Sunday, October 30, 2005

RJ Eskrow on atheism and religion

From Huff' Po "...
I’ve got two words for Cenk and the other atheist mullahs: Free Tibet....

Chinese atheists have set about crushing all remnants of the Buddhist faith. Why? We could argue it’s because atheists can be as fanatical about their beliefs as any religionists, but a rational atheist (and most are rational) would respond: They’re doing it for nationalist reasons.

Good answer! And why did the Muslim President of Iran say such despicable things about Israel this week? For the same reason. Does religion add fanaticism to the nationalist drive? Sure. So does Communist/atheist fervor. I’ve traveled in Communist countries, including some of the most extreme, and seen how they created a culture of belief from early childhood on. It is very similar to what you can see in Islamist countries, or Fundamentalist Sunday Schools."

The point being that although religion can be oppressive the negation of religion does not necessarily mean the end to repression. This is a very good argument. It's a shame that people don't recognize the distinction between fundamentalists trying to force the United States to observe their form of Christianity and having the discussion of religious ideas be something that's present in the private sphere. Too often it seems like a wedge is made which sees the nature of American society as either ideally atheistic or ideally theistic. The understanding of separation between church and state which feeds this is mistaken. Church and state being separate doesn't mean that religion necessarily doesn't have a role in U.S. society, it just means that that role cannot be sponsored by any public agency, whether it be schools or the executive branch. There's nothing that says that in the private sphere, the sphere of magazines, newspapers, websites, etc...that people can't discuss and argue about faith and religion. Religion provides a powerful way to understand the universe and one's place in it, with every faith from Wicca to Judaism to Christianity to Hinduism providing interesting answers to the basic questions that people have about existence.

Atheists err when they extrapolate to the private sphere that which exists in the public sphere and fundamentalists err when they extend to the public sphere that which exists in their private sphere.

Access and the Plamegate

One of the reasons that the press has been so easy on the administration is that they saw that going along with what the President puts out there and not questioning it was the key to access early on. Since then they've really not challenged what the President has done in a fundamental way. Access equals power, it equals getting government officials to go on record with you, it equals getting tidbits of information which can lead you to a new story, which may increase your professional reputation, it means a lot of things. People like Ben Bagdikian have chronicled the change in journalism from a profession which was engaged in by non-college educated people who didn't have much of an aspiration to eat with an ambassodor, to one where the cream of the crop,educated at Ivy League schools of journalism, now put more emphasis on getting the official story as opposed to covering the news in any sort of an objective way. His book "The Media Monopoly" is essential reading on this count.

I think that most of the media made a sort of faustian bargain with themselves shortly after 9/11 happened and a drive to war became the administration's chief occupation. They could either hold to their standards, reject the framework that the adminstration was consistently using as false, and be cut out of knowledge of important stories and access to important people, or they could capitulate, pretend that what the President was putting out there had some relation to reality and therefore needed to be taken seriously, and thereby mortgage their souls for exclusive access to the stories and people connected with the administration. They see professional advancement and the hope of personal honors and awards in being dependable, non threatening, reporters, and for a long, long time it looked like there wasn't going to be a serious challenge to the reality of that relationship between their professional lives and the administration.

Now things are a little bit different. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been indicted, Tom DeLay has been indicted, the full scope of Judith Miller's
relationship as a stenographer of power has irrefutably been shown (not that her fellow NYT colleagues had a problem with it when it wasn't so explicit), and the massive incompetence of the Bush administration has been shown between its handling of New Orleans and Katrina and Bush's nomination of his personal lawyer to be a justice on the Supreme Court. And did I mention Iraq and not finding WMDs?

What Plamegate will hopefully accomplish is the changing of the equation of toning down criticism in exchange for access. Put simply, maybe now that large parts of the administration and its agenda are considered to be either false, wrong, or corrupt, the press will start to realize that obediance to the administration isn't going to get them anything and may in fact become a liability. Make reporting the administration's view uncritically a professional liability and reporters will jump ship.

The media act like the guardians to the public consciousness. Simple truth isn't enough to get a story on the air. The media themselves have to be agreed that taking a particular stance on an issue is the thing to do, that it's right and that the sources are "Dependable", meaning that they won't turn out to have told the media utter lies, before they're willing to broach the stance. Once they do decide to go with a story it doesn't matter anymore whether or not it's true. If a reporter in one of the elite media outlets, like the Times, establishes a an idea,a particular theme of argument, as being right or having validity, the rest of the media is likely to follow, knowing that the elite media are dependable for good stories. Because of this relationship between the media and the facts, questions of loyalty in exchange for access are extremely important. They could be the deciding factor of whether or not the country starts clamoring for an end to the Bush administration's actions, both here and abroad, or whether the potential for loud protest remains something in potential only. The low approval rating of the adminstration would then remain an unmanifested pool of discontentment, with progressive writers attempting to fan the flames in the face of an uncooperative media.

So hopefully the media will realize that it's in their own best interest to be critical of Bush and his agenda, and that if they don't that they risk being seen as Judith Millers. Hopefully, for the world's sake, they'll make this computation shortly.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Plamegate

I think that the most important thing that this whole process might accomplish is making it safe for reporters to criticize the President and the administration. The actual crimes of Plamegate are evidence of the Bush administration's warped view of the rest of the world in that they see a shallow and vindictive action against a government official as being all right. Moreover, they don't have a grasp on priorities, since anyone in their right mind would know that exposing an official who was doing undercover work related to the control of nuclear materials would not be the smartest thing to do, especially considering that preventing weapons of mass destruction is one of the things that they state they really, really, care about doing. Maybe this is all about discrediting Joe Wilson. If so the chain of reasoning would probably revolve around guilt by partisan association--he's a democrat, she probably is, therefore this whole exposure was a partisan activity, one where the fact that she's his wife, not someone who wasn't attached personally to him at all, being used as proof. If he was really acting objectively he'd have gotten the information from some other CIA agent, but presumably since she was his wife this means that he chose the easy way out---red blooded CIA people wouldn't have shared that information with him. So the source is immediately suspect in their eyes, which adds up to the most absurd example possible of the bias argument, that is the argument that any potential for bias in a person's background logically discredits them.

Once things get to this point it's not hard to understand why the Bush administration doesn't believe in global warming and why they insist that we found WMDs, or that Saddam and Al-Qaeda worked together.

But, thankfully, the Justice system does recognize that there is something called objective reality, right and wrong, and that it isn't all due to points of view, each of which are presumed to be just as good as another.

Text from Ecstacy in the U.K. by Psychic TV

A wonderful sample. This spoken word is on the background of acid house music, which makes it even better. Here's the text of the sample. I think, although I'm not sure, that this is taken from a talk by Sir George Trevelyan, although I have no idea which one it is, even though one site listed Terrence McKenna as the source. I doubt that. This isn't McKenna's philosophy, and the sample is of an old British man employing British turns of speech and expressions. Here it is

"The thing in you that can say “I am”, the thing that looks out of your eyes, as I now look at you, is a droplet of god, an immortal droplet of divinity.

The source of ultimate energy, god is life. Life is divine, earth is a vast review, in which we are the point of intelligence,

Will you grasp the true holistic picture? Earth is a living organism in a universe which is alive in a true sense, a divine unity. God is the universal mind which has created the forms of nature and the universe. From that god source now floods in the rising tide of love. Christ is the love power of God who two thousand years ago entered the body of Jesus. The Second Coming in our time is the flooding of the earth with this rising tide of love and we are, each of us, as living souls, called on to open heart and soul to the inflow of the love. This may bring transformation to the earth. It is the greatest challenge. Dance into the light with joy. Life is a great dance and you are expressing the tremedous truths that are emerging in our wonderful age. Dance towards the light, Dance towards the light. We are faced with the greatest challenge that are given to the human race we are quite are capable within ten or twenty years of turning the planet into a vestige. If we do not stop the things that we are doing that will become inevitable. There is little or more time left, while nature has an absolutely uncanny intelligence and sooner or later she will deal with parasite man. Gaia the goddess of the earth is angry..

Madame Blavatsky on the West Coast

Which she saw as being the birth place of the new phase of the human race. The below quote is from Christopher Lachman's "Turn off your Mind: the mystic sixties and the dark side of the age of aquarius"

please excuse some of her language, she wrote in the 19th century

"The New Race will silently come into existence....the peculiar children who will grow into peculiar men and women - will be regarded as abnormal, oddities, physically and mentally. Then, as they increase, and their numbers become with every age greater, one day they shall awake to find themselves in a majority. "

Friday, October 28, 2005

Holy Fucking Shit; Arnold Schwarzenegger Sesame Street Cartoon

I can't believe this, a flash cartoon of Ahh-nold as a sesame street character introducing everyone to people in his neighborhood, Bush Bird, the Count Ken Lay, Rover, Cheney Monster. This thing is really, really, good. check it out.

The ubiquitous Ode

So this ad for this magazine, Ode, has been on the Huffington Post for a while now. The thing that first comes to my mind when I see the advertisement is that this is brought to you by the same people who did the advertising and marketing for "Song" airlines, the supposedly trendy, hip, gen x'ie, airline, where the adds didn't even mention what "Song" actually was.

It appears to me to be a magazine designed specifically to cash into things which have become popular in recent years, organic food, health, justice, you get the idea. As such, it's pretty cynical. I have no doubt that the Ode people just see the things that they're marketing and the demographic that they're trying to appeal to as a cash cow. I can picture the meetings where the name "Ode" was picked....

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Democratic Party---the Brit Lib. Dems of America's future?

I have to tell you, the performance and general behavior of the Democratic Party lately is really depressing. They seem to have no spine, to have no interest whatsoever in pursuing scandals, in exposing the Bush administration. They have the equivalent of a smorgasboard in front of them and they refuse to take a bite. By doing this they're condemning themselves to irrelevancy and a future as a minor party, not as a major one any longer. If this keeps up what will happen is that either progressive Democrats will essentially create a new party or a completely new party will take it's place. Maybe it's time to start looking at the history of the Liberal Democrats in England--a party which formed one of the poles of the two party system in the 19th century but which in the early 20th century ceded that position to the Labour party and is now a rather small party that is sort of ineffectual. Maybe there's a logic of historical progression unfolding here, where the Liberal Democratic position---which, as I understand it, is quite close to that of today's welfare state liberals---gives way, after being unable to meet the demands of the population for some greater change, deeper change, to a social democratic/socialist/green party type position which rejects key points of welfare state liberalism and instead talks at least partially in the language of class.

One can only hope that this is the case and that today's Democrats will be wiped off the face of the earth by something which better serves the needs of the electorate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Yeah, I should do that

I should ask some people who've spent time in Portland to put me in touch with Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (S.H.A.R.P.) down there so they can tell me just what they think about Mr. Moynihan. I'm sure they have some very interesting and illuminating opinions on the matter of Moynihan's "I'm misunderstood!" spiel. No, no one misunderstands you.

Moynihan has a) defended the torching of ancient churches in Norway by racist black metal devotees by comparing the church destruction to the destruction of the Swastika which sat on top of the Reichstag in Berlin by the allies after the fall of the Third Reich, intimating that the two actions were somehow equivalent, or that liberals were hypocrits for destroying the Nazi emblem and not saying that torching historic churches across Norway is ok. So I guess all Church destruction is fine then, including Moynihan's own Catholic Church in Portland?
No? Oh, I see, it's ok when racists in Norway do it but not ok otherwise. Gotcha.

b) Moynihan has defended Julius Evola, who, in many places, particularly in "A History of Fascism, 1914-1945" by Stanley G. Payne, is characterized as the leading Fascist intellectual in the post-war period, by saying, in response to a question about Evola's pro-Fascist and racist writings, that Evola authored a huge amount of books, from one on mountain climbing to one on Zen, so people who characterize him as being fascist are only looking at one part of his legacy. It just so happens that the legacy is the primary legacy of Evola. Moynihan's defense of him by saying that he wrote a book on mountain climbing is like asserting, hypothetically, that if Hitler had written some poetry that Mein Kampf would thereby not be a good judge of what his opinions were. It's confusion and obfuscation. Evola was a fascist, he continued to be a fascist until his death. I have a book by Evola "Men Among the Ruins", which is actually edited by Moynihan, which outlines in explicit fashion Evola's commitment to Fascism. Saying that Evola wasn't a fascist is dishonest...especially if you edited and helped to disseminate the very work which outlines the fascist doctrine of the person!!!!!

To say that Moynihan does not know is unbelievable. More likely, he's asserting that so that kids who are pulled into the fold will feel OK about it, so that their consciences won't pain them as they get drawn into the white supremacist movement.

A Racist who's trying to be hip

The racist Michael Moynihan, formerly of Portland, has established a new site for himself called the "Moynihan Institute" at http://www.moynihaninstitute.org, which looks like it's trying to peddle hate under the "we're hip, we're cool", ironic style that Jim Goad pioneered.

Goad, also of Portland, who puts his right wing rants in a "I'm just talking about the hypocracy of the left" mode, wrote "Redneck manifesto", which, actually, wasn't that bad, but has since distinguished himself by going out onto the far right in far less honestly ironic and disciplined ways.

He edits Exotic, a soft core guide to strip clubs which has a Seattle edition, which I've seen, that also uses the whole "Lefties just want to spoil our fun" tactic to pretty crassly push the agenda of strip club owners who just care that the money's rolling in.

After seeing the whole bullshit strategy a few times you begin to pick up on the fact that the "I'm just stepping up to politically correct hypocracy" shtick is a smokescreen. These people don't care about correcting excesses; they're straight out reactionaries who are veiling said reactionary rhetoric with this rigamorole. So, this then entitles them to be as racist and sexist as they want without suffering the consequences because, hey, they're being ironic.

People who point out excesses of political correctness in more honest ways are welcome to do so, but these people aren't being honest about their motivations or what they really stand for.

Which gets me back to the point about the "Moynihan Institute" blog. From the beginning, just using what's on the front page, about the mayor of Boston " This weekend we found out he did it again. We all know that Mumbles wants to be seen as a multicultural guy. That’s why he hosts a yearly “gay prom” in city hall for queer high schoolers. It’s also evidenced by how he gives valuable land away to militant Muslims so they can build a Mosque where they disseminate hate and make plans to blow up things in the United States."

"I’ve never really been a big fan of Joan Rivers. I’ve always found her to be the stereotypical whiney New York Jewess. In fact, anyone that has had as many face lifts as her and still looks that scary should sue for a refund from their doctor."

"So the driver was sitting there with his flashers on, minding his business, and 3 kids came running up to the bus. One of them was apparently beaten up pretty badly and they appeared to be quite scared. The driver says that they were essentially seeking shelter because they were being chased by some other kids, one of which had a gun. Eventually the other kids caught up to them, fired at the bus, and one of the bullets went right through the driver’s window and clipped him. The shooter and his buddies then took off.



That was the first part of the story that hit the news the night it happened. Before any descriptions were given, you just knew that this was a bunch of homies doing what they do best. At face value one could surmise that the 3 kids were simply being terrorized by some thugs, but Moynihan readers know differently:



- ALL of them turned out to be black.

- Their clothing ranged from do-rags, to hooded sweatshirts, to baggy jeans, to baseball caps.



Well I was shocked to hear that.

....

Personally I really don’t give a shit whether these monkeys kill each other off. We’re better off for it in the end on a number of levels – tax dollars being the most important to me. What really bothers me is that these fuckers are running around and firing guns off at will and a decent, hard working husband and father gets clipped. "

Note, these aren't all written by Moynihan himself, he has a posse of racists working for him.

Yes, it appears that the only thing different between Moynihan and the average racist skin is that Moynihan has taken a few hits of acid in his time and has enough wherewithal to know that by exploiting the "hip" rejection of political correctness he can rope some people in who are willing to delude themselves that they're not actually agreeing with, and accepting, racism and white supremacy.

I'm sure that if I made some contact with some people down in Portland, anti-Racist Skins, that, in point of fact, they'd be extra-willing to give me a chronicle of what exactly Mr. Moynihan was up to in their town, beyond the white wash of the fawning Willamette Weekly profile that managed to run interference for him over his racist activities.

Good book

Since I've been taking a break from the break neck posting of political material I've been devoting more time to exploring spirituality. A very interesting book which I've found is by Paul Naudon. Paul Naudon is a high ranking French Freemason, head of the Rectified Scottish Rite and high up in the French hierarchy for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The book he's written, "The Secret History of Freemasonry: it's origins and connections to the knights templar", is distinguished by the fact that it treats it's subject fairly academically.

Most writing on Freemasonry in English, especially anything these days which talks about freemasonry in relation to the Templars, is pure crap. Sensationalistic semi-literate bull shit.

Naudon distinguishes himself by rising well above that, making this book a welcome change. And, although the title doesn't really tell this, the book is actually more about the "Operative Masons", meaning the masonic brotherhoods of builders, and how Freemasonry sprung from them, than it is about "Speculative Masonry", which is what most people mean by Freemasonry. Nonetheless, the other subjects are dealt with in a very sober and illuminating way. It's telling that to get a book like this a translation had to be made from a French work.

Anyways, if anyone reading this has a few pennies to spend and is interested in this sort of thing I recommend checking the book out. The Title Link of this post leads to the Inner Traditions (the publisher) website and to the book, but here it is again if you need it.

From the website, about Paul Naudon: "Paul Naudon is a law scholar specializing in the history of civil law and institutions. He is also a Freemason who has held many high ranking posts in France, including that of Grand Prior of the Gauls (Rectified Scottish Rite) and State Minister for the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. He lives in France."

I'm actually fairly pro-freemasonry, so, if you're right wing and reading this, feel free to add that to your list of reasons to dislike me.

****On Edit, 2007: there's something extremely strange about this book, and that is that although Paul Naudon takes a sober viewpoint, one that's fairly sceptical, nevertheless the rite that he's head of is demonstrably esoteric, incorporating ideas from Martinism into it.

So, how does it feel?

To have your boss going to jail, FBI folks? Fitzgerald's indictments have already been mailed out..

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Howard Zinn: Vision and Voice

I think that the title of this article is amusing because Vision and Voice to me is most associated with Aleister Crowley's record of magical workings entitled "The Vision and the Voice", as well as with an excellant song by industrial group "Throbbing Gristle" entitled "The Vision and The Voice", which was inspired by Crowley's working, I'm guessing.

I like Zinn, I've even seen him speak, and I'm really glad that he's getting as much exposure as possible, but, personally, for me, I've already read "People's History", I've read "Declarations of Independance", II've read many, many articles by Zinn, I've seen documentaries, and I'm sort of Zinned out.

If people want to read a really interesting and valuable Zinn book, after People's History, I suggest taking a look at "The Southern Mystique", which is a sociological look at the south and an analysis of the desegregation struggles taking place in the civil rights era. It's a good book and is much more an analytical book, as opposed to a survey book, which People's History is. SNCC, the new abolitionists, is supposed to be good too, but I haven't actually looked at it. Both have recently been reprinted by South End Press. Another Zinn book which is good is a collection of essays by Zinn which deals with subjects as wide ranging as the "Jazz Age" in New York City and the political ideology of the Roosevelt administration. I found the essay on Roosevelt and the New Deal to be especially enlightening. I don't remember the title of the book so you're going to have to find it yourself, which shouldn't be so hard since there are bibliographies of Zinn's writings floating around there.

The South End Press links to the Southern Mystique and the New Abolitionists are as follows: The Southern Mystique

SNCC, the New Abolitionists

While I'm at it a good Chomsky book which similarly goes beyond the norm and which actually deals with political philosophy, Chomsky's take on a future society, and language is "Problems of Knowledge and Freedom", which has been reprinted by The New Press. There's a good transcript of a talk that Chomsky gave in the late sixties, I believe, about "Government in the Future", which has been put out by Seven Stories Press, which similarly deals with questions of political philosophy and government. I found it in an MP3 which was floating around the internet in, let's see, must have been 2000. I'm glad that it's been printed up. The links for the two books are as follows:

Problems of Knowledge and Freedom

Government in the Future

Dreams

I dreamed last night that I was in Sweden, staying at a hotel and being shown around by some people. I've never been to Sweden. If I could I'd relocate out of this country and I think that the dream of Sweden was a product of this. A proto-typical social democratic system. Ok Sverige.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

E.J. Dionne: "Virginia's race for the country Gubernatorial race has implications that cross state boundaries"

Dionne's article deals with the race for the governorship of Virginia, which is shaping up to be one where the death penalty plays a significant role. One of the contenders for lieutenant Governor is for it, another one has come out against it. The argument of the person for it is interesting:

"But Virginia has a death penalty on the books, so Kaine says plainly: "I take my oath of office seriously, and I'll enforce the death penalty."

That's not good enough for Kilgore. You have to read much of the ad he ran on this issue to believe it. In the commercial, Stanley Rosenbluth, whose son Richard and daughter-in-law Becky were murdered, declares:

"Mark Sheppard shot Richard twice and went over and shot Becky two more times. Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the person who murdered my son. He stood with murderers in trying to get them off death row. No matter how heinous the crime, he doesn't believe that death is a punishment. Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty. This was the worst mass murderer in modern times. ... I don't trust Tim Kaine when it comes to the death penalty, and I say that as a father who's had a son murdered."

Rosenbluth has every right to his rage, and all of us empathize with his loss. What can't be justified is the exploitation of someone else's emotion for the crassest of political purposes, or the underlying message of the ad."

Yes, someone who has had their children murdered has every right to be upset, but the Hitler analogy is interesting.

Conservatives ever since Reagan have used the idea of radical evil, of marginal cases within U.S. society like serial killers and psychopaths, to justify draconian punishments even though these grizly cases are an infinitesimal amount of the actual murders and crimes committed.

It looks like Hitler is being pressed into this cause as well, unfortunately there's a problem there: Hitler himself and the officials of the Third Reich used a similar rational to justify murdering the Jews.

Jews were categorized as "Life unworthy of life", as being the source of cultural and political degradation, of committing crimes and preying on the greater societies in which they lived, and this, the presumed racial and cultural inferiority---no, not just inferiority but the belief that Jews were actually the most destructive force to society out there---was used to justify taking extreme measures to deal with them, in this case meaning mass murder, after a campaign of increasing persecution.

Jews stood for radical evil in the Nazi mindset, just as these, in this case genuine, marginal criminals, stand for the threat of radical evil today. And the solution that pro-death penalty people are proposing is the same penalty that was suggested for the Jews: annihilation.

That should give people pause.

It should also give people pause that in states where this pro-death penalty line of thinking has been taken the farthest you have people who committed crimes while being minors executed; you have people who committed crimes while mentally retarded executed; you have people who committed crimes while mentally ill executed. No matter what the circumstances, these people are considered to be embodiments of radical evil and so in the eyes of the death penalty advocates must be destroyed.

It's similar logic which leads to the "Three Strikes and you're out" law in California, where people who have criminal records who are convicted even of non-violent offenses for their "Third Strike" are locked up for life. No surprise that they're mostly brown and black people, who in society's more racist perceptions are too labeled as embodiments of radical evil. Oh, it's only "Gang Members" that are labeled as such "Criminals", right? Which of course is why minorities are locked up to a much greater extent than members of the majority population, even though by rights whites logically commit more crimes as a group than minorities.

Psycho-killers and black and brown criminals are the reason for locking up people and throwing away the key and for executing them and for lobbying for the death penalty appeal process to be changed so that there's less chance for fairneess.

Think about it.

It's ironic.

David Sirota

Recently, David Sirota posted something where he said that the difference between liberals and progressives were that liberals sought to use government programs to redistribute wealth whereas progressives were mainly concerned with restraining corporate power. WTF?

I think that Sirota doesn't really understand left politics, because the distinction that he made is totally bullshit. So Progressives don't want programs like Universal Health Care? And people who belong to the welfare state model of liberalism don't want corporations to be restrained?

There's one thing which unites the two tendencies better than any attempt to turn "Progressive" into a neologism: it's called socialism, or social democracy if you want to be technical. Redistributive programs + restraining corporations and making the corporations serve society and not the other way around. Inventing new meanings for old words is a dead and strategy. Most people who have been described as "progressive" in recent years have actually been social democrats, even if this is not what they refer to themselves as, and the progressive agenda is a broadly social democratic agenda. "Progressive" is a nice term to avoid confusion with advocating replicating the USSR in the United States.

And about this whole thing with "Progressives" not really having strong positions, wasn't Sirota out there promoting the Kerry campaign, wasn't he saying along with everyone else that electing Kerry was necessary. It's a little too late to go back into the historical record and try to change things, Dave, and it's also rather insulting to put other progressives down for something you yourself advocated and had no problem with at the time.

The Stranger Love Lab and Annoying blond people

Checking out "The Stranger"'s pesonals in their print edition and then going online to look up these sorry folks can be a source of entertainment. I don't look for the truly bizarre, like the "I saw You" add from a guy who sat next to a person, never talking, on a bus from Missoula to Seattle nine years ago and now wants to meet. Um, that's fucking crazy. But rather I look at some of the responses as a sort of sociological sample. There's the idealistic younger women who tell too much about themselves, including unflattering things because, apparantly, they think it'll be more 'authentic' if they do so. No, it's not more authentic, you just make yourself a target for psychos who can manipulate your low self esteeem and comparative ignorance for their own advantage. Don't do that.

I wonder what an add I would put out there would look like: "Like's "Sex on the Flag" by KMFDM...." that's all I got now since I don't want to divulge any personal details.

Second, have people seen those fucking Nazi girls on the Huffington Post's frontpage? Their mama taught them to be racists from birth and now, in their early teens, they're singing racist songs in concert...which they have been since they were 9. And they're pictured wearing smiley faced T-Shirts which are modified to be pictures of Hitler. Jesus fucking Christ. People, in this case their mom, who think that being fair skinned and blond haired make them "superior" are fucking losers who don't have anything else going for them and instead want some sort of external thing which they can hang their egos on.

Not surprisingly, they're from California, which has graced us with the uber-Redneck, ubitquitous, "West Coast Chopper" paraphrenalia from Orange County, that nationally known center of culture in the U.S. Jesus fucking Christ, what's in the water down there, something which makes a personal oblivious to their own idiocy and willing to market it?

Down with the god damned white race.

Things running their course

Interestingly enough, what most people don't realize is that this site didn't come out of nowhere, as it is. No, I started to do some serious exploration of radical theory and history in 1999; then after the WTO happened, which put the equivalent of rocket fuel in everyone's radical life, those explorations consequently sped up, and they kept going really, really, fast until by about the fall of 2001 I had started to get enough information which I really, really wanted to share and work on together. I had posted articles here and there, I posted on Indymedia a lot, back when it actually functioned as a radical message board and not just crap; I had a few articles posted on Interactivist Info exchange, wrote a lot of comments, participated in a lot of discussions online, particularly, as time went on, with liberals, who I wanted to convert to socialism. Then one day in 2002 I found Tom Tomorrow's blog and, in a fit of creativity, decided to try my hand at making one of my own. The point is, most of what I put out there was based on things that I'd previously gathered and thought through. Even though the explorations continued at a fast pace they essentially had their base in what I'd already come across before I ever thought of having a webpage. I'm saying this because I think that I've pretty much exhausted that basic research and that basic impetus which started the whole thing. The Zeitgeist appears to have been worn out. I think that things are winding down on their own, but this means potentially that the site, or parts of it, will continue in some other form, like a "best of" in print or something. But this phase appears to be winding down; whether or not there will be another incarnation of this site, which I really hope there will be, hopefully, as said, in some sort of more durable form which people can hold in their hands and flip through, the energy is decaying.

Like before I stand by everything in this site; I haven't experienced any sort of disillusionment with anything, not with radical politics or philosophy.

I can sort of end by saying Xeper, Xepera, Xeperu, which is an Egyptian saying which means "I Become and through my becoming I creat the way for others to become". That expresses what I'm trying to accomplish with this site. To the extent that I suceed this site succeeds.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The notion that the war was the worst foreign policy decision of the U.S.

It's interesting how people are using this phrase to describe the war in Iraq. I don't think it's really apropriate because to make a mistake in a decision implies that there could have been a right way of accomplishing whatever it is you're wanting to accomplish in the first place. What would that have been? Stealing people's oil and occupying their country? That we had something good in mind in invading Iraq, some good intentions, but that it went horribly wrong? Come on. This war was wrong from the start, from the conception to the execution, and there was no way that the 'foreign policy' establishment of the United States could have gotten it 'right'. You don't get things which are intrinsically wrong 'right'.

David Sirota on progressive delusions

As much as Sirota criticizes progressives who are vehemently anti-Bush for not having concrete platforms beyond vitriol I think that he's right, but the characterization of progressives as people who believed that they didn't have to do anything to win in the 2004 election in my estimation is not.

Actually, let me qualify that. I know that what Sirota describes as progressives not wanting to exert effort was there, but I don't believe in the interpretation he gives to it. The main error that progressives made in the 2004 elections was assuming that united action by committed progressives alone through voting would be enough to tip the scales over to Kerry's side. What we saw in the 2004 election was that even though progressives may have zelously voted against Bush that for the rest of the country the traditional patterns of voting prevailed, with possibly a little blip on the conservative side coming from people who were the rightwing counterparts of the progressives.

Yes, there were the issues revolving around Bush's actions, but there was also the traditional battle between liberals and conservatives for the swing vote, which conservatives essentially won by appealing to moral values. It was a standard rehashing of the culture wars, which were still going on despite the lack of attention given to them.

So although I agree that progressives didn't do a very good job in reaching out to traditional democratic party supporters and convincing them to support a progressive agenda, or to conservatives who might have been swung to be anti-Bush, I don't agree with the idea that Progressives thought that they could win by doing nothing.

They believed in what is called a voluntaristic strategy instead of one based on deep organizing in order to effect social change.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Endless waiting

That's what it feels like these days, endless waiting spent looking for a sign that the Bush administration is really going to crack up, or that, at the least, this torpor, this impasse, where nothing seems to be completing itself, will start to break up. Hopefully the concluding of the Plame inquiry will generate some actual results and end the teflon character which has adhered to the Bush administration since the start.

Other than that its the waiting game....
Certain thing are and aren't possible during certain historical periods, and Bush's ascendancy has seemingly ushered in a period like that, where Bush's absolute refusal to acknowledge criticism in any way paving the way for the feeling that nothing matters, that nothing that people who oppose Bush do is making a dent. We know that it is, but not seeing concrete evidence of it really makes this waiting game one of stamina and endurance rather than one of ideas.

My hope, my premonition, is that once the facade of Bush is seriously eroded that the flood waters will come through. Then, it will seem like anything is possible; things which might have seemed impossible before will suddenly become easily agreed to. Things like the imprisonment of most of the administration and a complete reckoning for what they've done, a national conversation on what the United States has done in these past years, coming to life, along with a renewed legitimacy for a progressive agenda.

The American people are the ones that I'm actually more concerned with, not the administration itself. Sure, in the best scenario, the administration will be indicted, stand trial, and serve prison terms, but quite honestly that leaves the millions upon millions of people who either acquiesced to the Bush administration's lies or else actively supported them. Those are the people that I'm more concerned with and those are the people who a national reckoning, a sort of truth and reconciliation commission, would be done for. These are the people who need to be reminded, in the most explicit way possible, of what they allowed to happen. The people in the administration already know what they did and in any case aren't going to change; the people of the United States, on the other hand, have the potential to be brought to an awareness of what their callousness has caused the world to suffer.

As long as the people in the administration are kept far, far away from the reigns of government I really don't care. The people of the United States are a different matter. We have a responsability. We owe the world to come to some conclusions over our conduct.

The Length of this Blog

I've just backed up my entire blog, copying the entire site to text file. When the entire site is turned into a text file it runs 1,729 pages. And it takes up 5.1 MB
Think about that.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Radical and Revolutionary

Although I'm a radical I don't consider myself to be for of what many people who advocate some sort of Revolution are, at least theoretically, and rhetorically, for.

I see radical and the current idea of revolutionary as being almost two separate things. More specifically, I see the rhetoric of revolution, the urge to press for revolutionary change no matter what, as being at best superficial and at worst actually anti-radical in that they may not see the forest for the trees of their politics and therefore miss basic ideas which would be important for authentic radical change.

Additionally, the charge brought by conservatives that revolutionary rhetoric conceals emotional immaturity and personal problems, that people who become political are doing so to compensate for faililngs in other parts of their lives rings true to me to a greater extent than I thought it would. I've seen it in action: scratch a revolutionary and many times you'll find an immature kid who wants something to hang his hat on, who's actually farther removed from reality than the man on the street who lives a normal life.

So while I identify with radicalism you can hold the revolutionary rhetoric for me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Compassion in America

I wonder what American society would look like if Compassion were one of its fundamental organizing principles? Bush and the Republicans have made a sport out of being anti-compassionate, of saying that compassion doesn't work. I wonder what would happen if that was reversed and compassion given another chance?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

From Orcinus, dispute about Mussolini and phrase about Corporate State

"A couple of recently recurring bits of misinformation about the nature of fascism have come floating across my radar recently. Their falsity is fairly clear, but nonetheless, they are enjoying some currency at present, and need debunking.

The first is a supposed quote that I keep seeing pop up in e-mails sent to me:

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini


The fact is that, as far as anyone can ascertain, Mussolini never said or wrote this. Indeed, it contradicts much of what he did say about corporatism."


Because, as he explains, corporatism looked back to guilds and not to modern corporations.

Well, this is about half right. It did look back on guilds, but modern corporations, particularly very large corporations which take up a signifigant percentage of the industry within which they're located, fit the bill for what Mussolini was talking about.

Corporatism would have legal monopolies given to various corporations, as is understood by the current usage of the term, who would, in consultation with a state approved labor union and the fascist parliament, dominated by party members, set prices and production goals.

Although syndics sound like they're maybe pro-worker I think that in practice Mussolini gave much more weight to the corporation's side of things, being as he eventually crushed the socialist and communist parties during his reign and undercut any labor union which was not 'official' and government certified. So the sentiment of Fascism as being the fusion of State and Corporate power is right on, even if the exact wording of the phrase is otherwise doubtfull.

In fact, there's actually a strain of political thought called Neo-Corporatism which advocates corporations making private side deals with labor unions, deals where the official government wouldn't intervene so much, in exchange for maybe giving labor unions a little bit more. So in effect corporations, mostly in Europe, have put forward the idea of giving a little bit more to workers in exchange for cheating them out of what they could potentially get if the government became involved in the labor dispute. One of the keys of corporatism was the idea that, despite the incorporation of the syndics into the greater state edifice, fundamentally labor and management would meet each other as equals and privately work out the issues related to them without a real need for the state to micro-manage the enterprise.

Which of course would be terrible for the workers, seeing as they would have even less protection.

Yeah, and since the popular* notion is that fascism effectively gave the reigns of government over to big business this account of the phrase probably rings true with that level of the fascist years as well.

*popular in that I don't have the figures right in front of me and don't know off the top of my head what the deal is, not "popular" in some way which isn't correct. At the end of Mussolini's reign the average standard of living for Italians as a whole had precipitously decreased and the country had gone from being a first world power to almost a third world one. That figure I remember. Suffice it to say it's doubtful whether the workers, and not the corporations, benefitted from this.

Abraxas

Astute readers will have noticed a change in the subtitle of this website, which now mentions Abraxas. The meaning for this is quite simple. Abraxas was the gnostic god who C.G. Jung identified as being the synthesis of good and evil, or god and devil, or, as it concerns us here, of hate and joy. The unification of opposites and the transcendance of both.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

An Article which is evidence for the anti-vanen Heuval position.

Albeit one article. From Witchvox, an article by activist lawyer and wiccan priestess Phyllis Currot, about the tightening up of what bookstores are willing to carry:

"These attacks also threaten our freedom of religion because they stem from a Dominionist agenda and dangerous misperceptions about our spirituality. And though Harry Potter may be protected by record-breaking popularity, books that are actually about Wicca, Witchcraft and neo-Paganism aren't faring as well. As you've probably noticed, Pagan books have begun disappearing from many mainstream bookstores, sections devoted to Pagan spirituality are shrinking, being moved to remote sections of stores, and even re-categorized as "Occult."

Why? I've been told that the Pagan community isn't buying as many books, the market is saturated, books don't have the quality that readers want, and worst of all that the community doesn't support its authors. All of these discouraging explanations may be true, but there are other forces that are at play.

Censorship isn't just blatant, brutal and overt like book burnings or angry proselytizing from pulpits. It can also be done by stealth, with such subtlety as to be almost imperceptible. After hiding behind a cloak of media invisibility, the Theocratic Right (I prefer this term to the often-used "Christian Right, " as the latter is unfair to true Christianity) has begun to flex its muscle.

"Christian publishing is a force to be reckoned with, " Carol Johnson, Vice President of Bethany House Publishing recently said to Publisher's Weekly.

Perfectly comfortable with the power that Mammon affords them, it's been reported that the Christian Book and Evangelical Christian Publishing Associations are having an impact on major booksellers and mass retailers like WalMart. Knowing that it's all about the bottom line, they've pointed out that Christian titles such as The Left Behind series earn retailers, and publishers, far more money per square inch of book shelf space than subjects such as Wicca, feminism, and psychology, subjects which also happen to offend the so-called "family values" of their vast consumer market.

It's no coincidence that Wiccan shelf space is disappearing while "Christian" sections are exploding.

....

The political climate has shifted radically and dangerously to the extreme right and the media, the stores and the publishers have moved along with the politics. Money follows the market, enforcing its own kind of insidious censorship. But if we don't respond, individually and collectively, in the end we will have to acknowledge that the real reason we disappeared back into the broom closet was because of our own apathy. It's no coincidence that when Pat Robertson began his campaign to take over the government and secular institutions of America 30 years ago he predicted that the apathy of the American people would be the fundamentalist right's greatest weapon."

This, of course, is all due to working class people being proto-socialists who are just waiting for a progressive to lead them into the holy land of a progressive politics. No, this is a serious trend in American society, and to trivialize it by not even acknowleding either its presence or its power is self destructive to liberals and progressives on many, many, levels.

The problem with Katrina vanden Heuval's problem with Thomas Frank's "Kansas"

From "What's the Matter with What the Matter With Kansas?"

"Bartels concludes that the white working class hasn't moved right and that "moral values" are not pushing them to vote Republican.

Moreover, for the most part, voters' economic and cultural attitudes are either both liberal or both conservative rather than the bifurcated split Frank sees. Bartels also disproves the argument that there's been a long-term decline in turnout.

"

Vanden Heuval is citing a paper which was released which argues that white working class people haven't changed at all in their views and that they're really on the side of the Democrats. You know, this is an example of what's wrong with some of "The Nation"'s thought and with a lot of Z-Net's thought. First off, a study is just a study. Citing it on its own proves nothing. Studies get their validity in relationship to the other literature out there. Anyone can come up with a study, and without viewing it in the context of the literature, by just viewing it as right because it reinforces what you believe, you therefore invalidate the scientific component of it. I think that's what's happening here.

Why?

Because there's this strange phenomenon at "The Nation", at "Democracy Now!", at "Z-Net", to say, after all, that working class folks really are on are side, they really are proto-socialist and progressive, and to ignore whatever reality is out there in order to feel safe in liberal left bubbles. Feeling in safe in liberal-left bubbles means that they can relax and think that they're really down with 'the people', who really do support a progressive agenda even though they reelected George Bush, elected Reagan twice, consistantly elected right wing reactionaries, and are in more agreeement with Rush than with Amy Goodman.

Which is not to say that it's not a good thing to try and reach out to people, or that we should by any means dismiss people, but rather that there's a difference between looking at views head on, hard nosed, ready to accept reality and work from there, and taking bromides which tell us, if they're to be believed, that the working class is on the brink of a socialist revolution (practically), or that the U.S. really is "Progressive" (only no one votes for progressives except in a few districts and anti-abortion pro-Christian beliefs are a hell of a lot more conspicuous than any progressive plank), that those workers at the bottom are just waiting for a progressive messiah to come, declare in his platform that he's for universal health care, and then, lo and behold, the progressive majority will unfurl itself and give the person a whopping majority in the election, thereby ushering in a social-democratic united states.

I don't believe that that's how things are, and that if you do you probably live within the lefty media bubble and probably haven't gone out to really get to know "the people", whose side you're supposedly on.

Thomas Frank has done excellant work in trying to identify why people in states which previously were blue or socialist are now read. Lakoff has done a similar service in looking at the propaganda language employed by the right and seeing how their conscious framing of issues has lead to conservative victory.

Neither one of those people, in saying that many folks have turned conservative on many issues, believe that this is an eternal or god given development; both believe that it can be reversed if people just learn how to connect with average folks and sell them a progressive agenda that they can identify with and support. But what van den Heuval and others have done is to suggest that there's no need to connect with the people and convince them because....drum roll please...they're already progressive, because capitalism has fucked them over and therefore they have reason to be upset, which is Marxism trumping reality.

There's a reason that I, personally, don't consume a lot of the progressive media. I don't read the Nation regularly, I don't listen to Democracy Now!, I don't read Z-Net. The reason is that if you fall into the rut, with "The Nation" being the least rutted and "Z-Net" being the most, you start listening mostly to yourself, mostly to people who believe just as you do who, in their declarations, make you feel as if everything is fine---no need to worry, the working class will surely wake up and overthrow the system!. But it's not. It's not fine. Everything is not ok.

There are serious problems within the American polity that simply putting your fingers in your ears and saying "La la la la la", won't fix, issues that lead to among other things, the reelection of George Bush and the enduring support for the Iraq war, which only became unpopular very gradually, even though from the very start it was illegal and everyone with access to the media knew it. They supported it even though it was clear that Bush went against the UN and against the will of allies in Europe.

The fact that not finding weapons of mass destruction did not immediately lead to a drop in support for the war shows that there's something else going on here, something which isn't accounted for in other schema dealing with how American society works.

Thomas Frank is trying to solve this question head on. It would be good to look at his work instead of retreating into the house of mirrors of the lefty echo chamber.

Monday, October 10, 2005

By the way

The best "message for Satan" takeoff I've ever come across is on the song "KMFDM Sucks", where it says "KMFDM followed the ultimate sound and a message from Satan if you turn it around", which is followed by a sample of a guy leaving a message on an answering machine saying "hey uh, we were talking, give me a call, let me know what's going on, um, just call me anytime, um, I don't know, just call me, uh thanks." That's the message from Satan. Brilliant.

You know

I think that this whole ultra-christian business is just a sham. I'm convinced that these people get off on being medieval minded and seeing corruptions of satan every place. I mean, it gives there lives meaning to be the inquisitors. Beats fucking your fat ass wife after settling down to tv dinners every night, I suppose. Actually, that's not nice. In place of "fat ass", just replace any other general insult suggesting a life of mental and physical oblivion which is totally uninteresting and totally bereft of curiosity towards the outside world. There. That's better.

It turns out FoF has extensive intimacy guides.

just type in Sex to their search engine. All in the context of normal, healthy, marriage. Which I suppose means that the communal, bisexual, polyamourous, open marriage that predominates at "Times" headquarters wouldn't be kosher...And the cannibalism. The cannibalism would definitely be out.

Reportedly, James Dobson

And his wife authored a sex guide for married people. I'll try to find it. They don't seem to be promoting it heavily on the Focus on the Family site. Maybe there's a "Focus on making your family" companion site.

Brain Preference

Focus on the Family's term for whether you're a left or right brain person. Here's there description of right brained people:On the other hand - or hemisphere - which subjects in school may be easier for right-brained people? Math (geometry, trigonometry), biology, music, creative writing, foreign languages, drama, dance, choreography, chemistry, physics, art, design, philosophy, sociology and cultural anthropology.

In which career fields do you find more right-brained people? Consultants of all types, philosophers, emergency room physicians, psychiatrists, artists, writers, entertainers, musicians, composers, elementary and high school teachers and coaches, actors, dancers, designers, interior decorators, counselors, chaplains, public relations and marketing people, pediatricians and pediatric nurses."

Clearly, right brained thinking breeds nothing but fags and other tools of satan. Therefore, the right brain hemisphere must follow the adenoid. It's the only way to be sure that your child won't fall into this hellish trap.

FoF II

Yeah, I understand protecting kids from explicit content, yet that's no reason to force kindergarten standards on rational adults, covering American culture with a dumbed down nerf coating beyond anything that the people conservatives love to hate could come up with. Then again, this Focus on the Family and bible stuff probably allows people who otherwise would be crippled by utter lack of social skills to meet and procreate. Did I say that was a good thing? My bad.

Focus on the Family

Appeals to mental cretins who want to drag us down with them...

Focus on the Family

Yeah, I'm focussing on your family, specifically your thirty something hot wife who I've been 'seeing', inside and out, asking 'probing' questions, while you're at work. Anyways, browsing the Focus on the Family site, sure to come up with something good.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom, by Pasolini

120 Days of Sodom is a remarkable movie for a couple of reasons. First off is that it's pretty much inaccesable in the United States. You can of course order the DVD but there's virtually no movie rental service which will carry it. Caveat to that would be encyclopedic movie renters like Scarecrow Video in Seattle, but like most people, I don't live close enough to Seattle to justify making a trip there to get the movie and then a trip back later in the week just to return the thing, so this applies to me as well. Pasolini is obscure enough, but Salo is effectively banned in the United States, effectively but of course not officially. Me, I got my copy off the internet, where a Scandinavian net head was kind enough to post the thing. There are few films which are really censored in the United States, so when you come across one that is it's a unique treat.

But the other thing that makes Salo so unique is the twist on the story given by Pasolini. Salo refers to the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini's puppet state at the end of World War II. The film, while being based on De Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, takes place within the fascist Republic and features leading lights from the fascist regime, including Mussolini himself, as the characters who engage in sadism, violence, sexual violence, sexual aberations, murder. The film, as you might guess, is not meant to be sexually pleasurable; instead, Pasolini is using De Sade's story to communicate the barbarity of Fascism, especially the late fascism of the German protected Social Republic.

In this version, Mussolini, who's played by the character with the beard, and some high fascist officials use the SS and the Fascist security forces to procure men and women who will then be used as sex slaves by the four people involved. They listen as whores tell the four stories of their experiences, and general abuse punctuates the story telling.

The Mussolini character gives lessons here and there about fascism, in a very subtle way, not propagandistic, insisting on 'natural inequality' being the source of society.

What it captures, what all of this captures, is a sort of decadent atmosphere which reveals what the Nietzschean superman or the Fascist interpretation and ideal of the superman, adds up to. They make reference to Nietzsche directly. The strong, virile, man with no moral compunctions who rules by force is what this movie is trying to convey, as well as the total inhumanity of such a venture.

By taking this stand Pasolini corrects a major flaw in De Sade's work. Sade criticizes power, tells tales about deranged pedophiliac priests and bishops, of people casually exploiting others for their own pleasure, and talks about a world where no real justice exists; yet, De Sade is here engaging in self criticism, the criticism of the aristocracy during absolutism which he was a part of, who really were above the law, and as such he's both very vague about what he's really critiqueing and at the same time moving in his writing between critique and embrace, between condemning lawlessness and embracing it.

Because of this, Sade's work is ambiguous; it's not anchored to anything beyond his class and so the idea of how all of this relates to society as a whole is kind of fuzzy.

Pasolini has solved this problem by making the people who inflict the violence against others officials of the Nazi puppet regime in northern Italy during the last years of the war. The people they abuse become the Italian people as a whole while the status of the oppressors as enjoying their ability to do this based on military force from without lends an air of realism to the thing.

People might argue that this film is obscene, but I don't think so. It would be obscene if Pasolini had made it for his own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others, but he made it as a political statement which involved obscene elements. I don't believe that employing obscenity to make a greater point is obscene, or qualifies as obscene.

So if this movie crosses your path some time, check it out.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

America is a strange place

It's maybe one of the only places where a person can be at once an extreme misanthrope and an extreme partisan of equality and social justice. Misanthrope because people are content to live out there lives not pressing for social change, unconscious. Partisan of equality and social justice because despite the torpor you know that social change is desirable and possible. We live in a society where no one gives a damn that Bush has lied consistantly about the basic facts which have brought us to war twice, yet a place where if people ever woke up could have it all.So one can be cynical about humanity and yet optimistic about the potentials for humankind.

America is a strange place

It's maybe one of the only places where a person can be at once an extreme misanthrope and an extreme partisan of equality and social justice. Misanthrope because people are content to live out there lives not pressing for social change, unconscious. Partisan of equality and social justice because despite the torpor you know that social change is desirable and possible. We live in a society where no one gives a damn that Bush has lied consistantly about the basic facts which have brought us to war twice, yet a place where if people ever woke up could have it all.So one can be cynical about humanity and yet optimistic about the potentials for humankind.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bush says this whole thing is...

the issue around which the 21st century will revolve, the U.S. vs. Radical Islam.

If that's true, Allahu Akbar.

Just kidding.

Bush the dark ager

I guess in this speech Bush gave, the one where he talked about an Islamic empire from Spain to Indonesia, he portrayed the struggle as the U.S. against what is effectively the dark ages. This from a man who believes God had told him to invade Iraq. Dark ages indeed, the savior of progressivism is a person who in another age would be a deranged cult leader. Everyone who puts this dark ages vs. progressivism idea out there can just fuck off as far as I'm concerned. You're bringing us back to the middle ages yourself *^%$%^#$%^#@#$.

"Kill Whitey" Parties in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

From the Disinfo newswire, which I've increasingly found to have decent and interesting stories beyond "We Hate Bush" in five different keys..

"For those who can't be bothered to click the above link and read the article, I'll sum it up here. "Kill Whitey" is the name given to a series of monthly hip-hop themed parties staged in Williamsburg for large groups of wealthy, white hipsters too frightened to darken the door of real hip-hop clubs at which they might actually run into a real, live black person. At the parties, a white DJ known as Tha Pumpsta spins a mix of hardcore hip-hop, with a special emphasis on Miami booty-bass and other such unrepresentative special-interest genres within hip-hop, and encourages the partygoers to mock the dance moves, speaking style and attitudes of black people immersed in hip-hop culture, the raunchier and more characatured the better."

Yes, hipsters. People sometimes complain about activists being from seemingly privileged families, or, I should say, the fact that not every activist is someone who grew up in the worst environment possible and who has experienced the worst oppression possible on multiple fronts, using this as evidence for them not being sincere. But people forget that there are quite a lot of counter-culture people out there who really are insincere, who honestly don't give a damn despite coming from insane privilege and who actually do do racist things just for the "ironic" thrill of it, a thrill which I doubt is actually ironic. That's just their excuse for vomiting up the anti-black anti-minority hate they grew up with back out at the world. It's "Ironic". See? I can say anything I want, just say I'm being "Ironic" and it's fine. But back to the point...which is that it's not like there aren't real assholes masquerading as being misfits from the rest of society who one can criticize.

These "Kill Whitey" parties are evidence of that. When I first saw the headline I thought they meant Williamsburg Virginia, and so I thought, ok, this is a Southern thing. But the fact that you're in New York City and you're not willing to go to Harlem or black sections of Brooklyn to go to a hip hop show is just pathetic. Christ, when I was going to college up in New York City my roommate, a pasty white kid, who was younger than me, went up to Harlem to see Gil Scott Heron (The Revolution will not be televized guy). It was no big deal. Yeah, this is just pathetic.

There are enough truely morally repugnant young people to go after without trying to find people like that among activists, lefties, anarchists, etc..

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The United States, unfair conquerer, unqualified leader

Thinking about the mass incompetance and crime which has come to infest American society on so many levels, from the highest echelons of American government spreading in its cancer effecting virtually all the poor to the middle class man on the street, to college students who don't give a fuck, something struck me.

We're in the position, now disputed, as the leaders of the world pretty much because we were the only major country left intact after the second world war. The Soviet Union had suffered serious losses, was operated according to different principles, and mainly got its power through the physical occupation of eastern and central Europe at the end of the war. So that leaves us as the major player. And for the first few decades after the Second World War we filled that role with glee, cranking up production for the rest of the world like it was no one's business, having Europe by what they could no longer produce themselves.

That, and not intelligence, not skill, not greater industriousness, or destiny, was why we prospered after the Second World War. Now, in the decades after the war the American government made fairly decent use of their new status, expanding education, making sure via Keynesian economic stimulus that people enjoyed a decent standard of living in return for productivity. Although they threw the power of the U.S. around, intervening in Europe's internal affairs not to mention the rest of the world, they didn't do so unintelligently. Because of this it was really possible to look at the United States and see the title of leader, superpower, being a somewhat rational label, not something just given to a bully power that likes to extort obediance from everyone else and in general piss on the rest of the world.

But that was then, this is now. The virtues which once characterized American society have decayed to the point where there's really nothing except the lingering trace of that original supremacy due to having an intact economy which really is any reason for the United States to get the respect it gets and the prestige it gets throughout the world.

We're not well educated, we're not an equal society at all, we have masses of poor people and small numbers of ultra elites, our college students don't work for their learning, assuming that they'll just make it because that's what College Educated people do, our infrastructure is crumbling, we have a crony government in power that doesn't give a damn about anything else, and we've been hemorraging our economy to the rest of the world.

The United States is free to go along with this course of action, one that promotes or at least allows all of these things to happen and to intensify, but I think that the day is coming where this trace of an edge will be gone and where we'll be left with what we really have become: a second rate country in all respects.

We don't have to go down that road, things can be reversed, but at this time we don't really deserve the acclaim that's given us, which we think we deserve without question, automatically.

New Orleans and the disaster of Katrina shouldn't have surprised anyone, anyone really familiar with the United States, but we've constructed this image of ourselves for the rest of the world which is so at variance with the actual facts that people don't have any real idea of what this place is actually like.

They're getting the picture, and I think that soon they won't just be drawing back in horror at our primitive, backwards, social and physical infrastructure but will be starting to ask why a country like this deserves such prominence on the world scene.

And we won't have a good answer to give them.

"A Thanksgiving Prayer" by William S. Burroughs

From Inter-Zone.Org

"To John Dillinger, in hopes he is still alive

1986


Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shit out through wholesome
American guts.


Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind the
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.
"

Liminal Revolutionaries, from "Whorecull"

"If you're reading this chances are you're also a creative, often part-time, 21st-century production centre, a portal promulgating either through thought or art other worlds (to which we seem reluctant to fully take flight). What is the potential of our online-led movement? Is this the revolution now? And how much progress can humanity make before regulators banalise it? Every spare moment we're at it, positing alternative realities and visions of a better future by night while working as wage slaves in the day. This inquiry is directed mostly at the webmasters and the bloggers, but it is relevant to where they connect with those who make art or play and perform music, or promote these and other artforms, in their own micro scenes, content to cultivate not accumulate."

Decent article, basically saying that counterculture and lefty blogging has to go out from the screen and anchor itself in the real world---or, get many more people on board in order to create a real virtual counterculture community, which then maybe will make things happen in real life.

(link from Disinfo.com)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Plan

I think that I'm going to slow down in the posting. Now watch, after saying this I'll go on a marathon posting spree. Either way, bloggers are fond of prognosticating their own demise and then going back out and starting up again, I've done this too, and so I won't say that's the case; besides, I have some research projects still going and potentially bearing fruit, so it isn't going to come to a stop by any means. But, maybe I should talk about the plan of this website and how it evolved.

Blog writers are also prone to make grandiose pronouncements on how many people read them or on what their influence is. I don't have any concrete numbers but I do know that at least the people who edit the Infoshop news wire look at the RSS feed, and I know that I've been in situations where someone has made reference to a recent concept found on my page without having any clue that the person who wrote it was in the room. This is especially entertaining when they talk about it disparagingly, truely, and pretty surreal too.

I don't know if anyone out there cares about why I've written all this stuff or what I thought I was doing, I don't know if anyone really thinks well of this stuff, but I'm going to write this anyways and put it on the sidebar.

One of the constant complaints, such as they are, about this site is that it's hard to understand. Partly this is due no doubt to the writing style of some of this, which for the sake of basically articulating a concept sometimes sacrifices clarity, sometimes it has to do with the concepts themselves. More often than not it has to do with both because the reason why I would write something hapharzardly is because the topic is hard enough for me to understand and I figure why not just get it out there any way I can. But the obscureness needs something to penetrate it.

The basic thought behind this site, as it was, and as it evolved, was to do in the real world what novelists had done in the realm of fiction. Novelists often include suggestions for alternatives in their writings and its no secret that they sometimes secretly want the fantasies about alternatives that they come up with to be realized in some way. But although they can think of alternatives and describe them there isn't any sort of obligation for their ideas to have any realistic relationship to the real world. They can think of utopia all thy want but realizing those values? That's another story. Burroughs is an example of a writer who, in his later works, includes ideas which can be used as a guide to possibilities for social change.

But those values, those ideals, can in fact be realized, to a greater extent than is usually acknowledged. The only problem is finding real paralells, and that's somewhat difficult. But that's what I intended to do, to ground utopian fantasies in some reality, to ground that which was established by the aesthetic sensibility, which has the potential to reorder the world on an ideological leve, in something substantial.

That's why there were so many explorations.

Controlled Utopia in reality. Musicians, artists, writers, all establish new ways of being, new modes of life; I consider myself a musician and, to some extent, an artist. I know how potent those tools are. But to realize that which the aesthetic sensibility establishes in real life, that's a task in itself. I hope that I've contributed to the realization of aesthetic possibilities and possible utopistics in reality and that people can take what I've done and go farther with them.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Creationism

Strange thing, this whole Intelligent Design theory. Stranger still that we live in a country that doesn't have a strong enough civic culture to counter this stuff. "Piled Higher and Deeper", that was how one intelligent design proponent characterized PhDs who opposed his brand of creation science. So, on the one hand you have religious nuts clamoring for the repeal of science, this is agreed. On the other you have the strange phenomenon of the U.S., one of the richest countries in the world, not being able to support an arts and music culture of its own, in fact having quite a few things that most countries assume is normal go to the chopping block of economic necessity. Think about those two conveniant facts for a second or two.

We're afraid of funding the arts because they might generate something that up tight people might not like yet we're willing to teach creationism in our schools, or at least a version of it through intelligent design.

Literacy rates have gone down; church attendence remains high.

Funding for higher education in the form of grants is getting harder, yet the Christians want, and have support for, their beliefs taught in highschools.

What the fuck is happening here? Are we being reduced to a country where the only options are to work at whatever bad paying job is left and then go to church on Sunday?

Christianity and company

I forget who said it, but author Peter Lamborn Wilson quotes one source in "Sacred Drift" who says that if people really understood Islam they'd be practicing pagans; this was from a Muslim author. I think the same goes for Christianity. If people really understood how Christianity was practiced and thought of in the first centuries AD they'd be closer to paganism than to what is currently called Christianity. There's no question of mysterious sources regarding this, just go to your local book store or library and look up "Gnosticism". After "The DaVinci Code" availablity of gnostic texts has gone through the roof...

Paganism II

Ok, that was a little harsh. I think that the reason that paganism and all of that is resurging right now is that the old values don't work quite as well for this day and age as they may have used to and the idea of an atheistic, mechanistic, world is insufficient as well. So new myths, new interpretations of reality, are being sought out by people by which they can live their lives. Most of the new religious ideas which are popular have more involvement by individuals in them, beyond the attending services and saying prayers of Christianity. I don't know precisely what the resurgence of interest in paganism means for this country, or why exactly this has happened. Well, wait a second, maybe worship of nature is a sort of natural corillary to the enlightenment unveiling of nature. Seeing the patterns in the natural world and within human kind may prompt people to glorify nature itself.

Paganism (some)

I don't surf Wicca related websites that often; it's an odd day that has me on one of them. But today is that day and to tell you the truth surfing Wiccoid websites today has made me mad. Mad because it's painfully obvious that 99.9% of these people are just Christians in different dress, that their religion is mostly a few words of sweetness and light and not much more.

The Ultimate Relativists

Conservatives are perpetually up in arms about "moral relativism", but if they really wanted to find relativist all they would have to do would be to look in the mirror.

Sound incredible? It shouldn't. Through the sponsorship of the conservative right of 'research' debunking global warming, to similar 'research' about intelligent design to Rumsfeld's famous comment about things you know, things you know you don't know, and things you don't know you don't know, relativistic arguments have become part of the political mainstream in service of the Republican agenda.

When you look at the arguments around intelligent design, for example, there's a sizable amount of general scepticism towards the scientific method and the established scientific record which is then put in the service of 'proving' that since all theories are therefore equal Intelligent Design should be entitled to a hearing of its own. The culture of bias and fairness has given rise to a belief that partisanship is so entrenched in American society that any statement of fact is contaminated and therefore any counter statement of fact is potentially true. For conservatives, this counterstatement of fact isn't just hanging out in the air, something random coming out from left field. No, instead they see the problem of American society as being the pervasive penetration of it by liberal values and see any counter statements of fact as being natural levelers for the conservative cause--which they see as ultimately helping objectivity.

What they don't realize is that there's a difference between statements of fact and statements which are openly statements of interpretation. In general there's a higher standard of proof required for facts to be proven wrong but a lower one to contest what those facts mean in a cultural/intellectual/moral sense. Take the reality of global warming. The facts, arguments for which have been built up over the course of almost three decades, are pretty sound that there's significant climate change that has to do with human activity altering the composition of the atmosphere, including the greenhouse effect and the ozone holes over the poles. Now, the signifigance of this fact for economic theory is something else. Conservatives want to refute this collection of fact because they believe that it suggests that the free market model of capitalism is in fact flawed. They see the market as being the best way of dealing with pollution, thinking that the market would prefer efficiency over waste possibly, and that acknowledging that capitalism has created global warming is the first step towards statist intervention which would be detrimental to the market process and, in their minds, to efficient pollution management.

Now, although people may argue about the economic signifigance of global warming, what the oil industry has been trying to do is to suggest that the bare facts themselves are wrong, contributing to this sort of wonderland atmosphere where 'facts' don't mean anything and are just 'interpretations'.

Although interpretations can vary, if the basic facts which a person bases their interpretations on are under dispute then no fixed interpretations can be made at all and neither can other's interpretations be argued against without a common source of facts. Attacking the basic validity of facts is the right's current way of staving off that ultimate discussion of whether the free market is or is not the best way of dealing with pollution which is causing global climate change.

The same could be said for the facts around intelligent design. What the people pushing for ID don't want to talk about are the implications for the bible being just one story of how society came to be. To argue about the rightness, wrongness, and signifigance of religion is what they don't want to do, especially when the questions revolve around the fundamentalist varieties of Christianity that the intelligent design people are peddling. Questions about religion would easily run into questions about the value of fundamentalist Christianity as a force in the public arena, which is extremely controversial. So instead of talking about that, and possibly having the result be something they don't like, people are imputing the facts surrounding evolution. If evolution can't be established vs. creationism then the arguments about religion in American society can't be asked.

Same thing with pretty much all of the propaganda that comes from Fox news. If the basic facts can be controlled then interpretive questions can never be asked.

Although they've tarred the left with the label, the disputation of facts which they are engaged in makes the right the most powerful force for relativism in today's world. Indeed, their arguments make one want to refer them to Alan Sokal's essay published in "Social Text" where he demolishes the theory of gravity as an example of how far gone the post-structuralists were.

The shoe would fit.

Strange, though, how amid charges of relativism the left, progressives, are the ones actually standing up for moral values and how the right is using the same arguments that they say that the left uses.

Stranger things have happened, I guess.

Comment Attack

Lately, it seems, bots have been attacking this site by generating bullshit comments. Fortunately, there are ways of dealing with fake comments.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

judy miller

The question came up why was judith miller refusing to give testimony if the people she'd be testifying about had given her the permission to do so. Why stay in jail instead of answer these questions? My vote is this: without her testimony the grand jury process couldn't be completed, there wouldn't be a final report written, wouldn't be charges possibly filed. I think that staying in jail was a way for her to buy the people she's trying to protect time and generally to slow down the investigation.