a report back from Miami which included a few New Left people. One person specifically, who was at both, gave an insight that's bothered me, or at least stuck in my head.

Talking about how we were before Miami, he said that we were some of the kindest people he's seen. Talking about us in Miami, he said that that kindness was nowhere to be found. And like most authoritarians he recommended that 'we', it's not clear to me who exactly 'we' was, should talk more about peace and justice and get on the same page.

To which I can't help but think: didn't he know that we were Anarchists?

What exactly did he think was going to happen in Miami, that we were all going to sit in a circle and sing cumbaya?

If he was so out of touch that the militance of people in Miami took him by suprise he doesn't deserve to adress us as 'we' because he obviously doesn't know enough about 'we' to understand us.

Yet the presumption is that he and people like him are ultimately in control of this thing, or that they should be if they aren't, to which I give him a kind american colloquial gesture and invite him to sit and spin on it.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Headline news: in a new clip from the Meet the Press interview with George W. Bush, Tim Russert is recorded as saying to the President, after the interview was over, "Can I be your bitch?"

The Communist Party and the making of sixties and seventies counter culture and politics.

What's missing in accounts of where sixties politics came from is the all important question of origins. People can chalk it up to influences from the civil rights struggle, influences from the cold war, etc.. but these aren't direct explanations of where sixties politics came from, they're only influences, or a different type of cause, not a determining one, as aristotle might say. Why were people prepared to listen to C. Wright Mills and Herbert Marcuse? Why did things have the specific content that they had, instead of being Trotskyist or any other sort of organizational political forms?

I think that the missing link has to do with what happened to the American Communist Party after WWII.

During the war, and during the Depression, the Communist Party got a lot of support from people, and, because of a crucial decision made by the head, Earl Browder, to liberalize the party line and how the party operated, to make it more independent from Moscow, it gained widespread support from people who otherwise would have been alienated. People were allowed to be creative in their organizing and political work and it paid off in setting the tone for civil rights work by being basicly the only organization of whites which organized against segregation in the south before the fifties, among other benefits. It also revived and made noble the idea of the common american working man.

What seems so incredible now is that such an extensive organization and series of appended cultural organizations could have just been wiped out by McCarthyism.

Actually, they weren't wiped out by McCarthyism. At least not alone.

What actually did them in was the revelation by Khruschev known as his 'secret speech', given after Stalin had died in the mid fifties which recounted and admitted the crimes which gone on during his regime.

When the secret speech, which was picked up by the Hungarians and delivered to the State Department, was published in the New York Times a crisis ensued in the party. A faction, led by Mike Gold, the guy who ran the paper, wanted to use the speech as a basis to further reform the party; another faction, however, wanted to distance itself from the speech and maintain a hard line. This faction had already won a preliminary victory in that hardliners in Europe had succeeded in getting Browder removed from office several years earlier.

What happened next is simple. The hardliners maintained control of the party and the people who had been attracted to it because of it's liberalism and it's openness to creativity left.

The rump was composed of party hacks who were almost anti-revisionist in their hardliner position. The creative body of the Communist Party was gone.

Where did they go?

My thought, based on reading Maurice Isserman's book "If I had a hammer", is that they maintained their progressive organizing in their own little specialities without having an umbrella organization to belond to, and that these progressive activities formed the nucleous from which New Left ideas and practices flowed.

The progressive Communists led to open New Left politics, although few people would admit this now, it seems.

Can't have anyone say that the left before WWII was in any sense viable, now could we?

African American culture and American Civilization....

What people don't realize, what those people who cling to an anglo-centric view of American culture don't realize, is that we're already a mulatto nation, and the addition of Italian and other ethnic culture to that mix is not going to fundamentally change the nature of things.

African Americans have made an immeasurable contribution to American popular culture, to music, to dance, to poetry, and have in the process actually moved American culture to reflect more closely the actual composition of it's society.

People might not look at this as being unique or important, but it is. Canada, for one, doesn't have this tradition at all, and it's culture is very different from ours. Other countries don't have it. Europe doesn't have it; that's why they like Jazz and Blues so much---because this stuff just isn't present in European music. It's a unique American contribution that's come about because of the mixing of European and African cultures here.

We should be proud of it.

And, most of all, we should quit looking at our selves as a culture which is made up of whites + blacks and one which is made up of ethnic Americans of all stripes and backgrounds, and colors, with 'whites' (which usually refers to Anglo Americans) being just another ethnic group among many.

We're already halfway there; it's just a question of acknowledging it.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Defying things yet again,

I'm enjoying the "Art of being ruled" by Wyndham Lewis, available from Gingko Press, originally published by Black Sparrow Press....it's good...

Friday, February 06, 2004

Really existing socialism, my experience.


I haven't ever been to an Eastern Bloc country; the closest that I've come to that is North Eastern Vienna.

North Eastern Vienna is the former Soviet Zone of occupation, which the Soviets controlled for a number of years after World War II. When I was in Vienna this summer I spent an afternoon wandering around it because I read the address of this place I wanted to check out wrong and thought it was in the NE.

North East Vienna is an example of barren, Stalinist, architecture which compares unfavorably with the municipal socialist architecture of the Karl Marx Hof Workers' housing project in the NW of Vienna, which I also saw.

It's hard to describe stalinist architecture;I mean we all have this idea of apartment buildings being oppressive and modern cities being alienating, but at least people in the west tried to mitigate that a little bit, at least for people not in public housing (which is in fact horrible). But in the east the buildings are literally just composed of boxes for families to live in with nothing else.

And that's it. A bloc of houses is just a block of crate boxes with a road or two around it.

There's an apocryphal story that Lenin declared that the amount of space per person which was sufficient was nine square meters, and that was actually the standard used to build apartments in the USSR, but it takes more to make a house, both in terms of size and content.

Karl Marx hof is a different story.....

ah, and there's also that monument to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating Austria and Vienna from the Nazis, which the Soviets had a clause written into their final treaty about saying that the Austrian government was bound to take care of it in perpetuity and not to destroy it....

I had a few mineral waters there while recovering from being lost again, this time in South East Vienna, reflecting on how weird it was, considering that, as I found out, the monument is right in front of the Lichtenstein palace, owned by the family which rules the principality of the same name..


I like the municipal socialism of the SPĂ–, and Vienna was a very pleasant experience.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Give it to them Howard

Quite amazing article, this guy has balls to write something like this.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Janet Jackson exposing her breast on the super bowl half time show....I can just picture it now, all through the South, men saying to themselves: "just look at the negra's tittie!". And the MoveOn add was rejected because it was too controversial...as was the PETA add which featured an adult film star who was impotent because he ate meat (and no nudity).
We can be masters of many things, how many of us are masters of friendship?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Of all the world civilizations, only the western one has, in the space of four hundred years, gone from classicism to believing that no classical music is logically possible anymore and from painting on a high level to believing that representational painting is no longer possible. There are a lot of 'end ofs' which have occured in Western civilization that haven't occured elsewhere, and the fact that huge, vast, ancient, civilizations could get on very well without thinking that they needed to destroy themselves as the next logical step in advancing their culture should tell us something about western society.


Like that all of that is bullshit and we should get over it and work towards sustainability instead.

This Modern World

Got this idea from Tom Tommorrow.....we should have a rose petals count down---that is the estimated time until the iraqis start throwing rose petals at us and welcoming us as liberators...

I'm curious about what people are actually doing out there. My thought is that not a lot of people are actually doing that much. Which brings us to an important question: how much does Bush being out there actually matter? When are we going to lay down our apprehension, say, 'fuck it, I don't care who'se in office, I'm going to work on a campaign for social justice; or help out striking workers; or do a critical mass, or both as a group in L.A. recently did; or stand on a street corner and protest FOR ANYTHING POSITIVE THAT DOESN'T DIRECTLY HAVE TO DO WITH THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.

Jesus. You'd think that he controls when we get up in the morning and when we go to bed by the attention that some people pay with bated breath to every movement that the administration makes.

You know, I've learned something. Something valuable about the nature of civilization and how it is that the development of the western world fits or does not fit into the understanding of civilization that the rest of the world has. And it's this: whether we think of civilization as being decentralized and totally anarchical or whether we look at the best that civilization can bring to us as something that includes elements of classical culture, there is no thing as an arc of development which defines the different stages and transformations that a culture will go through, stretching from a so-called primitive state to an end point of high culture.

Things simply don't work like that. China has had a classical culture in roughly the same state for several thousand years; there hasn't been a game of dialectical trapeze acrobatics going on in hegelian fashion there. Same with India. Same with a lot of places. The point being, it's not some sort of undefined asiatic-despotism, a terrible phrase by the way, which has kept these cultures pretty static, it's the fact that they were sort of sufficient as they were in that time and didn't need to proceed to some end of history to get better.

We could learn from this.

Whatever happens, we're already free from history because history does not exist.