Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And you wonder why people don't like rural areas and are suspicious of the South

It's because of things like this, from Southern California:

"At many Inland Empire high schools, racial conflicts arise when large numbers of incoming black and Hispanic students accustomed to urban environments undergo a clash of cultures with their new white classmates in semi-rural locales like Norco, a city of about 24,000 located 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles that still calls itself "Horse Town usa." Norco's official Web site plays "Ghost Riders in the Sky" as theme music, greets visitors with "Howdy, Partner!" and proclaims, "We are dedicated to providing a high quality of life while keeping our rural lifestyle." City jobs are listed under the header, "Cow Hands Wanted."

At Norco High School, two black female students who sat for lunch at a table in the shade that a group of white students told them was designated "Whites Only" last September were hit in the face with burritos and then punched in the face by two white males. A few days later, a group of white students beat another black student unconscious. Racist graffiti appeared on the school's walls. Yet another black student found song lyrics about shooting blacks placed on her desk.

"People of color move their families out here because they can get a house for the price of an apartment in the big cities on the coast, and because they think it's safer out here than the neighborhoods they can afford there. But a lot of times they get here and they find a different kind of danger, a different kind of tension," said Lorraine Watts, president of the NAACP in Lake Elsinore. "Truth is, they have second thoughts once they're here, and if they could afford housing elsewhere, a lot of them would leave." "


This is from a story by the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report.

Here's more:

The Lake Elsinore assault took place 10 months after a comparable hate crime at a high school in Murietta Valley, a similarly sized, practically identical city that's just a short drive south on Interstate 15. In that case, a black basketball player at Murietta Valley High School was violently fouled by a white opponent in a game during which white fans yelled racial slurs from the stands. The next day, two white students attacked the ball player outside the high school principal's office, severely beating him while yelling more racial slurs. The attackers, then aged 14 and 17, pleaded guilty to assault and making racial threats, and served short sentences in a juvenile detention center.


Of course, people who point things like this out are just elitist liberals who have a grudge against rural residents and against the South, right?

People will talk about how the exploitation of these people needs to be taken into account, etc... but when are we going to apply standards of responsability to them?
When people from the dominant ethnic group beat the shit out of people who are different races and ethnicities, why is there a move to try to explain it away? No such thing is given to blacks and hispanics who commit crimes; no, for whites, every explanation and exhonerating idea is put forward. It's like people think there's really no such thing as white supremacy, or that white supremacists can't be working class, or if they are, that they're misunderstood.

There's a fundamental difference between reaching out to people who belong to the other side of the liberal/conservative divide and trying to convince them to switch sides and tolerating hard core neo nazis and racists because they happen to be working class.

Work is only possible if there are valid reasons to do the work. I think that despite the posturing by people on Fox news about liberals that there is a grain of truth in the idea that liberals have cut themselves off from the concerns of regular people and don't know how to communicate their ideals to them effectively anymore. That's a failing which can be remedied, which can be the basis of new efforts on outreach, because there's a fundamental error at the bottom of it. For people who are hardcore neo-nazis I don't see where the misunderstanding is, to be blunt about it.

Nevertheless

With trying to reason with people and expand the liberal/left support base I'm not quite to the level Ted Rall is at yet, which is to say given up on it totally, declared that people who supported Bush are idiots completely, but you know, I'm thinking about it.

There seem to be two camps, which more and more are hardened: those who buy into the Bush regime and those that don't. The war is becoming increasingly unpopular, and this is a good thing, but how long will this last?

When it comes down to it, this might be a case of irreconcilable differences.

Comments on the comments on the comment

Again, this whole thing about wanting to take over, what the hell? Where does this come from.

A lot of the things that I like most sectarian lefties and the Bolsheviks themselves either did not like or probably wouldn't like.

Lenin himself declared that Dostoyevsky was 'sick', I like Dostoevsky quite a bit.

There's a reason why you hear only so much about people like Rodchenko and Mayakovsky, the photographer/poster maker and the poet, and then nothing: after the revolution had been underway for a certain period of time these avant-garde people were accused of being against the people (well Rodchenko anyways; Mayakovsky committed suicide before then), and their interesting experiments were supplanted by a 'heroic' socialist realist style that had increasing similarities to the kind of art propagated by the Third Reich--pictures of happy, contented, purely Russian (i.e. non Jewish), workers bringing in the harvest or working in a factory.

Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) here I come!

I think, for whatever it's worth, that in these days of increasing Christian backlash against basically everything in art and culture that falls outside of their narrow tastes and understandings, it's more important than ever to support controversial artists, to support writers whose works people want to censor, to support people whose CDs attract notice from censorious groups, to make it such that the extreme and the obscene are still free, that there still lies freedom on the margins of thought and on the margins of society.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Comment on Fascist Valhalla

I think that Whitney's point is very good. There's a great book out there called "The Condor Years" by John Dinges, which deals with the rise of "Operation Condor" in South America, which was a security service made up of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which apprehended dissidents of the member countries wherever they were and returned them to their own countries to face torture and execution. Along the way Dinges outlines the rise of DINA, the state security force, in Chile. DINA was established as a military security force which was answerable only to Pinochet, and which given full reign facillitated the torture of thousands and the murder of approximately 3,000 people, by DINA's own admission. So having a military intelligence/law enforcement agency out there is pretty damn scary, because the precedents of a militarized law enforcement agency are especially clear, and they aren't good at all. In fact, when has it ever been a good thing for the military to get involved in law enforcement?

We need to complain and to make it that the administration doesn't implement this.

P.S. to people sensitive to references to fascism on this and other websites: isn't it better to complain now, before anything has really congealed, when there's something we can do, than to wait until it's too late? Isn't it better to be too concerned than to let the country slide into fascism with no one giving a damn?

Mike Whitney: 'Bush's fascist Valhalla'

"The strategy to militarize the country is moving forward as planned despite apparent setbacks in Iraq. As the Washington Post reported on Nov. 27 the Dept of Defense is expanding its domestic surveillance activity to allow Pentagon spies to track down and "investigate crimes within the United States".

An alarmed Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said, "We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without a congressional hearing".

Is this the first time that the naive Wyden realized that the war on terror is actually directed at the American people?

The expanded powers of the Pentagon were presented in a proposal by a presidential commission headed by Lawrence Silberman and former Senator Charles Robb, two members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the 9-11 "whitewash" commission. The CFR, a 4,000 member amalgam of elites from the military, industry and media, was the driving force behind the Iraq war, as well as, enthusiastic advocates of the national security state. Their recommendations will allow the military to assume the traditional role of law enforcement and by giving it the authority to "carry out domestic criminal investigations and clandestine operations against potential threats inside the United States."



Oh, yeah; and the Pentagon will be involved in the "apprehension, or detention of individuals suspected" of criminal offenses.

This is a giant step for removing dissidents and political enemies while further militarizing the country.

The Patriot Act is also up for renewal and will remove the last nettlesome parts of the 4th amendment and any conceivable notion of personal privacy. "Lone wolf" provisions in the new bill allow law enforcement to investigate any American citizen, whether he is connected to an "alleged" terrorist organization or not, seizing whatever records they want, without having to show "probable cause". The same is true of the Act's NSS (National Security Letters) which permits government agents to sort through all of one's private records without judicial oversight. "

Comments: Part II

On this comment there was a section saying something to the effect of 'how do you expect to lead a new society?'. I can answer that simply: I don't. This website isn't one of those Marxist-Leninist ones where they expect to be the new rulers in the new society, whenever that comes around. No, I just hope that these writings are interesting and stimulating for people. It's strange how some people seem to think that writing about politics=wanting to be leaders; our society programs people to think that. No one ever considers that a person could be writings just because they want the world to be better or that they just oppose the things they say they oppose, no, everyone has to think that there's some agenda behind it, something which discredits the laudable things which people are really after. And anyone who compares Trotskyist websites to this can detect the difference in flavor in about two seconds flat. There's no party here, no "dictatorship of the Proletariat" urged (although the running of society by those who make it up is urged), no vanguard spoken of, and certainly no declaration that the site or me, who right now am the only author, is in some way the representative of some kind of vanguard.

Interesting Comments

I love the comments that I get sometimes! Since people often comment on things that are way back from the front page they sometimes aren't seen by people.

I just received a great, paranoid, delusional, comment regarding a post I wrote saying that the U.S. was becoming a creole/multi-racial nation and that this was a great thing.

The same poster had written previously in horror about blacks and latinos and immigrants in general in comments posted, so this is a recurrent theme.

I think it's really funny. On the same token I think that if people intermarried to the extent that there was no "white" or "black" or "brown", that that would be a great thing.

So thank's for the suggestion Mark! On the count of "how could you possibly present a good alternative for the future?" count (there's some scepticism here), well, I don't know..maybe what you think is a good society is something that I wouldn't consider a good society, and vice versa.

Peace out.

"Carpe Diem, Progressives", by David Michael Green

This is a very good article, which basically suggests that Bush and his administration are going down for the count under the massive weight of many different scandals and because of the war. While I don't necessarily know if this is the case, I do appreciate his call for Progressives to "Seize the Day", i.e. Carpe Diem, and to start criticizing , making noise, about the conservative agenda such that it's ultimately repudiated as a possible policy choice for the forseeable future. Green talks about the policies in action now being the result of twenty five years of conservative action starting with the first Reagan administration. I think that this is a useful way to conceptualize what exactly is going on now, because before Reagan this stuff, from war done for transparently ideological reasons, to alliances with far right fundamentalist Christians, to the general policies of redistribution of income upwards and the elimination of social programs and regulations, was either, at the least, concealed under language which at the the minimum paid tribute to egalitarian ideals, or, at the most, was relegated to the fringes.

What I think that the article falls on is not explicitly linking the failure of the Conservative policies to a failure of capitalism. This, I think, is what we're experiencing too; we're experiencing just what happens when free market policies and the corporate ethic are allowed to run rampant over society. It's not just creating a massive political crisis, it's also creating lost jobs, deindustrialization, environmental degradation, and is at the heart of the culture which has produced the shameless lawbreaking which characterizes every one from De Lay to Bush himself.

The failure of the Bush administration is also a failure of capitalism and also of the neoliberal globalization agenda, which developed hand in hand with Reagan's ideology and the ideologies of all of his sucessors. Trickle down economics and deregulation aren't in any way different from the liberalization of rules regarding capital and the dismantling of social safety nets in the third world, at least theoretically. Previously, we've been insulated from the types of major displacements that these things have brought in their wake because we've been the United States and therefore both rich enough to mitigate some of the effects for long periods of time and strong enough to set aside some of the components of the neoliberal agenda when we saw it wasn't in our interest. Now, the rubber is meeting the road, and neoliberalism is starting to effect the United States like it's effecting other countries, and the Bush administration, in pressing for the taking away of the rest of the social safety net and the dismantling of further regulations, is responsable for it.

The fall of Bush is also the fall of the neoliberal model at home and while Progressives would do well to indeed "seize the day" and press for change they should also include an attack on the heart of the neoliberal capitalist agenda as part of their actings.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Canadians

Just got back from Victoria, British Columbia, where I was for a few days as part of what's become a sort of tradition for Thanksgiving.

It was only my second time to British Columbia, but I'd been to Canada many times before, and this time what I saw there was sort of surprising.

I went to music stores, used book stores, appreciated Victoria's nice little knick knack stores, it's interesting restaurants, and attractions, and something started to come through loud and clear: the Canadians are at this time more liberal than many people in the United States, even more liberal in some ways than people living in the American Pacific Northwest.

I can't really spend that much time right now outlining my ideas on this but it was striking, especially considering that Victoria, the capitol of B.C. province, is the much more uptight, English, counterpart of swinging Vancouver. Nonetheless, despite the usual and the trivial, things like people respecting "Don't walk" signs, even when there're no cars, Victoria had certain stores in the United States beat in terms of the liberality of the books that they stocked and the music that they stocked. While bookstores in the U.S., particularly large chain bookstores, are buckling under the pressure put on them by the religious right their Canadian counterparts are often smarter and more liberal and tolerant in terms of the depth and bredth of the books they carry, fulfillling the the observation which someone had a while ago about Europeans, i.e. that they often know more about U.S. history and culture than people in the U.S. In this case the Canadians probably have access to better books about the history of the U.S. than people in most U.S. cities do.

Here, even in the Puget Sound area, the screws are being tightened: one example is the difference in the Halloween presentations in certain big bookstores from last year to this one. Last year Buns and Nubile (Jello Biafra's term for it) in my area had extensive Wicca and Paganism displays regarding Halloween, things about Witchcraft, the whole kit-n-kaboodle of things which you might think Halloween could be associated wtih. This year they barely had anything, instead featuring a large display of Narnia books, which of course is a series which is heavily influenced by Christianity as it was written by C.S. Lewis. No books about Witchcraft were to be found, nor on Wicca or on Paganism, despite the recent issuing of the Disinfo. book "Generation Hex", which was to be found on the shelves elsewhere. No, instead the only thing they carried was some ghost stories for little kids, which in itself disappeared the day after Halloween, to be replaced fully by the other, non-offensive, fare that the store was and is pushing.

On the other side of the border, for example, despite the putative ban on certain types of pornographic literature I found one book seller in Victoria, the main one besides the big canadian chain store, they carried copies of Blue Moon publishing books, which specialized in S&M porn and then after publishing for a while liquidated their stock a few years ago. I believe that there are some problems with Gay S&M porn in Canada, but I can't say for sure whether or not this chain carried any of Blue Moon's gay novels, and I didn't have enough time to stop in at any of Victoria's many gay bookstores to see what kinds of things they were carrying.

Yet the contrast is pretty suggestive.

Of course one could say, by way of counterexample, that Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, the premier seller of new books in downtown Seattle, probably stocks things which go beyond what Borders and B&N carry and that to compare Munro's, which is the one I'm talking about in Victoria, to B&N here is sort of inappropriate, but I don't think that's the case, since Munro's is, if anything, much more established than the chains in Victoria and right on the main tourist drag of the old town, meaning that this isn't some little place hidden in an alley somewhere but is front and center for attention in one of the oldest and most dignified parts of the provincial capitol of British Columbia. And they feel just fine carrying radical porn as well as decent selections of current events books (definitely including U.S. current events), religion books, books dealing with literature.

And "Ditch Records", which was the best cd shop I saw on the island, kicks any CD store in Seattle's butt excluding stores that specialize in particular genres like Musicwerks. They also carry things that other places either are afraid to carry or just plain don't know about, like "Coil", "Cabaret Voltaire", "Current 93", "Throbbing Gristle", many William S. Burroughs CDs and a whole lot of other things.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Good Engels Article

It's a review of "Past and Present" by Thomas Carlyle in 1844. Carlyle is a great author. Engels actually shows some humor. Here're some entertaining parts:

"It is remarkable how greatly the upper classes of society, such as the Englishman calls “respectable people,” or “the better sort of people,” etc., have intellectually declined and lost their vigour in England. All energy, all activity, all substance are gone; the landed aristocracy goes hunting, the moneyed aristocracy makes entries in the ledger and at best dabbles in literature which is equally empty and insipid. Political and religious prejudices are inherited from one generation to another; everything is now made easy and there is no longer any need to worry about principles as one had to formerly; they are now picked up already in the cradle, ready made, one has no notion where they come from. What more does one need? One has enjoyed a good education, that is, one has been tormented to no avail with the Romans and Greeks at school, for the rest one is “respectable,” that is, one has so many thousand pounds to one’s name and thus does not have to bother about anything except marrying, if one does not already have a wife.

And now, to cap it all, this bugbear which people call “intellect"! Where should intellect come from, in such a life, and if it did come, where might it find a home with them? Everything there is as fixed and formalised as in China – woe be to the man who oversteps the narrow bounds, woe, thrice woe to the man who offends against a timehonoured prejudice, nine times woe to him if it is a religious prejudice. For all questions they have just two answers, a Whig answer and a Tory answer; and these answers were long ago prescribed by the sage supreme masters of ceremony of both parties, you have no need of deliberation and circumstantiality, everything is cut and dried, Dicky Cobden or Lord John Russell has said this, and Bobby Peel or the Duke, that is, the Duke of Wellington, has said that, and that is an end of the matter."

I'll just leave it at that. Read the article, it's entertaining.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Dangerous Moment

Right now is a time which could be risky or could be smooth sailing. What I mean by that is that the Bush administration is finally having their backs pressed against the wall because of declining support for the Iraq war and general discontent with the scandals associated with the administration and with the Republican party. Like any animal that's being cornered there's the danger of it lashing out and fighting tooth and nail against those who have cornered it. The Bush administration may do this, which would mean clamping down on dissent, and possibly something like a manufactured terrorist crisis,or it may do nothing. I don't know. But whether the Bush administration will let itself go down in flames or whether it will bring everyone else kicking and screaming with it is probably the most important question of our day. Will it go gracefully or will it ratchet up the ante by doing something which restricts civil rights?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Price reduction/revamping of large pamphlet

The Lost Highway essentials is now 42 oversize pages long and less than $8.00 per copy, including S&H, $6.62 without.

It's a steal...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Democracy Means You.com and popular-ness

I've been checking out the site Democracy Means You after listening to an interview with the founder on a broadcast uploaded to radio4all.net. This site has written a little bit about the need to reach out to regular people, the need to sell, as it were, left ideas to people who might not be familiar with it, and to try to woo people who might be willing to support the right through the perception that the left is a bunch of elitists back onto the left or, failing that, at least liberalism, but it hasn't necessarily been the best in actually carrying it out. Democracy Means You.Com, while not an explicitly left website, accomplishes a lot of what would be necessary for a left website to do in order to be truly popular. It's fun, it isn't too serious, it breaks articles down by topic, has graphics which make it easier to navigate, and offers products which fulfill an educational role--which is explicitly put out there, by the way, not hidden--as well as being good products. I realize that writing on this site hasn't exactly been user friendly, or even all that accessable, for anyone, not just regular people but people with backgrounds studying some of the stuff I'm commenting on, too. Maybe that needs to change, or maybe I can at least try to instigate and set a spark for a leftist website or news service/website/product offering company, organized along the lines of Democracy Means You and kindred sites, which will fulfill that role. Nothing wrong with being popular, and, if you accept the ideas of post-modernism, popularness should be even less of an issue. But the revolution won't be made by text based plain postings on blogs, so to speak, with no adornment and no attempt to explicate the ideas to people who aren't familiar with them to a good degree already.

Thanks to Syndicalist for the suggestions.

I'll add the links to them right now.

Socialism, Marxism, Anarchism

It's a shame that more people don't understand socialism in the United States but it follows from our official ideology. The thing about understanding socialism is that it isn't Marxism, although Marxism might inform it and be an inspiration to some people. Like on the sidebar here, under essential books, I put down "Socialism in America, from the Shakers to the Third International", edited by Fried, because it deals not with various ideological contests but with the living socialist tradition as expressed by everyone from religious socialists, to utopian socialists to social democrats, marxists, communists, and even a few anarchists (I believe). The living tradition of socialism is more important than Marxism, although Marxism itself is very valuable as an analysis, which everyone should at least be familiar with. But the socialist tradition is something else; and this is where anarchist writings are especially valuable. Anarchists were very, very, good at analyzing society in terms of current reality and proposing solutions which were practical and immediately relevant. Often, within the socialist tradition, the anarchists are more perceptive than their non-anarchist brethren because of their sensitivity to things like the possible exploitive nature of the state and power in general, whether possessed by parties, unions, or other power groups.

I'm trying to think up a good reading list which will get people familiar with the socialist tradition as it exists, which will hopefully include anarchist writings as well as writings by people who are more conventional social democrats or just plain socialists. Marxist-Leninists will be mostly excluded from this unless they actually fit into the socialist tradition as people who understand society as opposed to as ideologues. Decent explanations of Marxism will also be up there.

It's not that these things are difficult to understand so much as they're mainly unavailable. Hopefully some of that unavailability will be mitigated by a list like this. It's out there, but if a person can't find it they can't understand it, or at the least they have a bigger task at hand in trying to understand what these people are talking about, what's valuable, what socialism means.

Privilege and Power

Regarding the comments below, one of the things that's going on is the disjunction between racism as a societal problem and how racism manifests on an individual level, which is a little oxymoronic when talking about white people. Sure, blacks are prejudiced against whites, but why should whites feel that they need to be given a 'pass', like a 'good guy pass' so that blacks and other minorities will never think that they're like other whites?

The response I give to this is that which Robert Fisk gave after being beaten up by enraged Afghanis during the invasion of Afghanistan: they're totally justified in it.

Response to comments

When I get comments its hard to figure out just what post they're responding to, whether it's something far back or something on the front page. But here it goes.

I don't believe in equality in the sense that the recent commentor believes in. People are naturally unequal, and I don't believe in making everyone totally and completely equal. But. There are some things which make sense which don't depend on "making everyone equal". Racism, for one, and being anti-racist, isn't about slamming people down to make them equal but about correcting structural inequalities which have condemned certain people to the bottom of society and have brought other people, based on no talent of their own, to the top of society. Being anti-racist means nothing other than trying to eliminate that inequality. The same could be said for sexism. It isn't about making people equal like they're pressed out of the same die, but about making it so that women can be recognized for the talents that they have, be able to get jobs and to get access to the higher education that they're qualified for, along with making what they deserve to make, instead of being pressed down in all of these categories just because they're female while men who are less talented, less smart, with less drive, prosper. And the same thing could again be said of class, only with class it's not about correcting structural inequalities, in fact "correcting structural equalities" isn't about correcting structural inequalities. Socialism is about destroying the privileges that people have just by being born into the right family and the penalties that people experience for the same reasons. I honestly don't believe that there's that much interplay between the classes. Dealing with class depends on tearing the system apart and creating something new where the middle class ideal isn't the ideal that builds society but rather society is a workers' state with workers' goals being society's goal. People who are poor have every freedom to pursue the middle class ideal, which means selling out to the side that the bosses are on, and getting a little more for the sacrifice of allegiance to their community and to the collective identity that they once had. No matter, the ones that descend from people who are on the top will always be the ones on the top within capitalist society.

Beyond that all of the above, racism, sexism, hinge on the economic structure of society. It's not as if capitalist society is truely either color blind or sex blind, not in a "pure state" or within today's society. The distortions of sexism, racism are integral to capitalist society, and ultimately taking care of them means combining the struggles against sexism and racism with the fight against capitalism-not supplanting the struggle against racism and sexism with the anti-capitalist struggle but instead adding anti-capitalist analysis to the anti-racism and anti-sexist struggle. Also, colonialism and decolonization relate to the same exact things. America is fundamentally a colonialist empire, this is integral to capitalism; the treatment of Native Americans today has everything to do with the origin of this country as well as capitalism, and dealing with the issues of Native Americans fundamentally has to do with dealing with the heritage of this country as a colonial state.

That colonial state was founded on the pursuit of profit.

About fascism, the proof is in the pudding. I think that between the right and the left that the left has a heck of a lot more legitimacy in calling the Bush state, which has sanctioned torture and mass spying on its own citizens, than the right does in pinning those things on Clinton. What would you call detentions in the night as well as concentration camps, torture in Iraq, invasion without provication, etc?

How is it that people can talk about wanting to move out of L.A. to a racially pure place but then go around and object to people using the word "fascist" as being a cheap shot?

Don't want to feel the heat, stay out of the fire yourself.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Problem fixed!

The book is fixed, is leaner, meaner, and cheaper. It's now 81 pages and $8.09---and that's INCLUDING shipping and handling!

So go on over to the Storefront and check it out!

Slight snags with book

Needs revision.

Lost Highway book publishing up and running

The first product of the Lost Highway book project is in print. It's a printed version of the Essential Files and American Tropicalia selections which you find on the right bar of the website. It's about a hundred pages and costs $9.01 including shipping and handling. There may be bugs to be worked out, but I'm pretty confident that currently the book is in good shape. So stop on by and considering picking up a printed copy of these things.

P.S. I welcome any feedback about the book which people may have.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Regarding Novalis

Responding to a question by a commentor. The article "Christianity or Europe" is located in "Early Political Writings of the German Romantics" put out by Cambridge University Press in England. It's still in print.

Tribute to Vine Deloria Jr.

I haven't read "Custer Died for Your Sins" but I did read "Red Earth, White Lies", which is an alternate understanding of Native origins which proceeds from oral histories of different tribes origins. Deloria passed away on Sunday.

Here's part of an article about him that was originally posted on The Native Press Blog. The article itself is linked to by the title of this post.

"Remembering Vine Deloria Jr.
'The Pope of Native America' leaves a rich legacy


----------------
By Ben Winton
Scholar Vine Deloria Jr.'s death on Sunday, Nov. 13, rekindled memories of American Indian activists who took his 1969 manifesto “Custer Died for Your Sins” to heart.
“Vine Deloria was a wonderfully gifted Lakota man who quite possibly saved Indian people from extinction,” said Rick Williams, president of the American Indian College Fund. “It is an understatement to contend that his political awareness and savvy leadership changed American people's perception of Indian people irrevocably.”
Deloria, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux nation, died of an aneurysm Sunday in Golden, Colo., not far from his academic home at the University of Colorado, where he taught until retiring in 2000.
Deloria, trained as both a lawyer and seminarian, helped win major human rights advances for American Indians, from getting anthropologists to return human remains and artifacts to getting the U.S. government to acknowledge tribal sovereignty. His book in 1969 entitled "Custer Died for Your Sins" was perhaps his most seminal work, according to many, who today say they are still inspired by it.
The American Indian Movement became one of the most radical, sometimes outspoken, advocates for many of the things Deloria pushed. On Wednesday, it posted a statement on its Web site crediting Deloria for many of the gains of American Indian people.
"It is safe to say that without the example provided by the writing and the thinking of Vine Deloria, Jr., there likely would have been no American Indian Movement, there would be no international indigenous peoples' movement as it exists today, and there would be little hope for the future of indigenous peoples in the Americas," said the statement."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Joyce Marcel: "Interesting Times, Dangerous Times"

"The second internal danger we face comes from the left.

Here we have paranoids pushing incredible and unbelievable scenarios as if they were the God's honest truth. Bush is behind the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. (Try greed leading to cheap construction techniques back in the 1970s). Jews knew about the attacks and they all got out in time. (Can you say "Cantor Fitzgerald?") The government is concealing new information about UFO's. (Again? Can you say, "So what?" Can you say, "Why would any intelligent extraterrestrial life want to come here?")"

I wholeheartedly agree. Can you say "Mike Ruppert"? I don't think that that kind of speculation has any place on the left and, like Joyce Marcel, think that it hurts us rather than helps. The truth is convoluted enough without people throwing 9/11 conspiracy theories on the fire.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Former Italian Ambassador former head of child abusing drug program

From Alternet

"Melvin Sembler stepped down earlier this year as Our Man In Rome -- he also served under the first Bush as Ambassador to Australia. Were Monroe's story unique, his STRAIGHT clinics might still be in business. Instead, his creation, which he stubbornly defends, closed under a breathtaking array of institutional abuse claims by 1993, ranging from sexual abuse, beating and stomping to boys called "faggots" for hours while being spat upon -- humiliation so bad that a Pennsylvania judge recently ruled it potentially mitigating of a Death Row sentence for a former STRAIGHT teen who committed a homophobic murder"


The story, by John Gorenfeld, is entitled "Ambassador de Sade"

It provides a unique window into the reality behind the eighties rhetoric of the Drug War and Morning in America, and provides an opportunity to see what the real cost of where we once again are headed towards is.

There's something eerily similar between the abuse committed against people who were turned into this program by their parents, a program which was trumpeted in nice, cheery, tones, and the disjunction between Guantanamo bay and the rhetoric of our current President.

This guy's program, STRAIGHT, was listed as one of George H. W. Bush's "Thousand Points of Light", yet was forced to close down after Bush lost to Clinton because of multiple lawsuits by former residents and their parents.

Nothing comes without a price. Those people who point to 9/11 and the actions of Bush as causing a new sense of unity and reinvigorated sense of national pride among Americans should look to see what that national pride has been built on. I can guarantee you it isn't pretty.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Constitution and Alito

OK, so now Alito has come out saying that there is no Constitutional right to abortion. My question is: does it really matter? Does it really matter if there's a Constitutional right to it or not? I believe that it should be legal because it's morally right, no matter what the Constitution does or does not say. I doubt that the rich magnates who wrote the Constitution had any idea about late twentieth/early twenty first century feminism.

But there's an even deeper reason to not care: why are the actions of said magnates thought to be all encompassing? Why should we even believe that it's important that if they were alive today they'd agree with current decisions? Are they thought to have some sort of supernatural/ trans-time capability to decide what's morally right for people for all time, till the end of time, for America?

I don't know about you but I think that laws need to reflect what's right and not what's right reflect the laws---which is what genuflecting to the Constitution and the founders says. What's morally right is what the founders would have established if they were alive today, in this line of thought, not what's.....morally right on its own.

Death penalty: morally wrong. Doesn't matter what the Founding Fathers thought of it.

Universal health care: morally right. Doesn't matter if the founders would have thought that it was giving too much power to the government.

Progressive income tax: morally right. Doesn't matter that the founders were anti-income tax, taxing people with millions at a higher rate than people who don't have the amount is pure justice.

Environmental clean up: morally right. Doesn't matter that they may have thought this to be intrusive to the rights of business owners.

Unions: morally right. Same thing as before. For a long time unions were outlawed as being "criminal syndicalism". That was wrong. It doesn't matter if the founding fathers, if we could exhume their bodies and resuscitate them today, would have thought that unionism was criminal syndicalism or not.

The list can go on and on, and I'm sure that any reader out there could come up with a comparable list of their own of things which are just right because...they're just right...not because of some precedent which can hypothetically be traced to those Gods-Come-Down-To-Earth that we call the founders and their preference for or against.

Thinking this way is a mockery of democracy. It's as if we think that the people who convened in Philadelphia had some of the mojo of Moses, and similarly got a transcendental authorization from God for their system of government. Free people don't look at things that way. Free people make their own rules, and determine their own political destinies, instead of genuflecting eternally towards tradition.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bill O'Reilly threatens San Francisco

What a smug asshole. He suggested that since 'frisco approved a handguns ban and a resolution discouraging military recruiters that the federal government should remove all protection from San Fran, saying that if the city wants to become its own country, that's fine, just don't expect any help if Al-Qaeda decides to attack.

Which reminds me of his threat to Al Franken. In the lawsuit filed against him about a year ago he reportedly declared to the defendant that someday Al Franken is going to open his front door and his entire life is going to be changed, meaning that someone is either going to shoot him or beat him severely, on O'Reilly's orders.

O'Reilly isn't a conservative, he's a thug-servative, or maybe he is a con-servative. Either way, his whole bearing has more in common with a mafia operative than with a talk show host, and considering that he's just a spindly Irish guy he has an awful lot of balls to try to usurpt that role.

Progress on Book

As the sidebar says I'm working on assembling posts into a book. Thanks to advances in technology this might be a reality very soon. I'll have some editing to do, especially on the later parts, but I'm planning to issue two volumes which will contain most of the website in hardcopy. Each will probably be around 750 pages long and will be priced almost at cost, which means somewhere around $17 plus shipping and handling. This is an exciting venture! Yes, cover art and other things are now on my mind...I have to get a proof in the mail and, depending on how that turned out, the two volume set could be out fairly soon or it could be out in a small bit longer period of time.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pagans

It used to be that people who identified with Wicca or Paganism retained some of the aura of the sinister which "Witchraft" as an idea captures. Gerald Gardner's original Wicca definitely played into the archetypes which suggested dark things were afoot. One person who is active in Gardnerian, or, as it and its kindred sects are now called "British Traditional Witchcraft", put it "We worship sex and death". The rituals were more erotic, had more "scourgeing", i.e. ceremonial whipping, and were much less about sweetness and light. Then a couple of things happened: first off there was a general rekindling of interest in paganism in general, with Greek paganism being the first one to be reconstructed (or attempt to be reconstructed) based on the accounts of Greek legends and plays. Then, after the Greek phase there came the Celtic phase, which did some of the same with Celtic material and which no doubt had more of an appeal to people in the United States because, unlike the Greek revival, the people who were doing a Celtic revival were more likely to actually be Celtic--broadly defined--than Greek people were to actually be engaged in neo-Greek rituals. Then something else happened. As far as I can tell the Celtic paganism movement merged with some variants of Wicca which were around, which had become progressively less dark and sinister as the sixties and seventies--particularly with the influence of feminism--went on. Feminism was an issue because it could be construed that original Wiccan rituals were somewhat sexually exploitative and privileged male participants, although primarily worshipping a Goddess. I'm not evaluating that position, I'm just laying things out.

When Celtic revival hit more sweetness and light influenced Wicca, which, I think, happened through the influence of several sects which stemmed off from Raymond Buckland's traditions, although I might not be right on this, it formed a new set of beliefs which allowed it to meld pretty easily into the general "New Age" world.

Then "Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner", by Scott Cunningham, came out. Many in the "non-Fluffy" crowd (short for being against "Fluffy Bunny-ism" in Pagan religion) see the publication of the book as the beginning of the end.

I first learned about Wicca from "Solitary Practitioner", so I'm implicated in this myself, but the reformation of Wicca from something which was Coven based, which was based on real people coming together to do rituals, to something that could easily be done alone, without ever contacting anyone else, facillitated both the explosion of interest in Wicca and Paganism and in the unending dilution and decline of Wicca and paganism. Covens were a means by which some of the original Wiccan impulse could be conserved; once that was taken away there was nothing left to prevent books purporting to be this or that paganism, or wicca variant, from multiplying like vermin, with the result that it became a consumption thing. I can't judge how many people who bought books, particularly the books by the company with the little moon on the side (yes, I know the name, but I'm not going to be the one to say it), actually carried out some of the rituals contained therein and learned something and how many people who bought them just have them as nice looking editions to a book shelf somewhere, but in general I'd assume that there are more books sitting on shelves unused than people would like to admit.

With no structure there's no way for people to navigate between the gold and the dross, particularly when witchcraft is promoted via shows on TV and via movies like "The Craft". However, we're getting farther and farther afield here.

The main thing is that this combination of absorbtion of New Age ideals and sensibilities (Not that that's terribly bad--I'm looking at my copy of George Trevelyan's book "A Vision of the Aquarian Age" which is sitting right in front of me) combined with dilution from commercialism and from the growth of solitary practionership has conspired to make the Wiccan movement, and, to a much lesser extent neo-paganism in general, spiritually lacking and yet sanctimonious.

The goal seems to be to promote Wicca and Neo-Paganism as being totally harmless, totally inoffensive, totally without anything which would challenge the power structures of society. See where I'm going with this? This is the classic story of minority groups who have the chance to be recognized as being players in society, like gays and lesbians: some people want to retain the classic beliefs and attitudes which characterized the culture when it was ostracized, other people want to integrate the culture into the mainstream, to hell with whatever came before.

I read, on pagan news sites, one of which is contained within my sidebar, about constant public relations games between pagans and the greater public, pagans and the mainstream of society "Witches weren't bad" "We honor all of nature" "WE'RE NOT SATANISTS!!! God dammit." on and on and on. Just misunderstood. Totally non-threatening and totally blah.

Blah, that is, the color of Bland, if Blandness could have a color attached to it.

If people want to please someone with convincing them that we're all ok, we're not threatening, we're fine, we're oh so fluffy and nice, that's their business, but at what point does there come a necessary break with the dominant culture regarding values and beliefs? Surely the ethics of paganism and Wicca generate some strife vis a vis the current system. So why not explore them instead of just going on about how you're pretty much just secularized christians? Where is the critique of the current system, why do you choose to be pagan or Wiccan rather than be an atheist or a Christian (or a Jew)?
Surely within paganism there's an imminent critique of society, but right now I'm not seeing it, and, even worse, I'm seeing pagans generally trying to shut down people who suggest anything other than the Cute-and-Fluffy-Bunny line about what paganism and Wicca are and what they represent.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thoughts on the reformation of government

First of all, it's not illegal to imagine how another system of government could preside over the United States. It's not illegal to speculate about how such a system could work, and it's not illegal to outline some suggestions. It's not sedition, it's not treason.

How could government be reformed right now? Well I think that to answer that question you have to look at where the power in the government resides currently. It's all nice and convenient to look at the so-called system of checks and balances and declare that it keeps power distributed equally, but the reality is something different.

The main power in the government is of course in the executive branch, being overseen by the President and his staff. This is the only part of government that's actually in charge of the overseeing and realization of legislative proposals in the real world. As such it has much more power than any other branch could ever hope for. The main check on executive abuses is the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court is a bad mechanism for solving a serious problem.

Unelected and aristocratic the Court as it's existed in real life has been authoritarian, meaning that every issue has been thought to involve Constitutional law and every law is judged according to whether or not it meets the standard of strict constructionism. The Constitution, written by men, should be democratically decided on and modified rather than be taken as holy writ. The court's view of the Constitution, the view of the Constitution enshrined in the Constitution itself, is profoundly undemocratic. Neither strict constructionism or permissiveness should prevail; the Constitution itself should be up for rewriting and revision, and should allow wide latitude to legislators instead of overly restricting them. If serious issues arise, they should in the main be settled in the legislature instead of continually going before the Supreme Court, because the Constitution does not provide a comprehensive framework that's applicable to all legislative problems.

The other check against the executive is the legislative branch. There the major method of checking power lies in the potential of various bills to hem in the executive branch as well as the potential of the budgeting power of congress to defund programs and departments altogether.

So, hypothetically, lets say that we got rid of the Supreme Court as a major branch of government, one that would only be used in extraordinary situations. That would mean that power would devolve onto the Executive Branch, which would be no good. The question then would be how to reign in the Executive. One solution to this problem would be to subordinate the executive branch to the Legislative branch. Requiring the executive and all of the cabinet heads to also be legislators, as in a parliamentary system, would help out a lot, but on top of that another parliamentary mechanism that would also help to reign in the executive branch would be the melding of legislative and executive electoral platforms through the executives having to run as legislators.

That would mean that Democrats, for example, or Greens, would come up with a party platform that legislators would run under that would have both components relating to executive action and components relating to legislative action. It would be assumed that if the Greens, for instance, won enough seats that they would automatically gain power in government, meaning that their executive proposals would become the new game plan for the government.

Since the executive would be rooted in the legislative the legislative branch would be able to check the executive by means of concerted action by the legislators making up the party which didn't have power, and by dissident members of the governing party who did. If an executive got out of line his or her own party could recall him, and the opposition coalition could put pressure on the executive branch, causing him to lose his executive post and forcing a new executive to be chosen, or a new coalition agreement, or a new set of elections to determine new legislators.

So far so good, but then that brings up the issue of the entire country being run by several hundred members of the House of Representatives and fifty members of the Senate. The United States is approaching 300 Million in population. I don't believe that even a thousand members of the house of representatives would be sufficient for fair representation. The Senate itself is an extraordinarily elitist and aristocratic institution, and anti-democratic. A unicameral setup would be better, or a bicameral one where the Senate had an advisory role but was generally subordinated to the main chamber of Congress.

Still, even with a uni-cameral legislature, there would be too much power concentrated in too few hands, and would be inherently anti-democratic. The solution would be to devolve power to smaller local entities. This could take several forms. But first off, there's a problem: in terms of population and area most states are significantly smaller than most nation-states in Europe, so simply saying "Devolve authority to the States, weaken the central Government" would not be a proposal that would likely be effective since the states are too small to individually be proper authorities. Having small states with a lot of power and a central government with little power would not work as an integrated political system. A good solution would be to create a new intermediate form of regional government, and let a lot of the power in the central government also devolve to them.

They could be called legislative councils and the basic work which they would be overseeing would be the work that the federal government, in all of its departments, currently does for the whole country broken down for the particular areas over which the legislative councils had particular authority. This means that instead of federal departments there would be regional departments, a regional department of labor, a regional epa, a regional commerce department, regional public works, all of the major divisions, including defense and department of state, and, maybe most especially, regional attorney general's offices. Regional FCCs and regional FTCs. And regional Departments of Education.

There could still be a central government in the United States but it would function in the way that the Continental Congress under the Articles of the Confederation functioned, that is to say that it would be a body that solely deals with issues facing the country as a whole, with issues that could be proven to be being pan-American issues. That would mean any issues that effected several regional governments. Because the burden of proof on whether or not an issue is truly pan-American would be upon the central government to prove, it would end up becoming a minor institution, drastically less active than the current one and more like a customs union governmental entity than a central government.

The Regional governments would be set up along the lines of soft bicameral institutions, meaning that the lower chamber would rule and the upper chamber would have a more advisory role. The executive branches would be made up of legislators and would ultimately be controlled by the legislative branch, and they would follow the platform of the legislative parties.

The regional governments would follow the social, political, environmental, and economic divisions in the country, with one, say, representing New England, one representing the Great Lakes States, one representing the Plains states, from Montana to the Dakotas and then down through Nebraska to Oklahoma. With maybe one representing the Western States and Southwestern States, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. Rocky Mountain states. Southern States. Mid Atlantic states. The design would be flexible. This would be something which would appeal to people on both conventional sides of the aisle, as well as to radicals.

Some would say that this set up would mean that people who are somewhat regressive with regards to education, labor, and other issues would be able to completely control the regional agenda. To that, I would say "Yes! That's what's supposed to happen!". Let me explain. The best way for people to learn democracy is to experience it and to make mistakes. Under the rule of the regional legislative councils I think what would first happen would be similar to what happened in the former Communist states, namely that at first real hard core free marketers would get elected but when people started to see what the consequences of their actions had been, they would go back to the drawing board, and organize against these same people under a progressive agenda and win.

There would also be regional constitutions, that would resemble much more the state constitutions than the federal constitutions. These would be much more detailed and enumerated than the present federal constitution and would be much easier to change and amend. The Constitutions would, like State Constitutions, more clearly elucidate the powers and responsibilities of the government along with the particular rights and responsibilities of the citizens in the regional area. It would not be holy writ, unalterable and sacrosanct.

In terms of the judiciary, the highest body would be the regional appellate court, which would simultaneously serve as a Constitutional Court.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"President Bush's Walkabout"

By the editors of the New York Times, where, despite annoying elitist references like Chavez as " a loudmouthed opportunist", they give a good case for President Bush now being a lame duck President---with three years to go.

So the question comes up, what should the President do for the remaining three years of his presidency?

Well, after negating the war in Iraq and getting the internal United States back to some form of normalcy, I'd say that if he's not going to be impeached that he should go out with style.

Like how?

One option, which would surely be entertaining, is for Bush to convert to Hinduism and start holding pujas and other Hindu rituals in an official sense at the White House, along with having press conferences where he introduced various Gurus to give their take on the nature of the Universe and Man's place in it. Start dressing like a Middle Eastern sheik or an Ottoman Pasha, redecorate a room of the white house to resemble a harem and have a corp of eunichs in there fanning him with peacock feather fans as he gives the latest on his reaction to world events to the press.

Or, indulge in some strange hobbies, which the press corp would be invited to, like Turkish wrestling or Kalmyk style archery.

Since if Bush first does no harm he won't be actually in Central Asia anymore, the bases in Uzbekistan and company will have been shut down, why not construct a whole Tadjik style Chaikona, or tea house, where he can regail foreign diginitaries with extensive commentaries on the philosophy of Ibn' al Arabi?

Since he won't be able to be an actual middle east/central asian potentate the least we can do is to indulge his fantasies in a less harmful and more constructive way.

Fascism in America

I think that it's significant that the total reaction which followed 9/11 happened in an environment of intense political strife, where leftist ideas were becoming mainstream along with the idea of a leftist challenge to inequality and to the worse aspects of capitalism.

People might remember that in the time before 9/11 hit there was a continuous stream of protests and coverage related to progressive issues stretching from WTO in '99 to the different World Bank/IMF protests in 2000 to the Green Party's bid for the Presidency in 2000 and Nader's role as a promoter of progressive doctrines, to the widely discredited 2000 Presidential election, to the protests on the inauguration day and further on.

This is the context within the wave of governmental and non-governmental reaction following 9/11 has to be considered. It was a conveniant excuse to quash all of that with accusations of being un-patriotic or being soft.

Monday, November 07, 2005

National Security Letters

There's been quite some discussion about the National Security Letters which the FBI has been issuing en masse since 9/11, ever since the extensive story about them in the Washington Post broke a few days ago.

Let me say this: if, by any chance, a national security letter has been written regarding me (I have no idea what for, I'm just a harmless writer, who doesn't want to totally dismantle the American empire and possibly decentralize the United States, creating a several polar world and totally rewriting or, in effect, replacing the U.S. Constitution in the process), I have one thing to say:

Send me a copy!

You already have my address if, in fact, a national security letter has been written about me, so it won't take you any effort whatsoever to run a xerox off and send it to me.

I'd frame it and put it on my wall, if in fact it exists: the exact reason why the United States government thinks I'm a threat to national security! I would make copies MYSELF and hand them out to my friends, it would be kewl.

And I'd keep on writing incendiary posts.

And, by any chance, if you surreptitiously enter my apartment and search it, be sure to leave a red rubber band around a bottle or something, so that I know that I've been visited by the FBI, so that I can brag about it.

Just saying.

Ward Churchill

I, *ahem* heard that Ward Churchill just gave a talk in Olympia at Evergreen.

I also, *ahem*, heard that the talk kicked ass and that Churchill was as funny and well informed as he is in his books, or in recorded talks which he's given for that matter.

But, of course, I wouldn't know anything about it first hand since I'm a good little boy and don't go to things like Ward Churchill talks.

Naomi Wolf "Bush made his white constituency feel good about themselves, but no longer. Citizens are rediscovering democracy"

"They could not have had more fortunate timing. During an era when US prestige abroad had already been declining, when US schools were turning out subliterates, when the US economy was being crippled by competition from harder-working south-east Asians and Chinese, Americans - and especially American men - were feeling the sinking self-regard characteristic of those losing prestige in once-great empires in decline."

Good article, which, synchronistically, covers some of the same ground as my "fascism as a stage of capitalism" article, highlighting how the imminent downgrading of status due to various internal and external challenges fueled the support of the Bush regime's agenda.

I should qualify what said a little. I think that the rise of fascism is due in part to the collapse of the laissez faire notion of capitalism as an ideology which is socially believed and which society is therefore organized somewhat around. With the demise of laissez-faire ideology the only alternatives are either some sort of socialistic compromise or a continued retrenchment of power and influence, transparently statist, transparently anti-democratic, known as fascism.

America faced the challenge of this decision in the wake of the Great Depression, like many countries, with the elites choosing some sort of low level democratic socialism, but it looks now, in the wake of the failure of Keynesian economics and the corresponding prestige given to neo-liberal economic policies in the Reagan and Bush I years, that the situation which we faced in the '30s is coming back again, with the same options.

It's ironic that the 'failure' of Keynesianism would be the thing which caused the sinking of welfare state liberalism, along with a general backlash against the social equality that the various movements of the sixties and seventies created, because Keynesianism was never the answer, the answer was socialism. By identifying with a narrow economic doctrine instead of with a broad ideology like social democracy the democrats essentially opened themselves up for their political program to be evicerated with no measures which could have prevented it. If they'd have been socialists then the failure of Keynesianism wouldn't have doomed the party program; instead it would be viewed as the failure of a particular economic doctrine which didn't necessarily challenge what would have been the broader conceptions of social and economic equality that the party would have based its program on.

Then again, in the eighties even the French experienced a general backlash against social democracy and social equality, with the author Tariq Ali commenting in an afterword for "Streetfighting Years" that the neo-liberal backlash in Paris was bigger than anything associated with either Thatcher or Reagan, with veterans of '68 abandoning the left in bigger droves than their yuppie and Thatcherite comrades in the U.S. and England.

But no matter, we seem to be at a juncture which will either lead to greater social inequality, with the velvet glove of bourgeois democracy coming off and revealing the iron fist of inequality, anti-liberalism, economic elitism and rancid patriotism which was heretofore concealed by the polite form of a liberal democratic political system, or something more equal will come to pass, depending on whether people sit on their asses or start to campaign for change.

It's your choice.

Either let reactionary fascist currents win or press for socialist equality and protection of civil liberties.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More things on use of fascism

Yes, by maintaining that fascism is something evil beyond comprehension individuals therefore make it something which is therefore unanalyzable in a rigorous sense, which is obviously false, under the extremely tenuous notion that to analyze or to understand is to sympathize. I can understand why Columbus killed Indians in his quest for gold, that doesn't mean that I sympathize with the act. In doing a little bit of research for this, inspired by the interesting portrayal of Goering in the Academy Award winning film "Mephisto", starring Karl Brandauer, I came across this interesting bit of banter on the Spartacus site attached to the London School of Economics. I'd seen portions of it before, mainly Goebbels depraved quote saying that he wants Jews to clean up burned synagogues and do the labor to convert them to parking lots, but the later pieces weren't included. Here it is:

" I deem it necessary to issue a decree forbidding the Jews to enter German theaters, movie houses and circuses. I have already issued such a decree under the authority of the law of the chamber for culture. Considering the present situation of the theaters, I believe we can afford that. Our theaters are overcrowded, we have hardly any room. I am of the opinion that it is not possible to have Jews sitting next to Germans in varieties, movies and theaters. One might consider, later on, to let the Jews have one or two movie houses here in Berlin, where they may see Jewish movies. But in German theaters they have no business anymore. Furthermore, I advocate that the Jews be eliminated from all positions in public life in which they may prove to be provocative. It is still possible today that a Jew shares a compartment in a sleeping car with a German. Therefore, we need a decree by the Reich Ministry for Communications stating that separate compartments for Jews shall be available; in cases where compartments are filled up, Jews cannot claim a seat. They shall be given a separate compartment only after all Germans have secured seats. They shall not mix with Germans, and if there is no more room, they shall have to stand in the corridor.
Hermann Goering: In that case, I think it would make more sense to give them separate compartments.
Joseph Goebbels: Not if the train is overcrowded!
Hermann Goering: Just a moment. There'll be only one Jewish coach. If that is filled up, the other Jews will have to stay at home.
Joseph Goebbels: Furthermore, there ought to be a decree barring Jews from German beaches and resorts. Last summer.
Hermann Goering: Particularly here in the Admiralspalast very disgusting things have happened lately.
Joseph Goebbels: Also at the Wannsee beach. A law which definitely forbids the Jews to visit German resorts.
Hermann Goering: We could give them their own.
Joseph Goebbels: It would have to be considered whether we'd give them their own or whether we should turn a few German resorts over to them, but not the finest and the best, so we cannot say the Jews go there for recreation. It'll also have to be considered if it might not become necessary to forbid the Jews to enter the German forest. In the Grunewald, whole herds of them are running around. It is a constant provocation and we are having incidents all the time. The behavior of the Jews is so inciting and provocative that brawls are a daily routine.
Hermann Goering: We shall give the Jews a certain part of the forest, and the Alpers shall take care of it that various animals that look damned much like Jews -the elk has such a crooked nose - get there also and become acclimated."


I include this, with the notion of comparability in the background, for a reason. When I read this I thought "Southern Segregation". Isn't it possible that the Germans were looking to the system of segregation in the South to model their exclusion of Jews from public life and from mixing with Germans, like Goebbels lays out?

Very possible.

But of course that can't be said because to say that they learned lessons from segregation is to imply that segregation and nazism shared characteristics, which of course is "outrageous" and trivializes the suffering which people experienced, right?

You see how absurd that is. But if fascism is left something which is considered totally beyond the pale of comparison and analysis myriad examples like this ensue, which hurt the understanding of anti-semitism, racism, and the nazi state rather than help understanding of these things.

To say that the Nazis learned from segregation is a statement that could be turned around to suggest that segregation was Nazistic, both of which would logically be true.

But one is more acceptable, as much as it could be, because it only suggests a passive influence while the second one is more charged....because it suggests that we were like them, which of course is impermissable to say, even if it was strictly true in a limited sense.

I think the real reason why comparisons with Fascism are forbidden is because they hit too close to home, people don't want to see the United States as engaging in similar activity, so it remains beyond the scope of established society to say so, because even if things are going bad in Iraq, even if we operate a torture camp down in Guantanamo, we still are thought to be the 'good guys', no matter what the evidence is.

The Fascist stage of Capitalism

Is what I think we're entering. The reason the Bush administration is doing what they're doing doesn't have anything to do with Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda but has everything to do with ensuring the continued dominance of financial and economic elites over American society, and over the world system which America is the central player in. What I see happening is that there are two challenges to America's position in the world, one external, generated by the resurgence of Europe and China, which is pressing for a downgrading of the United State's status in the world, the other, internal, is the product of the progressive movements, anarchists, greens, etc.. who, in the wake of the end of the Cold War, are pressing for a more just and equal society, for progressive legislation and programs, taxation, etc.. and who don't buy the lie that this stuff is anti-liberty because the Communists believe in things like this anymore.

So there are two prongs to the U.S. response to these challenges, one external, which involves the invasion of Iraq and the threat of military intervention in other parts of the globe, which involves the formation of a network of bases over the world so that the U.S. can continue to dominate militarily even if it loses its edge economically. The other involves internal repression of progressive movements and activists.

The ideology that traditional liberalism creates equality, that nothing more is needed for a just society, and that social democracy is wrong is coming under increasing fire. People don't understand why universal health care is not a just thing that society should have, why progressive taxation is wrong, why state subsidization of higher education is decreasing, why living wage laws aren't a good thing, etc.. etc... etc.. and the bourgeois illusion that a watchman state is all that is needed is going down in flames. In the face of this the mask of bourgeois equality has started to come off and the real rulers of society have decided to flex their muscles directly, with nationalism, terror scares, domestic spying, and a rhetoric of violence.

This is the fascist stage of capitalism. The United States often has seen itself as exceptionalistic, of somehow being able to avoid the trends which characterize the other industrial nations, but that's beginning to end. Our economy and society is beginning to follow the pattern, because the exceptionalism isn't working anymore.

Al-Qaeda of course is a good excuse for the system to do whatever it wants to restore traditional capitalist dominance and United States supremacy in the rest of the world.

Bush Booed, called a Fascist in Argentina, where they know a thing or two about the meaning of that word

"It's been a long time since the president of the United States has been openly booed by crowds abroad. Thousands of protesters in neighboring, largely friendly Latin America called President George W. Bush a "fascist" Friday and, interestingly, a "terrorist." We have never before had the chief of staff of a sitting U.S. vice president indicted for lying to a grand jury."

I get a lot of flack for suggesting that there are similarities to fascist ideology and policy in what the Bush administration is trying to do to America and what their beliefs are. People in general react to a charge of fascism as if the word is off limits unless actual concentration camps are being set up, and often get mad because they feel that it trivializes the holocaust to accuse people of being fascist or of having fascist characteristics.

Not to be too blunt about it, but these accusations largely come only from America and Americans, who have not ever directly experienced Fascism, not from Europeans or South Americans, who have. People might have lost distant relatives in the holocaust, but that's not the same thing as actually living through Nazi Germany or being alive in Fascist Italy, Romania, Hungary, Spain, Croatia, Austria, Argentina, or Chile, or to live through the proto-Fascist regimes of Vargas in Brazil or Salazar in Portugal.

I'm sorry, but although I sympathize with you, going through this does not make you an expert or an authority on fascism and fascist politics.

But, like I said, in places where people have actually EXPERIENCED fascism and KNOW what it's like, because it's part of their political and social history, they're much more likely to draw comparisons between fascist politicians in the interwar years and politicians who exist today. They're even willing to compare people to Hitler. Why? Because for them Hitler was someone who actually did things to their country, invaded it or seized power in it, not just a figure of extreme evil on the other side of the ocean who people went over to fight. In other words, the Nazis are fair game for comparisons because their brand of politics is known and understood, and they aren't just this sort of abstract figure of ultimate evil.

Which is why the people in Argentina painting their faces with the words "BUSH", with the "S" turned into a Swastika, are so significant. Argentina was ruled by the closest thing to a European style fascist dictatorship which existed in South America. There was a whole tradition of fascistic populism, starting with Peron, who was openly pro-Nazi, and in the seventies, in response to social movements which were threatening the status quo, Argentina once again became a fascist dictatorship administered by generals in a military junta. They arrested scores of leftists and killed them, they forbid assemblies of more than a few people in public, they conducted late night searches and arrests, torture sessions and murders of suspected dissidents, all through the mid seventies and eighties, and no one could do anything about it if they didn't want to end up like the disappeared. The people of Argentina know what fascism is like, they've suffered and bled because of it. They also know that their brand of fascism was fully supported by the United States, which funded the secret police who arrested, tortured, and murdered their own citizens.

So when the Argentines say that Bush is a Fascist, you better be paying attention.

"The FBI's Secret Scrutiny" an extensive article from the Washington Post

"The Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.

The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined."


It just goes on and on. What the article doesn't deal with, however, is the FBI's new understanding of terrorism and terrorist groups. I believe that the FBI now acts on a model of terrorist activity described in "Social Net Wars", which was a model created by the RAND Institute. What this does is break down organizational activity into different spheres, different components which have to work together to be effective. That model also provides a good analysis of how *any* political activist group trying to make social change can be effective. One of the key breakdowns in social netwars is between idealogues and people thought to act on those ideals. If you can sever the links between the idealogues and the activists, by isolating the idealogue, you can therefore decrease the effectiveness of activists because they then won't have access to accurate analysis of how the system works.

Guess where this site would fit into the picture. Idealogue? Yes. Threat then? Yes. Even though I do not engage in terrorist activity and, in fact, only participate in activism that's been established and organized by others. I'm not out there doing organizing.

The article provides the best picture that I've seen of what the FBI is doing currently in terms of surveillance of Americans who dissent from the established line of thinking.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

half right ain't half bad

Turns out that, yes, Poland is one of the sites of a CIA prison in Eastern Europe, according to the article in the title link, but that the other country is Romania, not Latvia or Lithuania. I underestimated sheer mercenary motives here. Romania really isn't particularly anti-Russian, and it also isn't particularly anti-Communist. The country is currently a dictatorship run by the elements of the former Communist Party, and possibly the Securitatae, or Secret Police, but during the cold war it established a reputation in being willing to play sides off against each other for its own benefit. This appears to be what Romania is doing now with welcoming the CIA into their country.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Evo Morales

Could become Bolivia's next President. Of course the U.S. doesn't like him because, besides being a populist and admirer of Hugo Chavez, he heads the coca farmers' Union and has resisted U.S. attempts to destroy the coca crop. Noam Chomsky said it best when he pointed out that in a subsistence agricultural society people simply can't afford to change crops from something that at least feeds them to something which brings in less money than they need to live. Another good point is that if Bolivian Coca is such a problem maybe it would be good to get people in the United States to stop using so much of its derivatives, or better yet, to stop the importation of it, which is no doubt due more to corrupt customs officials than to the flashy yet small potatoes methods of stuffing people with balloons of the stuff and sending them on flights to the U.S. That might be good for HBO but I highly doubt that's how most of the cocaine in the United States gets there. Or, even better yet, why not crack down on the big financial brokerage firms who launder the money. But don't bother Mr. Morales.

"CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons"

"The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents."

The question, as Cursor.org asks, is what democracies in Eastern Europe? Actually, that shouldn't be too hard to guess at. I'd say it's probably Poland, Latvia, and possibly Lithuania.

Why?

Just look at what countries gave the U.S. the most enthusiastic support in Iraq, or, alternately, who most strongly reject Russia and Russian influence.

Indymedia

I don't usually look at Indymedia, it usually isn't what I've come to expect from Independant Media. Maybe that needs clarification. The only reason Indymedia isn't an ideal source of alternative information is that ever since 9/11 it's been dominated by right wing goons who either post their own stuff or post abusive comments against any and all postings. Before 9/11 it was great. After 9/11 the right decided that it didn't want to allow free speech to exist in this country and so took direct action themselves to cancel our free speech. That also applies to the police who, after infiltrating and stirring up trouble on the "Raise the Fist" website actually busted the guy who ran it for having a bomb making diagram on it. The truth was that this wasn't something he had put up on there but was instead something a reader had put up on there. The guy who posted it later contacted police, after the webmaster was arrested, and basically said that the webmaster had no responsability for it, that he was willing to put it on himself, but to no avail. They wanted Raise the Fist to go down and go down it did. Granted, a site called "Raise the Fist" still exists, but last time I checked, which at this point was over a year ago, maybe even a year and a half, the only people who posted things to it were adolescents and cops. Adolescents, because they're the only ones who still got pissed off at the cops postings and, instead of doing nothing, which is what they should have done, decided to expend the energy of getting into pointless flame wars with people who are never going to change. The cops, well, why they're there is self evident.

I went to Indymedia to get the info on the protest that went down in Seattle today, and while the basic stories on the main page were good, the combination of the abusive comments made to those good stories and the usual mix of crap and psychosis, and good stuff (I say reservedly) on the newswire in the sidebar, made all those wonderful memories of Indymedia going down the drain current again.

It reminds me of a scene from this movie about two people, a man and a woman, who initially live in what would become East Berlin after the cold war started. One of them escaped to the west, the other one became part of the dissident movement. Anyways, there's a scene in there where the guy who stayed in East Germany is in Church, the Protestant Lutheran Church, and in the pews are a few people who are attending the church service and more professional hecklers, employed by the government to disrupt the services. See, East Germany "officially" recognized the church, and recognized freedom of religion, but it spied on the people who participated in services and disrupted church services regularly.

The comments on Indymedia remind me of that, paid attackers who, while they're not "Technically" denying people freedom of speech are nonetheless doing their most to destroy it, to destroy Indymedia as a viable vehicle for free expression and exchange of information.