Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iraqis rejoice as American troops leave Baghdad

Of course, this is just a disinformation campaign by the liberal media. I mean, the Iraqis want us to be there right? They wouldn't want us to leave.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Nollywood Babylon", neat film

It's a documentary from Canada about the Nigerian film industry, centered in Lagos, which is the third biggest one in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood. The films are all released on DVD, or Video Disc possibly, which is the same thing but on a CD, and sold at markets instead of appearing in theaters. They follow a director around on a shoot, go through some of the history, interview some of the veterans of the scene, and give a sampling of films that are released. I thought it was a really good film. The only disturbing thing that I saw was the influence of fundamentalist Christianity on the film makers and on the film industry. This is bad because non-Christian, traditional African, beliefs are portrayed as backwards and as having to do with witchcraft and other bad activities. As someone who follows a pagan, non-Christian, path it deeply offended me to think that traditional beliefs could possibly be cut down in Nigeria because of the fundamentalist influence over the film industry there. Fundamentalist Christianity is the white religion, the religion of American colonialism.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Artopia: good for a street fair

I went, I saw, I got lost in Georgetown trying to find my car, I left. As something devoted to promoting family and not so family fun it worked. It would have been nicer if there was actually more art in the Artopia, though, and in general less grimy crust punks hanging around. With that said, understanding that it was fun if not the most up there festival, let me turn to Georgetown itself.

Georgetown is a postage stamp sized neighborhood in southwest Seattle where there's an artistic colony of folks and where there are always rumors that "something is going to happen there", artistically, that's going to revolutionize things. The only problem is that the hip arty colonists living there are virtually indistinguishable from similar folks living in Austin Texas, for instance, or in smaller counter culture neighborhoods in places all across the country. Shit, go down sixty miles to Olympia and you have a whole town devoted to this stuff, although maybe not as grimy. If they're going to revolutionize things there it would help if they actually acted and did stuff that was different than what thousands of people are doing across the country. Me, I'm sick of seeing folks like this think of themselves as the be all and end all of avant-gardeness, and so by this point I usually tune out folks who are doing this if they're not obviously contributing something new to it all.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remember the IMF?

It's still fucking people over. But, oh, I forgot, it's all Bush and Bush's legacy that we're concerned with now.

Obama ♡ the IMF

That's "Loves the IMF", just in case the symbol doesn't show up. He's issued a signing statement saying that he'll ignore:

"The Obama administration announced in the statement it would disregard provisions of the legislation that, among other things, would compel the Obama administration to pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and require the Treasury department to report to Congress on the activities of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).


The sections in question would compel the administration to direct its World Bank representatives to pressure that institution to use metrics that "fairly represent the value of internationally recognized workers' rights. Organized labor groups had pushed for a revision of those standards.

The World Bank section would also push the bank to account for the costs of greenhouse gas in pricing out projects, and would require development banks to more fully disclose operating budgets.

The other section would require Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to develop a report with the heads of the World Bank and IMF "detailing the steps taken to coordinate the activities of the World Bank and the Fund" to eliminate overlap between the two."

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'd like to believe that Nietzsche was wrong

There are lots of things that Nietzsche was insightful on, but I hope that one of the substitutes that he came up with for conventional morality isn't how the world actually is. Nietzsche occupied the same space that radical conservative skeptics of Enlightenment philosophy like de Maistre and Hume staked out. In his book "The Genealogy of Morals" he outlines a true history of western values that subtracts all of what could be called positive values from the picture and instead leaving the sort of impulses that are left when you do that, in this case impulses that are unreasonable and cruel. Nietzsche's project is destructive because he doesn't challenge just a particular morality but questions the existence of morality in general. This is actually fine, except the way that Nietzsche applied this in practice was to take all of the values that western society had ever believed in and negated all of them, and then refused to put substitutes that partook of any of it in its place. That leads to a very tough position, because western morals, from Greece and Rome up to the Church of the Middle Ages, through to the Renaissance and then to the Enlightenment occupy quite a bit of head space, cover a big portion of ground even though compared with the diversity of ideas on morals contained the world over they appear to be really similar to one another. By dismissing all of them together it's like removing an organ from thought, where ideas of reason, ideas of what's right and wrong, ideas of what's normal, get dismissed as categories that we should even think about when we're acting. This leaves us with a kind of unreasoning force or will, but an unsophisticated will, that produces cruelty and rules by violence. The unreasoning part is very important, because without some idea of reason, whether that of the Enlightenment, of the Greeks, or even of the modified version that the Romantics believed in, you're left without any guide to what's truthful and what's not. Truth, consensus reality, go down the drain, and are instead replaced by personal will to power and the threat of violence. And in this scenario you can't object that the violence is wrong because that's your subjective position, one that requires reason to support it, and reason is just another formal manipulation.
And that's what I really object to.

There have been states like what the political philosophers described as the state of nature, even though the societies that they were originally talking about didn't really resemble it, conditions where society itself collapsed and it became every person for themselves, where only strength counted and the ruthlessness to use that strength to exert power over others. Where, to coin a phrase, objecting that something was wrong and that you shouldn't be doing it would be met by a flash of a gun, with threats to go farther. Yet these situations are looked on as tragedies, where untold crimes are committed with impunity, and where order is eventually reestablished, whether by an internal force or an external force. After order is reestablished, there's usually a reckoning of what happened in the meantime, with some sort of justice being applied to the perpetrators of the worst crimes, and usually very harsh penalties meted out to them in order to establish once and for all that a different state of affairs now exists.

To get to this basic social stability which despite the label of 'order' can really be pretty anarchic, there has to be a standard of truth, first of all, a basic belief in some sort of social truth, and a set of morals dictating how people should be treated, which builds on the belief in a common truth. Nietzsche's philosophy says that order like this is bound to fail, because the categories that we use to build such an order are socially and historically conditioned and don't have any existence outside of what we've made them.

I for one like the idea of basic agreements between people about what exists and what doesn't exist, which in practice means something like this: someone hits my car in a minor accident, I get out to talk to them, they say that the car isn't really hurt, there's no problem, no need to call an insurance agency, none of that. Not only do they not acknowledge what they've done, but when pressed they start to question the idea that the conversation should even need to take place, completely refusing to compromise or to act as if my point of view has any validity whatsoever. At that point, things break down, and here is where a state of nature like society and our society really take different pathways. In the state of nature society the only thing available to me if they totally and completely stonewalled me would be to take some sort of physical action against them, or to get backup from friends and do some sort of mass physical action against them. In our society, on the other hand, as much as we might hate them, if something like that happens we can call the police, who are obligated to take our complaints seriously and try to look at what happened with something like an even mindset. We also have our insurance company, that in turn has resources to hire lawyers and to file a complaint with the court system, which is also obligated to take an even opinion of things, and to not take people's blanket, total, denials at face value but to instead investigate them and come up with some sort of reckoning based on what's thought to have occurred.

Both of the systems mentioned, the police system and the court system, are of course flawed, with the police system being much more flawed in my opinion than the courts (if you have enough money to hire and keep good lawyers the courts can be very evenhanded), but I don't think completely flawed. If you're a black kid in a white neighborhood, or an all white town, wearing the wrong clothes, and are accused of shoplifting it can be pretty bad. If you're a white person in that town and you have a complaint that's not political or based on something that's particularly controversial, you stand a better chance of having some sort of justice done for you by the cops. It's not that they don't know wrong from right so much as that those moral evaluations go out the window to some degree when the people involved or the activities involved are seen as threats, threats to their society over and above routine criminal matters. Of course that large black man was threatening that nicely dressed short white woman. But was that similarly dressed white man who lives two streets down really threatening her, or is there more to the story?

There has to be some sort of truth, some sort of moral compass, even if Truth isn't spelled with a capital "T" but is limited to a consensual reality that should at least address what's right and wrong, as opposed to Truth referring to the truth of existence, any sort of higher powers, the origin of the universe, etc..

So I hope that Nietzsche's evaluations, the application that he himself made of his principles in "The Genealogy of Morals" for example, aren't truthful, aren't on target, because the world that he pictures as natural is unnecessarily cruel, to the point where to deny commonly held values and reality becomes a formal exercise in itself, one that's no more true than other mechanical applications of principles to life.

I found what makes me euphoric

Or at least one of things that makes me euphoric. It's creation. Creating things, whether through writing, music, or art, produces a euphoric sensation, bracing, nice, energetic, that's unique. Producing, as opposed to consuming, creates this feeling.

Communication problems

A writer who I will not name because I don't want to compare myself to him made the statement that on the printed page his words could flow but in real life he talked like a baby. I seem to have a similar problem. I look at the white space on this form; it's comforting, I can project anything I want onto it, picturing that I'm writing to ideal readers who can understand every nuance of what I'm trying to say, who will sympathize with it, and who will approve. In real life things aren't like that, of course, and it's much easier to send something out into the ether thinking that people who come in contact with it will either hate it or love it than it is to risk the ego hurt of actually taking a chance. Of course, that's an exaggeration to some extent; it's not like I sit in my apartment all day, type on my computer, and never actually interact with folks. But still, there's this part of me, a kind of fragile ego spot, that's very cautious about exposing itself.

I can compose paragraphs, talk in complete sentences, go back and forth with the meaning of the writing, pause, contemplate, do whatever while writing on a form like this; reality, on the other hand, is clipped, right now.

Pathetic as it might seem, it's sometimes easier to pour your heart out about individual matters so personal that the writing constitutes too much information for just about anyone, than it is to go up to a stranger and say "Hi!".

Writing is a great medium of expression, it goes without saying, so obvious, but it's also a great dodge. It's a dodge that has the added benefit that if you really develop it you're able to communicate things to people that would not be accessible to them in any other way, with the possible exception of very long, in depth conversations. It can give pleasure to people also. What begins as a crutch turns into a fine point tool for the production of meaning.

And it's one o'clock and I'm very tired so I'm cutting this entry short.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So Michael Jackson is dead...

I'm curious about what brought on his heart attack; choking on little boy's testicles?


Today at a place I do work at I was taking a break reading Yukio Mishima's "Sun and Steel", specifically talking about the development of the body and writing, and a section talking about death for the body oriented person death for the word oriented person, and what were the pros and cons of both. And how to transcend those cons. Mishima's one of 20th century Japan's biggest authors, so this isn't a physical fitness book. Anyways, during this a guy came up and said, roughly "Hey! There's that song!" and turned the volume up on the radio there full blast for a rap hit that's popular right now. I just sort of looked down and sighed, somewhat defeated.

Os Mutantes to release first album in 35 years on September 8th!

Called "Haih". I'm a huge fan of the Mutants. Their album, "Live at the Barbican Theater" is on heavy rotation in my car, and has been for months. Barbican is a live recording of a performance on their 2006 tour; I also saw them live on the same tour here in Seattle. Quite amazing. I believe that the guitarist Sergio Dias was trying to out-Hendrix Hendrix, since Jimi Hendrix grew up here, and he succeeded. Proof that being able to play jazz guitar based bossa nova, even if you're playing psychedelic music, can come in handy. Search the archives of this site for the original posts about the performance.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

David McReynolds, Socialist Party, minimum wage, 2000 election, Bill Maher

How's that for a roll call of descriptive terms? In the run up to the 2000 elections Bill Maher had David McReynolds of the SP on, because McReynolds was running for President and Maher was having all of the candidates for the minor parties on his show. Matt LeBlanc of "Friends" was on there too. McReynolds was talking about how he wanted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and LeBlanc went nuts. He started sputtering about it, about people not working hard enough for $15 an hour, and the crowd started applauding McReynolds. LeBlanc then said "How can you applaud that?", McReynolds then thundered: "Because I'm RIGHT!" I always liked that. He is right, and not just from a socialist perspective, although that would be truly just in and of itself.

The thing is that the federal minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation, and so despite the little raise that it got fairly recently it's still most likely worth less now than it was almost three decades ago. Before the raise it definitely was, and I don't think that it was enough to pull it out of the hole that it was in. Which is interesting because businesses are always complaining about the minimum wage destroying their profits.

Free market economists like to talk about the market weeding out the businesses that aren't up to snuff and rewarding those that are. Well, in my opinion any business that needs to pay people the minimum wage and keep them on part time work so that they have no benefits in order to survive shouldn't survive. If you can't survive while paying your workers enough for them to actually live on you shouldn't be in business. Yet this is an argument that you never hear from the market fundamentalists.

The same thing could be said about companies overseas using prison labor and labor of the type that goes on in Indonesian sweat shops. If the only way a company can make money is by using people as slaves, it shouldn't be in business, no matter how poor the country actually is. But since the '80s there's been a shift from discussing development models that assume that decent standards of living, recognized as such on an international scale, are just naturally what should be aimed for and towards ones who assume that any sort of hardship is justified as long as it makes people marginally better off than they were before. Sort of a perverse free market Stalinism. Have to break a few eggs to get development on the road.

Anyways, the minimum wage is still below where it should be, McReynolds was right, and had the rare opportunity to demonstrate it on national television, and Matt LeBlanc of "Friends" is still hysterical for ill founded reasons.

*on edit: So it was $12 dollars an hour, the person in question was comedian Joe Rogan (who looks like Matt LeBlanc), and the thing they were clapping about was McReynolds saying "Where is the individual in corporate America?"....still, eh, for it being almost nine years ago that's pretty good. Here''s the YouTube video...which starts out with technical problems but then gets better:

A pre-emptive criticism of the Georgetown Artopia

Which is happening on Saturday in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. The event will be a combination of musical performance, performance art, dance, and some static art. I'll see what's there on Saturday, but the sense that I get from the Seattle Weekly's long series of articles about it is not a good one. To cut to the chase it seems that a lot of the performance art that's scheduled to go on is gimmicky. By gimmicky I mean it seems to have components to it that don't really seem to add much to the meaning that's going to be conveyed but instead are there solely to look cool, or to hook people in to seeing it.

I had a teacher once who was an artist in her spare time who told me a story about entering some pieces of art in a show and getting called on it by one of her instructors. The reason was that the art that was hanging in the show had interesting frames around it, and the instructor was concerned that she was trying to sell the art with the frames rather than let the art speak for itself.

This is the same feeling I get when I see descriptions of pieces like the upcoming knitting demonstration featuring huge outsized needles and an enormous ball of yarn. Or the boxing match on roller skates. People seem to be wanting to do something that's do it yourself, or hip, or cool, solely for the sake of racking up cool points, when the truth is that things that actually are all that, except maybe diy, accomplish it as side effects from being successful art pieces in their own wright.

And the myth of grungy hipster purity also gets me. This comes more from the Seattle Weekly profile of a guy who's made a kinetic sculpture that looks like a giant cam shaft with different shaped arms that come out of it that move when the shaft is turned. Interesting piece, but in defense of a hipster's street cred the author makes the statement that some artists learn their ideas about conceptual constructions through going to RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design, like Talking Heads, and some learn it from other sources......like tractor pulls and nascar, which the artist in question went to as a kid. Let me laugh at that a little bit. It's funny, really funny, because although the kid probably did go to those things when he was younger I'm fairly certain that he came in contact with all of that conceptual art book learnin' later in life, which lead him to construct the kinetic sculpture that they're talking about. What the writer seems to want to conceal is that many, many, hipster artists are really bourgeois kids from prosperous backgrounds who, though living in grungy circumstances right now, come from more elite backgrounds than most everyone else, no matter if they like and participate in Roller Derby. Besides, if a guy just made art based around a camshaft because he thought it looked cool because he'd seen Nascar as a kid, it would be totally uninteresting to me. It's the ideas that go beyond "Because it looks cool, dude" that make or break a thing. And some of those you can indeed learn from places like the Rhode Island School of Design.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How true rebels, like Frank Zappa in his early years, never lose their edge

Never lose it despite claims that our world is so much more liberated than the 1960s. Check out these lyrics from "Brown Shoes Don't Make It", and picture this being played on the radio, or maybe even released, depending on what sort of company bought it.

The whole thing is social criticism, etc.., but still:

"We see in the back
Of the city hall mind
The dream of a girl about thirteen
Off with her clothes and into a bed
Where she tickles his fancy
All night long

His wife’s attending an orchid show
She squealed for a week to get him to go
But back in the bed his teen-age queen
Is rocking and rolling and acting obscene
Baby baby...
Baby baby...

And he loves it, he loves it
It curls up his toes
She wipes his fat neck
And it lights up his nose
But he cannot be fooled
Old city hall fred
She’s nasty, she’s nasty
She digs it in bed
That’s right

Do it again, ha
And do it some more
Hey, that does it, by golly
And she’s nasty for sure
Nasty nasty nasty
Nasty nasty nasty
Only thirteen, and she knows how to nasty
She’s a dirty young mind, corrupted
Well she’s thirteen today
And I hear she gets loaded
If she were my daughter, i’d...
What would you do, frankie?
Well, if she were my daughter, i’d...
What would you do, frankie?
If she were my daughter, i’d...
What would you do, frankie?
Check this out
Smother my daughter in chocolate syrup
And strap her on again, oh baby
Smother that girl in chocolate syrup
And strap her on again
She’s my teen-age baby
She turns me on
I’d like to make her do a nasty
On the white house lawn
Smother my daughter in chocolate syrup
And boogie ’til the cows come home"

Man, I'd like to have seen "Richard III: An Arab Tragedy"

Which was a version of Shakespeare's Richard III that takes place in the contemporary Middle East and features the ascension of a political/military strongman to the place of head of state. Hopefully it will go on the road sometime.

So there's actually an actor called "Shia LaBeouf"

I wasn't sure if it was a pseudonym, like in the case of my fellow NYU dropout alumnus Lady Ga Ga, but it looks to be the legit name of a young man. The thing is that I'm very, very, certain that something extremely similar to "Shia LaBeouf" was the name of one of Frank Zappa's gag characters, a female one. A groupie. But he appears to be a teeny bopper actor, with hippy parents. Maybe there's a connection there.

*on edit: what I'm thinking of is a selection from the soundtrack to "Uncle Meat", where the main woman is talking to the person playing the monster about how their names would change if they got married, with her saying that it would be "Shia de Biff".

Tom Tomorrow cartoon about Iran

I'll try to hotlink it:

If the type is way to small to read, just click on it and it'll take you to a full version.

Particularly good is panel #5, which has this text:

"And more to the point--What could Possibly be more helpful to Iranian protesters than a strong show of support from the American Government?

(Ahmadinejad speaking to Khamenei) "Why--I did not Realize that our American friends think that it's time for hardliners such as ourselves to step aside!"

(Khamenei to Ahmadinejad) "Why did someone not tell us Sooner?"

The Death of Mr. Lazerscu, movie

I'm kind of perplexed about how exactly the people who made up the packaging classified it as a comedy. The film is about an old man with acute health problems who tries to get help, goes to a bunch of different hospitals aided by some compassionate paramedics, and finally, presumably, dies. I'm sure that it could have been told in a comedic form, with the inanity of health care systems seemingly the world over, or at least in Romania and in the United States, being the but of the joke, but there aren't obvious jokes or even anything entertaining in a comedic way after the first part of the movie. After he's sent on from the first hospital, where the doctor is extraordinarily cruel and heartless to him, with no comedic redemption present at all, it's no comedy.

As a dramatic film it's very good, and very realistic, chronicling arrogance on the part of doctors and frustration by patients over having their complaints dismissed. But it isn't a comedy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

All right Bierfeldt!

It's not often that I say things positive regarding Ron Paul folks, not because of any real antipathy to them but because I dislike the anti-environmentalism and fiscal libertarianism of the group, but this staffer has my admiration:

From RawStory:

"Steven Bierfeldt is the director of development for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty. He was carrying a cashbox with about $4700 from the sale of T-shirts and other political items at an event last March when airport officials in St. Louis, MO spotted the money and demanded to know its source. The 25 year old Bierfeldt declined to answer and set his iPhone to record as he was taken to another room for further questioning.

In the recording, a TSA officer can be heard repeatedly asking, “Why do you have this money” and Bierfeldt repeatedly responding, “I’m asking whether I’m legally required to answer that question.”

An exasperated official finally exclaims, “I’m just trying to ask some questions to figure out what all this is about so I can get you on your plane. But you want to play smartass, and I’m not going to play your fucking game.” "

He's hitting the TSA neanderthals where it hurts. I love, love, love, that what he was asking was if he was legally required to answer the question, with the presumption being that if he was he gladly would have, and that this is what pissed off the TSA agent to no end. If the agent in question had been a police officer he would be toast right now, but because the Transportation Safety Administration is a weird product of the Bush administration, basic things like Miranda warnings and at least a pretense of respect don't apply.

*on edit: thinking it over, I've decided that the comparison of TSA workers to Neanderthals was unfair; Neanderthals actually seem to have had an interesting and sophisticated culture.

Robert Anton Wilson and Maybe Logic

One of the most worthless insights out there. The central idea of this philosophy is that what we perceive to be real may not be and that our perceptions of what's reality shape what we see the world as. Stop the fucking presses! Hold up!
What we perceive may not be reality, what we think about how the world works may just be a vicious circle? No one in the history of the world has ever, ever said that biases might effect us, and no one has ever said that our belief in absolutes may be wrong.

Wait, oh, yeah, this has been a constant force in philosophy from the very start with Socrates. Read the Socratic dialogues of Plato and you'll see something resembling Maybe Logic but done in a much, much, more sophisticated way.

I don't have to buy five books by RAW that say the same goddamn thing as all the other books he wrote to understand the concept. Plato.....and John Locke.....and David Hume....right there you have radical skepticism, questioning of the weight of beliefs, and a method of applying all this to gain insight into the world.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Racism and "On the Road"

Recently finished it. I was just about to write something saying that the accusations of racism in "On the Road" are overblown when I got to the fourth part of it, the shortest part, and to a scene within thirty pages of the end. Before that, the most racist things I'd noticed were things like Kerouac living in a farm workers' camp for a month and declaring the folks he lived with to be his people, and the woman and child that he lived with to be his family, and Kerouac at one point saying that he wanted to be black. But the scene at the whorehouse in Mexico kind of swept that aside. Truth be told, it's not so much that they went to a house of prostitution as it is the timing of it within the book. Kerouac, in the pages, paragraphs, and even sentences before the start of it, praises indigenous Mexican society to the skies, talking about how the Indians in Mexico belong to one of the primordial cultures of the world, the thing that Western society once was before we became infatuated with technology and science and started to be alienated from ourselves, how this was the sort of culture that the world would go back to once the atom bomb had been dropped and Western society was no more; then, they stop in this town and ask a kid where they can get some women. Specifically, it's Kerouac, not Dean, who asks this. If it was the crazy Dean Moriarty there may have been some sort of an out to it, but it's the narrator himself. So, after buying some pot and smoking it until they're ten miles high they go to the whorehouse and have a good time. I mean, I'm not a prude, I listed Henry Miller as being a good counterculture figure, and he certainly liked women, but the juxtaposition of praising sensitivity with "Let's screw some of these people" really negates a lot of the good feeling that he built up through the 270 preceding pages.

Henry Miller, I might add, might have said the same things that Kerouac did, praising a culture then going to a house of prostitution, but he'd never put them right next to each other like that. That would have been below him. Hard to believe, because Henry Miller is really crass, knows it, and doesn't give a damn who sees it. But maybe that's a key to this, part of the duality right there. Previous to the whorehouse incident Kerouac came off comparatively squeaky clean like a boy scout in "On the Road". Sex was mentioned, but only in abstracted terms like "I made love to her". So, he's shows us a side of himself that he's concealed, and it's ugly, like maybe he should have integrated it into his consciousness and into his book in more healthy manner.

Incidentally, I first read a version of this criticism in a collection of essays titled "Crimes of the Beats", by a small ad hoc group of people known as the Unbearables. Published by Autonomedia.

Aztecs, view of things

Interesting fact is that the Aztecs viewed human bones as the seeds from which new life grew, meaning that the depictions of skeletons and such are actually fertility symbols, symbolizing death but at the same time symbolizing the potential for new life.

*on edit: on a literal level this is true, because ground up bones do make good fertilizer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Humor is a social thing

Often overlooked. It's true, though, telling jokes, or making jokes, wisecracks, etc... is a social activity, even if they're sarcastic or black humor. It doesn't matter. All jokes are designed to be to told to someone else, sometimes several someone's else. Humor is a social activity, even if the people who engage in it are putatively anti-social, or a-social. If you live on a rock some place in the middle of nowhere and you tell jokes on a blog that other people read and appreciate, you're engaged in a social activity. I don't think that people ever really tell jokes, or think up jokes just for themselves, even if they never tell them to others.

All of which brings up a point that I'll talk about in a future post, one that Andrei Codrescu made at the beginning of his theoretical writing "The Disappearance of the Outside". That point is that writers often write because they're alienated, but through writing they eventually overcome that alienation, for example through getting recognition for their writings based on alienation. The therapy eventually leads to the cessation of the circumstance that made it necessary to begin with.

Went to the Seattle Public Library for the first time in a long time

And got books from the following authors: D.H. Lawrence, Blaise Cendrars, Guillaume Apollinaire, and August Strindberg. It should be a series of good reads.

I think Derrida is full of shit, for the record.

Just to get that out there.

Counterculture lifestyles listed by hard core-ness

First, Hippy

Second, Beatnik

Third, Henry Miller

A sort of Henry Miller-esque lifestyle is what I'm getting at here

Above Henry Miller? Possibly Blaise Cendrars or one of the Paris bohemian artists from Montmartre, but it's harder to approach those levels. At least to approach the Blaise Cendrars level.

On top of that what might there be: Rimbaud and Verlaine living in Paris? Baudelaire upholstering his apartment with velvet?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A comment on section ten of Nietzsche's "The Gay Science"

The work is organized into short section that are little self contained essays. Section ten is titled "Concerning Atavisms". What Nietzsche means by that word is people who embody attitudes and who have ideas that seem to be from another time. In other words, people who are idiosyncratic and, as Nietzsche says, rare. Nietzsche is of the opinion that only very stable environments can lead to people who are idiosyncratic being able to develop themselves, because unstable environments would crush them and would pre-empt their self development as beings who chafe against society. I take environment to mean not just home life but to take in society as well. While I can see how he gets to the idea, I have to oppose it or at least say that stability is not the only condition that produces idiosyncratic and rare individuals. The diametrical opposite of stability does so as well.

While some instability in a society makes it harder for an individual to manifest ideas and attitudes that are more subtle than normal and that also don't fit in with society at large, if that same society becomes unstable enough the way opens up again for individuals to put forward Nietzsche's rare, out of season, ways of acting and of thinking. The reason for this is simple enough: once things become unstable enough people start defecting from society in general and start doing their own thing. There's no reason to believe in the greater social system and its values because enough of it has been ripped apart that it's no longer credible. In a situation like this, individuals can do an end run around society and still live their values, even though the set up is vastly more precarious on a day to day basis than the extended stability that can let eccentricity develop as well.

In fact, a lot of recent counter culture has been produced by individuals who come from family and social situations just like this, who drop out of society because society offers nothing for them and who instead form their own culture and community.

Gee, I remember when the financial market was deregulated....it was a little over ten years ago, and Lawrence Summers presided

Really good piece by Robert Scheer entitled "Obama's Money Men Finally Get It" outlines the irony of the current rehabilitation of regulation by Summers et. al.

"What irony that Summers, who as Bill Clinton's treasury secretary pushed through legislation guaranteeing "legal certainty for Swap Agreements" and banning the regulation of securitized mortgage debt, should now admit that "securitization led to an erosion of lending standards, resulting in market failure that fed the housing boom and deepened the housing bust.""


Scheer has been good in pointing out that it wasn't Reagan but Clinton who really got us into this mess, even though the Gipper set the stage. Clinton echoed Margaret Thatcher in office by saying, essentially, that there was no alternative to deregulated capitalism and that the age of big government was over, that market based reforms to things like welfare were required and that unions would have to accept marginalization in a globalized world. Now the wisdom of all of this is coming home to roost. And it only took ten years.

Stranger still, the idea that none of the potential pitfalls of deregulation and market based reforms of government programs would be mitigated by the rise of internet related businesses and information technology, is not even remotely suggested anymore. Those union members who were thrown out of their jobs because their company moved to Mexico were going to become "knowledge workers", darn it, and they would earn a salary higher than what they had gotten at their old jobs.

Such talk is missing in action. Robert Reich, Clinton's labor secretary, and a big proponent of the knowledge worker idea, has since reinvented himself as a social democrat, started The American Prospect magazine, and has quietly let all of the concepts contained in his garishly titled book "The Work of Nations" slip away into the dark, the better that nobody notice.

I'm deriving a lot of schadenfreuden pleasure from all of these turns of events because as a young radical I followed the deregulation of Citigroup, listening to Pacifica news programs dealing with it, and now, well, you know it's nice to be right.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hi there, hopefully Iran's uprising is progressing

Once the media comes back on, as it has to eventually do, we'll see what really happened. It's significant that Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Ullema, the religious lawyers and clerics who oversee Iran's society in the final equation, has come down against Ahnadinejad in the election. Maybe they're getting sick of all of the stuff he's been putting forward too, or maybe they see the writing on the wall, the writing being that the Great Satan has started to turn, has actually acknowledged its role in the overthrow of Mossadegh, wonderfully portrayed in Steven Kinzer's book "All the Shah's Men". Harder to have a hard line when your enemy is no longer threatening to annihilate you. Where all this will take us is unknown, but my hope is that it will take us to an Iran which isn't subjected to a Westernization and Capitalization program but that combines democratic traditions based on historical Islamic culture with social justice.

"Clear Eyed Conservative Realism" by Tom Tomorrow

Here. I don't think Salon likes hotlinked pictures. This Modern World presents some helpful translations of what folks actually mean, geared to what people are saying right now of course.

Let's break the stranglehold on American culture that Bush established wide open

This is something that should have been coming for a long time. Whatever else you may say about them, the Clinton years were relatively free with regards to cultural innovation and information exchange; the only thing was that for long periods of time not a lot of either happened. During the Bush years, somewhat from the start but mostly from 9/11 on, the clamp came down on U.S. culture, with vitality slowly melting away with the replacement of a free exchange of ideas with a day to day, week to week, waiting to see what Bush and conservatives would do next. Along with that came the excruciating revelations of scandal after scandal and the held breath waiting for something to come of them, and the realization after a while that nothing probably would come of them, which made the waiting around seeing what the Bush administration would do next even more disillusioning.

But now Obama is in office, and that monotonous drive to who knows where should be over, yet we're still doing it. It's like the media is waiting for a final revelation, some sort of sign in the sky to tell them what to do, while in the past the media functioned by, well, investigating stuff and reporting on stuff. Now that Ari Fleischer and company aren't spoon feeding the important news to the media they seem to be at loose ends. So in consequence we have the impoverishment of information, and of culture as a result of it, that existed during the Bush administration, but no Bush. We've contracted, but there's no reason for it anymore.

Instead of this hiding ourselves away I propose that we should break American culture wide open, destroy the stasis and essentially define what the future of the U.S.' culture will be by the promotion of our artistic, political, philosophical, cultural, products. There's lots of stuff that's been gestating under the surface during the Bush interlude, and now it's time to take it above ground.

The U.S. media is playing an end game with no end in sight. If things had gone according to plan with Bush world we'd be living in a Fascist state with the media being lovingly subservient to the rulers, but somewhere along the line things changed and people threw that sort of conservatism overboard. But the media doesn't want to admit that it was wrong, and that it was just a slave to power, shining the shoes of the Bush administration and not putting critical stories forward. It maintains the siege mentality in order to save its own skin, which has been thoroughly discredited by all of its behavior. We need to reintroduce history, we need to reintroduce a direction to the dialectic governing where the country will go next; we need to cut the Gordian knot of nothingness and reintroduce positive content to the world around us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ten Bourgeois Escapist Things you can do to stimulate your conscience

Actually title "Ten things you can do to stimulate the economy" from The Nation. The title sounds good, but what are the suggestions? Buy organic food.

" 8 As a consumer, purchase products from good companies. Buy from local businesses that build stronger communities, or from socially responsible businesses that have a smaller carbon footprint, that sell products like organic or fair- trade foods--which are healthier and better for the environment--or that maintain a better work environment for their employees. Look for social enterprises that provide products and jobs to people and communities in need. Go to Business Alliance for Local Living Economies for some examples."

And this:

" 5 If you have a financial adviser, ask her how she measures the social return on your investments. Tell her you want to make money and make a difference. If you don't get a good answer, change to a socially responsible investment professional. Click here for a listing. Download "Top 10 Questions," for more information."

This shit is ineffectual in actually changing society so that folks who are laid off, mostly working class folks, actually have a chance at a good life. Instead, it's designed to make pseudo-hippies living in places like Burlington Vermont feel good about themselves by shopping at their co-ops. While this stuff might make sense in places like that, people in Youngstown Ohio, for example, are likely to not be as sympathetic to these suggestions. Of course, steel workers all have financial advisors, and folks who are on the brink of receiving public assistance have lots of money to buy organic food.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feeling the Hate in Israel...Max Blumenthal's video of Israeli and American youth in Israel before Obama's Cairo address

You can get a link to the whole thing by scrolling down a few posts. It's one where I wrote that it nearly drove me to the brink of tears---of joy--that an American President actually said those things.

So, here we have the youth. I should say before hand that I spent a week in Vienna about, shit, it must have been six years ago now, and although it was supposedly the belly of the beast because Jorg Haider had taken up residence in the Parliament, the only racism I saw in Vienna, which is both cosmopolitan and has a large community of African street peddlers, was from a couple of Israeli youth. Encountering them while waiting for the subway one night, I finally figured out, despite not speaking Hebrew, that they were talking about the street sellers, and then one of them burst out into a classic "Step'an Fetchit" Jim Crow dance, I shit you not, complete with exaggerated movements, to illustrate his point.

"Letter from Tehran" from Salon.com

"It's becoming increasingly clear that this was a palace coup, a palace coup in the style of Peru's Fujimori. ...
In the streets, the mood is incredibly tense and eminently explosive. In Vali Asr square Saturday afternoon, under darkening skies, crowds had gathered as well as cops. It was as if each side knew that a fight had to occur but were uncertain when to start. Cops made the first move by occasionally running into the crowd with batons swinging, telling them to leave the area. People would bolt then rush back, cat and mouse, cat and mouse. They weren't just running away, though. I personally witnessed a cop fall to the ground after he swung his baton. Immediately two young men jumped on top of him and began pounding on him, then ran away. Trash cans are being set on fire, folks are busting windows, chanting "death to the dictator." The chants have not yet escalated beyond this point -- the demand is that their vote be respected.

Matters soon escalated. ..."

And now an image from kind and tolerant Israel

It seems that Israelis can get away with saying anything about Obama short of calling him a n*gger without any thought being given that they might be bigoted racists. Oh wait, a recent YouTube video shot just before Obama made his Cairo speech did in fact feature Israeli youth calling Obama a n*gger. My bad. But, of, course, because of the long tradition of Jewish suffering, none of them would be inflictors of and supporters of that same suffering, right?

And why are we sending them millions upon millions of military aid each year?

Iran: holy shit!

Have been somewhat cut off from the 'net and so didn't become aware of all that's going on until about 3:30 today. Well, looks like the right and the American media in general are going to have to rewrite the script about Iran being populated by scary Muslims who are unfathomable and evil.

* on edit: and another thing, fuck Joe Biden. The U.S. has no right to talk self-righteously about election fraud in another country, even if such fraud is very, very, likely to have occurred.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And the D-Day anniversary rolls around again, with only half the story told

Which is to say, D-Day would have been a total failure if the majority of the Third Reich's military hadn't been fighting an all out brutal war to the death with the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. D-Day worked because it hit the exposed backside of the Nazi fighting force and opened up a Western Front where they had little forces, comparatively speaking. Although the fighting on the Western Front was of course as valid as that on the Eastern, the Soviet Union lost something like a third of its total population during World War II. Which is no doubt one reason why they marched to Berlin, occupied half of Europe, and turned it into a socialist society.

Wow, this site got a boost because of my post on the fucking Slim Jim factory explosion

Not a post about the U.S. torturing, or Obama not releasing photos of said torture, which reportedly includes photos of rape, but the goddamn Slim Jim factory. The amount of hits the site got spiked on Wednesday.

*on edit: What the fuck is wrong with you people? You come here and obviously search the web en masse for stuff about a beef jerky plant exploding, but when it comes to real issues that really effect people (beyond the folks injured in the explosion) there's a collective chirping of crickets, with only the progressive media actually paying attention.

Uighurs in Bermuda: America's shame

Here. Seems like things like this are still coming. The shame of the Uighurs and Bermuda is that these are people who were picked up in Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. invasion who were not part of Al Qaeda, were not particularly anti-U.S., but who were instead separatists for their region of Xinjiang in China....and also Muslims. They posed no threat to the U.S. but were kept at Guantanamo Bay without being charged for a crime for years. Then, they were cleared for release because of all of this but were still kept prisoner. The U.S. has claimed that there isn't a country that will take them, however it was proposed that the U.S. itself take them in, a bill was passed to that effect, and then the program was defunded by people in Congress who felt that they posed security risks, even though the FBI has said that they are not. So, instead of taking them in we're releasing them to places like Bermuda, obscure island nations. Palau, which is a former Pacific colony of the U.S., seized during World War II, is another place that they'll likely end up.

False imprisonment without being charge for years, very likely that they were repeatedly tortured during those years, then cleared but still imprisoned, then proposed to be released into the U.S. only to be undercut by rednecks in Congress representing the Glenn Beck are of the political spectrum. Are we going to break their arms on their way out as a parting gift, too?

The Iranian election

Strange how scenarios like this play out: a person who's threatening to destroy your country ends his term as President, a moderate is elected, and so you and your family and friends decide to vote against the hard liner. What people do when the threat of annihilation is no longer hanging over their heads is quite amazing.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Listening to the Fugs, thinking about what to write

Because I have to just get down and do it. Once I start doing it, everything's, fine, but it's just the starting. Well, what's new around the world, in the U.S., elsewhere. Obama compromising, lets see what else. Oh, an 88 year old man shot up the Holocaust Museum in DC. The British National Party, a Fascist party in the UK, won an EU parliament seat. It looks like the same old shit in the U.S. is mysteriously persisting.

Oh, we're reaching the point of no return with pollution in the world's oceans, which will mean our eventual death if we don't clean it up soon.

Indigenous activists in Peru have been massacred protesting neo-liberal policies designed to open up their lands to development.

People are still as fucking stupid as ever.

Wilhelm Reich, in his book "The Murder of Christ" pictured people as a whole as a great sea, where things like the Russian Revolution only represented waves, with the leaders only representing the very surface of the wave; but he predicted that the great mass of people was stirring and that the change they produced would be profound. So far here in the U.S. it seems like the same all pervasive conservatism, an immobilizing conservatism, that Reich talked about is still much in effect although shaken by both the economic crisis and the multitude of scandals of the Bush administration.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The dramatic sense of life

The title of this is a takeoff from "The Tragic Sense of Life" by Unamuno. There's the concept of the eternal return, or some kind of variation on it from Nietzsche that's out there. The rough situations that we experience have been experienced by others before us and will be experienced by others after us, although the particulars change, and some situations are probably less likely than others in general. All of life's a stage and the play's the thing, and we are all players, living at once in eternity and in the present moment at the same time.The drama that we live in may be changeable, not pointless, and the play in general can be changed to reflect a better story, but on a fundamental level we can picture ourselves as all wearing particular masks and fulfilling particular roles, either chosen by us or thrust onto us, that we've happened upon. When we die someone in some time will come who resembles us in terms of character of personality, likes, dislikes, and will possibly play a similar role to what we did, and even if that doesn't happen the same relationships, some of the same stories, but not all of them, will recur and people associated with them will play their roles once again.

20 hurt in NC Slim Jim factory collapse; 40 emotionally wounded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn due to loss of source of irony.

The toll in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood has yet to be counted.

And speaking up for the pro-rape camp.....Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham

Who are threatening to shut down the Senate unless it passes their bill banning the release of further detainee abuse photos.

Because there's nothing else to talk about....Richard Evans' "The Coming of the Third Reich" leaves much to be desired

My problem with the book is that he commits the error that any academic would be canned for: in the face of examining just why people believed in the ideology of National Socialism he just throws up his hands and says that's it was just a mishmash of stuff. There's no reason why Nazism was popular as opposed to other right wing ideas, it was just an amalgamation of the most extreme elements and was popular. And there was a depression. Real historians would never settle for the answer "It just happened". Nothing 'just happens'. Yes, there was a depression, but the reasons why Nazism as an ideology was popular are subtle and takes us into an area of background that would cause undue complexity for the book.

Here's to things just happening! I guess that people who can't remember the past will be condemned to repeat it. And that Richard Evans' book will continue to be popular because on a fundamental level it doesn't make people think critically about the issues,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Cairo speech--something that will go down in history as one of the great Presidential speeches

It's hard for me to adequately respond to Obama's Cairo speech. I'm not being overdramatic when I say that it brought me to the brink of tears to actually read a President of the United States saying these things. When I calm down I'll write something about it.

My two thoughts right now is "It's over" and "Everything has changed."

Taliban get their nose out of joint about Obama's speech

I find this entertaining. According to the Taliban, Obama's non-crazy speech in Cairo about the Muslim world was ‘‘another attempt to deceive Muslims’’. Now that their friend Bush is out of here, they're sputtering to try to characterize the U.S. as engaging in a holy war against Islam.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Today I'm spending some time looking for parametrized serial music

Anyone have any suggestions? Right now I've found Henri Pousseur and am getting ahold of Olivier Messiaen.

How is culture created?

Looking at Hegel, it's a question to ask. One of Hegel's ideas is that when human beings started they started alienated from their environment and from themselves, and that through effort some of the self alienation has been overcome. One of the ways this would manifest would be through different modes of thought that are possible for human beings to interact with their world by. Modes of thought would start out, say, with people who were illiterate and who hadn't had much experience with the world beyond maybe the village that they live in, and end with people who are highly educated, have both a liberal arts education and some sort of specialized education, understand culture, art, have broad knowledge of the world. Looking at these two points of views as modes of thought, you could say that A interacts with the world in a much different way than B. Of course the ranking of the two in hierarchy is both classist and chauvanistic, but lets keep going with it for the purpose of argument.

Let's say that B is the goal that everyone should be moving towards. You could say that B has a much bigger scope of experience than A. The question then is how to get from A to B. One of the classic answers would be to say "Go back to the Greeks and Romans", but saying that just puts the question one step back. If the Greeks and Romans were cultured, were more like B, then how did they get that way? How did anyone get that way, for instance, since it seems that a lot of what is considered culture in B's case does not directly involve doing things that are related to work and to the outside world.

An answer could be that culture is created through the interaction and dialogue of people in their free time, the sorts of discussion and pooling of collective knowledge that allow connections to be made that otherwise wouldn't in areas that wouldn't normally get a lot of attention. Three people making art at the same time, discussing what they're doing, trading tips, trading thoughts on life, can create more culture than if the three were working individually. Culture is, or can be, built up by collective communication, and books are just records of collective communications and discussions that have taken place in the past. Writing and record keeping is just that, a way to keep records of what's been discussed before and people's thoughts on subjects. Schools are another recapitulation of the process of making culture: you have folks who have engaged in the fundamental dialogue to one extent or another helping people with no experience in it to understand some of what's going on.

I would hope that everyone would have a chance to sit in the circle and around the fire, either in reality or metaphorically, and share knowledge, stories, and insights, thereby adding to the store of collective knowledge and building up culture even more, even contributing to a state of things where in comparison to previous generations, future ones will be seen as possessing a different mode of thought. In fact, I'd see this right to free thinking by dialogue as being as fundamental to a person's well being as the right to the products of the work that they materially build and contribute to.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Wait, the context for Sotomayor's statement...

I've actually seen it. It's so innocuous, but the thing is that progressive news outlets have been fudging their coverage of the issue, they must be, because they've neglected to talk about it. They've mentioned that it's been taken out of context, but haven't said just what the context was. Well, here it is: Sotomayor was talking about discrimination cases and hoped that someone who had experienced racial and gender discrimination would come to a better decision when dealing with them than a white male would. I agree. This is a no-brainer, and it's the simplest thing in the world to explain.

Which makes me wonder just why progressive news outlets haven't been saying this very simple thing. Are folks just lazy?

Progressives, if anything, should be working harder than conventional journalists and writers, because we're on the outside looking in.


The number of people visiting my site tripled on Tuesday for no apparent reason. I can tell what pages get accessed over and over, and there doesn't seem to be any pattern to the particular pages people were looking at.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

AIDS test

Came up negative. The first of such tests I've had, so it possibly meant more than most. The thing that's interesting is that I'd hear comedians talking about how they didn't want to check the messages on their phones for fear that it was the AIDS testing place calling, giving them bad news, and I'd think that that was silly. I'm tougher than that, that stuff won't happen, I'll just call and it'll be over. Well....as it turns out, I ended up being tested months ago and only this week actually called to get the results.

Homosexuality, beauty, porn, society

A strange thing about American society is that gay culture and homoeroticism are the reservoirs of actual aesthetic beauty. When people talk about homoerotic pictures, movies, they're often referring to a kind of subtle sexiness, as opposed to the outright sexualness that you find in heterosexual porn; or indeed the type of frank sexual portrayals that are found in non-porn depictions of women. Possibly because gay culture is hidden still and possibly because capitalism and marketing haven't found a way to exploit it yet, there's still a sense that what's out there is closer to uncomplicated aesthetic beauty. This same sort of beauty could be applied to women and to heterosexual situations, but we've pretty much ruined our ability to honestly portray it. Everything has been subordinated to pornography, which although attractive doesn't really give a damn about beauty or sensitive portrayals. Don't get me wrong, I like porn as much as the next guy, but I don't watch it expecting to find the sort of aesthetic satisfaction that often accompanies homoerotic portrayals.

I belong, I guess, to the generation to whom porn became massively available via the internet, and so did not have the same stigma as it once had. Some people call this the post-censorship generation. I can see the benefits from total sexual liberation involving making hardcore pornography available without fuss or muss, but I can also see that after you've made this available there are still things that need work. Raising female beauty above pure fucking and pussy shots is one of them. Now, I'm sure that many makeup artists who work in porn will vigorously oppose this opinion about porn actresses, but.. A reconstruction of the idea of female beauty is needed. Gay boys are having all the fun; it should be expanded to include everyone else.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hegel, the world spirit, and the absolute ideal--about philosophy,

Hegel's philosophy has consistently been the hairiest bear for the English speaking world. Even though it's regarded as essential in continental Europe, people in the United States tend to think that Hegel is incoherent, insane, incomprehensible, and not worth their time. I don't agree.

Central to these criticisms is Hegel's concept of the Absolute Ideal, and the idea of history and of the World Spirit.

Now, to lay it out there, the Absolute Ideal is the sum of all potentials both in human culture and in the relationship of humanity to nature. The world spirit, which isn't spirit so much in a metaphysical sense as it is the sort of spirit referred to in the word "Zeitgeist", is the constant moving of humanity through the action of repeated generations towards complete and finer human self realization on both a personal and collective level; also, this self realization includes technical production, economic activity, and social structure. Through having all of these potentials realized the Absolute Ideal or substrate underlying society, humanity, parts of nature...is completely actualized and brought into true manifestation.

Partially, the realization of the Absolute Ideal is a retelling of the idea of Utopia, where Utopia was originally a play on words in Greek meaning both "good place" and "no place". The realization of all of the potentials of humanity in a social structure that allows the full collective flourishing of all of them, that uses the potentials of technology to bring about the best standard of living possible, where the economic system is set up so that it's subordinated to human needs.... all of this can be considered part of the realization of the Absolute Ideal through the completion of the work of the World Spirit through history...but, even in writing this I'm bringing up some problems.

The fundamental problem that presents itself is that my idea of what the realization of the Absolute Ideal and the fulfillment of the World Spirit, or of the historical force of humanity towards collective self improvement, is obviously very much influenced by Marxism and by Marx's interpretation of what Hegel's fulfilled ideal would mean. Add in some New Left ideas and you've pretty much gotten the gist, (geist!), of what I'm saying. In fact, what I've just said has been said many times before in different formats. Obviously, it's not the only interpretation of what said paradisical or Utopistic state would consist of.

Hegel himself was an ultra-conservative, and his idea of what the realization of the Absolute Ideal and the fulfillment of the World Spirit consisted of was something resembling the Prussian state of the late 19th century, the same state that World War I was fought against. The things that Hegel admired in Prussia were things that were in a sense proto-fascist--the union of individual and corporate power under the guidance of an overarching state. In fact, Giovanni Gentile, the court philosopher of Mussolini's fascist regime, was an ardent Hegelian and expressed his justifications of Fascism in an explicitly Hegelian tone.

But Marx stood Hegel on his head...

The contest of whose ideal of what the realization of the Absolute Ideal and the fulfillment of the World Spirit means is correct is one that adds another layer of complexity to the mix, and I'm not going to wade into those waters except to say that the bourgeois ideal can be proven to conceal meaning that would cast doubt on the intentions of those who adopt Hegel's stance without criticism.


While I don't believe that there was ever a golden age where matriarchy ruled and that was displaced by patriarchal forms of government, culture, etc...I do believe that in simpler societies there was much more of a chance that matriarchal forms of social organization could take root and gain power. This presence of matriarchal features persisted into fairly late times, to Greek and Roman times as well as of course the times of the Celtic flourishing. Goddesses were worshipped and women had more status as being images of divinity, along with men. Christianity, on the other hand, destroyed much of that culture and is probably responsible for more oppression of women than simple economics would suggest. Christianity was adopted by the Empire, and then vulgar barbarians took up its standard.

Christianity imposed a woman hating monotheism on cultures that were previously accepting, labeling women inferior and goddesses as being simply decadent perversions. The idea of the whore as a woman who showed personal power and initiative rose during this time. Eve was created from Adam's rib and was therefore meant to be his servant. Eve offered temptation to Adam, and in response God cast them both out of the garden, teaching them the lesson that Adam and man should rule over women.

Christianity shut down the temples, Christianity put women permanently in the home, Christianity made much of Europe a man's world where previously there were opportunities to advancement.

Far be it from me to suggest anything to people of other genders, but if we really want to get ourselves free we should throw the Nazarene over board and come back to pre-Christian ways of viewing society.....however, not necessarily to paganism in a theistic sense, just as a social philosophy.

Sotomayor's statement

About white men and Latino women. I wouldn't have any problem with it if it was also contextualized within class. As it is, just focussing on race and gender is a kind of retrograde nationalist chauvanism. Class it what makes critiques like this valid. Without it, there's no difference between the people advocating for Latino rights and people who are fans of White Power, something that bourgeois academics who conveniently leave class out of the equation don't fully appreciate. Racism without economics is an abstraction without a foundation, sexism without a greater awareness of the social structure around us, which is not necessarily all economic but which has been influenced by the structuring power of work, doesn't really express much either. Both fly out in the middle of nowhere without a bigger grounding, whether that be economic or an analysis of how patriarchy has existed and evolved, which goes back to the idea of Modes of Production from Marx.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The use of the phrase "White Trash" in the previous article and how it's justified

I think it's justified, and the reason I think so is that we as a nation have regular discussions about things like black youth and violent crime, about kids who dress in Starter jackets and the like that may or may not have gang significance, yet you can be the most ignorant, inbred, hillbilly backwoods cracker moron and no one will suggest that you may be a social problem. I say, if we're going to dwell on one group of people possibly being criminal and possibly being some sort of a threat to society let's open it up to all groups. Talk about the fact that it doesn't matter if you're dumb as a stump and spend most of your time trying to scam your way into doing no work and getting paid for it, that if you're white and a fervent Christian you'll get a pass while folks on the other side are called welfare cheats. Or, lets talk about the idea that our God fearing white Christian men and women for the country are supposedly the salt of the earth, the backbone to our society, even if they're functionally illiterate and believe that Saddam Hussein was the Anti-Christ and that the Rapture is imminent.

The fact is, the people who the military and the Republican Party think are the foundation of this country are the embarrassment of this country, and are an embarrassment to the United States on the world scene as well.

So....if black kids are fair game for criticism, let's open it up to the slack jawed crackers and see what we can find.

TIller and Terrorism

Raw Story has reported that a man has been arrested for shooting up an army recruiting center, and has been charged with 15 counts of terrorism for it. I wonder if the police will be so generous with Tiller's killer. Terrorism, as the U.S. government has recently defined it, is the use of force to influence government policy, and presumably the actions of other groups, social, cultural, political. By this definition Tiller's killing and much of the violent anti-abortion acts that have taken place are most definitely terrorism. Their aim is to get doctors from offering abortions by sending the message that if you do so you may be killed. It's been effective, too, in that many many rural states have no one in their boundaries who will perform an abortion.

Not only that but the anti-abortion intimidation is organized and planned. There are specific websites outlining who the doctors are who perform abortions, where they work, and where they live. The military recruiting case, by contrast, may very possibly turn out to be the work of a lone nut. Not so in the case of Tiller, probably.

While the U.S. government is scrutinizing message boards having to do with Islam the organizing of militant anti-abortion groups goes on completely unchecked. The reason is that these are God fearing rural white hicks. Not scary brown skinned people.

I mean, if you can't trust white trash who can you trust?

Bill O'Reilly may actually be somewhat responsible for the recent murder of the abortion doctor

I'd think that there was some partisanship behind the accusation if it wasn't for the details in This Article:

"ABC illustrated this with a brief November 6, 2006 clip of Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly claiming on his program, “We have incontrovertible evidence that this man is executing babies about to be born, in late term, because the woman is depressed.” (The full segment can be seen at NewsHounds.)

According to Salon’s Gabriel Winant, however, O’Reilly has gone after Tiller on 29 separate occasions between 2005 and this year, not only calling him a “baby killer” for his late-term abortions but also attacking him for not reporting the boyfriends of pregnant teenagers as rapists.


In June 2007, O’Reilly sent his stalker producer Porter Barry out to confront Tiller with charges that “they call you Tiller the baby Killer.” At first, Tiller mildly responded, “Nice day, isn’t it?” but he finally had to resort to calling 911 and reporting, “I’m being accosted by the people from O’Reilly.”

O’Reilly concluded that segment by urging that “if the state of Kansas doesn’t stop this man, then anybody who prevents that from happening has blood on their hands as the governor does right now, Governor Sebelius.”

Three days later, O’Reilly went after then-Governor Kathleen Selelius again, saying, “No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. But now so does Governor Sebelius. She is not fit to serve. Nor is any Kansas politician who supports Tiller’s business of destruction. I wouldn’t want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day.” "

This is evidence that goes more than a little beyond just disliking Bill O'Reilly because he's a lying asshole.