Sunday, May 30, 2004

Uodate: it's not called "The New Conservatism Revisted" but just "Conservatism Revisited".
I was wrong about Peter Viereck.

Writing that note about Peter Viereck I had a bad taste in my mouth. I had a feeling that there was more to his situation and beliefs than I was aware of.

Well, it turns out that the intuition was correct and my denunciation of him for having a father who worked for the Nazi government was wrong.

He was, indeed, poles apart from him in terms of political beliefs, but he was also poles apart from the Reaganites, whom I mistakenly associated him with.

Instead, he was the type of conservative that I like: a real conservative, not a reactionary, not a fascist, not a neo-con, but a sort of Tory democrat.

I found his book "The New Conservatism Revisited" and it's been a very good, enjoyable, and enlightening read. I would recommend it to people. Vigorously.

Guilt by association is always wrong.
Raus, das spiel ist aus could also be translated, more literally, as "Out?! The (racist) play is out!" or "Out?!The (Racist) story is over."
Interesting if you actually look at the translation of the lyrics.

Take "Das spiel ist aus", or "The play is over", from the WAT (We Are Time) album.

The refrain is "Raus, das spiel is aus". Now Raus is a corruption of Aus, or out, which is best known as part of the racist slogan "Auslander Raus", Foreigner out, which is really "Auslander Aus" but they've blurred the final R of Auslander and Aus to make Raus.

Now by saying "Raus, das Spiel is Aus", they are obviously making reference to the racist slogan. But what are they saying? They're parodying it by saying, pretty much, "Racist the play is over". Not a bad sentiment coming from a Yugoslavian group which has seen much of their country kill the rest for racist reasons. The play is over, in other words your time is up pal and you better watch out.

But if by chance you listened to it without knowing any German and simply heard "Raus" over and over and over in the chorus you might think that it was a pro-racism song.

Funny how actually knowing what people are saying helps you understand them.

**On edit: actually knowing what people are saying does help you understand them better, and so it's ironic that I got the derivation of Raus wrong. Raus isn't a corruption of Aus, and it didn't come from chanting "Auslander Aus". Instead, Raus is just a stronger more pointed version of Aus which is used in everyday life. Aus means "Out", Raus means "Out!.

"They're a band out of Germany"; the "Out" in there would be Aus. "Get out of my store!", the "Out" there could be Raus, depending on how it's constructed.
Laibach are the good guys. Don't aim your short sighted wrath at them. Read their lyrics in English and then see what you think of them.
"we reserve the right to be pacifists of the heart"-Laibach

The above link is to Laibach's new anti-war video. It was released last year. Before you watch it read the translation of the lyrics below. German intimidates people, however, if you know what the words actually mean instead of jumping to assumptions you'll get some satisfaction out of "Tanz mit Laibach".

Tanz Mit Laibach (a song to German-American Friendship (regarding invading Iraq) )(English)

by Laibach

We all are possessed
we all are damned
we all are crucified
we all are broken
by attractive technology
by economics of time
by quality of life
and the philosophy of war

one, two, three, four
come dance with me baby brother,
one, two, three, four
give me both your hands
one, two, three, four
dance with me my friends
one, two, three, four
round around, it isn't difficult

we dance to Ado Hinkel
Benzino Napoloni
we dance to Schiekelgrueber
and dance with Maitreya
with Totalitarismus
and with democracy
we dance with Fascismus
and red anarchy

one, two, three, four
come dance with me comrade
one, two, three, four
give me both your hands
one, two, three, four
come dance with me comrade
one, two, three, four
round around, it isn't difficult

we dance and we jump
we hop and we sing
we fall and rise
we give or take
Amerikano friends and
German comrade
we dance well together
we dance to Bagdad

one, two, three, four
come dance with me baby brother,
one, two, three, four
give me both your hands
one, two, three, four
dance with me my friends,
one, two, three, four
round around, it isn't difficult

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Jacobinism.

I've grown very fond of the Jacobin social philosophy.

Not the dictatorship and the abuses carried out by the Jacobin government but the underlying social philosophy which they co-opted.

There's talk always about tyranny of the majority. Tyranny of the majority, yes. The Jacobin's made the point that either society as a whole, composed of all members including, especially, the poorest, works on its own or society doesn't exist at all. Since society does exist, which means that the poor and lower class people lead normal decent lives, the question as to the rightness of having a thin slice of rich people dominating that society comes up for grabs.

Tyranny of the majority. That's when 56% of the people want pure communism and 44% don't and so the 56% force it on them. That's not right.

But when say 80% feel that the upper 20% should no longer rule them and live in opulence amidst poverty I don't call that tyranny of the majority. I call that having a point.
Governments lie.

That's the one rule that I.F. Stone told people who were interested in journalism that they should always remember if they want to succeed.
Or at least be good journalists.

Now why does this government lie?

My thinking is that it's due to the difference of perspective between the way people live who have the power and how they view people who don't have power. Same way with corporations.

From the perspective of the Pentagon or Washington or Maryland and Virginia what these people see is themselves living the high life associating with movers and shakers having a whole infrastructure, a whole society really, with them at the top which is very, very tangable.

They don't just write webpages they dine with the powerful and get treated like gods for about a hundred mile radius.

That whole system accepts them and so it appears to them that their place on the top is as sound as a pound. I think they balance claims to truth, and the consequences of lying, against the perception that anyone who dares to speak out against them will be thrust out of the worlds of power and influence within the D.C. area. People who would contradict them are nothing to them because in their home they would be nothing.

They forget that there's a whole country out here and a whole world besides it which doesn't automatically genuflect at their might in power in hopes of getting a shard of access or influence for itself.

Likewise, life for corporate executives is pretty good. They're surrounded by the same sort of wealth and power only they really run the shots. When they look out at who would challenge them they see nothing. They don't realize that people from that neighborhood a few miles away across town have no respect whatsoever for them and that their voice counts, and can be made to count against them, in a very real and potentially decisive way...in the context of how this society runs.


Actually he wasn't head of the German American Bund but just Nazi Germany's foremost propagandist in the United States prior to Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on Germany.
Fun with Google.

It's always good to have fun with Google.

It's really interesting the intersections between Reaganism and fascism.

Take Peter Viereck, one of the acknowledged heads of the philosophical wing of the Reagan Revolution.

He wrote a book on the Metapolitics of the Origin of Nazism.

While being an anti-Nazi Viereck should know a thing or two about the subject.

His father was George S. Viereck, head of the German-American Bund.

Which, for those who don't know, was the Nazi Party's American Affiliate.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

I was thinking about the absolute idiocy of saying that invading foreign countries was somehow an American tradition.

You know who war is a real tradition for? The Afghani warlords who are currently kicking our collective asses in Afghanistan while our boys have their clothes laundered by third world laborers imported to our bases just for that purpose.

Saying that invasion, or, using democracy and world stabilization as a pretext for invasion, is an American tradition puts us on about the same level as Genghis Khan. The Mongols after all did create a peaceful band of land from the Middle East to China, but of course they did it by destroying whatever culture, learning, and civilization, stood in their way and by creating a virtual totalitarian state. Do we really want to associate ourselves with that?

The new Genghis Khan. Not quite as appealing as "The Liberators of Iraq" now is it?
Responding to Alicublog's post about a poli-sci article which wanted to ground neo-conservatism in American traditions let me say that, 1) yeah, the "Founding Fathers" had views roughly similar to neo-conservatism but 2) the "Founding Fathers" were wrong and 3) as was pointed out in a recent Elaine Cassel article on Counterpunch (I believe it was her anyways), the "Founding Fathers" just wanted to seize power and so didn't even think of including a Bill of Rights (although they pretty much formulated neo-conservatism in the Federalist Papers) and 4) pick up games of basketball, baseball, and football are venerable American traditions; invading other countries and dominating them is not. I would love to argue with a person who believed that "traditions" could encompass imperialist foreign policy. Where did THAT tradition come from, from Auntie Vera's quilting club?

alicublog Oh what fun.

I think I'm going to add Alicublog to my blog roll.

That bit about the CDC survey coming back meaning that kids may not be getting laid as much because they're too fat is hilarious.
Professional Madmen is the best working class literature I've seen or heard since Gus Hall's "Working Class USA".

A really great political hip-hop group.

Recently, an actually very good political hip-hop group has come to my attention. Coming out of Olympia, they are a totally working class and minority point of view good hip-hop group.

Their name?

Resident Anti-Hero.

Their album "Professional Madmen" is particularly good.
Check them out at Space Gnome Records.Com

To help you out I've put a link to Space Gnome Records right on my links board.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Mystery solved.

Counterpunch.org has the quote on its head saying that it was called the best American political newsletter by Out of Bounds Magazine.

Out of Bounds Magazine is a prisoner support magazine coming out of the British Canadian prison system.

If my intuition is right it's put out by political prisoners or at least politicized prisoners in Canada.

I think that having an endorsement from a prisoner support group on ones masthead is a proud statement. If my blog received an endorsement like that I'd surely put it up. These people are fighting for the right things. It's an honor to be so complemented.

Michigan.

Why not Michigan?

You know, as long as I lived there I guess I always felt that something was missing. This changed only when I got into a good school where the expectations were that you would, or at least could, leave the state for college and so the act of leaving Michigan and becoming more cosmopolitan was accepted.
Leave it to the rich, or at least to the institutions that the rich are partially responsable for, to make a virtue out of what others would consider a vice.

Beyond that, yeah, something was missing and that something was missing all throughout Michigan society. It didn't change when you moved to a bigger town or aligned yourself with the establishment society. That's the problem. I could see, from my vantage point, that people who lived a conventional lifestyle in Michigan gave up an awful lot but still had to live under the sacrificial commandments that governed everyone else. They had to chop a big part of their life away and in return got nothing to compensate them for it.

Obediance was the major point of that although the midwest and Michigan in particular were not as overt about it as the South is.

And I didn't want any part in that. Why limit yourself so that you can slave away in an oscure midwestern town, city, or suburb, for the rest of your life?

Why even participate in such a society; because you know that participation will draw you in even further, right?

So I chose not to and flipped from the working class out of that scenario---the working class counter culture---to the upper class out from that scenario---the accepted cosmopolitanism which went along with getting into the academic and professional classes.

"Why go for second best baby put your love to the test?" as a former Michiganian once wrote. You've got to got to "Express yourself"!

Weird how Madonna wrote that.

Yeah, the working class counter culture lead to nowhere, but the upper class counter culture, if you can call it that, did. Most working class people who participated in that counter culture, I believe, are now hitting the wall of failed lives, chemical dependency, and generally facing no exits.

In other places the working class counter culture isn't so unforgiving; in other places people can stick with it and eventually get their way to some sort of normally upper class rich kid oriented instiution of higher learning and escape from the baggage of their class. In Michigan it's much harder, or at least that's what my experience of it was.

The Midwest.

I'm a midwesterner. There. I've said it. I've taken the first step. Just kidding.

My consciousness of being a midwesterner was long in coming. I'm from (roughly) the Detroit area and for a while I was in denial of being a midwesterner. I thought that Detroit was the last outpost of the East Coast and not part of all of that midwestern stuff. I wa wrong. Detroit surely is more Eastern than most midwest towns but it's still a midwest town. There's that whole Canada business separating it from Pennsylvania getting in the way of it being an East Coast city.

Maybe being aware that you're a midwesterner is something rare. Really. I think that the problem, or a problem, with the Midwest is that people there aren't aware that the life they live and the values they hold are different from those held in the East, or in the West, or in the South (even though the media constantly portrays the South as different you don't actually realize that it's different until you live there).

Hell, the first place I moved to after I left the inner suburbs of Detroit, which living there itself came about through a move from the country fringes of the Detroit area, was New York City.

I loved New York but the thing was, or at least one thing was, that I couldn't stand the Yankees.

I should qualify that since I have some friends who grew up in New England. It's not the Northeasterners that I disliked, it was the fact that if you scratched a whole bunch of New Yorkers who were acting uber hip what you'd find was in fact a guy (or gal) from Long Island or Up State who made the move to the big city and was copping a pose.

Underneath they were still damn New York State Yankees.

It just happened that by an accident of birth the "Big City" that they lived nearbye wasn't Detroit, or Chicago, or Pittsburgh, or Milwaukee, but New York City.

So I found that facet of New York City life incredibly false. It wasn't my culture, to begin with, and I didn't particularly want to conform to it when what I wanted to do was to lead a purely bohemian and avant-garde lifestyle, with none of this regionalism getting in the way.

Maybe I too was copping a pose, but I traveled several hundred miles by plane to do it.

Anyway, the Midwest is the Midwest. Can't say much more about it. Yeah, if you travel to some of the other cities in Michigan besides Detroit, like Flint or Saginaw or Port Huron, you'll see the midwest character of it a lot more clearly.

Detroit is part of it, but it's in denial.

I'm extremely glad I got the fuck out and didn't go to a Michigan school for college or I'd be enmeshed in the society which I really didn't have a good time instead of living in the Northwest and feeling like a King in his castle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

End of U.S. Empire or: It came from Walmart.

The rightwing at least has some sense: when they turn to justifications for U.S. dominance they say that the world scene has always had a hegemon, or powerful state, at its center which gives stability to the system through its influence. While they might be confusing what is, or has been, to what should be, factually they're right and they do describe what the U.S., as the dominant state in the world scene, is attempting to do. And also what it has in fact done since the end of World War II.

All imperial hegemons have come to that status through perfecting a particular economic mode of production which gives them an edge over everyone else. The Spanish initially got the edge over everyone else through their combination of exploration and straight exploitation of the populations they controlled. The English supplanted them by tieing their empire to commercial capitalism---as opposed to straight exploitation without any mediation between goods extracted and the ultimate source of wealth. The Americans have triumphed due to corporate capitalism.

Which is why if you want to understand where the torture at Abu Gharib came from it might be better to look to how big businesses like Walmart or McDonalds or any of the huge retail and service chains which now make up an inordinate amount of the U.S. economy operate.

The same unquestioning loyalty mixed with dazingly bad ignorance which you find in the military over their is replicated and promoted by the way corporate capitalism over here is run.

Over here, if you get a job at one of the big corporate places, you essentially have to sell your soul and buy into the group think and management bullshit of the company just to earn a wage slightly above the legal minimum. They don't want any pesky workers getting promoted into the higher reaches of the company so they put the bar to advancement so high in terms of personal sacrifice neccesary that they dissuade all but the most servile boot lickers and yes men from seeking advancement.

Get along, get with the group think, and you don't have to worry about things like what's happening in the real world, or critical thinking. If you can get a fat paycheck by just towing the line then why bother?

Corporate capitalism has replicated itself in the military, as would be expected from an empire which is at its base founded on corporate principles, and so I think that people move pretty quickly from buying into what they're told at their previous workplace to buying in and doing what they're told in the military.

Only in the military the consequences of getting along for getting ahead and shutting out the rest of the world, including things like the Geneva Convention which it would be nice of them to know about, are torture, humiliation, and random gratuitous killings of civillians, along with general dehumanization.

In the big chain stores the consequences of corporate fascism are safely tucked away in the third world.

Reading the latest accounts by people who were tortured in Abu Gharib prison it becomes clear that the soldiers there were taking their
indignation over 9/11 out on the Iraqis because they believed that the Iraqis were responsable for it.

Again, that whole get along so that you can get ahead mentality strikes again. If they were paying attention to things as good citizens instead of towing the line they might have known that that connection was bullshit.

I'm not saying that everyone who's in the military, primarily enlisted people, buys into this, but people take into the military that which they've learned at home, and corporate group think is a pretty potent force in today's society---one so potent that for people with few other options the consequences of not getting along with it can be severe materially.

But you have to put the buck somewhere.
Were kids from working class families in the British Army during the British Empire all just nice guys looking to get ahead in life or did a high percentage of them actually believe the propaganda of the British government and desperately want to carry out their 'civilizing' mission? I don't have the facts on that one but I'd assume that the percentage was pretty high. And where did belief in that propaganda come from? At the same time people were trucking off to far flung places in the British Empire the trade union movement was steadily growing back home, composed of people who seemed to think that other things were important than fighting for the economic well being of Britain's upper classes. Why didn't they go? Could it be that some of these young British soldiers had bought into the paradigm of empire propounded by the upper classes, with the knowledge that if they did so they'd be rewarded economically and socially? I think that's likely.

That's the same thing we're seeing here only it's a different mode of production; but one which, hopefully, like the commercial capitalism of the British Empire, is nearing its end.

Just wanted to remind people who may be upset about the fact that the Cannes Palm d'or award is French that "Patriotism" is a French word. It came into use in English through the Normans. And it still means the same thing in French that it does in English, moreso now after the French Revolution. Sure, it all came from Latin originally, but, in case you didn't know, English isn't a Romance language and Latin roots don't randomly fall out of the sky into European languages.

Think about that next time you criticize the French. Or people who accept French awards.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I may have been discovered.

I use a publicly available computer center for some of my postings and I think that one guy in there saw the blog and either looked it up or recognized it. If so, congratulations on finding me out.....but please keep some sort of a lid on it until June 11th, when I'll be relaxing comfortably in North Florida for a month or so, out of the greater Seattle area for a little while.

If you like Outlaw Woman by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz;

I'd recommend looking into her academic book about land rights in New Mexico. It's one of those books which is very good but which I just didn't have enough time to do justice to. I read the first few sections, into the section on the beginnings of Spanish Colonialism, and was really impressed.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Beginning of the end or end of the beginning.

Like most other people I've been trying to digest the constant revelations, in the form of photos and written testimony, about the abuse which went on in Abu Gharib and elsewhere.

What does this say about America? I think that it says that America is a country just like any other.

It says that America as a revolutionary consciousness is done and that we now must take our place at the table of nations just like any other state.

I think that there's a parallel between what's happening now and what happened to France after the 1830 Revolution.

1830, which followed years of Royalist control of France in a sort of counter-revolutionary spirit, signalled that France was going back to business as usual as a nation.

Prior to the Carlist reaction, which gave the Royalists control of France after Napoleon's final spate at ruling, the idea that the French Revolution was very present in politics and that because of this the French could play a very important role in bringing democracy and civil rights, or at least modernisation, to Europe, or at least could genuinely see themselves as doing this.

The French Revolution in its proper form wanted to take over Europe and impose the Revolution on everyone else; this idea was carried over into the Directory and was then carried over to Napoleon's runs at conquering Europe.

After the reaction was defeated not by a Bonapartiste or a Republican but by an Orleanist coalition, a coalition of moderates, the French Revolution as a living force was all but dead.

What replaced it was a semi-Republican France which carved out for itself a much more moderate place in the world scene.

I don't think it's a coincidence that many of the French Romantic writers emerged during this post-1830 phase. Chateaubriand was earlier, I think, but was a conservative harbinger of the mood to come. People like Vigny and Hugo set their stories in a France where the Republican ethos was no longer something people immediately fought about in the streets but was instead something which shared its space in the public consciousness with more quotidian and philosophical concerns.

This type of era is what I see the U.S. entering as a result of the discovery that, yes, we aren't these superbeings fighting for liberty with every breath but are just another nation with the defects and abuses which typify any nation.

Chomsky wrote that it's strange to think of States as having some sort of moral force behind them. States are states, says Chomsky, and they behave as States---that is, in their own self interest---no matter what the history behind them is. I'm inclined to agree with this statement.

Weren't the British supposed to be champions of liberty too..(?)...ah but then the British Empire happened.

Maybe the bourgeois skin of American ideology is finally moving a little bit, revealing the real state of the nation, which is better in certain respects than elsewhere, worse in certain respects than elsewhere, but generally equivalent to that found in modern western industrialized nations.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Saxton's book points out an enduring contradiction in the fight to bring socialism to America: how do you advocate equalization in a society which is based on the appropriation of lands from the native people and legal discrimination against minorities?

If you start out talking "equality equality equality" the question comes up "Whose equality?". The equality of white people? Equalizing in any relevant way means addressing the very unequal suppositions which underlay the economy and society of the nation, and addressing them may violate certain cherished ideas which said equalizing ideology may be based on.

Actually, it's Alexander Saxton not Sexton.
You have to read the "Blackface Minstrelry" chapter of Alexander Sexton's excellent examination of Jacksonian politics entitled "The rise and fall of the white republic".

It explains why there is such a total disconnect between the images of African Americans in contemporary popular culture and the actual reality of African American life.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Ha Ha Ha.

This is the most amusing story I've seen in a while (via Atrios).

Iranian Intelligence was running Chalabi, and we payed him $345,000 a month for years
Rumsfeld Did It!

Read this. Please. For the Love of God. Read this. And I'll listen to "Detroit vs. the Lords of Acid".
Sober.

Lately sobriety has become a part of my life. This is a good thing. After a very l-o-o-o-n-g weekend I've finally managed to kick all the things that I was dependent on. It feels very good. Undoubtedly the quality of the writing on this blog will improve because of it.

Being sober is fun. It's being back to real life. I don't have to walk around wondering when my next lucid moment connected to the real world will be.

I'm in reality.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Paralellism between the enlightenment, the post-enlightenment, and the aims of professed capitalists as opposed to the means that they suggest will get us there.

An interesting parallel structure emerges if you look at the aims and basis that the enlightenment philosophers of liberalism hoped for and drew on, the conceptions of society and where it was going that the early sociologists formulated, and the goals to which defenders of capitalism profess.

None of them pictures society or what society should look like as a barren wasteland of buying and selling, on the one hand, and alienated labor and alienated existence, on the other.

All of them picture a society where needs are met in a rich context----something which goes beyond saying "Everyone will have a decent standard of living"---instead going into quite a bit of detail about balance between work, possessing a home and the means of navigating in society, possessing enough food, possessing the means for meaningful leisure activities, possessing the means by which either they or their children will attain social advancement commensurate with their abilities, all within a sort of self regulating system.

While a few capitalist philosophers, like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, make the focus of their systems how failure and social disorder are actually good things which society should take on the chin---or else---most of the people who are rational and who have some awareness of moral philosophy have quite a different view about what society should be looking for. It's only in the means to getting there where they diverge from socialist philosophers.

This is the elephant in the room. If you look at what the early enlightenment aimed at for society and put it into modern terms it's socialism. If you look at what the early sociologists, including those like Emile Durkheim---maybe especially those like Emile Durkheim---thought society was tending towards in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and take out what they thought was getting us there---usually capitalism---and similarly put it into modern terms it's similarly socialist.

No one wants to live in the sort of world that pure greed and possesiveness create.
When people sit down to write their thoughts on what consitutes a good society it doesn't matter what else is present in their reasoning the results are consistant.

But the means and the ends often aren't.

One person whose book fits this description, who is otherwise pro-capitalist and pro-monetarist even, declares at one point that the currency speculators will always trump the national bankers because the currency speculators are supposedly dependant on the support of their clientele and thereby an integral part of the greater capitalist economy, while the national bankers---people who work for central government banks---are only responsable for fulfilling policy decisions and are therefore not as able and quick to respond to what the currency market does.

The author neglects to mention that the policy aims of national bankers are often to keep the country in which they reside economically stable and possessing a certain standard of living and distribution of income.

So, yes, I suppose, they are just fulfilling policy decisions; but the policy decisions are directly linked to the welfare of the nation unlike the actions of currency speculators who are only accountable to a nebulous web of global capitalism---whose relevance to increasing the well being of people around the world has not been proven.

Means and ends. What this person wants in society is something resembling a socialist state where "money" as such doesn't exist and is instead replaced by a network of different currencies all linked to particular aspects of economic life---you'd have house money, car, money, retirement money, school money, etc...---which is how the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc worked.

OK, so if people are generally agreed on what a good society should look like why can't they get down and say that we should work directly for that kind of society instead of putting the aim behind a mechanism which has only indirect claims to even function in the basic way that they outline. Why, if the good society is a constant, do we want to always throw in the most absurd reasons for why we shouldn't consciously work towards it. If you have zoning laws, so Friedrich Hayek says, we'll disrupt an unconscious market mechanism which will in the end rebound against us. So don't even say that a industrial plant shouldn't be next to a residential district even though the presence of such a thing would directly violate the idea of a good society while passing zoning laws would not.

People want good standards of living and decent wages, but don't get the idea of a union---whose job it is to ensure decent standards of living and decent wages---into the picture or you'll throw off the whole functioning of society.

People don't want cancer caused by exposure to chemicals, don't want polluted drinking water, don't want environmental disasters caused by exploding oil pipes and chemical lines---or nuclear meltdowns---but don't think of regulating the chemicals that we can put in the air and the water, or ensuring that adequate safety is put in place regarding facillities with the potential to destroy the basic capability of the surrounding areas to support life because again, you'll be messing up the infinitely complex workings of capitalism and will end up making things worse for everyone.

People like parks, they like nature, they like that there are great expanses in this country where people can go and experience nature in a pristine state with all of the wildlife that you can't find in towns and cities, but don't think of preventing logging and mining in national parks, don't think of keeping up an endangered species list to protect said wildlife, because you'll end up unneccesarily limiting potential areas of economic expansion which will end up hurting us all.

Nothing comes for free and nothing comes from nothing. If there isn't some sort of causation established for any of this, why in the world do people support doign things which visibly destroy the things they profess to want in an immediate and direct way and instead defer towards invisible, indirect, unprovable, unproven, and often tangential 'factors' as more important than what they see around them.

I had a teacher once in the eighties who, in giving us her Nobel prize winning critique of homelessness, said that "Yeah, I see that homeless guy by the mall, but I bet that underneath the dirty clothes he has an armfull of gucci watches and goes home to a nice house after the day is over". Right. He was just pretending to be homeless, instead of checking into work at the nice executive job which he obviously has, and obviously pulls down a few hundred grand from, just so that he could pick up some pocket change from unsuspecting people motivated by thoughts of moral decency.

Between the known and the unknown I'd choose the known, and socialism is a known while unregulated capitalism, despite a few hundred years to prove itself, remains, still, a very big unknown.

Freedom in America.

Contrary to popular belief the business of America hasn't been freedom, really, but business.

Which is why the attempt to restrict civil liberties after 9/11 by intimidating people into not asking questions in public and enriching our public discourse with honest commentary shouldn't come as any surprise. They needed something to control people once the Soviet Union was gone.

Hopefully we'll overcome it, but the real tradition of America shouldn't be overlooked.

America, the land of opportunity, isn't reall America, the land of liberty. All throughout the 19th century the battle cry was enrichez-vous, with liberty given much lip service but not a lot of realization.

That changed largely because in the late 19th century immigrants came into the U.S. who were both seeking economic opportunity and political freedom and who were not about to let go of their radical beliefs.

Other waves of immigration from radical areas, like Germany after 1844, were absorbed and coopted; they became economically comfortable, didn't do much in the way of rabble rousing, and pretty much kept to themselves and their communities, thereby nullifying a lot of the radical potential to force the issue of civil liberties for Americans.

By contrast, those who didn't assimilate but were from hated ethnic groups, like the Irish, weren't even allowed equal status even though for the most part they were conservative Catholics and not really radical.

The combination of hated ethnicity and unbreakable radical idealism is what forced the issue.

Freedom of assembly? IWW demonstrations were broken up and the people considered to be the leaders tortured and killed without a peep in the days after WWI. One civil liberties historian put it this way (I'm paraphrasing):"People can't come into your house, wreck all your stuff, and castrate you because of your political beliefs, without a peep from the community, like they used to be able to do, and so that's a good thing". Albert Parsons, a radical in Chicago in the late 19th century, was abducted, beaten, and thrown down stairs after he emerged as a talented speaker during the Pullman strike, which Paul Avrich described as being the closest thing to a continental general strike that the U.S., or any country for that matter, had ever seen. One of the political bosses in Chicago made this comment to Parsons, and again I'm paraphrasing,"We have another great institution in America called lynching, and if these radicals are going to cause civil disturbance which can't be handled by legal means the people of Chicago will take the law into their own hands".

Yeah, talking about lynching as being a American institution says a lot about the 19th century.

What is indisputable is that America, because of it's fluid and new nature, can give rise to liberty and freedom which isn't enjoyed elsewhere. But that's true about all of the New World, Canada, Central , and South America included. We've made good on it more publicly and possibly more thoroughly than the other countries of the New World but if you really look into it you'll find radical writers, artists, pursuers of freedom, free spirits, etc... in every New World country. The rub is that mostly they've been isolated and the communities that they've nourished have been small compared to the large conservative elements in their countries. But certain places have chosen a different path. That's what Tropicalia in Brasil was all about. See "Tropical Truth" by Caetano Veloso to see the New World idea of freedom pursued in a Portugese/Lusophone context.

Which isn't to devalue the radicals of South and Central America in any way. After all, there's a reason why huge leftist movements have erupted there, and it's the same reason why huge counter-cultural movements have erupted here....but there the economic situation is constantly in the forefront, so they don't have the luxury of focussing on counter-cultural activism while leaving economic justice to someone else.

But take Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. If you want proof that the New World in general produces some really cool and interesting thinkers and pursuers of freedom, there you go. Castro has gone on to turn Cuba into a stalinist dictatorship, but the youthful Castro was certainly a real and genuine radical. Jose Marti....I'd rather not think about Jose Marti, although the Cuban government promotes him relentlessly, because his prose is so damn bad and overworked. But that's just me.

Yeah, Che Guevara. He didn't come out of nowhere.

Jose Mariategui in Peru didn't either. I used to like Mariategui an awful lot until I realized that he cribbed a lot of his philosophy of life from Benedetto Croce who as an aesthetic theorist is wonderful but as a political theorist.....I'm not so sure.

We have the economic element and the liberty element in the New World, and it's up to us that the liberty element prevails both in the sphere of civil liberties and in the sphere of economic liberties, and that the profit motive, which built this great and unequal wealth, is relegated to a much lower position where it can't do much harm.

The colonial legacy of the United States and of the New World has to be overthrown so that the legacy of freedom and community can predominate. We're talking about social change, not neccesarily referring to particular governments etc...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Oh happy day! Perry Anderson's book is still in print.
Actually, the guy's name is Richard Wollheim. Want to put in another plug for Perry Anderson's book "Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism". I have a lot of fun with that book, it's a constant source of enjoyment and insight. Hopefully we can get it back in print (hint hint).

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Wollheim.

If you have time check out a book called "The Thread of Life" By Richard Wollheim,longtime professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkely.

It's something about how to have a sort of good life, and worth checking out, but I don't have the time at this particular juncture to actually read it and finish it.

It was recommended by a friend of a friend.
As another article says (referring to the mother) "You've come a long way, baby"
Oh and she's pregnant now. And back at Ft. Bragg because we don't want our mothers-to-be in combat zones. What a surprise she has a kid on the way. It'll be distinguished by having a whole battalion to call 'daddy'.
Getting better and better

It just gets better and better. Now it appears that the person in the Iraqi prisoner photos who was pointing at the genitals acted as the troop whore.

Wow, America, your moral standards are exemplary. And these are the people who are supposed to be the embodiment of patriotism, and who, if you criticize, you beome anuthher un-aye-merycan crittah?
"Some people think you can bullshit anyone."

Rumsfeld's walking papers have already started running. Read this and listen to the impeachment bells chime.


Seymour M. Hersh: 'Rumsfeld ordered Abu Ghraib torture'
Contributed by midu on Sunday, May 16 @ 09:22:02 EDT
------------------------------------------------------------------------
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib
By Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker
The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld's decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of elite combat units, and hurt America's prospects in the war on terror.
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
Rumsfeld, during appearances last week before Congress to testify about Abu Ghraib, was precluded by law from explicitly mentioning highly secret matters in an unclassified session. But he conveyed the message that he was telling the public all that he knew about the story. He said, "Any suggestion that there is not a full, deep awareness of what has happened, and the damage it has done, I think, would be a misunderstanding." The senior C.I.A. official, asked about Rumsfeld's testimony and that of Stephen Cambone, his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, said, "Some people think you can bullshit anyone."
Sleeping and waking.


Going through life I've had the experience of waking up and going back to sleep. When I go to sleep a part of me or a part of my personality goes dormant and takes the backburner, as if that part will never be able find expression in the particular situation. When I wake up those parts of my life which I thought were gone suddenly come back to life, life expands, consciousness expands, and a better balance is achieved. Old issues are settled, things left unresolved are resolved, things come together. The contractions are the opposite of this. Hopefully life will have more awakenings than dormancies from now on.

Friday, May 14, 2004

We cannot know where nature leads us but we must go.
Personality is nothing
The life of the mind in nature is everything.
Hegelian idealism.

There is a common consciousness, a common I which, in its existence, is present on the ideal plane of things. Because we have a sort of 'in' on the plane of real life we can then use this "I" as a canvas which can be worked back and forth by interaction with nature, transforming the "I" into something else, something which exists within the process of nature rather than just something which exists into an of itself only.

Where nature ultimately leads us is unknown, but it would not even be possible to have this type of experience if it were not for the already present, basic, consciousness, of a primitive I which can interact with the rest of the world on a qualitative basis.

So life and everything else is structured roughly by the enduring mind, which is the I, which humanity brings with it to the table of life. This "I" rarely stays an "I", and shouldn't really, but is rather transformed into something which is part of the active process of life by conscious interaction. Conscious interaction takes the mind and situates it in a nature which leads off into infinity. Where it goes no one can say, but the chance to have this sort of experience is only possible because of the presence of an active, mental, intelligence, wihch is somewhat stable, behind the ego of the personality.

By using this active intelligence and being receptive to nature and the world around you, instead of being merely passive, you shed the provincialism of the I and transform the mind into an active part of nature, which nature can then reveal the real work of life to.

Death leads nowhere, life is structured within the active nature which the mind can participate in. And by participating the mind shows its true capacity, which is infinite.



Maragret Cho again.

In the last lines of the previous post about Margaret Cho I said she'd be a person I could hang with.
Let me make a clarification on that: Margaret Cho, if you're ever in the Seattle area again, send me an e-mail and we will hang out.
Why conservatives hate the French.

I've been wondering about the Francophobia that's actually stayed around after the first absurd blush and might conceivably become a part of our political culture, although I hope it doesn't.

Why?

Well, actually, I think the answer is quite simple; I'm sure that the Machiavellian neo-cons are well aware of what their doing since they studied Leo Strauss and Strauss did after all write volumes about the history of political ideas and philosophy, even if they are all pieces of crap.

The reason, first of all, why France doesn't come to heel when the U.S. calls is that it has its own revolutionary tradition and ideals, with about a hundred years of civil war fought over those ideals behind it, and it doesn't need the U.S.'s line of American Revolutionary bullshit in order to stand up in the world order. No federalist papers there. Instead a different and totally equivalent, if not superior, tradition, which doesn't make France feel in any way lesser because in chosing it it doesn't buy into the American juggernaut.

The right hates France because France represents an alternative to the rhetoric the right is pushing, which relies on an overdose of American Revolutionary rigamorole in order to keep its effectiveness. If people were aware that an alternate way of seeing these things, a way which is equally patriotic (it's a french word, remember?), exists, they might not be so quick to sign onto the Bush war machine.

So France has to be demonized and marginalized, much as Russia was, with the very different circumstances being that because Napoleon took over much of Europe and forced the French Revolution on them, most of Europe's tradition of liberty and patriotism flows from the French model. So in effect the U.S. is making itself into a hermetically sealed chamber, 'cause no one outside of it gives a damn about Francophilia, seeing as much of their political systems are based on French models.

But it's keeping an alternative out of circulation that the conservatives are concerned with, so let's keep it in circulation as long as possible.

France, you will not be forgotten!

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I am a Cho Ho.

Went down to Olympia to see Margaret Cho at "The" Evergreen State College. Not "Evergreen State College", it has to be "The", I guess.

Wonderful fucking show. Was laughing my ass off. An redneck behind me was grumbling about the political stuff and a couple of hardcore lesbians left when she started talking about dildos but in general it was a show that was appreciated by the whole audience.

Lot of political stuff, which was done really well and which was relevant and needed. Stuff about the soldiers at Abu Gharib. The person pointing their fingers at the guy when he masturbated was a recurring theme. I was glad. She slammed that bitch. I'm not the only one who thinks that these people violated moral codes so basic that they shouldn't even noramlly be brought to the surface and examined.

Her warm up act was good too. Jeff Daniels? John Daniels? Whoever, he was a good act.

Jesus Christ, the Gay Reserves, like the Army Reserves....going to half to remember that.

Olympia is Olympia. It's one of these towns up here that's not easily reducable. Like a little town sort of away from the city that has a slough of alternative bars and everyone has tattoos and piercings.

There are quite a few towns up here where you just don't know what happened to them but you're glad that it happened, however it happened, and visit them and appreciate it.

The Evergreen State College. Evergreen. Jesus. Nice campus, quite far into the woods, but....I'm glad that it's there.

I may add a link to Margaret Cho's blog in the future. Depending on the quality. I hope it's good. She's lost weight, I was surprised....considering that quite a lot of the "Notorious C.H.O." was about her saying that being overweight is OK and that she was pressured to be thin by her parents and society it was surprising. But whatever happened, I'm sure she's happy. And so young! I could hang out with her.

Kenneth Rexroth.

I've been haunted by something that Kenneth Rexroth wrote in his collection of essays, "The World Outside the Window", for well, possibly a few years by now, but I think I've got a solution to it.

What he said, in talking about the Avant-Garde and the socialists, was that really at this point the only people who become Avant-Gardes are those who grew up in the country away from the big city and then came to the big city to make it. Those who came didn't pass the radicalism down to their children who, as Rexroth points out, lead pretty conventional lives, even if they were a little different.

Being someone from the country who has an intrest in radical politics and also, to a degree, in avant-garde art and literature, the criticsm struck me pretty hard, as many of Rexroth's insightful barbs often do to people.

But I think I've found the answer, and that the answer is something that Rexroth may not have seen because he was in the millieu which can generate a meaningful, sustained, radical population for the duration and after. I'm talking about the working class. Rexroth was a totally self-edcated worker who had been involved in proletarian literature and political movements since he was a child; I keep expecting to find somewhere in a description of Rexroth that he was a member of the Knights of Labor as well as the IWW etc... The Knights of Labor was a radical union which had its heyday in the last years of the 19th century and, I think the very early years of the 20th, before Rexroth was born.

And Rexroth never left that consciousness even as he became a world reknowned poet and translator, one who helped found the San Francisco Rennaisance and just kept going on and on and on.....till the end, pretty much.

So I think that Rexroth overlooked the potential for workers to generate the sort of mismatch between aims and reality which he figured made the people from the country go to the city to pursue fame and their interests.

The working class, unlike the country, is not something which is steadily receding, and the contrast between what working class reality offers and what the mental space of the bourgeoisie offers is solid and enduring, so I think that until the damn system is overthrown and there isn't a separate "bourgeois world", where philosophy and literature and politics are available (filtered through a lens, you have to work around that) which aren't elsewhere, that tension will keep on revivifying the avant-garde and the radical socialist and anarchist movements.

And it should.

Capitalist justifictions.

Recently I came across a book in my local (chain) bookstore written by financial affairs pundit Michael Barone entitled "Hard and Soft America". Now, leaving behind any sexual connotations which Mr. Barone transferred from his subconscious to his book title, the content of the book is interesting.

His thesis is that there's a "Hard" America, which works for what it gets and is responsable etc..., and a "Soft" America, which has been coddled and believes in entitlement. The kicker here is that Barone is known for commentaries on the stock market, which is probably the biggest wish fulfillment operation in the United States.

Aligning the forces of capitalism and business with "Hard" America Barone doesn't really know what he's saying.

All of capitalist economics is based on the thesis that consumption drives the economy; not production, not even "management" (although some have integrated this notion into their belief systems along side consumption). Look through any book on business and the gist of it will be how companies need to be creative in meeting consumers' needs so that they can sell, sell, sell, and therefore make make and make money.

Why does this contradict Barone's thesis? If you look at coddling, if you look at what being spoiled means, you'll find that......tada!....much of it revolves around the notion that people should be able to have as much as they want, whenver they want, regardless of having to do anything for it and regardless of the cost, which they should pay for but don't want to.
In other words being a member of "Soft America" means submtting to the trends and influences which capitalist America puts out there to try to get people to buy more and therefore drive the economy.

If consumption drives the economy, or if the economy is set up so that consumption becomes a big part of it, it's only natural that people will follow through on the urge to consume by becoming slaves to getting things possessing things and buying things, no matter what the cost and no matter what the consequences, and that this will make them, collectively, the sort of spoiled brats that Barone complains about---in mentality if not in actual life. Not everyone has the resources to carry out their spoiled brattage but many can have the mindset which makes them eager to do a little work to enjoy the same excess.

What is "Hard America", then?
I think that Barone really flubs on this one, and it's not something that he came up with himself: the capitalists of the U.S. appropriated the language of conservatism and twisted it to their purposes, keeping the tropes while altering the content as if you could do one without the other.

Conservatives made the argument over and over that the capitalist economy was corrupting, that putting pleasure ahead of character and moral principles was corrosive, that being concerned with what you could get instead of being an upstanding citizen was the beginning of the end. This is where the capitalist moral handwringing comes from. Only somehow capitalism is thought to instill those values in people that the originators of this trope thought it would destroy. How about that.

Put into its context the conservative argument at least recognized that there was a sphere of life outside of that of the economy and tried to come up with a sense of harmony, balance, and rightness which would lead to a decent society. That in the process they also put themselves on the side of class, privilege, and against some (but not all) civil liberties, is unfortunate but understandable considering the time in place in which they wrote. Taking that away leaves one with a rarity in today's political climate: a politcal philosophy that doesn't conflate economics with political theory, doesn't say "Liberalism works pretty much the way that Adam Smith said the capitalist system works". What it is is the last stand of "traditional" Europe, Traditional in the sense of being pre-industrial and pre-capitalist, which means Europe when Europe had at least some sort of connection with the normal modes of living which non-Western cultures from the Chinese to the Indians to the Africans to the Native Americans of north and south America possessed as well.

Which is why it's a bad thing to censor ones reading list; generally speaking these people can give us some insight onto what a balanced society would look like, which can be applied to today's world without swallowing their whole ideology hook, line, and sinker.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I see the Taiwan spammers are at it again.

For those of you who don't know, these people see it as their patriotic duty to fight communism by sending out spam to those they don't like.
It was waning for a long time but I guess my pro-China article pissed them off.

All I can say is that Taiwan is a totally bought out culture, bought and paid for by the U.S. Whether they ape U.S. culture out of their own desires or whether it's forced on them, from what I've seen of Taiwanese TV, which, in the Seattle area is available sometimes via a world tv station, they aren't much better than Singapore at this point, which is about as Western as you can get while still being Asian.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Stan Goff is the Man!!!

I just procured a copy of "Full Spectrum Disorder" by Stan Goff and have been just been absorbed with it. Get a copy. Or, if you are a federal official, your office probably already has a copy so you shouldn't have too much trouble requesting it.

I can't begin to do the book justice. In part this is because of the pitiable position of the left. As said in "Pacifism as Pathology" by Ward Churchill, it's not that real aggressive and militant tactics are the thing that should be pursued as opposed to what the left is doing right now but rather the mindset which goes way beyond condemning bad acts by individuals and instead restrains political action to largely token gestures, condemning things not for what they are but for the "stand point" taken by the people doing them, which really needs to be broken through in this country.

Goff is likely to piss all of them off because he's a career military person who, now on the other side, talks about military issues in a way that's not totally condemnatory.

In fact, the situation is such that anything that I really said on this website concerning what he says in the book is likely to be twisted around and distorted to make me out to be some sort of dangerous person. By the Left itself. So I'm not going to invite abuse onto myself by doing it, unfortunately.

I'll just say this: if you can't reckon with the beast you can't devise a course of action (I'm slipping into Goff's style unconsciously here) which can stop the bad things the beast is doing, even if that course of action is simply mass protests. There's a difference between looking at what the U.S. is doing head on and trying to understand it and pretending that, even though we're protesting a war which is being fought right now, we should instead look at everything but the war itself and act on general moral impulses which we hope can somehow fix every problem with no more intellectual engagement than that on our part.

I prefer the former. Most of the left prefers the latter, and if they keep on with this history will pass them by, simply because rational insight will always be more meaningful than pat formulas relating to what we hope, in some paralell universe, the world actually works by. It's the difference between sitting in a coffee house and discussing 'liberty' and looking at the American Revolution and trying to find out the ramifications, good and bad, for freedom which resulted in American society from that historical event.

Actually, the problem isn't States' rights vs. the Federal government but capitalism. When our Abu Gharib pictures surface the call won't be for states' rights but for a reformation of our economic system into something like a social democracy. Scroll down to the lower portion of the previous post to get to the portion which this entry is referring to.

Monday, May 10, 2004

People of the Pacific Northwest.

I wasn't obviously around for the big culture war which broke out concerning homosexuality and gay rights here, but I have some clues about its origin.

You see, there's a difference between people being tolerant in general and being tolerant in the way which you want them to be.

The people of the Pac NW are indeed tolerant folks, mostly, but that doesn't neccesarily mean that that tolerance is the same as the tolerance of someone from New York City.

People moved out here because people in general were tolerant; now it was only a matter of time before what people were doing, acting on their own ideas of what was acceptable, came into conflict with what people around here who were native in the sense of growing up here personally believed was acceptable and what wasn't.

Now gay rights is an issue which is sort of stealth because of the fact that until very recently the U.S. wasn't really gay friendly. It wasn't considered to be that bad of a thing not to tolerate gays, although people might have condemned others for not being open minded about it. So you have this issue which secretly lingered throughout the U.S., in people who otherwise might have been really liberal and open, and it was called into play by the growing openness of gays in society.

I think that the conservative Christian establishment has really misused people's genuine sort of uncomfortability with gays and gay rights for its own purposes but it didn't invent the latent tension which errupted here.

Nor is the issue, on the other hand, irresolvable. Family values are seen and recognized by what people do, so gays living in a community which sees that they're ok will probably swing that community over to acceptance, I hope.

****

Yes, the Christian Right found a great ploy to get people to reject liberalism. It replaced racism as their big issue.

Gay rights is never pictured as simply gay rights. Instead it's used as a trojan horse by the Right to smuggle in the spector of real lawlessness, which would of course neccessitate restrictive laws etc..

In the South the spector of equal rights for blacks was piggy backed on the notion that enacting these laws would mean rape of white women, seizure of white property, and blacks in power taking away white property and basically abusing white people. These things, if taken in the abstract, are things which no one would want to happen to them; if realized it would be a real evil. So the idea was that if you opened up this sort of 'safe liberalism' that real evil, which was not safe, would follow, and that this would cast a pall on all other 'safe liberal' ideas, neccessitating conservative laws against things which, to follow the thinking, on the surface appeared harmless.

It was undermined of course by the reality of the situation of blacks in the South. The real discrimination had little to do with protecting against evil. And it was discredited. But not before it became a wedge issue which convinced many otherwise liberal whites in the south to sign on to reactionary politics. Witness the fact that Strom Thurmond was a tried and true supporter of the New Deal and of Roosevelt before the instituting of civil rights from Truman on brought out the Dixiecrat in him.

Gay rights don't have the stigma that legal segregation in the South did. Gays seemingly live lives without obvious oppression and, as said before, unease about gays isn't limited to a strict geographical area like segregationist hatred of blacks was. People could identify with anti-gay rhetoric without thinking that they were supporting a peculiar institution similar to the legacy of slavery in the South.

The conservative right has followed the same program with gays that it did in the South with blacks: if you let gays not be discriminated in jobs, in housing, and in adopting children it'll open the door to chlid molestation, to illicite orgies which will destroy society, to drug use, to sexual anarchy, etc.. in other words to things which many people would see as definitely bad, if not directly linked to obvious evil, with the exception of child molestation. Because of this doorway, so the thinking goes, we have to restrict gay rights and then go on to restrict other rights because the experience with gay liberation will have 'proven' to people that other liberal tolerance does not work and that it will always lead to serious societal problems.

Same thing with abortion, although the argument that if abortion is legalized you'll have fucking in the streets and blacks doing all sorts of bad things is one which has a definitely limited audience. It worked better in the Reagan years when you could openly link things like that to people on welfare, although the link between the proliferation of unwed mothers on state support and people having abortions, which would reduce the amount of unwed mothers, isn't so clear.

I suppose the thinking goes that if you allow one that the other will neccesarily rise because people will be having more sex in general.

That usually appeals to those who are uneasy with sex, not to people in general.
Gay sex, though, is sort of a forbidden zone where you don't have to be a repressed conservative to get anxious about it.

*****

There's an underground current of thought, which I've actually come to believe in quite a lot, which links the rise in availability of LSD and other drugs to the government.

I didn't think much of it until I heard, in a taped speech, Ward Churchill give it his approval. This led me to research it further, which meant leafing through a book on the subject.

The evidence is pretty good that there was something going on there that's not really known or acknowledged, the first thing being the actual discovery of the substance.

It's usually attributed to a mistake in the lab by Albert Hoffman who, while researching anti-migraine medication and medication to ease labor looked into the folk practices of the people of Mexico and found that they used ergot for that purpose. He supposedly took a tiny bit accidentally and went on a famous bike ride tripping.

But the story has a few gaps. First of all he's usually pictured as a Swiss researcher working for Sandoz, which has since change its name to something absurd in the hope of being less threatening. However, the discovery was during WWII and Sandoz was actually owned by a company which was part of I.G. Farben, which had been natoinalized by the Nazis and was essentially a Nazi enterprise, even if it was in Switzerland.

So in working for a Nazi company during WWII Hofman is looking into anti-migraine medication and suddenly discovers one of the most potent hallucinogens known to man? Considering the Nazi interest in mind control this story seems specious at best.

Then there's the issue of how it was that a substance which otherwise would have come under the already harsh drug laws established for things like marijuana and heroin was suddenly available to psychiatrists, at first research psychiatrists but then psychiatrists in general who were 'in the know', to such an extent that they started having parties with it. It then became available to the general public through the company itself, again to people in the know. Considering that the U.S. government was heavily involved in LSD research through the now-infamous-to-a-point-where-it's-trite MKULTRA program the fact that one of the drugs they were researching as a truth serum suddenly became widely available through a half-underground network and they didn't do much to stop it, makes one think twice about whether it was they who really wanted it out there or whether the psychiatrists just worked behind their backs.

Churchill puts it like this: before the rise of the drug culture people were reading Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diary and getting inspired, after the drug culture they were reading Carlos Castaneda and going nowhere.......and then when some of the culture in the seventies returned to heavy politicization it often took absolutist and authoritarian tones. Could there be a link with the bull shit that Castaneda put out and the equally weird politics that these people adopted? Churchill thinks there's a direct link between the LSD culture and the rise in cultural studies of do nothing navel gazing which asserts that the world doesn't exist but is instead just a cultual construct.

The point of all this, which I'm getting to laconically, is that yes, drugs and the rise of drug use have really hurt a lot of people, and they've been a bad influence on our culture, but is this really a byproduct of the sixties counter-culture and student movements or is it a possibility which has been fanned by government acceptance and tacit approval?

The story about cocaine importation being given a blind eye by the government, even as they were publicly denouncing drugs to the sky, gives credence again to this latter idea. Terrence McKenna, the psychedelic mystic, penned a piece once where he recounted going down to the San Francisco docks and seeing guys unloading huge bricks of hasheesh from ships. Asking them what they were doing and if this wasn't illegal, the guys reportedly said to him that it was ok and that the government approved. This was sometime during the Afghan war in the eighties, I believe.

Read "White Out" by Alex Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair to get the whole story of gov. sponsored drug importation to raise money and get the population under control.

The thing is, though, that in moderation drugs aren't destructive, at least most aren't, and that psychedelics can actually have a good effect on people. But this benefit is undercut when it no longer becomes a personal choice whether to engage in this or not but rather a socially approved activity that one engages in solely because the crowd is doing it too. In fact in situations like that drugs are really, really, destructive, because you're essentially putting something in your body which will change your mind drastically without any sort of reflection or consideration about what you're doing.

Is someone who smokes weed just because their friends are doing it really prepared to make a responsable choice about whether or not to engage in the activity, with all the possible consequences? I don't think so. That's the route that leads to real drug addiction, whether psychological or physical. Addiction is as much a state of mind as it is a physical condition; and peer pressure facillitates psychological dependence on things----if use is a function of the group then non-use means exclusion from the group, so drug use becomes an unhealthy social bond which then can swiftly lead into psychological addiction.

But to get back slightly to what the above sections were about I think that certain parties in society benefitted greatly from the social destruction which was laid on the heads of the sixties generation. No doubt the sixties generation did contribute to it somewhat, but their consciences shouldn't bear what those in positions of power are rightly responsable for.

One person wrote that the people who became fundamentalists were those who just followed the crowd in the seventies and, when the tide turned, didn't know how to deal with it. Seems possible.

But the cycle of drugs leads either to prison or to inactivity; either way the person involved is no longer a threat to the established order. The question becomes then what are the long term consequences of dealing with potential social dissent by destroying the productivity of an increasingly lage part of the population?

Some time in the future the cost of dealing with poor and potentialy angry blacks by locking them up will be greater than the benefit, unless of course prison labor skyrockets and we become an economy whose lynch pin is forced labor.

Prison works in other ways as well: it ensures that a big part of the population will never be eligable for middle class and upper class jobs, which they would otherwise be clamoring for because of the spurt in college attendance for Americans across the board. A permanent declassing or locking into ones class of a great many people is accomplished.

Where this takes us is to an untenable state, a totally untenable state if we want to call ourselves a modern country which believes in any sort of modern principles of human welfare and treatment. Then, of course, we have Abu Gharib prison right in front of us, so that reality might not be too far off the mark of the real state of affairs here in the U.S.

Where, then, will be our tocsin, our cry of truth about the system as it exists right here in the U.S. ? Where will our prison pictures of abuse come from? When will they come?

Interior colonization, I've said it before and I'll say it again. The U.S. is one big colony ruled by an elite which owns the federal government and most state governments. Forced labor? Happened in Mozambique. They had a law which stated that all people must give a certain amount of months out of the year in service either to an approved corporation or to the government, and if you were thrown into prison on a trumped up charge you had to do it as long as you were inside.

I'm for the states. I'm not this anti-government nut who says extreme things about various entities; however, the proof of the pie is in the eating. If it's found that the nexus of corporations which own the federal government have created in this country a virtual labor camp situation then maybe it's time to give more power to the state governments to check this corruption.



The Pacific Northwest and the East.

I'm originally from Michigan, and living in Seattle is a strange yet familiar experience.

The best way I can put it is that the Pacific Northwest is to Michigan and the rest of the east as Scandinavia is to Germany. Michigan, though, is also some sort of an exception to the east; although it's the heart of the "Rust Belt" it's miles away from Pennsylvania, industrial Ohio, and god forsaken Chicago, not to mention industrial New York, which is almost foreign. Michigan is sort of an oasis, kind of less repressive and fucked up than those cities; I can imagining escaping from Detroit, which in fact I did, but I can't imagine ever getting the balls to escape from industrial Pittsburgh, for instance.

Be that as it may, the Pac Northwest is still the Scandinavia to the East's Germany: a similar people but with a different history and a sort of openness and freedom not found back home, like a lost tribe of northerners that somehow wound up living on the Pacific coast.

That's why I like it. The people are simple and plain spoken, like back out east, and they tolerate diversity of thought. Mostly, of course.

Homer, Hesiod, Plato and Aristotle

While we're on the subject of politics being related to life, my contribution to the history of Greek thought might be in order.

The way I see it there's a linear progression between Homer and Hesiod to Plato and then to Aristotle.

When Homer and Hesiod were writing the Greeks were essentially a tribal people like many others, maybe with some sophistications here and there like the rest but basically not that different.

What Homer and Hesiod do is to take the religion, myths, important historical events, and cultural beliefs of Greek society and attempt to meld them into a sort of whole or coherent system which transcends the kind of tribal legends and system of cultural transmission.

Homer takes a very important event in Greek history, the sack of Troy, and explains it in terms of the Greek understanding of things. Hesiod takes the religious beliefs of the Greeks and tries to form it into a similar, though different in form, coherent whole.

Both are very short of being critical about their own culture and society as we understand it today but nevertheless what they come up with is an advancement on what existed before.

Fast forward to Plato.

In Plato's time Greek culture, or high culture if you will, was already flourishing: there was Greek drama and tradgedy as well as attempts at history and other sort of higher level pursuits. All are still semi-religious and rooted in the partially mythical worldview which Homer and Hesiod operated within.

Plato takes all of this and endeavors to get behind it to the principles and truths which underlie the Greek cultural system.

His work is largely reflective; he doesn't create per se as much as he takes what exists and expounds upon it. So far so good.

Aristotle takes the next step by taking Plato's reflective analysis of Greek culture and integrating it into an intellectual analysis of his world; of politics; of science; of ethics; of the nature of the world itself, physics and what lies behind it, metaphysics.

Aristotle is intellectual in that he is no longer operating from the standpoint of clarification or reflection but is actively applying what others have found in that realm to his own world; behind Plato and Homer lies the weight of a Greek culture which is understood to trump whatever they say: Aristotle, on the other hand, puts the same culture under the microscope, thereby opening up what is considered the proper realms for thought and contemplation to unheard of levels.

So you have the synthesizers, the reflector, and the integrator.

Aristotle certainly still exists within the Greek cultural context, but now that cultural context can be talked about it a self conscious way which probably would have been impossable if Greek culture was still primarily tribal.

He creates a sort of high culture on par with the thinking of the Indians and the Persians, although less explicitly religious.

It broke down though. Why did it break down? Probably because of Christianity and the separation of thought into sacred and secular realms. If Aristotle can no longer be thought of within the Greek religious context his thought loses some vitality. The Greek orthodox preserved quite a lot of the Greek philosophers' ideas and attitudes but unfortunately this did not spread to the Roman Church.

How to discuss political theory.

The truth is you don't discuss political theory per se.
Everything which someone who knows about this stuff writes is worked up to from an understanding based on more quotidian aspects of political life in the real world.

So people usually don't sit down to discuss political theory, they usually sit down to discuss politics and the discussion of politics in the real world leads them to discussions of more abstract things.

That's how it works.

Putting something political on someone cold, like saying "Hi, how do you feel about Marx's third thesis on Feurbach?" is guaranteed to go nowhere. Because people just don't go around thinking about these things in these terms, even people who would know what Marx's third thesis on Feurbach was off the top of their heads, which I don't. I forget exactly what that was at the moment.

I have real issue with people who approach poitical philosophy from the perspective that, ok, you've read a little bit of Hobbes, you've read some Machiavelli, read Locke, read some Aristotle, read some Plato, read some Rousseau, read some John Stuart Mill, probably in a survey class of all these people labeled "Political Philosophy 101", and so now you can and should carry on imaginary conversations between these various constellations of ideas and views.

Doesn't work like that, never has and never will; such sophistry is disconnected totally from both the warp and weft of political ideas and also from the source of such ideas. It's manufacturing a "Tradition" which in reality never existed as such and because of that fact has little to do with the real world.

The truth is that if you look at all of these people, minus the Greeks (who did pretty much the same thing but in a vastly different context), you'll find that all of them were intensely engaged in the very real political battles of their time and that the theory isn't an attempt to get away from that into some sacred and hidden realm of pure political ideas but rather an expression of what they observed recollected in a critical and explanatory light, filtered through the general liberal education in philosophy and religion which they received.

Locke was very much engaged with practical politics, holding several very important government positions in his time including being chairman of a committee which made monetary policy for the crown.

Rouseau, same thing. Look at the sources of his political ideas and you'll find that they come from a deep consideration of examples of classical society's and the concept of public virtue. It didn't all just flow from Rousseau's head in fits of manic inspiration, as detractors have claimed, even if the actual process of writing for him may have been unique and difficult.

Look also at Rousseau's lesser known works and you'll find, among other things, a detailed analysis of the political system of Poland and other consitutional regimes existing during his time.

Machiavelli---surely people are aware that Machiavelli's politics came out of a reaffirmation of political realism against the medieval religious based philosophy of the time. Go beyond the Prince and you'll see his Discourse's on Livy. Who was Livy? Not great politcal philosopher but a historian of the Roman Republic, which greatly influenced Machiavelli's thoughts on the matter of society.

John Stuart Mill? Disciple of Jeremy Bentham, whose legal and political career of agitation for a more ratoinal and humane legal regime in England was partly responsable for the passage of the Peel act, which modernized English politics and jurisprudence considerably, effectively overthrowing the conception of government that the Americans had fought against in the American Revolution.

Hobbes....Hobbes...well, all I can say about Hobbes is to read his early works on politics, before Leviathan, and you'll see that the laconic-ness of his thought is due more to the fact that he was a product of the Rennaisance, where it was expected that any thinker should be an autodidact, than to any disconnection from reality.

Just because someone puts ideas in a treatise form doesn't mean that they've therefore abandoned real life to the demands of academic philosophy.

And if you look back through history, even into the middle ages, you'll always find that the political philosophers were insanely connected to what was going on around them. Medieval political thought is a good example of this: they put things in religious terms, of course, but that was the lingua franca of the day---to not put consideration of political issues in religious terms then would have been tantamount to heresy--and as the lingua franca it nevertheless expresses real political concerns filtered through that lens.

Aristotle and Plato, well, to give the argument explaining how they fit into practical politics would be a really long process, but I'll just point out that Aristotle collected the constitutions of all the city states which he could get a hold of and wrote his politics partly based on that analysis. He also wrote consitutional commentaries about various city states which are still available.

It's only recently that the idea of a totally autonomous political theory has caught on. And it's something to stay away from.

While it's impossable to read everything and thereby get a better grounding in political philosophy as a whole as opposed to the college highlights, reading what you can with an understanding of the world around you will keep you in good stead.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

On China and the Chinese.

When I was growing up, in my little town, the only Chinese family in town ran the local Chinese restaurant. Whenever we'd go in there there'd be this little ritual where we would always make sure to say please and thank you, to be extra polite, because the idea was that 'Asian people' were extremely concerned about that sort of thing. I realize now that we were probably making fools of ourselves.

Analyzing non-western cultures it's really important to make distinctions within the different sorts of possibilities and modalities of how these things manifest themselves, not to make generalizations.

I think, quite frankly, that the Chinese are a really free people in spirit, unlike, to make a generalization, the Japanese, who really are repressed and care an awful lot about social distinctions.

Why? Different histories.

Although both China and Japan were not in any sense modern democracies, nevertheless the fact that in China you had a largely beaurocratic imperial system while in Japan you had a straight feudal system has made an enourmous difference in the way that the Chinese look at the world and the way the Japanese do.

The imperial system was in fact a sort of straight beaurocracy in that people were ruled by an impersonal system which was organized according to grades established by the civil service. They didn't owe fealty to their immediate superiors, as was the case with Japan.

Feudalism is different from the Imperial hierarchy in that in Feudalism all of the latent tendencies for hierarchy are brought to the surface and realized. You don't just have a king somewhere far off who rules through people otherwise not involved with the day to day life of the people, you have beaurocracy within beaurocracy, every level of society connected to the immediate level above it, which isn't responsable to the level either a few rungs down or a few rungs up in any way except the ultimate sense that the will of the people on the top is eventually carried out and the people below them have ultimate loyalty to them.

In western feudalism a key legal principle which was analyzed and glossed on was "the vassal of my vassal is not my vassal".

Only, unfortunately, with Absolutism did that change; Absolutism didn't eliminate the feudal relationships so much as put forward the idea that the king was now responsable for all of them, not just responsable for general justice and the conduct of his own vassals.

Kings were originally just prominent princes who were chosen to be the arbitrator between the princes in inter-lord disputes, and to ensure a general sense of justice in the kingdom. Another principle which was argued about was whether a princeps could have the power of imperium. Princeps is the Latin word that "Prince" comes from, and it's the same word that gave us Principle, etc... Imperium, from which the term Emporer, or Imperator, comes from was also the word which gave us the term Imperative. The Prince is the foremost in the kingdom, and Imperium is the power to give Imperatives, so the discussion in question revolved around whether a prince, as just a mere Princeps, could ever posses the power of Imperium against his fellow Princes and against society, or whether the power of Imperium had to be vested in a seperate office distanced from the lord's power as a Prince, as the office of Holy Roman Emporer, or Imperator, was.

When the power of Imperium, in distinction to previous medieval legal thought, was indeed judged to be able to be possessed by a mere Princeps, then Absolutism happened.

Or rather a particular kind of Absolutism happened, because the French school of thought, influenced by Gallicist ideas, in distinction to the other European absolutist states, justified its Absolutism by meditations on Sovereignity, which was judged to be a power that couldn't be held by a personal line of lords or princes, hence the Salic Law.

But anyways back to the Chinese and the Japanese. The Japanese had a feudal system similar to the West's, and because it involved personal fealty to lords the level of repression for the individual was higher than in the Chinese system where, even though there were lords, the Emporer clearly reigned above them on a totally different level.

If you go into any China town now what will you see? What are China towns most known for? Celebrations! Street festivals! Firecrackers and fireworks, merry making.

Yes, there's an obediance to elders and that sort of authority but beyond that the Chinese are largely free as persons and as individuals. Family responsability and social responsability doesn't have such a crushing effect, despite its presence, on people as it does in Japanese culture.

So when you go to a Chinese restaurant next time be respectful, but don't take it too far!


Q and Luther Blissett.

Serendipity got me today; I was browsing through my local bookstore, looking for something completely different, when I noticed a display of books among which was "Q" and the author was "Luther Blissett".

Now I knew that "Luther Blissett" was the collective name of a group of autonomists working out of north-central Italy, in Bologna to be exact, so I looked inside the cover to see if this was really written by them or if it was just some crazy coincidence.

Turns out it was written by them, collectively written by four pseudonymonous authors, as the cover states.

I procured the copy immediately and it is now at the top of my reading list.

I'll keep y'all posted on the book, and I'll probably include a link to the "Luther Blissett" collective on my sidebar when I get a chance.

Check yo check yo check it out check it out.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Totalitarian Democracy

I like Larry Ferlinghetti, and this poem is a good one, it points out what's really at stake in America today.
Lyndee England and Lt. Calley.
Two names you should remember.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Oh, while we're talking about the obscure, which we always are, I just wanted to say that the real identity of Fulcanelli, the French alchemist who wrote a book on the geometry of cathedrals, is Henri Poincaire, the scientist. Just wanted to let you know.
The Bush presidency.

The Bush presidency stands out, in the history of imperialism, neo-colonialism, and globalization, as the first presidency totally bought and paid for by the corporations who make up global capitalism which doesn't even make up an excuse for this relationship.

Clinton was good for business in that he declared that global capitalism was a good thing and that the U.S wouldn't intervene to stop the worldwide pillage but Bush is better.

With Bush the corporations now not only have a person who is business friendly but one who also is willing to deploy the destructive force of the state for them without even a glimmer of an explanation given as to why this is a good thing in terms of....(insert whatever ideology which has been used to justify these things here).

I sort of part company with people who think that the ideological justifications for these things, or the lack thereof, aren't important.

Yes, in the final analysis, it's been economic reasons which have motivated the actions of states in this regard, but up until now these states have also put forward statist justifcations for their actions which
if nothing else have great rhetorical value.

And the justifications in the past have wedded the economic concerns to statist programs; they couldn't get away from it. Now the economic concerns are not only independent of the statist program but are using the state as their own little enforcer, with nothing given which would even whet the State's mouth for furthering its own program.

I'll give you an example for contrast: in the Robert Bresson adaptation of George Bernannos' book "Diary of a Country Priest" there's a scene near the end where a nephew of the Count who has basically run the priest out of town for trying to do his job gives the guy a ride to the trainstation on his motorcycle. After they get to the trainstation he engages the priest in conversation, whereupon it comes out that the nephew is part of the French Foreign Legion.

He says that the priest would have done good out there, that he was the type of guy who really knew how things were and was willing to fight for the forces of good. Outlining what the French Foreign Legion does the nephew paints a picture of it as being a sort of vanguard of the forces of good, order, and, implicitly, civilization, against the latent evil and chaos which exists out there beyond the borders of Europe.

Now what the French Foreign Legion actually did was maraude all over northern Africa and elsewhere doing the dirty work of French colonialism and imperialism, killing many people in the process and destroying whatever independence these people's once had. Yeah, in an actually pretty badly done comedy called "The Last remake of Beau Geste" they turn the French Foreign Legion song into "We rape and kill, kill and rape, and maybe just for fun we'll kill the women---and rape the men". Not in good taste, but it gives a sense of the reality of this "Fight of good againt evil".

I have to say though that in terms of propaganda value the sort of explanation which Bernannos puts into the mouth of the nephew is pretty damn good---if in fact you don't know the facts of the matter and are inclined to take a right wing view of it anyways.

Nothing that the Bush administration has put out as a justification for the Iraq war even comes close to this level of ideology. It might be, fortunately, that the Bush administration doesn't have a Bernannos on its side, but I think it's more indicative of the total transparency which exists between the will of the corporate powers to take over and dominate Iraq for their purposes and the role of the Bush adminstration to provide the muscle and the support for the venture.

I mean, such statements in France were not isolated; the Petain goverment echoed them for a time and in it's early years got quite a lot of support through it.

But Bush doesn't even care about such things as justification to the point where he wouldn't even give a damn about rising to the role of the old marechal for his imperial ventures.

So that's what I mean when I say that this war and this regime is probably the first one totally and transparently bought, paid for, and working for, the corporations, to an extent that probably hasn't ever been seen this glaringly.