Saturday, July 30, 2011

Liberation-Sociological /cooperative culture-Justice

Just some notes for later....liberation on its own is only a first step, it has to be made real by making use of that liberty for positive purposes, and is not the only statement on what makes up society. Things like "Community" or "Localism" are positive concepts that can be generated through looking at how folks actually living life interact with one another, cooperate, and build society. Justice is required as well in shaping the basic constitution of society wherein both liberation and sociological concepts like community exist in, in order for society to not have underlying contradictions that force it into a hypocritical state of affairs.

The inspirer of Breivik you haven't heard about: Bat Ye'or

Author of Eurabia, which claims that Europe is going towards a "Dhimmi" state, "Dhimmi" being the word used to denote the protected minority status of Abrahamic religions under Islam. She was, in fact, not only cited in Breivik's manifesto but cited much more often than Pamela Geller. Think Progress has a breakdown of citations Here. In fact, she appears to be the second most cited figure in his work after Robert Spencer, having nearly five times as many citations as Pamela Gellar. Loon Watch has a good intro article about her Here. Maybe some more attention needs to be paid, although she's an English author, to the second most cited source in the manifesto.

Wow, really was interested in reposting Bill Maher's "It Gets Better" video, referring to socialists, until I actually saw it

Because it's actually anti-gay. It starts out making fun of a lesbian couple who married in New York City, criticizing their physical appearance and saying that they got their hair done at Supercuts, then keeps up the general shitty take on things while the guests in the show obediently laugh at everything coming out of his mouth. It's not worth it to post a video that praises European socialism, at the end, that in turn makes light of the whole "It gets better" project and insults female homosexuals.

Here's the video in question:

Maher creates ‘It Gets Better’ video for socialists | Raw Replay

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dissatisfaction with Olympia....a personal post (and I haven't lived there in four years)

So mainly a reflection on the time that I did live there, which was between 2004 and 2007. The place seems to occupy its own alternative universe, one that it shares with Portland. My experience was that there was a lot of immaturity there, things that people did that were on a low level that would be looked down on in the East or in the Midwest....and possibly also in parts of California. It's not a question of being uptight, of "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution", but just of general attitudes. Anarchists that I knew out East would probably have been a little dismayed at their fellows in the Northwest once they met them in the flesh. However, because we're the great Northwest, where the WTO protests happened and where there are as many natural and organic products as you can find, everything that's done here seems to get a free pass by the rest of the country. No one ever seems to look at the actual substance of what transpires. This is never a good thing. I would invite people, if they can, to actually come and see places in the Northwest in the flesh. But, as we're in the far corner of the country here, that's not so easy.

Seattle avoids a lot of the pitfalls of both Olympia and, to a lesser extent, Portland because it's actual culture is less provincial and isolated. The alternative culture in Seattle would be familiar to folks who experienced alt culture elsewhere in the country. Olympia may feel more like a depressing black hole of nihilism.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Question for Glenn Beck re: the youth camp in Norway

If the Labor Party camp was like the Hitler Youth, what would you call a dramatic rally in front of a national monument featuring one speaker, framed by marble steps and the marble columns of the place? I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that Beck's rally in front of the Lincoln Monument last year had shades of Nuremberg around it.

America, and a somewhat sympathetic, but not uncritical, reflection based on Mazzini's ideas, 19th century nationalism, and Tropicalia

America is a strange place. It's a melting pot, yet retains unique features, it's cosmopolitan, but also regional. The phrase "American Values" has been so prostituted over the past nine, ten years since 9/11 that it's tempting to throw the whole idea away, to put it in the trash along with Sarah Palin's collected works. Seriously, the amount of flag waving, flags and eagles put together and shit out through plastic extruders in gaudy sculptures the past nine years has been nothing short of amazing.

Conservatives beat their chests about A-meri-cun values, while being half illiterate and the kind of people you'd expect to fuck their sisters. Folks who before 9/11 were flying the Confederate flag and complaining about Damn Easterners now became erect and submissive before the figure of New York City, declaring their love. Yet, beyond ideologues wanting to co-opt the notion of America in order to push their point of view, from that of fundamentalist Christianity to the crass and ignorant capitalism believed in by McDonald's managers, some actual underlying values and beliefs still remain.

I think that the spirit, if you'll allow the word, of what any place really is does not derive from a founding document, or from a pulpit, but is ultimately sociological. What a country is , is how the people who live there actually are, how they actually live, what they actually do. Granted, with regards to the U.S. this entails a lot of laziness, overeating, and masturbating to porn, as well as the functional illiteracy of large parts of the population but despite this, life in the U.S. transcends it's short falls . There are still positive features of life, a set of general feelings and ways of approaching things , that are more common in America, that are insightful and that characterize whatever sort of spirit or "Essence", a more or less despised word, that America actually has. The Tropicalistas of Brazil were instructive in classifying the "essence" of Brazil as being not what the populist propagandists declared it to be but what the people were actually were like and did, which in the case of the song "Tropicalia" included liking Coca-Cola, a very international product.

Mazzini wrote in The Duties of Man, a document that's both moderately liberal, moderately nationalist, and fully cosmopolitan, that God writes a new line of history with each generation of people in a country, meaning that what nations or countries are is not static, not stagnant, dynamic, with every generation adding and redefining what came before, passing it on to the next generation that does the same. The same process could be said to happen on a grand scale in the U.S. through the influx of immigrants, a feature of American life that's been here since the beginning of the country. People come from all over the world to live in the U.S., to contribute their ideas and culture to the mix, and are in turn shaped in turn by the culture of the U.S. that they found when they arrived. This specifically multi-cultural vision of the United States is particularly powerful, and unfortunately new, as in the Eisenhower '50s the pressure on all citizens and immigrants was to conform to the Anglo standard at all costs, denying ones own background.

America is dynamic, regional without too much insularity (depending on the region), with a fair amount of cosmopolitan culture built up in big cities, California, and the East Coast. To build a real America, an America as it actually is that we can be proud of, it would be necessary to tease some of what life is actually like out, in all of its diversity, its insights and warts, its compassion and indifference, and present it to folks. It means not condemning all but also not turning the project into an uncritical and stupid cheering fest that bears little relationship to what actually exists, what we would like to exist, because that would be unfaithful to the underlying reality as well.

Unfortunately, one of the things that America lacks is an awareness of how it appears compares to other countries and to other flavors of culture. We act as if we're a universal culture, like we're the only people who have ever existed, and so lack the actual distance needed to perceive one self. It's my hope that we'll get some of that self-reflection and exit the stage of continual adolescence, before our general mismanagement of our affairs causes us to realize it in a more unpleasant fashion.

Politics makes strange bedfellows: The Jerusalem Post pretty much says Breivik was right

Indeed. Here's the direct link.

So what was their response to Breivik shooting people who he considered race traitors? Condemning multi-culturalism as a failure and recommending restrictions on immigration. After a considerable amount of room sympathizing with the victims, the Jerusalem Post article ends with the following paragraphs:

"Undoubtedly, there will be those – particularly on the Left – who will extrapolate out from Breivik’s horrific act that the real danger facing contemporary Europe is rightwing extremism and that criticism of multiculturalism is nothing more than so much Islamophobia.

While it is still too early to determine definitively Breivik’s precise motives, it could very well be that the attack was more pernicious – and more widespread – than the isolated act of a lunatic. Perhaps Brievik’s inexcusable act of vicious terror should serve not only as a warning that there may be more elements on the extreme Right willing to use violence to further their goals, but also as an opportunity to seriously reevaluate policies for immigrant integration in Norway and elsewhere. While there is absolutely no justification for the sort of heinous act perpetrated this weekend in Norway, discontent with multiculturalism’s failure must not be delegitimatized or mistakenly portrayed as an opinion held by only the most extremist elements of the Right.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have both recently lamented the “failure of multiculturalism” in their respective countries.

Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Prize laureate for welfare economics from India, has noted how terribly impractical it is to believe that the coexistence of an array of cultures in close proximity will lead to peace. Without a shared cultural foundation, no meaningful communication among diverse groups is possible, Sen has argued.

Norway, a country so oriented toward promoting peace, where the Muslim population is forecast to increase from 3 percent to 6.5% of the population by 2030, should heed Sen’s incisive analysis.

The challenge for Norway in particular and for Europe as a whole, where the Muslim population is expected to account for 8% of the population by 2030 according to a Pew Research Center, is to strike the right balance. Fostering an open society untainted by xenophobia or racism should go hand in hand with protection of unique European culture and values.

Europe’s fringe right-wing extremists present a real danger to society. But Oslo’s devastating tragedy should not be allowed to be manipulated by those who would cover up the abject failure of multiculturalism [emphasis mine]."

How strange. These are precisely the sentiments that have been condemned by folks in Israel when directed against people who are Jewish in other countries. But of course, immigration to Israel is no doubt suggested as the alternative, at least these days.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tragedy in Norway....unfortunately, surprised it didn't come sooner

Because folks with the views of the shooter have been growing over in Continental Europe for quite some time. Honestly, when I first heard the news, I was half-sure that the shooter had come from the goth/industrial/pagan community that is sometimes also associated with Black Metal. As an avid follower of the goth/industrial scene I know that there are rightwingers out there trying to make inroads and convert kids who are interested into rebelling into racists. But it wasn't.

For folks following things, an author named Kevin Slaughter, who seems to have a thing for posing for large, elaborate photos of himself and posting them on his website, has a lot of posts by Breivik, including one where he praises the English Defense League and says that Norway needs its own version of it, plus a couple more organizations like it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cenk Uygur on Democracy Now!

He didn't come off as making a particularly good case for his firing being political, at least in my opinion. I like his writings, but to me his show felt too much like a blog translated out into video form. Not saying that it couldn't have been politically motivated, just that I don't think he presented convincing evidence.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On the other hand, the danger of negative populism....

In reference to the below post. It's well and good to talk about being with "the people" but the people also sometimes do things that are reactionary and counterproductive. Reactionary not just from one standpoint but from virtually any one except those of folks who are themselves conservative and reactionary. Just approving what anyone does because of who they are is a course for failure, and one that if leftists engage in will probably lead to the eventual co-optation of the groups in question by right wing forces.

An instructive example is George Valois in France, the founder of the first French Fascist party. Before he became an outright Fascist, before Fascism even existed, he was a champion of a combination of reactionary politics and syndicalism. Reportedly, Valois criticized the anarchists of his day as being lazy degenerates, and felt that real workers didn't need to associate with them , that they should oppose them and instead put forward a working class program that honored traditional values.

Just approving anything someone does without offering your own perspective will eventually lead them to eventually question why they need you at all.

Positive content for socialism

I usually don't write in an 'ex cathedra' tone, the phrase referring to things the Pope says that are considered Papal Infallibility. Most of the time, when I hear or read people speaking like that my first reaction is to say to myself "And who the fuck are you?", but this is a first draft of some ideas, and is not comprehensive, just putting some of it out there.

"I think that the positive features of socialism need to be emphasized. Folks have criticized socialism as being envy, greed, opposition, and potential tyranny without any real overall goal. To me, socialism, while emphasizing equality of condition, is also about the freeing of people to pursue self-realization on a mass scale. It's about making it possible for individuals and groups to test the outer limits of creativity through liberating them to exercise their minds and their decision making power on all levels of life, through mass democratic participation. This participation will be able to constitute a true co-creation of society. In order for this to occur, society has to become a true commonwealth where all people share in the wealth created by the whole. To become a true commonwealth a socialist revolution of some sort is needed. Measures passed by government under popular pressure can bring us closer to a revolutionary situation, and can help a great number of people, but ultimately there has to be a decisive break with the present society and the replacement of the old by the new. The division of labor has to be destroyed, the domination of society by the rich overthrown, and the control of capital vested in society as a whole as opposed to private hands. Destroying the present division of labor in society, which is the foundation of the various classes in society, entails a restructuring of work on a basic level. Through these means it will be possible to chart a new course into uncharted territory with respect to art, culture, technology, and social institutions as a whole."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why stupid yuppies kill everything

I have a great vantage point for observation, living in Seattle, home of neighborhoods filled to the brim with them. It's almost trite to say that marketing things to yuppies or having them find out about a trend leads to the demise of its original form, but it's true. The reasoning is simple: these are people who have followed the rules their whole lives, who have not done much outside of the norm, and who now find themselves with lots of money and a somewhat tepid interest in a few kinds of counter-cultural things. Or at least things that until the 2000s were more firmly associated with the counter-culture, like healthy living, buying local, and sustainability. Fashionable interest in Eastern religion figures in as well.

Now that they've discovered what other people found long ago, far before it was trendy, they have lots of cash to throw around. But they really don't have a deep understanding of or commitment to what they're interested in. Often, the real thing provokes a negative reaction in them because it's too weird or too alternative. Folks providing the services no doubt look at this and figure the cost/benefit equation out, making the calculation that if they can just tone down the alternative content some, make it blander and more palatable, then they may have access to this wonderful source .

The process of co-optation happens over and over, both in trends and in other areas. Folks like living in artistic neighborhoods until the residents who made it artistic start to disgust them, then they seek to remake it in their own image. And they have lots of cash to do it with.

They buy their way to heaven without making the core changes in their belief systems and actions that would be necessary for them to really understand what they're doing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Personally, I would replace a lot of what Mazzini calls 'Country' with 'Socialism'

But that's just me. The idea of Country with a big 'C', that you fight and die for, doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem right because nation and nationalism of any kind without a socialist base constitute bourgeois concepts that distract from the actual drama taking place in society. Once socialism wins, then as something secondary various ideas about nation and tradition are welcome, although not imposed from above by force.

Socialism isn't against nation, it's against the idea that the nation somehow constitutes a transcendental body above and beyond daily material realities.

For a perspective of what nationalism in the 19th century was when it was a progressive force, check out Mazzini

Because it wasn't originally what it became, and it didn't resemble what we now call 'nationalism' in the United States. "The Duties of Man" is a very enlightening book, available free on google books Here. Mazzini, one of the fathers of the unified Italian state, is probably the best representative of continental mid century liberalism there is. It's not classical liberalism, but it's not the liberalism of the early 20th century, which is more familiar . Instead, it's an interesting sort of melange of socialist ideas, individualist ideas, ideas relating to a general belief in Humanity, and appreciation for local culture . The latter, acting against larger political and cultural domination, is what I think nationalism was originally about.

Italy's Risorgimento or Unification is a prime example of this. Before the Risorgimento, what we now think of as Italy was parceled out into different spheres of domination, some controlled by Austria, some by France, some by the Vatican, and some belonging to miscellaneous monarchies. Nationalism meant people not being the plaything of monarchies. Things like language,culture, and history were convenient demarcators.

It was no doubt a rough process, in Italy and elsewhere, with the reality being that there isn't just one Italian language but a series of dialects that are closely related. The same can be said of Spain . Span isn't just Spanish but Catalan, Basque, Asturian, and other language and cultural groups. Nevertheless, using language and vague ideas of a common culture was a start.

I think that people can look back to the period without the taint of the later ideas relating to nationalism adhering to them, especially if they combine it with a socialist base and a general Marxist interpretation of history. Straight out materialistic historical materialism, taken in the sense of vulgar materialism, which Marx himself condemned, however, misses the point on this as it does on certain other things.

*on edit: the good part of "The Duties of Man" starts in Chapter 3: The Law. The first two chapters deal with Mazzini's frustration with socialism and with his conception of God. Although he uses the term "God" over and over, it can certainly be interpreted in a metaphorical sense, in that it's not particularly chained to a denomination of Christianity but something much more general. This too is part of what the mid 19th century presented.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Listening to Democracy Now! today on the question of, as The Nation says "Why did the Clinton Foundation fund dangerous, unhealthy trailers in Haiti?"

Listening to Democracy Now! today on the question of, as The Nation says "Why did the Clinton Foundation fund dangerous, unhealthy trailers in Haiti?"

Dr. Paul Farmer on the show gave a pretty good answer, one that could be summarized as follows: because most other people living in camps after the earthquake were living in 'homes' with tarps for walls. Trailers are a luxury in comparison. Thinking back about other reports on Haiti, Farmer's description of expert approved shelters as having a tin roof above two by fours appears itself to be more than a lot of people had. Indeed, folks in Haiti a few years ago were reduced to eating mud in order to stave off hunger. I can only imagine what having a trailer, even a trailer that turned out to have some bad construction and that could possibly have some bad side effects, meant.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

...and of course the Statue of Liberty is a Demonic Goddess...according to Rick Perry's pastor (video)

We got it from French Freemasons! Oh no!!!!!

This is what far right Protestantism is in the U.S. these days, folks whose understanding of the Bible came out of revelations received through glossolalia rather than insights from Biblical criticism. I think that the Christians who supported stricter standards on theological interpretations had it right, even if they were, you know, uptight bastards about it. Oh Reformation, what hast thou wrought? Not to say that conservative Catholics, who do have a stricter theological tradition are somehow better. The same sort of knee jerk stupidity goes on there, with the difference being that the clerical structure is not occupied by a bunch of fucking morons, although that of the Church is evil in some ways.

"Obama walks out of debt-limit talks, tells Cantor ‘don’t call my bluff’"

Showing that he has a pair.Here from Raw Story

"Obama said "I have reached the point where I say enough," and added "I've reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this," according to the Republican aide.

After leaving the debt talks, Obama said "this confirms the totality of what the American people already believe" about Washington politicians who are "too focused on positioning and political posturing," according to a Democratic official."

I'm all for putting the disturbing reality of life forward

And for piercing the veil of bourgeois consumer society, a veil that encourages people to tune off to the world around them and tune in to happy time, that pushes fantasies of wish fulfillment and vicarious living instead of returning the focus to the obvious. The brutality and negativity of life as it is actually lived can provide a great antidote to the Daydream Nation mentality that the United States has possessed for a long time, decades at this point if not more.

Great video for Laibach's "B Mashina"

Which is about the Iraq war and refugees, although Laibach themselves would typically remain mum on the subject.

Much better than the Siddharta version that the song is loosely based on, by a fellow Slovene band whose video ends up looking like a Mentos commercial.

As Santayana said, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, a saying that no doubt has resonance with Laibach via their Yugoslavian origin.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Congratulations South Sudan, on gaining independence and charting your own path

After decades of civil war, a good solution to the North/South divide existing in the European construct named 'Sudan' has been put into action.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Man, I saw the headline "Southerners lose citizenship in the North", and I was happy there for a second...

Having to do with an Al Jazeera video. Calmed down after I found out it was Sudan. Oh well...

Link to video

Strauss-Kahn's accuser.....isn't the controversy a little like the 'Slutwalk' comment?

Strauss-Kahn's accuser.....isn't the controversy a little like the 'Slutwalk' comment?

In that Strauss-Kahn's defenders are saying that despite her experience, because the accuser did some things that are socially unacceptable, in fact illegal in very minor ways, that her accusation of rape isn't credible? Does she lose her rights and her ability to accuse someone of rape because of lying to get into subsidized housing? How is it that more people aren't raising the issue of Strauss-Kahn's immense power as a factor in the sudden drop of interest in prosecutors pursuing the case?

"Palestinians report dramatic rise in attacks by Jewish settlers"

From Agence-France Press:

"Since the beginning of June, the settlers attacks escalated dramatically, especially against the land and the trees. In the first week of June, settlers burnt 350 trees Deir al-Hatab village near Nablus, 20 grape vines in Hebron and uprooted 40 grape vines in Beit Ummar village," said a statement from the government released on Wednesday."

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Interesting data on question of whether you'd rather lose your right to vote or right to bear arms

The following chart, which you can click through for a bigger version, comes from the infinitely interesting "OkTrends" blog connected to OkCupid, which serves as an unwitting repository for lots and lots of demographic data.

States with a strong preference to lose the right to vote rather than the right to bear arms include Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. I think they severely overestimate their capabilities. Quite honestly, unless these folks are familiar with guerilla warfare, when the Army or the National Guard marching into their state, say into Wyoming for instance, the overwhelming force that they'd bring with them would like destroy any hopes of using those arms to effectively resist. So in other words, it makes sense to keep that vote.

Class war, more than the top 1%

Which is what a lot of people tend to focus on. Making the people identified as being the enemy such a small number almost guarantees the irrelevance of the label. It contradicts everyday experience in that many people who are very, very rich don't actually belong to the top 1% of Americans. If you go to country clubs, to the fancy suburbs, and look around at the doctors, businessmen, other high paid professionals there, you'll see plenty of people living luxurious lifestyles who don't by any stretch of the imagination fit into the top 1% of Americans. It's easy to criticize billionaires, but in order to make the criticism fit the reality it's necessary to go into lower percentages. Incidentally, I suspect that one of the reasons lower percentages aren't gone into is that doing so could threaten to include parents of some activists as class enemies, a danger not as present with the top 1%.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Night, the night

Some days, the Night in Seattle reminds me of the analysis of Tristan and Isolde given the free lecture given before the performance of the opera in Seattle in 2010. According to the lecturer, Wagner's masterpiece about love drew heavily from Schopenhauer's philosophy positing a division between the world of the day and night. Day was the time where people faced restrictions and had to act in set roles, and Night was where people are freer to explore their true selves. Night became a type of temporary autonomous zone where romance and playful indulgence can take place, where roles are temporarily suspended, and where the Dionysian can be accepted and not frowned upon.
Seattle in a good city night feels the same way. Love and pleasure, not only carnal pleasure but the pleasure of friendly enjoyment with your fellow men and women is accepted and cultivated. It reminds me of the subject and feel of a story titled 'No Tomorrow' included in Ari Hustvedt's "The Libertine Reader", put out by Zone Books. In the story, exotic sensual and sexual enjoyment gives way to actions done as if the considerations of the day, of tomorrow, did not exist. Not out of irresponsibility, but out of pursuing your true desires as if the restrictions of the Day were not there, as if were possible to pursue the ideal realm without reality intruding. A very Tristan and Isolde like theme.

I shouldn’t have to say it, but Wagner's political opinions have little to do with Tristan and Isolde. None of them show up in the play.

Munch's "The Scream" in context

It turns out that the bridge/walkway in "The Scream" takes isn't a random place, but is a popular promenade running alongside Christiania Fjord in what is now Oslo. In act, there's another painting by Munch that shows the exact same scene populated with folks dressed up in evening wear enjoying, just enjoying a night on the town, possibly during the summer "white nights". "The Scream", then, isn't just a person screaming, but a person screaming in a fashionable place, where mainstream society enjoys itself. Obviously, the screamer is not sharing in their enjoyment, and is possibly pointing out suffering in the midst of apparent happiness.