Monday, July 31, 2006

Thank you for the comment

Alan Dershowitz, or someone claiming to be Alan Dershowitz, left a comment below on the post which is pretty good.

Maybe Hizbullah is drawing fire on Lebanese civillians to gain support. I don't know enough; I don't know if Hizbullah like Hamas conducts suicide bombings. If they do or did the chances of them trying to do this go up. But. And this is the big one. There's also the supporters of Hizbullah, who are mostly in Lebanon. Actually drawing fire to Lebanese civillians to make a case against Israel would eventually cost them a heck of a lot of support and without that support there's not a lot that they can do.

They could have Machiavellian motives or they couldn't, it seems likely that the truth may be a combination of both.

More young people attending conservative boot camps--need a liberal alternative?

The title link is from Rawstory, which gets it via Time magazine. A liberal boot camp might include works by John Stuart Mill and John Dewey, two figures who embody what modern liberalism is about.

Dershowitz

I see that Allen Dershowitz new column on Huffington Post is entitled "Hezbollah's Triumph: Israeli Rockets Hits Lebanese Children".

I wonder if Dershowitz has any conception of the phrase "blaming the victim", because that's what he's doing and it's obscene in the extreme, to say that the death of the children in Qana is essentially the Lebanese' fault and not that of Israel. I seriously doubt that Hezbollah wanted Israel to attack Qana and kill children for the propaganda value. This level of crass non-caring brings us closer to the justifications for doing whatever the hell we want to Iraqis in retaliation for 9/11. This literally is the same argument that right wing people use to justify doing anything in the war in terror. We're not responsable for anything, it's all the terrorists who provoke violence against themselves for the propaganda value.

Dershowitz is a vile useful idiot for Israel. Useful idiot because at least the Israelis are pretty honest about why they're doing what they're doing to the Lebanese; instead of issuing complex sophistical defenses for what they do they offer terse compensation like "We'll investgate it", or "we're sorry that the children died", which anyone with a brain cell knows are transparently false and instead are just the minimum necessary to keep up some sort of decorum as a minimally rational state.

Israel is honest: they believe in violence and believe in inflicting violence on Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah's attacks. Dershowitz isn't. He shucks and jives with his legalisms while Lebanon burns. And if he does he's a bigger useful idiot than I ever suspected.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

To put the difference between conservatives and liberals another way in terms of rhetoric

The things conservatives say are so outrageous that they're often only a step or two away from real fascism or fascist thought. With liberals, on the other hand, you'd be pretty damn hard pressed to find a liberal who was a step or two away from Stalinism with his or her devotion to social justice. I'm saying that the constant rabidness of the right is one reason why people view the right as being stupid, because the opinions are just so out there. On the other hand, most politics is passed from generation to generation and stays similar across a community's history, so many of the people who say these things or who generally believe in them don't really come to that position from a place of real thought; instead, it's just what people around them generally believe.

I'm sure that inside the justifications about abortion or having some sort of a theocracy or what have you make all of it seem sane, but to the outside world it looks completely insane and is in fact in variance with the norms established in all the rest of the world. Which is why liberals need to reach them.

I'm not saying glad handle people and act like we're so fine with reaching out that we'll just overlook anything they believe; there are basic things which are right and wrong on a larger scale which are non-negotiable; but that in trying to win people over we shouldn't be so totally inflexable as to be ineffective, because there is a space there for dialogue and discussion which isn't being used.

If people say that trying to reach people who you think on a basic level believe in something you consider wrong is a bad or hypocritical thing maybe you should quote them some scripture because I think that Jesus had a lot to say about that position.

John Chait part two

I think that the first part of his column, which is about a television show coming out where people come at things from a conservative perspective and how this is sort of overcompensation, is sort of right on, but I think that the values voters thesis has some merit. Specifically, he misses the point in thinking that there's something really wrong with liberals and supporters of liberals that reframeing the debate has to correct. This is not so, or at least not what I pick up when I look at columns advocating it. Instead, the message is that liberals and others, progressives as well to some degree, have had trouble communicating their values and what they believe to red state voters because, liberals especially, they haven't been trying to reach out beyond their traditional constituencies for a long time. Because of this there need to be new ways of convincing conservatives or people voting for Bush that the very stereotype that Chait mentions, latte drinkers on the coasts that don't understand America, isn't true. That's what rebranding and reaching out is about. It's underlying premise is that we better get these people on our side and that many would be if people more successfully communicated their positions, that many people vote Republican or are values voters because they don't live in places where a good, balanced, presentation about what liberalism (or progressivism) is about exists. Instead they get Rush Limbaugh and Fox News telling them that liberals are everything and anything except people who have a well thought out political position.

Personally, I'm not a traditional liberal, I'm a socialist, but I think that moving the country towards liberalism would be a good idea and that if people don't understand basic liberal values related to freedom, parity, and social justice, then there's no way that socialists will be able to communicate it, unless the socialism itself is retrograde, which isn't a good alternative.

Now, underneath the idea of liberals not communicating their position well, there are reasons for that, one of them being that territory traditionally won by democrats tends to stay democratic while conservative areas tend to tend to stay conservative. The traditional stereotype put forward on the right about liberal elitists has its grain of truth, but you know there are plenty of conservatives that are much more elitist towards the poor and towards people who are the Democrats traditional base than democratic elitists ever are about the corresponding groups on the right.

These are dueling stereotypes, so stating them isn't to give them real weight, but you could say that while democrats might say or imply that poorer rural whites just don't understand modern politics conservatives say that it's ok for poor people to die of starvation in the streets rather than receive public assistence and that racism does not exist--even that we've gone too far the other way and that blacks aren't just not discriminated against but get more privileges in general than whites--both of which examples are beyond anything that a liberal elitist would say at a cocktail party.

That's a substantial difference.

While liberals would say that conservatives are stupid conservatives say that poor people should die in the streets.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why they say they're stupid, the continual overemphasis and extremity of their positions, like the whole "Kill 'em all let god sort 'em out" thing.

John Chait: "Here's the skinny on conservatives"

Chait's short article is somewhat interesting but he gets his facts somewhat wrong. In his short primer about what a neoconservative is he says that William F. Buckley isn't a neo-conservative because the neocons as a general movement started in the '70s. Fair enough, because the neocons started in part because they figured that the '60s and '70s had gone too far and that a corrective was necessary, but he forgets one crucial factor: before the neo cons became neo cons there was Cold War and non Cold War conservatism and while Buckley didn't start the neocons he did start the Cold War conservative trend which the neocons are part of. Cold War conservatism endorses a bigger role for the state and the military under he justification of fighting a war against really bad people or something along those lines (I'm being ironic here), endorses an interventionist foreign policy to also achieve such goals as well. Those three things, increased state intevention, increased role for military, increased military itself beyond maintaining safety and security, are against what the type of conservative known as paleo-conservative or 'Taft conservative' after Robert Taft, who they see as embodying this trend, believed in. These were the people who proceded the neocons and they have an abiding hatred for William F. Buckley as bucking the true conservative line and expanding the state. They're more like Lou Dobbs. In fact, while the thing about hating state intervention and also, to an extent, not liking corrosive capitalism, is sort of nice they also are rabidly anti-immigrant and not very progressive on many, many issues. The John Birch society sees itself as being paleo-conservative, for example.

Nevertheless, elements of their philosophy are interesting if you read them aware that only elements are going to be anywhere near what progressives believe in in terms of basic values.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Abortion, a different angle from previous posts

Which is to say that the angle of these places banning it in order to lodge a complaint with the Supreme Court so that it would be illegal in the entire U.S. is something different than local democracy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Don't compare Katherine Harris to Stalin

Because it just gives her more talking points to win over the Cuban exile community.

Your apathy kills thousands

That's a sign I'd like to see over every highway overpass because it's so true.

American apathy is incredible, absolutely mindblowing, especially considering what's going on.

Let's see some billboards put up with pictures of civillians in Iraq maimed by U.S. forces and see how "I don't care about politics" people are.

Condi playing the piano

What an upper middle class spectacle. Like George W. Bush's vestigal cheerleader behavior, giving people nicknames, here comes Condi doing what, under stress, she's probably very familiar with doing as a child: giving a piano recital.

It's embarassing, like a dog begging for attention and not knowing how to go about it so using the way he's always done it before.

She probably wants the rest of the diplomatic establishment to clap wildly, complement her, and tell her that she's been a good girl.
Or maybe she just wants to fuck them and this is her way of sending a signal out of sexual preparedness.

Did I just say that?

If you like the idea of a Constitution

You should read your state Constitution in conjunction with the federal one because it's the state constitutions that, ahem, constitute what the rest of the world regards as what a Constitution should be. The federal one is mostly about limits. It's expected that the State constitutions will be the documents which flush out what real rights and responsabilities citizens have which the Constitution is expected to limit.

And about abortion

One thing which isn't mentioned much is that in many places there aren't doctors willing to perform abortions at all--even if they're legal--so that you have several state sized areas where abortion is effectively banned. It would be interesting to know if it was even possible to get an abortion in South Dakota before the law passed and if so was it just in one place like Rapid City or was it in multiple places.

Chalk one up to bourgeois law, which conceals what really goes on. *

*one thing that does have an effect via the federal government is whether or not people can cross state lines to have an abortion, specifically minors, since that's the only category of people the federal government would have some authority over. The proposed federal ban on minors crossing state lines to get abortions is wrong and shouldn't pass, because the federal government shouldn't use its power to get into people's affairs, especially not a farce like using the Interstate Commerce Clause, which establishes the gov's ability to regulate things going over state lines, to regulate people's movement.

Minors are regarded as property in law therefore moving property over state lines for the purpose of breaking the law in another state could be considered illegal.

The federal government as an agent for change

is something I don't believe in.

But wait--what about the end of segregation? If there wasn't a federal government that wouldn't have happened and the South would have done its own thing.

Ah, but that idea ignores the social context of the fifties and sixties. We'd just come out of a war against an enemy which was officially racist and much of the populous believed that the victory over the Axis was a justification for progressive change in the United States. It was this forment, with the civil rights movement acting within it, which lead to the nullification of segregation. In Europe too the post war world lead to progressive change--in this case to the final triumph of the idea of social democracy, and it didn't have to do with a supreme court or a federal justice system. The civil rights movement triumphed under Kennedy, who was widely regarded as a progressive, though not Communist, youthfull voice for change.

Without a social movement backing it up I think that Supreme Court decisions are pretty vacuous, and the Supreme Court itself is not a non-partisan institution--it rides the waves of public opinion as well, even if conservatives would like to believe that all they do there is stodgily interpret the Constitution, public opinion be damned.

In situations like the 1960s the Supreme Court could be an instrument for progressive change because that was the climate of public opinion, even if the most radical views weren't commonly held. In situations where that doesn't exist I'd argue that relying on the Supreme Court really doesn't do much. If there are conservative justices and its a conservative issue, and there's no public outcry or concern, they'll just rule as they would like. Liberal justices wouldn't be much better.

If this is true, that the triumph of the civil rights movement through the federal government was based on the public outcry against segregation fed by the recent experience of fighting World War II, then what follows is that there doesn't have to be a Supreme Court in order for progressive change to occur. That's just what happened to be the method by which it manifested itself then.

And if that's true then the notion that if the federal government were weakened and more States' rights were to come into being that terrible things would happen that the federal government wouldn't be there to protect us from would not be true. Terrible things might happen, but if there's not a mass movement in the location where they're existing against them then it really doesn't matter if there's a federal government watching over or some other institution. I'm not saying total States' Rights--I think that some basic human rights need to be ensured by some mechanism, but that the number which do needs to be less than is fought for by people wanting the Supreme Court to do everything.

And the ACLU is as much a public relations machine as it is a lawyers' guild. ACLU cases get attention because the media is alerted. It would be interesting to compare ACLU cases where the media plays a role to ones where there's comparatively little media coverage to see how well they fare in comparison. If there's a difference...well...that brings us back to the movement idea of how change happens vs. the purely legalistic one.

If the federal government was weakened then progressive states could be more progressive and conservative states could be more conservative. This is democracy. If there was a basic code, which wasn't all inclusive but truly basic, defining what human rights couldn't be violated by either sides, which was exclusive rather than inclusive, then there'd be some guarantee of justness across the new system.

Besides, if you live in South Dakota and you want abortion to be legal maybe you need to demonstrate that people really do want that---or to convince people that that's what should be and then convince the legislature to act on it---rather than relying on daddy federal government to overturn democracy.

In the end that's a killer proposition because once you cede power to that entity you're stuck with whatever choices it makes, as we're seeing now with the Patriot act and other legislation. Would Bush be able to do so much if the liberal wing wasn't so set on making the federal gov. the arbiter for the nation? He might be able to do some but I think that the shift advocated by liberals, but not by all lefties, is a contributing factor.

You've got to dance with them that brung you.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stability and Poverty or, general thoughts on Abraham Maslow

Maslow was a psychologist who came up with the idea of self actualization as being a natural human thing to pursue; he also created this pyramid or hierarchy of needs which talks about how when a basic need is met, like food, you can more easily move on to the next level, which are more abstract things. His book, "The psychology of being", which introduced all of this, is sadly out of print. However, his later, more conservatively biased book "The further reaches of human nature", where he advocates the "high achievers" in society running everything and being the standard by which to judge everyone, is strangely in print and widely available. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from this.

Anyways, one of the possible repercussions of the idea of this hierarchy of values is the idea that poor people can't be self actualized because they lack some of the material resources to make it to the next level. This is false, very false, in my opinion. What I think that Maslow might be describing in his hierarchy doesn't have so much to do with the basic attainment of these resources but with the stable attainment of them, so that not having much doesn't limit you from actualizing your basic potential, although it might make it harder, but if you can't regularly have your basic needs met in a stable and predictable way that might impact what you can do, because you're constantly facing problems and having to solve them instead of being able to move on from it and go on. After stability comes the social reasons and social pressures which interfere with people's abilities, but shifting it to something social and away from the psychological is a crucial distinction, because if something is socially determined then it's not as hard and fast as if it were psychologically determined.

Like education. A person can be really educated without ever having gotten a four year degree, yet in some ways the college system makes it easier to get education. However, just because the college system, which has its own social significance and politics, makes it easier doesn't mean that it's necessary for a person to be an educated person to have gone through it. Neither does it mean that everyone who goes through it is therefore an educated person.

That's the sort of difference between social and psychological.

Now, stability is something else. If, for the sake of argument, we accept the stability angle on Maslow, that his higher functions like friendship and curiousity and all this comes from having a stable environment, we immediately see that there are a whole bunch of people out there with not a lot of money but with very stable households and that they lead fulfilling, whole, lives too, subject to social constraints. There are certain things which because of how our society is set up they can't socially do, but psychologically it would be an enourmous insult to say that they're not ok for fulfilling their human potential, if that means things like friends and curiosity, or artistic creation.
*
Social stability and the link between social instability and problems has been a conservative point for a while in that conservatives have sought to blame all poverty on instability in personal and family life. Why are people poor? Just look at their behavior, look at the figures for unwed mothers, crime; obviously that section of society has problems in their personal lives which make having a nice job not possible.
That's the angle, no matter that this is a fraction of people in lower income brackets.

I think, personally, that stability in whatever arrangement of household people choose to live in is in fact important, whether that be a traditional household or not, but that social stress impacts people differently across the spectrum. You might have social stress and a related trend towards more instability in parts of society where the jobs are leaving, and they're working class jobs, and less social stress in places of relative bourgeois comfort, or actual bourgeois comfort, for that matter.

But related to social stress I don't think that instability in a total, abstract, sense is only related to social stress; there are kinds of instability which interfere with functioning which cut across income barriers. You can make a lot of money and have a totally fucked up personal life which effects the people around you in a very negative way. And which interferes with personal growth, although if you exist in an environment where you have a lot of money at your disposal you're spared much social stress and can pursue growth and overcome those obstacles more easily, just in an absolute way.

Name Change

As you might have realized the blog has undergone a name change.

The hate and joy thing scared to many people off; what I meant was more like what I've titled the blog now, "Good times and bad times".

So...what I've done is to basically translate the title of the blog out of the hermetic language that it was in before into something more comprehensable.

Interesting site: Variant, in the UK

Very interesting site in the UK. It's a magazine that's been going for over twenty years covering art, cultural issues, left issues, current events. Here's a sample of what they have; it's from their website as of now:

"


Beyond Social Inclusion : Towards Cultural Democracy
The Cultural Policy Collective
pdf print version

www.culturaldemocracy.net



Irish Connections: Immigration and the politics of belonging
Bryan Fanning
"Claims of mutual solidarity between different post-colonial societies with a history of oppression play well as ideological politics but when tested – say, by the presence of migrants – reveal the racism and discrimination of one’s own society."


Nobody has to be vile
Slavoj Zizek
"Liberal communists are top executives reviving the spirit of contest or, to put it the other way round, countercultural geeks who have taken over big corporations. Their dogma is a new, postmodernised version of Adam Smith’s invisible hand: the market and social responsibility are not opposites, but can be reunited for mutual benefit. As Friedman puts it, nobody has to be vile in order to do business these days..."

“The Scottish Executive is open for business”
Chik Collins
Focusing attention on the neo-liberal agenda for a step change in opening up Scotland’s communities to private sector penetration, Collins lays bare the ‘fit’ between the Scottish Executive's latest regeneration statement and the economic perspective laid out by the Royal Bank. "An agenda that can do immense damage across Scotland – but with particularly unsavoury implications for the poorest communities in the shorter term."

Turning Things Around
Peter Suchin
Considered review of four pamphlets published in connection with the South London Radical History Group: Down with the Fences!: Battles for the Commons in South London; Nine Days in May: The General Strike in Southwark; Poor Man’s Heaven – The Land of Cokaygne: A 14th Century Utopian Vision; Reds on the Green: A Short Tour of Clerkenwell Radicalism.

Comic & Zine Reviews
Mark Pawson
The pick of an armful of publications from London Zine Symposium and Reading Frenzy @ Horse Hospital, including: Gum, Nervous System, Babylon By Bike, Paul’s No Good Comics, Savage Messiah, Beat Motel, Xtra Tuf, Stolen Sharpie Revolution, DIY in PDX, Beyer’s Beasts.

Social Capital and Neo-Liberal Voluntarism
Alex Law and Gerry Mooney
Law & Mooney argue that, notwithstanding the near hegemonic use of the neologism, in its very vacuity lies the widespread ideological appeal of social capital. In providing a highly circumscribed way to think and act in terms of social and political mobilisation, its dominance has had, and is having, worldwide repercussions.


Prison Radio versus Panopticism
Tom Allan
As a volunteer on Wandsworth prison radio station project, a thoughtful reflection on its role in seeking to develop prisoners' personal & technical skills to project their points of view through the media, and to strengthen the positive bonds connecting them to society.

The Internet and Democracy: Beyond the Techno-libertarian Rhetoric
Ann McCluskey
"If engaging with a computer enables ‘liberation’ and by extension, democratic good health, then no-one and nothing else need struggle to maintain a polity. ... But beyond the rhetoric of freedom, and in light of its commercial as well as social applications, what are the real possibilities for Internet technology in a democratic realm?"

accompanying artwork by alhena katsof: and_
pdf


Showing Rage and Resistance: Bristle
Jamie Dockery
A sharp look at the publication 'Bristle' : political street images & actions produced in Bristol. "

Os Mutantes in Seattle

File this in the "Good Times" pile.

Got back from seeing Os Mutantes in Seattle tonight. What an experience. Mutantes are the premier psychedelic band out of Brazil.

Not the premier psychedelic band of the moment out of Brazil but the premier psychedelic band out of Brazil since psychedelic music first came along.

The experience was like seeing Brian Wilson perform.

Or like seeing a '60s Grateful Dead show.

I'm twitching from it still, and am half deaf as a result of the volume, but this is a show that will have Seattle talking for quite some time to come.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Technocracy II

This point, the divergent history of technocracy in the '70s and later from the hype, is one that leads to a basic dissent I have with Robin Hahnel's analysis of both the United States and the Soviet Union as being controlled by experts along with whatever dominant political economic system they have. It's not being blatantly pro-Soviet to suggest that at the very least the Revolution in Russia and the subsequent history changed the model of production such that it couldn't be called capitalist anymore. Whatever it was, the impulse for a corrosive capitalism wasn't there, or was kept at bay for a very long time.

In the West, sure, you had and have beaurocrats and controllers, experts and planners, but it rides on the capitalist system which undermines the solidity of all of it, meaning that you can't compare beaurocrats in a capitalist country with beaurocrats in a Communist country. The comparison just isn't meaningful because they have different basic interests. In the Communist countries beaurocracy could have full swing; in the capitalist countries beaurocracy was and is always subject to market pressures, which can lead to things like the mass 'downsizing' movement. The downsizing movement in the '90s was a manifestation of the market pressures reigning in beaurocracy, which shoots the case for comparability since the only parallel move in the Communist countries, apart from experiments with the market itself, came from internal pressures, largely based on the residual pull of partisan movements and other occurances like that during World War II.

Technocracy itself

Has emerged in historical perspective as a red herring. The managed society, the soulfull corporation, the New Industrial State (to quote Kenneth Galbraith), have turned out to not mean quite as much as raw greed in the final analysis.

These were things that were emphasized out of proportion to their importance during the New Left of the '60s; in part this was because the technocratic rhetoric was endorsed by the U.S. government and was a pervasive part of the culture of America.

America emerged from the Second World War with the New Deal ringing in its ears, and with the New Deal the idea of a society where a tripartite agreement between Capitalism, Labor, and the State, would ensure a good deal for most of America. The collaborative, informal and formal, planning between these three entities was going to ensure this in a technocratic mode. However, capital, which people assumed was extraordinarily sophisticated in the U.S., turned out to be neither sophisticated nor neutral. The reality underneath the technocratic rhetoric was that the post-war boom was made possible by the vacuum left by the destruction of Europe and Japan and the containment of the Soviet Union, not by rational management by cartelized corporate technocrats. The further reality was that when the going got tough in America these forces were not inclined to stick around and participate in the tripartite agreement out of the goodness of their hearts, and even further, the assurance of the U.S. gov. that the golden age was here to stay effectively stopped an opposition from emerging which would have kept them here by force and pressure. So when the profits started to fall in the U.S. there was no mechanism to really keep capital here.

The technocratic veneer was convincing to some; for example the Vietnam war was sold as being a war planned by experts, who knew exactly what they were doing, and so would not make mistakes. They were the best of the best, the brain trust idea inherited from the New Deal applied to the military. The rational technocrats couldn't make mistakes. No wonder one of the lessons of the Vietnam war was to not trust the media or official statements given by the government to them. Obviously there was something other than rational technocratic planning going on, as Nixon's Oval Office tapes indicate. He was far from a non-emotional beaurocrat.


****

Instead of all this, what technocracy has turned into is corporate dominance as the corporations, not the government or labor, use technocratic methods internally to further the interests of capital in their daily practice. The WTO, which is aggressively anti-planning, is a sign of how divergent in reality the practices of capital are from what they push for in governmental policy, when it doesn't suit them that is. Chomsky has noted that multinational corporations form some of the largest internal economies, i.e. GM coordinating all of its production in order to make cars at the other end, in the world, ranking right up there with small countries. This is where the technocratic impulse has gone, not to some fantasy about an expert imposed "rational society" in the West.

Robert Reich again

Robert Reich, in his book "The Work of Nations", seemed to believe that capitalism was now entering a phase where the profit motive wasn't dominant and that instead creativity by elites destined to be the symbol analysts was going to be the motor that drove the "New Economy". It was based on the post-industrial thesis, which was that technology had created the means to mitigate the badness of industrial capitalism and that through advances in science we would no longer have exploitation, pretty much. The thesis was often put in the future tense, as something which was going to happen or was imminent, that looked backwards on the current post-war prosperity as evidence not of economic dominance through being the only intact power but indicative of American technocracy.

Reich's elaboration is the apotheosis of that kind of thinking. Not only does technology and technocracy make America just but it also elimiates the profit motive itself as a driving force in the economy.

Of course the reality is that the plans of the symbolic analysts working in hip places like here or Oregon were and are carried out by slave labor in sweatshops in Asia. Nike, surely a creative venture, and a model for the New Economy because of its decentralized business practices, is almost synonymous with sweatshops at this point. And they're based in Oregon, run by a guy with a beard and some hipness.

The homefront isn't really better because the pressures to outsource and make capital more mobile, hallmarks of the New Economy, meant increasing deindustrialization and loss of jobs in the U.S. as businesses moved to Mexico then to Asia in search of cheaper labor.

In short, the New Economy was an ideological basis for globalization, which is still ongoing.

All of this makes Reich's conversion to social democracy, and I use the word not as an epithet but as something that I think he would describe himself as believing in, very curious. I don't doubt its sincerity; he's written a lot of good reviews and articles in favor of progressive causes, but I would like to know just when and why he started to doubt that the ideology which he had elaborated on would deliver the goods to the U.S. and to the world.

While we're going down memory lane here: Robert Reich vs. Paul Krugman

A forgotten chapter, to say the least. Robert Reich was Clinton's neoliberal ideologue, a person who was appointed to head the Department of Labor who believed that unions were on their way out and that technology would make neoliberalism fair.

Krugman, well, you know Krugman: economist and New York Times editorialist who made some really good comments on the Iraq war and on America since 9/11 in general. He also authored an entire book entitled "Peddling Prosperity" which slams Robert Reich and the Clinton economic ideology. The front cover gives a good picture of what the book is about; it features Reagan, Bush, and Clinton on a joy ride with bottles of 'prosperity' which look like liquor bottles, hawking their wares out of control on a horse drawn wagon, emphasizing the unity in incoherence of all of their economic ideas.

Now Robert Reich has started The American Prospect and has become a moderate social democrat. Who knew, especially when he was talking about some sort of 'symbolic analyst', aka Computer Programmers, Engineers, and writers, taking over society and making the working class obsolete, that he was secretly harboring pro-labor sentiments.

Teaming up with Robert Kuttner is even stranger because Kuttner, unlike Reich, is a consistent social democrat and has written about possible social democratic alternatives for the United States including the introduction of an Industrial Policy, which is a process of partial planning of industry by the government.

But, hey, he co-founded The American Prospect; something must have happened.

Clinton, via Tom Tomorrow

"Tom Tomorrow:
Same as it ever was

I’ve never entirely understood the tendency of bloggers who revile the DLC and everything it stands for to simultaneously revere Bill Clinton, who is pretty much the embodiment of the DLC and everything it stands for. I mean, I understand that he looks pretty good in retrospect, when contrasted with the emotionally-stunted intellectual midget who currently occupies the Oval Office — but his decision to stump for Lieberman should nonetheless serve as a reminder that this guy will sell out progressives at the drop of a hat if it is somehow politically expedient to do so.

That this is not exactly breaking news is something anyone who was paying attention during the nineties should understand."

This is true. The idea that Clinton is friendly to progressives is about as logical as that Gore is less of a fundamental neo-liberal because he supports restrictions for environmental causes.

The same could be said of a lot of things, vis the Dalai Lama

That, for example, the CIA had a factor in the Hungary rising of '56 or the strike even earlier of East German workers, but that misses in these cases the real discontent that people had for the system in these countries, or, at least, how the system was being implemented.

Dalai Lama and the CIA?

China has come out accusing the CIA of collaborating with the CIA. I think the short answer is that, yes, he did collaborate with the CIA and, no, it really doesn't matter.

Yes, I think he did. Think. From what I've read he's been careful to say that he wasn't a CIA tool but hasn't denied a CIA presence in Tibet around the invasion.

No, it really doesn't matter because, guess what, this isn't news. Allegations of CIA complicity have been with the Dalai Lama for quite a long time, and of the possible threats to China I think that the Dalai Lama and Tibet ranked pretty low. China seized Tibet for itself; whatever the Dalai Lama was part of, whether it be 500 troops sent into China, which is doubtfull considering the source of this figure, or 500 agents, I don't think that it would have destabilized China. It certainly isn't an after the fact justification for invading Tibet and seizing it.

What's going on is a diplomatic dance with the Communist country where you can tell whether the Chinese leadership is pro or anti-Tibet based on the facts they recycle in the official story.

When relations are good this stuff is conveniently left out. When they sour they're just as conveniently put back in. I'm sure that the people of China are aware of the game.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Spammers again

The sexual violence theme of the e-mails is very disturbing, but, amazingly, after getting e-mail after e-mail in my box advertizing for sexually violent crimes on videotape I'm desensitized to seeing the adds. It's sad, but it doesn't really bother me anymore because I know the point is to freak me out. I know the game and the game is up, as they say.

But, yeah, you want to know the consequences of putting things like this site and these writings up for everyone? to read? One of them is some sick fucks sending you loads of advertisements offering all sorts of sexually violent scenarios, with undertones of "I want to rape your mother, fuck head" and worse.

The spammers' psychology

There are hostile spammers out there, people who subscribe you to spam which is intended to be offensive in the extreme. They usually do this against people they, they being anyone from right wing nutcases to who knows, don't agree with or like who post things online.

I've noticed a pattern in their insults: for me, at least, the insults frequently include references to raping teen girls, with these things posing as porn links which will lead to pedophiliac rape porn.

I really don't know why they're sending me this stuff and I think that the messages say more about what's going on in their minds than what I'm concerned with, to say the least.

So, what could intending sexual violence against teenagers signify for right wing idiots; a power trip? Will to exploitation? Abuse?

Or feeling of emasculation because of what they're reading. They read this, feel emasculated because they can't shut me up or stop me, unlike if they heard someone saying what I say from someone standing next to them, and so they project their rage, anger, and frustration out in rape fantasies against little girls, which they then attribute to me.

How's that for an analysis?

They should look up John Fund and all the other real baby rapers on the Right; it seems to be a continual theme.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Outlaws of America" by Dan Berger, a good book

I knew Dan when he lived in Florida; Outlaws of America is the fruit of his research into the Weather Underground and is, without question, the finest book available on the subject. Of particular interest is the account of what they were doing when they weren't bombing, which was networking with other groups, primarily radical groups of color, and doing community organizing. It explains why they bombed the places they did too, with no human casualties, disproving the idea that they were just crazy radicals who wanted to be violent.

It isn't a Marxist book in that the framework isn't based on an awareness of how economic forces shape politics, but it's very good nonetheless, and is a valuable and important chapter in peoples' history.

Dan has succeeded in rescuing a movement's past from oblivion, and that is to be commended.

Seattle and Portland

Spent, am spending the weekend, or at least Saturday and part of Sunday, in Portland. It's a change from Seattle.

I guess that the comparison which one could make is that Portland is like the West Village while Seattle is like mid-town Manhattan.

Downtown Portland is covered with bricks, public art, metal, and transit, along with neighborhood shops.

Downtown Seattle is pretty damn barren, and the neighborhood adjoining it which is closest to the Village, Capitol Hill, still lacks that homey feeling. Maybe it's more like the Lower East Side.

But I'm impressed with downtown Portland, with how a downtown can retain this sort of feeling while still functioning as a downtown. No wonder urban planners look to Portland as a model for what to do and build.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bowie praises Barrett

Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd has died, the creative genius who made their early stuff fun and exciting. David Bowie has praised Syd Barrett as being an influence on himself.

I don't know how the Bowie angle fits into this post except in that I've become somewhat fixated with Bowie lately and he has a good website (http://www.davidbowie.com).

Syd Barrett's mental illness has been attributed to his psychedelics use, but according to Gary Lachman in "Turn off your mind" (which a link to purchase is conveniently provided on the sidebar), what really happened is that Barrett, while using psychedelics, came under the influence of a bad character who was in the habit of doing nasty things to Syd while he was under the influence of the drugs. Things like locking him in a closet while he was on LSD or yelling at him. These are things that would easily make one's mind snap considering the circumstances.

****

Bowie's great, an underappreciated genius. Seriously. In the United States Bowie is known mainly for Ziggy Stardust and a few odd hits here and there like "Young Americans", "Panic in Detroit", "Fame", "Golden Years", and "Space Oddity", which isn't a random hit but integral to the Space Oddity album.*

But this misses part of the point of Bowie's complete artistic output, which is much better, and stranger, in the best sense of that word, than those songs individually would suggest.

Another thing that I don't think people get but which, nevertheless, is present, is that all the stuff was psychedelic camp rather than pure irony, which all told, is better than it being thought of as just being sort of a druggy thing with no meaning, which is what much of "Classic Rock", gets presented as on American radio these days.

Am listening heavily to "Station to Station" and exploring the "Berlin Trilogy", composed of "Low", "Heroes", and "Lodger", which Bowie made while living in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe during the '70s.

Updating on the awareness; maybe through "Velvet Goldmine", the movie, the younger generation has been exposed to a different dimension of Bowie, but, not having seen the movie myself I can only speculate.

* On edit: The song Space Oddity itself was made originally as a soundtrack, so it isn't really necessarily integral to the album, yet, as its centerpiece is more central than, say, "Golden Years" is to Station to Station.

Great Ted Rall column: "Collective Punishment is'nt Self- Defense"

Rall lays out the basics. Starting with the notion of collective punishment devized by the Nazis he goes on to argue that what Israel is doing right now, and what the U.S. did to Afghanistan, is an example of collective punishment, where the civilian population, who had nothing to do with the initial reason for the attacks, is made to suffer for the actions of the few.

Noveselic followup

I saw Noveselic speak in Olympia, which was a treat because Olympia Washington was where Nirvana really started to get moving in terms of getting big. Olympia was there second home, after Aberdeen, where they originated.

It was a small bookstore, and a treat.

Interestingly enough, it appears that some sort of Olympia politics followed them even though Nirvana had not existed for years: outside of the bookstore there were some punks yelling that Noveselic was a sellout. He responded to them, yelling something back; it must really suck to have to deal with that shit when you just want to be left alone, as Noveselic seems to want.

Damn, "Full Metal Jackoff", from the "No WTO" album sounds even more contemporary than before...

As Jello Biafra noted in the intro to it. I've been in WA for 2.5 years, by the way, so was far away when the WTO hit. But I got the record of them performing, Jello Biafra, Krist Noveselic, and a guy from Soundgarden.

Here are the lyrics, sans Jello's intro.

My only claim to association with this is that I saw Krist Noveselic, the bassist for Nirvana, give a talk about his book "Of Grunge and Government" last year it would have to have been. Almost two years ago at this point. He seemed very conflicted by the idea of fame, consistently rejected all the hero worship people were trying to put on him. It seemed that trying to retain non-famous status and relationships with regard to people who were there, who obviously saw him differently, was emotionally taxing and draining, not easy. He seemed under a lot of pressure from it and snapped at some of the fans who wanted to treat him like an idol. Considering that he's a member of Nirvana that's sort of understandable that he would get sick of fans.

Anyways,

"D.O.A. Lyrics


Full Metal Jackoff Lyrics



Around our nation's capital there's a freeway 8 lanes wide white concrete ringed around the city for those who want inside
get on get off ignore everything to the sides
in your midst i drive while homeboys in the back of the van make drugs
wanna hide something like a crack lab just put it in plain sight only stop to refuel and unload more poison to tear more lives apart
gang wars like never before better lock your doors, buy some guns and prey for martial law on the washington d.c. beltway around and around i go in the black van with no windows and a chimney puffing smoke bloody headlines in the news each day drug "crisis" everywhere so much comes in so easy it's as though someone wants it there it would be a little obvious to fence off all the slums hand out machine guns to the poor in the projects and watch 'em kill each other off a more subtle genocide is when the only hope for the young is to join the army and slowly die wall street or crack dealer avenue the last roads left to the american dream wall street or crack dealer avenue wall street or crack dealer avenue only on road leads to this neighborhood little kids wanna sell drugs when they grow up the folks might get just a little upset if they knew where that dope comes from froom columbia to the contras to our air force bases, where we trade it for guns the moral equivilent of a serial killer and his cia friends call the shots from the white house but now that we own the media too those stories just aren't run on the washington d.c. beltway, 'round and 'round i go in a black van with no windows, and a chimney puffing smoke some gang that ran smack in viet nam ain't got no reason to fear just get a vice president so dumb the crook at the top never gets impeached that sure was easy wasn't it? that sure was easy wasn't it? more crack-more panic-moe cops-more jails you see emergency-total war you see emergency-total war you see a black face-you see a crackhead you see a black face-you see a crackhead you see a black face-you see willie horton with a knife you see willie horton with a knife you see one willie horton you've seen them all they're everywhere, i know you asked for it, you've got it drug suspects have no rights at all property seized and sold before trial labor camps-on american soil?!? neo-nazi bootboys that the cops never seem to arrest prowl neighborhoods with baseball bats why now? why do they get so much press...? mein kampf-the mini series ollie north-"patriotic" hero the leader for tomorrow is yours today finally gotcha psyched for a police state on the washington d.c. beltway around and around i go in a black van with no windows and a chimney puffing smoke my van's a mobile oven now that burns the bodies you never see just like in chile or guatemala people just seem to disappear just like rome we fell asleep when we got spoiled ignore human rights in the rest of the world ya might just lose your own as the noose of narco-militarism tightens 'round your necks we worry about burning flags and pee in jars at work to keep our jobs but if someone came for you one night and dragged you away do you really think your neighbors would even care."

Re-interpretation of the riots in France

Most of the U.S. press portrayed the riots as happening in part because French society didn't put the same pressure on immigrants to conform that U.S. society does. Immigrants were portrayed as living in ghettos where they were never integrated into society; but what do they mean by integration?

Do they mean being functioning members of society, speaking the dominant language part of the time and working, because people can live in their own communities which retain their ethnic identity and do that.

The same idea, that not forcing immigrants to conform, has been blamed for fostering terrorism, specifically 9/11, as well, because the German state let these people live Muslim lives in Germany.

But is not forcing people to conform the problem, or do both the riots and the fact that radical Islamists exist in these countries evidence that they need to make their societies more inclusive, to redefine identity so that people can in fact live in their neighborhoods, retain their language and culture, and yet in terms of being citizens be fully integrated into the possibilities of French and German life?

I think what they do in Europe is a step ahead, a much better step ahead, of what they do in the United States, and talk of ghettos or ghettoization trivializes the respect that European states and much of European society, has for people who might not fit the cookie cutter stereotype of what that country is.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Amazing. Me, Majikthise, and Pandagon are all in the same age group

Although not exactly the same age, year wise.

This makes me happy since this is the age frame many of my friends are in as well, meaning basic communication would be possible.

I've felt like the young guy on the blogosphere, but, comparatively, I'm not as out of place as some may think.

Neutrality of Bush, neutrality of Israel

Bush's silence, as well as the congressional votes of confidence, for Israel, and the media's portrayal of it as simply an act of self defense, puts forward an image which misses a large, easily checkable, factor: Israel's own declared militancy, love of military action, and self justifications for military action which have nothing to do with anything non-violent or simply self defense based at all.

Israel has a very large culture of militancy, linked to the military, and ultimately rooted in a desired to be tougher than everyone else so that another Holocaust doesn't happen. They argue that if there had been more militant, violent, resistence in Germany and Poland that the Holocaust wouldn't have happened, which is probably true, but then they make the deduction that, therefore, in a realist world you need to be violent on a day to day basis to preserve things.

If Israel's general pro-militarist, macho, stance were more widely known I think that there'd be less support for Israel's actions in the media and in regular people's views in general.

People of jewish descent have been at the vanguard of progressive change in the U.S., because of their history and memory of repression in their family's histories, but in Israel itself ultra-conservative militancy is the order of the day.

By supporting Israel not only are democrats supporting an illegal and immoral attack on a third party, Lebanon, but they're also supporting ultra-conservatism abroad. What a wonderful gain to be gotten from that.

At what point do the democrats realize that the Israeli state is not on their side, that the people who control Israel are much closer to the Republicans than to them, and so supporting them strengthens conservatism abroad.

Reference for the "Patriot King" idea

The best reference for the idea that the people who created the Constitution had an idea like monarchy in mind comes from Forrest MacDonald's book "Novus Ordo Seclorum: the intellectual origins of the Constitution".

This is the standard conservative reference for the writing of the Constitution.

MacDonald is a self described paleo-conservative.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"A monarchy wasn't what the founding fathers had in mind"--Glen Greenwald add

Greenwald's stuff is good, but this add, although I admire its sentiment, isn't really that accurate. The add, from Workingforchange.org, has a picture of a crown, then it shifts to a picture of the Capitol building in D.C., then it goes to "How a Patriot would Act", Greenwald's book, with the the slogan "A monarchy isn't what the founding fathers had in mind".

Having absolutely nothing to do with the content of Greenwald's book, which appears good from reviews, some of the founding fathers did have something like a monarchy in mind. Namely, the Federalists, who took power several years after the Revolution. While the Revolutionary people themselves included staunch democrats like Thomas Jefferson the Federalists believed that democratic power had gone too far and that a corrective was needed to get the former colonies back in line. So they created the centralized executive of the Presidency, which takes for its role the monarchial system of England. Back in the original Constitutional system people in general had even less power over the federal government than they do today. Only the House of Representatives was directly elected by the people, the rest, from the Senate to the Presidency itself, were selected by committees, some being made up of Reps, some not. I believe the Senate was supposed to be made up of people who were prominent in the community, i.e. rich people, as chosen by the State itself.

This mens that the insulation originally between the people and the President was even greater than it is today, and conservatives at the time started to promulgate all sorts of nationalist myths about George Washington, myths which resemble the grand and glorious deeds of heroic kings, in order to get regular people to give their obedience to him. They had an idea of the "Patriot King", which comes originally from Bollingbroke, who, in his time, was a very progressive thinker, i.e. the early part of the 18th century, but who was nonetheless a tory who was out to reconcile the democratic blow to monarchy represented by the Glorious Revolution and his own principles.

He came up with the idea that the traditional monarchial system could work without there being an actual blood monarch if the person chosen was regarded as an acted as a patriot in service of the country, hence the idea of the "patriot king". This is what a lot of the thought that went into strengthening the role of the executive in the Constitutional system came out of.

So, in a sense, monarchy, in the form of a "patriot king" who was indirectly selected by the best and brightest of the country was indeed what some of the "Founding Fathers" had in mind.

Raving about "Sundown Towns"---insomnia edition

I can't recommend this thing enough; this time, however, I'm going to do more than just say "This is good, buy it", and instead go more in depth, like all book recommendations should. First off, I should say that I have checked with the interlibrary loan system of the Seattle metropolitan area and, yes, there are copies out there. You do not have to buy the very expensive hardcover to get this thing.

That said, the importance of 'Sundown Towns' is that it puts the lie to the notion that formal equal rights under the law equals real equal rights in practice. Sundown Towns deals with towns almost exclusively in the north of the United States which forbade blacks from either staying in town past sundown or buying houses in the neighborhood. The second, which created sundown suburbs, often lead to the same sorts of behavior on the part of whites against blacks that outright sundown towns did---paranoid responses by police, more than usual, to blacks anywhere in the town, particularly after dark, and potential mob action against blacks who wanted to move into the town anyways.

The outright sundown towns were first of all designated such by signs which said things along the lines of "Nigger--don't let the sun set on you in ....." which were posted at the edge of town. Once this became unfashionable the sundown ordinances still were in effect after the signs went down, and were treated as holy writ by the townspeople, often. The towns in question often have founding myths about why they went sundown, which usually justify why blacks who lived in the town were forcibly expelled from town in a white race riot one night. Yes, forcibly removed, kicked out of their houses, beaten, houses burned to the ground, you name it. Killed. And not just in small towns in the north either. James Loewen found that the factor which accounted for whether a community was able to go sundown in the early part of the 20th century, when most of them originally went that way, was whether or not the black community was big enough or strong enough to resist being expelled. He compares the Springfield race riots in Illinois, something I was not familiar with, with similar race riots in slightly smaller towns in the region which succeeded in expelling all the blacks and making the towns sundown. Springfield was spared this because, being the capitol of the State, it was a little bit bigger than these communities. The Tulsa race riots, which are better known, are another example of a white community trying to forcibly expell all its black folks but not succeeding.

The sundown ordinances, and there were ordinances passed by city councils, were enforced in some cases up to the present day, although most towns have 'officially' gone not sundown---they still retain their notereity as places which black folk shouldn't go or try to move to, and the towns are still totally white; what mechanisms keep it this way vary, just be sure that ending the sundown officially, since it is very, very, illegal, doesn't change the opinion of the white townspeople overnight.

Yes, there still are some sundown towns which have an enourmous reputation. Although it doesn't fit the pattern because it's technically in the South---most of Loewen's towns are in Indiana and Illinois because that's where he's from---I knew myself, from watching a documentary about a murder where the person was set up by the Klan to protect one of their own, to stay the fuck away from Vidor, Texas, any time that I was going that way along I-10 on a trip. Vidor is very close to the Louisiana border and so, if it wasn't the Klan center of Texas, would be a convenient place to stop for gas.

But back to the North, because that's the focus and the importance of the whole thing.

The north, without segregation, right? Then why did Martin Luther King Jr. march in Chicago for desegregation of housing. Inquiring minds want to know about this obscure chapter of King's life, which doesn't get covered much. Neither does the response from the white locals, which was violent against King and the people who marched.

This is an example of sundown segregation in action, in the north, well after both the legal end of segregation and the previous legal end to sundown towns. Yes, they were 'officially' illegalized before segregation was repealed, although this didn't change much.

It just goes to show you how much bourgeois law really matters and how much it really covers up the dynamics of oppression which are going on beneath its pristine surface.

****

One thing that Loewen mentions, which is very relevant and which has caused me to rethink some stuff, is his take on the evolution of black and white in America and why it is that the anti-pathy in sundown towns was mostly, overwhelmingly, devoted to blacks, even though other Americans got hassled and sometimes, in the case of Asians, some Jews, and a few Greeks, they were forcibly expelled as well.

Loewen makes a brief, if convincing, argument that blacks were really the first exposure to a subjugated other that most white Americans encountered. In the East, Native American groups were decimated. Mexicans only existed in the Southwest, mostly. When Asians became a perceived threat they too were given the same treatment as blacks, in a place with few blacks, the West Coast, particularly the Pacific Northwest.

Because blacks were the first contact with a subjugated class they took on the permanent markings of that subjugation.

To put it another way, and to go beyond what Loewen himself said, the Southern strategy, which was to preserve slavery by making it a popular institution, something not confined to large plantations but to medium size farms and to personal servants, in order to win over whites massively to the ways of thinking which the original plantation owners had, succeeded. And not just in the South but in the North as well. Blacks became partially the defacto working class in many areas.

Jefferson Davis, first president of the Confederacy, once said in a speech that he could even invite his mechanic over for dinner and not feel uncomfortable because they were 'equals' owing to the fact that the slave labor of blacks propped both of their standards of living up.

They did the dirty work, they were the working class, so Davis' mechanic wasn't really working class like they were.

It seems that in many areas of life in the United States little has changed.*

* there seems to be a hybrid class involving both race and class here, but that's a much bigger essay, point being blacks to this day partially fulfill the role of designated working class people, the ones who do the work and have no choice about doing the work.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"United States to Israel: You Have One More Week to Blast Hizbullah Bush 'gave green light' for limited attack, say Israeli and UK sources"

"After Mr Blair spoke, British officials privately acknowledged the US had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hizbullah's infrastructure has been destroyed.

Washington's hands-off approach was underlined yesterday when it was confirmed that Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is delaying a visit to the region until she has met a special UN team. She is expected in the region on Friday, according to Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN.

The US is publicly denying any role in setting a timeframe for Israeli strikes. When asked whether the US was holding back diplomatically, Tony Snow, the White House's press spokesman, said yesterday: "No, no; the insinuation there is that there is active military planning, collaboration or collusion, between the United States and Israel - and there isn't ... the US has been in the lead of the diplomatic efforts, issuing repeated calls for restraint, but at the same time putting together an international consensus. You've got to remember who was responsible for this: Hizbullah ... It would be misleading to say the United States hasn't been engaged. We've been deeply engaged.""

No, Tony, Israel is responsable for it. If they had not gone into Gaza, Hizbullah would not have kidnapped those soldiers. This started because of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, particularly the hostile treatment of Palestinians and the Paliestinian leadership that has emerged in recent weeks, which is based on the antipathy between Hamas and Israel, although Hamas is being extremely restrained, compared to what they've done in the past. Israel wants to destroy the Palestinian authority, which is headed by Hamas, which was democratically elected by the Palestinians, like it or not. Hizbullah is responding to this incursion by striking at Israel.

You may not agree with the base ideology of these groups, but to say that "Hizbullah started it, they're responsable, that's the reason this is happening", is totally false and misleading.

It puts it in a frame of reference easy for justifying further incursions against Syria and Iran as well as continued war on Lebanon to say to the American people: These are terrorists, terrorists struck Israel, Israel is striking back at the terrorists, we have to support it.

No, we don't. It's a false frame of reference pure and simple.

And about the violence issue: neither party here is non-violent; the Israeli military is anything but doves. Arguments about rightness based on who engages in violence and who doesn't don't apply here.

While the world is going to hell in a handbasket---Os Mutantes plays Seattle next Wednesday

The whole "Hell in a Handbasket" thing is from Tom Tomorrow's blog and website, it's not original with me. Os Mutantes is one of the core Brazillian Tropicalia/Psychedelic bands from the late '60s, early '70s. Playing at the Moore Theater.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

America is not value free

I think I've made a fundamental error in my analysis of America.

Previously I've thought that America is the last pure bastion of Enlightenment linked Capitalism, which in itself is a value free concept. You know, free markets linked to an ideology of human rights, as if freedom came from free unfettered economic activity.

Instead, I think that this is just a blind, just a distraction. America in its actions abroad doesn't promote free capitalism; it promotes Americanism with a veneer of capitalism as its operating ideology.

It's hard to see this from inside America. We don't, when looking at the outside world, see our mission as 'civilising primative peoples' as did the English, who also saw themselves as just another Empire among others, taking their place among the Mughal, Chinese, and other Indian and Asian conquerers. Neither do we see our goal as creating 'little Frenchmen' as the French saw it.

Instead, American values are pushed with the stated ideology of freedom in the sense which we've been trained to believe we embody as a nation from birth on. But it's still American values underneath.

There is no "McWorld", as Benjamin Barber's book put it, but rather McAmerica with a McWorld covering.

Buying into the dominant ideology, with ideology being something that we're told to believe in but which doesn't correspond with the reality of the situation, only serves to validate it unnecessarily.

There has never been a pure capitalism, or a pure "Enlightenment" and there never will be.

It is all the values of the host country hidden behind the reason de jure for expansion, domination, and increased influence over others.

Once we see this we can begin to dismantle it more effectively because no longer will we be up against "The Enlightenment" or against "Pure Capitalism" but up against good old American national values.

America is not value free

I think I've made a fundamental error in my analysis of America.

Previously I've thought that America is the last pure bastion of Enlightenment linked Capitalism, which in itself is a value free concept. You know, free markets linked to an ideology of human rights, as if freedom came from free unfettered economic activity.

Instead, I think that this is just a blind, just a distraction. America in its actions abroad doesn't promote free capitalism; it promotes Americanism with a veneer of capitalism as its operating ideology.

It's hard to see this from inside America. We don't, when looking at the outside world, see our mission as 'civilising primative peoples' as did the English, who also saw themselves as just another Empire among others, taking their place among the Mughal, Chinese, and other Indian and Asian conquerers. Neither do we see our goal as creating 'little Frenchmen' as the French saw it.

Instead, American values are pushed with the stated ideology of freedom in the sense which we've been trained to believe we embody as a nation from birth on. But it's still American values underneath.

There is no "McWorld", as Benjamin Barber's book put it, but rather McAmerica with a McWorld covering.

Buying into the dominant ideology, with ideology being something that we're told to believe in but which doesn't correspond with the reality of the situation, only serves to validate it unnecessarily.

There has never been a pure capitalism, or a pure "Enlightenment" and there never will be.

It is all the values of the host country hidden behind the reason de jure for expansion, domination, and increased influence over others.

Once we see this we can begin to dismantle it more effectively because no longer will we be up against "The Enlightenment" or against "Pure Capitalism" but up against good old American national values.

A Thanksgiving Prayer, by William S. Burroughs; posted with the hope that a better America will appear out of this

"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.

We're approaching the 5th anniversary of 9/11

Whoop de fuckin' do. Every god damn day has been an anniversary of 9/11 since it happened. I was laying here and it came to me: first, there'll be the 5 year anniversary, then there'll be the 10 year anniversary, then it'll keep going on and on. The fucking thing will never be behind us now, there'll always be people exploiting it for their own benefit, righteous little pricks, along with some good natured folks no doubt, who see 9/11 as a vindication of all that was wrong with liberalism and all that they think is right with conservatism.

Too much liberty, that's what the gist of it is.

You give people too much liberty and look what happens, 9/11, and this coming from people who love to sing a song about the land of the free and the home of the brave.....unless that freedom and bravery is challenged, then it collapses like a house of cards and authoritarianism and cowardice replace freedom and bravery as national characteristics.

The rotten core of America has been exposed; this much is good. At last the world sees what people in the U.S., activists, lefties, have seen for their entire lives but haven't been able to communicate to the rest of the world because of the perpetual pro-U.S. propaganda machine which manufactures the U.S. image abroad.

The U.S. ain't what it's cracked up to be folks.

Ecce Homo: here is man, here is Homo Americanus, in all his and her's glory, for the world to see.

Quo Vadis?

What is truth...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Interesting Nick Cave lyrics

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Thirsty Dog lyrics

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Thirsty Dog lyrics
I know you've heard it all before
But I'm sorry for this three year war
For the setting up of camps
and wire and trenches
I'm sorry for the other night
I know sorry it don't make it right
I'm sorry for things I can't even mention
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm sitting feeling sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very sorry in the Thirsty Dog
You keep nailing me back into my box
I'm sorry I keep popping back up
With my crazy mouth
and jangling jester's cap
I'm sorry I ever wrote that book
I'm sorry for the way I look
But there ain't a lot that
I can do about that
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm sitting feeling sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry about the hospital
Some things are unforgivable
That things simply cannot be forgiven
I was not equipped to know how to care
And on the occassions I came up for air
I saw my life and wondered
what the hell I had been living
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm sitting feeling sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very very sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry about all your friends
I hope they'll speak to me again
I said before I'd pay for all the damages
I'm sorry it's just rotten luck
I'm sorry I've forgotten how to fuck
It's just that I think my heart
and soul are kind of famished
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm sitting feeling sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very sorry in the Thirsty Dog
Forgive me, baby but don't worry
Love is always having to
say you're sorry
And I am, from my head
down to my shoes
I'm sorry that I'm always pissed
I'm sorry that I exist
And when I look into your eyes
I can see you're sorry too
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm sitting feeling sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very sorry in the Thirsty Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very thirsty in the Sorry Dog
I'm sorry, sorry, sorry
I'm feeling very sorry in the Thirsty Dog

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pseudo-Anti Empire

That's how I'd view Iran and Russia. There are people no doubt in Russia who want to see a confrontation between the U.S. and itself in order to get the sort of final battle that they envisioned during Communism, and there are people in Iran who no doubt see Iran as a sort of vanguard of Third World revolutionism who want to see a similar conflict, but neither of these options are particularly enticing as things to buy into.

Putin's Russia is a piss poor imitation of what was a police state with no democracy which had going for it a basic equality among its citizens.

Iran today under Ahmadhinejad is a piss poor imitation of a Third World country modernizing and pursuing an equal society through bypassing capitalism using indigenous ways of thinking and acting. Instead, you have rule by conservative clerics and a President who believes that the equivalent of the Second Coming in Shi'ite Islam, the coming of the Mahdi, is imminent and that we're entering the end times.

If they band together, hell, even if they include China, of which similar criticisms could be made, it would still add up to second rate imitations of systems which were themselves questionable banding together for questionable aims against the U.S., which their economies are close to in many respects. Authoritarian conservatism in leadership, some intervention in the economy by the leadership, and relative pro-capitalist, albeit within the nation not international, conditions characterize all three regimes. This is not what people should be fighting for and potentially dying for.

If it comes to war with these characters on one side, I'd either support some kind of banding together of Chavez and company, depending on their response, or fight for non-alignment.

The best alternative would be for Chavez and other leftist leaders of South America to remain somewhat independent of China, Russia, and Iran, and themselves be non-aligned.

So, I guess, in other words, if it comes to a confrontation between the U.S. and its allies and Russia, China, and Iran, I'd support non-alignment, being for neither side.

The Best Thing Right Now

In reference to Israel and the situation emerging is containment, meaning Iran doesn't do anything and the international community prevents the U.S. from doing anything. It's more important that Iran doesn't do anything; they know as much as anyone that if they get involved that this could spiral into something very very serious. Potentially, something international, maybe, hey, it's a thought, sponsored by the U.N., to contain Israel's aggression would be very helpful, something non-partisan, which was all about containing the war that's actually happening and stopping it from spreading into a nightmare.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Although a little inappropriate at a time like this---edited profile to take away the "Child of Nepthys" part.

The reason is pretty simple. It's a really obsure reference and I doubt that many people would have gotten it.

In certain spiritual systems the Egyptian Gods are looked at, in part, as providing archetypes for human personalities, much as the Zodiac is thought to do (What's your sign?).

Anyways, Nepthys in this scheme is the goddess of the Dreamers. Those people who are dreamers are considered to be 'children' of Nepthys.

Watch Iran for the clue to the next phase of where this is going

If Iran makes good on its claim to intervene if Israel hits Syria-and Israel has already hit the Lebanon-Syria border- then this could provide the United States with the justification it needs to launch the major invasion of Iran that it's been threatening for some time.

Israel

Yes, in response to the comment, in part this was in response to an attack, but the attack itself happened because Israel invaded Gaza. The response has been crazy; much like Afghanistan in relation to the U.S., but there's more going on here. Israel has a history of violating Lebanese sovereignty without any sort of comment by the rest of the world, for instance in reference to the Palestinian refugee camps that Ariel Sharon massacred.

My history isn't good enough to really go in depth on this, though. That's just an admission of fact. Point though is that from where I sit it appears that although Israel didn't have any control of when it would be attacked that there's appears to be more going on than just a response to an attack. I see this as being an extension of the recent invasion of Gaza, which in turn is an extention of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian leadership.

In reference to the U.S., I see Israeli-U.S. relations as being ones where, in a sense, both parties try to use each other to advance their goals.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Just a random bombing of a foreign country

How media is portraying the bombing of Lebanon, a sovereign country, by Israel, another sovereign country, as if this was something as casual as if we just happened across the border and bombed the shit out of Ottawa. No hard feelings, right? Just normal in the Middle East for Israel to bomb another country.

This is an act of war.

If it had happened to the United States there would be planes going to Haifa and Tel Aviv right now.

Yet, since this is Israel, it's not considered an act of war. Israel can do anything it wants, right, without any conseqeunces.

Notice the date: this started at the deadline that the U.S. had established for Iran to back off its nuclear program or face consequences; you can be sure what's happening now is happening with Washington's approval, and that it isn't really Israel doing whatever it wants but a U.S. client state proxy-bombing Lebanon for it.

Bowie vs. Lennon, a Lost Highway Comments poll

Who do you think is the bigger musical genius, David Bowie or John Lennon?

How this works is you give your opinion in the comments section. After a week goes by I'll tally the comments, if any, and report what you folks have come up with.

I shouldn't bias the poll, but, frankly, I am a "Young American", after all. :-)

Added link to All4All.org

Which is the news archive site of Peoples' Global Action, a sort of umbrella coordinating group for the anti-globalization movement.

The PGA site is now being updated, which is a switch from how it used to be.

I highly recommend, with all my powers as a 'pataphysician (look it up), that people check out both the PGA and their archive of News about Globalization protests.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A note on comments to posts

I have the comments section up to facillitate discussion among people reading the posts about related ideas, and the things the posts talk about. I really don't have the time to engage in extended dialogue with people through the comments section, so if you have posted something hoping that that would occur I apologize. Sometimes I do do so, but only sometimes.

Don't take silence on my part as snubbing you.

To banish the term 'Utopian' as an insult forever..

Would be a great accomplishment, I believe.Part of what I was getting at in the article below on pre-Marxist socialism is that the divisions that Marxists have set up between different socialist thinkers is wrong in and of itself and should be abolished. Marx started it all with his declaration in the Communist Manifesto that people like Robert Owen, Charles Fourier and Henri Saint-Simon were just 'Utopians', with the word meaning both wanting to set up communes and also wanting to imagaine a completely different society which, according to Marx, was unworkable and unrealistic. Along with these three the term implicated many others, for instance the French Socialist Louis Blanc, who also did not fit the paradigm. Proudhon of course came in for special treatment besides the Utopians because, despite saying that "property was theft", in his other works and in the mainstream of Proudhon's thought he did recognize a personal right to property--it was just collective property not under control of the community but under control of rich individuals, the state, and large businesses which was theft. In other words he didn't believe that property itself should be eliminated and so wasn't a Communist, but was a socialist instead. Marx didn't like this. Back to the Utopians.

The label is dead wrong since out of the three utopian theorists mentioned two of them, Robert Owen and Charles Fourier, either became directly involved with the socialist movement or had ideas which their direct followers carried into the mass socialist movement. Marx's critique implied that they were just concerned with building communes or model factories, in the case of Robert Owen, but although they did do that that wasn't the end of the story.

Saint-Simon was the only person whose ideas did not spawn a direct socialist outpouring; he was at base a technocrat and his teachings and followers were split into high finance technocrat friendly types and people who, looking at his philosophy and some of his ideas, put a weird religious spin on them and did much to discredit him in the popular press with their antics.

Robert Owen in his later years directly joined with the labor movement in England as a kind of guru. He had constructed a model self managed mill and housing complex at New Lanark which operated according to ethical socialist ideas; now, the labor movement looked to him for ideas about how to organize a collective society, and he did write more in response to this new found popularity. Finding Robert Owen's later writings is something that other people will have to do, but he does get some mention in E.P. Thompson's book "The Making of the English Working Class", which is a classic that should be read by everyone concerned with social history, so maybe if you're interested in it you can read that to get a clue about what he was advocating for a cooperative society.

Charles Fourier didn't live to see his ideas get a mass following but under the leadership of his student Victor Considerant, Fourieriste ideas became integrated into the larger general socialist movement. The time frame for this is generally before 1848, in other words before Marx really became active as a political writer. Fourier had started writing at the turn of the 19th century and so his ideas had been percolating through the political world for a long time, although he got off to a slow start.

Much more of Fourier's stuff is available than that of Robert Owen, and that's really good, since Fourier is very interesting as a philosopher on his own terms while Owen, although a good socialist theorist, wasn't really a comprehensive philosopher in his relationship with problems of human nature.

Fourier draws heavily on Rousseau, and I've described him elsewhere as Rousseau as if he'd taken acid and was into mystical freemasonry.

It's quite interesting, especially from an anarchist point of view, because he doesn't believe in any central authority coordinating things at all . Everything should be accomplished by the interplay of the instincts or nothing should be accomplished is a good summary of Fourier.

There is much to recommend to this view.

Jonathan Beecher did what I undestand is a very good biography of Victor Considerant, as well as one of Fourier himself, but, unfortunately, I've yet to see the Considerant one in person for more than a few minutes, and have yet to read more than the first few pages.

***

The point of this whole excursion is just that Socialists shouldn't make divisions between themselves, because the divisions really aren't that solid. Lifestyle-ism vs. Organizationalism in anarchism. How many Organizational anarchists lead conventional 9-to-5 lives? I would think, based on my knowledge and friendship with some of them, that although they don't emphasize it that how they live could easily be considered 'lifestyle anarchism'.

And so it goes on.

Progressives, Marxists, Anarchists, Socialists, Communists. The problem is members of the groups, mostly Marxists of various types, erecting unnecesary barriers themselves . There doesn't have to be divisions if people didn't set up the divisions themselves and then excluded people based on those divisions. Groups which have overcome this have done well, even if their ideology officially is something which, at first glance, some of the other members of the progressive community might balk at. Actions count more than words and if a group can do good work in the community, cooperatively, with others, then others may take another look at the ideology and begin to understand what exactly this person believes when they say x or y, or why exactly they believe it in the first place, which facillitates mutual understanding and builds community strength.

People have to let their own barriers down, and that's the hard part. Openness on the part of others can only go so far.

L.A. County politics, in reference to "I, Robot"

The post about "I, Robot" doesn't quite catch the flavour of a very big portion of the film, a part of it which is repeated in films like Terminator II. What this is is the dynamic between the real L.A. power structure, which preceded Hollywood's arrival, and Hollywood itself. The pre-Hollywood structure, which created L.A. as an industrial and shipping center, was and is overwhelmingly white, protestant, and very conservative. Very white, very very white. These people are the ones that run L.A., not Hollywood, although Hollywood has a lot of influence to be sure. When it comes down to it the moguls who created L.A., who operate by an old boys network, rule things.

The racial hierarchy in L.A., L.A. County, is readily apparent to anyone who has spent any time there. The people on top, the people who have the ultimate privilege, are very white and very conservative. The people who have lots of money but less influence are more ethnic, more jewish, more Hollywood, and more liberal. Then you have a division: on the one hand a very large population of black and hispanic people, as well as poor asians and others, who make up a very large part of the working class of L.A. (L.A. is 50% hispanic), then on the other you have poor people who are very white and very conservative. In between this you have miscellaneous working class people who are white but ethnic at the same time and whose status is undetermined; it depends on which place you go to.

That's L.A., and Hollywood finds itself in the position of the antagonist within L.A. County itself, in relation to the very white oligarchy, although in relation to the rest of the world, the U.S., etc... Hollywood is the mainstream; it is not really oppositional because it largely sets what is mainstream and what isn't.

Because Hollywood does not have the final say, it often casts itself as the victim and the rebel, against which it's struggling against the power. This manifests itself in movies, where the villain will often appear as one of the people stereotypical of the L.A. power structure, i.e. the chief of the corporation that made the robots in "I, Robot", who fit the mold perfectly, was both white, rich, old boy, and strangely absent, like there was a part of him that the people who were in the movie didn't have access to, or which he didn't allow them access to.

The same can be said about the cop in Terminator II, who fits the mold of an LAPD Officer who was originally from Orange County perfectly, only this time the absence, the lack of understanding or commonality between the character and the other characters is almost absolute; he doesn't say almost a damn thing and is just a manifestation of evil, of evil domineering force. Sure, Arnold was cast as a Nazi-esque hardman in Terminator, but at least he had some personality, no matter how robotic or stoic. This guy had none. Nothing. Just some kind words as a trying-to-act normal cop when he needed to explain himself at the begining.

All of this is reflective of the alienation of the Hollywood movie establishment from the L.A. industrial and shipping establishment.

And the opposition which the Hollywood people feel allows it to cast itself as a rebel and even to really release rebellious films once in a while, because some people take this thing seriously, which is good. It's good that people see their duty in film as to be a prodder and a troublemaker; the problem is that their influence on the greater culture is much more than that, so that even though there's a rebellious element Hollywood still transmits the values and beliefs, prejudices and ideas, of the dominant culture to the rest of the country at the expense of less privileged sectors.

I, Robot, the mechanical brain--who's to blame?

Sometimes deciphering popular culture is hard; in this case it's doubly so because of the influence of Isaac Asimov's stories on the sci-fi genre, which translates into versions of his themes translated into film. There're the social influences which affect popular culture and the internal influences of the sci-fi genre which influence the popular culture. That said, "I, Robot", starring Will Smith, is an interesting film to look at to decipher some of what's going on.

I saw the movie during the long, extended, trip I got back from about a week ago. As a movie, it's pretty good; Will Smith does a good job as a dramatic actor and the script writing is pretty tight. How it ends, which is how it probably ends in the Isaac Asimov stories that it's based on, is, while good, something else.

The gist is that the Robots have tried to seize power on this future earth where they're part of everything; they cook meals, serve drinks, drive cabs, etc...and the whole thing is controlled by one company. When the robots try to seize power it's on behalf of the company that produces them. Will Smith battles through this robot rebellion to get to the company and finds, at the end, that the person who's controlling the robot uprising isn't the straight out of central casting greedy corporate exec, who he finds murdered, but instead the artificial intelligence brain which controls many day to day aspects of the company and the robot's functioning.

It's a classic story, one that's been repeated time and time again, but in shifting the blame about who controls things and who's responsable for things from human beings to an inhuman computer, something where the machine itself is controlling everything, responsability is taken away from those who in reality do control things.

The idea of a computer or a machine just mechanically dominating everything without any consciousness on a human scale is attractive because the lack of humanity and the blindness implied in its consequent functioning make it all the more evil; something stupidly evil, and isn't that the worst manifestation of evil, an evil that isn't even capable of recognizing its evilness?

But if we exit the realm of fantasy and go towards the reality of the situation it isn't machines or an industrial society which blindly self-perpetuates itself. All of this is based in the social reality of differing class power, of real human beings who are at the head of the industrial machine, as a group, a class.

Not as individuals sitting around a board table either who are culpable just as individuals; this is a social as well as an individual thing. Ken Lay was a bad person but he was also part of a culture of bad people who encouraged this sort of behavior.

Both just blaming the machines and blaming spectacularly evil individuals are dodges, blinds, misdirections, which lead to conclusions which might sound good on the surface but which have real problems when you look at them closer.

How this relates to Hollywood is that it's really convenient for Hollywood to put the blame on self running machines instead of on individuals or types in the movies which may be a little too close for comfort.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fascism: the dream time of bourgeois liberal society

In any society certain things will have to be repressed, in the psychological sense, for society to exist and to continue; what's repressed and whether what's repressed should be or not is another question. An aspect of the fascist experience in many countries seems to be the revenge of all the things which were either repressed or concealed during the bourgeois liberal regimes which preceded them on society as a whole.

Marx wrote about how bourgeois society conceals the real relations of power; how it covers up the power of capital and business, of class, with paens to how everyone and everything in society is either free or free for the acquisition if a person has the drive to achieve it.

Inevitably, for capitalist society to continue, this aspect of life has to be officially repressed; you just can't talk about the accumulation of money ruining the idea of everyone having an equal chance or else the foundational myth of capitalist society starts to come unravelled.

But under bourgeois society what gets repressed isn't just anti-capitalist challenges to the foundational myth but also pro-capital ideas and thoughts. Bourgeois society is at least fair in that it's equal opportunity in who it opposes; although implicitly pro-business it has to cut both ways and many times condemns outright pro-business, pro-corporatist, thought as wrong. If it doesn't, as in the case of neo-liberalism, what it does is to invent another myth which basically says that globalization doesn't violate this basic covenant of individual liberty, that the dominance of multi-nationals really isn't happening, that all of it really is just an expression of the free market, turned on a global scale, and that ultimately the aims of all of this are towards individual freedom and democracy.

This, though, is somewhat different than explicitly pro-corporatist ideological elements, which really do say that the rich are rich because they deserve it, that the existence of private corporations taking over public functions and dominating more of life is a good thing, that the poor are poor because they deserve it, etc...

This stuff has to be repressed. And not only that but these undercurrents, which explicit pro-rich pro-corporatist thought are a part of, are usually allied to ideologies favoring the dominant group in a society, which in the United States means an undercurrent of white racism, justifying the standard of living of blacks by saying that there's something wrong with either them or their culture which has caused this, demonizing Hispanic immigrants by saying that their culture is inferior and that it'll corrupt the white dominated anglo-saxon tradition in the United States, which these people view as being the fountain of liberty here. It also allies itself with the dominant religious tradition favored by the dominant group, in this case not just Christianity but Protestant Christianity, which has to be gone into a little more. The Christianity of the elites is not what's being represented but instead the Christianity of a group of people who, although not economically affluent, feel because of their ethnic heritage that they consist of the real Americans, and that everyone else are just fake Americans or lesser Americans. They adopt Evangelical Christianity, and they see Evangelical Christianity as being, just like them, a true expression of America.

All of this can't be talked about or expressed openly in bourgeois liberal society because such society is equal opportunity for equal rights; it condemns both those who express the views of the dominant group too openly and it also condemns those whose views challenge the basis of that economic order and of those dominant groups.

Enter fascism or a transition to a fascist state.

When a fascist situation is in the brewing these currents start to bubble up to the top. Bourgeois society is ultimately limiting to capitalists and to the dominant groups in that it ensures too much freedom to people, which can be used to reign in the power of capitalists and the dominant group in a centrist sort of way, although the real challengers to the order of things are repressed themselves. Good government and decent, rational, regulation of business is still a platform that democrats can run on without being considered subversive, at least in a situation which isn't pre-fascist or proto-fascist; and they can have success with it and regulate business to a certain degree. They can pass laws, to a certain degree, against racial discrimination, they can keep religion out of schools to a degree, although on the local level they might not be able to really accomplish this.

None of this means that they're radical, by any means, but what it does mean is that as long as the system which they're a part of exists, the political system, there's an implicit barrier for capitalism in its unbridled state taking total control.

So all of this chafes the people who are 'politically incorrect' in the wrong way the wrong way and they seek to overturn these bourgeious protections and instead institute a state where they can totally dominate, where the ideas talked about above: explicit classism, explicit pro-business angle institutionalized, explicit racism, explicit partisanship of Christianity, can dominate unhindered.

This is not because some people just want to be mean; it's a function of the system. The system wants capitalism to have free reign; capitalists want to do whatever they want, to have the freedom to make as much money as possible. The social groups which make up the capitalists and their allies, who are the dominant force in the United States, want to be able to have their interests, which are racist and Christo-centric, institutionalized as law in American society.

When the bourgeois order starts to break down because of internal contradictions pushing it this way and that way, which it can't incorporate or solve, inconsistencies that it can't process, this opens the door to a situation where these groups can assert their power more directly, something which starts us on the road to a potentially fascist future.

In my reckoning the crisis in the U.S. started with the 2000 election, which had been preceded almost a year before by the 1999 WTO protests and the less powerful but still very visible IMF and World Bank protests which followed. The election itself was targetted by a powerful anti-campaign which pointed out the obvious contradictions in the bourgeois electoral and political order, i.e. Ralph Nader's Green Party candidacy, which brought so much fresh air into the electoral process that thousands were educated about and introduced to alternatives through his advocacy.

But the election was rigged, and rigged in a way which wasn't obviously illegal but which skirted the realm of bourgeois legality in a way which it couldn't obviously deal with, leading ultimately to the breakdown through the appointment of Bush by the Supreme Court, an illegal act by anti-Democracy figures which was made possible by bourgeois political structures and processes. People have often said that if Gore had just officially opposed all of this he'd have won, but, as others have noted, Gore couldn't have, because he was indebted to the same system that Bush was, only he was the moderate, middle of the way candidate, while Bush was the extremist who talked a conservative game on the debates. They were still part of the same system, a tweedle dee and a tweedle dum, with the ultimate outcome of bourgeois politics being that the candidate who embodied them, Gore, couldn't do a damn thing when the system that he was a part of was challenged and broken in half.

Then when Bush was inaugurally installed in office the extremism started to manifest itself, first in Ashcroft, then in many other acts and appointments.

When September 11th happened it unleashed all the forces that Bush had been quietly pushing forward at an enourmous rate, blowing the top off of the conservative underground which existed in this country and introducing it, it forcing itself, onto and into the mainstream as the contender that was right and which represented America and American values.