Thursday, March 31, 2005

I guess I should add something to that last post

Which is the huge disconnect between the lefty echosphere of progressive talkers and the reality of Democratic party policy.

Liberals can go to talks where they're condemned as personally responsable for the genocide against the Native Americans, have their cry fests, all they like, and yet left-liberals have about zero impact on policy decisions which affect real Native Americans.

The Democratic Party as a whole does and the Democratic Party doesn't do squat.

My feeling is that when these kids grow up in that situation they don't see the world as ruled by the liberal masochists but rather by Democratic ignorers who by their actions discredit the liberal idea.

So it doesn't matter how much guilt the people who populate the left-liberal echosphere instill, when people wake up and go out in the morning they see the actions of mainstream liberalism.

And sometimes they surely become disenchanted from it and become Nazis.

Why would they stay? Because a bunch of white lefties feel guilty about the genocide of the Native people, white lefties whose caring or meanness means nothing to their lives?

Red Lake again and the Dems as the Party which doesn't advocate violence against minorities...

OK, that Red Lake post...am I saying that genocide against the Native Americans wasn't real and shouldn't be considered, that it's all guilt being inflicted against white people? No.

However, liberalism these days can't distinguish between someone who actually represents a community and someone who just plays to the expectations of white liberals, who enjoy masochism against themselves as manifested in repeated accusations of guilt followed by tearful admittals of culpability. This is not productive.

I don't consider those representatives from any group who play to the crowd to be authentic representatives of their community, no matter who they are or who their group is. I know for a fact that division along political lines exists within every single community out there, and to pretend that every single member of every group falls into a single political line is nonsense.

The kid who did the shootings admired the Nazis. Pretty damn politically incorrect if you ask me. Did he suffer oppression? Sure, of course. Does explaining it in terms of oppression explain why exactly he signed onto Nazism instead of wearing a Mao Tse-Tung shirt? Not in your life.

See what I mean?

Which brings me to the subtitle of this post: The democratic party as the party which doesn't advocate violence against minorities.

From where I stand I see this as the prime attraction of minorities to the democratic party, at least those minorities outside of the gay and women's communities, which are white, of course.

I don't see the Democratic party doing jack shit for blacks except use them as grand symbols of the Democratic Party's greatness, vis a vis the civil rights movement (whose legacy it has totally co-opted).

But at least it doesn't argue for things which would have extreme negative consequences for blacks as part of its party platform.

The Democratic Party does even less for Native Americans. Native rights aren't even anywhere near the top or middle of the national Democratic Party agenda. And it doesn't even use them as symbols, most of the time.

Latinos fare somewhere between blacks and Native Americans.

What I see in the trend of Democratic party support by minorities is less an approval of the Democratic Party itself than a fear of Republicans and what they'd do to them if they got into power.

Which isn't exactly a vote of confidence.

Take away the threat of violence and I bet that support for liberalism would drop to levels somewhat more commensurate with any community where people have diverse opinions.

And, surprise surprise, people are already fleeing from the Democratic party and carving out their own political course, as what happened in Red Lake tragically demonstrated.

Dishonor people's real wants long enough and the kids will choose fascism or nazi-esque racism rather than your platform. And they'll be serious about it.

F**k reason

Another article was posted on Smirking Chimp talking about religion and the politics flowing from religion as being wrong because, they are in the opinion of the writer irrational.

You know....I have problems with people on the religious right but at the same time, when you get right down to it, this "Reason" thing which writers like to talk about is a species of beast not seen in the real world.

There's rational actions and decisionmaking but Reason, with a big R, which is the sense that this writer was meaning it, is not present in real life. People don't make their decisions according to reasonable standards in the sense that reasonable standards in this guy's mind lead him to logically reject the existence of god.

If anything there's a lot more ambiguity in life, which, not surprisingly, is what religion deals with....

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

You know...

These smirky little e-mails with a sarcastic message and porn promotions in them are getting a little boring.

Why can't you guys send me death threats like the rest of the internet psychos out there?

I mean, that's the sort of thing you guys obviously mean, so why not be men and put it in writing instead of acting like scared little boys with access to google?

Schiavo, Schiavo, Schiavo

Don't you think there's something pathological about people being rallied to the defense, actually demonstrating outside the hospital room, of someone who they a) don't know and b) have little business knowing in the hopes of prolonging a life which c) they should have no say in.

You know this whole sympathy thing is why so many people turn to cynical disdain for the whole media political sphere....

Having compassion, having feelings, for a fellow human being in dire straits is a good and normal thing yet people like Schiavo's family have taken playing on people's good will and on their heart strings to such a level of melodrama that when I see shit like that I'm tempted to just turn off.

I don't do it, I try not to do it, but this stuff discredits the idea of having sympathy for your fellow human beings, which isn't a good thing.

Should we be concerned when bad things happen to people? Sure. Should we be concerned when, for example, a person is killed by their boyfriend, like Lacey Peterson? Sure.

But it makes people numb to real compassion to force them into this public catharsis over tenuous issues all the time.

However, keeping the real compassion alive is more important than making cynical remarks about the situation of the world, in my humble opinion...

American political evasion

You've heard of the Vietnam syndrome, right? The idea that people became so distrustful of the government because of the Vietnam war and because of Watergate that they refuse to trust the government at all? Or respect it?

Well, there's another syndrome out there, one which has greater potential consequences than the "Vietnam Syndrome". It has to do with the collective turning away of Americans from politics and from any awareness of the political world outside the country following those turbulent years in the sixties and seventies.

This is what Reagan ran on, the collective denial of politics as being meaningful in any conventional way. Only in a magical world of Republican Party idealism was politics valid...

Whatever your understanding of it all is, for the past twenty five odd years it's been acceptable to deny that politics has any sort of meaning and instead focus on your own life without any thought of what's going on around you. Consequentially, we have a generation of folks who don't know that much about politics and who are clueless in today's world, where politics has a much more valid and urgent role than it has had in the immediate past.

You want an example of how this manifests? Just look at the response to 9/11, and now the response of people who are responding to people who are anti-war and anti-bush.

The response of people to 9/11 has been exhaustively dealt with; I won't go into it, but the other angle hasn't. It appears, from little snippets that I get here and there from various sources, that people don't have a clue where the anti-war people are coming from, where the anti-Bush people are coming from, and so are making things up to suit their fancy.

A recent article posted on SmirkingChimp.com mentioned that three people were ejected from a Bush rally on Social Security because one of them had a bumpersticker on their car which said "No Blood for Oil". Simple, right? A civil liberties infringement. More so. The Secret Service person referred to these people as belonging to the "No Blood for Oil Group". Which is an interesting turn of phrase considering that there isn't any "No Blood for Oil" group out there.

It's indicative because if this guy, who is charged with protecting the President, had any clue about what progressive politics was about he wouldn't refer to people as belonging to non-existent groups.

And it's not the only case of people making shit up out of thin air about the organization of the anti-Bush movement. David Horowitz is another practictioner of the art.

Sure, we all know about him putting progressive faces up on a website telling people that they're part of some sort of Communist conspiracy, but what's less known, but which is obvious if you look around the site, is that he doesn't just talk about there being a vague Communist conspiracy he has a whole timeline worked out about the origins and supposed events of this Communist conspiracy.

Like he refers to Khruschev's secret speech as being the Khruschev brief, which divided the international Communist movement.

Well, hmm, no mention of the fact that this Khruschev "brief", which sounds like some sort of secret classified document, was the start of the dismantling of the murderous state which was established by Stalin. Or that Khruschev may just have done it because he wanted to put an end to some of the worst excesses of Soviet totalitarianism, which Horowitz himself rants about. No. It's just another episode in the Communist Conspiracy. Nothing good, no positive change possible, in the soviet sphere. All dirty Commies interested in ways to overthrow you, your government, and your little dog, too.

To get back to the topic at hand, shit like this is only believable since people have turned their backs on politics. If political engagement was existent in this culture at all as a positive thing, as something desireable, people wouldn't fall for this. Instead, in the vacuum provided by our general turning away from political life people like Horowitz, people like the Secret Service agent, can put whatever delusion they like out there and be believed.


Too bad so many people are dying because of this general turning away.

Red Lake killer was pro-nazi

Although it's an enourmous tragedy, there's something deliciously ironic in the fact that the kid who did this was a Nazi admirer who thought that Native American culture wasn't Native American enough.

Strange, I thought that all Native Americans were leftists and that all those who complained about bigotry on the part of militant people from Native American cultures were just white frauds who wanted to steal their culture.

But, hey, I suppose that in the wars over cultural appropriation and over inducing liberal guilt even Adolph Hitler isn't off bounds.

Point is, this didn't come out of nowhere, and if the left can't distinguish between people who are sincere in their wish to make their communities better and people who are in fact fascists there's an enourmous problem.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Maxim Gorky rulez

Gorky really is a great author...I've just recently discovered him and he's rapidly becoming a favorite.

So the circle is completed, as they say. But what that means is personal...

Third Anniversary of the Blog!

Yes friends, today is the third anniversary of this blog. And they said it wouldn't last. Well, actually no one said that but it sounds good.

I started this thing because I was tired of posting long comments, which really just expressed my philosophy, to other people's websites.

And I like Tom Tomorrow's blog. So one day I thought to myself "Why can't I do this blog thing?". The rest, as they say, is history, or will be soon, and you'll be able to buy it at $19.99 at your local bookstore, it'll be entitled "The History of how I made my blog".

Anyways.

Hopefully this blog lives up to a quote from Laibach, the Yugoslav group, about themselves "It'll take your soul, possess your mind, score deadly channels in your heart". It then goes on to express ambiguity about the people who like the band: "But you will kneel down unashamed, when evil takes you, by the hand".

I hope as well that readers of this blog don't kneel down unashamed with the powers that be after reading all this.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Liberalism and class structure in the United States

The U.S., remarkably, follows the pattern of Europe with regards to the correspondence between politics and class pretty closely, although you'd not hear people on TV analyzing it in this way.

Liberalism and the working class are in big conflict over here for the same reasons that they were in Europe in the early 20th century: the liberals, who tended to be middle class, crowed about liberation while ignoring the class situation of workers.
Workers, on the other hand, resent middle class liberals while putting forward their own class interests in a very chauvanistic and self consciously anti-liberal way, one which makes a point of rejecting the premises and causes which middle class liberalism espouses.

Why the difference between liberals and workers in the United States? Same reason why there's differences between Free Democrat and Liberal Democratic parties, on the one hand, and socialist parties on the other. The dirty little secret of U.S. liberalism is that it's based on people who are middle class, which, although they wouldn't admit it, means that this urge for liberation is being put forward by people who have already liberated themselves from the working class world. That's what it usually means to be middle class. They've emancipated themselves through either going to college and joining the management of a company or they've started their own business and have experienced liberation through that means and now that their own economic situation is taken care of they look around and see what else can be done.

The presence of the assumption of middle class life as being a liberating experience for Americans which the ethos of liberalism is based around is another no-no which isn't mentioned, or thought about.

I'd argue, though, that that's the fundamental experience which drives the ideology of U.S. liberalism, even though liberalism in the U.S. has since forgotten its roots in the small business world.

I mention all of this to explain some of the animosity against liberals by workers in the U.S. It's pretty clear that a lot of the liberation hasn't trickled down to them and that their issues aren't being addressed and that, fundamentally, the liberals don't have to deal with the same issues that they do.

That last one is the big thing because it means that the central issue in these people's lives, how you make your living, is taken care of for people in the liberal sphere, and so for them to talk about liberating this, doing, that, being concerned about that, appears to them to be fundamentally inauthentic, something which only goes on because their basic issues have been resolved.

And they'd be right.

The challenge would be to combine a worker centered ethic with the awareness of liberal issues which is confined mostly to the middle class right now. The turning away from liberal values by working class people, although understandable, is ultimately not healthy at all in that what they're turning to is the destruction of the middle east and the destruction of civil liberties combined with religious fundamentalism at home.

We need something more social and democratic.

Oh, what a coincidence, there's a whole tradition in Europe called "Social Democracy"!

Maybe that would be a place to look for inspiration in this project of trying to change things.

Progressive Reckoning

Funny, this whole progressive politics thing. People declare themselves in favor of the working class and yet pretend like the working class can do no wrong, as if the working class is just another interest group which liberals have taken to uncritically.

Here in the Pacific Northwest you find something unique: this is probably the only place in the country where working class values and ideas can actually get a fair hearing along with the middle class and upper class values and ideas which totally predominate in the rest of the country.

It's a good thing, but it's also a test for progressive sincerity because of the above. Here's what I mean; ok, now the working class can express itself, what do you do now? In this area of the country the question no longer is do you declare solidarity with folks who live in a different neighborhood than you, who you don't actually have contact with. That barrier doesn't exist. So the general sugary sweetness that the crowd who, for example, gravitates around Z-Net, likes to put forward doesn't neccesarily have full authority.

Instead, you have to reckon with the fact that in reality the working class which is getting the brunt of our economic situation also really likes Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage.

The significance of that, to me, is that the traditional liberal approach of "Whatever interest group is oppressed is totally right" doesn't fly in that situation. It's more complex, by far, than just that.

Beyond the ideology, beyond the crap, you have to reckon with the fact that these are real people, not paper cut outs that conform to whatever you want them to conform to. Reminds me of the situation with people who become Ireland-philes or go crazy about Scotland because they're Scottish. You might like to dress up in silly kilts and listen to bag pipe music but I doubt that people in Edinburgh really care about all that stuff. Or that the Irish lads in the southern part of the country beat the bodhrain and wake up in the morning singing a strain of an Irish folk song lovin' the fact that they live in the emerald isle. They probably want to party in clubs in Dublin at night to the strains of techno.

Same thing with the working class. You might think X or Y or Z about them but, hey, these folks are real people with real lives, real jobs, real interests, that, surprise surprise, they already had before you came along and deigned to show an interest in them.

And quite a bit of it is reactionary. By any standard.

Argue as much as you like about the causes of it but that's a fact.

I'd rather there'd be an internal dialogue within working class culture about these things than for liberals to come in and declare that these folks are perfect and that there's therefore nothing more to say.
Class, in a way, can be seen as putting the liberal impulse to reform back a ways, can be seen as something which needs to be dealt with before honest liberal reforms can have a true effect, but I don't think that it puts them off entirely. Sooner or later the problems which are currently dismissed by working folks because class issues aren't being addressed will have to be, because these things too come from society and the redressing of class grievances wouldn't automatically make them go away.

Wasn't it Jesus who said that if change doesn't effect everyone it effects no one? I'm seriously paraphrasing here.

Paglia in the New York Times Book Review

Good article in the NY Times book review. I guess Camille Paglia has a new book out, an anthology of poetry heavily analyzed by her.

The article is much more positive to Paglia than I expected; who knows, maybe the times they are a changin'.

Myself? Coincidentally I've been thinking about Paglia lately. I read her collections of essays and was impressed by her deconstruction of...deconstruction...and of ideologies governing the world of academia but now I'm starting to reevaluate my agreement.

Simply, it's because although there certainly is a lot of non-sense written in critical theory and in post this and post that the underlying problems that these people are talking about are still there. There's still bad things which happen to women even if some of these ideologists make extraordinarily flimsy arguments about gender relations, going off into the stratosphere sometimes. Same could be said about certain African American writers. Same could be said about people talking about gay rights.

Same could be said about any group which has it's less than perfect representatives. The underlying problems still exist even though the people who are talking about them are less than ideal.

Which is why Paglia can go too far and why I'm not really as enthused about her as I used to be. Sure, poking fun at these people is entertaining but where do you draw the line between criticizing someone for bad arguments and disrespecting the actual problems and struggles that this community or people that these folks are representing is going through?

It's a real line, and a real issue, because saying that there's no problem verges on denial of the real problems themselves.

And there are real problems, no matter what writer X or writer Y might say about them.

So that's one thing.

The other somewhat troubling thing is her like of the Marquis de Sade and her incorporating the notion, shared by people in the academic community, that de Sade's picture of human society as being fundamentally based on violence and exploitation is a more accurate picture of how society is than how we tend to conventionally look at things.

I don't think so, not by a long shot.

Sade was an aberration, so was Artaud, so was Nietzsche, so was Foucault, and to elevate something which Sade delighted in and thought was perfectly normal to the status of revealed truth about society, as opposed to keeping it as an side road into hell (which might be somewhat interesting at times nonetheless), is to promote an ideal for society that I don't think anyone wants to live in.

Like the issues with cultural criticism that Paglia skewers, irrational violence is indeed real, and the way out of it is not to say that it's normal or that it's a superior form of truth but to get to something better. By accepting it as normal you propagate it.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hayekian fantasies

I remember reading about how Friedrich Hayek thought that the economy was sort of like a giant computer; he thought that the collective decisionmaking engaged in by consumers as they shopped and made choices functioned as a collective, decentralized processing apparatus which was ensured to come up with the right prices and production levels.

Which is all well and good except that his model seems to leave out the fact that between the input of data into a person's mind and the action taken on that data there's an enourmous gap. How often do people really act on the data that they absorb from their surroundings in a direct and clear way? The fact of personhood, to me at least, indicates that such a simple notion as human beings collectively parsing economic data and acting on it in a rational way which automatically sets prices without any sort of human intervention is a myth. We aren't input-output machines.

Just look at your own decisionmaking: how often do you really see something, hear something, read something, and then have it decisively cause you to do something?

But it's different with economics because that deals with real needs, constraints, and quantities, right?

I'm not so sure about that. Economic neccesity isn't the same thing as economic determinism.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Not Dead, just taking a break

And reading "The Golden Age is in us" by Alexander Cockburn, which I'd recommend to anyone who wants a primer on the politics immediately preceding the growth of the anti-globalization movement.

I like it better than "Corruptions of Empire", which is also really good, because it deals with events that I'm at least familiar with and have awareness of while "Corruptions" takes place somewhat before my time.

Both are collections of essays and journals about life taken from various time periods, both go really far into straight journaling and literary mode rather than being strictly political.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Legacies of liberation, social disruption, it was justified

OK, I obsessively think about history...I try to understand why things have happened, why the recent past has been like it's been. In thinking about the vast social destruction that I've seen in my life and in the lives of others I can't reduce it to Reaganite economics no matter how hard I try. There's another element to it and unfortunately I think that element is, as the conservatives argue, the social consequences from the liberatory movements of the sixties and seventies: the sexual revolution, women's liberation, black power, cultural liberation, general workers rights awareness, a shift to a more popular culture. It seems to me that these things released energies which people weren't neccesarily ready to deal with and that the genie couldn't be put back in the bottle. I differ with conservatives in that I think that although there have been some bad consequences that these things have ultimately made the United States a better place, a freer and more open society, more inclusive, more genuinely a representative democracy (although these days that feature is sort of eclipsed). I think that whenever a group of people get liberated that there's always a learning process...how to make it work...and that learning how to make it work is a tough process but that ultimately it's worth it.

I think the United States will figure it out. I think we'll figure out how to live with the legacy of that time period in a good way which preserves the gains which groups of people and which our culture made.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bill Gallagher: Bush continues to alienate the world

Wondeful article that outlines our bull in a china shop attitude towards our own allies, not to mention the rest of the world.

Gallagher recounts the incident in Italy where the Air Force pilot sliced a gondola cable sending 20 people to their deaths and got a slap on the wrist for it, how four Canadians were killed by friendly fire, from us, in Afghanistan and again the perpetrator got a slap on the wrist for it, on and on.

These are the types of incidents that tend to alienate even sincere allies.

About that privilege...

It occurs to me that if people in the anti-globalization movement weren't around the issue of social justice would pretty much be where it was ten years ago, which is nowhere. So I'm curious in regards to those people who complain about anti-globalization people as being middle class kids who, insert your own dig here, if they'd prefer social justice to be off the table rather than have it be promoted by middle class kids.

So what would you call it?

Regarding that "Continuum of bullshit" comment below, I'm just curious what other people would call it when a country helps out members of dissident movements in other countries for the purpose of getting their hands on the assets of those countries once state ownership has been overthrown.

Like in pretty much all the Eastern Bloc countries as well as Russia itself.

Evelyn Pringle: Labelling kids mentally ill for profit

Talks about the new plan to screen every single kid in America for mental illlness and then prescribe them expensive drugs.
Says, and this is a shocker, that anti-psychotic drugs are being prescribed in massive doses to kids.

That's scary, not the least because anti-psychotic drugs have much more severe and potentially long lasting side effects than do anti-depressants. Nevertheless, it's predictable.

I remember having had anti-psychotic drugs thrown at me for something which literally had nothing to do with the sorts of problems which they're designed for. It was not a pleasant experience. Your mind deadens and your limbs hurt and all sorts of bad things go on with your body. To massively prescribe these things to kids for little reason is almost criminal.

And in my case they ultimately did little to help.

....

I'm trying to think of snarky things to say but the situation of kids being needlessly prescribed anti-psychotics takes the cake...it's like: what will the government do next? Prescribe kids anti-psychotic medication? Oh yeah, that's exactly what they're doing.

Hmm...maybe they'll start a "Paint Huffing is Good for You!" program at schools next.

Website and the joys of privilege

Ah yes, the question about why do you do this as opposed to being more out in the community has arisen once again. A familiar comment made by people who, for some reason, are really pissed off by the fact that I write. Not what I write but the fact that I write.

Well, it comes down to money, folks.

It takes money to do really cool activist things but it takes less to get books, read them, reflect on them, come up with new ideas.

Ideas are relatively free as compared to sexy ventures which tend to be looked at as having more relevance.

I mean, organizing is really relevant but there's a certain status thing which a person needs to be able to do it, and I don't have the social juice to pull it off most of the time.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Welfare state liberalism...

Isn't real liberalism, as people have pointed out. But that's more for social reasons than for actual intent, because if you look at the actual concept of welfare state liberalism it's oriented towards facillitating freedom on the part of individuals. This shift comes from British thinkers coming out of the late 19th century. The idea was that in the present day there are some distortions which cause certain individuals in certain situations to be denied the possibility of freedom equal to that of their fellow citizens and so it's ok to create programs and do things which set out to rectify this.

Nice thought, however, it isn't like society is fair already. Let me explain this: with the welfare state you're asking people who are at the top of the heap, people who are represented in government, the elites, to create programs and to do things which will solve the problems of the community. Now, with the idea in mind that the system is already not equal, do you think that what these people come up with will truly address the needs of people who are dispossesed, or do you think that it'll just be more of the run around?

I think that, although well meaning, it'll likely be the latter. If the people who are being legislated for aren't present representing themselves in their own way, with their own voices, at the table then I think you'll see the same biases and unfairness being replicated throughout whatever's created, which is why things like the Labour Party in Great Britain and the Social Democratic parties in Europe and the Trade Union Federations of Europe, which in the case of Great Britain actively collaborate with the Labour Party to determine the party program, are so important.

We don't have that here. Instead, the tendency unfortunately has been to only invite groups to the table which Democratic politicians think can be useful consitutuencies.

It also means you'll have to do your homework!

Because convincing people isn't easy.

Punk Rock Revolution?

Hmm...this idea gets so much more play than it actually deserves.

You know, I went through the same thing once, too, but the difference was that while I was indeed pissed off at the world I didn't imagine for a second that I spoke for the world.

The people who think that the punks are the authentic revolutionaries seem to think that they, by virtue of choosing to be punks, are somehow entitled to be in charge. To be the ones who decide what's real, what's not, what's authentic, what's fake. But, hey, no one appointed you to this position. You appointed yourselves.

People who are marginalized can indeed provide a big insight into the functioning of the system, but to actually effect the system in a real way there needs to be some sort of out reach to people who either aren't totally marginalized and who haven't chosen to marginalize themselves and that ultimately these are the people who should be in charge.

Punks can point the way but I don't think they can do much more than that.

And bridging that gap between those who are marginalized and those who are less marginalized, even if those less marginalized are working class folks, means making compromises.

Which is something that punk purity seems be congenitally unable to do.

What I'm reading for pleasure and fun

Every now and again;

"Politics, Law, and Morality: Essays by V.S. Soloviev", the Russian Theologian and thinker from the late 19th century. The book is published by Yale University press and is still in print. Unfortunately it's not in paperback, so unless you're willing to shell out 50 for it get it through interlibrary loan...

Continuum of Bullshit

In the days of George Bush I they called it overthrowing the Communist countries. In the days of Bill Clinton they called it humanitarian intervention. In the days of George Bush II they call it promoting democracy.

And you wonder why people on the left are anti-interventionist...

It's because our fucking country has been intervening everywhere around the globe for the past 60 years! There's a reason for this so-called lefty isolationism.

Kosovo and the Southern Balkans

In a way the first Yugoslav conflict set the stage for the U.S. intervention in Kosovo to be viewed as a humanitarian effort with very little self interest behind it.

This is really a wrong analysis; the resolution of the Civil War was much more of a genuine humanitarian effort than was Kosovo. But the suffering which was endured then was enough to give our little adventure legitamacy.

The fallout from Kosovo continues, although it's mostly not reported here. Our efforts to liberate the Kosovar Albanians have resulted in Macedonia being destabilized, to the reviving of the VRMO, which is a Macedonian far-right movement, and to a lack of stability in Greece. Coupled with a 'friendly' military presence by U.S. forces on the southern Balkan penninsula.

Man, the things you hear....like that the Kosovars dressed up corpses to look like they'd been murdered by the Serbs, Specifically, taking people who had died in the course of the conflict from various causes and arranging them.

But, hey, we're the good guys, right? We liberated the virtuous Kosovar Albanians and now we're making the world a series of democracies.

There's a conintuity of bullshit here, it's not all the racist Christianity versus the Infidels model that liberals like to point out, running from the humanitarian missions in the Clinton years to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Yes, humanitarian missions....we had little business being in Kosovo, none being in Somalia, and less than none invading Haiti during the Clinton years.

I'm still puzzling out the reversals there. First we invaded Haiti to put Aristide back in power then we invaded again to kick him out? When we found out that he was somewhat populist and not our lackey?

Serbs and Slovenes

Building on the previous post, the Serbs did evolve this nationalist vision which saw Serbia as the true heart of Yugoslavia and which criticized the other parts of it as not having had real independence or monarchies. According to this line of reasoning Serbia's early independence, the 19th century, entitled it to take a leading role in a unitary Yugoslav state.

Now, seems clear cut, right? This is nationalism, right, and if Croatia hadn't wanted to go along with it there wouldn't have been any way for them, right?

Wrong.

Slovenia got independence in a way which was recognized by even the supporters of a Serbian dominated Yugoslav state. And Slovenia had even less of a history of independence than Croatia.

But it was done democratically, not by international fiat.

They had a referendum and it was approved.

There were two stages to the Yugoslav conflict

Which people on the left talk about and analyze, the first being the war proper between the ex-Yugoslav Republics and the second being Kosovo. The first stage hasn't gotten enough coverage or analysis, which makes it harder for people to criticize it in ways which make it clear that the person doing it doesn't support rape, torture, murder, all the rest.

So here it goes.

The first Yugoslav conflict, which ended with UN troops intervening and an extended peace process being initiated by the United States, was largely brought about in the first place by the recognition by the United States and Germany of Croatia as an independant state. No other countries made this move, the UN didn't make this move, and indeed it was regarded as being reckless and something which could potentially destablize the region, which it did. It caused a four way civil war.

Serbia had been consolidating power within the Yugoslav Federal system, which was made up of largely autonomous republics, and there had been building tensions between Serbia and the rest of the Republics over this, yet by recognizing Croatia, which had been a Republic, as an independent state in its own right the United States guaranteed retaliation by Serbia. Why? Because this was akin to totally refusing any sort of diplomatic settlement to the crisis...and additionally, there wasn't a popular referendum which established the will for Croatia to be independent, it was done by fiat. Additionally, again, the people who declared Croatia independent also declared that people who weren't of Croatian descent were not citizens and would have to 'Croaticize' themeslves if they still wanted to participate in life in Croatia. Which, considering that Croatia had a very large Serbian population, was not a good thing.

Would the people in Eastern Croatia, where the Serbs lived, have voted for independence if they knew that the people who would take power would kick them out? I doubt it. So the terms by which Croatia became independent would never have flown in any decent democratic referendum. Germany and the United States endorsed independence of a country which would then turn on it's own citizens and persecute them, which revived World War II fascist imagery and ideals,and which committed genocide.

The Serbs weren't nice either, and even the Bosnians got in a little bit of their own war crimes, but there's an extreme difference between simple non-nicety which could be handled within a diplomatic framework and blowing the situation up so that people actually start killing each other on a massive scale.
****

That's the background. Then the U.S. went in with UN security forces and, indeed, did stop things.

But to say that the United States was a hero in participating in this is to ignore the huge factor that the United States played in causing the genocide in the first place.

This Lebanon-Syria thing is similar to the Yugolsav conflict stuff

In that back then when people would argue that the U.S. was just being concerned about it for geo-political reasons people would shoot back "Well, do you want people to be raped and murdered?" etc.. etc.. Well no I don't want people to be raped and murdered, kicked out of their houses, on and on, but neither does the U.S. really care about these people. And that's sort of the point in that playing the compassion card only works if there's real compassion behind it. Anyone can say "How dare you not support our going in there and kicking Slobodan Milosevic's ass, you inhuman bastard!" but the same people who said shit like that were against any options in dealing with Kosovo which would have presented an alternative to NATO bombing. And because of that NATO bombing the US now has a huge system of permanent military bases on the Balkan penninsula.

So....this whole shaming thing, it's like the Tom Tomorrow cartoon about how Conservatives argue: They want to say that if you don't support everything the U.S. is doing then you're on the side of terrorists who kill innocent people.

Think about it: if you don't support the U.S....you're on the side of the Terrorists.You're on the side of Slobodan Milosevic. You're on the side of Syria. Yeah. Let's put a stop to this bullshit right now. It's a distasteful and deceitful game no matter if it's a Democratic administration that's doing it or a Republican one.

That whole prime minister thing in Lebanon

Ok, so now the UN is investigating the ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon's assasination for possible Syrian involvement.

Call me Mr. pointing out the obvious but even if Syria did it what business is it of ours?

I mean, this thing is obviously being used to justify military intervention in Syria...but why should we be so concerned? I mean, we didn't intervene anywhere in Africa where there was state sponsored assasinations and the like, so, besides the fact that Bush and co. want to overthrow Syria why are we making this out to be such a big fucking deal?

It's a tradgedy, no doubt, but tradgedies happen all the time, only the U.S. has this knack of choosing the tradgedies to magnify into international heart rending incidents which go along with its strategic plans.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hamas to run in Palestinian Elections

As reported by the Associated Press Hamas is running in the Palestinian Elections. What's more significant is that in the story which reported it the AP admitted that Hamas was the group responsable for most of the suicide bombings in Israel. That's extraordinarily significant because all this time the AP, the New York Times, every established news source not to mention TV coverage of Israel and the Middle East has portrayed suicide bombings as just coming out of nowhere, organized by no one, implicitly a reflection of the Arab character. Suicide bombing has been painted as something that those irrational, hateful, Arabs, just do. So now they're admitting that, no, in fact, that isn't the case, that instead the suicide bombings were there because of a particular group organizing them, Hamas.

Maybe they should have said this before images of hostile Arabs threatening the United States, with suicide bombings nonetheless, were broadcasted day after day by Fox News and other outlets in order to drum up support for the Iraq War.

City Pages: Rise of the Boo-Yaa's

From the good folks of Minneapolis.

The article talks about the character of right wing blogging in a way which, frankly, surprises me. Not that it isn't true but I think that I wanted to believe that the right wing bloggers were doing something more than just Limbaugh-izing the political spectrum. I have this weird faith in humanity thing which trips me up time and time again. This trend explains a lot; it explains how people can generate comment after worthless comment and think they're doing something.

Here, and in life in general, but especially on the net because of its character, there's always the tension between the reality of what you might be putting out there and the huge and sometimes overwhelming potential to live in an illusion, to generate an illusory life, an illusory discourse, without ever touching the ground.

Sometimes its hard to tell people who are just trying to be informal but who really do know a thing or two from people who are just faking it; which encourages people who really have nothing to say to post their stuff thinking that they're doing something when they just really like the style that extreme right wing commentators affect.

For all I know they have potential. But, folks, Limbaugh-esque rhetoric without anything else doesn't show it.

I'd like to think that there's more than just pure bullshit out there on the blogosphere but, unfortunately, I'm being proved wrong by articles like this.

Discover the Network for people with short term memories

For proof of this look at the inclusion of Jimmy Carter as a Leftist. Carter has, since his retirement, become a supporter of Habitat for Humanity and of peaceful solutions to conflicts as well as a supporter of the UN. Carter when he was in power was an ardent Trilateralist and the initiator of the economic policies which would shortly become known as Reaganomics.

Gee, wait a second, isn't the Trilateral Commission made up of businesspeople from Europe, America, and Japan who want to ensure a pro-business deregulated world? Weren't they the people who came up with the notion of Globalization?

Sort of shoots the whole "Jimmy Carter is a Leftist" idea down, doesn't it?

More on that Horowitz site

You know, he justifies the inclusion of Islamic radicals who have nothing to do with the other people on the list by saying that they vaguely oppose the West while people on the left oppose capitalism. That equivalency is such bullshit. Why not include Otto von Habsburg on the list then, too, because he, the current head of the Habsburg household, is also opposed to American style capitalism, wanting an monarchist society based on distinctions and privilege, yet guaranteeing a decent standard of living for regular people, for Europe.

I don't think that Otto von Habsburg and Ward Churchill have much in common but if we're playing that game then according to Horowitz they belong in the same list.

Funny pseudo-totalitarian bullshit at David Horowitz' site

At "Discover the Network.org", which the link above will take you to, they have a graded scale of individuals who supposedly make up the vast leftwing conspiracy, starting out with affective leftists and ending with totalitarian radicals. Or, to put it another way, starting with people that Horowitz knows from his days associated with the Bay Area Radical Union, thirty five years ago, going through people who have pissed him off for criticizing the war, making a small detour through the usual targets conservatives pick on in the liberal world, and just for kicks making a small stop at the roadside stand known as Islamic terrorism just to scare the people in the car.

Pathetic and really funny. I can't stress enough that it appears that the reason many of these people appear on the list is because Horowitz knew them thirty years ago, when he was a self styled bigshot radical. No other reason seems to apply.

Jane Fonda, strangely, makes the list. Why the hell do they keep on with this Jane Fonda business? I just don't understand it.

Anyways, the irony for this site is that many of the 'Totalitarian Radicals' that they talk about are people that I like.

Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange Activist, good person, from what I can tell, long time globalization activist and founder of Code Pink feminist direct action anti-war group.

Leslie Cagan, gay rights activist in NYC who is also a sincere Lefty.

Ward Churchill, great muckracking Native American studies scholar who does make very controversial and highpowered remarks. However, all the 9/11 stuff aside for a moment, Churchill's style is both needed and refreshing in an environment where the left has become largely stagnant.

Alexander Cockburn, author of many nice books, including "Corruptions of Empire", which, if it wasn't out of print, would be something I'd recommend everyone to read. Counterpunch proprietor, iconoclast, sticks up for the Left when everyone else goes squishy.

Angela Davis....actually, although she's on the left, I'm not all that crazy about Angela Davis, mainly because she's too much of an orthodox Communist for me. I prefer non-orthodox Commies.

Bernardine Dohrn, Weatherperson and now law professor. Ex-member of the Weather Underground..hmm... who said you can't have a few youthful indiscretions of your resume? Unlike some people, she wasn't snorting coke and lounging around during the seventies but was fighting for social justice.

None of these people I would consider Totalitarians, even though I'm more than familiar with the term.

I actually think they're pretty keen.

Real totalitarians on the list would be Brian Becker and Ramsey Clark...both Workers' World Party members/supporters. In relation to that, all I have to say is that the Workers' World Party likes North Korea and sells literature dealing with the philosophy of Kim Il-Sung at it's large rallies.

That's real lefty totalitarianism, not what the other guys and gals are doing.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Chomsky on Alternative Radio

Noam Chomsky was on Alternative Radio with David Barsamian recently, and gave a talk about the current state of things.

While a lot of what Chomsky portrays about the American people, that they really are progressive, I think is much more nuanced in actuality than what he puts forward, I do think that the fundamental point he made, which feeds into it, is a good one: we don't know each other. Americans don't know each others' opinions, we don't know each others' histories or ideas, we're extremely solitary, and because of that the PR industry can run these campaigns which make us believe that there's this thing called public opinion about an issue out there which is totally false, totally made out of thin air. If we actually talked to our fellow people about what they believed they'd say something different, particularly in times when the PR campaigns about a particular issue AREN'T at full speed and people are more willing to express their own beliefs as opposed to what they feel they SHOULD be saying.

But we don't know that.

The total atomization of American society means that all of the common experience, all of the problems, which we could talk about collectively, identify, and press forward as part of a political agenda, never get connected. And because of that there is no real public opinion in the United States, which is just what Chomsky was saying, literally.

There's false public opinion, there isn't a popular popular opinion based on real interactions.

And because of that there can't be meaningful democracy.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The New York Times

You know, the New York Times, in my humble opinion, and in my experience, is there wholely to tell elite people what they should think, to enforce a kind of elite party discipline.

There's not actually a lot of freedom in the news sections; you can get more diverse opinions by reading second and third string newspapers who, not charged with setting agenda for the big boys but instead talking to people who can't influence things, are freer to print what they see as the truth.

For me, I would rather just not deal with the indoctrination alltogether, so I don't read the NY Times, instead relying on what articles people sift through themselves and find interesting, and then post links to on the web.

Of course I actually do read some of the New York Times....the Sunday Styles and Travel sections....but that's a little different.
Those I consider essential reading which is relatively unbiased and rather interesting.

Why? Because it's cool, that's why.

Gabriel Kolko: Wilsonian and Neoconservative Myths

Good article deflating the claims that Wilsonianism was anything good. Too short, however. Kolko claims that Wilsonian internationalism was a response to Leninist internationalism. Kolko is a mighty fine scholar whose works should be much more well known. Along with Gar Alperovitz. Kolko is one of the members of the group that I sometimes call the grand old men of the new-old left, people who were scholars and lefties in the fifties before the sixties New Left politics solidified who combined new insights with an awareness of the Old Left politics, a good combination to say the least.

Alperovitz has a new book out about Alternatives to Capitalism...but I haven't had a chance to look at it yet.

Jacob Levitch: Chomsky and Conscription

This is an article about Chomsky's recent comments on the draft, which. from what I gather, at least from this article, amount to saying that there are really big reasons why the draft won't come back. This article refutes that position. I don't know if Chomsky's comments are that simple, but this article is worth reading anyways, if for no other reason than to see someone who has a decent grasp of history refute the generalized argument that countries don't draft civillians for colonial wars.

Whether or not this is what Chomsky said, the argument against thinking that in this war in Iraq it'll just be the Marines fighting, in the long term and if we expand to some other country, god help us, which Levich presents is a very good one.

Heard from a friend

Guess if you can get this pop culture reference: "We must fight against theee faaasciist iiinsect which opppresses us all!"

Crimethinc backstory

Here's an interesting thing to think about: both the revived IWW, which is a miltant workerist union (which has, overwhelmingly, young people as its members) and Crimethinc., which is an anti-work counterculture revolutionary non-organization, really their starts in the Pacific NW. In fact, Crimethinc started here.

Before I came out here I had a very low opinion of Crimethinc, mostly because they were really concerned with things which seemed to avoid real issues, greater social issues, and instead focus on personal liberation....but after having contact with IWW members I can see why Crimethinc started. I have a feeling that Crimethinc. started in response to the obnoxious bullshit that the revived IWW has put out, which elevates work to the status of god hood.

Get over it, people, it's a fucking job, it isn't going to save your soul.

But anyways, Crimethinc. I appreciate much more now and, sadly enough, although I totally support the idea of what the IWW represents, the spirit of militant anarcho-syndicalist trade unionism, the execution of the concept by them has left me really disillusioned with the whole outfit.

Maybe we need to stat an alternative Anarcho-Syndicalist Union, like, something entitled Anarcho-Syndicalists who aren't obnoxious bigots...the ASWAOB.

ASWAOB members of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains and the power exercised over the concept of a workers' movement by the labor fakirs in the revived IWW.

Democracy in America

is largely a phrase believed in by Americans only. The importance of Democracy in America and of our being a beacon for Democracy, well I'd bet that most people who truly believe that that's the case are in fact Americans themselves, which kind of invalidates the point.

The rest of the world probably looks to Britain and France as role models for Democracy, although they have nasty histories of colonialism which tarnish that record.

Nevertheless, if you go outside the U.S. you see that the systems of government which actually are in place in the rest of the world either derive from the British or the French parliamentary system. As for ones which really do derive from us the number is probably very small; I can't think of any State off the top of my head which has a strong elected President short of dictatorships.

Yet we have a lot of local government here!

That's always the argument in favor of democracy in America.......but something tells me that city councils and boards of education aren't what the Bush administration has in mind in bringing Democracy to Iraq.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bush withdraws from diplomatic consultation agreement

Which says that people on Death Row who are foreign nationals have the right to appeal, I assume for repatriation to the country they're from, based on not being able to have contacted their consulates when arrested in order to get help.

This isn't a trivial thing. While the media is spinning this in relation to terrorism in fact the action which brought this on was the overturning of the convictions of 26 Mexican nationals on gounds that they hadn't been able to contact their consulates.

Translation: these were illegal immigrants who were arrested, put on death row, and set to be executed, who were never told that the government of their home country could help them out.

So now the Bush administration has shut the door to that angle, meaning that people who have little power in the United States, poor immigrants, will be at the mercy of a system which is hostile to them and frankly racist.

Remember that next time you get arrested for pot in a third world country.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Iraq and "Why did we do it?"

I remember, at one of the many schools I attended, meeting a girl who had the unfortunate luck of being born of one parent who was Palestinian and another who was an Iraqi and who lived in Kuwait during the first Gulf War.

I don't know what she was studying but I think it had to do with non-violent conflict resolution. Seriously.

After I got into her good graces and we started talking politics I remember her asking me "Why did you do it? Why did America have to invade Kuwait?" There was no reason.

Yet it forced her family to become refugees.

America, the eternal country boy in the big city trying to set things right

Yep, that's what America's actions in the Middle East and elsewhere make me think of. Bringing Democracy to the Middle East...who asked America to bring democracy to the Middle East? What if we woke up tomorrow to find that Sweden was on a rampage intending to bring Social Democracy to South East Asia. No particular reason. It just woke up one day, looked at the map, and said, "Hmm, Thailand! They don't have a welfare state there! They really need one! Let's put one there!". People would be somewhat put off by that, no?

We're doing the exact same thing with bringing 'democracy' to the Middle East. What we're bringing has Westernization and American style politics written all over it, and there's no particular reason why the Middle East was targetted beyond its resources. Many countries are worse than those in the Middle East, but Bushie didn't decide that the judgement of heaven demanded that they have regime change, did he.

So, thank you Mr. Bush for trying to restructure the entire social and political system of the Middle East for no apparant reason.

Garance Franke-Ruta: Blogged Down

A good article, well worth reading. One of the things which it asserts is that both journalists and bloggers think that bloggers aren't journalists. This is true. I am not a journalist.


However, an important point should be made: not all writing which is not fictional and which deals with current events is news journalism.

What would you call commentary which was printed in a sunday magazine? Or a column?

There are a lot of forms of writing out there which are completely valid which deal with current events and other things in the world which don't fit the strict criteria of 'journalism'. I think that blogging squarely fits into this category and so, therefore, saying that it isn't journalism doesn't mean that it doesn't have value.

Cracking the movement: unveiling N30

OK, time has passed, over five years, since the WTO demonstrations. As a public service to everyone maybe it would be good to unveil just what the blac bloc possesion of the space was about. I wasn't there but I am sort of implicated in the whole greater movement. Well, quite frankly, the blac bloc and all of that stuff is the Autonomist movement in America. Straight out, clear cut. The tactics used in N30 were the same which were used at IMF demonstrations organized by members of the Autonomist community in Europe in the '90 and '80s.

Just because you don't see the precedents for the demonstration on N30 doesn't mean that they weren't there, and simply seeing people in black breaking windows isn't a reason to think that these people simply came out of nowhere, had no ideas, had no analysis, had no points they were trying to get across. They had all of those. Unfortunately, the greater activist community was simply not aware of them because they were woefully out of touch with what was really going on in Europe.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Ok, I'm going to say this one time and one time only

I know you fuckers have a cookie on my browser which activates your auto-email program so that you send me e-mail when I sign on to the computer, with a message implying that you actually are monitoring my ass when its just your little hack program doing it. So stop being such pathetic little whiners and cut out the act. You aren't fooling anyone.

Rousseau and the Anarchists

Talking about the Anarchists and the Enlightenment leads fairly simply into talking about Rousseau vs. the Anarchists, because the Anarchists largely rejected Rousseau even though R., through his influence on Kant, largely set the stage for all of 19th century and pretty much all of 20th century political philosophy.

So a bifurcation exists between the anti-Rousseauist Anarchist thinkers of the 19th century and many other thinkers.

Their problem with Rousseau is that he was a collectivist. He famously talked about the General Will and forcing people to be free if they didn't submit to the general will, he also made some statement in the Social Contract to the effect that people alienate all their rights to society.

Much of this is a misunderstanding of Rousseau's formal style of argumentation, which is more concerned with working things out in the abstract than providing a living, breathing description of how his political philosophy would work. So the "Forcing people to be free" business was probably not meant literally. Instead, it's how that statement works into his general thought which is the point.

Ok, another problem, one which is probably more interesting, deals with the actual sources of Rousseau's thought and where he was trying to take the Enlightenment.

Many commentators look at Rousseau and, following descriptions given by Hume about his style of life (among others), impute the sort of wild un-tamedness that Rousseau puts forward in his Discourses on Inequality to be how he actually was. The charges come forward that he had some sort of problem, was imbalanced, unable to fit into society, and that he basically composed things in a series of fits, as a sort of Gonzo philosophy, and that, if all of this is true, then his philosophy doesn't have any sort of foundation but is instead an irrational anti-civilizational abberation, a protest against mainstream enlightenment thought by a disturbed man, and therefore safely dismissable without any problems.

I disagree. Following an essay by J.G.A. Pocock, the historian and historiographer, I'd invite people to a) look at Rousseau's work as a whole and b) to think about the possible connections between Classical Roman and Greek political thought and Rousseau's writings.

Building on Pocock's comment that Rousseau was rooted in Civic Republicanism, and taking a cue from an early essay by the Sociologist Emile Durkheim which dealt with Rousseau and Montesqieu, I'd say that much of what is taken to be wildness and aberration in Rousseau's thought is simply the working out of trying to reconcile two fundamentally different worlds of thought: the Enlightenment world and the Roman world, the latter of which butts heads with the Enlightenment quite often.

Phrases about collectivism in the Social Contract seem less imposing when one considers that in the Roman political world the concept of individual liberty as such didn't exist. People had a constellation of rights which were all conditioned on their social status; pure rights did not adhere to an individual.

The disrespect which Rousseau gives to individualism is much more comprehensable when one thinks that the ancient world wouldn't have recognized much of the value of the individualism either.

Most of Enlightenment thought was intensely concerned with the Roman world, but only in a secondary way: they saw their notion of Natural Law and Individual Liberty as the primary parts of the synthesis with the Roman political system giving support to that. Rousseau appears to have turned this equation on its head, which made everyone upset.

But, as they say, if you lay down with dogs don't expect not to end up with fleas. If you're dealing with Roman political philosophy don't expect that it'll all be dealt with by everyone else in exactly the way that you want it to be.

And in relation to the Anarchists? There are plenty of opportunities to work with the Roman tradition to make it more democratic and less authoritarian; viewed through this lens Rousseau is not neccesarily a totally collectivist enemy.

Anarchism and the Western Tradition

I wonder sometimes if Anarchism, with its emphasis on expansion of personal liberty and opposition to higher coercive entities, is influenced too much by the same Western tradition which sees history as a progressive liberation, with the West being appointed to establish a reign of freedom based on rationality.

The Anarchist tradition that I'm thinking of is the one most associated with Rudolph Rocker, the author of Anarcho-Syndicalism among other books, which traced Anarchism's philosophical roots back to William Godwin and Pierce Bysshe Shelley.

Godwin was possibly one of the purest exponents of Enlightenment style 'rationalism is all you need', argumentation in existence. He believed in total liberation from all repressive structures based on the ability of human beings to totally and consciously define and determine every aspect of their lives using their reason.

Although in the west at the time he was writing this stuff, around the end of the 18th and the early years of the 19th century, this may have been eaten up, what would Godwin have thought of the culture of India, or of Native America, or of Africa, or the rest of Asia? My impulse is that the judgement by him would not have been a positive one, and therein lies the rub: what good is a philosophy of total freedom if it denies the freedom of non-western people's to live in the way that they've lived for thousands of years?

Even during his time Godwin was criticized from being distant from reality. There's a cartoon charicature of him which shows him in a library bursting with books and papers with a comment below saying something along the lines of "The liberator of man", with the implication being that he really didn't understand normal life.

Now, Anarchism has many variants and comes from many sources; while Rocker philosophically talks about Godwin and company being founders of the tradition he also talks very practically about working class resistance to capitalism from the start of the transformation to a capitalist, industrial, society in England down to the present day. There's also the interesting fact that a few Anarchist writers of big stature were actually Russian and anti-Western, Bakunin being one of them, Makhno definitely being another, Voline, Maximoff, you name it.

Bakunin was not in favor of enlightenment values in any recognizable form although like the Enlightenment he opposed the State, organized Religion, and like the socialists opposed Class and Class privilege.

His ideal of freedom had more to do with Russian rural life and German 19th century philosophy than with the thought of the French Enlightenment.

But of the various strains of Anarchism, to which, in our cavalcade of classification could be added Italian anarchists who, although free thinkers, were also products of the 19th century rather than the 18th, the one which has become most influential in America today definitely owes its roots to the Godwin-esque reason driven anarchism as the perfection of what the Enlightenment started variety.

And that's somewhat dangerous because without knowledge of how the discourse of liberty can conceal cultural prejudices and oppressive behaviors the risk of recapitulating negative characteristics in the service of liberty rears its ugly head.

***

I'm a 19th century person. This is the philosophical and historical time frame that I know most about and feel most comfortable dealing with, so it's no wonder that I bristle at the 18th century prejudices of some politicos, but nonetheless, I do believe that the way to get around this unseen bias isn't to abandon anarchism or libertarianism but to move on beyond the narrow confines of what has been the defacto culture and into richer cultural territory...from the 19th century.

The Romantics would be greatly appreciated if they were found and read, I guarantee it.

The Enlightenment in America

Ah, the Enlightenment. We tend to think of such things as bringing the benefits of civilization to non-western peoples and other fantasies of western civ as only happening outside of the US, as being the harvest of France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, but we, yes we, are as guilty of it as they are.

Only with us instead of colonizing a foreign people and subjugating them, bringing them the benefits of civilization, our Enlightenment expansion consisted of seizing the land on the American continent progressively and developing it, in the name of progress, and kicking out the original inhabitants.

Yes, our Enlightenment progressive liberation of the world consisted of agricultural and cultural development of the American landmass, with no one to enlighten but instead an economy to be built.

Western myths about having a destiny to free the world persist whether that world is made up of foreign people or of the land itself, being freed for our benefit as progressive liberators of the potential which nature has created.

Iraq didn't come from nowhere.

Anti-Corporate Libertarianism

It sort of occurs to me that any real attempt at constructing a libertarian politics, from wherever on the political spectrum you are, has to be anti-corporate as well in order to be genuine, in order to genuinely have the title of libertarian.

I say this because, in thinking about the Reagan years, it appears that Libertarianism has been used as a propaganda device by conservatives who have no intention whatsoever of honoring the Libertarian ethic. What seems to have happened is that although the classical libertarians favored small businesses, free enterprise, and entrepreneurship these fake libertarians have declared their allegiance to the same basic principles yet think that they apply equally to GM as to the little ice cream shop down the street.

Corporate propaganda becomes the theme of the day as Libertarian ethics are used to justify anti-libertarian practices by corporations which are structured as authoritarian massive planned economies which receive largesse from the government, exactly what Libertarianism is supposed to be against.

The Reaganite perversions of the idea shouldn't be the final say in the drama of libertarian ethics, but, nevertheless, the doctrines they promulgated have to be confronted and brought to light if we want to avoid falling into the trap of repeating their arguments and ideas without even realizing what we're doing.

In my opinion Reaganism libertarianism was a soft version of a fascist takeover...these were people who declared that the current wisdom was gone, that they and their ideas were the new bosses, that there was no alternative whatsoever to their politics, that people better shape up, and yet that the point of it all was to ensure liberty, to liberate people and businesses from the confines of government intervention. It doesn't work that way, folks.

Now that the consensus is breaking up we're seeing the iron fist behind the velvet glove in the form of the Bush administration and the post-September 11th rhetoric and in the invasion of Iraq and the threatened invasions of Syria and Iran.

First they got power with promises of Liberty backed up by force, now that the Liberty angle has exhausted itself they're starting a more direct approach.

And isn't it interesting that our biggest ally in this shift is one Tony Blair, the neo-liberal inheritor of the Thatcher government?

Just like Clinton never questioned the basic ideas of Reaganism Blair hasn't questioned the fundamental ideas of Thatcherism, and now, guess what? Terror laws calling for detention powers by the government, official hostility to Muslims in a country which contains many Muslim citizens from former colonies. The destruction of the BBC in order to censor news.

Britain is going where we're going, for some of the same reasons. I guess I'll see some British faces in the camps, then.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Antonia Zerbisias:Antonia Zerbisias: 'The 'other' L-word has become a dirty one'

Oh, it's Antonia not Antony, as misreported earlier in the Coulter post.

The point of this article is to argue that, well, liberals suck and are inefficient.

This is true.

It's just really weird to read because I forget sometimes that there are still stereotypical liberals out the, who aren't aware of progressive values whatsoever, and who instead fight the same crap which was old even in the mid '90s. I mean, Zerbisias talks about liberals being concerned with Hillary Clinton, hunting, gay marriage, and abortion, but nary a thought given to sweatshops or other labor abuses. It still boggles me that people actually take this damn narrow viewed liberalism seriously.

And that people actually believe that Hillary Clinton is a) a positive figure, b) someone who has a snowball's chance in hell of actually getting elected.

Don't people see that hatred directed to this phony?

If Hillary is actually in the running for Prez in 2008 say hello to a Socialist-Green coalition and say goodbye to the Democratic Party, 'cause it will no longer be in existence.

Leftist Occult Insurgency

It's a wonderful thing!

"Brother of mine, do you feel the courage raised by night, for the eternal struggle, for the beauty of the world?"

-Laibach

Paganism and leftist occulture

Yes, I realize that saying that the solution to Kierkegaard's problem of the leap of faith is declaring that the world is spiritual and magical and therefore that weird things like what K suggests are doable is sort of like saying "And then a miracle happens" in the course of trying to solve a complex math problem, but I believe it.

In fact, there have been a few people who have suggested something along the same lines...the idea of a leftist occult reality takeover has been suggested by Hakim Bey, the man whose real name is Peter Lamborn Wilson, in his books about autonomous zones and, more directly, in his own writings, under his real name, about renegade mysticism.

William S. Burroughs suggested the same thing too. In fact, in his book "Cities of the Red Night", Burroughs makes the declaration that "This war is a Sorcerers war" and that the state that his band of renegades hopes to acheive will be "A Sorcerers state".

I heartily, and actually literally, endorse that.

Cities of the Red Night should be essential reading. There's more there than you might think if you only know Burroughs from Naked Lunch or his cut up books. This is what he really believes.

A Favorite Olympia haunt.

I find myself going to Olympia more and more, it's a nice town. One of my favorite places to go is Last Word Books on 4th.

An anarchist collective, Last Word has a lot of books which, strangely enough, look as they've been picked because they were mentioned on this blog.

They even have a used hardcover copy of "Tropical Truth" by Caetano Veloso........

Well, I can't tell if the people have been reading this blog or if this is somewhat independent, but I have my suspicions.

"Tropical Truth" is a big giveaway since vritually no one was talking about or aware of Tropicalia before I wrote these posts on the right and started propagandizing for it, certainly no one was aware of the links between this Brazillian cultural-musical movement and radical politics.

I'm sort of wary of initiating contact with Last Word Books, since it's quite different to be known in person than to be known as an anonymous web personality, but I'd like to do it eventually.

Where all this Tropicalia came from?

Well, that's one of my biggest secrets, which I'm going to share: the only reason I ever became aware of Tropicalia was because of direct involvement in Afro-Brazillian religion.

Without that background I would never have been knowledgeable enough about the ins and outs of Brasillian culture to recognize what Tropicalia was all about, what the significance of it was, and how it could be applied to an American context.

The Afro-Brazillian faiths are very much a positive religious tradition.

The best, indeed one of the only, books to seriously deal with them is one called "Drum & Candle", which is out of print but available used from Powells, Alibris, Abebooks, that sort of thing.

People talk about magical realism, or magical urbanism, the reinventing of the inner city urban landscape through incorporation of afro-carribean folk religion into life, but I've actually done it.

Here's a link to "Drum & Candle" :Drum & Candle at powells

I invite you to explore it and to discover a new and better world.

Pandagon

Why, I might ask, if Tom Tomorrow considers what Pandagon is doing right now as blogging up a storm is the same activity, which I do almost every week, not commented on by people?

Ann Coulter...

Her latest quote, as reported in a column by Anthony Zerbisias "Here's a sample from right-wing banshee Ann Coulter's latest bestseller, How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): "Liberals traffic in shouting and demagogy. In a public setting, they will work themselves into a dervish-like trance and start incanting inanities: 'BUSH LIED, KIDS DIED!' 'RACIST!' 'FASCIST!' 'FIRE RUMSFELD!' 'HALLIBURTON!' Fortunately, the street performers usually punch themselves out eventually and are taken back their parents' house."

Or, if they're really lucky, the street performers get a gig on Fox News and avoid the ignominy of having to go back to their parents home in New Canaan, Connecticut, as total failures.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Third Rome and the Slavicization of working class politics

"The Third Rome", Mikhail Agursky's masterwork, has been a continual source of inspiration and insight...I'm working my way through the text with my mouth agape. It's a book which looks at the Russian Socialist movement within the greater context of the nationlist, religious, basically inclusive historical context which Russia had at the time of the Russian Revolution.

A strange concept? Not really. The point is this: most historians have taken Bolshevism's analysis of itself as being somewhat accurate, or at least as shaping the historical framework within which to look at the Russian Revolution. So you have all this business about Bolshevik vs. Menshevik but you don't have any sense of how it all works out in the greater context of Russian politics. Agursky's book does just that and it's brilliant. Shocking.

Anyways, the Slavicization of working class politics, what that refers to is something which I sort of suspected, or at least observed, but had no direct knowledge of, and which Agursky confirms indirectly in his book, which is this: that a lot of the idea of what the working class is in American leftism comes from Slavicist ideology transplanted from Russia to the United States.

In other words, the Communist related movements in America, in envisioning what the working class of America looks and feels like, substituted a picture of working class Russiansl, with their folkways and values, for actual reality, and that is what fuels the weird sorts of "working class"ish prejudice and vileness which some Communist and, more generally, Stalinist, activists and writers affect.

The idea, which these people, and you know these types if you've come in contact with them, put forward, is that the working class is brutish, irreverant, sarcastic, and with a bad temper, and that this is some sort of invisible independent working class culture.

Well, while American workers might not be perfect little role models of decorum neither are they the stereotype which these people put forward as 'workers culture'.

Agursky confirms this fact by outlining how from an early time the Bolsheviks encouraged the idea of Proletarian Internationalism as a front for Great Russian cultural expansion.

Now the Soviet Union is no more but these people charge on, with their vile politics, as if nothing has happened.

Wrong lessons learned from the First World War by the United States

I think that the U.S. took the wrong lesson away from World War I. If the first World War is remembered at all, or understood, it's understood to prove the neccesity of nations to determine their own future. This largely comes about in reference to the dismantling of Austria-Hungary.

While that's all well and good it also is a little too conveniant. After all, the nations which made up Austria-Hungary already had a lot of independence, the nationalities question was on the table, and Austria had a tradition, which is still present, of respecting decentralized self governance. So the progression of the Czech provinces, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, to either self governance or some sort of coalition, like Czechoslovakia, can be seen as natural and inevitable with little or no contest over principles which have relevance to today.

The same cannot be said of Prussia.

While the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary was pretty easy, the independence of the Eastern Provinces of Germany, now Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, was not.

In this case the principle was not simply the right of nations to self determination but the right of nations not to be forceably integrated into a large empire.

That, unlike the right of nations to self determination, which we all recognize as valid today (hopefully), is a concept which has a lot of relevance to the U.S.'s actions in Latin America, in the Middle East today, and in the affairs of the pro-U.S. Asian countries which have adopted large sections of U.S. dominant culture as well as business culture as their own.

What our meddling there adds up to is an attempt to create something like the Prussian empire, at least in spirit. A trans-national integrated system of subjugation and dismemberment.

Yes, while World War I taught us the right of nations to self determination it did not teach us that the day of Empires was at its end.

And while the principle of Empire stands unchallenged the principle of the self determination of nations will mean little.

Tim Wise

Just heard a wonderful edition of Progressive Radio where Tim Wise was interviewed by Matthew Rothschild, and I have to say I'm impressed.

Tim Wise is an anti-racist writer who works out of Nashville.

Unlike most white folks who declare themselves to be anti-racist Tim Wise is not full of it.

This may have to do with the fact that, according to him, he did not grow up with class privilege. So although he doesn't know what it's like to grow up black, for example, at least he has some understanding of what oppression feels like, which enables him to sort of occupy a middle ground between the really rich and privileged whites and the people of color. This, in turn, enables him to give a critique of whiteness which actually goes beyond saying "We white folks, we have it so good, we shouldn't discriminate". Yeah. The reason, in my humble opinion, for much of the vapidness of white anti-racism is that it comes from people who are so extraordinarily privileged that their protestations mean little in terms of actually making a difference.

Working class whites have gotten a lot of shit from various portions of the left over the last thirty or thirty five, forty, years, but what isn't recognized is that, potentially, working class whites are one of the most potent forces for effecting positive racial change precisely because although they are beneficiaries of privilege they don't completely benefit from it. They can be turned against the system.

Race treason means, in this case, as a working class white person, saying that the interests of your minority brethren mean more than your white privilege and casting your lot with them for better or for worse.

I agree with that priniciple wholeheartedly and try to actively follow it. I'd much rather hang with La Raza than with privileged white folks, for instance.

Indeed, Race Treason by working class whites could be one of the most effective ways to building a truely inclusive American society which is a popular democracy instead of a racial--class based democracy, which is what the United States is right now.

The true American society isn't linked to Anglo culture, it's linked to what we have here in front of us, in reality, which is, incidentally, what Tropicalia in Brasil was partially about.

Right on Tim Wise.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Why this website?

Ah, another one of those questions again....

This website is my revenge against a society which has abused me for most of my life.

All right SEIU

The Service Employees International Union is threatening to secede from the AFL-CIO and establish its own thing. More power to it. Long overdue.

AFL-CIO doesn't walk on water. There's no reason why it should stay as a coalition forever into the future.

Get back at the very least to CIO style radicalism, that's what I say....

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Fifties

Building on the idea of the shadow part of life outlined earlier, I have to wonder whether the threat of society being destroyed, the perception that it might be, by forces liberated through the sixties and seventies had something to do with the fact that the base which the rebels of that time started with was repressed to begin with.

Liberation tends, in my opinion, to liberate not just the good but the negative as well, however, most cultures seem to have developed ways of reckoning with the negative side of human life and the human experience so that the negative can be honored without threatening to destroy everything...but we seem to have lost that in fifties optimism. Specifically, thinking about other cultures, there's the awareness of mortality and death, of suffering, which the European countries seem to grasp pretty well, the type of thing stereotypically associated with Catholicism.

By exploring these aspects of life I think these cultures have found ways to psychologically deal with these ever present experiences in a decent way.

Ok, now looking at 20th century America: the rising darkness percieved by some, which then fueled Christian fundamentalism and Conservatism, may only have been a problem since in the optimism of the fifties we lost the capability, at least the establishment culture did, of finding the ways to deal with these experiences, which were no doubt augmented by the general liberation which was going on.

If this had been the forties or the thirties I think people would have done ok; an awareness of life and death coming out of the Depression and out of World War II would have been able to temper this tide, but, 'twas not the case.

Maybe by getting back to the sense of realism of those days we can find a way out of the cultural battles we're in, between liberals and conservatives, which is progressive and workable. A liberal ethic which isn't naive, which reckons with life and withstands the sort of quip which someone wrote about the definition of a neo-con: "A liberal who's been mugged".

Implications of Enlightenment vs. Radical Enlightenment for foreign policy

The below discussion isn't totally irrelevant to present day life; it has a very lively significance in the case of human rights and rights in general, and partially explains why exactly we in America don't honor many rights.

Simply put, the ideas behind contemporary human rights law stem from ideas which came out of the radical enlightenment tradition, which became the source of all 19th century European philosophy, while we in America still see Rights as contained in the religious tradition of the conventional Enlightenment. For the rest of the world the question of rights is pretty simple: a right is no big deal, it's not this huge undertaking to declare a right. Instead a right is simply a recognition of a type of social relationship which is considered to be just in a free society of individuals.

There's no cosmic significance to it. It's largely a ratification of reality rather than an attempt to establish something new.

But here in the U.S. it's precisely the opposite. Rights discourse here is semi-mystical, with people refusing to recognize rights as just being simple declarations of what you can do or are reasonably entitled to in a free society and instead giving them an overarching significance which has little to do with the real world.

A consequence is that the U.S. is having a harder and harder time recongizing that things which the rest of the world considers as normal rights are just that. We have our mystical conception of the "Bill of Rights" but that has less and less relevance in todays world as an isolated document.

It's just impossible to genearlize rights discourse as understood in the rest of the world from the basic conceptions contained in the Bill of Rights. Instead, to understand it you must be able to look at the conceptions behind the Bill of Rights, be able to translate the thought into the modern world, and then be able to generalize from that thought to other situations which the Bill of Rights does not address, which few influential jurists seem able to do.

In other words, you need an understanding of modern philosophy, and although many jurists see various concepts like utilitarian and retributive concepts of justice and law in their training there's still the bias towards throwing all of it out the window when it comes to looking at the Constitution itself and instead substituting a quasi-philosophical Constitution specific body of thought which has little to do with anything except State worship for philosophy.

Ok, to get back to the topic, one of the consequences of not having a modern view of things is that, almost inevitably, any rights not contained in the Bill of Rights are considered unproveable and inconsistant. Therefore, no Kyoto treaty, no International Criminal Court, no Convention on Landmines, all down the road...what else? No recognition of any economic and social rights, since the Constitution conveniantly forgot to mention them, no specific rights of women...no rights of children.

Nope, the rights which the U.S. tradition upholds are those enjoyed by white male property holders in the late 18th century, which was the group that the Bill of Rights was written for.

Needless to say, this is inadequate for the present.

Enlightenment and Radical Enlightenment

Another random post.

All this Enlightenment stuff; the Enlightenment the Enlightenment the Enlightenment....I guess it's just because of the huge role this thought played in American history but there's this huge disconnect between what our image of it is and how it actually, realistically, informs daily life today.

I'd argue that in terms of effecting modern life that modern life is the inheritor of the Radical Enlightenment, not the Enlightenment in general.

What's the difference?

Well, the Enlightenment as a whole clung to religious ideas to a greater or lesser extent in their thought---much more so than we'd like to admit. In fact much of Enlightenment thought has been rightly labelled as a secularization of religious thought.

Sounds like a contradiction in terms but, if you think about it, this is what that whole 'deism' movement was about. Deism, cited often but not looked at much, which is a complex series of beliefs about the relationship of the world to a distant creator, has no relevance once the idea of atheism is put on the table. It only means something in a world where people still cling to a religious ordering of the cosmos and therefore can't accept a totally god free world. Instead, even in rebelling against religion they have to put it in terms which still conform generally to the ways of thought which religion established.

Atheism was a product of the Radical Enlightenment, not of the Enlightenment in general.

A great discussion of religiousity and the Enlightenment comes from an unexpected source "Mephistopheles" by Jeffrey Russel. Russel wrote a four book scholarly series examining the definitions of evil and of the devil in various periods of time, how the concept evolved and changed. Mephistopheles deals with evil in the post-Renaissance world. It has an extensive section on Enlightenment conceptions of evil and of religion, which points out the semi-religious nature of some of the Enlightnement thinkers...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

LH post#3:Chairman Bob Avakian, by Ron Jacobs

Actually, the vacant Bob Avakian takes up little of this story; the publishing of his auto-bio is a jumping off point for Jacobs to recollect about his role in Revolutionary politics in the Bay Area in the early '70s.

"Chairman Bob Avakian


A Life of Revolution in a Country of Reaction


Thirty-five years ago, the US left was involved in a transformation that ultimately resulted in its "balkanization" and (some would argue) disintegration. The phenomenon known as the New Left began this process during the years of 1968 and 1969. To this day, the 1969 Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) national convention in Chicago stands not only as a metaphor for the Left's disintegration, it also marks a seminal event in the process. For those not familiar with the history of that meeting in Chicago, let me summarize. SDS met in June 1969 in Chicago. By this time, SDS had more than a hundred thousand members, making it the largest leftist organization in the United States. Its politics were anti-imperialist and somewhat Marxist, although anarchist currents existed in the organization, as well. During the convention, three ideological groupings became clear. One was led by the Progressive Labor faction and espoused a somewhat garbled Maoist philosophy, another was the Weatherman faction, also vaguely Maoist, but mostly a follower of third-world revolutionary nationalism, and the third dominant grouping was Marxist-Leninist. This latter grouping was originally known as Revolutionary Youth Movement 2 (RYM 2). As time progressed, RYM 2 splintered into smaller formations, with one of the largest organizations calling itself the Revolutionary Union (RU).

RU began in the San Francisco Bay Area under the leadership of Jane and Bruce Franklin and Bob Avakian. Of course, there were many other individuals who played important roles in the organization's founding and growth, but it was these three individuals who were arguably the most important. As Max Elbaum describes in his well-documented study of this period in the US Left, Revolution In the Air, there were a myriad of other groups involved in this new communist movement besides the RU and all of them were struggling with the problems associated with moving the revolutionary struggle forward in the United States. "

LH post#2: The Last Poets Recalled, by Ron Jacobs

Here's another one:

"This is Madness


The Last Poets Recalled

Summer 1971. Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I was hanging out with a friend in his room in the Westend section of the city. We were reading Zap Comix and some new underground papers he had brought back with him from the States. A bowl of hashish had set us up nice and the Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun was spinning on his turntable. The music was turned low so as not to disturb his neighbors on the other side of the paper-thin wall of the rooming house. The two men who lived there, one from some place in western Africa and the other a Black man recently discharged from the US Army, worked nights and needed their sleep. Just when Pigpen began the song "Alligator" on the Dead album, a loud, intense percussive beat came through the wall. My first thought was that one of the neighbors was playing a conga. Then came the chanting voices"When the revolution comes/some of us will catch it on TV/with chicken hanging from our mouths/you'll know it's revolution/because there won't be no commercials/when the revolution comes." My friend nodded. "It's The Last Poets again.""

Lost Highway-ish post #1: The Drug Trail Ends in Kathmandu, by Joseph Pietri

Readers of the sidebar will note that the "Lost Highway", which formerly was the name of this site, is a concept which has to do with hidden history and experience far off the beaten track, but not just "Wild and crazy time, huh huh", no, a very specific form of counter-cultural and 70's political experience which has been covered up, along with that of the marginal communities in the US from the '80s and '90s.

Well, recently Counterpunch started publishing some stories by people, recollections of earlier days which represent the spirit. So here, without further ado are links to them.

http://www.counterpunch.org/pietri03012005.html

"Golden Tar Heroin and the Black Prince

I first went to Nepal in 1970 it was the end of the now famous Hippie Trail that started overland from either Amsterdam or London. Buses full of Hippies would disembark at the end of New Road and to this day this street is called Freak Street. Nepal was Hippie nirvana being that marijuana and hashish were legal and sold openly in Government licensed shops! At the time there were no opium dens in Kathmandu nor is opium grown or heroin produced in Nepal! There was no such thing as a Nepalese junkie. Cannabis was only illegal to export and Hippies caught at the airport were fined $100 USD and deported on the next flight out of Kathmandu."

'80s culture reminds me of Bob Roberts

The brilliant movie satirizing the Reagan phenomenon. In particular, a scene comes to mind where Bob Roberts, in answering a little girl's card to him, writes "And don't use crack it's a ghetto drug".

Yep.

More '80s indicators

Or, movies they won't show on TV nowadays because they're politically incorrect.

I'm thinking about two in particular: Twins and Back to the Future part 2.

Twins is an indicator of the '80s in that it was perfectly acceptable to picture a eugenics program as the focal point of a movie, with a terrible mishap occuring leading to an Aryan Arnold Schwarzenegger being produced and a person "all the shit went into" (a direct quote) being a short Jewish Italian peson with a New York accent.

What this tells us about '80s culture is self evident.

Then there's Back to the Future Part 2, where the directors give us their idea of what America would look like if the workers took over: Biff, the stupid idiot from Part 1, is now in charge and the nice white middle class town which the people lived in is now dominated by casinos, pollution, and strip clubs, with Biff as a criminal boss who beats his wife and sexually exploits her.

No one seems to have really objected to the characterizations in these movies.

Factually True

Recently, the editor of the Indianapolis Star, as reported via a Cursor.org link, complained that the problem with the Internet was that people could post anything they wanted without any regard to facts or to fairness.

Well, the fairness part speaks for itself. We all know what "Fair and Balanced" really means. The factual thing is a little different.

Ah, factuality, it brings back memories of reading how the Soviets, in post Khruschev years, used to justify censoring articles.

One of the means was to take a person's statement on some historical fact and apply a post-graduate level of analysis to said historical incident, based on Soviet official ideology of course, and then point out how this person's statement was factually untrue and therefore a dangerous slander against the state, which of course justified the author being condemned, along with his or her ideas.

Yep, the internet is a haven for that which is factually untrue, but it's a question of whether the vox populi is more important than precision.

Or, in other words, is the democratic nature of a free press more important than having everything which is said fit some ideal, propagated by those in power who have most of the resources, of total facticity?

I think so.

Reminds me of Remains of the Day where, in order to prove how stupid regular people are, the Nazi sympathizers at the estate Anthony Hopkins works for ask him his opinion on some technical and arcane questions of foreign policy which he, a lowly servant, can't answer.

Facticity is a funny thing.