Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Creativity of the United States

Is much like the creativity of pre-modern peasant societies who don't realize what the fuck they're doing, but are instead locked into a religious worldview where they can't distinguish ideology from reality.

That's what we are like in that what you see as creativity coming out of the U.S. is largely naively produced...it isn't thought through, instead, it's something that a semi-conscious person has made thinking that the mental context which they possess is universal and because of that is thrusting onto the world as if it is self evident.

Much of U.S. creativity isn't self consciously produced creativity, much of it is like the ramblings of a half asleep man who's being messed with by his friends and prodded into saying things he'd never say when he was awake.

Witness the presidential election.

All good things must come to an end, and I think that when the critical break in consciousness from religious/mythological thought to critical/empirical thought comes to Americans that they'll be pretty embarassed about all the crap they've put out there.

Yes, peasant cults are fun to observe, it's just too bad that one of the members is running the most powerful nation on earth. And killing many Iraqis.

The Creativity of the United States

Is much like the creativity of pre-modern peasant societies who don't realize what the fuck they're doing, but are instead locked into a religious worldview where they can't distinguish ideology from reality.

That's what we are like in that what you see as creativity coming out of the U.S. is largely naively produced...it isn't thought through, instead, it's something that a semi-conscious person has made thinking that the mental context which they possess is universal and because of that is thrusting onto the world as if it is self evident.

Much of U.S. creativity isn't self consciously produced creativity, much of it is like the ramblings of a half asleep man who's being messed with by his friends and prodded into saying things he'd never say when he was awake.

Witness the presidential election.

All good things must come to an end, and I think that when the critical break in consciousness from religious/mythological thought to critical/empirical thought comes to Americans that they'll be pretty embarassed about all the crap they've put out there.

Yes, peasant cults are fun to observe, it's just too bad that one of the members is running the most powerful nation on earth. And killing many Iraqis.

Lost Highway Times---Proud member of the unreality based community.

Damn straight.

Elephants Have Prehensile Cocks rathergood.com Joel Veitch, James Craven

Wow...more animations from the Laibach kittens people...this is what DMT plus Shockwave produces, I think....

Fear the Kittens, Music--Laibach--Tanz Mit Laibach

Funny, funny, the totalitarian kittens strike again....

Check this out if you want an idea of Laibach, but, please, look up the lyrics in English before you make any judgements about what they're saying.

Can you do that?

Ok, and I should mention that I got to the site through a link provided by Skippy the Bush Kangaroo's blog, at xnerg.blogspot.com

I don't read him regularly but it appears that we have a similar sense of humor...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Moral values and issues

One thing, and I have to say this, folks, that democrats have to acknowledge if they're going to honestly take on the right is that, yes, indeed, American TV is a moral cesspool.

American media culture is really fucked up, sexualized, violence promoting, disrespectful, greedy, materialistic, and shallow.

I don't watch TV, and haven't for quite some time, and don't go to the movies almost at all, precisely for this reason.

I don't see any line at all dividing capitalist advertising manipulation from sexual degradation---Brittney Spears comes on TV like a barely legal pornstar because people know that'll sell records, or CDs, or whatever.

The degradation of our culture and the profit motive come from one and the same source---there's no division whatsoever between them.

If people didn't think they'd make a buck off of Temptation Island and all the rest it would never air. These things aren't some sort of honest manifestation of our supposedly enlightened values, they're a cheap advertizing ploy designed to get us to buy things based on appealing to our base desires.

There's an interesting group out there called "Fuck for Forests", from Norway, I think. They have public sex and run a porn site in order to raise money for environmental causes....and they come out of a culture, Norway, which is in many ways really conservative, at least in our understanding of it.

The sexual openness of these countries, such as it is, appears to be based on a solid understanding of what real values are. Because that exists, sure, sexuality will be out there without being degrading or destructive. But that understanding doesn't exist in the U.S. by far.

When 'cutting edge' dirty shows appear on TV it's not a manifestation of our liberated values but rather capitalism's latest attempt to get us to shell out dough by reaching our id, and destroying a respectful culture which values people in a mature way in the process.

So....just because conservatives opppose it doesn't mean that it's wrong. And if democrats push this thing they'll lose, because you can't be against advertizing and corporate manipulation and yet stand up for things like these shows, which are the products of such manipulation, because they appear to appeal to the sort of liberated values you think you live by.

Fightin' the war on Terra'

With Terra, a child of hippy parents in New York state, wondering why people hate her so much...

Our Boorish, Bring-'Em-On Society

"The boorishness and tragedy stretched from blue states to red states. It stretched from scented pines to skidmark-scarred pavement. It surrounded college football teams at colleges where only half the players graduate to Ivy League schools where sport is still a hobby. It involved people of all colors and weapons of all kinds. It is getting so it would not stun anyone if families settled holiday disputes by clubbing each other with turkey drumsticks."

Actually, that did happen. I don't have a link to it but in Massachusets a guy stabbed two people sitting with him at Thanksgiving dinner because they complained about his rudeness in regards to some sort of manners related thing.


Two sources for nuanced views...

Which show how more complex these totalitarian societies really were than what we make them out to be are "Metapolitics---the roots of the Nazi Mind" by Peter Viereck and "Stalin--a biography" by Isaac Deutscher.

Neither is remotely apologetic for what these societies were about, well Deutscher is a little, but instead treat them as historical entities rather than just as enourmous manifestations of unknowable and nonunderstandable evil.

Monstrosity and Humanity Live Hand in Hand (?)

Not really.

What Ms. Dyer fails to recognize is that the people she's talking about didn't directly go out and kill people. It was the political machines that they were the heads of which did it.

Stalin and Hitler didn't take guns in their hands and go on killing sprees.

Because what essentially killed all those people was the state apparatus under the direction of these dictators it makes sense that there would be some complexity involved.

A political structure which springs from a revolutionary situation but which ends up committing mass murder has to have negotiated the cultural and political landscapes of the time effectively enough to consolidate power, and that's a complex political process.

So, of course there'd be some humanization in looking objectively at these things because the people who comitted the crimes got into those positions of power through working the political system.

You can't make easy analogies.

Besides, to reduce Stalinism and Nazism into Stalin and Hitler is to make the error of ignoring the fact that whole societies were formed and shaped by these systems and that the consequences for the societies in which they came to power far exceeded the personal psychology of these dictators. Indeed, I'd argue strongly that it was the cultural transformation of both the Soviet Union and of Nazi Germany which allowed the mass killings to take place and that the personality cults around the dictators may have been useful in legitimating the new values but that the real shift came with what they represented, rather than with the particular psychology of their personas.

Alexander the (not so) Great Fails to Conquer America...and the great American cop out

The first part of the title is a direct reference to the link....the second part, well, that has to do with Alexander the Great in America, too.

I'm sure that people out there are going to be saying:"Another movie about dead white men".

To me that's the great American cop out.

It's a cop out because you really don't have to have any understanding or knowledge of history to crow, time and time again, that we're doing somthing wrong because there're too many European people in books or in television series, or in history. Or that there're too many men. And European men.

But that's only part of the cop out. The bigger part comes from the origin of this very American practice of self denunciation.

You see, it's predicated on the history of our taking this country from the natives and importing slaves. Because that's integral to history here we should be sort of sceptical about Euro-centric portrayals, right?

But that only has to do with America. Doesn't apply to Europe.

So if American history has been biased to present a view of ourselves which leaves out Native Americans and blacks, what does that have to do with historical figures from Europe who lived several thousand years ago?

Despite the flaws in American history and the experience of colonization we are indeed culturally western.

Why, based on what happened in America, should we close ourselves off to classical culture from Europe?

It serves absolutely no purpose to impose our guilt onto European culture, and, by extension, most other cultures, in order to get to some sort of perfect understanding.

China and India had their empires as well, just like Japan did. And West Africa had empires too.

You can't simply step out of the European sphere and find a world free of oppression.

If Alexander the Great is guilty about being a white man, a conquerer, then so are the Manchurians who conquered china guilty about being Asian conquerers, and so are the Persians, guilty of being Middle Eastern conquerers, down the line.

No one is without taint here.

Some may argue that I'm conflating two separate ideals of multiculturalism: an America specific one and a broader global multiculturalism.

I beg to differ.

Although theoretically, at least, the multiculturalists do include the whole world in their scope in practice it's extraordinarily America specific, with multiculturalism not serving the purpose of promoting a global culture of understanding but rather just making Americans more aware of the life experiences of minority Americans.

Which is useful, to be sure, but it's not true multi-cultural globalism.

I haven't come across educators who sincerely want to introduce their students to the greats of culture around the world, or who want to let them understand non-western points of view.

Nope, it's usually just United States specific.

This blog is much more truly global than most multi-cultural studies, in fact, as I have actually studied world cultures and know a thing about non-western ways of looking at the world.

Two separate things.

Don't condemn Europe's classical cultural achievements because of what we did here in America, it only stops people from getting the kind of education which they'd really appreciate and doesn't do that much to further tolerance.

Thinking that if you teach the classics next thing you know people won't care about minorities is really just a stupid Europhobic position...Plato isn't going to make white kids hate blacks.

How Propaganda works

See, there are editorials popping up everywhere about the Ukraine which assume that it's a really big and important story, an important country, even though a few weeks ago you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in these news organizations who really thought Ukraine was some sort of lynchpin or whatever the fuck they're saying about it.

Why the change?

PR.

This is what effective PR does, it changes the terms of the debate in such a way that people find it unthinkable that at one time they didn't give a damn.

An issue becomes an issue overnight, and no one really questions why or how it got there.

My personal take is that the propaganda machine was tuned this time to appeal to liberal Americans.

Ok, someone once said about people cheering in countries invaded by the U.S. with U.S. flags "How is it that people in dictatorships get U.S. flags all of the sudden?". Answer: our people give them to them.

A person could say: how is it that an anti-globalization movement style protest has suddenly erupted in the Ukraine and is being endorsed by the State Department.

Answer: we put it there. But you wouldn't know that if you just let your prejudices dictate what you think about what you see.

People never thought twice about the kids with the U.S. flags because they wanted to believe that the frame constructed about people welcoming us in the first Iraq war was true. So people with flags cheering the U.S. seemed natural, no matter that the presence of them examined alone is totally inexplicable.

All it takes are some strategically placed stories designed to promote the sympathies of liberal readers and suddenly we're enthused about what the hell the Ukraine is up to. Suddenly the terms of the argument have materialized and we don't know where they came from but we used them.

Too good to be true, but, hey, that's what the propaganda wing of the U.S. government does, and it knew that coming off the heels of this election that disaffected liberals would support a situation similar to what they perceived happened in the U.S. if given a chance.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Latte drinkers...don't become their opposite in criticizing them...

I've come to the conclusion that it's better not to adopt an anti-bourgeois stance which puts me in the company of the poor gang member types which I've sided with rhetorically here before when being anti-bourgeois.

The anti-of bourgeois isn't some other fucked up group but a reasoned approach...

So, I'm resisting the urge, in criticizing hypocritcal latte drinkin' middle aged progressives (not former hippies) to go in the other extreme and say "Yeah, fuck all of y'all". That would not be a good thing. Besides, those values repulse me.

When I think about what pisses me off the most about these people I think it's that despite being pretentious they're American to the fucking core.

Nothing worse than a pretentious rich American who thinks that he or she is hip and different from the rest of them.

So where do I stand? For sanity under different values.

Why I hate mainstream progressive thought....

I do, it's a fact. I especially hate those adults in their forties who glom onto progressive thinking while leading bourgeois yuppy lives.

Why, well, because their little parlor game prevents actual progressive thought from being widely publicized. Only progressive thought which pleases buffy and harold will do.

The whole "Utne Reader", "Mother Jones", "Nation" crowd is so fucking insular and unattached from reality that they're more concerned with their organic tomatoes than what's actually going on in this country.

Mother Jones is a really good magazine, though.

But anyways.

They lay down the law with their control of the progressive agenda and it rules out wuite a bit that doesn't fit onto their upper middle class table, and then they crow and whine when somebody transgresses their little false mores like they've comitted a mortal sin.

Well, the standards were fucked up in the first place, people: if what you do can't conform to reality and is always being upset when people from outside of the group think come in and give their opinions then maybe you should change your opinions to conform to something that's more in line with what's actually out there, instead of treating progressive politics like a wine tasting session.


More Labor rights with your Chianti? Why certainly, it'll go good with the cheshire...

The Gonzales Debate: Identity Politics Meets the Right Wing

Carlos Villarreal in this article writes:"Mr. Gonzales has done a better job protecting the mostly white, male, wealthy politicians who have rewarded him than defending the rights of those communities of color who have suffered under the Bush regime. This is exactly why conservatives in power today love Mr. Gonzales so much, and why they have embraced this new brand of identity politics. He has protected Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and others in powerful positions. He is far more effective in a post Civil Rights era at promoting right-wing ideals than rich, white men, ever could be."

I couldn't agree more.

I should ask, in reference to the below post

Do you want to join me?

Just adopt the same strategy on your website or in your other writings.

We'll beat this thing yet.

Why I do this

Why do I sit here and, through the medium of the internet, virtually yell at people, at Americans, about so many things?

It's because change will only happen from within.

If we want American society to change it'll have to be initiated by Americans and presented as a logical conclusion from American thought processes and views, in an American idiom, drawing on insider knowledge.

I'm an American, I have these views, so I'm trying to change the system from within.

When Major Retailer Calls It Quits, Town Opts to Open Shop

Good article about an isolated town in Nevada deciding on a socially owned and run department store in order to get goods conveniantly.

The nearest town to get clothes, after their major retailer closed, is one and a half hours drive away, so they decided to open up their own store.

This is a good thing, a very good thing.

American Dream.....

Yes, there are certain phrases that are inherently self contradictory simply by the construction.

Like if someone said: I want to be an upstanding, moral, person, who always treats people honestly, endeavors to be fair, puts other people's interests above my own, and is generally kind and helpful, in order so that I can make a whole lot of money so that I can buy some bitchin' gear!

That wouldn't make a lot of sense.

Yet that's what the American Dream says, in essence.

I'm sure that God doesn't appreciate people dragging moral values through the mud like that.

I should say that...

Just in case my family reads this, which may happen, that we did a whole lot better than others on the things I'm talking about....

Back to the American Dream

That "Chronicles" post got in here because I couldn't post it earlier today because of server problems, so there's no thematic connection between it and the posts which surround it.

Yeah, this presentation of the American Dream reminds me of a satiric piece in "The Onion" which talked about a stupid college kid and his aspirations...it had a girl saying that, like, the kid was really going places because he knew he wanted a big TV, a nice sports car, and a huge house, and that he wanted to get them by having a succesful career in business.

Overdue recognition of Chronicles

Probably one of the only right wing sites that occasionally publishes good things.

Well, some libertarian sites have their day, but this is the only unabashadly conservative one that does.

Some of their politics are a little scary; I tend to shy away from that; but in terms of analyzing power they're pretty good.

They're Old Right, which means not neo-cons but decentralist conservatives...

Anyways, they're the people who published the report on the Ukraine which I linked to below so I figured that I'd give them some overdue credit.

The Steak

A family walks into a swanky steak joint in New York City, one of the really old ones in mid-town Manhattan.

They sit down, and the mother says to her child "You can have anything you want", whereupon the kid looks at an expensive strip steak that a person at another table is having and says "I want that, Mom!". Whereupon the husband gets upset and exclaims to his wife "Dammit, he can't have that, don't you know that if he has that now he'll have nothing to look forward to?"

American Dream

There's one really big part of Rifkin's European Dream book which I have a problem with and that's his presentation of the "American Dream".

In Rifkin's estimation it's allright to want, with all your might, all the material things you can possibly get, as long as you're willing to work really really hard for them.

That seems to be the essence of his presentation of the American Dream. Wouldn't be so bad if he had condemned it. The book is about the European Dream and how it's different than the American Dream, after all.
But he doesn't. He says that, as an ideology, it's ok, but that it's consequences are bad. And he makes some broader historical arguments which I won't get into here.

After praising the American Dream he talks about how kids today are bad because they believe that they can get everything for nothing, and about how this is so different from what the American Dream was.

I have to disagree. I think that, quite honestly, the two concepts are one and the same. The spoiled brattishness of the latter is simply the American Dream condensed. The spoiledness and sense of entitlement is still at the heart of Rifkin's classical American dream, only the proponents of it say that delaying the satisfaction of our petty needs by saving up the money to satisfy them somehow purifies the intention and makes it less petty and materialistic, and, in fact, somehow ennobling, which I find disgusting in the extreme.

So in other words lusting after a worthless, in terms of usefulness, red sports car which costs thirty five thousand dollars is ok if you're willing to work hard to save the money?

Buying a worthless flat panel plasma TV is ok if you really, really, want it and are willing to save your paychecks?

I don't think so.

Moral values are prostituted when you say that they function as a means to an end.

Rifkin makes the comment that today's middle class kids are jaded because they've had everything and have done everything and so they have nothing to work towards. Really?

Has little Kenneth been praised for his contributions to the community by a panel of civic leaders?

Has Joey been recognized as a first class craftsman?

Has Karl achieved a seat on city council or a seat in the house of representatives, or has be been featured in an international magazine?

Has little Mikie perfected his craft and been recognized as a top worker?

Has Jeffrey made that breakthrough in research science which his older comrades have?

You get the picture.

To say that kids are jaded because they've seen and done and had everything is to assume that the things which are most desirable in life are trips to Europe or a vacation in Florida or some lifeless hunk of electronics which can be presented to a child via a price tag and the meaning of which the child will be able to fully comprehend and appreciate.

If you think that going on a vacation is the summum bonum of what people should work towards, and that giving such a gift to a childish understanding somehow gives away what you appreciate about a place then there are serious problems already. You don't need coddling to create them.

Do you want to buy it and take it home without any regard for the potentials of the experience itself? Shouldn't a trip be about more than raw sense exeperience?

The American Dream....ok.

Another side of the hunter story

Not a good transition considering the heavy stuff being talked about below, but Canadian news gave a somewhat different accounting of the hunter in Wisconsin going nuts story.

The guy was Vietnamese and claims that before he attacked the hunters that they were calling him a fucking gook, and fired a warning shot at him.

Then they radioed for backup.

I think that's the chronology.

The hunters claim that they politely asked the guy to leave their hunting perch and he just went crazy "Hunting people down like dogs", like those Asians are known to do, being emotionless automatons, right guys?

With the defeat of the Soviet Union it's almost like...

The U.S. was free to pursue it's imperialism without reference to anti-Communism as an excuse, and do when the nations of eastern Europe were cheering and dancing it decided to invade Iraq.

Which was just the sort of thing that the Soviets probably were saying that the U.S. wanted to do all along, but that was just propaganda, right?

Speaking of eerie paralells

The Ukraine situation appears to be much like the Czech and other secessions from the Eastern Bloc....some of which were no doubt honest but some of which had an eerie stage managed quality to them. Vaclav Havel, of course, became a neo-liberal. Even if he admired the Velvet Underground at one point.

The states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union quickly, and somewhat interestingly, fell under the sway of ultra-capitalist propaganda which was surely totally banned in their countries before the fall of Soviet style socialism.

This played very well in the U.S., because it reinforced the idea that Reagan, and Bush I, were right in their ideologies, that Communism was in fact something where people simply wanted to throw off their bonds and become venture capitalists, if given the chance, rather than something which people inside had nuanced opinions about and didn't all necessarily want totally destroyed.

It played well in the U.S. and probably set the stage for the simulacra and simulation which was the first Gulf War: since Communism had necessarily lost to ultra-capitalism there was no longer any issue to be pressed in attacking Saddam, which means no issue to press against the United States in opposition....which means no obligation on the part of the media or anyone else in power to recognize a viewpoint opposing the gulf war as having some sort of validity.

We won, right? Now we're attacking a country which isn't Communist, and since only Leftists, who've been discredited by the fall of the Wall, believe that the West acts for economic reasons, there's no possible criticism that could be made of liberating Kuwait from it's Iraqi invaders.

The same sort of legitimizing process is going on in regards to the Ukraine right now.

No opposition, it's said, could be raised to a grass roots pro-democracy movement in the Ukraine, so Russia, therefore, must be the total bad guy.

We couldn't be doing this for our own self-interest, could we?

We're the Free World, remember!?

So another round of geo-political illusions is likely to start, with the myth of democracy and freedom as things the U.S. is benevolently interested in providing a back drop yet agan.

Only this time we have torture centers in Cuba and mass killings of civillians in Falluja.

But the Iraq war aside, we shouldn't have to have some outside, intervening factor, present in order to know that this whole strategy is a lie.

And to oppose it.

THE FACTS ON THE UKRAINIAN MELODRAMA

It was too good to be true...

So it turns out that the whole thing was staged, and that the Americans were pouring money into the campaign...

It's still going on so I shouldn't speak in the past tense.

Now it appears more like what happened in Venezuela, with the opposition to Chavez organizing protests and the like.

Well, this blog has at times expressed admiration for a Russian way, something which is culturally more Eurasian and which recognizes the decentralization which existed in the Soviet Union in terms of multi-culturalism and formal, although maybe not actual, autonomy of ethnic groups, as being a good thing....

So, yeah, viva pro-East Ukraine.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Reincarnation

If I'm reincarnated, I'd like to live in an Asian metropolis, preferably before extensive European contact.

This is assuming that time is no constraint.

That way I'd be able to live a nice, integrated, life, without having to think at all about modernity.

Addendum

Yeah, I'm sure that those people in Iraq with their bodies mutilated because of U.S. artillery really appreciate the nice little bumperstickers people put on their cars.

It's Time for Americans to Support Peace Instead of US War Machine

I have a different slogan: it's time for Americans to support getting out of their comfortable, liberal, worldviews, stop repeating contentless but feel good slogans, and start forging a real politics that doesn't offend the human sensibility with sugary sweetness.

Clamor For Investigation into Death in U.S. Detention of Elderly Haitian Pastor

More on our commitment to human rights!

Yes, an elderly pastor from Haiti has died at the hands of U.S. immigration officials. And why? Because he received the same treatment that all Haitian refugees receive when coming to the United States and couldn't survive it.

Only this time the person in question had connections. And was a leading peace figure. And had visas.

Which makes it worse, in someways, but telling in many others.

Telling in that this is what happens in the American mentality, routine abuse and dehumanization without a thought, or even an awareness, that the person involved could be an entity which deserved to be treated as more than a piece of meat or a caged animal.

This is what happens if you find yourself on the other side of the American system and on the other side of American society. This is what the mindset of those who voted for Bush is like.

Bush Rules Out US Role at Global Conference on Land Mines

More of the wonderful U.S. citizen commitment to human rights that I was talking about. Because of the insurgent's actions in Iraq the U.S. government now wants anti-tank landmines to be banned, but refuses to support banning landmines that are aimed at killing people stepping on them.

Gary Leupp: One More Neocon Target: South Korea!

"With that election, Eberstadt asserts, "U.S. policy on the North Korean crisis suffered a setback, and a serious onethanks to which a coterie of New Left-style academics and activists assumed great influence over their government's security policies.""

"Thus South Korea is "now a runaway ally: a country bordering a state committed to its destruction, and yet governed increasingly in accordance with graduate-school 'peace studies' desiderata--while at the same time relying on forward-positioned American troops and a security treaty with Washington to guarantee its safety. It is not too much to describe this utterly unnatural and unviable situation as our 'second crisis' on the Korean peninsula.""


So says William Kristol in a memorandum put out by the Project for a New American Century, which he apparantly chairs, intended for 'opinion leaders'.

Damn hippies!

These people are so fucking out of touch with American life and with life in general that it's pathetic.

You could create a whole mad libs game around their ideas....it's like a self generating ideology machine: insert complaints about New Lefties, add a few tizzies about Democrats, talk about Civil Rights, have a few criticisms about people's patriotism, add a few more things, then add some facts to contextualize your story within whatever issue you're talking about.

Instant North Korea story....Instant Columbia story....Instant Middle East story....Instant National Security story......all for a low, low, price.

Minorities in the Bush administration

I think that if Republicans, who have now stowed their Klan uniforms temporarily in order to try and accuse Democrats of secretly being racist in opposing Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzales, really care about civil rights, a good start for showing it would be to support the Geneva Convention, which Gonzales, who is Hispanic, has called 'Quaint'.

History, history

I have nothing against feminist history but too much of it is less history than an extended pep rally in print where slogans such as 'womens' power' are repeated as if the words themselves, with no explanatory meaning and no connection to anything, are magic and thereby explain whatever it is that needs explaining, no more elaboration neccesary.

Why is capitalism bad? Because it was afraid of women's power.

What the hell does that mean?

I don't know. Why are all these men afraid of women's power, what concretely is it that they're afraid of. This is never made clear. It's just stated as if the reader will automatically know what's being talked about. Which is great for pep rallies but not for anything serious.

Ah yes, more elaboration makes what's being said clearer, but the easy eqautions made make the history less about trying to find the truth and more about trying to elaborate what one would like to be true in a nice little book.

Peter Linebaugh: Torture and Neo-Liberalism with Sycorax in Iraq

Good article by Peter Linebaugh, longtime autonomist historian.

One thing, however, is that although I agree with the basic idea that he puts forward about capitalism and women I think that the way it's put forward isn't exactly accurate.

The idea is that for a kind of devlaued and anonymous capitalist order to come into being the power of women as being essential members of the family had to be broken. That's true. Women, because they are the people who bear children, etc... have a very big stake in ensuring a tradition based way of life instead of a capitalist one. But To say that 'the proletariat' couldn't be created without the subjugation of women is to jump over quite a bit of territory in the interest of making a point which would be somewhat congruent with the typical propaganda put out by some of the feminist 'historians' out there.

Historians in quotes because the only history they really deal with is Engel's "Origin of Private Property and the State", and just essentially riff on it with their own, unhistorical, reflections.

Be that as it may it's a good article.

America America

I sometimes wonder how the things I write here come off to people in other countries.

My feeling or intuition is that it seems too fantastic, that they think that America couldn't really be as bad as what I'm making it out to be like.

My response to that is that, if you want a real gauge of the problems of America, they should look no further than this election.

By any sane calculation Bush should have been defeated, but he wasn't. Instead almost half of the country voted for him.

Maybe that'll give foreign readers some sense of the dysfunction present throughout American life.

The rejection of large portions of the populace of international treaties dealing with human rights is another indicator.

Human rights, of course, aren't trivial and they aren't empty abstractions. What human rights means is the ability of people to have a basic protection which will keep them from being treated like animals.

Not exactly an ambitious goal but an essential one.

And Americans, by and large, reject the concept.

They'd rather pass by starving and emaciated faces on the sidewalk and think to themselves about how lazy the people were to get themselves into the situation than give them food.

When it comes to limits to compassionlessness, to lack of compassion and fellow feeling for other human beings there are none in America.

It's extremely fortuitous that the Genocide convention was passed in the forties, after we had participated in the war which precipitated it, because it would never pass today. Even if people hit the streets and communicated to people what genocide was, on and on, they would still never be able to pass it.

So maybe I have some justification in my lack of enthusiasm about American life?


America America

I sometimes wonder how the things I write here come off to people in other countries.

My feeling or intuition is that it seems too fantastic, that they think that America couldn't really be as bad as what I'm making it out to be like.

My response to that is that, if you want a real gauge of the problems of America, they should look no further than this election.

By any sane calculation Bush should have been defeated, but he wasn't. Instead almost half of the country voted for him.

Maybe that'll give foreign readers some sense of the dysfunction present throughout American life.

The rejection of large portions of the populace of international treaties dealing with human rights is another indicator.

Human rights, of course, aren't trivial and they aren't empty abstractions. What human rights means is the ability of people to have a basic protection which will keep them from being treated like animals.

Not exactly an ambitious goal but an essential one.

And Americans, by and large, reject the concept.

They'd rather pass by starving and emaciated faces on the sidewalk and think to themselves about how lazy the people were to get themselves into the situation than give them food.

When it comes to limits to compassionlessness, to lack of compassion and fellow feeling for other human beings there are none in America.

It's extremely fortuitous that the Genocide convention was passed in the forties, after we had participated in the war which precipitated it, because it would never pass today. Even if people hit the streets and communicated to people what genocide was, on and on, they would still never be able to pass it.

So maybe I have some justification in my lack of enthusiasm about American life?


Friday, November 26, 2004

Back to civilization -- the arrogance of the frontier

Ok, ok, on the banner of this thing it says "against civilization", amongst other statements, but put that aside for a moment.

British Columbia showed me something valuable: the limit to the frontier, the end of the road, so to speak.

Pacific Northwest? That's sort of the last frontier. British Columbia lies beyond that, and in it's way provides the truth below the frontier myth.

How?

PacNW is exceedingly individualistic, so much so that it's hard to imagine a place which is more individualistic. It is the end of a certain process. British Columbia is more settled and collective, although it's the eccentric part of Canada.

You cross that border and you get from the end of one cycle back to the beginning of another. The difference isn't so much that one is this way and the other is that as it is that the entire concept of finding an extremely individualistic society on the frontier, away from established lands, really exists in a much more complex framework which has to be taken into account.

The frontier is not an endless escape. Eventually you'll run into something that's not frontier and which will pierce whatever self delusions you've built up with a dose of human civilization in a non-weird and stressed form.

A while ago I compared the ideal of English puritan frontiership with that of Ireland, of the real, existing Ireland.

England extends to different frontiers, and the whigs thought that if you got far enough away from London that you would find a pure country civilization. Only thing is that far enough away from London you eventually find Ireland and Wales, particularly Ireland, which doesn't conform to whiggish ideals of what a country society would or should look like but has issues and cultural traits of its own which, in fact, have struggled against the very idea of England for hundreds of years.

Ireland's culture proves that the pretensions of the whigs to have discovered something universal about society, or something which was universally applicable to society, were false.

The same could be said about America's fascination with a constant westward movement to an individualist paradise compared with the reality of Canada, and, in particular because it is in the west itself, with British Columbia.

It's not that the society is different, it's that the collective illusions that Americans bring with them about how society's themselves function aren't there.

Which is both sobering and enlightening. It's enlightening because in seeing the limitations of the cultural and social concepts that we've grown up with here in the U.S. we can therefore get to a more realistic, internationalist, view of how the world works.

Can't do that if you always miss the forest for the trees.

Also, it's encouraging, because it presents civilization as achievable out here, something which I think would be probably a good thing....despite the header on this site...particularism out here has been used to justify insane treament of others, and civilization would take care of a little of that by reminding people that there are basic rules and regulations that you have to obey in treating human beings, no matter if they're from elsewhere or have grown up beside you.

****

With all of the 'against', 'against','against' things stated on the header of this thing I should probably clarify myself to say that, yes, I am generally against all of that, but I'm not stupid. I take my political views to exist within a rich context which includes more than just autonomy and other forms of ultra-leftist thought. So, of course in some situations it's ok to talk about civilization, etc...

The challenge is to find all of the 'againsts' within the rich context.

Anyone can just declare themselves this or that, but to find out how that works within a rich context is another issue entirely, especially one which tries to get that richness out there in order to be a better approximation of reality.

Back to civilization -- the arrogance of the frontier

Ok, ok, on the banner of this thing it says "against civilization", amongst other statements, but put that aside for a moment.

British Columbia showed me something valuable: the limit to the frontier, the end of the road, so to speak.

Pacific Northwest? That's sort of the last frontier. British Columbia lies beyond that, and in it's way provides the truth below the frontier myth.

How?

PacNW is exceedingly individualistic, so much so that it's hard to imagine a place which is more individualistic. It is the end of a certain process. British Columbia is more settled and collective, although it's the eccentric part of Canada.

You cross that border and you get from the end of one cycle back to the beginning of another. The difference isn't so much that one is this way and the other is that as it is that the entire concept of finding an extremely individualistic society on the frontier, away from established lands, really exists in a much more complex framework which has to be taken into account.

The frontier is not an endless escape. Eventually you'll run into something that's not frontier and which will pierce whatever self delusions you've built up with a dose of human civilization in a non-weird and stressed form.

A while ago I compared the ideal of English puritan frontiership with that of Ireland, of the real, existing Ireland.

England extends to different frontiers, and the whigs thought that if you got far enough away from London that you would find a pure country civilization. Only thing is that far enough away from London you eventually find Ireland and Wales, particularly Ireland, which doesn't conform to whiggish ideals of what a country society would or should look like but has issues and cultural traits of its own which, in fact, have struggled against the very idea of England for hundreds of years.

Ireland's culture proves that the pretensions of the whigs to have discovered something universal about society, or something which was universally applicable to society, were false.

The same could be said about America's fascination with a constant westward movement to an individualist paradise compared with the reality of Canada, and, in particular because it is in the west itself, with British Columbia.

It's not that the society is different, it's that the collective illusions that Americans bring with them about how society's themselves function aren't there.

Which is both sobering and enlightening. It's enlightening because in seeing the limitations of the cultural and social concepts that we've grown up with here in the U.S. we can therefore get to a more realistic, internationalist, view of how the world works.

Can't do that if you always miss the forest for the trees.

Also, it's encouraging, because it presents civilization as achievable out here, something which I think would be probably a good thing....despite the header on this site...particularism out here has been used to justify insane treament of others, and civilization would take care of a little of that by reminding people that there are basic rules and regulations that you have to obey in treating human beings, no matter if they're from elsewhere or have grown up beside you.

****

With all of the 'against', 'against','against' things stated on the header of this thing I should probably clarify myself to say that, yes, I am generally against all of that, but I'm not stupid. I take my political views to exist within a rich context which includes more than just autonomy and other forms of ultra-leftist thought. So, of course in some situations it's ok to talk about civilization, etc...

The challenge is to find all of the 'againsts' within the rich context.

Anyone can just declare themselves this or that, but to find out how that works within a rich context is another issue entirely, especially one which tries to get that richness out there in order to be a better approximation of reality.

Why we spend so much money on Iraq and on the military

vvIt's so that American assholes can sit down in front of their monday night football,crack open a beer, and never have to be bothered by any thought about whats happening in the world outside their borders, outside their region, outside their state, or even outside their county.

Its so that Mr. America, who voted for Bush, who's benefitting from our global empire by having inflated wages for work which in other countries would, with his lack of education and skill, put him in the poor house, can be as big of an ignoramous as he can without having to worry about the consequences.

Collect the checks, sit on your ass.

Hate the world, chuckle that you don't even need to understand it.

People talk a lot nowadays about the struggle of the U.S. worker....well, the U.S. worker voted for Bush and the U.S. worker isn't exactly facing conditions like that in Indonesia.

The U.S. worker is probably the least educated worker in the first world yet probably makes proportionally more than people with a comparable education in the rest of the industrial world make.

So he makes out pretty well for not lifting a finger to get any knowledge into his pretty little head.

And that's the status quo we're fighting to maintain.

Dusn't thaat beet ever thin', raaght cooter?

Just back from the wilds of British Columbia and already pissed off..

Ah, Canada, especially B.C., a really nice place.

I've been there for a few days, and I was going to write about U.S. issues in light of Canadian stuff going on, especially the huge debate going on now in Canada about equalization of funds going to provinces. Some people have pointed out that, proportionally, the southern states and the states that voted for Bush in general are net recipients of federal money--despite their pro-work, anti-welfare stance. People have gone on to say that, yes, this isn't fair. Isn't fair for rich states to subsidize poor states like that while the poor states bitch and complain about government waste and, most especially, about Taxes---which they don't pay a lot of but which they wind up using a lot of, meaning that people in blue states are paying for it.

The distribution of federal aid is a big deal in Canada, just like it is in the E.U., and is a legitimate topic of conversation and debate. Here there's nary a word said about it. The federal government is just some anonymous beast that sucks money up and spits it back out with no oversight. We could have the same debate here and press for legislation establishing parity in how much a state can benefit from federal aid without contributing much of its own.

That said, now that I'm back in the U.S. I find that we're still in a world of shit on many fronts.

Which is a sad, sad thing.

We're still doing crazy things across the world, still acting like the biggest assholes on the planet, still harassing other countries for simple things like wanting to sign onto the World Criminal Court, on and on.

Oh, to live in an America where the biggest problem was the granting of residency permits to strippers, which is another big Canadian scandal going on now which threatens to bring down the minister in charge of immigration.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Looking back and going forward

A lot of the reason that the ideological and theoretical stuff on this site exists is because of a country in the southern hemisphere known as Brasil.

In looking for alternatives I came across Brasillian culture. When it rains it pours and I found much more than I thought I was going to. Brasil appeared similar and yet different, similar in that it is a country which was founded on commercial interests, is large and multi-cultural, and because of differences between Portugese and Spanish culture has a general way of life closer to that of England than Spain in the Spanish colonial period possessed.

Different in that in virtually every respect Brasil has taken an approach which has tolerance, respect for the arts, and social justice at it's core.

Maybe I'm exagerrating there, but Brasillian life appears to have taken a very different and perhaps better path than America has.

The large difference is economic development and dependence.

With that said, after exploring the history and culture of Brasil, which fundamentally reshaped my worldview, I didn't look at things the same way.

Now I'm finding that what I thought was important in Brasil can also be found in Europe.

And that Jeremy Rifkin has a new book out called "The European Dream" which expresses both sentiments.

Yes, Brasil, I love Brasillian culture, and have even written some theoretical documents based on my explorations of the Brasillian avante-garde as presented in Caetano Veloso's book "Tropical Truth", (which are what the Neo-Romantic/American Tropicalia posts are all about), and now it appears that Europe, which I also love, and Brasil aren't that far off from each other and that the European dream is being recognized by other people as being valuable and, more importantly, reproduceable, in America.

So....check out Rifkin's book. It's still in hardcover but I urge you to save your pennies (or petition your library) in order to get a copy.

Maybe the U.S., Brasil, and Europe will eventually be more like a family than they are now.

With China joining the bunch eventually and the third world being welcomed into the society of nations on it's own terms and with its own culture intact.



A follow up

Why kitsch, why post-modernism?

American post-modernism was a response to the great and unavoidable bourgeois domination of American culture. No reality or reality check existed from which to test ones' theories or ideas, so reality had to be sought out at the margins where it still existed, in the weird and in the obscure, in the kitschy and in the forgotten. In the lost places which exist along America's highways, you could say.

What is this kitsch that people like but a hearkening back to another time when culture was less solidified into a sort of mediocre mass, as it was during the 1980s, and instead more...not even valid, but simply living?

Now here we are on the other side of the process. Were we succesful in resurrecting the dead?

I don't know but we face two options, neither one is good. First option is a continuation of modernity in all it's industrial glory, second is a return to something else.

First one will fail...hyper modernity without balance is always doomed. Second one may or may not happen directly but, in the end, will happen as modernity destroys itself and looks for some sort of more balanced alternative.

Did we succeed in resurrecting the dead? It seems the dead will resurrect themselves, one way or the other.

American culture, a sort of autopsy

OK, now that the election is over we know so much more about our culture, don't you think?

Things have become much clearer...

The question is what have we been doing in this country for all of these years when we were oblivious to the political deeds being done in our name by our political leaders?

An answer to that is that all this time we were sort of a signifier without a signified, that people appeared to basically be shuffling around in the dark looking for something, looking for meaning, but without any sort of perspective which would verify or disprove their ideas about the meaning that they found.

This led to quite a bit of eclecticism...

Now we've been supplied with a signified which is unmistakeable. Politics has returned to the scene and we no longer have to grope around in the dark and come up with our own ideas in order to connect with the greater meaning which is out there. The world has supplied it for us.

Why did this blindness exist? Because of our privilege. Our extreme privilege.

Being on top of the global economy, being the global empire, has the advantage of allowing people to indulge their fantasies without ever having to pay the price, at least for a while. The Master never has to work as long as he has Slaves.

Once that dialectic is broken reality returns with a vengence.

The grand bourgeois-beyond-bourgeois moment that America was going through from the late eighties until the present has come to a close and so has our lack of history.

I like European culture in part because it hasn't lost the connection with the commonplace that American culture has turned away from.

Reality is generally known and accepted...which shouldn't be an exceptional thing since the real world is quite accesable, only people who want to turn away from reality think that Reality is something external which needs to be conquered or which a person needs to 'get back to'.

The Catholic church always critiqued the Enlightenment and it's predecessors, particularly Descartes, for insisting on absolute precision and certainty in regards to an understanding of reality.

Yes, they would say, you do know down to a verifiable detail how such and such works, but we still have the big picture down, and you don't need extensive experimentation to prove that.

They might have had a kind of point.

Anyways. American craziness, American eccentricity, will hopefully be either coming to an end or extraordinarily moderated soon in response to both the inescapeable reality posed by the dual hit of 9/11 and the re-election and to the rise of an official culture mirroring the degeneration of other states into bureaucracies where officialdom becomes the new consciousness of the people.

Creativity, I hope at least, will continue, but perhaps now that we have a dose or two of reality and one to come that creativity will be a little bit more meaningful and a little less disposeable.

And maybe more aware of what the rest of the world is up to and how we as a nation fit into the general historical development of...well, I'll stop there, you get the picture.

Inisghts from Erjavec's book

Alesh Erjavec makes an interesting point about Slovenia and the rise of Laibach.

I see historical paralells everywhere, that's sort of my job, but in this case it's pretty provocative.

He presents the implementation of workers' self management in Yugoslavia in the late seventies as leading to a situation where society was no longer relatively free and liberal but was rather taken by a populist revolution which tended to provincialize Yugoslav society....

Liberal values were associated with a relative elite and this populist revolt was allayed against that. Standards were redefined downwards in order to make workers' culture appear to be higher in quality than it was.

Laibach, in Erjavec's estimation tried to show the hypocracy of it, of a society where populism in public life lead to a lack of freedom of expression, and to a new official culture which praised bullshit that made it feel good while being oppressive in actuality.

Sound familiar?

Think the reality of Fox News versus the reality that more and more people are experiencing every day, both at home and especially abroad...

Think that destroying Iraq is a bad thing? You must be one of those liberal elitist snobs who's out of touch with the rest of the country anyways...and 9/11 supposedly demonstrated that we were all wrong, right?

Yes, 9/11 has become our excuse for people with no ideas putting forward their own prejudices and calling it justice.

Ted Rall hatemail in wake of his appearance on Hannity and Colmes

There seems to be a pattern in people writing about that Pat Tillman cartoon he did a while ago, the one about the professional football player who volunteered to go fight terrorists in Afghanistan, then was killed accidentally by his fellow troops?

Rall doesn't think much of him.

The letters that he got seem to indicate that people think speaking of people who've died is a bad thing "I believe in freedom of expression but not like that. Death is the end of one's life, and it must be treated with the utmost respect. You are treating it as a diversion. Death is not to be mocked. Are you compelled to apologize to the people you have offended? Do you have a conscience? Please revisit your heart!" Goes one of the letters.

Which, I'm sure, is why President Bush joked about executing Karla Faye Tucker in Texas on national television during the 2000 campaign, even going so far as to mock her with imitations of cries for help.

Yes, conservatives sure have respect for the dead, don't they?

Moral Voters

It used to be the joke that environmentalist liberals would protect a baby seal or spotted owl but wouldn't look at suffering in their own backyards.

Well, welcome to the universe of the moral voter, where conservatives will do anything to protect the sanctity of an institution which they do not honor themselves, marriage, but don't give a damn about the person starving in the street.

We have our stereotypes, now you have yours.

Other interesting stuff...

Odds and ends.

If you want real info on witchcraft, not Wicca, go to Capall Ban publising...

What else, oh yeah, the Aghora trilogy, about Left Hand Path Hinduism, is excellent as well.

Resources on Laibach and NSK

OK, I've found a really good book, "Postmodernism and the post-socialist condition", edited by Ales Erjavec (I just spent ten minutes trying to find a way to put the accent mark over the S in the author's name...but my newfangled operating system can't accomodate me...so no offense), which has a whole chapter, written by Erjavec, about NSK. Published by University of California Press.

Puts it in good context.

More relating to below posts

With all the suffering in the world, and within the African American community here at home, why do we have to feel bad for gold toothed thugs?

People who, yes, declared themselves proudly to be part of criminal organizations and who support the 'thug life' lifestyle?

There're so many black people living in poverty who have nothing to do with this sort of thing that it's unfair to them to give Mr. Pimp some sympathy while the only reason he's being paid attention to is that he's just a good self-promoter, or his comrades are.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Divided times

Yes, for me the election has been the great divider.

Some people say that 9/11 changed everything. I say the election changed everything.

I'm no longer inclined to give breaks to people who're just out to pick my pocket and tell me how I'm oppressing them.

And mounds of self pity and guilt tripping don't have much of a claim on me anymore.

There's real oppression and then there're people who've been given a pass for far too long in the name of tolerance.

Fight Night in the NBA

Fight Night in the NBA: 'Many fans love the sport but just hate pro athletes.' Athletes in the eyes of many fans are too spoiled, too loud, too 'hip-hop' too tattooed, too corn-rowed - all of which translates to players as 'too black.' "

I don't think so. There's a difference between being too much like a fucking thug who'd rather kill you and take your money than talk and be nice and objecting to a person because they're black.

Death Row records recruited people from off the street who were gang members and what a joy that turned out to be, right? With musicians assasinating each other?

Same thing with sports.

There are black people and then there are criminals....and I don't think it's a good thing to treat criminals like they're warm and fuzzy because they happen to have a lot of melanin in their skin.

Gangster is as gangster does.

More negativity...

A recent article in a paper around here pointed out that one third of Americans were overweight, then said that one fifth of Oregonians were overweight....I think that the difference is made up by the people in Oregon addicted crystal meth, who're skinny. Otherwise there might be no difference.

Like shooting fish in a barrel...

To use an American expression.

That's the feeling I have many times when participating in meetings and groups with older lefties, or 'progressives', to be more exact. The lefties know their stuff better. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It has to do with the comprehension of issues. I just ran into an article which talked about wanting to reach out to the Religious Left in America and was reminded of a strategy session where someone brought up the concept of a religious left....and it was something they'd never thought of before.

I had, ahem, been aware of it for some time.

So I just went along with it and said "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea", thinking to myself that I'd gone back in time.

This happened time and time again, this sort of thing, and I've eventually realized that the people I meet like this, who have huge gaps in their understanding of politics and of the world, are the 'typical liberal' guys who are parodied all over the place as being out of touch etc..

Well, they are---but they at least want to know more, and they make really stupid mistakes in doing so.

Me?

I have a solid understanding of politics that comes from, among other sources, going to that obscure thing, hard to get to, virtually unknown, called an "Encyclopedia Britannica" and looking up the definitions of liberal, conservative, socialist, etc... and actually having some knowledge behind my positions because of it.

But these people, big on heart, low on actually understanding, knee jerk compassionists, are really out there....and it's a good thing for lazy socialists who otherwise would have to engage in some real political dialogue with people.

Ukraine follow up...

Ukraine is a strange country, sort of between east and west. Historically dominated by Russia yet now proud of its independence and wanting to chart its own course...

The guy who's contesting things is the pro-western candidate, so it's not that clear who exactly is the right person, but having Ukraine closer to the EU instead of to Russia would be a good thing.

Ukraine Gripped by Poll Turmoil; Exit Polls Showed Opposition Leader Was on Course for Victory

All right!

At least some countries know what to do...

Taking a cue from Rall...

In alternate earth, actually a Tom Tomorrow concept, CNN is reporting on the fight for Jerusalem...

On the scene "I'm Abu Hasan here standing outside the ruins of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the oldest sites in the Christian faith....today Marines invaded the Church and executed several suspected insurgents. In other news, fighting still rages in Bethlehem, where the resistance movement, led by hard-core holdouts from the Crusader party, continues to hold ground. Officials say that if Bethlehem can be broken that the resistance will go away, and deny allegations that destroying holy sites in the Christian faith has anything to do with Christians resenting their liberators. Back to you Hakim"

"Yes, the Christians just do not understand civilization....although we started out mired in religion our golden age led us to an enlightened secular age; we must not forget that at the same time as our rennaisance in Andalusia was happening that Christians too had experiments with free government and culture in the northern part of the Italic penninsula. Unfortunately, while we succeeded in breaking off the chains of superstition, they didn't."

Back to you, Abu Hasan.

Laibach Seattle show report

I have to add that the NSK people seem to be some of the coolest people I've ever been around, even if it was just as an audience member in an intimate little hyper-intellectualized show. I'd like to get to know them properly, but, unfortunately they're over there in Slovenia most of the time and I haven't really done anything which merits me being anymore than a groupy. They are a functioning art collective, after all. Maybe this site counts, in terms of doing something creative that would allow me to sort of meet them on something other than the level of fawning outsider fan with no talent....

Edited to protect the innocent...
***
Hey, just got back from the Seattle show. What an interesting and sad time.

Technically wonderful, but depressing as hell.

Started out with a reading of an address to the people of the United States by Peter Mlakar, which basically said that Laibach was on the side of the Left, that the United States can't be forgiven for what it's done in re-electing Bush, that we're heading for a civil war, but that the cankerous sore of our society will be punctured and drained and at the other side of the blackness will be the absolute, purified, ready to manifest itself in the world to a greater extent than before.

There were special "United we Fall" T-Shirts, printed with a presidential seal and bearing a "Laibach Divided States tour 2004" logo, specially printed in a red version and a blue version, so that if you're a fascist you buy the red, if you're not you buy the blue. I bought the blue.

As for the performance, I think that the interaction between Laibach and the audience was extreme. Granted, they didn't go out and actually talk to people but, especially with Ivan, I believe is his name, there was a constant searching out of the crowd, checking our vibes, and altering the songs in order to make certain points.

Certain songs were altered in the emphasize so that the message which was trying to get through would be pretty obvious. Not a lot of ambiguity, not as much as is in the recorded versions. The emotion bled through really clearly.

I think they were pissed off that there were so many Nazis there who just didn't get it and who liked it because it sounded mean and German.

The singer was checking us out sometimes, like in the "Spiel ist Aus" song, to see just who would be the dumb fucks who would actually give a fascist salute in it. And who wouldn't.

There was a lot of bitterness to the crowd over that, deserved, I would say, since we had a bunch of racist skins, including a whole section towards the left of the stage which saluted and cheered on the parts of songs which seemed to suggest violence and murder towards immigrants.

Of course that's not what the songs mean, but they don't know that. Instead they let their true colors show.

Yeah, and Life is Light was extremely bitter, sort of daring us to actually cheer it on instead of see it as a fucking ironic slam against utopian movements promising everything.

Geburt Einer Nation wasn't done enthusiasticaly at all, and I think the reason was they didn't want to encourage the Nazis.

Sympathy For the Devil. went well. I actually pumped my fist up in an Anarchist salute after it, but I think that given the presence of assholes it might have been taken as a fascist thing. If it was taken at all.

We Are Time referenced Bush as the Anti-Christ, which was a point that Peter Mlakar made at the beginning.

Barbarians....part of the "Now you will pay" song, was changed to link the idea of Laibach fans as Barbarians who could do something good, which was a point that Peter Mlakar touched on as well at the beginning in saying something like "as descendents of Barbarians...." but then it came back to the point.

I could tell that they didn't like to do certain songs.

God is God was the first one that the skinheads liked, since it was sort of metalish. But it had a political slant, too, which was of course lost on them.

Mars on the Drina was good, but who understood that it was simulating sounds of gun fire in a city?

The girls were good, but they weren't in constant movement and a lot of it was choreography and not actual drumming.

Everyone seemed eager to get the hell off the stage, especially the drummer to the left of the stage who had been doing her thing in front of the saluting crowd all night.

I think I may have inadvertantly had a brief conversation with one of the drummers before the show...one of them may have been manning the merchandise stand in a hat...I said something about Laibach after she had put in a good word for Bonfire Madigan and she giggled about "Well of course you know more about Laibach!", which was funny.

Or maybe not, maybe I'm imagining things.

It was a terrible situation, I feel. Sadness permeated it.


Bonfire Madigan was good and courageous. Isn't easy to be up there all alone on stage with your instrument like that, but she performed well.

If the front man was pissed off and cynical about us wait until he gets to San Francisco. Those people have to be some of the biggest hypocrites on earth (no offense) and I'm sure that false lefty-ness isn't going to be a vibe which will go over well with them.

Yeah, Bonfire Madigan dedicated a song to all the people who love ultra-gay drag queen transexuals, and very few people clapped (she asked us to do that)...she's from San Francisco. That stuff goes over big there. The rest of the country just sorts of marvels at how certain non-straight people can be so full of themselves. Especially since there's, um, a war on which is killing many people. Maybe that's more important at the moment than trans liberation, don't you think?

***

There was something else....oh yeah, I think that the whole playing both sides of the fence thing...hmm...I can't read minds but they seemed really fed up with us, the front man especially...maybe if more people actually knew what the German language lyrics meant they'd be more sympathetic.

Remembered what I was going to say...yeah, in We Are Time, the whole "From Marx and back to Plato" thing now makes perfect sense.

It has to do with the sort of philosophy that Mlakar is putting out, which is a kind of modified Platonism, so...they've gone from Marx back to Plato in their conception of society and the universe.

Ted Rall comic

The comic that got Ted Rall canned from the Washington Post....is very funny.

And I say this as someone who knows mentally disabled people...blah blah blah. It'd be funny anyways.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Laibach Live

Saw the Laibach concert in Seattle last night.

Wrote up a large piece about it elsewhere which I'll edit and post here later...

But it was very good. There was an address to the American nation which Peter Mlakar, their philosopher, recited, and I endorse it wholeheartedly.

The text of it is probably at the NSK Athens website, or will be shortly. So you can find it yourself.

Good.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

West Coast dreamin', again.

Reflections on ye olde west coast.

Reflection might be a bad word to describe it, but anyways, the West Coast is really different largely because instead of having small groups of people in large conservative and moderate towns interested in radical things you have a culture which is generally heavily skewed to the left and to alternative ways of living already.....nothing particularly new there, but the living of life in a community where people really vibe with your values is different from being a sort of isolated individual in some town. I think people put a lot of illusions around themselves regarding their isolation from others, like that they really are that different or that life itself for them is commencing in a fundamentally different way than it is for people in the rest of the town or in their area.

It isn't so, in my opinion.

We all have family and friends, neighbors, whatever, and what I've found is that, with few exceptions, people who live alternative lives and believe in radical things don't lead lives which are totally unconventional in regards to things like where they came from, where they're going, how they propose to get there. That's really vague. Let me try again.

It's a misnomer to think that people who lead alternative lives are really that alienated from society. If what you mean is are they different, sure, but alienated? I've actually ran into few people who could identify with a Franz Kafka book or with, say, Knut Hamsun's lead character in "Hunger", in anything except a very subjective, metaphoric, way.

Most people just don't like accepted culture. That's different from being totally estranged from it.

People may object to a whole lot of things about their lives but usually despite all of it there's more stability there than they might volunteer.

I used to think that there was something wrong with that, but now I see it as a fact of life.

And if we're being honest with ourselves something that's probably a good thing.

I think that people who live elsewhere look at the Pacific Northwest and think: "Oh there are some really fucking crazy people up there doing some totally insane stuff, I should try to emulate them", if they think about it in those terms at all, but in reality they're hurting themselves and not imitating the Northwest because people here are a heck of a lot more grounded than media coverage really communicates.


It's easy to rave yourself up into thinking that you're some sort of super-alternative person while living pretty separate from the rest of your community, it's another thing to integrate those values into regular life.

I came here thinking the exact same way as that and now I'm living life and interacting with people in a much more normal way than I'd ever think I'd be able to, and I have to admit that that's a good thing, and that I haven't fundamentally changed or given anything up.

****

I can't help but think about situations where people unconsciously conform to what society thinks of them while actaully trying to be insanely alternative.

The person in a small town who could be more moderate in his appearance elsewhere while still having the same beliefs who dresses the part of the outre-punk because, hey, that's what people on the outs of small town life supposedly do, right?

That's a good example.

***

In Knut Hamsun's book "Hunger" the main character eventually decides to give up being a starving writer and join up with a crew of a ship, thereby giving him happiness.

That's one way to end the story, the way that we're all familiar with: person tries to live alternative life, person fails, person accepts conventionality and then decides that conventionality is great. But there's another possibility.

What if you win?

What do you do then?

My experience is that you do something really similar to what the person in Hamsun's book does, but only in this case you don't renounce your values at all.

This makes me think that there's something about coming back to land which deals with a fundamental of society and doesn't have to do with either alternative or establishment. We need social relationships, in fact we find ourselves involved with them all the time...., but seriously, we need a social fabric and framework, and some people renounce one social fabric which they don't like in hopes of finding another one, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not succeeding, but either way having to come back to some sort of social context in order to find sanity and security.

Friday, November 19, 2004

About all of these minority appointments in the new Bush administration...

Someone should tell those people who are rejoicing over this that racism didn't stop Haiti's elite from recruiting regular black haitians to be jack booted thugs, extortionists, criminals in pay of the state.

And Alberto Gonzales?

Latin America has a long tradition of fascism, so he truly represents Latin American traditions, at least those associated with Pinochet and Peron. And the Mexican dictators. And Somoza in Nicaragua. And the Brazillian Generals. And the current semi-dictator of Columbia. And Battista in Cuba.

Yep, he stands on the shoulders of a long Latin American heritage.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

A new view of how the government could work

Hey folks, how are thing?

I was thinking to myself: self, you know what would be good for solving a lot of the problems which exist within the federal governent? If the actual administration of the executive branch agencies' work was done in a more decentralized way with the legislature in Washington still being there.

What do I mean?

Well, the work of the executive branch agencies, which are the government agencies we all know and love, is in practice split over the country in regional form. Certain districts or regions have their own agency offices which administer things for that region.

Not all of it, by far, originates in DC.

Life would be much better if those regional offices assumed more control for things which are currently administered from Washington.

Although the power of Washington would be diluted, the fact that the legislature still meets there and makes decisions would actually make them more accountable to their citizens.

What do I mean by this?

If the legislature, passing laws, is passing laws which will be administered more directly by people in the area from which they come then there will be more interaction between representative and constituency.

If something goes wrong then it won't be the scenario where the representative, giving orders to a Washington beaurocracy, can dodge the responsability through saying that "It's the Washington people who did it!", no it will be people who would be more directly accountable to him or her who would be the people who messed up.
And voters could then decide with some real info and certainty if this legislator was in fact faithfully representing them in Congress.

So a decentralized administration of government makes sense for democracy.

The functions which the federal government carries out are essential to any country; the problem lies not with the functions but with how those functions are realized in practice. Are they realized in a way which fits the needs of people or are they realized in a way which fits the needs of an largely distant government which meets somewhere between Virginia and Maryland?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Faith in Humanity

There're two types of faith in humanity: first off is the faith in humanity that people are familiar with, which is faith in the goodness and common experience of man which we can all draw on in times of crisis to comfort ourselves.

The second is the type of faith in humanity that George Bernannos would buy into. This type of faith is that humans will be, well, humans, that is, creatures who kill and destroy one another without much regard to anything.

That's part of our common humanity too, the common flaw, or the common potential for flaws verging on the extreme.

I'm not sure which version of faith in humanity I'm buying into the most at this moment.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Possibilities for change in our new fascist state

Actually, I'm only three fifths of the way kidding about that.

Seriously, though, I was browsing through my local and very excellant left wing used book store, the other day, looking at the huge amount of anti-Bush stuff there. Posters. Postcards! Magnets. Books galore. I thought to myself: Self, it looks like we're pretty well prepared to do battle with this administration over the next four years.

We don't have to track down a whole bunch of info on mess ups or mobilize artists against the guy. It's already been done.

We can take that and use it very wisely to push and push and push against this administration, turning the public against it in every way we can, in order to stop them from doing what they want to do and maybe even to get them out of office.

And make America a more progressive country.

That's the thing: now that the dems aren't our vehicle for social change anymore (sorry Kerry staff) we can be progressive just like we were before 9/11 stop gap actions, anti-Iraq war actions, and finally stop the whole fucking thing by getting the bastard out of office actions, happened.

Let's just throw the Democrats overboard altogether now and organize for social justice on all fronts.

It's not like there's going to be a decisive election for a while.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Organize

That's the message.

Organize and don't stop.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Excerpt from Browder's "People's Front"

Written in '38 and really prescient.

***

Our country, in common with the rest of the capitalist world, is threatened with reaction, fascism, and war. The reactionary forces are strong and menacing. On the other hand, those standing for socialism, which is the only final solution, are relatively weak----in the U.S.A., especially weak. Must we therefore become pessimists, and concede in advance that reaction and fascism must surely win, and that only through the bitter sufferings of fascism can the great majority be won to socialism? No, that would be absolutely wrong, it would be criminal, it would amount to a silent partenership with reaction. Although the great toiling majoirty of the population are not ready to struggle for socialism, they are ready to defend their democratic rights and living standards against the attacks of reaction and fascism, and they are more and more anxious to struggle for the maintenance of peace. Organized and roused to struggle, on a platform for which they are now prepared, they can and will prevent fascism from coming to power. We can organize and rouse them---provided we do not demand of them that they agree with our socialist program, but unite with them on the basis of their program which we make also our own.
They are not socialists yet for many reasons: among these are that they have many prejudices and misconceptions about socialism and communism; that they think the problems can be worked out under a corrected and purified capitalism, and so forth. They believe that further experience will prove them right. We disagree with them, we think that only socialism will finally solve our problems, and we believe that experience will prove that we are right. In the meantime, both those who want socialism and the much larger number who do not can still agree on the necessity to defeat reaction, fascism and war. Why not, then, unite all such people for their common purpose? That is the proposal of the People's Front.

Vote Kerry

That's the inspiring political message.

Vote Kerry tomorrow.

Just do it.

Me, I've just ordered a copy of "The People's Front" by Earl Browder...

Just google Browder and/or Browderism to see what that's about.

It's a lot less radical than you might think.

Florida's Palm Beach County Bracing for the Electoral Storm

Florida.

What can I say.

As a person who lived there for a good chunk of time, and who now lives in another state, Florida seems in many ways like a state out of the past.

Why do I say that?

I think it's because of all the hedonism associated with Florida.

People don't make that up; Florida is hedonic, even in many areas that are more conservative. But what does that hedonism add up to?

A lot of non-progressive ways of looking at the world which the rest of the country is slowly going away from.

Like how women are viewed. You can't have a culture which says "Sex! Sex! Sex!" all the time and tacitly approves of the fuck and run college party culture which is at the same time really progressive towards women.

It just doesn't work like that.

A lot of what the fun of florida comes from has its downsides...

But that's a topic so vast that books can be written about it.

Suffice it to say that a culture dependant on tourism and on a lot of partying doesn't neccesarily build the best environment for getting things done.

Progressive culture means more than permissiveness, and sometimes building a real progressive culture means doing things which end up being pretty conservative if viewed from the point of view of the ultimate 'let it all hang out' mentality, but these things, and attitudes, enable the culture to go farther than it could otherwise.

And besides, what do you want the point of life to be about? Partying or actually living a meaningful life where you get at least some satisfaction through what you do, and don't just do what you do to pay for the lifestyle you lead outside of it.

Osama bin Laden's stump speech, via Ed Naha

Well, this is an interesting turn of events.

You can read the transcript of Osama bin Laden's speech via the link.

What's more interesting than what he says is what he doesn't say: he doesn't say that he wants an Islamic Revolution to take over the world.

He may want this, but he didn't make it a point in the speech.

Instead, he made a simple and really forceful point: stay the fuck away from us and we'll stay the hell away from you.

Plain and simple.

I'm inclined to say "Sure, hell, let's get out of the middle east, we really don't need to be there anyways".

I'm reminded of a Far Side cartoon where Gary Larson gives different examples of nature's way of telling people to stay away. One frame has a homeless dude with a boot on his head as a hat, a large inner tube with a rubber ducky type of head on it, and a bazooka.

That's nature's way of saying "Stay away".

I think that the video sends a similar message.