Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fuck the RCP

Really, this time. Now they're trying to infiltrate and take over the Port Militarization Resistance group based in Tacoma and Olympia, a group that has done great work opposing military shipments going to Iraq. The idea is that the more trouble it is to get stuff over there the harder it will be for them to continue the war, with mass action making it hard enough so that the incentives for them to give it up rise greatly, possibly making it an attractive choice. But the RCP is trying to co-opt them, and this shouldn't happen. If it was me, if I was part of this, I'd take a hard line on these folks in the beginning and not let them get their hooks into this by dictating very restrictive terms by which they would have to abide by in order to participate in the organization, with not abiding by these terms leading to expulsion from meetings and informal hostility if they appear at demonstrations. If they're expelled and they show up it may be a good thing to distinguish them and their actions from that of PMR in order to separate whatever they might do and contain responsibility for it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Forsooth, Bill O'Reilly


"Bill O'Reilly complains that "President Obama and a Democratic Congress will likely dole out entitlements," which "means people who drink gin all day will get some of my hard-earned money. Folks who dropped out of school, who are too lazy to hold a job, who smoke reefers 24/7 all will get some goodies in the mail from Uncle Barack and Aunt Nancy."

Without even giving an incentive for the artful dodgers to earn a farthing.

Bill O'Reilly acts like we're living in a 19th century Horatio Alger morality play, as do some of the rest of the conservative elite. They seem to be unaware of what social welfare legislation actually consists of, what housing subsidies and income assistance actually consist of. Why, we have a food stamp program in the U.S. that's an entitlement program, meaning that if you make less money than you can realistically buy enough food to eat on the government will give you vouchers allowing you to buy some! The lazy wastrels. Fact is, no one to my knowledge is proposing anything near what O'Reilly is talking about, and haven't for decades. Even then, when welfare was established, the things that allowed it to be abused by some people were not intentional. Their presence shouldn't have lead the whole thing to be scrapped under Clinton, but it's also not realistic to look at the AFDC program as being unflawed.

Actually, now that I think of it, I wouldn't mind a program that resembled the one O'Reilly describes if in fact the funds used for it were gotten from taxes on the rich. But not the working class that O'Reilly is trying to appeal to. Tax the rich, give away marijuana vouchers for the poor, I like that idea.

Some Red Meat for ye'

Monday, July 28, 2008

The evolution of the modern state is a tough one

There's one big issue that is hard to deal with and that causes me to think that libertarian alternatives are more post-state than just anti-state. Maybe pre-state, but I'll get to that in a little bit.

The thing is that in certain countries in Europe the State machinery was put up as an alternative to feudalism, which was very decentralized and focussed on particular lords. Even when the machinery of the State was put up by the rulers it functioned as a lever that they could use to reduce the power of the other aristocracy and enrich themselves. This is what happened with Absolutism in England, France, and elsewhere: one royal house consolidating power and reducing the threat of revolt by cutting the decentralized nature of feudalism out from under the competing aristocrats. When the machinery of the State was captured by the people, particularly in the French Revolution, the people in charge used it as an alternate power source against the remnants of the aristocracy that were still there as well as the rulers that they usurped themselves. There was never absolutist statism in the U.S., which continues to develop in a substantially decentralized fashion, although recent events plus the general rise of the "Imperial Presidency" may make you think otherwise. But when people got their chance to establish their own Republic in Europe it meant imposing a whole new structure of social organization on top of the feudal structure, of having a social revolution of one sort or another where remnants of the feudal bonds were outlawed or made illegal. In that sense the State has been used for powerful movements for equality and justice.

Being against a centralized concentration of power seems to imply that the people have the same rights that are guaranteed through the State but that those rights are ensured in a decentralized manner. I think that this is post-Statist because although the centralized nature of the State is opposed there's usually no call to go back to what existed before during feudal times. It may have been decentralized but of course was...well....feudalism. Some people do advocate that, but it's a topic for another day. To really be against the State in a way that looked for some sort of alternative based on what came before would have to involve getting to either the aspects of feudal society that were in fact communal or pointing to pre-feudal modes of living, which is the basis of course for many, many, Green ideas as well as Primitivism in general. But even if you do this, by looking at things like the Commons that were seized during the enclosure movement or hunter-gatherer societies that have loads of leisure time while living in a very basic way, the perspective is still post-State, because you aren't a person who has used the commons and probably have not lived in a hunter-gatherer fashion, although people are working on that one, but even so it's a recreation and not generated from extended contact with tribes that live like that.

The difference is essential because it points out the revolutionary nature of a lot of thought that's not necessarily emphasizing that aspect of itself. Simply supporting these things could be seen as some kind of conservatism, because things that have slipped through the cracks in certain ways don't necessarily see themselves as the sort of alternative that you may see them as.
And that actually gets back to the pro-feudal people, who were plentiful during the 19th century, in the UK and elsewhere, with Benjamin Disraeli writing medieval romances and supporting the "Tory Democrats", people from the old ruling class who were right wing and who made or attempted to make pacts with workers in order to weaken the capitalists. Interesting stuff, but nonetheless that's conservatism and wouldn't really be seen as what people are after these days. But that's an example of pre-statist thought.

So many of the alternatives that people think up and try to implement are either totally modern in the sense of taking place in a context where the modern state exists along with the laws and systems that go with it, or they're modern reinterpretations of pre-modern experience. The only possible alternative to this comes from societies in Italy and elsewhere where there seemed to be a tradition of free people living opposed to both the feudal lords and to the later statist capitalists, who emerged in one sense or another when the labor movement started, forming a sort of alternative that was autonomous within working class culture.

There's always the question of class struggles during the pre-modern feudal phase and during the reign of absolutist monarchs, because there's always a negotiation of sorts with power. Protests against injustice didn't just start with capitalism.
But anyways.

If you really, really, want to be anti-statist as well as anti-capitalist to the core and you have a modern worldview instead of a more traditional, tribal, mindset, it's really hard not to put the heritage of the State back into things in an unconscious way. And this is because there have been positive, revolutionary events that the modern State has been involved with, that work, and that people still remember and cling to....the liberals versus the conservatives in the traditional sense. So post-State.

By the way, when you hear about traditional culture, realize that it's traditional in the full sense of the term, which includes conservatism. Just because you meet people who may have a similar outlook to what you think you want doesn't mean that they're coming from anywhere near where you're coming from. In fact, they may be opposed to some of the radical things that you advocate, and I would guess that honesty and discussion would be the way to deal with that rather than passive romanticization.

Be anti-State but know that some of the structures of thought that make us freer than we've been before has been the product of movements that have either seized or created States and have declared themselves to be supporters of Republican Democracy, the democratic system of a Republic as opposed to that of a pure monarchy or feudal system.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Satirical article from the Tageszeitung on Obama

Where the Tageszeitung, which is like the Village Voice but on a much bigger scale, is pretty much positive on Obama's Berlin speech, somewhat dismayingly considering he wants to bomb Afghanistan further and possibly attack Iran.

The Article Translated automatically is very strange, like something that I can make out is a hip alt. weekly satirical column like they'd run in "The Stranger" here in Seattle, but that's really different because of the different cultural context. And the really bad autotranslation.

It's called "Obama, Kant, and Star-Trek", subtitled "Pop Strategy of the Candidates"

"Obamas Love Parade rhetoric and his plans for Afghanistan have more to do with each other than we think: Kant's perpetual peace behind it. And a little bit Star Trek. by Ulrich Gutmair.

The Love Parade is a several day long rave-esque type of festival of techno music that happens in Berlin...sometimes countered by the "Fuck Parade", which features drum and bass that's banned from playing in the regular parade. Kant's plan for perpetual peace is a widely known document, which Gutmair is sending up in the article. I think the author is saying that it's really fucking naive.

Here is my interpretation of the column:

"The question was whether it would succeed Barack Obama, including a German youth awakening to comparable experience. If we can then say: Yes, I too have seen the light?"

Translation: the question was whether Obama could succeed in having German youth/twenty somethings see the same light as American supporters have seen.

"The Americans at least Obama has promised a light that appear on Washington, when America united again. However, it must credit him that he had this light, with its associated person: "Change does not happen from the top down, it happens from the bottom up" "

I think that could be rewritten or summarized by saying that Obama has promised that the light will return to Washington when people are united, but that everyone must acknowledge that he was the one who came up with the idea, expressed in his slogan: "Change does not happen from the top down, it happens from the bottom up." There's irony there, in case you missed it.

"In Berlin, Obama, now becomes citizen of the world agreed to share his unit rhetoric to the whole world and therefore extended at first sight a speech in the spirit of the Love Parade. The motto of his World Tour is: "A Global tsunami for Change".

In Berlin, Obama who has now become a citizen of the world, agreed to extend his self rhetoric to the whole world and therefore gave a speech that looked at first sight like a Love Parade speech.

"The walls between rich and poor countries, locals and migrants, Christians, Muslims and Jews should fall, he demanded. The applause of the masses it was at this point safely, quite deep down he reminds us well to Lieutenant Uhura. His vision knows at least some adult Germans from "Star Trek", where a confederation of good interplanetarisches reach a peace built. In keeping with Immanuel Kant, said, the eternal peace be no empty idea, "but a task that their goals consistently closer." Because the states but not really become a world republic unite, Kant concluded, only the "negative surrogate" of a federal continuous "stream of rechtscheuenden, stop hostile tendency."

Translation: deep down, he must remind some Germans of Lieutenant Uhura. His vision must remind at least some Germans of Star Trek, where a good interplanetary federation has built peace. In keeping with the spirit of Immanuel Kant, Obama said the idea of an eternal peace is not just an empty statement but "a task and a goal that we must continually pursue" He's making fun of Kant's idea, which is really abstract and naive in light of the power politics of the last century. Kant said that because a world republic couldn't be realized that there must be a federation of states acting together to enforce common civil world order.

"It looks as Obama, and "Star Trek" is not different, because tomorrow somewhere in the Exsowjetunion herumliegendes uranium or the secret plans of a scientist in Pakistan to build a bomb could lead detoniert in Paris. That is why we could no longer afford divisions, called Obama. No nation, however powerful, can tackle these challenges alone. That's good. The call for early scrapping all nuclear weapons and saving the world sounds good. And of course we want to stand up for human rights of the blogger in Iran."

Translation: It looks like Obama and "Star Trek" aren't different, because tomorrow somewhere in the ex-Soviet Union, with all the uranium scattered around, or with the secret plans of a scientist in Pakistan, a bomb could be detonated in Paris. That's why we can no longer afford divisions, declares Obama. No nation can tackle these challenges alone. That's good. Calling for Nuclear Weapons to be scrapped and for saving the world sounds good. And of course we want to protect bloggers in Iran.

"The Popstrategie Obamas based on the fact that people only hear what they want to hear. But he leaves it does not help and also calls for an end to the nuclear ambitions of Iran and the resolute fight against the hostile inclinations of al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Here, where he consistently Kantian Unpopulärsten and is, at least Dr. Motte in the victory column like Obama is the most pleasant. "Honesty," says Commander Kant, "is better than all policy.""

Obama's pop culture strategy is based on the fact that people only hear what they want to hear. But he doesn't leave it at that [being against nuclear weapons etc...] he's against Iran and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Here, where Obama takes Kantianism to the most unpopular conclusions, and is least like the founder of the Love Parade at the head of a victory column, is where Obama is most sympathetic. "Honesty," says Commander Kant, "is better than all politics" Which is an ironic statement.

So what does it all mean? It's hard to summarize the tone of all of it in English. I know some basic German and am working with an automatic translation program...

Basically, the author executed one of those fabulous rhetorical somersaults that German language satire is known for by turning Obama's talk about world peace on its head and declaring that his betrayal of progressive values is actually his strongest point because he's pursuing truth in his wanting to bomb Iran and keep bombing Afghanistan, he's pursuing his own policy to its logical conclusion, to it's own truthful end, and not worrying about "politics".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rebel Obama loves Sarkozy

Sarkozy as minister of the interior during the 2005 riots of Algerian youth made his name by going into racist territory in describing the rioters and by recommending that the ghettos where the youth came from be cleaned out with a high pressure water hose.

But Obama loves him, according to This article from the Guardian.

""I would suggest that for the reporters in the room, if you want to know something about elections you should talk to the president of France," said Obama, who towered over Sarkozy. "He seems to have a good nose for how things play out."


Obama said he was "very appreciative" of Sarkozy's "long-standing commitment" to bolstering US-French relations.

"He has been a great leader on this and the American people greatly appreciate President Sarkozy's approach to the relationship between our two countries," Obama said."

Obama and Berlin

Surely, it was a great day for speech writers. How Berliners themselves reacted to it remains to be seen. In case you haven't heard, the gist of it was that the Global War on Terror (see 'Bullshit' for a thorough explanation) represented a challenge as great as the Cold War and as great as the challenge that Berliners faced both with their divided city and with the Berlin airlift. Walls and the idea of walls and the falling were mentioned, although they weren't physical walls so much as rhetorical constructs that sounded nice, but which kept Europe and the U.S. from collaborating on the glorious war on terror, along with third world client states.

My intuition with this is that although Berliners turned out en masse for the speech, it probably left a bad taste in their mouths. The Berlin airlift was initiated because the Soviets working through East Germany were attempting to starve out west Berlin in order to get it to capitulate and to join the East. The Wall was a symbol of a Germany that was divided by powers after the war where depending on what federal state you happened to have your house on you either became a citizen of a Communist country or a capitalist one, with families literally divided by the border between East and West.

West Berlin was an island within East Germany, surrounded on all sides by it, with vacations to the rest of Germany provided by the government and with just one secure route connected it to the rest of West Germany.

That Obama is using all of this to promote war with Iran and renewed war in Afghanistan, as well as using it to continue the police state mentality that's been in place in the U.S. since 2001, is probably not what the people in Berlin either wanted or expected.

My understanding is that the residents of Berlin are some of the most savvy and educated people in Europe. Surely, this would contribute to a different response than Obama gets from regular Americans, even those who think of themselves as being elite in world knowledge.

But that's another story. Suffice it to say that the faux sophistication of some Americans, which looks like cheap imitation fur compared to the actual education of Europeans, is tedious and cloying.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago endorses Obama

As reported Here, a New York Times article that details Obama's rise from South Side liberal-yuppie darling to watered down more mainstream politician.

Good to know that he represents a different kind of politics.

"Early last year, Mr. Obama endorsed Mr. Daley in his re-election bid, asserting that Chicago had blossomed during his tenure.


Just before Mr. Obama complimented Mr. Daley, the mayor did something unusual, as well. He broke with his tradition of remaining neutral in Democratic primaries and threw his support behind Mr. Obama’s presidential bid."

I mean, what Progressive wouldn't like to be associated with the most notorious political machine in the United States? A vote from Daley is good enough for two votes from me. On the same day.

New States

These are States that have been proposed within the United States: the State of Jefferson, which would have included southern Oregon and northern California, Abrsaroka, subject of a New York Times article today, which would have included northern Wyoming, part of Montana, and western South Dakota. Additionally, there was the State of Deseret, a proposed theocracy dominated by the Church of Latter Day Saints that later became the Utah territory and Utah itself. And if we're going for secessionist movements we can't forget the proposed splitting of all of New England from the United States by conservative Federalists in protest against liberal Jeffersonian policies. The new country would have been closer to Canada in its relationship to England, but as everyone notes the war of 1812, where England invaded the United States, made the idea very unpopular.
Aaron Burr also attempted to ride into the new Louisiana Purchase with an army and establish a new country with himself as the King.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Karadzic arrested

Thank god for that. Radovan Karadzic was one of the major Serbian criminals of the three way civil war that happened in Bosnia-Herzegovinia in the early '90s. Unlike the Kosovo war, this one wasn't manufactured and overstated. The Serbians saw themselves as defending against the Muslim hordes on the one side and against decadent Catholic Croatians on the other, with Orthodoxy representing to them decent and normal civilization. Plus an extreme Slavophilism that tied the Orthodox church in Serbia with ethnic pride.

The trigger for the three way war in Bosnia and for the general civil wars of that time was a decision by the United States and Germany to recognize Croatia as an independent state at a time when all of Yugoslavia minus Slovenia was still a single, albeit federated, entity. Slobodan Milosevic was in place, but the person who cast the first stone was Franjo Tudjman of Croatia, who implemented a policy declaring that the only people who would be recognized as citizens in independent Croatia were those who were Catholic and who primarily spoke Croatian. Because there was a large Serbian population in Croatia, who may like many others have considered themselves Yugoslavs first and Serbians second, this caused problems. They started to expel Serbians and Serbians in Serbia, lead by Milosevic, responded with equally heavy handed tactics and soon the civil war spilled over into Bosnia, with Croatians and Serbians both trying to seize territory and to extend their reach while expelling Bosnians and marginalizing Bosnian control over the country.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To put things in perspective about the New Yorker cover, Rudy Giuliani made headlines for speaking out against a painting

A painting of the Virgin Mary that incorporated elephant dung, made by an African artist for whom the substance is identified as being life giving. Giuliani objected to it, saying that it was offensive, that it had no place in an institution funded by New York City, and soon hardcore Catholics in the New York area were going to it to register their displeasure. Back then everyone thought that Giuliani was a semi-fascist idiot who wanted to censor free speech, who had no right to instigate a jihad against the painting. New Yorker cover criticizing Obama using satire comes out and suddenly it's offensive, tasteless, without context, that they shouldn't have run it. But, they're not semi-fascist idiots who want to censor free speech, they're Obama supporters who want to see him win against McCain, which will lead to a land where ice cream grows on trees and the rivers flow with soda pop.

You folks are so fucking hypocrites, so absolutely full of shit that it's coming out of your eyes. Go to fucking hell, assholes, and leave free speech alone.

I've made my own Obama satire, which will be pointed out to be tasteless and offensive, here it is:

This is a little thing I call "Obama-lini"


That's Obama's head photoshopped onto Mussolini's body, with Mussolini giving the salute to his Fascisti. No doubt right up the alley for those complaining about the New Yorker cover of the Commander of the Faithful.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Added link to "Bowie: Loving the Alien" by Christopher Sandford

Awesome, excellent excellent biography of David Bowie. Focusses on the interplay between the themes of the albums and Bowie's life at the time. Looks at different symbols....written by someone who's obviously a fanatic about Bowie and loves his work tremendously.

The other Bowie bios I've seen have either been basically hagiographies written by people with the point of view of coked up roadies or have been decently written but shallow and focussing on small parts of his career instead of the whole thing.

Things by Bowie that get my votes that Sandford points out: he went from Diamond Dogs to Young Americans to Station to Station in the course of two years, then moved to Berlin, lived incognito, and released three experimental albums.

Many more too.....Hunky Dory and The Man who Sold the World stand out. Scary Monsters is a commonly overlooked album that has insanely good tracks like "Fashion".

I have to stop myself.

Identifying economic justice with "white" a way that Obama supporters dismiss economic Justice as an issue

Notice, Obama himself hasn't done this. The legion of Obama supporters who are bloggers and writers, on the other hand, have pinned questions of economic justice with regards to the campaign to defending a stereotype that has people flying the rebel flag on the weekends and wearing Klan robes on a monthly basis. If you raise class and Obama's failings with addressing class issues, you're automatically being ignorant of racial issues and are maybe secretly hostile to blacks and other minorities. The possibility that class issues are also race issues is never raised.

In the matrix of oppression people sometimes picture class and racial discrimination as being mutually exclusive, but I would argue that they compound each other, so that if you're black and not part of the professional class, working a working class job, you experience both class oppression and race oppression. You're working class in one phase of your life but that identity is modified considerably by being a black worker. Both race and class issues intersect, possibly with no one identity covering everything, although it may be presumptuous for me to say that. What I do know is that the issue is more complex than blacks suffering from extreme poverty on the one hand and white society as a whole on the other. There's how people work and how work effects their life.

Nobody likes to think of their kids ending up in a dead end job that's not very satisfying, particularly if you're a member of a group that was brought here in chains and has been forcefully kept in those jobs for generations, but for the present, for the people who actually are in those jobs, union organizing could significantly improve their standard of living.

But the more working class is identified with worse and worse stereotypes about white workers and about poor whites in general the farther a multi-racial understanding of what working class means in America recedes into the background, and Obama supporters who put forward these stereotypes are the main force doing the pushing right now.

Economic justice AWOL at Netroots Nation conference

Which means economic justice for everyone in the United States regardless of color or ethnicity, taking into account the historic inequities between whites and minorities regarding money and power. At Netroots Nation, which is billing itself as being the convention that any and all Progressive bloggers should be attending, there are only seven events that directly address economic inequality, including events on corporate behavior that have an economic focus. That doesn't sound too bad until you consider that there are 140 events in total. There's enough time for a "Second LIfe caucus", but obviously not enough for social equality, although there is a "Labor Caucus" meeting .If you add that in the total of eight events constitutes 17.5% of the total number. That includes caucuses and keynote speakers.

Here are the descriptions of the seven:

"Growing the American Dream Movement
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 9:00AM, Ballroom E
A record number of working Americans believe that the American Dream is out of reach. Shockingly, 69 percent believe it will be even harder for their children to achieve the Dream than it was for them. However, an "American Dream Movement"—progressives of all stripes who understand that the interconnected nature of the challenges we face requires a comprehensive set of solutions—has already begun to grow. Join us for a discussion of this movement—its goals, direction, and tactics—with progressive leaders and others with a stake in restoring the American Dream for everyone."

"Middle class isn't middle of the road: Take politicians’ populist shpeil and make it real
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 10:30AM, Ballroom F
We know that populism wins elections, but once a politician wins how do we make sure that pro-middle class policies are actually implemented? Blue Dogs and the media conflate being pro-middle class with being “centrist”.
The debt stricken, under-insured public's realization that their personal economic struggles are really political struggles presents an opportunity for lasting progressive change. Barack Obama's agenda includes healthcare and transportation among other investments in our country that the middle class needs-- but these aren't free. How can the netroots mobilize to make it politically possible to pass Obama's domestic agenda in a Grover Norquist-shaped world?"

"Time for Action: How the Netroots Can Lead on Healthcare Reform
SAT, 07/19/2008 - 10:30AM, Ballroom G
Will healthcare reform be delivered to the American people? Not if we sit by and don't take action. This panel brings together fierce advocates of healthcare reform. You'll meet Nataline Sarkisyan's mother, who turned her grief into action. A cancer surgeon struggling with a rising tide of insurance company denials. A politician spearheading civil and criminal investigations into insurance industry practices. A trauma nurse/activist. And a policy expert with answers."

"The Subprime Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis: Inside an American Tragedy
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 1:30PM, Ballroom G
This panel will explain the economics of the subprime mortgage meltdown and the subsequent foreclosure crisis. It will go on to describe the political and social conditions that gave rise to these phenomena. Panelists will discuss progressive responses to predatory lending and rising rates of foreclosure nationwide, including organizing campaigns, legal challenges and legislative proposals. Panelists will also offer a progressive messaging campaign and blogosphere actions that can help change the current set of assumptions and debate on the subprime crisis."

"How Corporations and the Politicians they Fund are Fighting to Take Away our Legal Rights … and Convincing Us it’s for the Best
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 3:00PM, Ballroom G
Tort "reforms" protect the Exxons and Enrons of the world, leaving regular Americans high and dry if we're ever harmed by corporate misconduct. Conservative think tanks and the industries that fund them work hard to convince Americans that these policies are good for us, our economy, and our legal system. How can progressives work together to inform and mobilize the public around the right's stealth attack on our rights? Panelists discuss their groundbreaking work, and together examine why and how the left must work on- and off-line to build a stronger movement for civil justice."

"Taking the Populist Uprising to the States

SAT, 07/19/2008 - 3:00PM, Room 12
This panel will explore how the progressive populist uprising in which the Netroots plays such a central role is fighting the right at the state level. This state-level battle is a major focus of David Sirota's new book "The Uprising," which chronicles how progressives in the Montana legislature are taking on some of the most powerful bastions of the conservative coalition and winning. It is also the reason why the Progressive States Network exists. The panel will use real-world case-studies to show how state legislatures are some of the most important arenas in which the progressive uprising is unfolding."

"The Social Democratic Movement
SAT, 07/19/2008 - 4:30PM, Room 19
“Liberalism is, I think, resurgent,” John Kenneth Galbraith once said. “The reason is so many people are aware of the alternative.” Among the many forces contributing to a progressive resurgence is the simple realities of the situation: the underlying facts of the economy, of the health system, of our financial system demand a return of communally guaranteed security, rather than continued increases in risk. To understand this shift in the underlying dynamics, and how far it’s gone, is to take a very different view of what’s possible for progressives in the coming years."

The lack of speakers and panels on economic justice in a movement that says that it's putting forward a Progressive Agenda is indicative of bloggers as a whole, who tend to be upper income and closer to the elite, no matter what the color of their skin is.
The ones that are present are framed as reclaiming the dream of the middle class, something that's sort of quaint when you realize that middle class is an idea in the United States so broad that people who make next to nothing and people who make twice the national average of $33,000 a year both consider themselves to be middle class.

Also somewhat surprising is the general lack of events on corporations as a whole. While it's nice that four out of seven events are about a movement for economic justice (plus the Labor Caucus which bridges provides a bridge between corporate and movement stuff) it's kind of strange that particular corporate abuses are no where to be found outside of the context of the war and the Bush administration. There's one additional workshop out there having to do with medicine and the online world, which didn't seem to have much to do with much of anything relating to the conference. Beyond that not much on corporations doing bad things.

There are about a hundred things going wrong with the economy right now, and the Bush administration hasn't stopped corporations from continuing to centralize themselves and send jobs overseas; in fact, 9/11 and the two wars have allowed the forward motion of corporatization of the economy to continue unimpeded. Yet the blogging heads are blogging about themselves, the war, and token minority issues that get one workshop each.

The internet has made it much easier to write about politics and have people get the capability to read about them, but it's also meant that a lot of pretty conventional people who are just a fraction to the left of center have migrated onto the net along with the freaks, a term I use affectionately.

So goes the Netroots Nation conference.

Used to be called Yearly Kos and was organized by the people associated with the Daily Kos, so it's probably no surpise.

At least it's not the Atrios conference, where participants probably wallow in pig intestines and stupidity to try to get corporate shilling with a Philadelphia blunt attitude down pat.

Highly educated Seattle can't function with traffic lights out

I found this out today coming back from a non-political event that took place forty miles north of the city. Got off on the exit where the mall is and found myself in an enormous traffic jam for no apparent reason. They're doing construction on the bridge that connects mainland Seattle to the East side, so I thought it might be 520 refugees picking a different route. Drove a little further and it turned out that the traffic lights were out, along with the power to the mall itself, and that the sole reason for the backup was people being hesitant about how to navigate the traffic crossings without power, that is how to exist without having the traffic lights to just stupidly direct them about what to do. It's bad enough here at four way stops, but this sort of took the cake. I had stuff to do at the mall, which is how I found out that it had no power, and exiting and going back onto the main road I stopped for a little bit, watched everyone just idling there, then made a left turn onto 110th. It's a major intersection, and it took about two seconds to look at the cars, make the decision, and carry it out. One of the easiest left turns I've made, I think, and all because no one else had the basic initiative to do something about figuring out how to drive their car without traffic lights.

We have the highest concentration of bachelors' degrees and advanced degrees in the country.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Question with Obama, Obama fans, and the working class

Foreign policy has gained a lot of attention during this campaign, as it rightly should, but subprime mortgages, pay day loan collapses, banking trouble, price increases, and gas prices have been wracking the U.S. Since the impact of all of these is most acutely felt by those in lower income brackets and since lower income brackets don't discriminate against particular racial and ethnic groups, do Obama fans feel that victims of all of this who are white and working class matter less because of their race?

The irony during the last days of the showdown between Hillary and Obama is that the people portrayed by the Obamanistas as being dumb, racist, mouthbreathers were and are some of the same people affected the most by the economic downturn in the United States. These people are also some of the worst hit by NAFTA and the WTO.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Evangelical Christianity preys on the weak

Recently got an invite on my social networking site, which is much more explicit and more objectionable than this one, from a church who saw this poor soul and wanted to extend a helping hand. Well, I'm not that desperate. I think that the whole Jesus saving even the worst sinners thing is being abused by them to bring people into the fold who in fact need counseling and possibly substance abuse treatment, not Jesus. If you're so low that you feel no one cares about you at all and your life has gone down the toilet, leading to an increasingly bad spiral of events, secular counselors would probably do a better job at helping to change that than churches. Every conversion story that tells about a person being in the depths of alcoholism and leading a very bad life who was saved by Jesus and the church, or a church in this case, seems to revolve around the power of positive thinking as reinforced by a social group that's compassionate. The catch of course is that to gain access to this community you need to totally change your life in order for it to be in line with biblical principles as interpreted by the group. This you may in fact do, and do to a greater extreme than you would otherwise, because of your condition. When you get back on your feet this brainwashing causes you to become an ultra-christian, again to an extent that you would not be if you encountered these folks when you were mildly bad off. None of this needs to happen.

People who are addicted to things need to believe in themselves.

While the idea of an intervention by a higher power isn't something to necessarily dismiss, the potential use of that experience or an experience simulating it by folks to raise others into their fold is exploitative and dishonest, being the spiritual equivalent of being a "dry drunk", someone who has stopped drinking but who hasn't changed their mindset to something that's not the one that chronic alcohol abuse produces in a person. The drug has just changed from alcohol to Jesus.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Question: If Obama approves of the war in Afghanistan, does he approve of Guantanamo?

Because he's come balls out in support of the war in Afghanistan, so hardcore in fact that he resembles Bush on Iraq. If Afghanistan is indeed as just as he purports, does that mean that Guantanamo Bay Cuba is justified and that the people interned their are the worst of the worst?

So satire has to be clever?

This is the basic objection being given by progressive bloggers to the New Yorker's right to print a pro-Obama cover that satirizes the reaction to both Barack and Michelle Obama by the right. The satire, in their opinion, isn't particularly good or tasteful, not really that funny, so they shouldn't have run it. Somewhere, the people who attacked the "General Betray-us" add that MoveOn ran, criticizing General Petraeus for giving a false picture of Iraq in his testimony, are laughing, laughing, laughing.
The basic objection that all of the right made in chorus was that it wasn't in good taste or particularly appropriate to attack a General in the U.S. Army like that, by making a play on words on his name that was negative.

Back then, everyone on the Progressive blogosphere rightly condemned them for trying to limit free speech in order to force their point of view on the media as a litmus test. Now, when the ball is in the Progressive's court, they're making the same objection.
As Phil Ochs once sang about liberals, they love causes unless the object of them hits too close to home, and then it becomes a Serious Issue that they have to take action against.

As always, the people who are really on the Left are unmoved. The Left abides, like the Dude, not falling for liberal hypocrisy.

Not all price increases are inflation

Although people might try to call them that. This article from AFP talks about price increases in the U.S. and declares that inflation has jumped 1.5%. The classic definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods. That doesn't fit what's happening in the United States. Prices aren't increasing because there are too many dollars in circulation, leading to prices increasing to keep pace with the inflated value that comes with that. Instead, it's due to trade, to the collapse of the housing and mortgage bubbles, leading into a general collapse of credit. Plus, the inherent weaknesses of the U.S. economy that had been concealed by the strength of the dollar have now been brought to the forefront. On that score, the voluntary hollowing out of the U.S. economy by U.S. corporations is coming back to haunt us, since the things that could strengthen the dollar have been moved off shore. So prices rise.

Raising interest rates will not make this go away, although a restoration of interest rates to something above a level that's ridiculous will no doubt help generally, in my non-professional opinion.

The presence of economic stagnation and 'inflation' in this time period leads me to question whether or not the "Stagflation" in the 1970s, that was the putative cause for the initial disassembling of the welfare state, was really due to a failure in the basic economic theory of the time. Keynesianism wasn't Marxism but it was much more liberal than the Monetarism, associated with Milton Friedman, that was proposed as the solution, and that in the U.S. and elsewhere was actually implemented as a solution.

If Stagflation is a myth then the invalidation of leftist economic policies during the 1970s recession is false as well.

Obama's speech on the war--read the fine print

The speech takes up seven pages on the New York Times website and I suggest that people read the Whole Thing before they start making judgments about Obama having redeemed himself. If you read The whole Thing instead of relying on summaries of it, you'll see that Obama makes some very scary statements, basically supporting the idea of a global war on terror, comparing the war on terror to the Cold War. But you'd never know that if you hadn't Read the whole speech yourself.

So do yourself a favor and do it instead of relying on accounts provided by people who want to see Obama as a savior figure.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Stairway to Heaven

Coming back from a night art class that I take I found myself in traffic next to two kids in their early twenties in a white SUV playing and singing along to Stairway to Heaven really loud. Stairway to Heaven, according to Wiki, is 36 years old, being released in 1971. If you're in your early twenties and you're singing to something that was made when your parents were likely to young to really understand it you're not acting on your own opinion you're acting on something that was marketed to you as being a classic classic rock song.

Something that I take pride in is listening to music that's part of trends that started after the early '70. Classic Rock is a marketing tool used to sucker people like these fucks into listening to radio stations selling canned product with lots of ads.

Yet again, Afghanistan is called the good war while Iraq is condemned

From the New York Times (registration required) "Troops in Afghanistan Need Help, Obama Says"

"“As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, wrote in an Op-Ed article published on Monday in The New York Times. “We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.”


“On my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war,” Mr. Obama wrote, adding: “Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been.”"

What double speak. On his first day in office starting* to end "this war", next sentence: in order to continue war in Afghanistan.

I put an asterisk in from of 'starting' because if you actually look at what he's saying, it's not "I'll start to end this war on my first day in office but" "I would give the military a new mission: ending this war". Presumably the military, in their mission, could declare that it would take four years to end the war, or could declare that it had to be ended once basic stability has been achieved. In talking about ending the war previously Obama has said that knowledge and intelligence gained from talks with military commanders would really inform his ideas on Iraq. This idea is exactly what Bush says in that Bush claims superior access to intelligence data that proves that we need to be there. Obama could conceivably claim that he has seen the same info and needs to moderate his position based on it.

You have to read the fine print in Obama's statements. What he says is never unqualified, yet people act like he's making clear cut, simple, statements.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

According to U.S. News and World Report, ghostwriting is one of the hot new fields

As reported by The New York Times (registration required). I'll make a proposition: I'll ghost write your autobiography for a reasonable price and will guarantee that it will turn out to be a 'unique' piece of literature. Any takers?

The first commandment: thou shalt not complain about irony

Especially when the perpetrator is one of the most elite magazines in the country.(title link) The New Yorker is running this cover on their new edition:

Depicting Obama as a Muslim and his wife as an afro-ed black power militant with rifle.

Obama's campaign has gone ballistic:

"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create," countered Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. "But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

"This is as offensive a caricature as any magazine could publish," one high-profile Obama backer told ABC News, "and I suspect that other Obama supporters like me are also thinking about not subscribing to or buying a magazine that trafficks (sic) in such trash."

I'm glad that Bill Burton can psychicly divine what New Yorker readers will see as tasteless and offensive.

Can't support a magazine that traffics in such trash!

You know, liberal folks outside of touchy-feely land tend not to like it when they're accused of being....well, of being as close to racist as you can come without actually saying the word.....for liking a satirical cover on a very liberal magazine, one that's a foundation stone of the intellectual life of the United States.

And they tend to have longer memories than the typical crunchy flake.

The thing I always say is that socialism was partially realized in the Soviet Union

I say that not because of admiration for the police state that the Soviet Union became but because of some fundamental honesty through being a socialist. One of the barbs thrown at everyone, including Anarchists but mostly non-Anarchist socialists, is that any bad example of socialism is disowned as not really being socialism, leaving real socialism always untouched and pristine. The barb points out that it's pretty convenient to disown all of the experiments where bad things have happened. Me, I go the other way. At this point I say that the Soviet Union was a partially socialist country, Maoist China was a partially socialist country, and both Cuba and the hell that became Albania were both manifestations of socialism. I'm not going to avoid the question. Instead, I think it's useful to work through the historical guilt and responsibility that people who are real socialists today have for the policies of states in the past, and maybe one state in the present...the DPRK.... It's a good work and the process identifies where they went wrong, how they went wrong, what lead to the really bad things happening, where they were right, why those aspects succeeded, and how can we build a viable socialist society that's informed by the experience of the past but not conditioned by it, if that makes any sense. Sort of historical analysis of socialism combined with current concerns about decentralization, anti-Statism, questioning of industrialization.

So yeah, no avoiding it, I'm a socialist who's part of the same movement that unfortunately produced Stalin and equally unfortunately let Mao assume dictatorial leadership of China.

Socialism unfortunately includes gulags as well as substantially equal living conditions even within countries like the Soviet Union. It includes the formation of the KGB, as a nightmare descendent of the Cheka, as well as the positive accomplishments of the Communist International, or Comintern.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trampling on the cross

The Knights Templar have entered into the public consciousness in such a way that you can now find books written about them claiming anything under the sun. A personal favorite of mine is the thesis that Templars were the first to cross the Atlantic in the 13th century, establishing colonies in Nova Scotia and burying gold there. Wow, who'd of thought? But seriously there may be something to some of the charges against them, like that of having stomping on the cross be part of the initiation ceremony.

What's likely, and much more easy to document historically than things like Templars discovering North America, is that during their occupation of the Middle East they came in contact with a large number of religious groups across the board. They had to have come into contact with Eastern Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims. It's possible that they came into contact with sects deemed heretical by Sunni Islam, as well as Shi'ia Islam, because Syria was a hotbed of that, both then and now. It's documented that the Druze faith fought against the Crusaders, and that Twelver Shi'ias in Lebanon were directly involved with fighting against the Crusaders. According to Wiki, Syria at the time also was home to the Sevener Ismaili's, a radical, mystical, branch of Shi'ism that recognized the first six Imams of regular Shi'ism, then recognized an alternate seventh Imam, then declared that the Imam had gone into seclusion, becoming the Imam of the Time. Ismaili's are known because of Hassan-I-Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain, the leader of the Hashishim or Assasins, who were Ismaili's. Their fortress of Alamut has become the stuff of legend.

Druze, Twelver Shi'ites, and Ismailis are still there in Syria to this day, despite orthodox Sunni attempts to eliminate them.
There are also very established Sufi orders in the area, which it's possible that the Crusaders came in contact with, as well as, just to round out all of it, heretical Christian sects. But lets focus on the Sufis, who haven't gotten nearly as much attention as the St. John's Christians.

What makes the possible Sufi connection interesting with respect to the allegation of trampling on the cross is that there are some Sufi Tariqat, or sects, that emphasize the interior, esoteric, interpretation of Islamic scripture, to the point in some rituals of doing things contrary to the law of Islam, like drinking wine, to show that their allegiance is with the view of Islam stemming from inner contemplation as opposed to outward appearances. The Bektashi's in Turkey are reportedly known for this.

So, adding it all together, couldn't it be possible that in an initiation ceremony the Templars emphasized throwing away or ritually desecrating the outward symbols of the Christian faith in order to introduce the initiate into the inner meanings of the same?

Plato does Marx

Or the other way around.

From the Republic, Book II:

"A State, I said, arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants. Can any other origin of a State be imagined?

There can I be no other.
Then, as we have many wants, and many persons are needed to supply them, one takes a helper for one purpose and another for another; and when these partners and helpers are gathered together in one habitation the body of inhabitants is termed a State.

True, he said.
And they exchange with one another, and one gives, and another receives, under the idea that the exchange will be for their good.

Very true.
Then, I said, let us begin and create in idea a State; and yet the true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Of course, he replied.
Now the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition of life and existence.

The second is a dwelling, and the third clothing and the like.
And now let us see how our city will be able to supply this great demand: We may suppose that one man is a husbandman, another a builder, some one else a weaver --shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyor to our bodily wants?

Quite right.
The barest notion of a State must include four or five men.
And how will they proceed? Will each bring the result of his labours into a common stock? --the individual husbandman, for example, producing for four, and labouring four times as long and as much as he need in the provision of food with which he supplies others as well as himself; or will he have nothing to do with others and not be at the trouble of producing for them, but provide for himself alone a fourth of the food in a fourth of the time, and in the remaining three-fourths of his time be employed in making a house or a coat or a pair of shoes, having no partnership with others, but supplying himself all his own wants?

Adeimantus thought that he should aim at producing food only and not at producing everything.

Probably, I replied, that would be the better way; and when I hear you say this, I am myself reminded that we are not all alike; there are diversities of natures among us which are adapted to different occupations.

Very true.
And will you have a work better done when the workman has many occupations, or when he has only one?

When he has only one.
Further, there can be no doubt that a work is spoilt when not done at the right time?

No doubt.
For business is not disposed to wait until the doer of the business is at leisure; but the doer must follow up what he is doing, and make the business his first object.

He must.
And if so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural to him and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.

Then more than four citizens will be required; for the husbandman will not make his own plough or mattock, or other implements of agriculture, if they are to be good for anything. Neither will the builder make his tools --and he too needs many; and in like manner the weaver and shoemaker.

Then carpenters, and smiths, and many other artisans, will be sharers in our little State, which is already beginning to grow?

Yet even if we add neatherds, shepherds, and other herdsmen, in order that our husbandmen may have oxen to plough with, and builders as well as husbandmen may have draught cattle, and curriers and weavers fleeces and hides, --still our State will not be very large.

That is true; yet neither will it be a very small State which contains all these.

Then, again, there is the situation of the city --to find a place where nothing need be imported is well-nigh impossible.

Then there must be another class of citizens who will bring the required supply from another city?

There must.
But if the trader goes empty-handed, having nothing which they require who would supply his need, he will come back empty-handed.

That is certain.
And therefore what they produce at home must be not only enough for themselves, but such both in quantity and quality as to accommodate those from whom their wants are supplied.

Very true.
Then more husbandmen and more artisans will be required?
They will.
Not to mention the importers and exporters, who are called merchants?

Then we shall want merchants?
We shall.
And if merchandise is to be carried over the sea, skilful sailors will also be needed, and in considerable numbers?

Yes, in considerable numbers.
Then, again, within the city, how will they exchange their productions? To secure such an exchange was, as you will remember, one of our principal objects when we formed them into a society and constituted a State.

Clearly they will buy and sell.
Then they will need a market-place, and a money-token for purposes of exchange.

Suppose now that a husbandman, or an artisan, brings some production to market, and he comes at a time when there is no one to exchange with him, --is he to leave his calling and sit idle in the market-place?

Not at all; he will find people there who, seeing the want, undertake the office of salesmen. In well-ordered States they are commonly those who are the weakest in bodily strength, and therefore of little use for any other purpose; their duty is to be in the market, and to give money in exchange for goods to those who desire to sell and to take money from those who desire to buy.

This want, then, creates a class of retail-traders in our State. Is not 'retailer' the term which is applied to those who sit in the market-place engaged in buying and selling, while those who wander from one city to another are called merchants?

Yes, he said.
And there is another class of servants, who are intellectually hardly on the level of companionship; still they have plenty of bodily strength for labour, which accordingly they sell, and are called, if I do not mistake, hirelings, hire being the name which is given to the price of their labour.

Then hirelings will help to make up our population?
And now, Adeimantus, is our State matured and perfected?
I think so.
Where, then, is justice, and where is injustice, and in what part of the State did they spring up?

Probably in the dealings of these citizens with one another. cannot imagine that they are more likely to be found anywhere else.

I dare say that you are right in your suggestion, I said; we had better think the matter out, and not shrink from the enquiry.

Let us then consider, first of all, what will be their way of life, now that we have thus established them. Will they not produce corn, and wine, and clothes, and shoes, and build houses for themselves? And when they are housed, they will work, in summer, commonly, stripped and barefoot, but in winter substantially clothed and shod. They will feed on barley-meal and flour of wheat, baking and kneading them, making noble cakes and loaves; these they will serve up on a mat of reeds or on clean leaves, themselves reclining the while upon beds strewn with yew or myrtle. And they and their children will feast, drinking of the wine which they have made, wearing garlands on their heads, and hymning the praises of the gods, in happy converse with one another. And they will take care that their families do not exceed their means; having an eye to poverty or war.

Socrates - GLAUCON

But, said Glaucon, interposing, you have not given them a relish to their meal.

True, I replied, I had forgotten; of course they must have a relish-salt, and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs such as country people prepare; for a dessert we shall give them figs, and peas, and beans; and they will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking in moderation. And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.

Yes, Socrates, he said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs, how else would you feed the beasts?

But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.
Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life. People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.

Yes, I said, now I understand: the question which you would have me consider is, not only how a State, but how a luxurious State is created; and possibly there is no harm in this, for in such a State we shall be more likely to see how justice and injustice originate. In my opinion the true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have described. But if you wish also to see a State at fever heat, I have no objection. For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of way They will be for adding sofas, and tables, and other furniture; also dainties, and perfumes, and incense, and courtesans, and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every variety; we must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses, and clothes, and shoes: the arts of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set in motion, and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.

True, he said.
Then we must enlarge our borders; for the original healthy State is no longer sufficient. Now will the city have to fill and swell with a multitude of callings which are not required by any natural want; such as the whole tribe of hunters and actors, of whom one large class have to do with forms and colours; another will be the votaries of music --poets and their attendant train of rhapsodists, players, dancers, contractors; also makers of divers kinds of articles, including women's dresses. And we shall want more servants. Will not tutors be also in request, and nurses wet and dry, tirewomen and barbers, as well as confectioners and cooks; and swineherds, too, who were not needed and therefore had no place in the former edition of our State, but are needed now? They must not be forgotten: and there will be animals of many other kinds, if people eat them.

And living in this way we shall have much greater need of physicians than before?

Much greater.
And the country which was enough to support the original inhabitants will be too small now, and not enough?

Quite true.
Then a slice of our neighbours' land will be wanted by us for pasture and tillage, and they will want a slice of ours, if, like ourselves, they exceed the limit of necessity, and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth?

That, Socrates, will be inevitable.
And so we shall go to war, Glaucon. Shall we not?
Most certainly, he replied.
Then without determining as yet whether war does good or harm, thus much we may affirm, that now we have discovered war to be derived from causes which are also the causes of almost all the evils in States, private as well as public. "

Fun with Socrates and Plato

Something really entertaining is contained in the beginning of "The Republic" by Plato. Unlike the Socratic dialogues this book is considered to have probably been written by Plato himself and to reflect his point of view instead of that of Socrates. It turns out that Book II is the real start of it, because Book I contains a scene comic in the extreme that explains the shift from a dialogue format to something more straightforward. Socrates is talking to a small group of people about government, good conduct, just conduct, and is going off on tangents of tangents of tangents of seemingly unrelated analogies trying to prove something. After a while one of the people present, one Thrasymachus, gets angry at Socrates, demands that he stop beating around the bush and instead talk about the topic of justice directly. Socrates gives in, and Thrasymachus begins the sort of argument that you'd find in normal, non-dialogue format writing, arguing that injustice is really justice because people who are injust end up on top while just people stay at the bottom. Then Socrates responds, still kind of in dialogue format, after which Thrasymachus leaves. The next book starts with Glaucon, a frequent conversation partner in Plato's books, arguing that Socrates hadn't really come up with a good defense against the idea that what we think of as injustice is really justice. Then he in turn launches into a conventional philosophical discourse and when his character is exhausted his brother takes over and continues the argument.

The idea of someone finally not being able to take the dialogue format any longer, getting pissed off, and demanding that Socrates come right out and say what he means is really, really, funny. Look up the conventionally termed "Socratic Dialogues" to understand why this is so.

"Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter"--God, what an asshole

This is actually what Bush said at the end of the recent G-8 meeting. His power, though, is decreasing day by day, and not only random individuals but world leaders know it; on his recent trip to Europe a reply heard was that leaders were going to wait until the next administration to make any plans.

Time will tell whether or not the obscurantism of the Bush administration was purely a reflection of the neocons in the Republican party surrounding the president or whether it was also due to the absolute stupidity and dumb as a box of rocks mentality that Bush has.

After he's done with his Presidency, Bush can go onto a long and distinguished history of reading books like "The very hungry caterpillar" and clearing the copious amounts of brush on his ranch. But the clock is ticking, and each day makes the implicit threats by the Bush administration regarding possible war against Iran that less credible.

Sure you're gonna attack Iran......and it'll be done within four months? Or within six as an absolute maximum? I don't think so.

Just humor the boy until his mommy comes to pick him up from the sandbox and take him home. That's a cute little Bushie!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tesoros Trading Company

Your source for folk art from all across the globe.(title link). Tesoros is a company in Austin, TX that while having lots of folk art from different places specializes in Latin American folk art. I found them when I first went to Austin, where in the space of a little over a year I spent a little over two weeks. Want great tin painted religious folk art, like Sacred Hearts? You know you do. Tesoros is the place to order it from.

How about charms against the evil eye from Turkey?

Just click the image.

You can even find statues of Brazilian folk hero Lampião and his partner in crime Maria Bonita, mentioned in the post yesterday on outlaw heroes.

Tesoros is a goldmine.

Writing exercise inspired by a French Artist

Pretty simple in idea and yet complex....try to write as if you've never come across other writing, as if you don't know anything about structuring writing, grammar, intro-body-conclusion, didn't know anything about topic sentences and transitions.
Pick a topic and write about it like this. Writing in this way also includes doing it as if you've never seen anyone give a demonstration of it. It's something that you probably work up to, progressively freeing yourself of culture. From Jean Dubuffet's experience of creating music like you'd never heard music before.

Plato's idea of Eros and Platonic love.

There's this thing that plato wrote about how womena nd men get along, how it is that men relate to women, He like to say that love comes out of something else besides desire and kindo f strange little feelings of friction and aura between two people as well as general thoughts about hotness of another person. There's this thing he calls intellectual love which is eroti and really like love considered in its normal form as being sort of like fucking. Okay that's not love as people usually define it but there's this sort of fucking/erotic sensibilitybelow all sorts of love that people talk about. This kind of intellectual love considers that you can in consequence of the structure of the human mind have an erotic feeling in relation oto someone else's intellect or selfhood. Your intellect can be attracted in a love relation t another intellect who an be attracted to you in the same way. Called Platonic love but that's not really what it is because platonic love the way that people mean it is love really just friendshop. It's friendshop masquerding as some asort of purer love, love ithout fucking. But not in Plato's original scheme of things. It's possible according to him to be both intellectual and erotic at the same time, but the eros comes not from pure feeling but from a perception of the beauty of the soul of the other person. If they see the same beauty in your soul then the attraction and erotic love generated by hte unoin of the two is considered to be the best sort of erotic love and love in general possible by Plato. Beauty in this case also means beauty in the form of sexual attraction. Beauty isn't just conveinotal beauty but has pronographic aspects. A beautiful soul is also an attractive soul.

The Great Link Cull of 2008

Is underway. Am getting rid of links to blogs I no longer read or care about, adding others. Some just suck, or are useless. Huffington Post is so gone.

All mutual links, links to sites that link to this site, will continue to be there. If you want your site listed, contact me.

And not in the comments, either.

Minimum Security by Stephanie McMillan

(title link). Funny, funny, funny. Had seen the banner ad but had thought it was another boring pseudo-Gen X hipster comic about nothing. Not true. Political and entertaining, with a lovable character named "Bunnista". She blogs about her comic and stuff too, making her probably the only comic artist out there who makes references to Derrick Jensen and destroying industrial capitalism.

Homosexual poems by Michelangelo

Turns out he wrote a huge amount of them. I'm taking these two from This Site.

"Over here it was that my love stole from me,
In his mercy, my heart and, farther on, my life.
Here with his beautiful eyes he promised me help,
And with the same eyes here he stole it back.
Over here he bound me and here released me;
For myself I wept here, and with infinite sorrow
From this rock I saw him leave,
He who stole myself from me and never turned back."

"I live in sin, dying to myself I live;
Life is no longer mine, but belongs to sin;
My good is from heaven, my evil I give to myself,
From my own unbound will, which has been stolen from me.
My freedom is a slave, my divinity has made itself
Oh, unhappy state!
To what misery, to what life I've been born! "

Hopefully there's a good, complete non-rhymed translation out there. The rhymed translation by John Addington Symonds, although daring for its time, grates on your ears as being forced into the rhyme scheme and not natural at all.

The popularity of criminals as folk heroes

I think that the popularity of criminals as folk heroes varies in inverse proportion to how just the laws are, and how just the people executing the laws are. When society is fundamentally unjust for a group of people, and harassment and false imprisonment are realities, the person who opposes the system by not giving a damn and breaking society's rules---while evading the police and the law--becomes a popular figure. When the laws are a lot juster and the people arrested for seriously breaking the law are stupid morons who just want to get something for nothing and are about on the level of cave men in their mentality, the idea of criminal as folk hero probably tends to decrease.

The romanticization of the criminal confuses these two types of people---folks who would be criminals no matter what, and people who tend to be like that because of the way society is for them. The two sometimes exist side by side, though, which makes separating out the wheat from the chaff a little bit harder. You don't want to go to far in either direction if that's the case. Blanket romanticization will end up labeling some people who are just plain criminals as heroic resisters of the system, while going in the other direction will condemn people who are either partially or fundamentally good. It's a continuum from one to the other, surely, with people not just fitting into one or the other category, but there are differences.

When you hear about folk heroes in Latin America, for instance the figure of Lampião in Brazil, it's in the context of inequality with the big hacienda owners on the one hand and the farmers they employ as well as poor farmers that may have some rights to their own land on the other. In a system like that taking to the road and becoming an outlaw is a sort of rational choice. The hacienda owners, the big land owners, control the government, control the police. Breaking the law and doing what you want is a protest against staying in the lowest category of people in the social system and suffering the injustices that those on the top of things impose on you. It's big finger in the face of the power structure, and the mythic agility of these folks causing to have them make daring escapes from the law is a cause for celebration, a showing up of the people who supposedly are inevitably in power.

When you have people who commit crimes because they're unconscious followers of Ayn Rand it's a lot less romantic.

There are certain things I don't understand about New York

Like baseball. New Yorkers, meaning not just people in the city but also people from the greater New York area are crazy about baseball in a way that transcends simple enthusiasm. The Yankees win all the time; they're kind of like the Red Wings of our national past time, but people in New York get into following baseball to a degree that borders on....I can't really say demented because of the content of this site, which frequently goes w-a-a-a-y over the line of simple dementia, but maybe borders on an unhealthy obsession.

There's something about this baseball thing that reminds me of the one summer where I spent a week at the Jersey shore visiting a friend who had moved out to central New Jersey. When I say that what I'm getting at is this kind of bizarre Yankee thing conjuring up images of Coney Island style experiences that are almost movie like. They're so stereotyped that they seem like they aren't real. And they communicate the fact that there is in actuality something called Yankee culture, not New York Yankees culture but Yankee culture, being the culture of Long Island, the City, and Upstate, and that it exists in the middle of one of the most creative cities in the world. That's fundamentally disappointing to me. I guess that the very square admiration of baseball by New Yorkers is disappointing as well, like they'd be above it.

I don't understand it, and it's not for nothing I tell you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Romeo Michigan and Kid Rock

I happen to be from the same town as rock-rapper Kid Rock is from. The irony is that the kind of countrified environment he talks about in his music doesn't resemble Romeo in the least. Romeo was settled by folks from New England and served as the regional center when the area was devoted to logging and paper making. It is in almost every way a Victorian New England town, with lots of mansions, nice old streets, a real downtown. Not only that, but the town is more liberal than pretty much any place around it, having a sort of air of liberal sophistication due to its origins. The flight of hippies to Romeo no doubt encouraged that, as well, since it was one of the small towns in the large Detroit area that people aiming to get closer to the land went to. In fact, Romeo in its early career had a branch of the University of Michigan.

The idea that folks in Romeo are consumed by dirt bike racing and being like the image of white people that Kid Rock portrays is about as funny as the presence of "Frontier Town" on the edge of the city limits. "Frontier Town" is a 'shopping experience' type place for tourists that's made to look like an old West town, with a real waterwheel and supposedly model home from the period and everything. They have stuff like a store selling rocks with interesting minerals in them and had a small fenced off area where some goats lived, at least when I was living in Romeo. Maybe that would be appropriate for some other place, but the wrought iron railings and cobble stone alleyways of the village of Romeo make it all look silly.

Silly as Kid Rock, in fact, who for years before he hit upon his latest style was looked on as a joke in the local Detroit music scene.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Alternatives to the Price System, or, how socialist economies could work.

On of the main criticisms of socialist economies in the 20th century was that there was no way to detect whether or not a product was good or not, whether or not people really wanted it or not, and that consequently people were sometimes stuck buying lower quality products because there wasn't any sort of alternative to them. The idea was that there was one type of soap, for instance, and that it was subsidized to be really cheap, and if you didn't like that brand of soap you didn't have much in the way of alternatives that you could buy in order to get better soap. Some socialist countries varied from this model somewhat, but it's a kind of valid criticism. But there are ways around the price system.

The price system is the general economic term used to define the way supply and demand reverberate through different levels of the economy telling businesses whether they're doing a good job or not with the products they make and in stores with the products they stock. Price comes in because the assumption is that if demand for a product falls enough the makers of the product will reduce the cost in an effort to attract customers. There's a parallel reasoning for raising costs, in that raised costs discourage customers, but I see that as a justification for price gouging more than anything else. Anyways, price system includes supply and demand as well as competition. But is it the only way that signals are given to stores and to manufacturers?

There's an interesting phenomenon that's evolved in the U.S: buyers cards in places like grocery stores and bookstores. If you sign up with the store for a card, and use it every time you're there, you'll get a discount on certain products. The purpose of these cards isn't just to be nice to customers but to get specific information on buying patterns that the companies can't detect through just what sells and what doesn't sell alone. What happens to this information is that it's collated to give a certain profile to different types of buyers that is then scrutinized to make sense of what buyers buy in a particular store, in a particular area, and why they might buy this stuff, in order that the stores can make changes to increase profit that wouldn't be obvious otherwise. The same thing could be implemented in a socialist economy with limited competition, a market-socialist economy, where the socialism comes before the market, though. If there were alternatives, like one or two, just for the sake of having alternatives because they could potentially satisfy citizen's wants more effectively, the trap of having no way to tell what people like could be partially avoided. The people working in these companies would be working against each other in order to come up with better products, but with traditional means of competing through deceptive and exploitative tactics forbidden by law. This gathering of information could provide an alternative, as would a limited recognition of supply and demand within a subsidized economy.

In reality, manufacturers and stores do this sort of reasoning all the time, far beyond the cards mentioned. The dreaded focus group is a manifestation of it, as are customer satisfaction surveys. Market research is partially oriented towards finding out what exactly people want and what people think of the products offered, as well as towards finding new ways to fuck people over. Brainstorming sessions are implemented in response to the info generated by the research, some of which makes its way down to actual changes in products on the ground floor. People spy on their competition, analyze what they're doing and why if they're in fact becoming more successful. All of this is over and above just the pure indications that the price system gives. There's no reason not to think that something like this couldn't go on in a socialist society. Some may say that it's a sort of fake market, but it would potentially be enough.

Dinosaurs, by William S. Burroughs

I think the political and social chaos we are seeing on every side reflects and underlying biologic crisis. End of the human line. All species are doomed from conception like all individuals. Evolution did not come to a reverent halt with homo sapiens. We have the technologies to recreate the flawed artifacts and to produce improved and variegated models for designed for space conditions. Perhaps there is still time is this being done or even considered? Back to the church the home and the family. Back to the simple American virtues that made this country great and can make this country great again. If I may be allowed a flight of whimsy involving articulate Dinosaurs:

"Fellow reptiles I do not hesitate to tell you that we face grave problems. I do not hesitate to tell you that we have the answer Size is the answer! Increase size! There are those who say that size is not the answer, there are those even propose that we pollute our reptilian strain with mammalian amalgamations and cross breading. And I say to you, if the only way I could survive was by mating with egg eating rats then I would choose not to survive. But we will survive. We will increase both in size and in numbers and we will continue to dominate this planet as we have done for 300 MILLION YEARS! Bigger is better and biggest is best!"

Armored models thump their tails in earth shaking applause. Herbiferous Dins wallow and splash in swamp bog. Carnivores bare their huge fangs dripping streamers of saliva in uproar. But a wise old Din turns sadly from the TV and addresses his offspring:

"Son, it's the end of the line. We are ugly, idiot, bellowing beasts. Some of us are sixty feet long with a brain the size of a walnut. Where can this end? In a natural history museum our bones gawked at by pimply adolescents--"Say, I wonder how big his prick was?"
---their turn.

Back to the home and the family back to simple American virtues biologically speaking the one direction you can go is back. It's the law. Dolphins lived on land at one time we know that because they have air breathing lungs. Now that they have returned to the sea it might be handy to reclaim their lost gils. No glot clump blighty An evolutionary step that involves biological alterations is irretrievable we must now make such a step if we are to survive at all. And it had better be good. I have predicted the transition from time into space will involve biologic alterations. Such alterations are already manifest. Astronauts stand to lose their bones and teeth in the thervice. If you don't use it you lose it A skeleton has no function in a weightless state. So what does the end result look like? Well...rather like an octupus or a jellyfish. Beau Bremel the restoration dandy spent hours every morning putting exactly the right crease into his cravats by lowering his chin just so. Often his valet would carry out armfuls of crumpled dennies, all failures.So we can imagine the cosmic butler carrying out bundles of unworkable monstrosities, our failures.

Late night existentialism

If existence has no meaning except that which you put upon it, isn't that a contradiction? You're supposed to establish what's important for you in life and try to implement it, but if life is inherently meaningless doesn't that mean that any standard of value that you decide on is going to be essentially arbitrary, and that even if you do manage to change the world to conform to these values that the change itself will be just as arbitrary, therefore leaving you in the same place that you started out at? There doesn't seem to be any sort of "Get of jail free" cards here. Values that are established would have to be established on a rational basis, which means that you'd have to have reasons for establishing these things as the values you'd like to follow instead of some other things. But that takes some criteria about what makes something valuable or a decent outlook on life versus a non-valuable or a not up to snuff viewpoint on life. If we admit that there are some criteria the question becomes which criteria is better or worse than another one, and why, which leads into the notion of whether or not these standards of judgment are finite, controlled, ideas or are ideas representative of a greater whole which we're only dimly aware of. The latter would bring us back to Plato, where the Socratic dialogue process is used to get further out there someplace, who knows where, but closer to whatever larger concepts things like right and wrong are contained in. And if we get back to Plato then the idea of existence being meaningless is invalidated, because a level of uncertainty about the meaningfulness/meaninglessness of the world has been introduced that kills the whole scheme.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Who were those rascally Rosicrucians?

Advertised in magazines, claimed by an offshoot of the Theosophical Society, the thing of con artists everywhere, the Rosicrucians have been sort of gullible fare for people in the U.S. (and possibly in England) for a long time. But, yes, the general identity of who these people were has been solved. The answer comes from The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke. In the first part of the book, Brooke talks about underground streams of thought that were running along each other during the Reformation. Who the Rosicrucians were is probably this: radical Protestants who absorbed Hermetic, alchemical, and Kabbalistic teachings into their Christianity.

Simple as that.

The Manifestos are Christian in character, the goal esotericism.

"Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century" ed. by Chris Spannos--a bait and switch

What if you got a book entitled "Anarchist Perspectives" and looking through it found that every essay was from a follower of Murray Bookchin's "Social Ecology"? True, they might come at it from different perspectives and, hey, in reality there may be one or two essays out of twenty that aren't totally from a Social Ecology point of view, but the book would certainly not be reflective of "Anarchist Perspectives" in general. To label it so would be to be dishonest. Enter "Real Utopia".

A "Participatory Economy for the 21st century". That sounds interesting, I wonder what it means? Looking at the back of the book I find this "What if we had direct control over our daily lives? What if society's defining institutions--those encompassing economics, politics, kinship, culture, community, and ecology--were based not on competition, individual ownership, and coercion, but on self-management, equity, solidarity, and diversity? Real Utopia identifies and obliterates the barriers to an egalitarian, bottom-up society, while convincingly outlining how to build it. " That sounds great! That's what a participatory society means then sign me up.

Looking inside the book, though, something different presents itself.

Some titles of the essays:

"Chapter 1: Parecon today by Michael Albert"

"Chapter 5: Participatory Economics and the Environment by Robin Hahnel"

"Chapter 6: A call to artists: support Parecon, by Jerry Fresia"

"Chapter 9: Participatory planning in life after Capitalism: Barbara Ehrenreich interviews Michael Albert"

"Chapter 13: Participatory Balkans: exchanges between Andrej Grubacic and Michael Albert"

"Chapter 17: Venezuela's path, by Michael Albert"

"Chapter 21: The Making of South End Press and Z, by Lydia Sargent"

"Chapter 22: Parecon and Workers' Self-Management: Reflections on Winnipeg's Mondragon Bookstore & Coffee House Collective, by Paul Burrows

"Chapter 23: The Newstandard: a Parecon workplace is possible, by Jessica Azulay"

"Chapter 24: Vancouver Parecon collective: Four Years of Organizing by Marla Renn"

"Chapter 32: From here to Parecon: Thoughts on Strategy for Economic Revolution, by Brian Dominick

"Chapter 33: Building a Pareconish Movement: by Michael Albert"

See a pattern? There are only 33 Chapters in the book and twelve of them either declare that they're directly about ParEcon, Michael Albert's ideology, or they're by Michael Albert, or they're about Z and South End Press, which Michael Albert cofounded and which published a lot of his earlier work, including his original ParEcon books.

So where does that leave our Participatory society? It looks like the book in fact isn't about general perspectives on what it would look like but is instead a commercial for ParEcon, the ideology that Michael Albert promotes on Z-Net, a website that gets close to a million hits a day. Here we have the parallel to Bookchin. What if Bookchin founded a progressive news service, with a nice looking website, and subtly injected Social Ecology into it....then when enough people had taken the bait and had tried out some of the ideas he collected their experience into a book and labeled it as "Anarchist Perspectives"?

That's the deal here.

It's not that it's a book focussing on ParEcon, where ParEcon forms the framework around which the whole book is based so much as that it doesn't come right out and say that that is what it is. It doesn't say that it's not impartial but is instead very partial to a certain ideology. And that's both not right and deceptive. You'd need to know about the plethora of Parecon books that Albert has written to realize that there's something more going on than just a book looking at possible avenues for creating a just society.

People will no doubt reproach me because a large section of the book focusses on the experience of people trying to make socially just ways of working a reality, therefore doing good in the real world. However, that's not the point. If a Participatory society means direct control over your life and the life of your community then a book about perspectives on a Participatory society would include essays by people running anarchist collectives that have little relationship to ParEcon, to consumer cooperatives, to non-profit community organizations. But none of that is present in the book. Instead, the section that deals directly with people implementing strategies for a just society is composed entirely of essays from people who either helped found ParEcon, are self consciously following the ParEcon model enough to label their project as that, or have been inspired by ParEcon but have taken their work in unique ways. More false advertising.

Maybe the problem was that the market has been glutted with so many ParEcon books that another one would have just produced groans and cynicism, so a new strategy had to be invented to get more ParEcon material out there.
No matter. In my humble opinion the only reason that ParEcon gets talked about is because Z-Net plugs it as its official ideology. If Z-Net wasn't doing that it would occupy a lonely little quarter of the net. It's not fair to people with other perspectives on what a just society is and what you need to do to get there to plug ParEcon constantly like that, and to even publish dialogues trying to justify ParEcon over other ideologies instead of just making room and publishing articles based on them as interesting fellow alternatives.

Save your money if you don't want to just get Michael Albert repackaged.

By the way, the whole idea of labeling this thing Participatory economics and a Participatory society is dishonest in and of itself.
What they're talking about is either a socialist society or an anarchist society but they don't want to take the responsibility and likely unpopularity that would come from using those terms, so they invent a new one that no one has used before them. Except possibly some authors in obscure New Left journals in the late sixties. Participatry Economics...why not label it Democratic Socialist Economics or Anarchist Economics? Participatory politics: Anarchist Politics, Democratic or Left Socialist Politics. Artists supporting ParEcon....artists supporting Anarchism and Socialism.

Take away the neologisms, it's clearer that way.

*on edit: if you want to contact me, e-mail me. The address is on the right hand of the screen.

The Program of the Prague Spring of '68

This is the kind of thing you can find if, like, you read books. What Dubček stood for.

"The Czechoslovak Action Program

Main goal: "It is important to reform the whole political system so that it permits the dynamic development of socialist social relations and combines broad democracy with scientific, highly qualified management . . . the basic structure of the political system must at the same time provide firm guarantees against return to the old methods of subjection and high-handed tyranny."

The Role of the Communist Party: "The Communist Party depends on the voluntary support of the people. It cannot carry out its leading role by ruling over society, but by faithfully serving free and progressive socialist development. The Party cannot impel its authority, but must constantly acquire it by its actions. It cannot force its line by command, but by the work of its members and the truth of its ideals."

Freedom of Discussion within the Party: "Each member of the Party and Party bodies has not only the right but the duty to act according to his conscience, expressing initiative, criticism, and different views on the matter in question, and to oppose any functionary . . . It is not permissible to restrict Communists in these rights, to create an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion of those who voice different opinions, and to persecute the minority under any pretext--as has happened in the past."

The Party and the State: "Substitution and interchanging of federal agencies with agencies of economic leadership and social organization by Party agents must be stopped. Party resolutions are binding for Communists working in these agencies, but the policy, managerial activities and responsibility of the federal, economic and social organizations are independent."

The Communist Party and the National Front: "The political parties of the National Front are partners . . . Possible differences in the viewpoints of individual component parts of the National Front or divergence of views as to a state policy are to be settled on the basis of the common socialist conception of National Front policy by way of political agreement and unification of all component parts of the National Front."

Against the Monopolization of State Power: "Socialist state power cannot be monopolized either by a single party or by a coalition of parties. It must be open to all political organizations of the people. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia will use every means at its disposal to develop such forms of political life that will ensure the expression of the direct voice and will of the working class and all working people in political decision-making in our country."

Freedom of Association: "The implementation of the constitutional freedoms of assembly and association must be ensured this year so that the possibility of setting up voluntary organizations, special-interest associations, societies, etc., is guaranteed by law . . . .Freedoms guaranteed by law and in compliance with the constitution also apply fully to citizens of various creeds and religious denominations."

Freedom of Opinion and of Information: "The working people, who are no longer ordered about by a class of exploiters, can no longer be dictated to by any arbitrary edict from a position of power as to what information they may or may not be given, which of their opinions can or cannot be expressed publicly, where public opinion may play a role and where it may not."

Freedom of the Press and the Elimination of Censorship: "The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia considers it urgently necessary to define in a press law and more exactly than heretofore when a state body can forbid the propagation of certain information (in the press, radio, television, etc.) in order to preclude the possibility of preliminary censorship. It is necessary to overcome the delay, distortion, and incompleteness of information and to remove the unwarranted secrecy of political and economic facts."

Freedom of Opinion and the Party Press: "The Party press especially must express the Party's life and development along with criticism of various opinions among the Communists, etc., and cannot be made to coincide fully with the official viewpoints of the state."

Freedom of Mobility: "The constitutional freedom of mobility , particularly that of travel abroad for our citizens, must be precisely guaranteed by law. In particular, this means that a citizen should have the legal right to long-term or permanent sojourn abroad and that people should not be placed in the position of emigrants without reason."

Rehabilitation: "The Party realizes that people unlawfully condemned or persecuted cannot regain the lost years of their lives. It will, however, do its best to remove and shadow of the mistrust and humiliation to which the families and relatives of those affected were often subjected and will resolutely ensure that such persecuted people have every opportunity of showing their worth in work, in public life, and in political activities."

Democratic Electoral Systems: "It is therefore necessary to work out an electoral system that will take the changes in our political life into account. An electoral law must lay down exactly and clearly the democratic principles for the preparation of elections, the proposal of candidates and the method of their election."

The Parliament (The National Assembly): "The Party regards the National Assembly as a socialist parliament with all the functions the parliament of a democratic republic must have . . . which actually decides on laws and important political issues, and does not just approve proposals submitted."

Prevention of Concentration of Power: "The party policy is based on the principle that no undue concentration of power must occur, throughout the state machinery, in one sector, one body, or in a single individual. It is necessary to provide for such a divisions of power and a system of mutual supervision that the faults or encroachments of any of its members can be corrected on time through the activity of another member."

Reforms of the State Security: "The State Security Service must have the status, organizational structure, staff, equipment, methods, and qualifications which are in keeping with its work of defending the state against the activities of enemy centers abroad. Every citizen who has nothing to hide must know with certainty that his political convictions, his opinions, personal beliefs and activities, cannot be the object of attention of the bodies of the State Security service. The Party declares clearly that this apparatus should not be directed toward or used to solve internal political questions and controversies in socialist society."

Attitude toward Science: "Socialism originates, combats and dominates by combining the working movement with science . . . The more resolute and impartial the advancement of science, the more it is in harmony with the interests of socialism; the greater the achievements of the working people, the larger the scope opened to science."

Freedom of Cultural and Artistic Creation: "We reject administrative and bureaucratic methods of implementing cultural policy, we disassociate ourselves from them, and we shall oppose them. Artistic work must not be subjected to censorship.

"Art and Culture under Socialism: "It is necessary to overcome the narrow understanding of the social and human function of culture and art, the overestimation of their ideological and political role and the underestimation of their basic cultural and aesthetic task in the transformation of man and his world."

Foreign Policy: "Our foreign policy has not taken advantage of all opportunities for active work; it did not take the initiative in advancing its own views on many important international problems. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, the national assembly, the government and appropriate ministers must overcome these shortcomings without delay and consistently ensure that our foreign policy expresses fully both the national and international interests of socialist czechoslovakia . . . This is linked with the necessity of making prompt and detailed information available to the public on international problems and on the course of our foreign policy thereby creating conditions for the active participation of Czechoslovak citizens in the shaping of foreign political attitudes"

The World Communist Movement: "The Czechoslovak Communist Party will take every opportunity to establish contacts with the socialist, peace favoring and democratic forces in the capitalist and developing countries."

New Model of Socialism: "We want to start building up a new intensely democratic model of a socialist society which will fully correspond to Czechoslovak conditions. . . We cannot squeeze life into patterns, no matter how well intended It is up to us to make our way through unknown conditions, to experiment, to give socialist development a new character . . . ."

International Significance: "We want to set in motion penetrating new forces of socialist life in this country to give them the possibility of a much more efficient confrontation between social systems and world outlooks, allowing a fuller application of the advantages of socialism"


The quotes are those presented by Wolfgang Leonhard in his book "Eurocommunism: Challenge for East and West"

Socialism with a human face.