Monday, February 28, 2005

But, to give depth to the below post...

There's a strange duality in today's culture: on the one hand you have this extreme individuality which I described, on the other an extreme conformity, strangely enough following one another.

The group wants you to be part of them, desperately, and will persecute you if you don't fall into line, yet if you conform then you get to live out all your individualistic fantasies.

Just look at any college campus, well, any campus within reason. You'll find identical clones of both sexes with the same clothes, the same hair, the same tastes in music, who nonetheless are extremely intent on total self gratification and extreme egoism.

Parties on the weekends, the unfortunate things which go on in situations like that, violence against those they don't like just for the hell of it.

Gettin' totally stoned and yet falling in line.

I don't know what it means, but I think that the true rebel against the norms would probably be the person who rejects both the extreme egoism and the collectivity, not just the person who rejects the collectivity but keeps the egoism.

I'm still trying to learn how to do that last part.

Individualism

This whole social secuity thing...you know the assault on social security is only possible because society as it stands now is so individualized that we have no collective sense of the welfare of our neighbors or of our community in general. Maybe community is a better category than neighbors...but anyways. This extreme individualism is pushed by the media, pushed by our national ideology, which celebrates the idea of the achieving entrepreneur, pushed by the suburbanization of society, pushed by the lack of community in general. It's interesting to note, then, that the psychopathic personality is probably the purest expression of individualism there is.

Psychopaths are extremely narcissistic and egoistic. They alternate between thinking extremely highly of themselves and thinking so lowly of everyone else that they have no problem committing acts of violence against them. They accept no responsability coming from the outside towards them and yet see themselves as authorized to dictate the law to everyone else.

Depersonalization seems in this case to be concomittant with excessive personalization as if the standing of others in ones' mind decreased as a cost of increasing the self importance of the ego.

Donald Trump, reality TV...you can all be stars, you can all be executives, you can all be praised by millions....on the other hand violent lyrics from rap groups from the inner city being adopted by suburban white kids as realistic models of how to live life.

Egoism and the cheapening of other people.....you can be a star but women are also put down more now than they've been in a while in pop-culture, with sexuality and crudeness which would have been unacceptable even five years ago now pushed on people without so much as an eyelash batted.

You star, women, your servant...what a better way to express your superiority than by pushing the group which is institutionally discriminated against by everyone down further?

And why not hate the poor while we're at it?

That's what Apprentice is about, right?

Add to that no sense of history, no sense of the past, which would be another extraneous condition on the unbridled egoism of our psychopath, who seeks immediate gratification above all else, and you have a pretty potent mix.

American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand where this culture is heading.

Michael Jackson: bellweather of Reaganite dishonesty

Michael Jackson's sex abuse case is now hitting trial and how ironic it is.

Tragic, yes, but also a case of someone getting their just deserts. Jackson established a reputation for himself as the nice eunuch-ized black pop star of the eighties after he left the Jackson 5, the guy who was non-threatening and even was supposed to represent some sort of 'hip hop', even though real hip hop people had absolutely nothing to do with him.

After a while it came to the front that Mr. Nice really liked having sex with little boys. How interesting, considering that the Jackson aesthetic and Jackson as a pop-star were played up to the hilt during the eighties, infiltrating much of the culture then, with Jackson himself refusing to go quietly into the sunset long, long, after no one cared about his music any longer.

Jackson had his own exhibit at Disney World....

And he's an immature child molester who is unable to face adult life and instead surounds himself with a world of fantasy.

What a fitting description of part of the Reagan worldview.

Too bad some little boys had to suffer because of it.

But, then, that's the point: these kids are the human cost of that falseness.

Evolution

Evolution is a funny thing. I see both sides of the debate and I see that the debate really isn't about creation vs. evolution but about ethics and morals. Specifically about the beliefs of people who feel that without an unshakeable belief in a creationist god that ethics and morals collapse.

That's my take on it at least.

Evolution has been rightly criticized by some conservative authors from the early part of the 20th century as contributing to a desacralizing of the world, to contributing to a materialistic climate where life is viewed as a machine and values and morals are viewed as relative.

However, values and morals can in fact be justified in a post-evolution world; the only catch is that they have to be secular.
Or at least be able to be justified in a secular way, which isn't difficult but which presents a distinct challenge in ways of thinking if you've been brought up to believe in the creation myth.

John Stuart Mill and Kant, especially Kant, have some good takes on morality post theological justification.

The cult of science isn't a good one, that much is true: it devalues our lives and contributes to a coarsening of our social climate. But the solution isn't to go back into a complete religious mode of thought in response. In my opinion, the best solution is to develop a view which can allow ethics, morals, human interaction, life, its own space without necessarily subsuming it in anything greater.

Ted Rall's hate mail contest

Results are in and, yes, people on the left generate hateful comments just as much as people on the right.

Actually, I'm sort of happy that this has been brought to the forefront. Not because I like threats against people but because it finally pokes a hole in the story that somehow liberals are better than conservatives.

Now, I'm no fan of rightist politics but I'm also not one to put people who think like me up on a pedestal. The conservatives are actually right when they say that this pose of moral superiority has been just that on the part of liberals. We can be as nasty as them. And, yes, it's mostly expressed in backrooms as opposed to publicly.

So, consider this one more myth punctured and one more issue redressed.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Fantasies in politics...

Those ISO connected people, man, they get on me for suggesting that Bush is moving our country into a fascistic state...yet they published an article on Counterpunch before the election which argued that voting for the lesser of the two evils in pre-Nazi Germany is what ushered in the Nazis.

What ushered in the Nazis is the fact that the Communists weren't willing to join in an alliance with the Social Democrats. If they had done this then they'd have gotten the majority of seats in the German Parliament and the Nazis would have been shut out.

The Communists wanted total power and weren't willing to compromise with the Social Democrats at all.

Sure, they put forward a program for a United Front...however at this stage in the game the actual document which they put out there was littered with expletives against the Social Democrats who they 'wanted' to partner with, so much so that in response to Thalmann's proposal the leaders of the Social Democrats made a counter proposal for an 'Iron Front' against the Nazis which pointed out that there was no way that the Social Democrats could ever join a coalition with the Communists if those terms which they had suggested had to be agreed to.

If the Communists had renounced their goal of seizing state power and instead had settled for a coalition government with the Social Democrats they'd have been fine, but no; Germany was the main target for overthrow by the Soviet Union.

So I sort of am at a loss to see how choosing the lesser of the two evils would have done them in.

The more precise parallel would be to say that the Green Party acted like the Communist Party in 2004 and would have joyfully spoiled the entire election, with the inevitable result of Bush getting reelected, if they had had the chance in order to prove a point about the two party system.

From where I'm standing it looks like Bush has just appointed the author of the torture memo to be Attorney General and the organizer of the wars against Central America to be the new head of Intelligence.

Does that mean that all that paranoia about Bush was unfounded? Hmm... only on the planet that these people are from.

D.V...from California

Santa Rosa to be exact, in Mendocino County I believe, home to lots of pot smokin' and not much else.

They're always behind the curve in California so I think they can be forgiven for their foibles.

There's the implication in the Dissident Voice article...

Which, considering the language that Raphael uses, likely does have something to do with this website, that people who supported Kerry for pragmatic reasons are somehow dishonest or fake radicals.

Well, hmm, I'm not the one who provides a link to the Anarchist FAQ on their website and yet features articles by people who belong to the International Socialist Organization, an dictatorial cadre based Trotskyist group which is one of the prime targets of Anarchist criticism.

Wow, Dissident Voice really sucks

That's the website that Mr. Raphael's post was from.

Looks to me like they have a pathological disconnect from reality...which goes: if the democrats do it, it's bad, if the Republicans do it, it doesn't matter but if it did it would be bad.

Take this Guckert/Gannon post http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Feb05/Tully0226.htm....while purporting to be this expose of why the G/G scandal doesn't matter there's actually no content to it. I'm not making this up. It's like ten paragraphs of bitching at Democrats and no arguments with ultimate effect of making the author look like an asshole and a blow hard.

Which may be accurate, for all I know.

Moral of the story: if you're going to debunk something it helps to actually have at least one concrete point nailed down...which would be the reason that it is debunked. You see you can't really debunk something if you don't give a reason why it's not true. It just doesn't work.

And Dissident Voice complains about the fucking bloggers lowering the standards of journalism today! They should look in the mirror, or stop thinking that since they post their articles as 'Articles' instead of as blog entries that somehow automatically makes them any different.

The Chairman Speaks:Dan Raphael: 'Progressive surrender, progressive renewal'

Pretty bad article wherein someone from the Green Party harangues democrats for not supporting the mass of the people...because many dems object to red staters and Christian fundamentalists.

Yeah.

I'm sure all those Bush supporters are just lining up to join the Green Party.

Having a Green Party Nader 2004 supporter criticizing the dems for the 2004 campaign and saying that they don't know what the people are talking about is about as valid as LaRouche making the criticism.

So....maybe this Green supporter needs to ingest a little less green and get back to reality.

Yes, and Christian fundamentalism is a totalitarian ideology at it's purest

Yeah, and looking for examples of totalitarianism in response to social collapse brought about by accelerated modernity the Reagan Revolution should be right up there.

Along with the phenomenon of street gangs.

And totalitarianism in general ain't a solution to these problems....

Instead, what's been happening has been..

That the religious right has associated itself with the movers and shakers, the people with institutional power in a community, and basically used their prestige to force their opinions on everyone else, characterizing their opponents as hopelessly marginal and basically crazy, unfit to matter in public discussion.

It's easy to say that when you have the blue bloods on your side.

When the yacht club supports you.

Not so easy if you have to fight it out in the public square against people who actually have a good grasp of what they believe and can articulate it smoothly.

The problem with dialogue in these conditions

I'd be willing to discuss positions about abortion or family values or religion or many of the other things that the religious right cares about if lurking behind all of their arguments wasn't the idea of Jesus as my personal savior.

The conservative-liberal dialogue, or the conservative-socialist dialogue, is something which is not only possible but very worthwhile to engage in, although in my case it's mostly been through intellectually engaging conservative authors, mostly Europeans, through reading rather than discussing these things with flesh and blood individuals...since individuals these days tend to have very, very bad rationals for their beliefs, which ultimately are justifiable only through religious arguments.

If that wasn't in the picture then, sure, there'd be room for discussion and the country would be a lot better for it. But accepting Jesus is a deal breaker. By putting those kinds of conditions on people to engage in discussion with conservatives you folks encourage the sort of ignorance and extremism that you're criticizing.

What better way to put the brakes on a naive liberal than to come back at them with a decent argument? But that hasn't been what's been happening.

Pure Intimacy, brought to you by the Christian Right

The link above is to a site run by Focus on the Family called "Pure Intimacy" which has the words "Recovering the Heart of Sexuality" on it's front page.

The thing is devoted to getting people away from homosexuality and other pursued sexual deviancies and back on to the righteous path of monogamous relationships with people of other sexes.

But....the reason why I'm bringing it up is because this is more representative of the religious right than a lot of the stuff the left and liberals quote a lot or direct people to..unlike those sites and words, this site is classic: what it's offering is security and a sense of normalness in a world which has supposedly gone totally to hell, which is what I'd bet is the thing that gets most of the Christian Right's recruits, not Jerry Falwell's colourful rhetoric.

This isn't GodHatesFags.Com.

In reality, the Christian Right uses this strategy of offering security to entice members. They're very soothing, very comforting, if you in fact are expressing interest in them and not condemning them. They put their best foot forward. Of course then, once you're in, when you read about people condemning the Christian right as being extremist you have all of these pleasant memories of kind people to buttress against it, making you confront the possibility that it's just not true.

Well, it is true, only you've been conned into not objecting to the hard stuff and into reacting badly to criticism because you've been started out slowly.

I mean, if you want to look at the heart of the Christian Right M.O. just look back at the Reagan days, literally. Reagan's message was very much feel good--if you accepted his basic premises as true, and those premises often had Christian overtones.

If not you were fucked.

The Christian Right touches on many things which have a modicum or more of reality in them...social disruption, social disintegration, the works, but their prescription for what should be done is, in the final analysis, unreasonable and unacceptable.

They want to save families, right? Good thing, right? Yeah, but lurking just behind saving the family is Christian fundamentalism. Not so good.

You shouldn't have to be a fundamentalist Christian to be allowed to be pro-family.

And, I might add, being in favor of people not getting divorced all the time does not mean that you accept the traditional notions of family....

***

It's the old bait and switch...suggest something reasonable and then, suprise!, suggest something unreasonable at the end...

They discredit the ideas that they champion by putting unreasonable conditions on them for fullfilment of them.

Yes and as you can see from the below post

This website is not totally over the top ranting.

Love it or leave it---an analysis

Love it or leave it is a funny expression.

Funny because it purports to be an expression of American nationalistic sentiment when actually it's anything but.

What do I mean by this?

Well, the idea of Love it or Leave it is linked very strongly to the idea that America is an opt-in society; one which people have chosen to come to and one which, because of the American Revolution, is thought to be set apart from the rest of the world.

However, none of this has anything to do with nationalism. In the wake of the French Revolution European thinkers were at pains to try to distinguish what was really unique and important about their countries which went beyond the political structures which ruled the day. They did this because France had attempted to rewrite all of cultural and social history as a part of its Revolution, which was ostensably motivated by politics, because they wanted to find something beyond the political storms of the day which they could rest on. Since what they were opposing, what had come to the forefront, was political they looked at their countries and basically came to the conclusion that whatever it was which was unique about their countries existed independently of political arrangement, indeed, that it would still exist no matter what Revolution or political change happened.

Monarchy or no monarchy, they argued, no matter what you did, short of a cultural genocide, you couldn't eliminate the traditions and lifeways of the people of the country, which made up it's true nature. Those traditions and lifeways, the normal everyday life of people, was considered to be what made a nation a nation. The values that defined a nation defined it in those terms, not in grand theoretical statements or political declarations. Those were the nation's values---and they would continue to be so no matter what political arrangement was on top of society.

Seen in this light the phrase "Love it or Leave it" is profoundly non-nationalistic or even anti-nationlist, because it assumes that what there is which makes one an American is something that one can either choose to buy into or not buy into, that American identity is so cheap that you can actually choose whether to be one or not.

Can't choose to be British. Can't choose to be French. You just are by nature of growing up in that country. Same with America.

If you judge who is and who isn't an American by their adherence to American folkways, patterns, and ways of thought, then virtually every person who's been born and raised in America is American by definition. And always will be.

This Real American business is absurd because it puts a further test on something which, if you respect it at all, shouldn't be questioned.


You can't leave a country which is more than a figment and a construct....to suggest that America is something which you either love or leave is to suggest that America is just that---a construct.

A piece of bullshit which has rhetorical existence but doesn't have living existence in the day to day lives of its residents.

Autonomy, personal view

There are a lot of ideas floating around, a lot of creative things, but people might question, with some of the stuff associated with the broad category of autonomist oriented writings what in the world does this have to do with real life?

Yes, one could conceivably go off and do something like establish a squat, find one and live in it, or organize on the job autonomously....actually that last one sounds pretty reasonable, but let's keep focussed...however with a lot of the really exotic stuff it sometimes seems distant from life.

Like studying utopian communities, or drop out communities, or people living on the margins, or things from history which were uprisings or insurrections where people temporarily established some sort of free state.


While all of these things undoubtedly have their value I think that the value of some of this stuff also comes from taking the insights and ideas, attitudes and opinions, about how current society is, how we could live, what's wrong, what's right, and trying to apply it to do to day life here and now.

You don't have to live in a utopian community to be able to read about why they established themselves, what they thought was wrong with society, what they aimed to do differently, and say "Yeah, I can see their point, that is messed up, society is a little bad in that way, maybe I should try to live differently".

One of the values of the utopians and the general insights of those associated with autonomy is how they can inform how life is like now.

You don't have to do something wild and crazy to do that. Although organizing on the job would be nice.

Olympia

Now, I have problems with that town.

Take the "Sex Workers Art Show", which they host every year....I went to last years, didn't go to this years, but did read in the little blurb they put out how they were having a performer named "Miss Satanica" there which the host, one former prostitute by the name of Annie Oakley, felt embarassed about.

Yeah, emabarassed? That's an interesting response. The show was geared towards politics more than sex last time I saw it, and Miss Satanica is a burlesque performer who, I suppose, doesn't fit in with the program.

Seen in that light the objecion of Ms. Oakley to Miss Satanica is awfully ironic since while they don't allow people to perform who aren't just haranging the audience they do let people like "Scarlet Harlot" do her bit.

Scarlot Harlot, a prostitute from San Francisco, sang a song last year arguing against safe sex and condom use, basically saying that people who were concerned about getting aids from unsafe sex were yuppies whose opinion doesn't count.

To me, that's a lot more objectionable than Miss Satanica doing her burlesque bit, but obviously the organizers see a pro-Aids performer as being OK since she's lived the life and therefore can speak from her own personal experience, which is always an important part of this type of political activism, right?

So....on the one hand a performer doing a strip show with a sideshow theme to it...on the other an old prostitute who says "Fuck Safe Sex!"....which is more harmful?

Certain elements in the Olympia community obviously love this stuff...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Underworld

I think that the underworld, that constellation of forbidden and wrong, is somewhat natural and essential for societies...and should not only be tolerated but somewhat legalized....like in the Netherlands.It'll always be there, it's our night for their day, and has a legitimate role to play.

I mean, on the topic of where it's legalized and legitmatized, places like the Netherlands, you know, it's not nice stuff, it's dark and dangerous, and yet the harm done to participants in it and the harm done to society at large has been reduced.

Liberation does mean liberating the dark side as well, the things that make people uncomfortable, but that does not neccesarily mean liberating impulses which hurt people. That can be addressed and reduced.

But the darkness is irreduceable.

Dark Culture or Dark Foreign Policy?

Happening upon a film which deals with very extreme subject matter...makes me wonder.....

Reaganism and the Revolution were based on a fundamentalist denial of certain dark tendencies which people were afraid would overwhelm and destroy the country...instead of allowing certain darkness within acceptable limits we became a nation of pollyannas, while our government now gets off on destroying other countries for no justification with a sexualized theme behind them.

We're afraid of the dark and the macabre in this country now, in public life and increasingly in private life. It's the shadow...and denied one place it pops up in another, a subconscious return of the repressed in the form of sexualized violence against another country in fascist overtones.

If we allowed the dark into public life, in a way where no one got hurt, maybe we wouldn't actually kill and torture people across the globe.

It's not the darkness so much as what people are afraid of which is the problem.....I subscribe to George Bataille's ideas about healthy, non-destructive, non-exploitive, non-hurtful, yet real ways, festivals, etc... to let the subconscious impulses out in festivals which destroy the current order temporarily in order to regenerate society as a whole.

But let's be clear: Dark and sexual go together......but they don't usually lead to the places where people are afraid they'll lead.

If you deny the Dark yet praise the sexual you get only half the picture and threaten the Dark to revenge itself on society in ways which are hurtful and destructive to everyone and everything.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Putin and Bush

""Russia has made its choice in favor of democracy. This is our final choice, and we have no way back," Putin said. But he cautioned that the adoption of democracy should not cause the "collapse of the state and the impoverishment of the people," adding, "Democracy is not anarchy.""

That's a direct reference to the U.S. destabilizing Russia by pressing for neo-liberal reforms after the collapse of Communism, which is Putin's way of telling Bush "Fuck off, we're not going to let you push us around".

Which is a good thing.

Viva Rossiya.

The Social Surplus and how to spend it

Unfortunately, in the general non-knowledge and mangling of ideas coming from Karl Marx a few interesting things get lost which shouldn't, one of which being the concept of the social surplus, which is essential to understanding his idea of what socialism means.

That said it's not hard to understand why this has remained so obscure: Marx attempted to take this concept, which is really very general, and give it a specificity involving complex calculations regarding value and labor which are totally unneccesary and, in fact, have dubious relevance.

With that out of the way it's not hard to explain what Marx was getting at: society produces or has the capability to produce goods and services above what people need for subsistance living. Subsistence living means having a roof over your head, food, clothes, transportation to work, and not a whole lot of money left over for anything else.

You pay your bills and that's pretty much it.

But collectively, so the theory goes, we really do produce much more stuff, have much more wealth, than the amount which would give everyone a subsistance existence....the problem is who gets most of it.

In the olden days in Europe, before the industrial revolution, the lords and ladies of the realm literally took the grain and vegetables produced by farmers who were bound to them, sold some of it, and ate some of it, so that they wouldn't have to work themselves. With money, food, and shelter out of the way they were free to do whatever they wanted.

That was them appropriating the social surplus of their day for themselves.

Marx made the argument that even though in a capitalist society you don't have a titled aristocracy that the same thing happens.....immense wealth is produced, but how it's distributed is messed up in that the white collar middle class and the upper middle class, who control who gets paid what, take most of the money for themselves, leaving the people at the bottom, who do most of the work, with little.

The group of people that appropriate the social surplus is large and there's a lot of diversity within it, it isn't like there's just a few people smoking cigars behind the scenes stealing everything, but still, that money and those resources could be going back to the people who do most of the work, could be shared equally by members of society.

The idea that there are either workers or people who profit from workers, that there's either one or the other, isn't accurate: it's possible for people to work and to still share in the benefits of what society has collectively produced.

Why is it that we don't have free universal health care? Or pension plans? Or decent wages? Or a lot of other things which other countries have?

These are things that the social surplus could be going to.

This is what's behind the taxation system and the union system in Europe: bringing a little bit of the money which people earn directly home through unions, taxing the money that people who don't do the work take home, and then sharing that wealth with society at large through social programs which address things which workers need.

Why don't we do that here?

Here we watch Donald Trump instead, you know, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Gannon and the power of the penis

You know, until this Gannon thing started I really didn't take the concerns of feminists that certain guys where pursuing let us say phallocentric ways of behavior all that seriously.

I mean, yeah, there're always THAT sort of guy but in general I didn't think that it had much relevance.

Well, let's see what we have here now: a conservative bigot who appears to be a plant from the Bush administration and is found to fetishize the military and post pictures of himself naked and erect on the web.

Couldn't be a more fitting image for what male-oriented conservatism represents in this country.

Yeah, the same guy who attacks people for being liberal is the one who likes to show pictures of his eight inch cock around.

Steven Laffoley: 'The Digital Watch Effect and the loss of American democracy'

"The hosts of Crossfire reported on a poll that asked Americans the following question: who was the greatest American president? Typically, in similar past polls, Lincoln, F.D.R., Jefferson, and Washington found their way to the top. However, for the first time, another president gathered the most votes: Ronald Reagan.

When this was announced, the audience - largely a crowd of twenty and thirty somethings - wildly applauded and cheered.

I was surprised. Many of the young people in the audience were not old enough to remember the "Reagan Revolution." Nor would they remember what came before Reagan. How could they possibly understand it, let along cheer it? Reagan was no Lincoln, F.D.R., Washington, or Jefferson, right? "

"While those over 35 fought the "culture war" with the ideals of freedom and democracy informed by their experience of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, they neglected to note that their children were growing up in a profoundly different context."


Truer words haven't been spoken.

As a twenty something I've been fighting this shit since day one....I came from a family where Reagan hatred was a core value and where people were waiting for the day when it was all over and we'd get back to normal,,,,but I don't think that a lot of the younger people were that lucky.

I notice a very steep drop off in general political consciousness when you go further and further down the line in terms of age....

Should it really have to be said, too, that a lot of the damn pathology of our generation is due to Reagan leaving us with nothing in terms of meaningful culture?

So you get hostility and anti-social stuff...

Doesn't need to be that way, but Mr. Gipper spawned a hundred thousand tattoos, piercings, and drug problems.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Revolutionary Femininity

Well, it was kind of inevitable.

On the right, in the foundational documents section is one entitled "Revolutionary Sexitivity". It could be called "Revolutionary Sexiness", but that has overtones which I don't like. The point of the post was to say that this whole thing isn't some sort of sterile academic exercise but that it should be fun as well....well 'sexiness' isn't everyone's idea of fun, especially not people of the female sex...

To illustrate what I mean, there's a passage from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz' book "Outlaw Woman" where she describes meeting with a group of poor white kids in Chicago who had formed a group called "The Young Patriots" which was allied with the Black Panther Party, AIM, and the Brown Panthers, and having them show her their manifesto which, among other things, called for total sexual liberation as well as some silly things like group marriage as the norm. She pointed out to them that women might not want to go along with all of that.

Although, to my credit, I didn't suggest something quite as extreme as that, nevertheless, there's still something inappropriate in substituting the word 'sexy' for 'fun' or for having a generic good time which doesn't neccesarily involve anything sexual. You get the picture.

And although...

I don't make any pretensions to being a good writer, well at least not a really good writer, I heartily acknowledge that this blog and my style fits into the short term category as well. It probably won't last and, indeed, isn't lasting...because personal circumstances are changing in a way which suggests that I won't be able to just free wheel as much as I like about anything I like anymore. But that's somewhere down the road. Success, which I defined as being able to take the freedom and counterculture ideas of this blog into the 'institutions', relatively speaking at least, or into some recognizable imitation of social life, means that my options are constrained a little.

More thoughts on the Cockburn article

Cockburn names Kerouac, Edward Abbey, and Hunter S. Thompson as being three people representing the same sort of take no prisoners approach to American literature, which Cockburn describes as teaching him that "at its most rapturous, its most outraged, its most exultant, American prose can let go and teach you to let go, to embrace the vastness, the richness, the beauty and the grotesqueries of America in all its thousand landscapes." Abbey is the card that doesn't fit into that deck.

I think that the style of writing done by Kerouac and Thompson is more of a short term fantasy....the frontier, yes, but the frontier as something to be conquered before it's all gone, so that you can get yours before people can't get theirs anymore....while Abbey's vision of the frontier is, pardon the cliche, more sustainable.

Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Interesting article. Cockburn is critical of Thompson.

Using quotes to illustrate his point Thompson makes the case that below the fear and loathing there wasn't much.

Well, without making a blanket statement, I do have to say that in general the problem with extreme writing isn't that it's extreme, that counts for little, but rather that in terms of value it's often flat.

It takes an awful lot of emotion to write but in reading it hardly any of it is conveyed. Instead, what you usually get is entertainment with a few ideas involved, but not many of them.

The whole taboo busting thing gets old after a while, and I really do have to say that we tend to always think of ourselves as more Pollyanna-ish than we really are.

Americans truly aren't that prone to constantly be offended.

It takes effort to get something truly shocking, and then it usually isn't what you had in mind....Ok, let it be known that I'm talking entertainment here---the shocking part always degrades the intellectual content of something, which is why I've always felt somewhat like I've failed when I've written something really shocking and provocative, so that's not what I'm addressing---but take two different examples of shock value: Karen Finley's book "Shock Treatment" and "The Sorrows of Priapus" by Edward Dahlberg.

Finley's book is pretty worthless. She's the person who dips herself in chocolate and rolls around in it as performance art. Her 'shock therapy' is pretty juvenile and unenlightening.

Dahlberg's book, about sex, is quite shocking not because of the fact that sex is written about but because of the way it's written about, which is the opposite of Jack Kerouac fantasizing about being Mr. White man in border town brothels.

Dahlberg is good because he talks seriously about personal and rather explicit experience which usually isn't shared with other people.

But, no one knows about Dahlberg...not that anyone knows about Finley but, comparatively speaking, more people probably do.

***

Yeah, and extreme comments hurt.

I've always felt bad, always, for some of the comments that I've made about Israel which, although in spirit may have been right on considering what's happened to the Palestinians, have nonetheless been quite insensitive when looked at in relation to the Holocaust.

The reality of Jewish persecution in the 20th century is overwhelming. Doesn't mean that it entitles people to treat the Palestinians any way they want but, on the same token, it doesn't mean that there isn't something there which doesn't have to be respected, at least negatively in giving people a little bit of a break.

Mary Mapes, Abu Ghraib, scandal

Ok, looking at Thismodernworld.com and piecing things together it appears to be the case that the person who fed the doctored documents to 60 minutes about Bush's national guard service, which Gannon/Guckert bragged about informing people of, was the same person who broke the Abu Ghraib photo scandal.

Now, wouldn't the administration want to get back at the producer who broke that? And wouldn't a great way be to feed her false documents regarding the Bush national guard case, which would then be broken by right wing news sources, leading to her firing and general discreditation? And that of 60 minutes and Dan Rather.

Rova and Gannon, there's a connection

From Salon.com:"Additionally, Guckert attended the invitation-only White House press Christmas parties in 2003 and 2004, and last holiday season, in a personal posting on GOPUSA, Eberle thanked Karl Rove for his "assistance, guidance, and friendship" Eberle was Guckert's boss. 'nuff said.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Joe Bageant

Has a nice article on Smirking Chimp.com

It starts out, though with an invocation against liberals and commies.....

implying we're out of touch and that it doesn't matter what we believe.

Well, in the end, it won't matter what you all believe.

There are certain minimums which exist in society which can't be trespassed against; many of the rural residents which Mr.. Bageant is defending would reject all and every one of those and seek to dictate law as they see fit, no matter what consequences there are.

To which I say that you don't need to live in the country to have an opinion on human rights. And seeking to impose your will on people who violate basic norms is not inappropriate.

It's what you've been saying for years, you being the rural people of this country, only you've been saying it about your own fiefdoms and about the rest of the country and I'm turning the light the other way.

Put up or shut up.

Love it or leave it.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Author Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself

This is really sad.

I actually shook Thompson's hand at a book signing/reading back in '98 in NYC, Halloween night.

He was a major influence and someone who I genuinely respected, in a world where I personally feel that there are few people worthy of respect.

A hero in a world of bullshit.

Saving America from What?

Those non-existent Muslim terrorists?

Funny New York Times cartoon

Which shows these buff soldiers reading this letter which says "Seems that if we want to save America we should be sitting at home in our underwear writing a weblog".

Considering that the biggest thing America has to be saved from is itself I'd say that sitting at a computer writing a weblog has at least as much utility, if not more, than occupying a country which has absolutely no capability of threatening us.

I fail to see how soldiers abroad are saving America. The threat to America that I see is the Bush administration, and web loggers are doing some pretty good work in trying to oppose them.

You can draw all the buff soldiers that you want, doesn't change the fact that we aren't defending ourselves from an invading force, which is what you're implying, but are instead occupying a country which had no intentions towards us in order to secure possesion of oil which is mainly used by Europe in order to strengthen our geopolitical hold on the world.

Saving America my ass.

If you think all this is weird or extremist....

Think again.

A lot of the ideas I outlined below are explicitly part of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation ideology.

I don't support that group, but it isn't exactly a trivial social grouping.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Collective Values

What if one of the collective values that motivated a society or group was that it valued individual liberty?

Individualism again

If our values are inclusive and we value diversity in our collectivity....then is total individualism really being disrespected so much?

Individualism vs. more collective arrangements

Individualism, I think, is not a guarantee of liberty.

Most societies recognize collective identity...and that isn't neccesarily oppressive. The question is who gets to define what the collective identity is, what values shape the collective identity.

This appears to me, in my life at least, to have been the issue: I'm very happy in places where the collective values are consonant with my own. I don't notice the bias, I like the bias, and don't want to be so much of an iconoclast.

I don't have to be.

Yes, it's anti-individualistic but that's not so bad...providing the basic values are right.

Kevin Zeese: Creating a Real Ownership Society

Good article.

The Bush administration has co-opted the idea of an "Ownership Society", which has egalitarian overtones to it. This article puts the concept back in its place.

Personally saved by Christ or committed to community?

Ok, to give an example, which may not be a fair example but which is an example nonetheless of how Christian individualism can have negative effects consider the life of Born Again Christians: people whose entire existence relates to their 'personal relationship with Jesus' and who relate scripture and theological concepts to the unfolding of their immediate lifes in the service and, guidance by, of Christ. Jesus is constantly relating to their innermost personal psychological struggles.

Meanwhile, they choose to ignore the greater community of which they're a part and wait for the rapture.

This can be viewed as gigantic, enourmous, egotism and selfishness on a scale unimaginable to most peoples of the world.

It is, literally, the thought that the world directly revolves around YOU and that the savior of the world is caring about YOU directly and YOU will be saved and therefore YOU don't have to do anything.

Christian individualism, or rather a distortion of Christian individualism, which is less severe in non-Protestant forms of Christianity, is a negative force here.

In other forms of Christianity Christ is more impersonal, much more, or rather less anthropomorphized.

So, if you want to understand why people could oppose the idea of an individualistic Christianity, just consider that these people who fervently believe in saving by a personal rebirth with Christ are doing it while we are murdering people daily in Iraq and threatening to invade Syria and Iran and are not batting an eye.

They have better things to be concerned with, better, more important things than caring about the murder of innocent human beings by their government, namely whether Jesus approves or disapproves of their random thoughts and inclinations.

Eurasia...

The Eurasian denial of individualism, replaced with the idea of a collective personality made up of family, community, etc.. is attractive to me.


Not because I don't like uniqueness but because ultimate individualism seems invalid.

One can be very unique in a setting where one's identity is not based solely on individual characteristics.

The Eurasians were for this because they believed that Russian civilization, being semi-Asian, was naturally inclined towards this and that this synthesis represented something better than the Christian based individualism of the West.

They were, ironically, Orthodox Christians, but as someone noted, the word "I" only appears twice in the entire Eastern Orthodox catechism. It's much more collectively oriented.

This is not such a bad thing.

Maybe we can hypothesize an arc here, starting with Russia in the East as being semi-collective, moving towards a deeply individualistic Western Europe, then moving back towards semi-collectivity in America because of the breakdown of social structures inherited from Europe which allowed individualiity to flourish in its classical sense.

John Dewey suggested that American society had a naturally more collective character than Europe in his philosophy...check out "Individualism: Old and New", in which he says that the New Individualism of America is a socialism based on a pragmatic collective understanding of a person's place in the world.

There's some anti-intellectualism in that concept which I'm not too fond of, some of the "America is pragmatic, not intellectual, fuck intellectualism we like things that have practical application" bullshit but the idea of an anti-individualistic America is still appealing.

Maybe we can get back to the basic collective understandings of world and community which the Europeans of the West departed from...

Often in the writings of these people the thing isn't personality or individual identity per se that they're opposed to but the idea of an individual existing on a plane totally disconnected from anything else, from family, from community, from town, from social groupings. They tend to think that this is a really barren experience and not something which should be envied. I happen to agree.

Recentering our identity and awareness of ourselves explicitly within these relationships would be a great thing. The bourgeois subject would be gone, which I think would be a great thing since the bourgeois subject is, in my opinion, a real abnormality.

Russo-German philsophy, the final frontier.

If you really want to find some fucked up ideas which will totally blow your mind check out the ideas associated with the Russian philosophers before and somewhat after the Revolution who were insanely influenced by German idealism.

People like Solovyov, Bogdanov, and others who are really, really, fucking obscure but really interesting...like a person named Karasavin who is so obscure that I've only been able to find English language material about him. Everything else is in Russian. And French. There are no English translations.

Imagine a blending of German idealism, Marxism, other socialism, and Orthodox Christianity......plus Geopolitical ideas about Russia and it's place in World History and you have an inkling of the flavor of this stuff.

Incidentally, this was also the ferment which all the people of the October Revolution emerged out of...although it's not acknowledged..

So, twist your mind up, learn something new, and find some Russian philosophers who were influenced by equally strange idealist ideas from the 19th century. You won't be disappointed.

Stan Goff has a website now!

And it's on my sidebar.

http://www.stangoff.com

My problem with the anti-intellectual anarcho-punks

I guess it's that they have this image of the working class which recapitulates all the stereotypes about it and they try to live up to those stereotypes very consciously in the hope of 'keeping it real', which is comical.

My experience growing up is that working class people aren't hostile to ideas, don't not want to make something of their lives in the outside world, aren't self consciously defeatest.....but these people seem to think they are, that this is a good thing and that they should attempt to immitate it and call anyone who says differently a no good rich elitist.

Just like in any community the level of interest in all these things is a mix, but to say that people aren't interested in ideas at all is an amazing distortion.

The truth is that there are huge barriers to working class people getting into the sort of intellectual culture which more middle class people are used to, barriers which have nothing to do with interest in ideas but rather with the access to the 'cultural capital', as they say, which would allow them to find the books and writers that would really satisfy their urge to know about the world.

That's not the same thing as being uninterested in ideas; what happens is that people see working class people being interested in, say, New Age stuff, or some sort of literature which is considered intellectually trashy, like the DaVinci code stuff or even, ugh, the Left Behind series, or in the wrong poetry or in the wrong literature, in things which people might think, if they had no access to middle class culture, was really with it an relevant but which people with that access scoff at....and they make the judgement, based upon that observation, that therefore working class people aren't intellectual.

I remember my first philosophy class, where we had to keep a journal about our writings, and how in the first entries I wrote about the people who Betrand Russel starts out with in his "History of Philosophy" and wrote things like that I was amazed that they don't believe in the concept of a demiurge.

What's a demiurge? It's a concept from Hermetic religion and Gnosticism, two different new agey type trends which have a lot of popular adherents. The demiurge is considered to be the creater of the world while God himself is considered to have created the demiurge and to stand behind and above the physical world altogether.

I actually expected that we'd be talking about stuff like that because it was a philosophy class, after all, and that was the 'philosophy' that I was familiar with.

Now if you looked at my reading list then you'd think that I was just reading stupid, trashy, new agey books. Not the case. I was trying to figure out questions about life and the world which I would eventually be able to (at least partially) address through academic philosophy. But you'd never know that if you just judged it from the outside.

And I don't think that I'm alone.

Point is, there's a huge difference between not having access to the right approach to make the right ideas accessable and not caring about the ideas at all.

To say that one person, or that workers, are anti-intellectual is really off the mark, especially considering how many people have worked hard, done good in school despite the barriers against them, and made it into the professional world.

Obviously they cared about ideas and were able to handle them.

So the "No Future, you're a traitor!" train of thought really turns me off.

It isn't representative of my life or my experience, and yet these people want to represent all of working class folks, mostly to the rich, as being like how they are, which doesn't fly in my book.

They represent only themselves

One could add to that last comment...

That "Black" doesn't exist either. What exists are people whose original culture was in Western and Central Africa, in the areas which are now Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Angola, and the Congo.

"Black" is a very real category for African Americans living in this society but it's not their ultimate ethnic heritage.
Bridging the Class Divide, by Linda Stout, where the quote below comes from, is actually a really great book.

It's not about how to bridge the class divide so much as how a working class person managed to bridge the class divide and get into activism.

But that thing about "By Definition" blacks can't be racist just got me. I understand the difference between having the power of society on your side and not, but I think that people who therefore say that that means people can't be as nasty, hurtful, or racist to people because of their skin color are way off target.

Whites of course have enourmous institutional advantages. So do men. So do straight people. And people from groups which don't fit into those categories have to struggle against institutional discrimination every day...

But anyone can be a bigot.

I don't think that institutionalized racism and discrimination is so much that therefore personal responsability goes out the window.

Oh, and Linda Stout also mentions that the category "White" robs people of the rich tapestry of ethnic heritage which they could possibly draw on, a sentiment I heartily agree with.

Curtis and Kube, a moral point

I've come out against the idea that acts which are hostile to people percieved to have privilege simply because they are perceived to have it are totally inappropriate, and I think that's actually somewhat controversial, so let me explain.

There's this perception that racism is only possible by white people, black people "By Definition", according to Linda Stout, organizer, cannot be racist. Therefore, racist acts committed by blacks are somehow excused. I mean acts of physical violence.

Why is this wrong, what does it mean?

Well, to take an extreme example, I remember that in NYC there was a case where a black guy had a shotgun in his coat and blew away a few white people on the subway just because they were white.

It was argued by Ron Kube, a Communist Party connected lawyer, that the hurt and oppression suffered by this man were so great that they drove him into an insane rage where he was not in possession of his senses, and so could not be held accountable for murdering a few random people on the subway because of their race.

Kube has a radio show with a guy named Curtis, called "Curtis and Kube", and he went into it in detail one day, making this person, who ripped lives apart with random violence, into a victim and a hero of sorts.

Now, when a shotgun blast hits you what it does is rip your vital organs into shreds. A shotgun fires small metal pellets which perforate your body, leading to a death like that that these people endured: skin ripped up, muscles torn, blood everywhere, no stiches able to mend the wound since it is so grizzly, since there are so many of them, organs destroyed beyond the point of being able to be salvaged, leading to total collapse of the systems of the body and death.

And what were they doing? Riding on the subway on the way to work.

So....

Have you ever been punched in the face? Would you say that if someone walked up to you and punched you in the face that it was OK if there was some institutional factor or would you say that violence like that is inappropriate in society and that the person should be punished?

Would you say that the color of the assailant's hand made the threat of violence any less hurtful?

Picture it; not abstractly, picture it in your own life...that you're walking down the street one day and suddenly someone comes up to you and slams in the face and knocks you to the ground, would you say "Oh, my white privelege made me deserve it" or would you say that that's not appropriate anywhere at any time for any reason?

Manuel Yang and Peter Linebaugh: a Dialogue About Murder in Toledo

Essential, Essential, Essential reading....you have to read this article. It examines this sort of rampage that a worker in Toledo went on through a left-Marxist lens which considers the process of lean production. And it brings in concepts from the Japanese Left, a group that's not often heard from.

Which is not to imply that people aren't doing useful things

People who read blogs, who read writings, tend to be self selective about certain passages and take them to apply to them even if they don't....

I have little fondness for the faux working-class anarcho anti-intellectualism of some of the punk based rebels who live in the general area, but, hey, punk is a huge movement and not everyone who digs it is like that..


But the general point still stands, in my opinion, which is that look: American society is totally in denial, it's in denial about the outside world, its in denial about history, its in denial about intellectual stuff, its in denial about Europe, its in denial about culture, about thing after thing after thing.

Instead we get Brittaney Spears and J-Lo.

Someday this will have to give, and in the face of all that's out there the refusal of some punks and activists to look at this material, to be aware of what's going on, and try to make sense out of it, just seems like they're riding the coattails of the same goddamn thing.

If the options are either give yourself a lobotomy and listen to pop-music or give yourself a lobotomy and listen to a certain type of angry-punk then what's the difference?

I'd rather approach the world through an honest perspective which honors the whole of life rather than trading one sort of denial for another.

And, no, you aren't the entire left.

All or Nothing

It seems to me that the young left, or, I should say, the anti-establishment left, or, whatever, the non-sectarian left, is at a crossroads.

From what I've seen there're two camps, or, possibly one camp which could be challenged and which indeed is calling forth its own challenge.

The first camp, while very anti-authoritarian, is also really non-engaged. It's anti-intellectual in the extreme and is surprisingly non-informed about much of the world.

This appears to be a sort of strategy, in that it's more a willing avoidance of looking at all the things that are out there than being truly stupidly ignorant.

Why would someone do that? Well, because once you get away from the comfort zone of this culture the options which are out there for exploration multiply exponentially.

There're too many things out there, intellectually, academically, historically, too look at and consider, meaning that if you jump into this world you're jumping into a very, very, uncertain and chaotic place.

Much easier to stay in the little self contained ghetto than to grappple with the possibility of not knowing where you might end up, or even if you will end up at a place of stability in the end at all.

But, I'd argue, it has to be done; and that's where the great divide comes in.

A divide between people who stick to their guns about not exposing themselves to the questions which the wealth of ideas in the more academic world presents and those who jump in and try to grapple with the confusing chaos of what's there.

The product of this grappling is largely really creative and rich, and I'm hopeful that this will be the sort of explosion in content which will fuel leftist ideas and culture in the future.

That's where I see the divide coming, and it's generational too.

I don't think that the people who just shut their ears and ignore everything are going to be able to hold out forever.

I'm hopeful, then, that All will prevail over Nothing, because although Nothing got us to Seattle it isn't getting us much further.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Just a friendly reminder

You can still sign up to be part of the Lost Highway writers group, it's not too late, and I encourage people to send in some writing.

I know that there are people on the same wavelength as I....

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Adding to the added comment to the current times post

I guess what I was trying to say in that is that, in my opinion, the traditional sort of liberal capitalist democracy is finished. The US is probably the only one left in the entire industrialized world. In Europe Social Democracy has changed things so much that liberal capitalism is widely discredited, threatening revanchist responses by the capitalists themselves.

No, the US is the last bastion.

And I don't think that the US position has much of a future; either it'll destroy itself or it'll be reformed, either way destroying the ideology.

The post-war world was a gift, one which the US economy benefitted greatly from but which is not likely to be repeated.

I think, to jump around even more, that this is still, that the problem is still, much like the one that the world faced in the years leading up to WWII, with Communism on one side, Fascism on the other, but with the difference being that there are more choices now, that democratic socialism has proven itself to be a third option which does not negate the socialist vision too severly and which avoids the ideological and social distortions of the Communist world.

Back then, so the argument goes, the world seemed poised between two equally unacceptable options.

I don't mean to suggest that things like Anarchism or Autonomism don't have a place, indeed, this is a semi-autonomist web log.... but I do think that before these movements have a chance of becoming the main organizing factors for society in the United States that we have to move in a much more broader way to a social system which throws traditional liberal capitalism behind.

This system will then provide the cover that these movements need to prove themselves and to advance.

Which is not to say that they shouldn't organize now, but there's a difference between organizing in the expectation of becoming the main force in society and organizing in order to try to do your best with what you have.

The first type,I believe, would most profitably be done within the framework of a society that had already moved to a social democratic system.


However, Unlike others, I don't think that anyone should stop doing anything that they're doing because the 'historical times are not right'.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wow, this is weird

Now I'm getting Nietzsche quotes from longtime spam correspondents....

I have to admit it's more entertaining than just getting porn solicitations combined with fake names designed to insult me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ok, and the 'YOU' in the below post is someone IRL

Churchill and the Trickster, or Read this first those who would tear me to shreds after accidentally happening upon this site: this means you

I support this more than anything else, at least in spirit, I'm not that religious, certainly not Christian. I'm also not racist, anti-Indian, or anti-anything you might get from reading these posts.

Instead, I'm like the Picador...the guy in Spanish bullfighting who prods the bull on to respond by putting little spears into it, goading it on for the bullfighter to finish off in a real heated battle.

The intent, one of the intents of this site is to provide good, ANONYMOUS, criticism of leftism so that lefties can be stronger and more effective.

This does not work if the blog is not anonymous.

It is also NOT the gospel truth about what I personally believe and live on a daily basis.

I'm much more of a conventional person than this blog would allow.

I'm also much nicer.

So please respect me.

Because if this site goes down and I'm punished for it the left will lose a valuable source of free wheeling, neccesary, criticism, and I will be punished essentially for trying to make movements for social change better by saying the unsaid, by saying that which is intentionally provocative but which is neccesary to think about.

CIA vs. FBI

Article link says that the FBI is now conducting operations abroad.

This does not surprise me; I'd much rather deal with the CIA than deal with the FBI.

The FBI has the mindset of local cops while CIA is much more sophisticated; because of this my sense is that a lot of retrograde ideas get into the FBI that the CIA would just laugh at.

I mean, they're both bad, but the CIA is by it's nature less susceptable to low grade scum politicization, which, I feel, the FBI is pretty strong on.

An addendum to the things I've written

Ok, In the foundational documents section I outline a sort of scenario involving totalitarianism, modernity, and socialism, which says that industrial capitalism produces the seed bed for totalitarianism and that therefore we need to reign everything in as a solution to this. Reign everything in in the sense of actively preventing the parts of modernity which, in my opinion, contribute to a potential totalitarian or fascist state from gaining ground.

This isn't a realistic expectation. In fact, it's just what the cold war liberals suggested in THEIR formulation about what totalitarianism was and formed some of the groundwork for the cold war consensus about what politics was about, which was a greatly constricted sphere in their opinion....since to try anything really ambitious would be to invite the spectre of totalitarianism into the picture.

This isn't the case, and I would be the last person to want to recapitulate the prejudices of these people in my theory.

Therefore, I think the solution to the modern world is to accept and work with the modernity, to some degree, in producing a socialism which partakes of it while being democratic and while reigning in some of modernity's worst features.

I think that negotiated modern society's are the only way society will go, not much we can do, and that it'll either be a fascist society or a socialist society.

I hope that it's socialist. Socialism in this case can mean either European social democracy or some sort of semi social democrat Reform Communism.

What all of these systems have in common is that they address the mythic as well as attempt to provide for the needs of society.

The mythic isn't neccesarily bad; in socialism it serves a subordinate purpose...with fascism it's unfortunatly everything.

But either way, modernity doesn't meet the social needs of people, and that needs to be addressed, and it doesn't meet the more intellectual and mental needs of people, the need for community, belonging, and culture, which the mythic touches, and that needs to be addressed as well.

I believe very strongly that society's call forth what they need, or what they fear.

So either way some sort of negotiation with this stuff will happen.

What that means in practical terms is that the features of modernity, the industrialism, the sort of new things, need to be negotiated so that they are manifested in a humane way.

Why things like I've discussed are sometimes negative

Here we go. Strange to see it happen to me but...first one starts talking about forming anti-fascist defense comittees just in case something happens, next thing you know you're reading about the life of the head of the Stasi and thinking 'yeah, I understand his motivations'. Not good.

Although I still think that anti-fascist groups like ARA are really good (I'm still keeping the banner), I do think that the semi-paramilitary posturing that I was putting into the posts about it was bad.

Any new society has to be truly democratic and that democracy, inthe course of action, checks things like impulses by anti-democratic forces from getting an upper hand and 'punishing class enemies' or whatever else you have an impulse to do.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Marginalia

strange brew............

Well.

Marginal is as marginal does, I suppose, but why marginal does is another story.

I've been thinking about the origins of marginal culture, in response to old memories brought up by Rebecca Solnit's piece.

I've come to the conclusion that the marginal culture of the 90s and the eighties was mostly a political creation. I only have direct knowledge of how it was in the '90s since I was way too young to participate in the eighties, but what I remember....is that Clinton basically said that the end of history was here, a consensus formed which said 'my way or the highway' to young people, and many, many young people, myself included, just decided to say 'fuck it' rather than fight the system and totally dropped out, going into the marginal world.

But that disposession of us from our civil rights was not by accident, it was not ordained, it was calculated. And because of that there's no reason why we can't see through the BS and decide to try to influence those very systems which shut us out.

That's my opinion. The idea that tattoos and other things are liberation is real only in the sense that if you don't have any other options, yeah, getting a hell of a lot of tattoos is a liberation, but would you do that if you had the opportunity to actually fit in someplace in society?

Me thinks that people's energies could be better spent elsewhere than pursuing personal things like that to the exclusion of trying to change established institutions of power.

It appears impossible, but that's the trick: they want you to think that it is so that you won't try.

Take the illusion away and things become much more easier.

And you get the added bonus of no longer being a displaced person, displaced in history, displaced in your own society, but instead are linked to the rest of the world, your social world, in a meaningful way.

Which to them is more dangerous than anything else.

Liberation Conspiracies, an article by Rebecca Solnit

Hmm... Rebecca Solnit, that's a name I'll have to remember.

The people who run Cuba,

Here's a quote from Ricardo Alarcon, head of the national assembly in Cuba regarding the Iraqi elections

"Secondly, Iraqis may have been Shiite, Sunni or Christian. I was there. Some of them wanted me to know what religion they belonged to. Catholic or Muslim, not Shiite or Sunni. Now everyone refers to different ethnic groups. Imagine American Protestants forming hostile groups of Presbyterians versus Episcopalians. It's stupid. Those Iraqi religious divisions may lead to war. Remember the religious wars in Europe. "

Oh really, Alarcon?

You mean that Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq were nice and happy before the invasion?

Or are they just stupid, people deluded by religion who don't matter and who should be treated like children, as you seem to suggest.

 This is Cuban Communism at its finest: snobbish and elitist to the real sentiment in the Third World in the extreme, all the while pushing itself as being 'progressive'. Well, Cuba's progressivism is just Western imperialism tarted up in a socialist patina.



Action

Let me clarify the below post.

The Action that I like the most is mass action, mass protest. Anything else is what people refer to as 'adventurist'.

Yes, I ultimately want a revolution, but that revolution has to be a social revolution, a mass revolution, not something where a few people carry it out on behalf of everyone else, and certainly not something where a few individuals causing mayhem purport to speak for the rest of society.

So take the below comments, including the one about wanting to seize the property of the bourgeoisie, nationalize it, collectivize it, and force the former owners into being common workers, as referring to some time in the future when the social revolution has triumphed.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Rapture Index

Interesting article; the Rapture in Christian culture is, I believe, a sort of last ditch effort to get out of racing the harsh reality of what the opportunities for working class people really are in this country.

Better to believe that the Rapture is going to save you than to have to come to terms with the fact that the country which you were born into and believed in screwed you over and limited your chances for fulfillment permanently.

The Rapture is a way of saying "It'll be all right after all, just trust me".

Zirin Zirin

David Zirin, in the column on Counterpunch detailing the protest against The New Republic magazine, mentions that "because we took the step to not just fulminate and blog but act, our demo plans were written up... in The Nation magazine. "


Not just fulminating and blogging but acting to, eh?

Well, whether they know about this website or not I take it somewhat personally, but, I have to say, that this website is not for action. Action is best decided by people who organize protests in their community on a regular basis. Although I participate in local leftist politics, with no mention of this website involved, I am not out there organizing anything.

The intent of this website is to inspire people, who then can make up their own minds about what what I'm writing means and how it can or can't be put into practical use.

I have no hidden agenda of what I'd like to see done which I'm secretly pressing.

And I think it would be rather inappropriate of me, who writes such philosophical pieces, to start urging people to do this or that, to demonstrate here to write a letter there.

I'm just a humble (ok not so much) blogger.


Wonderful Indian Stereotypes

The issue of Native American stereotypes has crept back into the local political scene.....mostly by people from outside the region.

Well, anyways, it's interesting: people extraordinarily upset that the movies represent them nowadays as noble, oppressed, people, who have been wronged and who's struggle is a just one. I guess that's romanticizing the situation.

Not like they were being represented as thugs or drug dealers or rapists, like black people regularly are, no, we have the terrible crime of saying good things about Indians, one which should be immediately punished.

Likewise, we have the terrible crime of liberal whites actually being interested in Native culture and interested in what Native Americans have to say about themselves.

OoOOoOoHh....I can feel the burning hatred and oppression behind that impulse.

Surely it's the same impulse that drives whites to regularly discriminate against blacks, right?

So, as a solution, we should all just forget about Native American culture, because even taking a look at a book about Native American history is cultural appropriation, purely study European history (because that's where our real roots are), and instead mind our own business, constructing an America where Indians aren't present because they resent white people looking at them funny.

And in response to Indian pride, where people have suggested going back to European roots as an alternative for casual interest in Native American culture, we should have White Pride.

Yep, that's pure genius there.

Needless to say, I disagree with these views.

Castigating white liberals as if they're rednecks on the rez only hurts your cause.

Like I said, when was the last time a gangster rappin' Indian was on MTV providing a model of Indian life for all of America?

Retribution/good and bad

People don't realize it but the nature of East German state was partly due to the fact that the Communists, who were mostly German Communists who went to exile in Moscow during the Nazi regime, exacted retribution in exactly and precisely the way they wanted to against the Nazi regime when the Soviet tanks rolled into Germany.

The Communists were the second biggest party before the Nazi takeover, and the German Communists didn't forget the old wounds. When they had the opportunity to take power they inflicted exactly what they wanted to inflict, created a state which was essentially a revenge against the German people for electing the Nazis and then becoming silent after the terror subsided.

How I feel about this, I don't know. I wouldn't have wanted to get close to East Germany. One must reign in your thirst for revenge or end up becoming like the Stasi, I suppose, who saw their mission as vigilant defense of the State against ever encroaching Fascist resurgence.

Which included torture and instant arrrest on political charges as comonents of that vigilance.

I don't want to end up like that, supporting it, becoming a Mielke like figure.

There needs to be sanity in any future social order...

More on the middle class, particularly the petty bourgeoisie, as we leftists refer to it, the small capitalists, as the destroyers of culture

Because it has so many negative ethnic implications...I have to say that it's really unfortunate that jobs like this are the entry point for so many outsiders into another society. So all over the world there are shop keepers and small capitalists who are from ethnic minorities or who are foreigners.

Nevertheless, the proof is still in the pudding. If a person fits the description of a small, philistine, capitalist, who adopts all the prejudices and hatreds of bigoted white people in the same position, who scorns the arts, who is anti-progressive, and, in this case, turns his or her back on the traditional culture that they originally come from, then they are as guilty of being negative influences on our society, and on societies in general, as any white person. Their ethnicity shouldn't get them off the hook for class oppression and contributing to a fascistic state.

The connection to the culture that they came from is a redeeming quality because that changes the equation. You can't be a true philistine if, in your spare time, you still have the same sorts of broad interests which you had in the old country or which your particular ethnic community had/has.

People who are jewish store owners who study the Talmud in their spare time are good people.

For instance.

It's a different equation solely because these people can be reasoned with.

The pure philistine middle class, on the other hand, I have no sympathy whatsoever for and would gladly see all their property seized and them forced to be common workers as punishment for dragging this country down.

A ncie tribute to Arthur Miller by Alexander Cockburn

"Sheridan Says It All


"IF a stranger had at this time gone into the kingdom of Oude, ignorant of what had happened since the death of Sujah Dowlah-that man who with a savage heart had still great lines of character, and who with all his ferocity in war, had still with a cultivating hand preserved to his country the riches which it derived from benignant skies, and a prolific soil-if this stranger, ignorant of all that had happened in the short interval, and observing the wide and general devastation, and all the horrors of the scene-of plains unclothed and brown-of vegetation burnt up and extinguished-of villages depopulated and in ruin-of temples unroofed and perishing-of reservoirs broken down and dry-he would naturally inquire, What war had thus laid waste the fertile fields of this once beautiful and opulent country? What civil dissensions have happened thus to tear asunder, and separate the happy societies that once possessed those villages! What religious rage had, with unholy violence, demolished those temples, and disturbed fervent, but unobtruding piety in the exercise of its duties? What merciless enemy had thus spread the horrors of fire and sword? What severe visitation of Providence had thus dried up the mountains, and taken from the face of the earth every vestige of green?-or rather, what monsters had crawled over the country, tainting and poisoning what the voracious appetite could not devour? To such questions, what must be the answer? No wars have ravaged these lands and depopulated these villages-no civil discords have been felt-no religious rage-no merciless enemy-no affliction of Providence which, while it scourged for the moment, cut off the sources of
resuscitation-no voracious and poisoning monsters-no; all this has been accomplished by the friendship, generosity, and kindness of the English nation. They had embraced us with their protecting arms-and, lo, these are the fruits of their alliance."

Thrilling stuff, no? CounterPuncher Suzanne Erfurth of Chicago culled this eighteenth century speech , delivered in the British House of Commons by the dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Suzanne tells me she found it in an essay by Fintan O'Toole, which starts with an errand boy in Covent Garden darting across the street because he thinks the theater building in which Sheridan's "The School for Scandal" is being performed is about to collapse; the applause is so thunderous that he mistakes it for falling walls and ceilings. O'Toole then talks about how Sheridan has just recently made this speech in Parliament that helped impeach Warren Hastings, and how the theater audience is keenly aware of all that and is applauding the play, the man, his eloquence, his ideology, and his actions."

Tyranny of the Majority?

The term is thrown around a lot, referring to fears of the unwashed masses taking over.

I think, personally, that the unwashed masses are fine but that there is a distinct danger of the scenario which these conservative critics outline coming into being, and in fact we're probably already living in it.

You see, in my opinion, the class which encapsulates all of the negative characteristics that the tyranny of the majority people outline isn't the workers but the small business owners and small shop keepers, small traders, the like.

These people, the ones who study business and marketing with all their spare time, who dislike and scoff at 'Kultur', who think that learning is bullshit, and who are the pillar which Republican Party support is built around, are the real destroyers of culture and of society, not the workers.

Strong language, yes, and somewhat scary language, too, but don't misunderstand, this is an economic critique, the groups criticized have no sort of ethnic or religious affiliation.

I say this because, of course, similar language was used by regressive people in Europe. That's mainly because of the whole 'culture' issue. But what they were concerned with was not the culture and type of society that I'm concerned with. Theirs was something quite different, something quite ugly. But that's another topic.

America is dominated by these people who think nothing other than business matters, and it's they who stifle opinion who are responsable for the death of culture in America, for our non-educated ignorant state.

So the tyranny of the majority is already here, with Reagan and Bush as it's patron saints. The working class has to overcome this if it ever hopes to truly gain power.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Bureaucrats of Hell

People are up in arms about Ward Churchill's comment making bond traders killed on 9/11 out to be 'Little Eichmans', but I think that people are misunderstanding which aspect of Eichman's job he was emphasizing.

Everyone is aware of the horror of the Holocaust, but what Churchill was emphasizing is the fact that the administrators who carried it out were efficient little bureaucrats who sat in their offices calmly planning the murder and torture of several million people, just like as if they'd worked for a large industrial concern.

The fact that planning mass murder and running a large business involve the same management structures is a big huge flag saying that something is profoundly wrong with our society.

They were like Eichman in that they sat at their desks and did things which destroyed the lives of people in the third world without a thought, according to Churchill. It was totally banal, just as Eichman, in talking about his years in Vienna administering the Final Solution described them as some of the happiest years of his life.

I don't agree with Churchill's formulation, but the general point about the callousness of people in the First World is taken.

The Smirking Chimp

The Smirking Chimp

Kevin Naff: 'Christian conservatives' surreal zeal'

"FOR A DOSE of the "Surreal Life," Americans needn't tune into the VH1 reality show of the same name. They need only pick up their daily newspaper and read up on the latest exploits of the shameless Christian right. "


"MEANWHILE, AFTER PRESIDENT Bush indicated in a Washington Post interview that he was unlikely to push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage due to Senate opposition, a group of social conservatives sent a letter to Karl Rove, demanding the White House appoint a "top level official" to coordinate opposition to gay marriage. "

"With Focus on the Family's James Dobson playing the role of William Jennings Bryan, who headed the prosecution of science teacher John Scopes, a small army of social conservatives has infiltrated school boards in certain communities around the country and, 80 years after the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial," managed to bring creationism back to the national dialogue.

There are a few similarities between 1925 and 2005 to help explain this seemingly bizarre turn of events. In the early 1920s, religious, small-town Americans turned to literal interpretations of the Bible for solace in the face of a rapidly changing society.
Exciting new inventions, an increase in personal wealth and the risque Charleston dance craze were taking American culture in bold and modern directions. The brash flappers of the era were to 1925 what Janet Jackson's exposed breast is to 2005.
In the book "Center of the Storm," a Scopes memoir, Scopes is quoted as saying, "In rural areas, particularly in the South and Midwest, Americans turned to their faith for comfort and stability." That sentence could have been written to describe our post-9/11 world, in which President Bush infuses his speeches with religious references and lawmakers routinely invoke the Bible in their zeal to ban gay marriage.
The country was divided then as now between the rural religious "red" states and the urban progressive "blue" states. Back then, the red staters feared secularism and a decline in moral values. Today, red staters fear, among other things, terrorist attacks on their Wal-Marts and "moral issues" voters are credited with putting Bush back in the White House. "

No More Year of the Monkey!

Yes, the Year of the Monkey is over, according to Chinese reckoning, and the year of the Rooster has begun. Let's hope that now that the Chimp no longer has his patron saint ruling the year that he'll fair worse than last year, where he appeared to get a free pass despite huge mess ups.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Middle Class

Yeah, it should be noted that Europe has enacted basically the same sorts of policies that I'm describing. If you look at the platforms for the Social Democratic parties out there you'll fnd a curious mix of pro-worker sentiment mixed with proposals for democratic cultural enrichment which have their roots totally in the upper class culture of Europe, the humanistic ideas of human fulfillment.

Why could that be?

Well, it might be because the middle class book on education would be quite small: just a page saying "Work Hard!" followed by a lot of hot air.

The real takeover of society by the unthinking masses has not to do with the working class and the poor but with the middle class: THEY are the unthinking masses killing culture and destroying society.

Workers, on the other thing, have always had their own thing going.

The old goal of the workers and the peasants was to have what the Lord had, not to set yourself up as a dodgy third term which backs off from this goal.

It wasn't to be a good old capitalist but to be like the king.
This is still a good goal.

I mean, it's a mark of pride.

Why can't working people read Plato and Greek Drama?

If anything the claiming of these types of culture for the people is a way of thumbing ones' nose both at the upper classes and at the stupid middle classes who, despite the means, have neither the brains nor the will to pursue these things.

Beyond Self-Management

I've been grappling with this problem lately: what happened in Yugoslavia after Tito's death has been connected to some of the negative consequences of self-managed decentralization....my reading of the situation is that the self-management turned into a mass bourgeois-ification campaign which lead to a resurgence of nationalist sentiment by former workers who had adopted middle class values through the self management experience.

This being a possible scenario...how do you get beyond it and institute self-management and decentralization without therefore replicating the bourgeois world and eroding socialism through the strengthening of capitalist class instincts?

My thought on this comes back to a concept which, if not fleshed out well, was at least articulated by Raoul Vaneigem in an essay entitled "Masters without Slaves" which, using Hegelian terminoloy, suggested the possibility of connecting workers with traditionally upper class values as being the solution to the problem of how to avoid the pitfalls of the middle class.

This seems good to me.

Cut out the middle man altogether and go for the prize: teach workers what the aristocrats and the upper classes learned for hundreds of years.

Dispense altogether with the middle class and democratize upper class knowledge and learning.

Personal Message

To someone I know and respect.

If recent comments are any indication you know that I write this site and that, yes, I am that person.

I know it, you know it, and while this is a great thing...I'd really really appreciate it, to save my own skin from being roasted alive by the other people, if you didn't share your knowledge of my authorship of this site with the rest of the group.

That said, allright, I was too hard on feminism in the post below.


To my ever prolific and possibly FBI connected right wing admirers

I just wonder, are your motivations for sending me what you send me connected to 9/11? Because if they are I'd suggest looking at what you really value, not just what happened on that day and making your decision about how to treat me.

American history did not start and stop at 9/11. All American values did not go out the window when 9/11 occurred. Do you dislike me because you disagree with my values in the abstract or are you just reacting to 9/11?

Because if it's the latter, you don't have much of a leg to stand on.

People in general are rejecting the idea that 9/11 changed everything in droves.

Gonzales had a tougher time getting confirmed than many Attorney Generals in the past and Condoleeza Rice faced a grilling and opposition beyond what others have as well.

Neither incident is disconnected from popular sentiment.

Both are expressions of rejection of the 9/11 changed everything reaction.

Do basic moral principles still apply? Of course they do, and if you object to my writings and my website based on a moral objection to them not based on 9/11 then you do indeed have more of a justification, in my estimation.

However, speak your mind: if this is a problem with my ideas, say so and don't hide behind 9/11 rhetoric to make your point.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

White Male White Male

Question: if feminists' problems are really with White Males, then why is it that there are so few black, hispanic, and asian males in leadership positions in progressive organizations?

Or men who are generally non-lilly white?

We're talking about White Feminists here. It looks like the minority representation in the progressive movement is pretty much limited to women of color. Sad but true.

Could that have something to do with white women being comfortable with the all evil "White Male" yet afraid of the "Black Male" the "Hispanic Male" and the "Ethnic Male" (Who gets an added bonus by being able to be called a 'white male' even if he doesn't have anything to do with anglo-culture)?

Could all this "White Male" business really be a ruse for "Scary Minority Males"?

After all, all the rhetoric hasn't kept bonafide White Males away from the progressive movement despite much handwringing, instead it seems that the only males kept away are minority males, who should be at the table in increasing numbers.

So...more double talk? White Male means White Male only when talking to other White people, when it's applied in practice it means minority male, because they, seemingly, embody all the qualities that white feminists find objectionable?

Birth of a Nation type stereotypes. Either white women are expecting minorities to say Miss Scarlett! Please, ma'am, don't be 'fraid of me no more!or they think everyone out there is out to rape and kill them who has a darker skin tone than they do, and, hey, you can't be too careful in protecting yourself from THOSE types of situations (wink, wink).

Maybe E.M. Forester's novel "Passage to India" should be required reading for the feminist movement.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

OK, why it is that America is called America

It isn't, oh ignorant fools, that Amerigo Vespucci signed his name to a map and people misinterpreted it as being a claim to the continent, as I was taught, but instead is this: that Vespucci was the first person to openly and seriously suggest that the landmass discovered was not part of Asia but was a new continent. It was this analytic discovery by Vespucci which prompted people to suggest naming the continent after him.

Ameriga the Beautiful

Words are a strange thing, you know. Take the name 'America'. Everyone, or at least many people, know that it comes from the name of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci---it's the feminine form much like the word 'Columbia' is the feminine form of 'Columbus'----but few people know how to pronounce the Italian.

In Italian Amerigo is pronounced 'Ah-mehr-ee-go', meaning that 'Ameriga' would be pronounced 'Ah-mehr-EE-ga'., with the emphsis of the 'EE'. That, my friends, is how the name of our country is susposed to be pronounced, if we take the Italian diction seriously.

Think about that next time you see someone advocating 100% Americanism. If it was Ameriga-anism I would think 'Hey, sounds fun, sounds Latin, maybe there'll be dancing involved', you know like
'100% Latino Salsa Songs' or '100% Latin Pop All Stars', but 100% a-mir-i-can-ism sounds so bland, like something a bunch of white people would think up.

Too fucking bad!

Churchill Supporters Lash Out at the Media: "Tracy Stientjes, a student journalist who was covering Churchill's talk for CU's student newspaper, the Campus Press, said the media criticism is 'definitely disheartening.'

'For a lot of us, this has been our chosen profession, and we're just getting started,' said Stientjes, a sophomore broadcast news major. 'To hear such anger toward journalists is depressing.' "

Yeah, Media and Criticism are two words that are never heard together, and Media Criticism isn't the name of many college courses and a concept that's spawned it's own section in the book stores, virtually.

Yep, saying that as an aspiring journalist you hate the criticism is a little like saying that you signed up for the army but didn't really want to fight.

Jacksonville----now that the Superbowl is over it slides back into well deserved obscurity.

Not really a post behind this, just a statement of fact.

I saw 'the killer', Jerry Lee Lewis, in Jacksonville about a year and a half ago and the place scared the shit out of me.

And at that time I was living in North Florida, so it wasn't exactly like I didn't know what was up.

A little bit too much Southern Pride down there, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Sharia and Iraq

Some people may have been confused about my saying that Sharia law in Iraq might not be such a bad thing.

Legally speaking, there's no reason why it has to be religious in character. Sound like a contradiction?

Look at the law of Israel, which is based on the Jewish legal tradition but is not inherently religious in itself. Israel is a secular state.

There's a huge movement to create a secular law based in secularized Islamic principles.

This is what I was referring to.

How Propaganda works

Here's a link to a story from Michael Moore.com, or at least something which was posted there:http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/index.php?id=1342

It's about abuse allegations by released Guantanamo detainees.

Midway down the article, when they start describing the allegations that are the heart of the article, the writers make this statement:

"Although most of 11 Kuwaitis say physical abuse stopped once they arrived at Guantanamo, all complain of mistreatment, such as being locked in cells with scant reading materials and little information on the outside world, Wilner said in a conference call from Washington to discuss recently declassified notes on his meetings with the detainees. "

Which makes you think, 'Hey, scant reading materials, that isn't so bad', which sends the message that there's nothing to the story, which, if you believe it and stop reading, means that you'll never see this:

"Another Kuwaiti told Wilner he was held by U.S. troops in Afghanistan at bases in Bagram and Kandahar where he was hooded, tied with chains, hung by his wrists and stripped in front of female guards. He also said his interrogator forced him to sign a statement, but Wilner said the government has not provided him with any statement.

One Kuwaiti said he was sure he would be killed, Wilner's notes said.

Another Kuwaiti described how he confessed after having metal paddles placed under his arms and shocked in Afghanistan. Another said he was beaten so badly his ribs were broken. Some said they were beaten with chains.

One said U.S. troops in Afghanistan pulled down his pants and sodomized him with an object. "

Kind of worse than not having reading material, no? But you'd never know it if you didn't finish the article....which, considering how the authors seem to imply that the Guantanamo detainees who were released were just whiners, seems a distinct possibility, and possibly an intended outcome.

Remember the inverted pyramid model of journalistic writing? It says that most people only read the headline, a few less read the first paragraph, a few less than that read the second, on down the line...so you better put your most important information at the top so it gets bigger exposure.

Stuff like allegations of being sodomized and shocked by metal paddles, right?

Right.

Monday, February 07, 2005

On another note---George Simmel

I'm getting attracted more and more to the writings of sociologist George Simmel, one of the founders of sociology who lived around the turn of the 20th century and who wrote extensively on modern industrial society and its implications for culture.

Call me a Marxist-Simmelist Libertarian.

Seriously folks, check him out. But be warned, it's pretty damned theoretical.