Monday, February 17, 2014

The "Stop Snitching" posters in Capitol Hill in Seattle, a fine example of activist ethics up here

The posters are about solidarity with people indicted by grand juries for political reasons. That isn't the problem. The problem is that they've taken the slogan from a movement in Baltimore whose purpose was to intimidate people out of informing on drug dealers and gang members who were ruining their neighborhoods. These people were, literally, according to the dictionary definition of the word, 'Thugs', and the campaign, that featured "Stop Snitching" T-Shirts was about threatening those who wanted to have their neighborhoods not flooded with drugs and crime. That's what they're building on.

Solidarity accompanied by the ethics of crack dealers, in other words, or at least of those who would defend them.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The answer to the question of what a black republican in Ocala elected to the school board looks like has come...

I used to live in Ocala, and it was an unfortunate experience. The town is a racist, white bread, southern pot of ultra-Christian conservatism.....and this is an example of someone from there who, though black, is not only a Republican but an elected official. For comparison's sake, the black community of Ocala has its own newspaper, that's not widely distributed outside of it, that's more in line with the Black Panthers, a very rational response to the situation they likely find themselves in.

*on edit: if you translated out the collective IQ of Ocala into people, it would be about enough to fill a shopping mall in Seattle half way.

Capitalism and a misreading of Marx

Here in the U.S. we have a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of society. Somehow, we think that the capitalist system is natural, that it is society itself, and that there's nothing prior to it whatsoever. But the truth is that people, and their relations with each other, come before any economic system, and they form society, out of which the economic system comes. While Marx's philosophy of historical materialism has sometimes been taken to mean that historical periods and economic systems are the same thing, this is a mistake. Instead, Marx's viewpoint, expressed in the Grundrisse among others, was that the economic sphere structured human society itself, but humanity's core, what he called its species-being, was what that economic sphere was ultimately made of.

Economic systems, then, are different modalities for solving common problems that come out of the physical needs and wants of people who are living together in a society, namely how to provide for them. This, however, is ultimately a secondary thing, the primary thing being both ones own self determination and ones non-economic relations with other people.

Capitalism, then, as well as socialism, or feudalism, is ultimately just one means to that end, and can be replaced. In fact, what Marx was advocating was for people as a whole, together as a society, to take back control of how the economic factors of life structure their society, and instead of having people work for the greed of others, have the economy work for the people as a whole, in society.

The rights of society come first, and are not invalidated by the economic system that that society molds itself into. Universal health care, social programs, subsidies for the arts, all of these could come under the heading of society as a whole taking care of itself. The economic niceties of this are either secondary or not important, because the human case is more compelling.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Protesting the Microsoft Bus, missing the point, just like Decolonize

The story about it is Here at Capitol Hill Seattle.  It's missing the point because it's based on similar protests against the Google Bus in San Francisco, but unlike the Google Bus, which uses actual public bus stops and has become a nuisance to regular people, the Microsoft Bus goes directly to and from individual people's houses. It doesn't inconvenience anyone, except possibly adding to traffic. The protesters are most likely just imitating what's going on in San Francisco, because about as long as I've lived in Seattle, which is six and a half years at this point, there have been Microsoft Buses, and folks haven't really cared about them. Then, the Google Bus protests happen in San Francisco and a few weeks later guess what starts happening in Seattle?

But the San Francisco protests are about both gentrification and the use of public facilities, which the people up here don't seem to get, much like they misunderstood the reasoning behind Decolonize. The Decolonize movement in Occupy was started in the Southwest, in Arizona, where the issue of the state being colonized by the United States and by Anglo culture is a very real issue. As folks have said, a state called "New Mexico", for instance, has quite a connection to, you know, Mexico. That reasoning behind Decolonize works in the Southwest, it works in Texas, and it works in California, but the Northwest was never part of Mexico. It was always either part of Britain or unclaimed, meaning that the Decolonize part had to trade on just the basic colonization of the Americas, which is a slightly different issue.

People should come up with their own, local specific, protests instead of stealing them, somewhat uncreatively, from other places.

*on edit: and, yeah, sure, gentrification is a huge issue in Capitol Hill, which is being turned into a condo-land that will soon resemble Santa Monica in LA: a hip part of town that is now out of reach of most of the original hip inhabitants, but, like I said....if you can't at least make up your own forms of protest, where are you coming from?

*on edit again: what I mean by "where are you coming from?" is that I question the honesty and sincerity, and intelligence, of people who just rip off other people's protests without really understanding all of what they're doing.

*on edit again: I use "on edit" to add something to the post without changing the base content, so that you can see what was originally posted.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

So with Woody Allen, let me get this straight:

Because he left his wife to commit incest with his adopted daughter, his wife therefore turned her daughter against him by having her make false accusations that he sexually abused her? I mean, shit, whenever someone's pissed off about their husband committing incest with one of their daughters they always manufacture a story about another one being molested. 

Much racism there Dilbert? India cartoon.

The text of the Dilbert cartoon is this: first panel "I can never return to India because the Supreme Court made it Illegal to be gay there", second panel "Does it worry you that they have a nuclear arsenal and the scientific knowledge of inebriated astrologists?", third panel Dilbert "They might nuke the Taj Mahal", Asok "I know! That place is so gay, right?". Asok is an intern from India who has been declared gay in response to India's law on homosexuality.

Wow, inebriated astrologers who might nuke the Taj-Mahal.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Cognitive dissonance with the constitution: Bank of the United States

It's funny how so many people out there against the Federal Reserve system talk about how it's supposedly unconstitutional...considering that Alexander Hamilton, one of the architects of the Constitution and the power behind the throne during George Washington's administrations, was very much for setting up a national bank.  I'm not a fan of the Federal Reserve system either, but my criticism of it is that it's a public-private partnership rather than a public-public partnership.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

I applaud "The Nation" 's Woody Allen coverage

Specifically, Jessica Valenti's article Choosing Comfort Over Truth: What it Means to Defend Woody Allen.

It's surprising to me how many progressive outlets, including ye olde, have been on the defensive about Woody Allen, giving him supporting coverage that they'd deny to anyone outside of Progressive-dom. What tests your mettle isn't if you can condemn people who are your enemies for doing something terrible, that's easy. What tests it is if you can condemn your friends for doing the same thing, and that is something that they've failed horribly at, particularly, which appears to be edited according to whatever whims whoever's in charge has on that particular day.

How different it is, the coverage of Roman Polanski and that of Woody Allen. Polanski is someone who is relatively easy to condemn. He makes horror movies, and is probably a tortured soul in his own right, having lived through the Warsaw Ghetto, with most of his family murdered. He's not a comedian, isn't running for Ms. America, so to speak, and so it's easier to look at things objectively....because he himself examines the hard aspects of life in his films.  Woody Allen, on the other hand, has no parallel issues of that sort.

He's a comedian, makes movies that are entertaining. He's funny, wants to be endearing, and is self-deprecating. Which is why, especially, people should hold him to exactly the same standard that they would hold other people. If being personable, and on your side politically, is enough to get a pass, then justice is undermined just as sure as it would be if someone got off because they were rich, or well connected.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Dark Ages in the United States

This is, well, I'm not sure if it's original since I'm building on others, but one perspective on the Renaissance and on its development was that it was a fusion of the rediscovery of southern classicism with a new sense of introspection from the north. South and north here refer to Italy, and Greece, on the one hand, and the domains of the Holy Roman Empire on the other. Northern Italy was key because it was in fact a border land between the two realms.

But the Holy Roman Empire was the remnant of the Dark Ages, of the barbarian hordes that invaded Italy and destroyed the Roman Empire, ending classical learning and putting back culture in Europe for hundreds of years. However, after being nice and medieval for a long period of time, there was a movement in art, and possibly in literature, to examining the everyday events of life in a naturalistic way, with Dutch and Flemish artists paving the way. This may have been made possible by the very barbarian sense of freedom that the people there still embodied.

However, the Reformation, as opposed to the Renaissance, shows what could happen if that sense of naturalism isn't tempered with an awareness of the classical past and of the range of scholarship and insight into the human condition that it brings. Martin Luther, and indeed most of the more Germanic reformers, had an awareness of the natural progress of life, but he yoked it to a regressive Christianity that instead of providing liberation, like the Renaissance in Italy did, brought people even more into a repressive denial of life than they had been in before. Fueled by religious fanaticism, the naturalism of the Germans became an obsessive examination of personal faith, salvation, and sin.

It seems that we in the U.S. have certainly got the Naturalism, via Protestant Christianity, but we are woefully unaware of the realms of human life that the classical heritage deals with, leading certain parts of the country to resemble Dark Ages feudal islands of backwardness rather than liberated, Renaissance, city states.