Monday, February 28, 2011

Funny Onion article on Wisconsin: Governor Walker Should Be Flogged For His Inability To Control His Underlings


"By any civilized measure, this should be a golden age for America. My editors inform me that the gap between rich and poor is the greatest in history, which is a comfort, as I wish the coal-smudged wretches as far from me as possible. So, too, are we in a vast recession, meaning I am allowed to appear fiscally pious and unusually virtuous as I refuse to share even a parcel of my staggering wealth with the less enriched. Best of all, the lack of spare spending-pennies among the general population has put every-one in such a foul demeanor that the good people of Georgia may soon pass a law decreeing that any woman over 13 who is not pregnant must be put to death, and about time, I say. Truly, it is a good time to sell news-papers, as people do lap up the repeated failures of their society like a dog its vomit.

But for one noxious exception: This governor of Wisconsin and his glaring impotence in constraining the state's wretched hirelings."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

....and the Seattle Times shows it's bias, like it needed to be shown again, regarding the Wisconsin solidarity protest in Olympia

How? Pretty simple. It put both sides side by side, paragraph by paragraph, while never saying that the pro-Wisconsin side was 2,000 and the anti-Wisconsin side was 500. They simply said that the pro-union crowd was "much larger", which doesn't have the same ring as "four times larger".
Here. For the 2,000 and 500 figure, here's an article from The Olympian listing the figures. If it was possible for The Olympian to get the figures, surely the Seattle Times had access to them? Also in today's Seattle PI was an article starting out "Have public workers given their fair share?" and a detailed article about how the racial demographics of Washington State have changed in the last forty years.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hitler, totalitarianism, and the need for community building in tough times

Something that usually gets missed in popular accounts of Hitler is the transformation that being in the army brought him. The aimless racist and anti-semite suddenly found order and structure in military discipline, was impressed by it, and joined other either formerly or now aimless people after the war for whom the experience of total mobilization was remembered fondly as a time when everything made sense. They formed paramilitaries, terrorized the country, fought with the Communists for power, and eventually won. People going through hard times, in this case Germany both in the Depression and in the years of austerity brought on by the Treaty of Versailles, where everything is seeming to collapse, are vulnerable to calls by groups promising to give a structure of order and stability to society.

Church, family, military, party, all can be used to push totalitarian alternatives, and people in general can want that very totalitarianism because they believe it will at least make life better or more comprehensible. The challenge, or a challenge, for progressives is how to provide structure and community in people's lives during times of hardship and stress so that they don't turn towards authoritarian and totalitarian parties and groups to find answers to their problems.

I think that the connective tissue of life, human relationships, mutual aid, and help, are torn down by economic dislocation and encouraged by industrial alienation, the alienation of a society constructed in its outward and inward form by the profit motive and designed to serve individual consumers in their individual spheres....suburbs, strip malls....big box stores. All of this, the "bowling alone" of American life, can encourage a turn towards the totalistic, towards people willing to provide an overarching and all encompassing meaning to society, that goes beyond just partial explanation and becomes an ideological force unto itself.

If people create or re-create community and mutual aid, get to know their neighbors, break down the alienation and the hardship that exists both individually and collectively, the appeal of totalistic solutions to problems can be defused.

Such defusing does not imply a centrist, non partisan, doctrine necessarily. All it implies is that whatever version or story is presented does not represent itself as "the" solution, as "the" savior to everyone's problems, in the way that the Communist movement in the first half of the 20th century often proclaimed itself. You want to know the truth? We have a manual of "Marxism-Leninism" to give you that will explain it all. That's not how it works, even if you're a Marxist, and sometimes even if you're sympathetic to parts of the Bolshevik program...

The best advertisement the Left can give for itself is to help people without giving them a hard sell about doctrine, and not having the beliefs that are held, even if they're held dearly, be regarded as immutable doctrine that's been sent down from on high.

*on edit: ignoring political partisanship in the sake of being anti-totalitarian would ignore factors that lead to economic crisis, which progressive folks generally think is because of capitalism itself.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Individual responsibility and the Tea Party seems to be a one way street

It strikes me how with the emergence of the Tea Party the Right has partially turned into what they may have before termed cry babies. I mean, part of the whole schtick of the right has been that people with no self management skills, people who are irresponsible, go crying to the government and to society for sympathy, and that's a bad, bad, thing. But now it seems that from Sarah Palin on down the fact that you're white, working class, and weren't bought a pony for Christmas one year is being used as justification for the broadest, most intense, appeal to sympathy yet.
Palin, for example, in an interview that she gave with CBS during the 2008 campaign, talked about her lack of travel experience by saying that she had to work and wasn't given a passport and money to travel by her parents after college, so her ignorance is justified. Well, that was when you graduated from college, Sarah, haven't you been living an adult life since then? Earning your own money? Couldn't you manage to save up enough to travel the world or at least be curious about it, or do you want someone else to pay for it?

What if Palin had been black, had been a black candidate had pulled that line, had said that she wasn't well traveled because she wasn't from a white home where they gave a person a passport and some money and sent them off to travel the world? The right would have pounced on it as being a false attempt of a minority to extort sympathy from people, and would have said that it was her own fault that she hadn't been successful enough to afford to travel.

But Palin, and the rest of the pity-party country music embodiments out there, want special pleading for their cause. While they accuse immigrants of being lazy and wanting to take their jobs, of being criminals and bad influences. Ever heard of meth?

Personally, I'm all for people who have been at the bottom class wise coming to consciousness of where they are and where they come from, but this is ridiculous in its level of sheer hypocrisy. White workers, particularly white workers who identify with rural parts of the country, folks we otherwise might refer to as "rednecks", let us say, think of themselves as more aggrieved than people who were brought over here in chains and forced to work plantations.

Ire and blogging, some thoughts in light of the Mother Jones an Jeff Cox

Original story is Here. I for one think that MoJo went over the top with this one, not because what the person said wasn't wrong, but because similar things are said by bloggers on both the left and right sides of the aisle every day and Mother Jones hasn't had a problem with it before. The issue as I see it is whether or not a public servant should post those opinions, but MoJo appears to go further than just criticizing that aspect of it:

"What did he mean when he tweeted: "Planned Parenthood could help themselves if the only abortions they performed were retroactive"?

In referring to President Obama, why did he use a George W. Bush line once directed at the Iraqi people: "Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country"?

Were members of the SEIU really like Hitler's Sturmabteilung, and did he stand by his headline, "Putting the 'Reich' in Robert Reich"?

We never heard back."

Give me a break. It's too late in the game to play innocent, and doing so brings up the same hypocrisy that blogs, particularly left wing blogs, started in objection to.

I suppose I can only speak for myself, but I know that one of my reasons for starting a political blog was that the mainstream media in light of 9/11 had moved in lockstep to support the President's agenda, casting a probing eye on people thought to not be patriotic enough. Before that, under Clinton, the liberal part of the media was so sanitized and concerned about image, about not rocking the boat, about giving the other side the benefit of the doubt down to the last molecule that actual critical ideas were stifled. I wanted to write something that was the opposite of all of that.

What Gaddafi is doing in Libya is wrong.....and Barack Obama should mind his own business

Because the rhetoric he's using is similar to that that Bush used to justify going to war with Iraq. Unilateral action is in fact on the table, which means the U.S. invading Libya. The tone that he's affecting implies that he, and the United States, are the cops of the world, who can decide what's acceptable and not in an active way, not just in a diplomatic way, and then enforce their force or other coercion. This is unacceptable. From CNN:

"The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable," Obama said in his strongest and most direct statements to date on the unrest in Libya. "So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop."


"He also said a range of possible U.S. actions were under consideration, including unilateral steps and efforts in concert with other nations and international groups.
"In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus," Obama said."


"Earlier Wednesday, Clinton told reporters that the Libyan government "will be held accountable" for the acts of violence taken against protesters.
"Everything will be on the table," she said in remarks at the State Department. "We will look at all the possible options" to end the violence."


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Individualism and collective society, Ur-Socialism

I would say that individualism always exists within the context of collective society, no matter how individualistic a person is. If you talk to other people, you're part of collective society. If you live in a neighborhood, you're in collective society. If you don't grow all your own food, trap your meat, make your clothes, and provide for everything else, you're in collective society. Even if you are very independent in relation to both self sufficiency and need for interaction, if you come down from the mountain every now and again to buy some supplies, guess what: you're in collective society. I don't separate out the social from the economic, in that I think that they run concurrently together, and are always found together, with complex interactions on both sides, but that's for later. In any case, being interdependent with other people is the default and almost unavoidable mode of existence. But within that interdependence there can be more or less room for individual variation.

Recognition that we're all enmeshed within collective bonds doesn't mean that individualism is over. Different societies allow for different levels and kinds of individual variation within them, some preferring tight social controls over behavior, others letting it all hang out. But in the organization of society, the idea that any of us is truly completely self made is just not the case.

What makes a person a self-made man in the United States is different than what makes a person a self made success story in East Africa. It's all about the social context that you do your self making in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Social relationships and economic relationships, notes for Ur-Socialism

The idea that we're totally independent individuals who purely subsist on our own is false. We're all enmeshed in social relationships, and economic activity, I would argue, is based on a general social relationship between people that has been adapted to economic activity. Society precedes economy in that tribal societies that don't engage in intensive economic activity still have cohesion and organization. In the move towards cultivating the soil, making goods and selling them, or gathering food and goods and selling it, these social relationships and bonds are simply extended and modified, not negated. In fact, even in subsistence hunter and gatherer economies, certain people are tasked by the society to hunt in certain places, certain people are tasked to gather, and the social relationship between the people as members of the same society, who are related to each other and who live together, is what cements the bonds between them, and what ultimately makes the tasks that they carry out work.

Individual responsibility exists in the tribe or simple village, where everyone has to do the job that they either choose or that is chosen for them, but each individual is dependent on all other individuals similarly doing their jobs for their life, and for the life of society as a whole, to function properly. This means that even though as individuals we have to contribute, we're all in it together, which encourages the idea that life can be better if individuals support each other emotionally and sometimes physically if problems occur, in order to help everyone to carry out the function that they have successfully. In this even individual responsibility is contextualized within social relationships.

Of course who gets what function, what that function consists of, and how decisions are made as a whole are integral questions, questions that can be answered in egalitarian ways or ways that are unequal. They can be answered in ways dependent on patriarchal family systems or ways that are less so. However, I believe that the underlying interdependence of people, from which complex economic activity arises, is fundamental.

Society is at the heart of the economy, even if the economy denies that society as such exists.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More live blogging from The Critique of Pure Reason

Why? Because it takes more skill to read it, understand it, and write about it than it does to flip burgers, drink beer, and watch the TV. I know, the burger flippers will talk about the nobility of their work, but nobility doesn't equal skill, which flipping burgers does not take.

I'm now into the heart of it, and one of the big things that's emerged is that our logical operations aren't actually based on pure reasoning alone but instead are dependent on synthetic judgments given a priori by our brain through our cognitive faculties. What that means is that Logic, with a big "L", is something deduced from semi-logical thought processes that are with us all the time, but that we often don't think about. It exists, but at the same time it doesn't exist in its pure form in our minds unless we're trained to explicitly think accordingly, to refine the sort of general, rough, concepts that we have into a more explicit system. This suggests, among other things, that other forms of logical systems are possible than the ones that we're familiar with, even though we can apply our logic to the world and have it work out.

In fact, if Logic is abstraction from informal qualitative and quantitative judgments, then it suggests that all analytic logic is tainted by empirical or synthetic facts, and that there's nothing really foundational to logic as a whole. It would mean that all logical relations and all thoughts in general are practical, to some extent, and that there isn't anything that's a pure, abstract, truth.

If logic is based on ways of thinking that are established by the biological endowment of the human mind and that are in fact derived from contents of thoughts that are generated internally as opposed to externally, all logic, while partially true in the world, is also relative to the human animal.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

...and Congress votes to cut all funding for PBS and NPR starting in two years

Because pro-worker Fascist sentiments never sounded so good.

The Keith Haring documentary......the further it went on, the less respect I had for him

"The Universe of Keith Haring" is the one in question. Basically, it chronicles the life of a suburban paper boy who went to the big city, cashed in on black graffiti artists, and whored himself out to the rich and famous.

Of course, I might be a little judgmental here. The big betrayal that I saw had to do with his turning his back on his early avant-garde art experience in New York City and becoming Keith Haring® the brand, famous because he did graffiti like stuff. Paling around with Andy Warhol, not making sketches before doing his work, not a lot of interest in adult questions.... Introducing his hispanic lovers to his parents as being his bodyguards....

I, quite frankly, don't buy it. I don't buy the Keith Haring as genius myth.

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Ur-Socialism teaser

To me, the basis of socialism is the idea that we have a communal identity in addition to our individual one, an identity based on being members of not just a particular community but ultimately of the human community as well, and that from there follows the idea that there are communal rights and responsibilities that everyone has.

Life is a balancing act between communal rights and responsibilities and individual ones.

.....and the U.S. gives Egypt a pile of money, just to be on the safe side

Reportedly $150 Million. Just a little 'token of friendship', right, *wink* *wink*? I'm sure that if the Egyptian people get too populist that the money that will be going over there will take the form of weapons directed against them.

Kant on what logic is possible, in distinction to Hume

I'm going through the Critique of Pure Reason, and here are some thoughts from my reading today on the section about non-transcendental analytic and dialectical logic.

Kant, not directly by name but indirectly, criticizes Hume's idea that a person can't make conclusions based on empirical evidence, except in a very tentative way based on previous generalizations, by implying that logic itself would have to be invalid for that to be the case. What we're talking about when we talk about empirical conclusions, generalizations, are logical statements about the relationship of one empirical fact to another. Kant's argument suggests that while one can't absolutely say that seeing one billiard ball hit another means that the first one caused the second one to go, neither should we dismiss the possibility that that was so. Instead, we should recognize a diversity of possible logical relationships between two facts, that are then demonstrated by experiment. And going beyond that, saying that it's difficult to generalize between two facts is not the same as saying that there isn't any potential logical connection between them, even if the actual connection is obscure and not obvious.

The difference, though, is that positive logic, that is logic that says that something is true for some reason as opposed to saying that something is not true, is always speculative and needs verification, yet that doesn't mean that we can't work with logic based on examining previous observations in order to come up with possible new connections that may work in upcoming observations.

If many logical connections between two objects are possible, then it should also be possible to combine generalizations from previous experience with possible logical directions gotten from analysis, and then test to see whether these are true or false, in order to produce new knowledge.

All of this is based on the idea that anything that is can be expressed in the form of some logical relationship to another thing, even if that relationship is very, very, complex and almost infinite.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fichte makes a wry comment on Hume in the beginning of the Wissenschaftslehre

Which is great and makes a lot of sense. Just, and finally, got a copy of the Wissenschaftslehre itself, as opposed to just the introductions and am digging into it. Fichte starts it out by making an obvious although indirect reference to Hume's skepticism and some of the problems with it. Hume's skepticism is the thing that Kant was originally arguing against, in a pretty insightful way, and Fichte appears to be taking up the standard.

Hume makes the argument that causation as such can not be proved to exist, and that just because you see one thing happen after the other, say one billiard ball hitting another one, that doesn't mean that you know that one fact caused the other to occur. According to Hume, all that a person can know objectively are generalizations based on how things tend to occur, in that billiard balls tend to move when hit. Theoretically, any number of things could happen once one billiard ball hits another. But there are problems with this, many problems regarding things like why it is that we can navigate the world as if these general ideas are true without encountering serious problems.

Fichte, however, takes a different track.

Okay, he metaphorically says, since according to Hume two facts occurring in succession to one another can't be proved to be connected in any sort of causitive way, what about one fact that persists over time? Say you're observing billiard balls on a table, you look at one billiard ball, it isn't moving, and you keep looking at it for five seconds. How do you know that the billiard ball you started looking at is the same one that you stopped looking at? After all, what your eyes have been perceiving are successions of facts, and there's no logical connection between facts. How do you prove that in that space of time your billiard ball didn't miraculously change into an orange with a billiard ball coating without you knowing it? Or, to use more modern terms, how do you know that in that same time span the billiard ball didn't transform itself into a hologram?

You could of course dissect the billiard ball to make sure that it's still a billiard ball, but that would almost be beside the point. What Fichte is getting at, and by the way this whole example is something I invented based on his ideas not something he presented in this form, is that if you take Hume's skepticism seriously not only can you not prove things like causation, you can't prove any solid facts about anything that exists in the empirical world. Not only is there no way to prove apparent regularities, there's no way to prove regularities at all, including the most basic ones like a thing persisting as itself, more or less, over time.

Because the skepticism potentially runs this deep, and yet the laws of nature aren't regularly broken in absurd ways, like billiard balls suddenly turning into oranges with billiard ball coatings while we're looking at them, our perception of how the world is has to reflect in some way the reality of it. The information that we perceive about the world that's true has to go beyond the raw empirical data that enters our senses.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How's that change going for you? Obama's 10 year budget plan cuts $100 million in Pell Grants

And $8 million next year. Pell Grants are grants, money that doesn't have to be repaid, to poor kids so that they can go to college. Res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself, as Hunter S. Thompson used to say.

Why indicting Amanda Knox's parents for libel in Italy is a good thing

Or at least evidence of a functioning system as opposed to pure authoritarianism. The reason is this: Italy and the U.S. are different in that while we have lots of free speech here, most of that speech doesn't translate out into actual change in either policy, government, or society, while in Italy it really does. The sad fact of American life is that we can have an entire parallel system of news production and gathering devoted to opposing war or opposing a President, Bush in this case, yet have the system ignore us. In Italy, as in other European countries, speech actually has the ability to effect reality much easier than here, in the form of legislation, of government officials being pressured to change their policies, in open revolts by people at large, by the toppling of governments. Which is why they take statements that appear to have little basis, like that Amanda Knox was abused by police, pretty seriously. Sure, sue them for libel.

We have the opposite situation in the U.S.: police misconduct rises, people get upset about it and protest, launch campaigns based on egregious incidents, and yet the powers that be just ignore it, or if not give it a cursory nod before getting back to business. In cases like that of the U.S., one has to ask themselves, or at least I have to ask myself, if free speech alone really matters as much as people say it does?

One of the reasons that government responds to people in negative ways is that they feel scared or threatened. Based on the amount of government response in the United States, taken in combination with the actual state of policy here, it's a fair call to say that our speech isn't taken as being a sort of utopian gift but is instead looked at as an annoyance that doesn't really change much.

In a way, Italy's act, which is the act of a democracy and not of a dictatorship, is a backhanded complement to Amanda Knox's parents, with an emphasis on the backhand.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sometimes bias isn't bias but something that can produce a unique perspective

With all the accusations of bias in the media that have been flying around since Fox New set out its shingle, increasing exponentially since Obama came into office, you'd think that simply having a background or belief system that gives you a stake in an argument is enough to condemn you.

Not quite.

You may have to put more effort into making sure the arguments are factual, but simply coming from a particular point of view doesn't mean that the arguments themselves are necessarily bad. In fact, on a lesser level, you'd expect people who have stakes in an argument to potentially have unique insights onto why exactly their side is right. It cuts both ways....coal companies have their interests at heart, folks who come from historically oppressed communities have their interests at heart, and neither one is automatically right or wrong just because of where they come from. It's the facts themselves that undermine the coal companies, for example, and just because someone is from a bad off community doesn't necessarily mean that they're really putting the best arguments possible forward.

If you own your interest and point of view out there, and don't conceal it, but also write articles or produce other media that have some factual basis, then your voice can potentially be insightful in a unique way because you're qualified to give an opinion based on your own philosophy.

A truly liberal media personality would be able to present some of the best arguments and stories from a liberal perspective, for instance, and a conservative would be able to do the same, as well as socialists. Of course there's always the concern about falsification, but there could also be good arguments that you hadn't seen before.

Often, in the media it's the combination of money and bias that's the really objectionable thing. Folks can sort out the wheat from the chaff on their own with regards to arguments, but the coal industry can buy a lot more time to have its point of view pushed on the airwaves than a lefty, liberal, or person from a poor background. Coal can fund lots and lots of propaganda to push their bias, and Rupert Murdoch can establish a whole cable channel to push his pro-business conservative values, while the Left has to make due with what can be scrambled together in donations to the Pacifica network, stations like WBAI and KPFA. Regnery Press can pour seemingly unlimited funds into whatever conservative de jour they want to push, and reliably get them into major bookstores, but lefty publishing outfits face an uphill battle not only in just trying to survive but in getting their books distributed anywhere. I don't think relative popularity is the deciding factor here, or certainly quality, since Regnery creates authors and pushes them, no matter what the actual quality of their work is.

When bias is combined with hegemony, real problems start to arise.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marx's materialism not consumer materialism

Or even economic materialism in the way it's conventionally thought of. Despite the distortions of Lenin, who appointed himself the arbiter of what Marxism was and what real socialism was, and Stalin, Marx himself was ambiguous about the relationship of his historical materialism with the values of french style materialism. Although often times sarcastic, his materialism was arrived at post-Idealism, and was of the sort later termed monistic materialism in distinction to mechanistic materialism.

Marx's ideas can be easily read not as that economics literally determines everything in society, and that there's nothing beyond the lowest material interpretation of reality, and that therefore only economic values matter, but instead as saying that the economic structure of society is the most important determiner of how society is set up, that it exerts a strong but not absolute or totalistic influence on beliefs and culture, and that though class is important human beings are more than their economic status.

There's nothing in Marx that condemns a person to having a narrow, fairly crass, worldview that excludes more subtle and less obvious concerns, to only looking at material interest. In fact, the charge that Marx encouraged economic materialism by pointing out what the working class experiences, especially in his own day, is kind of a low blow, because the point of the analysis was to help people get mobilized in order to change society so that they would not be so hemmed in by basic, material, economic constraints anymore.

An ethic that's anti-materialist in the sense of being against consumer culture and against the materialistic greed that goes along with it is completely compatible with a belief in historical materialism, that says that material economic structures existing on a society wide level have been the most decisive influence on the nature of societies and to a certain extent on how history manifests.


The sort of ideological conformity associated with some Marxism that critics occasionally talk about died with Stalin in '53 and was buried with Khruschev's Secret Speech in '56. After that, there was no force that could possibly cause Leninist Marxism, either Stalinist or otherwise, to be as ideologically cohesive as it was before. Trotskyist groups were on their own, and the up and coming Mao didn't have the same prestige.

Stalin's death and the Secret Speech paved the way for the possibility of the New Left. Once that started, Orthodox Marxism was no longer the mean bully on the block.

Strange how the Right has rebranded capitalism

Instead of saying that it's about greed and money values predominating over all of life, it's now about individual responsibility and hard effort. Excuse me, but hard effort and individual responsibility predated capitalism and will out live it. Simply trying to be an upstanding, independent, individual is not the essence of capitalism any more than being a good person is the essence of Christianity. Capitalism, to the extent that it does reward individual responsibility and hard effort, is about training those features to making money, to making lots of money. The maxim that if you do a good job the money will follow does not totally apply.

The process of commercialization ultimately destroys the same values that capitalism professes to uphold, in that short cuts to making money trump honest effort and the easy way out of the low road trumps individual responsibility. What capitalism teaches is that if what you can do can make a buck, you don't need real effort, you don't need individual responsibility, you don't need education, you don't need awareness. All those things may or may not be helpful, but the bottom line is the bottom line, and if you can meet it and exceed it without any morals so much the better. You'll be promoted in no time. Short term gain triumphs over long term stability and the common good.

So much of the disaster that is American society comes from the strangle hold that short term values put on life, a hold that is only broken with great effort, and then only temporarily. The shit that adheres to our culture prevents honest to god solutions from rising to the top, and holds us hostage to market values.

Capitalism encourages Cacocracy, the rule of the worst. There is no particular group to blame for this, however you conceive of that, just the profit motive itself. In point of fact, the worst of the worst are often from the most mainstream groups of them all.

Marketers and promoters of unregulated capitalism are often the true parasites, feasting on the bones of productive values, and on honest producers themselves. The producers should run society, not the marketers and impressarios, who should be demoted to serve the process of production itself, not to be its master.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Critique of Pure Reason: not as hard as people seem to think

Just sayin'. It's one where folks have been so afraid of it that they haven't actually looked at it. I personally think it's easier than his later works, like the Critique of Judgment, that depend on knowledge of the first Critique in their arguments.

True, very true. Sort of a straw dog, not totally, but somewhat. I think all of the early 19th century philosophy associated with the idealists is good, but the problem is that in order to understand them you already have to have a background in philosophy. The tendency is to dismiss them because a background like that is hard to come by, unless you studied lots of it in college.

I would urge folks to test themselves and try to work up to reading people like Kant, Hegel, and Fichte, although Fichte is pretty obscure sometimes. The effort pays off, and it can change the way you interpret the world in a very positive way.

Perhaps the success of Egypt will prompt other Muslim countries suffering under dictatorship too...

Overthrow them. Like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan....whoops, sorry about that last one.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The difference between when Progressives called Bush Hitler and Glenn Beck calling Obama a potential Hitler

I was thinking to myself, "Is there really a difference?", after all, both usages are somewhat offensive, even if you're cynical and jaded. I think the answer is a definite yes, and there's a pretty simple reason behind it: Progressives usually used it to suggest that Bush was either a dictator or on the way to being a dictator. There usually wasn't too much specific attachment to Hitler himself in it other than Hitler is more identifiable than Mussolini, who half the country doesn't even know. In fact, the label "Busholini" was coined by some to refer to Bush. But there wasn't any suggestion that Bush was going to set up concentration camps, even for Muslims, or carry out any sort of genocidal action. With Beck, on the other hand, it's different.

From what I've seen, and, sure, it comes somewhat from sources that are less than favorable to Glenn, Beck believes that Obama wants to be a new Stalin, and that Stalin and Hitler were interchangeable in terms of vision, only differing in victims. He actually says that Progressives want a Nazi-esque revolution, which he pins on socialist revolution. And he's definitely said that if Progressives aren't stopped that something like Mao's cultural revolution and various failed economic changes will happen, that will kill lots of people and put lots of others in prison while totally eliminating freedom etc.. etc.. etc.. and then it's all tied back to the Swastika, showing that Beck really *cough* 'is' bi-partisan.

But, hey, a Swastika is a Swastika, and saying that Obama's a Communist, wants to implement a Communist revolution that will kill lots of people, and then saying that Communism and Nazi-ism are the same thing s saying that Obama is like Hitler in a much clearer and more specific way than folks at Progressive demonstrations and protests who held up signs with Bush as Hitler for general shock value and to make a simple point.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What fixation does Glenn Beck have with the "Western" way of life?

Because throwing in the term "Western", without any obvious justification, is what white supremacists usually do. Here's a quote from Media Matters:

"What does the Young Communist League have to do with the UAW or the steelworkers? Progressive, socialist, Marxist groups, religious groups, green groups, communist, powerful unions led by communists, SEIU, AFL-CIO. Radical groups like La Raza -- what did all of these groups -- what were they all working together for?

Well, in one way or another, they want to end the Western way of life as you and I understand it. They may disagree on exactly what the new way of life will be."

So you have Communists threatening the Western way of life......and La Raza. Considering that La Raza is a hispanic organization it's pretty clear that Beck is saying that hispanics are threatening the white Western way of life in the United States. "Western" and showing a preference for "Western culture" are nice code words that show what side you're on without having to say that you're racist or that you're "pro-white". Then again, sometimes people really do talk about western civilization without these overtones. Context is everything.

If Communists, who Beck is falsely claiming run Unions, are opposing the Western way of life, what are they advocating? The Eastern way of life, possibly, which brings to mind accusations from the '50s that Communism is really a Asiatic way of organizing society that's foreign to European man.

Nice one, Glenn, and one that I'm betting is done with full consciousness.

The fallout of Tucson---enough is enough

Like many people, when the shootings in Tucson happened I at first got extremely angry, but then started to think about just what the political rhetoric that I was putting out there could be leading to. I think this sort of collective evaluation has been good, but it's apparent that Obama is using the specter of divisiveness to push a doctrine perceived as being non-divisive: pro-corporate centrism. It's unacceptable that criticisms of Obama's increasing cave in to business, advocating for free trade agreements and offering to go through regulations--regulations meant to protect the environment, workers, and consumers---and cut those deemed non-essential, can be labeled as divisive partisanship that can only have bad consequences. It's very convenient for Obama.

We need to hold Obama accountable and not let the new era of peace and love, of Republicans sitting next to Democrats in the State of the Union, blind us to what values really count.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

...and AOL buys the Huffington Post

Here, demonstrating Arianna Huffington's commitment to non-corporate, Progressive, values. What a world, what a world. First, they just suck it up when it becomes clear that Obama is criticizing them, and people like them, as being the 'professional left', now, well....AOL. They're the Borg.

The NY Times article has this great paragraph about where the future lies in terms of content for the HuffPo:

"AOL’s own news Web sites like Politics Daily and Daily Finance are likely to disappear when the deal is completed, and many of the writers who work for those sites will become Huffington Post writers, according to people with knowledge of the deal, who asked not to be identified discussing plans that are still being worked out."

Islamaphobes over there.....anti-feminists over here.

I find it funny that the same conservatives who seem so concerned with how Islam treats women, which means how women exist in societies that are mostly Muslim, are pretty damn unconcerned about how women are treated in the United States. Rush Limbaugh pontificates about Feminazis, Sarah Palin defends traditional gender roles in the form of the absurd "Mama Grizzlie" campaign, and lord knows what Glenn Beck has said on the issue, yet when it comes to the veil and to women in Muslim countries, they're all for equality. Just not abortion rights. Or sex ed. Or contraception. And an Equal Rights Amendment? Too much government interference in our lives, a liberal plot.

Once you get out of the veil, I guess it's time to go back into the kitchen.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Very good article "Ronald Reagan cared more about UFOs than AIDS" by Alex Pareene

Very true. It contains an immortal paragraph:

"If Ronald Reagan was a genuine UFO nutter or simply in thrall to a simplistic sci-fi plot makes no difference to me. But the fact remains that he spent a lot of time talking about spacemen. Spacemen killed, according to my estimates, no Americans, at all, during Reagan's presidency."


"There isn't much evidence that he devoted much time at all to even thinking about AIDS, which was killing a frankly staggering number of Americans throughout his entire presidency. Edmund Morris recalls him wondering if "the Lord brought down this plague [because] illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments," which does not sound like the statement of a man who's given the disease much thought."