Monday, January 31, 2005

If I was to apply that analysis to now..

It would be Toby Keith songs that would be the target of my crusade.

That's what I mean by bullshit populism.

It's no accident, although I don't consciously do it often, that although the blog is really pro-worker and pro-people in general that I bash the red-staters.

I have nothing against working or poor folk, but I do have something against self appointed guardians of some American tradition, popular saviors of the red white and blue who want to shove their opinions down my throat and tell me that if I don't agree with them that I don't like them because they are working folks or poor.

These people are more the self appointed leaders of the working class than any sort of representative; you obey these folks, they intimidate everyone else into falling in line.

So opposing hardline redstaters is not anti-democratic. It's anti-bullshit populist.

It's against the same sorts of abuse of national symbolism which shuts down rational discourse and lets people in positions of influence manipulate things which has arisen elsewhere.

Which goes back to an idea from the Italian Autonomia

Which is, surprise surprise, that the very idea of a working class as is understood by the idealogues, is foreign, and that people who were poor peasants have consistantly resisted being integrated into capitalism, into the industrial system, into being made members of the working class, and have instead done everything in their power to retain their autonomy from the system. And that that is the true working class heritage, not this whole populist workerism bullshit.

Which is not to deny that there is a working class. Of course there is; economically, yes, the working class exists, but what that class actually is, what it thinks of itself, and of the outside world, is, in the opinions of the folks I'm talking about, and of myself, radically different from what leftist pro-worker parties have portrayed it as.

From Murray Bookchin to New Acropolis

It's interesting; I picked up a copy of Post-Scarcity Anarchism last week, and while I haven't gotten much into it, thinking about the use of the Greek city state as an example of an ideal democracy, which Libertarian Municipalism, Bookchin's ideology, promotes, goes right into the Laibach CD 'Nova Akropola'.

Let me explain.

The New Acropolis of Laibach is an oppressive structure ruling in the name of the people, in the name of democracy, in the name of popular participation...it's a direct response to what was happening in Yugoslavia at the time of the composition, the early '80s.

Yugoslavia did implement shop committees, decentralization, liberalization, and the rest, but it lead to a sort of popular dictatorship in which the ideology of 'the people', now because of the decentralization and promotion of popular participation permeating all aspectts of life, started to trump everything else.

Popular participation lead to populist ideology, to a sense that workers were better simply because they were workers....you didn't have to do anything to be good you simply were!

Which is not to dis the working class at all but rather to say that socialism implies that you take your freedom and work with it to achieve something, not just sit on your ass and declare yourself to be liberated and perfect.

This situation mirrored the worst blindly "Anything workers do is good, anything people who don't work with their hands do is bad" attitude of Stalinism at its peak.

So the New Acropolis, named because of the obvious similarity between the Yugoslav idea of a decentralized and highly participatory system of government and the old Greek model, lead to a total dictatorship, one which was sanctioned by that which was supposed to guarantee the freedom.

And not only that but it set the stage in some ways for the break ups and civil wars which followed the end of Communist Yugoslavia.

So this populist participation, fostering nationalism, and validating the idea that the people are always right, contributed to genocide.

Murray Bookchin rolls over the possibilities for this sort of thing, usually, having an extremely naive idea of the nature of the Athenian state...anyways, his followers simplify it even more.

Municipal councils! Meeting after meeting for a truly liberated democracy! Spreading democracy to every single decision in society!

Yes!

And special resorts for dissenters from the chorus as well!

'Condi's not so candid'

OK, Mr. Sorensen, "t is a week to do a liberal's heart good. The star of the show last week was Condoleezza Rice, a black woman. The chief supporting actor was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Jewish woman. The occasion was the ceremonial swearing in of Rice as U.S. secretary of state. Ginsburg is the Supreme Court justice who administered the oath.
This week, if all goes as planned, Alberto Gonzales will win Senate approval to become our next attorney general. Gonzales is Hispanic and was born into poverty.
And, ending yesterday, elections were held in Iraq.
For these reasons, you'd expect liberals to be jumping up and down with joy. Don't liberals support diversity and racial equality? Don't liberals support free elections in other free nations?"

Let me suggest something here: there are some disturbing patterns to your praise, in that although you're willing to praise all of these groups for being a credit to our country or to liberty in general you do not belong to any of them.

Which goes to the core of white liberal rubber stamp support of minorities.
You support them as little categories that you can arrange, not as individuals.

If this was Africa the fact that an African woman was being confirmed Secretary of State wouldn't be a big issue. It would just be a woman being confirmed secretary of state.

If this was Israel it wouldn't be a big issue that a Jewish woman was on the supreme court. It would just be a woman being on the supreme court.

You see, when you put ethnic concerns above all you leave issues of what people are like, if they're qualified or not, as human beings, behind, and it contributes to a climate where actual issues aren't dealt with.

How? or why? Because actual issues, in the fullest sense of the word, only exist between equals.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

The absolute non-issue of surveillance

At least to people on the left, beyond the normal considerations.

You know, I mentioned the FBI. This may shock people, but, yes Virginia, the FBI does keep tabs on lefties who aren't doing anything illegal whatsoever. There's not some sort of weird secret world out there, which some people, like Michael Parenti, Stalinist extraordinaire, would like you to think, but it's just that states do this sort of thing. It's only the fact that we, in the United States, think of ourselves as being this free and honest country that prevents us from seeing this.

To take an example: according to my understanding of things, in Germany, everyone on the left assumes that the BND, the German equivalent of the FBI, is watching them or at least aware of them, and people just assume that that's what the government does. It's not this earth shattering revelation. That's why there's so much more leftist opinion in European countries because, like security surveillance, people see that a)business looks out for itself, that b)capitalism isn't the best way to organize an economy, and that class divisions will be there under the this system with all the wonderful implications of that unless something is done, through banding together through unions and political parties, to mitigate the influence of class.

In otherwords, they have a head on their shoulders.

And, I should add, in Germany this Terrorism thing has been going on for a long time, with the BND actually raising the spectre of RAF terrorists who have gone underground rearing their ugly heads and attacking out of the blue for years in order to scare people. So people in Germany probably have more surveillance than we do.

And they aren't concerned. They just continue doing what they're doing, which is usually legal and perfectly allright, just objectionable to the powerful interests which control the German state.

Federal Bureau

There's a reason why the FBI and sometimes large city police departments pay attention to lefties....it's easier than actually finding the bad guys and doing real work.

Actually finding people who have comitted federal crimes is obviously not as enjoyable as sending immature and harassing messages to people who's political beliefs you deam unacceptable.

I can always tell...

What the FBI thinks of this site by the quality of the harassing e-mail I'm getting.

I figured it out that it's them because simple people who weren't being paid to write these things wouldn't send out e-mail after e-mail, day after day.

No, these people are being paid, and are FBI employees.

So, to answer the FBI's insinuation that I have something to do with the ELF because I mentioned liking Edward Abbey in a recent post, no, I really don't have much of an interest in ecology beyond generally caring about the environment. Abbey just happened to be a good representative of this sort of decentralized agrarian tradition since most of the other people associated with it no one would know.

But, gee, you people are really good at picking up what the resonances of different writers and ideas are.

I guess that's what they pay you for.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Treaties

Reading over some Native American literature that I read some years ago, it struck me that treaties which were signed in the 19th century were considered invalid by the U.S. government.

Why?

Because, to use some examples from Europe, in other places the awareness of history is not so shallow.

Take the flags of two countries in Europe: Germany and Austria.

Germany's flag is the flag of the Hanseatic League, which was a confederation of free trading towns in northern Germany which started in the late middle ages.

Austria's flag is the flag of the Babenberg family. The Babenbergs were last seen in Austria in the 13th century, and their flag was chosen because it was a flag from the era between the early domination of Austria by the original Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne and that of the Habsburgs.

Obviously someone out there recognizes that events from farther back than the 19th century have profound meaning, and relevance, but we seem not to.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Racism

It occurs to me that with all of this crap talked about about teaching tolerance, teaching multi-culturalism, ok multi-cult isn't so bad, but teaching tolerance in trying to reach people's hearts about not hating others that the real issue isn't being addressed. I don't care what people think in their hearts, as long as they don't discriminate against blacks. The heart can come later. But if we're talking about root causes we need to focus on rooting out the base cause of racism, which is motivated by economic concerns. If the economic basis of racism can be destroyed then racism will take care of itself in a way which will make talk about reaching people's hearts more valid.

But you don't reach people's hearts when you have basic economic inequality which pits poor whites and poor blacks against each other.

John Chuckman: 'Freedom on steroids'

Decent article. Chuckman gets away with insulting Jefferson, which he does extensively at the end, because he lives in Canada and people there are OK with insulting Americans who fought for democracy, since their system accomodated itself to Tory rule from England for several centuries.

But the beginning is funny.

Yes, in Canada, a nice country, you don't have to support democracy to support liberty.

That might be one of the things that the U.S. has over our brethren to the north, although we sure as hell aren't making use of the option to act on it.

All this stuff?

Is this of interest to non-anarchists and non-lefties?

I hadn't thought of it before but I think this is being read by people other than these groups, which is fine with me if you all appreciate it.

I just hadn't considered the possibility!

AF, LK OK?

Just a message for a friend, nothing conspiratorial.

Monday, January 24, 2005

And where did all of this come from?

Why totalitarianism? Why a fixation on all this stuff? Where did it come from? Why?

Well, all this developed, sort of unconsciously, as a practical application of ultra-left and anarchist theories which condemned not only capitalism, not only the State, but also more subtle and sometimes bureaucratic means of coercion, like that found in labor unions, as well.

People like Freddy Perlman, people like the ultra-leftists associated with KKA and related presses, John Zerzan a little bit, Autonomedia people, all these guys.

Also ultra-left anarchists like Makhno and the platformists, although I object to the idea of the platform because it's really too bureaucratic. Makhno personally is better. His own writings.

Too many people to name. Some people having a Nietzschean anti-society twist, others having a dislike of the coercive potentials in any sort of organization, on and on, some being just generally sceptical of power, like Edward Abbey, whose Desert Solitaire is a wonderful book that I really should finish some day....but all of them having in common the feature of taking that step beyond simply opposing economic inequality and opposing the coercive measures of the state and opposing power in general.

I see criticizing totalitarianism as a practical application of all of that theoretical thought.

I am not a doctrinaire anything. Try in vain to find some purity. I don't seek it. But I hope my message gets across.

Total, Schmotal

I hope that, collectively, these writings will be an antidote to the sort of facile Totalitarianism name calling done by neo-conservatives, who have appropriated the term.

The fact is that societies which have turned themselves into total states are an extremely significant development in the 20th century, and they have to be dealt with if you want to understand where we are now or what exactly the significance of everything that's happened in the last sixty years or so has been.

But to identify the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and squawk out 'Total State! Total State!' with no actual knowledge of what these states were about and with liberal capitalism as your concealed helpful suggestion to the development of total dictatorships is dishonest and useless.

Useless if you want to actually understand history and learn from it, dishonest in that liberal capitalism has little or nothing to do with the process.

French writer Jean-Fran├žois Revel is probably the most absurd user of the word 'Totalitarianism'. In his pretty worthless book "The Totatlitarian Temptation" he uses it simply to indicate parties and positions which he doesn't like, specifically the PCF or French Communist Party.

If you really don't like extreme dictatorships it makes little sense to trivialize the suffering of those who lived under them by using them to grind your personal axes, but then people do crazy things, right?

Anyways, these writings actual are the product of intellectual engagement with the history around the development of these societies, not simply repetitition of a nice slogan someone thought up.

And my solution isn't liberal cold-war style capitalism but a more authentic socialism.

So, I hope these serve as a real contribution to understanding and aren't confused as simply the ravings of someone jilted from one or another position, which I certainly am not, who is taking it out on the left by declaring everyone to be totalitarians, which I definitely am not doing either.

Soviet Union and Totalitarianism

Reckoning with things like this is never easy, yet it has to be done.

In the writings about Totalitarianism which I feature on the sidebar the Nazi era is dealt with in great detail but the Soviets aren't, except for some cryptic references. Well, I intend to rectify that.

The biggest difference is that the Soviet totalitarianism was couched in the language of development, so it could maintain a veneer of being 'progressive' even when the whole point of Soviet society was oriented towards something other than some sort of progressive vision.

The Soviets created an artificial break with pre-capitalist forms of economic life in order to create their own version of the new society, which became the total society. It wasn't about creating progress, but about creating a new Socialist civilization, which would be totally different from every other civilization which existed before, with changes which would register on all levels of life. Russian society didn't really have a say in it. That Russia had it's own culture before the Bolshevik Revolution which maybe needed to be recognized and respected was not taken into consideration. A new culture steam rolled all that history. And gloated in it.

The total culture in Russian society was created in the 1920s, I believe, well before Stalin took over. It was created, in fact, during the time that Trotsky and company had the biggest power and influence. Their latter day explanations of what they did and what Stalin was ring false when you look at their actions.

The leftists essentially took over, or rather maintained power and steered Russia back to a plan against NEP, after Lenin's death, and methodically collectivized and consolidated control of Russia, instituting revolutionary plans for transformation of society at every level. Destroying the Church, destroying more and more vestiges of Russian life, authoritarianly collectivizing the country, seizing control of towns by means of the Party, you name it.

It happened in the 20s, it was happening before too no doubt, under Trotsky's watch.

One of the biggest lies that is told is that Stalin represented some sort of Rightist challenge to Trotsky, that the Trotskyists were the good Bolsheviks and that Stalin was some sort of 'Bonapartist', to use Trotsky's tortured terminology, usurper, with the implication that, like Napoleon, Stalin was some sort of mean between the ultra-revolutionaries and the monarchists, or the conservatives.

Only problem with this wonderful story is that the Stalin regime billed itself, and Stalinist propaganda, including of course Party propaganda generated for the masses of other countries and not for internal consumption, billed what Stalin was doing as being more leftist than the leftists. The Stalinists billed themselves as the real revolutionaries; and quite far from denouncing Trotsky as bad for being Leftist they said that they were what Trotsky only said he was, but instead failed at being.

They applied the ideas from Lenin's "Left wing Communism, an Infantile disorder" against Trotsky, which meant that Trotsky and company weren't denounced for being too revolutionary but for being ineffectively revolutionary, for being revolutionary in an immature way which was counter-productive. Stalin and his gang presented themselves as the effective ones, the ones which weren't obsessed with abstract theories which had nothing to do with reality but instead wanted pure, hard, revoultionary change.

And the Stalinist parties echoed it. There's an undercurrent in their propaganda which said that real revolutionaries looked at the show trials and executions of party members for supposed disloyalty and cheered, because that sort of inhumanity was necessary to get the job done, and if they were technically innocent, so what? Their real crime was being against the regime, and that sort of disloyalty was not to be tolerated in building the socialist society.

The Stalinist parties of that time justified mass arrests, mass imprisonment, executions, persecutions, starvations of the peasantry, all in the name of being hardcore, of being 'real' socialists.

This was not a conservative reaction, like the Trotskyists claim.

What was conservative, possibly, was the authoritarianism which it was accomplished with, but this was established by Trotsky and company themselves; Stalin just took it to a new level, to it's logical conclusion.

What were Trotsky and company thinking when they proposed changing the entirety of Russian society in order to 'build socialism' or build the culture of the future?

Did they really think that they could create a new society out of whole cloth?

Their attempt destroyed everything which existed before and, with the remains swept away, constructed something which left no room for human liberty or for natural human life, which was total and at the same time totally denying the human experience.

Only after Khruschev did things normalize.

What about those gigantic statues of Marx and Lenin?

Is that not a totalitarian ideology?

The index of what they did, what Stalin, Trotsky, and company, did, may be seen in an interesting internet site called 'Satanic Reds', which is a strange mixture of Eurasianism, Stalinism, and Satanism.

On it, the writer, whose name is Tani Djantsang, resurrects the writings of someone so evil that it would be better to cross ones self before picturing his name, or saying it to yourself: Lavrenti Beria, Stalin's chief of secret police.

Beria justly deserves to be classified along with Himmler and Goering as being one of the monsters of the 20th century.

Anyways, on this site, Beria speaks, and what he says is leftist to the point where the devil worshippers clap in applause, which wouldn't happen if the writings weren't anything but extremism taken as far as possible.

That wonderful Ukraine.

Now the truth comes out; Yuschenko's candidates for Prime Minister include a millionairess who was described on the BBC as being one of the leaders of the 'Orange Revolution', and who ran one of the privatized Ukrainian companies, and another person who seized control of one of the Ukraine's state companies following the collapse of the Communist regime and has been a top businessman ever since.


Some democratic revolution, eh?

Yet people fall all over themselves as if something important has happened; never mind that this democratic revolution was supported by the Bush administration, never mind that it was openly orchestrated by PR people, nope, give progressives some street scenes and they'll support whoever you want, even if it is corrupt economic oligarchs.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Liberation

The problem of liberation in this day and age is how to liberate ourselves without destroying everything. Let me qualify that; we're already liberated, substantially, at least in the U.S. The liberatory moment has already happened; because of modern industry we're able to live ni substantially freer ways than was previously possible without threatening the survival of the group. The possibility then isn't that liberation will fail but that, in this liberated state, we'll lose contact with everything which previously stood as points of reference and anchor points and liberation will turn into self destruction.

So how to preserve some of the liberatory forces which, to a certain extent, modernity produces, while preventing that liberation from destroying the basis of itself.

That's the question.

The cat can't get back into the bag but the bag can be made better.
My thesis is that the disorienting effects of a modernity without reference points but with lots of liberation helped the rise of fascism and totalitarianism in general, which developed as a kind of decadent response to it, an attempt to manufacture total meaning in a world where the primary tendencies were between everything being permissable but nothing solid existing by which that permissibility could orient itself on.

So the question of responsable liberation is an important one, and it feeds into media criticism; our simulacra society facillitates the growth of such a total society....the decadence which happened slowly through the nineties in this regard, starting with the cover up of the reality of the first Gulf War by the media, was shaken to its core by 9/11...and what do you know? Without anything to anchor us we started to manufacture a total society, an oppressive system based on the mythic ideas of Americanism. Such is the response of people to a world where reality is no longer present and where the connection with something real that they have is tenuous enough to be destroyed by something like 9/11.



But in doing this

We can't be babes in the woods.

This stuff appeals to people for a reason; the reasons that it appeal to people, at the root, are things that socialism can address. So Socialists have to put forward an alternative vision of society which solves the problems which working class people experience without resorting to racism, ethnic violence, or general anti-liberal intolerance.

This involves going into territory which isn't always comfortable, but liberalism can't do the job. If we wait for the liberals to do something we'll have neo-fascists marching on Washington and taking power.

Jared Taylor, a Racist in the Guise of 'Expert'

OK. if you want to know what the whole business about fighting intellectual far right conservatives which I talk about in the writings listed under "Essential documents" on the side bar, is about, read this article.

It talks about a guy who, unlike the slathering racists of old, couches his rhetoric in academic language which, from what I gather, draws on the neo-fascist currents which are becoming increasingly popular in Europe and somewhat in the U.S.

This isn't something which can be fought in the old ways; people need to get beyond simply denouncing them and onto refuting them, because this stuff is intellectually engaging, and if you put forward to people the option of either listening to people denounce and denounce or looking into something which, although wrong, is in fact an intellectual argument, they're going to take the second course.

We need new ways to fight them which take at least some of what they're saying as being more than simply venting.

Socialist argument, the failure of liberal rhetoric

Although it's somewhat trite, I do believe that things can be considered in the framework of thesis, anti-thesis, and new thesis. I don't say 'synthesis' because that's not what Hegel, who originated the idea, really meant. He wasn't talking about some synthetic idea which had part of the original idea being the solution to the impasse; instead, what he meant was a new idea which satisfied the terms which the anti-thesis had laid down as not being sufficient, but the new idea itself was new: it just happened to also satisfy the terms.

It wasn't derivative.

Anyways, the dialectic of liberalism, '90s conservatism, and something which I hope is emerging can be seen as a thesis/anti-thesis/new thesis relationship.

It works like this: welfare state liberalism in the early '90s was exhausted. People were starting to rebel against the idea that the system was victimizing some people who therefore needed cash entitlements to address their victimization. People saw through this as an enourmous con. Even though the problems people were talking about were real, the way they were framed and the way they were presented, was becoming increasingly unacceptable to many Americans.

The conservative revival of the mid '90s played on very real shortcomings, then, with its "Contract with America", which emphasized personal responsability and initiatives for entrepreneurship and free enterprise, as well as some minor rhetoric regarding moral values.

The liberals had no effective response to this and so they basically folded. Clinton adopted the conservative agenda, and that form of politics is dead in the water now.

Which brings us to the present day and how we can navigate the impasse.

The Socialist movement has been really interesting in that it has always emphasized personal responsability in it's rhetoric. While the liberals have said "Society is basically OK, it works for people, but there are always a few marginal groups which fall outside of the lines and which need to be helped", Socialists have said that they indeed are fulfilling their role in society, they are being good working people, and yet society still isn't working for them.

They aren't marginal people, they're the working class, people who are supposedly doing allright under liberal society, and still they aren't getting the quality of life which they were promised.

So socialism has always said that, as productive members of society, the banding together of people to fight for social change isn't a movement of people who have nothing to do with society but is instead a movement coming from within society itself for structural reform of that society. Quite a different concept. And that that reform is just and necessary because these people are part of the heart and soul of society itself.

The combination of personal responsability and social justice which the socialist movement has put forward since the beginning can cut through the conservative impasse and create a new paradigm, a new way of talking about politics and society, which can replace the vaccuum left by the death of welfare state liberalism and change the political landscape forever.

The New Eastern Europe....

It's come to my attention that young people today in Eastern Europe, the former Communist Bloc, are creating a much more liberalized and open society than exists elsewhere.....I have to check it out one of these days. By all accounts Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, Czech Republic, are really cool and interesting. And it has to do with the liberalization which happened after the Communist regimes ended.

It may also have to do with images and impressions of what the West was about which were given during the Communist years; they presented America as being this sort of decadent sexual paradise....and while that may have been designed to discourage good young Easterners from liking the capitalist states I think that it encouraged other people.

So some of the most extreme manifestations of liberalism in the United States and elsewhere are sort of the norm in some former Communist countries.

Which is great for me since I like that sort of thing, but maybe not everyone agrees.

Anyways, I have to check out the modern culture one of these days, all the mode, you know?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

New book, at least to me, essential reading.

Added an "Essential Books" list to the sidebar. Actually, this isn't really inclusive at all in that there're more essential books to read than my sidebar could possibly hold, but there are in fact some books which are really topical and, in that sense, essential, in that they shed immediate light on what's going on right now and are really good to read.

Stewart Ewen's book "PR!: A Social History of Spin" is one of them. This book came as sort of a surprise to me; I didn't expect it to be so relevant. However, it's topic is PR, public relations, not advertising in general, and so it is.

In particular Ewen spends a lot of time discussing the theories of social control in the face of the rise of modern capitalist culture which motivated PR people in the beginning decades of the 20th century. This stuff is absolutely essential for understanding what's going on now. Absolutely. No question whatsoever. The years surrounding World War I saw a profound shift in the way people saw democracy and society, how they viewed human nature, which went from a conception of people as basically rational to a somewhat more complex picture of people as being, on the one hand, rational, but on the other hand motivated by emotion and subconscious impulses which could be manipulated by symbolic appeals.

The groundwork for Fascsim was sowed during this period.

There's very little information on what the American experience of all of this was; I have more information on what happened in Germany around this time than what happened in the U.S. So Ewen's contribution can't be underestimated. I urge everyone who reads the website and is generally interested in the things dealt with here to go out and get a copy of the book.


Name Change

This site has changed from "The Lost Highway Times" to "Times of hate, Times of joy". And there's a reason for that.

I'm not wandering around the backroads of America anymore, at least not literally. Neither am I living in a rural area where people don't have any clue as to what I'm after, or understand what I'm about.

I'm living in Western Washington, which is a far cry from where I used to live...no more living two doors down from drug dealers while living on canned corned beef sandwiches.

Western Washington has been kind to me beyond belief; people actually understand what I'm after and what I'm concerned about up here. It's unbelievable.

But, it's not the Lost Highway.

So I decided I needed a name change to reflect my new reality.

Here it is.

Reality..

I see this little sidebar on SmirkingChimp.com which says "Real conservatives don't start wars", which has a picture of a piggy bank turned on its side with change fallling out. "Real" is a strange word these days; people talk about real liberalism, real conservatism, the real america, anything you want, but the truth is that there isn't reality anymore so much as there're a series of positions, and to make sense of what's 'really' going on you have to understand the positions and navigate within them.

It's nothing new; always been like this, however dealing with politics in this way has been conveniantly deniable for quite some time...it's always been like this yet that hasn't meant that we've had to engage the political process in this way; instead there's always been the fall back of established tropes which mean little but which sound good and which, whether they're left right or center, are essentially conservative since they depend on a conservative and unchanging appeal to some sort of tradition for their authority.

It would be wonderful if for a short period of time we could just throw away the appeals to the 'real' this or that and instead engage politics with little regard for where the political labels of what we're doing take us.

My gut feeling is that if we dealt with proposals that people wanted as opposed to those labeled this way or that that we'd come up with something a lot more leftist than what passes for discourse these days, but that's just me.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Pearls Before Swine

Lost Highway has a new mascot. It's taken from a comic strip called "Pearls before swine", which runs in a paper nearby me.....the mascot is "Dicky the Cockroach", who swears, slapps duct tape on the mouth of anyone he disagrees with, and then carts them off.... the link above is to a Dicky cartoon..

I haven't actually talked to the writer of the comic, but I'm sure he'll appreciate the free publicity. Besides, it's a really funny comic besides Dicky, and worth checking out.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Or, what could be even better

Would be if only those parts of the country which actually support the war by an overwhemlming majority had anything to do with it, and the rest of us could sign something saying:"This is THEIR war, I don't agree with it, I oppose it, it's their responsability".

That and splitting up into multiple countries.

Actually, that's not that unfeasable an idea. It could be done; we could have some regional unions which shared a similar political history, legal system, but which were autonomous and which were governed ultimately by three different Consitutions, ultimately derived from the U.S. Constitution but with some changes here and there; with mutual visa recognition so that citizens of country X could travel to Y without a passport, and full economic relations, although here there would be the capability to assert foreign policy objectives which are impossible under the current Constitutional system.

It would be a mutually recognized system of State blocks which acknowledged our common heritage and which dealt with intra-bloc affairs in some sort of Commonwealth body.

Or we could just close off the borders and prevent anyone from the South from traveling north of the Mason-Dixon line. Ever.

Your choice.



Yeah, fuck unity.

Looking at the Michael Moore site I see the headline which says "In 2000, I supported Bush because I thought he was a 'uniter'", from a soldier's letter.

Unity, funny, I remember that 'Unity' was a major theme in Triumph of the Will, where Hitler, reviewing the Hitler Youth corps from all around Germany, made a point of having them say:"Saarbrucken, Schleswig, Brandenberg, Pomern," yet declaring their allegiance to Germany above all.

So, fuck unity.

If this country gets ripped into three parts which have nothing to do with each other I'll be perfectly happy.

A Shaky Media Taboo -- Withdrawal from Iraq

Indeed, we all know that we can't withdraw from Iraq: we're going to fuck it until the bitter end, then spew our spunk all in it, engendering a whole bunch of little civil wars.

It'll be our legacy as dead beat dad in the rape which can be called the Iraq war.


Maybe we should have an abortion instead? Or at least try to practice the rhythym method and pull out...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Interesting interview with a PCI official...

From the '70s, by Eric Hobsbawm. It's a long interview in book form with Giorgio Napolitano of the Italian Communist Party.

Many relevant parts, but I'll quote one from the beginning: "....Togliatti in particular--elaborated the prospect of a 'democracy of a new type'. Why was it so important to develop this prospect? Because if made possible a resolution of the dilemma of whether the objective of the struggle against fascism was to restore bourgeois democracyy as the social democratic forces wished (this is what the Communist Parties charged them with) or if the objective of the struggle against fascism was to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the COmmunists had maintained at the time when the politics of the International were most restrictive. This false dilemma, so paralzying to the efforts to unify the antifascist forces, and especially the Communist, socialist and social-democratic forces, was resolved---for the Italian Communist Party, for Togliatti---by the development of this new prespective: the objective of the struggle against fascism is neither to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat nor to restore bourgeois democracy purely and simply. It is to create a democratic regime of a new type, which overcomes the limits and the fundamental defects of pre-fascist democracy and which is open to the possibility of successive developments and profound transformations in a socialist sense."

China's 'pro-democracy' forces

Fifteen years after Tian'amman square the premier, who was deposed and put under house arrest for supporting the students, of the time has died.

Which is sad...but more interesting was the interview with Chinese student dissidents that the BBC aired, and what they said, or failed to say.

What they failed to say, and what they've failed to say for years, is any conception of reform for China which goes beyond the sort of propaganda put out by the Bush Sr. administration around the time of the student massacre, anything which is original in any way. The student interviewed said that people today don't have the ideas, or the idealism, of people in the past. Well, maybe that's a good thing considering that their ideas are still stuck in '89, seemingly impervious to change, which is interesting considering that these people were supposed to be 'student intellectuals'.

Student stenographers, more like it.

While the tradgedy of Tiannaman square is just that, I do find myself more than a little sympathetic to the point of view of the Chinese government, which is that these people were really just provacateurs paid for by the West and just parroting Western propaganda in an attempt to bring down the Chinese state.

Maybe mass arrests would have been better, but considering that the rest of the Communist world was sold off in a fire sale, which lead in Russia at least to a human tradgedy of enourmous proportions, with the life expectancy of Russians going down in a serious way and gangsters taking over the country, I think the Chinese had the right instinct in suppressing the demonstrations.

Done in a terrible way, but they had some valid concerns.

And China is still here.

It might be the most populous country on earth...

But darn it, with American resolve we can do the job.

While we're at it, why not China?

I mean, it's only 1.5 Billion people, and they're all just raring to shower us with rose petals.

Michael Moore:Bush Won't Rule Out Action Against Iran Over Nukes

You know.....if we invade Iran, we're going to lose so big that they'll be bringing the U.S. military home in a series of doggy bags. Only someone totally disconnected from reality would suggest invading another country while our little occupation of Iraq is going so splendidly well.

And what's with this "Michael Moore meets Bono"

look that he sported at the People's Choice Awards? Just curious.

Michael Moore wins Michael Moore award

Michael Moore is trumpeting his people's choice award ""Fahrenheit 9/11" Named Best Picture of the Year by the American People"....which he campaigned for on his website.

You see this year's Peoples' choice award was decided solely through internet voting, and Michael Moore replaced the front page of his website with a page urging people to go to the PCA website and vote for his movie, complete with links to help people do so.

So....Named best picture of the year by the American People? I don't think so. Named best picture of the year by a lot of people who visit Michael Moore's website and who clicked through the link? That sounds more like it.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tom Tomorrow: Why are there no computer screens in the oval office?

Tom Tomorrow notes that there weren't any there during the Clinton years, either.

Well, of course during the Clinton years this enabled the desk to serve as a dual use technology...but I don't know what Bush's excuse is.

Monday, January 17, 2005

GU?A DEL MIGRANTE MEXICANO, pg.10

A guide put out by the Mexican government about how to succesfully cross the Rio grande....this page linked to talks about your rights. I link to it because of the picture, which you'll see, which features a person sitting at a desk struggling with a document, with a woman and a man behind him.

The meaning is ambiguous, it says don't sign any documents until you have a lawyer or a representative from the Mexican government there....which makes me wonder whether all lawyers or representatives of the Mexican government have huge tits and nice well defined asses, which this comic seems to make a point of presenting in the woman pictured...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Bush says Election Ratified Iraq Policy...

"'We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections,' Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. 'The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me.'
"

Yes, for anyone out there who actually voted for this person who now, for some reason, is starting to oppose the Iraq war, he has a point.

You voted for the fucker, you should have known what you were getting yourselves and the rest of the country into. Ditto for the rest of the insane program that Bush is going to put through.

Still oppose it, but know that if the scenario progressives had been pushing for had come true that this person wouldn't even be here.

We'd have registered our moral outrage at the guy, kicked him out, and had Kerry to be outraged at.

That didn't happen.

Instead, you elected him again. So, you know, he has a point; I think that at some level the Shrub knows how outrageous his policies are and is aware that if you folks really had your heads someplace else than up your asses he wouldn't have been re-elected.

So there.

He knows that and he knows the attraction of hard man-flesh when that certain chemical comes wafting through the White-House, developed by the Air Force but somehow gone drastically awry...

More Tales from the day the Gay Bomb came to the White House...

When we last left the White House an experimental Air Force weapon designed to make the people affected madly attracted to each other sexually had just hit the White House, and Rummy and Shrub were feeling the effects.....

By the time that Rummy was finished, cleaned himself up, and went out with Bush to the Oval Office his cabinet had not only assembled but they were horny.

Wolfowitz was looking particularly good, with his dashing ethnic looks, and his hard body concealed underneath that non-descript white dress shirt: "You've been with him again, haven't you?" he asked Rummy, looking at Bush. "Yeah Paul, but I don't know what came over me" Rummy said. "There's only one way to make up for it Rumsfeld, now come over here, get down on your knees, and worship my cock" Wolfowitz commanded, using his finger to point down.

"Anything Paul", said Rumsfeld, as he knelt down on his hands and knees, first kissing the deputy secretary's wingtips, then moving his hands up Wolfowitz's pantlegs until getting to his buttons. "I didn't tell you to unzip me, play with it a little first".

Rumsfeld obeyed and instead of taking Wolfie's manflesh out right then rubbed the deputy's upper leg, searching through his pants, feeeling, until, yes, he found it, Wolfowitz' amble penis, chomping at the bit through the pantleg, still hemmed in by his underwear. Rumsfeld could feel the countours of his shaft, and as he rubbed it it seemed to grow and flex, and his hand was cupping the entire side of Wolfowitz's penis, flexing so much that the Secretary of defense had to bring his mouth and put it over it, sucking it through the thin fabric of the dress pant-leg, licking it, taking the head as it poked through against the fabric into his mouth and sucking on it.....


US Military Pondered Love not War

"The US military investigated building a "gay bomb", which would make enemy soldiers "sexually irresistible" to each other, government papers say. "

I'm going to write something one day entitled: "The day the Gay Bomb hit the White House", which will start out on an ordinary day in the White House; Bush and Rumsfeld will have just finished a game of tennis and will be relaxing in the steam room when a strange smell starts wafting through...

Suddenly the two men, talking to one another, become erect underneath their towels, look at it, and start joking about their dicks, then after talking a little more they decide to take the towels off and compare their members, stroking them as they go.

Then George leans over and wraps his mouth around Rumsfeld's meat and the real fun starts, with Georgy seemingly being a cock-hound who loves Rummy's wand so much he demands penetration before Rumsfeld starts servicing him.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

About that e-mail

I have a certain correspondant who likes to dig into my life a little in order to bring stuff out to intimidate me with. Well, lately he sent me an e-mail referencing a friend by name in order to make me a little skittish. However, considering that the friend which they referenced likely has very real organized crime connections which he probably isn't afraid to use against people who harass him, I'm not too worried. So, please, by all means, you fucks in Georgia, go and bother my friend in Florida with the Italian name.

I'm sure you'll get a lot out of it.

Considering that this friend's tolerance for stupidity, immaturity and decadant pranks is somewhere to the right of Mussolini's, I'm sure he'll have a lot to say to you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Patty-thon!

I can't point you to it because I'm sick, but check out the New Yorker website and look for an article entitled Pattython. It's very funny, and manages to combine a parody of the endless pleas for money by Public Television with a critique of blogg-master self importance. Really funny piece that I keep coming back to.

Robert Scheer: 'Is Al Qaeda just a Bush boogeyman?'

Article good. blogging light because of sickness.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Why I don't link much to the anarchist left

People who read this blog might be curious as to why, if I have these really left views, and have an extremely radical links section, I don't link to stories or news coming out of Infoshop.org or other anarchist news sites that often.

The reason is that these sites, although maybe not anarchists in general, have separated themselves from all political life in the United States beyond their own little world. They don't seek to be engaged with what's going on in the political scene and they don't really care about the nuances in American political life.

This attitude was exemplified in an article about the fifth anniversary of Seattle demonstrations written by Chuck Munson, the proprieter of Infoshop, which was posted on Counterpunch. Munson made the claim that the anarchist organizing strategies used in Seattle had 'finally discredited' the strategies of the non-anarchist left. Elsewhere Munson has expressed the idea that anarchists aren't even part of the left.

Quite frankly, this is so much bullshit.

It exemplifies the tendency towards self imposed irrelevance that anarchist websites pursue by not even caring about what's going on in the greater political world but only covering general stories about a)state repression or b)bad things that capitalism is doing.

There's more to what's going on in the world than those two things, to say the least.

The rest is glossed over as if it's just another mix in the freakshow of an apocalypse culture going down the tubes, with no rhyme or reason, no nuance, applied to understanding what these things which are happening mean.

That's why I link mostly to non-anarchist news sites.

Salvadoran Option

The United States is openly discussing forming paramilitary death squads to terrorize and murder Sunni Muslims in Iraq who support the insurgency.

I shouldn't have to write anything more. But, something tells me that our wonderfully compliant media will give it a nice and happy angle, absolving it of every hint of evil, even though it's totally insane.

Some Mississippi Libraries Ban Jon Stewart Book

Talking about the ostensable reason why they banned the book, the nude depiction of the Supreme Court justices, the librarian says

""We're not an adult bookstore. Our entire collection is open to the entire public," Willits said. "If they had published the book without that one picture, that one page, we'd have the book." "

Yeah, right.

Well, if you believe that you'll believe anything. These people wanted to ban the book and they found an excuse to do so. This is always what happens in these Southern towns: they want to ban something so they find whatever little excuse they can which will be somewhat acceptable sounding, and then say that that's the reason they're banning the book.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Opposing free trade within the United States

Building on what I was saying below, we oppose free trade all around the world but don't recognize or don't really know that the United States is essentially one vast free trade zone. Composed of the 50 states.

Let me show you how this works: in the Constitution there's the Interstate Commerce Clause, which says:

"Clause 2: No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress. "

What this has been interpreted to mean is that if a company wants to locate a factory in a state with lax labor and environmental regulations solely because they have these lax regulations that the state involved can't pass a law saying "Out of state companies have to pay one dollar above minimum wage and have to meet stricter environmental standards if they want to do business here".

That's totally illegal, because it implies that States can legislate their regulations with other states indpendent of the federal government, even when what the company is doing is clearly against the interests of the State itself.

The only options to fight this are to either pass stricter laws for the entire state, because companies do have to obey the laws of the state they operate in, or establish federal regulation across all fifty states which reigns in corporations.

This is free trade, in the Americas. Because of this clause large parts of the Western states were basically able to be bought by out of state companies in order to control resource extraction.

Which, now that I think of it, is another issue: that once these companies get established they tend to get involved in the local politics of wherever they are, leading to a situation where the companies can manipulate State government but the State governments can't do anything to keep this from happening because it violates the interstate commerce clause.

Which was the point of the clause in the first place.

If we want to challenge free trade maybe we should challenge it in our own backyard as well as in the third world.

Corporations and colonialism

It's a stated thesis of this blog that colonialism never ended in the United States; instead, the constitutional system set up after the Articles of the Confederation created a system whereby the colonial functions of Britain were taken over by settlers of wealth and means, who had commercial interests which needed large scale, centralized, machinery in order to be pursued.

The original vision of the American revolution was that everyone would have ther piece of land, that they'd be roughly equal, and that small communities would exist which would govern themselves democratically.

This was in response to the situation as it existed, which was not so different from other colonial states, including Central America today, where you have, on the one hand people who actually live on the land wanting to control it and, on the other, people living far away who want to exploit it for agricultural use, or, in later years, for mineral extraction.

The two visions of America which are suggested by this dovetail with the rise of corporations in American life in recent years; corporations, large, national, or even multi-national, corporations, were the creation of colonialism. They were the means by which the governments of whatever state actually did the exploiting. So when agricultural plantations were established in the United States they were done so by chartered corporations who had shareholders in Britain or wherever and had representatives across the water who oversaw the actual work of tobacco growing or whatever.

The corporate structure, in my opinion, exists for the purpose of large scale exploitation of resources, of markets, and of people.

How does this connect to the United States today?

Well, if the Constitutional system, which we're still living under, is in fact a way for the native rich to exploit the United States through the machinery and organization of days of yore, then it's striking that the corporations have lined up with Washington to such a great extent.

Washington replaced London, but the same rulers are there. And isn't it strange that we have in power someone who made his money in the Oil business, the same industry which corporations have bought out countries for around the world?


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Flaming Lips satori

I'm unconsciously screaming because of a Flaming Lips reissue...

Iowa Caucusasian

You know what? Next time an election rolls around I'm going to push for the Iowa Caucus to not be used to judge anything but instead for the Chicago primaries to be the bellwhether.

They'd be a hell of a lot more representative of how this country actually is.

Isn't it strange that Iowa and New Hampshire are considered to be the bellweathers for the whole country?

Iowa, which we've dealt with, and New Hampshire, conservative whitebread New England, being possibly as white as you can get.

They're considered to be so representative of what Real America thinks that if the Presidential nominees can't win there than they might just as well go home, because they're out of touch....

With an increasingly small ethnic and cultural minority.

Who nonetheless own everything and still wield political power.

Why is the Heartland so Hearty? Could it be because it lacks color? Or tint?

Yes, yes, the 'Heartland' is coming up again in the media, part of the whole 'moral values' issue....but no one really talks about why it is that the part of the midwest west of the Mississippi is considered to be America's 'Heartland'.

Why is that?

Maybe it would be too uncomfortable....

In the heartland you still have communities of largely Anglo-whites who are descended from the agrarian pioneers predominating.

No messy ethnic European working classes present, no blacks migrating north in search of good jobs, no arabs, no Indians from India, beyond a doctor here and there, you get the picture. Hispanics are moving in, but that's seen as a new and not normal thing.

In other words, what makes the 'Heartland' the heartiest in America is that it's a pure bastion of whiteness, where white men rule without challenge...


What makes it 'heartland', is, then, that it's unrepresentative of America.

Strange logic.

Yet somehow this throwback to the idealized days when white men with plows ruled the land is considered to be our bellwhether of opinion...

I guess that if the rest of America was allowed to count then all those wops, darkies, and jews would distort it, wouldn't they?

Friday, January 07, 2005

The challenge of getting middle class Americans to take any sort of a strong stand on issues

Is something that progressives and the left have been up against, fighting like hell against, for years, and are only now, after Bush is literally taking us to the brink of fascism, having some success with.

This was brought home to me after I saw something on the silver screen which dealt with the middle class in another country and I realized, you know, that they're just the same as ours. There's no escape.

Same endless dithering about positions while the rest of the world starves and is murdered.

Ok, here's an example of what I mean: look how long its taken people to around to the idea that any sort of a progressive agenda is a good thing...that mildly lefty things aren't idiotic and not worth even considering.

Liberals have gotten more progressive over the last three years, in response to the actions of the administration in the wake of 9/11 and they were s-l-o-w-l-y getting more progressive immediately before...but when I look at the record, the books debating mildly progressive and liberal viewpoints, arguing about whether it's appropriate or not, spending so much time discussing so little, it just brings home to me the amount of insulation against life's realities that most of us have.

It took me years to even read real lefty information, and years after before I declared myself to be a socialist. When I look back at that process I think to myself that I agonized over the ethical issues of nothing.

I was so concerned with bias and objectivity and not being led down the primrose path by ill-natured radicals that I didn't commit myself to positions which, looking back now, weren't all that radical.

And it was that big ole' theme of privilege which allowed that.

Don't do what I did.

News & Features | Cardiac kids....or, you fucking cocksuckers the story isn't this crap.

Actually, the last is my own comment on the 'Cardiac Kids' story.

Why?

Because this thing says that the only useful thing internet commentary reporting is good for, in bringing out what the mainstream media won't cover, is talking about conspiracy theory-like controversies about matters like the so-called Bush bulge or Cheney's heart problem which are pretty insignifcant.

Do you know what the Internet is good for? Bringing out IDEAS that the mainstream media won't touch.

But, of course, the mainstream media didn't touch that in their story on what the mainstream media won't touch....

Actually, Boston Phoenix is an alternative paper, so this is the alternative press examining what the mainstream media won't touch from the Internet publishers yet neglecting to say that the Internet people supply the thing that the Alternative press says constantly that it does supply, which are alternative ideas, which...oh what the hell, you get the picture, they miss the story about net journalism yet again.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Building a counter-pole

I might be just fooling myself but my gut feeling sometimes is that only a small number of people actually believe all the stuff that the hardcore Bush/reaganite/hardcore conservative people actually say and that the rest who voted that way or put stickers on their cars are just sort of following along...they're buying a product which seems to be available and on the market. They don't neccesarily have real conviction for it, but there's this constant stream of activity coming from the religious right and the conservatives which makes it appear that this is a viable option which is going places which people support...and so they do.

We have to do the same thing on the left.

We have to come together and put together a constant propaganda drive which can batter down the media's resistance to leftwing issues and which can promote a leftist agenda as a normal thing for many Americans, something which is natural and normal. If we do that--people will support us.

And we'll shift the terms of the discussion our way. But it takes a dedicated core of people who are willing to get out there and put it out day after day, in all forms, exploiting all opportunities to peg the issue, using creative propaganda and ways of introducing stories, attacking everything, offering a progressive alternative at every step, for every cause, no matter how trivial, attack and give a solution, attack and give a solution, and stay on it, no matter what, however long it takes.

That's how we fight these bastards. That's how we win.


WorkingForChange-Not your Grandma's religious right

Bill Berkowitz column.

It talks about how David Horowitz' book "The Art of Political Warfare" was distributed to a whole bunch of political activists...

I think there's an extreme irony in that seeing as David Horowitz was a hard-core Stalinoid Communist before he had a latter day conversion after a friend of his got inadvertantly killed through being involved with the Black Panthers and became a hardcore insane conservative.

It isn't hard to imagine where Horowitz is getting his store of political strategical knowledge from. And so the Right follows Stalin's playbook.

How wonderful. How quaint. How totally predictable, something which proves yet again that totalitarian ideologies have much more in common with each other than they have in divergence.

American Gothic: Self-Portrait with Shackles for the Year 2005

Article by Tom Engelhardt which....suspiciously fails to mention the probable source of a lot of his ideas about torture and the U.S., what it's ramifications are, where it comes from, which is an interview with Alfred McCoy, author of "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia", a wonderful book which I've read, and also of a new book out about torture which takes the Phillipines as a case study. This interview was on the radio show connected with "In These Times" magazine and was facillitated by the publisher of In These Times.....Matthew Rothschild? I don't know...but I'm sure it's available on the web.

Big hint to folks out there: progressives have their own culture which they draw ideas for columns from just like everyone else. ITT Radio, or whatever it's called, and the other shows and magazines which provide primary source material in the form of interviews with progressive authors who know their stuff are used by everyone to get ideas from.

We aren't gods who materialize this stuff out of thin air.

Or out of "Fresh Air", either, for that matter...

And before you complain, just know that the rest of the media does the exact same thing, with a lot of the media being engaged in mass plagiarization of itself for ideas and insights.


Get Ready for a Tsunami of Scandals/Reagan or Reality

The first is the headline of the article that the link points to, the second is what, in my considered opinion, the Bush administration presents us with in terms of choices.

I see the Bush administration as being the final sordid evolution, the natural end point, to the Reagan-ite reaction.


One road leads down the path to the Reagan centered reactionary/Goldwater-when-he-was-still-a-bad-radical/ Christian fundamentalist politics of recent years. The other leads back to....what existed before the Reaganites asserted themselves, which was a mix of moderate Democratic and Republican positions which had the door still open to radical positions here and there.

The Reagan/Bush II road leads to nothing but itself. The Democratic road, the road of what existed before, does not, contrary to popular opinion, impose a liberal consensus on everyone but instead trades reaction for a diversity of opinions contained within a somewhat more liberal framework.

One door does shut the door to hardcore conservatism as a national position, but in doing so it opens the door to many more political positions and mixes of political positions, left, right, and center.

The path of hardcore conservatism leads to nothing but an ever narrowing framework that recognizes itself and nothing else, which closes in on itself in an attempt to exclude that which could disrupt it.

It eats society in order to save itself.

In this Tsunami of scandals which may, may, be coming, it would be important to consider this question: which is worth more, honoring the views of a few hardcore Christian fundamentalists and ultra-right supporters of Bush or pushing for a democratic republic for all of us, including moderate conservatives and moderate democrats.

If the hardcore theocrats want to assert themselves let them form their own faction, and let it be recognized as a faction just as certain left movements are endlessly referred to as just factions, in these words or others, and lets stop letting them say 'we are America'.

They aren't, not anymore than the Communist Party would be America if it adopted a slogan saying that hardcore Stalinism was in fact all American.

Maybe in the universe of some old Party stalwarts, but not in mine.

Yes, moderation does not suit them, it leaves them out of the picture, but three quarters of the electorate tops one quarter. Let them be out of the picture, just as it's recognized that the real lefties, although strong in some areas, don't really represent America as a whole.

Barbara Boxer guarantees herself another term as Senator, and maybe more than one,

Because of doing the right thing and challenging the electoral votes of Ohio.

The cry for four years has been: Florida could have been challenged if just one Senator, just one, had signed onto one of the proposals put forward by the House members who were concerned about the issue, and the election could have been changed.

Well, Mrs. Boxer has stepped forward this time.

I'm sure it's not something that Californians will easily forget.

Cartoon in the paper saying that 'cause we gave money to help Tsunami victims we're great

Yes, a cartoon in a local paper today had the imagery of OBL saying "America is EVIL", "E-V-I-L", "Got it?" on three big screens, with boxes of tsunami aid underneath it and the cartoonist saying something along the lines of America being wonderful, generous, compassionate, for sending aid to Tsunami victims.

Well, for your information we were only going to send $15 Million dollars worth of aid, which was then matched by the Senate and raised, bringing it up to $35 Million, and we would have stopped there if the world hadn't shouted at us that we were being stingy, rich, bastards who were unwilling to help out in the worst humanitarian disaster of the last fifty years.

Then Bush suddenly came back from vacation for a little while and made a speech or two and raised the aid, but, of course, didn't think it important enough to actually go to South East Asia but instead sent his brother.

Hint to the cartoonist: when a country gives something only because the rest of the world has raked it over the coals for not giving, that's not generosity or an indication of the greatness or kindness of a nation---it's a mark of shame.

Human Rights, Free Speech, in American History

Free speech and activism has a strange presence in American history: although we trumpet ourselves as the bastion of free speech around the world when we look at who in American history has exemplified this value we're met with a deafening silence.

John Peter Zenger, someone who lived in the 18th centuy, is our big exemplar; no one since, it seems, has actually exercised this right to speak controversial material without consequence.

Except, and this is the big exception, in cases where the movements involved were later ratified by actions of the State, namely: the abolitionist movement, the suffragette movement, and the civil rights movement. All of those movements goals were eventually adopted by the United States Government itself, so they get in the history books.

The Labor movement doesn't.

Emma Goldman was prevented from speaking time and time again, actually censored, arrested, because she wanted to speak her mind on feminism, workers' rights, and sexual freedom, in the early part of the 20th century; she was definitely and unambiguously censored. We don't hear much about her in this pageant of unbridled speech that we see America as exemplifying.

Yes, we, the United States, seems to have a lot of rhetoric everywhere about freedom of speech, it's a pity that there's not much evidence of it in action before the 20th century.

Yee-ha! meat-eating leftist is out there!!

Allright! Finally, we're seeing some serious lefty blogs out there: meat-eating leftist is one of them. Meat Eating Leftist, whose blog has the title in all small letters, has an excellent links page, although I don't agree with the Communist Party, and there aren't ultra-left links, but, hey, this is enough!

It's good to see people like this being linked to from Smirking Chimp.com

Congrats.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

uggabugga:fascism and the right

Post from Uggabugga who was, while he (she?) still had links up, one of the few pages to link to me.

While U. questions whether fascism is the right word to attach to the right these days I think that his blog is putting too high of a standard on what needs to be happening to call a fascist a fascist.

The political philosophies behind fascism and nazism speak louder than the obviously crazy and extreme parts, and I think, personally, that if you truly have the ideology in place that it won't be long until you get the reality.

What generates the ideology is another story, I think it's economic conditions modified by history but that's just my opinion.

Anyways.

What's interesting about this is something which I haven't seen anyone else post about but which is nevertheless really thought provoking; the connection between lying and fascism.

O'Reilly lies; Bush is a pathological liar; concealment is the name of the game today, concealment, redirection, and denial.

Which brings to mind the incident regarding Dietrich Eckhart, Hitler's leader in the Nazi party before his death, who boasted that once Hitler got into power it would be he, Eckhart, who would really be calling the tune. Eckhart didn't survive to see Hitler in power.

But Eckhart did get some distinction in being the first translator of Ibsen's play Peer Gynt into German.

Peer Gynt is a play about a pathological liar who uses his disdain for the truth to lie and cheat his way to the top.

He lives in a world of fantasy where everything which he believes is true and everything which anyone says which makes him look bad is wrong.

He respects nothing and no one and instead pursues a course of egotism which is extreme in every way.

Eckhart seems to have regarded him as a positive role model.

I can't help but wonder if similar ethical ideas are at work in the White House.

And also: if there's any connection between degeneracy like this and the far right politics that Bush is promoting.

But is this duality really artificial or new?

The duality mentioned between 'primitive', or at least less consumer oriented and less materialistic, culture and avant-garde thought might not be that much of a duality or an exception after all.

Pre-modern civilizations, while they might not have had the scientific know-how that we have now, nevertheless possessed intricate and deep understandings about human nature and about the world in which we live far more profound and insightful than what we have today.

They were mostly expressed in the language of religion, and failing that, what we somewhat derisively call 'mythology', leading people to believe that these cultures were just totally superstitious and that nothing of what they came up with is worth anything. Far from the truth.

Compare the Vedas to what we have today. The ancient Indians expressed their deepest knowledge about the self and about the universe in their religious understanding contained in those texts.

The old, classical, kind of Quranic instruction is another example: it's been written that the kind of exegesis of verses that used to go on in them could go to a depth and profundity unparalelled by graduate school learning today, because the teachers were willing to spend hours explicating every single meaning and allusion of the verses, that they could possibly have, without any concern to things like time or to the cash value of them---indeed, that was totally rejected. Times seem to have changed now as we demand a money equivalent to whatever we learn today.

The pre-modern cultures of the past, and present, might have been poorer in material goods but they developed the one asset that everyone had: the mind.

And modernity, westernism, and the commodification of life isn't a sure thing; China may even lead the way in developing a simultaneously pre-modern and post-modern society, provided that the Communist Party hegemony on culture recedes, to be replaced with the honoring of more traditional Chinese things instead of nascent bourgeois capitalism.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Schizoanalysis, Tropicalia, and Situationists.

This whole Tropicalia/Neo-Romantic thing has something in common with the idea of Schizo-analysis put forward by Deleuze and Guattari in their books Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, I haven't read the latter....

Anyways, the connection is that Schizophrenia, in their estimation, is a reflection of capitalism's tendency to offer either total stimulation or no stimulation, to mix the repressive with the enabling. In consumer capitalist society the media throws everything at you which it possibly can, yet life itself is something which we walk through alienated from. Contrast the spectacle of television with the poverty of the suburban life if you want to know what I mean by this.

Schizophrenia, where, according to the authors, the subject starts to believe in all of the stimulation as if it was reality, in fact choosing to believe in this self created reality instead of the alienated and cruel reality which surrounds him or her, is a reasonable response to such a situation.

While clearly a mental illness maybe the schizophrenic response to capitalism points the way out for everyone else, without the danger of really losing it.

The schizophrenic is wrong because in the end the images and ideas which he deals with en masse aren't linked to reality, although they may be taken from reality. They start out with real facts, but, nonetheless, the interpretations given the facts meld a personal story line which on exmaination doesn't hold up to the outside world, although it might have intense personal meaning, and even meaning in an internally consistant way, to the person generating it and, in the latter case, to the world.

The schizophrenic knows that there has to be meaning out there, yet can't make that meaning work in a....meaningful....way.

Nevertheless, the thread of real objective meaning is out there behind the appearances and half understood concepts that the schizophrenic deals with, and it can be found and followed, leading to a reinvigoration of life through materials supplied by life itself rather than through our own imaginings of what life should be like.

A perfect example of this can be found in any major bookstore, any chain bookstore: you have a situation which fits the reality of plenty and poverty in relation to capitalist culture perfectly.....thousands of books, yet what do they really mean? They're just commodities which are marketed to be sold, intellectual books meant to be bought by people wanting to be intellectuals rather than the real thing..whether they're actually read or not is beside the point, and whether they're actually understood if they're read is even further a non-consideration. The buying is the point.

Yet, despite the commodification of all of it, the great literature is still there, the philosophy is still there, and it can be deciphered and appreciated on its own terms despite the presentation which it's given....and can supply that thread to a greater meaning which I spoke about.

Beyond the ideas contained in the bookstore as interesting grist for our schizophrenic culture, which superficially appreciates things and throws them away only to thirst for something new, they exist as ideas which break the flow of capitalist culture while still providing the meaning which is so sought after.

The way out of the feast or famine situation is a veritable feast, but one which is real and sustainable, which exists below the surface of the consumerist smorgasbord and which persists no matter how much meaning is trivialized in the market place.

If this seems familiar at all it may be because this sort of actual meaning-finding parallels what Caetano Veloso recounts in his book "Tropical Truth" about his Tropicalismo or Tropicalia movement, undertaken with the initiative first off of fellow musician Gilberto Gil, which sought to transform Brasillian culture by reinvigorating it with ideas taken from abroad yet interpreted within a Brasillian context and, what's more a Brasillian context which wasn't a sort of romanticized populism but was instead reflective of real Brasillian social reality, which didn't in fact obey the normal leftist ideas of populism and even conventional ideas of the working class.

The spectre of nationalism, connected strongly with populism, is sort of the crowning achievement of bourgeois society, where beyond it you get decay, such as generates schizophrenic capitalism...and why? Because it leaves people with nothing left. It's an end point. An empty nationalism which forthwith reflects the empty suburbia and empty middle class cities and drawing rooms of its inhabitants.

Tropicalia meant to subvert all that, not by extending the bourgeois idea of nationalism to the people in a type of sham populism but instead by going below the surface of bourgeois life to the actual life of the people, and bringing the fruits of foreign intellectual culture directly to them without the intermediary of the middle class.

Situationism is like a negative gestural afterimage compared to this.

What Situationism does, in it's call for a re-enchantment of daily life, is suppose that that re-enchantment can come from within the individual and that it doesn't have to come from life itself, which is a fallacy...as much of a fallacy as the true schizophrenic who thinks he can just make everything up as he goes along and be fine.

Reality can't just be recreated on our whims; to reconnect with reality you must reconnect with the source of enchantment and let that source come into your life and transform it, not have it flow from you out to the world. And finding the ideal in the world, as the early Marx said he was trying to do, is always the hardest part.

The Situationists are voluntarists in that they believe that individual initiative and action alone can redeem the world; the strategy that I'm talking about here is quite the opposite: we believe that the meaning is already out there but that it just has to be found and redeemed and brought back into life.

The Situationist fail to recognize that below the surface of the meaningless bourgeois world which they confront lies a real world full of meaning, which you don't have to hop freight trains or live out of garbage cans to explore but instead just have to penetrate beneath the spectacle of consumer society to what all of it was about before the consumption transformed it into commodities.

And to reiterate a previous post, isn't that what all of this retro-nostalgia is about anyways? About searching out a world where a lamp is a lamp and can be nice and interesting without having to be a product?

Where fashion meant something, even if it was meant naively?

Relate that principle to many other forms of social life and you have a revolutionary idea...apply it to intellectual life and you have an idea which goes the opposite direction: that sort of retro-thing is backward looking, of course, even if it points to something more meaningful, that which is sought out in intellectual life according to the quest for true understanding is forward looking in the extreme, avante-garde beyond anything which is currently out there.

The synthesis of the two would be extremely valuable.

And why not?

It's our brain, why not use it?

If you want to tease out the socio-economic consequences of this picture a simple society which, nonetheless, is extremely affluent, very much equal, and which offers everyone an extremely high level of education and the opportunity to express and pursue their interests in their own way in their spare time....with that possibly being the purpose of life, which, due to the high level of productivity and the division of labor, isn't hampered by the sort of all consuming work load which currently strangles people's minds.

Combine that with a nice environment and you've got yourself quite a nice experience of life.

Monday, January 03, 2005

OK liberal feminists, is it worth it?

Iraq is a huge disaster, with cities falling to insurgents and guerrilla warfare in the street, plus us there asserting marshall law and raising the death toll....yet in the upcoming election it's mandated that one out of every three candidates be women.

Is this what you call a victory for the women of the world?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Yes, and continuing in that vein

It appears we are returning to an age where people assert the rightness of manly men to do manly, warrior, things, to be modern barbarians...like a rebirth of the idea of a warrior Volk or an elite fighting force of true blue patriots, who have shaken off the sissy restraints that liberals have put on them about respecting human rights.

Which of course ended with these people reviled as criminals and monsters, but while they participated in fascist and Nazi movements they had a lot of fun, didn't they, in their liberated state.

And do I really have to add?

That if I, or someone like me, or even anyone mildly liberal or on the Left, put out a book which included a reference in its title to burning a city to the ground and destroying a civilization that it would a) either be banned, or b) lead to denunciations on every talk radio show in the country as being anti-American and pro-terrorist, just from its title alone.

But I suppose that conservatives can joke about burning down cities and destroying civilizations and have it all be taken as good clean fun. Ha ha ha.

Hitler and company laughed about destroying modern decadent civilization too.

Ted Rall comic: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Funny....I've been wanting to mention something about a slightly unrelated matter for a while. The comic satirizes people saying that taking religion out of public life will be our downfall by asking what if you applied that to Rome. Rall even has an RCLU, Roman Civil Liberties Union, in the last panel of the cartoon. Click the little link which is the title of this blog and read it yourself.

Anyways, I've noticed a new book staring smugly at me at my local chain bookstore "Rome wasn't Burned in a day", by Joe Scarborough, conservative talk show host. Shows the title really huge next to Scarborough, standing with his arms crossed and smiling smugly.

The subtitle says something about wanting to reconstruct society, whatever, but the main title is pretty clearly saying:"We are the Barbarians, we are going to burn this Roman decadence which surrounds us down and be proud of ourselves for it", glibly endorsing the Dark Ages.

So, hey, if you want an argument about Conservatives wanting to take us back to the Dark Ages, look at Scarborough's book: it says right on the cover that it wants to do the same thing to U.S. society which plunged Europe into the dark ages, namely eliminate urban sophisticates from national life and replace them with barbarians.

Scarborough seems to be gleefully joyful about identifying himself as a barbarian opposed to culture. Or unconscious about the extreme negativity of what he's suggesting, which is fitting since the barbarians didn't know what they were understanding either.


Bill O'Reilly: Falafel salesman

Speculating on post Fox News jobs for Bill O'Reilly...wouldn't it be funny, and somewhat fitting, to see Bill O'Reilly out there with a stand on some avenue in mid-town Manhattan selling Falafel and other middle eastern dishes, with his special cream sauce, of course...

"Falafel, Falafel!" "You want Falafel? Two Dollars.". "Sauce? No? Ok".

"You want Gyro? Five." "No sauce? Why no sauce with Gyro? Allright..."

.....some body walks by: "Hey! O'Reilly! I got your cucumber sauce right here!".

Taibbi redeams himself. 'Pravda, Izvestia, Time: On the 'Person of the Year' issue'

OK, I've been really hard on Matt Taibbi in the past. I won't recap it, you can search the archives via the little bar at the top of the page if you want to find it, but, since then, Mr. Taibbi has written some better stuff and has really proven himself to be an authentic anti-Bush, anti-Empire person, and not a neo-conservative who happens to hate the Bushies because they're idiots.

This is a really funny column, I love his dissection of the Time article on Bush, about the utterly banal things mentioned which he just tears apart.

It's good writing.

It defends bloggers, too, but the main thing is the wit shown in demolishing the Bush article.

The only thing, and it's really technical, is that, well, Izvestia was the theoretical journal of the Soviet state while Pravda was the regular daily paper.. I don't think that the Time article is really like an Izvestia article, that would be more like something that would show up in Foreign Affairs, so technically the Izvestia reference is out of place.

Beyond that, it's really funny, and the humor is appreciated.


Guantanamo Briton 'In Handcuff Torture'

Now the reports about torture are not only coming out but are being synthesized, with important insights being extracted from them.

One of the important things which I think should be addressed is the idea that there should not be a black hole where people can fall into and anything can happen to them without any consequences or without any knowledge of wha's happening reaching the outside world.

Such an out is an offence to justice and to human dignity, and it's a fantasy of sadists who want to have their way without any restrictions.

We live in a society. There are restrictions. These must be observed and obeyed.

What is being described and what the administration is working towards, with it's proposed legislation for indefinite detention of terror suspects, should never, ever, happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The Democrat's Da Vinci Code

David Sirota's article, which I hadn't read, is getting a lot of press. There's an article in the L.A. Times which mentions it...http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0102-02.htm , and it actually treats the gap between leftist democrats and centrists as a real issue.

Of course I want the entire Democratic Party to be razed to the ground now and replaced with a socialist party, or at least have the party be a trend setter which allows independent socialists and anarchists to do their own initiatives in a congenial environment, but Sirota's article is impressive because of it's ferocity, which is a virtue I admire in writing, and try to embody when I can.

The argument is interesting; now that the L.A. Times is picking up on it and actually putting research into it instead of writing something pro-forma it might actually break into the mainstream, this division between the Democrats, and succeed in breaking the party in two, which would be a good thing.

Anyways, this is what we've wanted for a long time.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

US rewrites definition of torture

Which was written in the first place by Alberto Gonzales, apparently in a bid to make the candidate for Attorney General more acceptable...which doesn't change the fact that the person nominated to be attorney general wrote a memorandum which asserted that the President was beyond the law and that the Geneva conventions were quaint.

Passing another law doesn't change the public record. Better not to appoint the person who wrote the original law which you've now seen fit to change, no?

Stan Goff: A Period for Pedagogy

All right Stan Goff!

Mr. Goff is a great writer; I've read both his "Full Spectrum Disorder", which is a collection of essays, and his book "Hideous Dream", about the invasion of Haiti in the '90s, which he participated in as a Special Forces team leader.

Goff was already well on his way to being an open leftist, now he's a full fledged one.

Sometimes I wish it was easier to write these entries without looking like I was talking down to a person, because this is definitely not what I want to present in my little recap of Stan Goff, just the opposite.

Anyways, this article from Counterpunch, "A Period for Pedagogy", is a strategy article dealing with ways the left can organize to affect national politics in a serious way within the coming years.

Very good. You should check it out.

The CIA, where did it come from?

OK, this is an interpretive piece, like a lot of my postings, so it doesn't deal with what act exactly authorized the founding of the Office of Strategic Services etc.. but rather the climate which lead to the formation of a national foreign espionage and intelligence agency----something which was totally out of character for America even though like any other state we had our spies and our espionage like everyone else.

The CIA as an institution is so scary for so many people because it is fundamentally un-American. It's nothing less than a large bureaucracy dedicated to invading people's lives, messing with their countries, and killing their public figures. And, of course, gathering intelligence. All of this goes straight against the healthy distrust of government and of domination from afar which characterized this country since the American Revolution was fought against England.

So what lead to the formation of such a thing, what could have contributed to it, besides the intelligence needs of World War II, which is given as the stock answer?

The New Deal.

The New Deal era politics of an extraordinarily expanded state bureaucracy as well as war time planning of the economy lead to ideas like the CIA and the Military-Industrial complex, indeed the Cold War itself, becoming acceptable, which wouldn't have been a few decades earlier.

Once you start cedeing power to corporate bodies, whether they be New Deal era development projects or other things, with the understanding that some degree of corporate dominance is acceptable, institutional creations like a national espionage agency become acceptable proposals.