Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Alan's Mea Non-Culpa

First off, anyone in America can become President...except Mitt Romney. Yet he is out there stumping for The Party and one wonders how long before we see George Bush Jr and Tony Blair working the circuit. Which is a perfect segue to another George, George Harrison, who wrote: with every mistake, we must surely be learning". I believe he was being overly optimistic- what would even hint at that proposition? Not Alan Greenspan's new book about the sublime beauty of free market capitalism. As a mediocre intellect and ideological follower of Ayn Rand, Alan is only capable of boiler plate pablum and his book will take its rightful place between Glen Beck's Life Story and the work of Ann Coulter. (Who buys these?) Stephen Holms works it over pretty good in the latest London Review but with the death of irony, monkeys like Greenspan should give us pause. Speaking of The Market, I don't think it is going to like Obama's new EPA rules over carbon emissions from coal fired power plants. Doesn't he understand that poisoning ourselves and the planet crates jobs and growth and Our Way of Life? The Death Wish is what keeps this whole system in motion and the people of Appalachia know that better than anyone.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Missing Burroughs

In the London Review of Books, there is a review of the new Barry Miles biography of William Burroughs by Gary Indiana. I would love to think that is his real name and believe Burroughs would also appreciate it. Home of The Music Man! Anyway... Indiana opines that Burroughs "lived in the future from an early age" and so anticipated the "staccato, associative patterns produced by the internet,TV channel flipping and 'screen reality'; considered unreadable when they were published, the trilogy books can be followed today almost as effortlessly as a novel by Hemingway." The fact we can now read Burroughs says something profound about our cultural moment. Again, Indiana: "The radically anti-authoritarian, left-libertarian notions he espoused probably look like irresponsible nihilism to many of those ensconsed at their computer screens during most of their waking life, or bedazzled by mobiles and ubiquitous electronic signage ina society overloaded with information yet drained of authentic experience. It now seems almost logical that the insight Burroughs offers into the brain-scrambling technical synaesthesia spreading everywhere would be exactly what brands him a crackpot..." The logic he found so grotesque is now normalized, Exterminators run rampant, and we cannot even mock the practitioners anymore, now that irony has vaporized. I am reminded of another lost, drug-addled hero who foresaw ( and foretold) the future: Hunter S Thompson. He too had a prescient relationship with guns and would have had a thing or two to say about the primary season.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Religion, Capitalism and Democracy

The election of Narenda Modi of the BJP is the logical expression of the global neoliberal economic project. As inequality, climate chaos and conflict over scarce resources increases the pressure on the fragile fabric of global society, we see xenophobia and religious/ethnic sectarianism spread exponentially. The burgeoning newly educated class of India, mostly young and ambitious, came out in record numbers to support the pro-corporate Hindu nationalist who promises de-regulation and growth. Their "education" has included indoctrination into the virtues of capitalism, the glories of Krishna and resentment at The Other, in this case Muslims, for holding back their personal prosperity and material success. They dream of "mountains and mountains of things" ,as the Tracy Chapman song goes. In the Ukraine we see fierce sectarianism based on language and culture. A xenophobic right-wing is in ascendency as it exploits economic tensions and the collapse of basic institutions. We could say much the same dynamic is playing out in Syria, Egypt and other countries caught in the backlash of the so-called Arab Spring. Here Islamic fundamentalism thrives and spreads south to Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen and beyond, far faster than the USA and Europe can build drone bases. Extreme drought brought upon by anthropogenic climate change is changing the landscape and social relations on an unprecedented scale. The US is not far behind. Religious fundamentalism and scapegoating of The Other are growing with the uncertainty and fear. Expect to see heightened rhetoric about threats to "our way of life" in the election season as people continue to believe they can elect their way to security. I keep a picture on my office wall of the ecstatic youth celebrating after the election of Barack Obama and imagine the youth of India also continue to believe in Hope and Change through capitalist "democracy".

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Stand Your Ground

In this NY Times article we learn a little about a tragedy that hits very close to home. The young foreign exchange student who was shot and killed was a soccer player on the team my best friend ( and co-blogger) teaches. As in every situation, we have a continuim within Montana "gun culture" from the legislator "with a gun in her closet" to the ever-growing number of whack-jobs with full on arsenals in their bunkers. I have my own hunting rifles and shotguns so I can harvest game. My neighbors have stacks of assault rifles so they can withstand " the coming firestorm" and "coming collapse" (language from survivalist website suvivalblog.com) In a post-rational America, none of the crazed logics around the term "collapse" would surprise anyone; Christian millenialism, The New World Order, the rise of Cliven Bundy's negroes or the NRA Tea Party loathing of Big government. And we don't yet know what kind of "ideological rubble" the shooter was buried under, but we are going to learn more about his own arsenal and paranoid delusions. The point is, as the Patriots and weapons manufacturers arm everyone to the teeth to make themselves safer and the world safe for democracy, we can expect chaos to reign. Chris Hedges refers to these glassy eyed believers as "neoliberalisms shock troops" because private property, the foundation of capitalism, is the God they worship above life or any nebulous "pursuit of happiness". Perhaps the model Wayne La Pierre and Sarah Palin would most like to emulate is the Congo where every citizen is armed and everyone Stands Their Ground. Those people know how to keep and bear arms, by God, and the Castle Doctrine is the highest ( perhaps only) law of the land ( or jungle).

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Another Problem Solved

Yesterday was the Rally for Local Climate Solutions, deemed a huge success by the organizers. Maybe a hundred people showed up ( there was free beer) to listen to experts talk about the effects of climate change on the forest ecology. Then some people sold them solar panels and some revolutionary alcohol based fuel. Then they signed the petition to the EPA and went home, having put yet another dire issue to rest. I was actually on the organizing committee because they said I could do a "break-out session" on direct action but they ran out of time and failed to mention the session. Other solutions were: get better politicians who would make better policy and change the government so it makes better policy, oh, and also "end corporate rule". Then a guy told me I should see this great movie called Thrive and when I told him it was whack he said people just needed "common sense" and should "meet in the middle" to find common ground. Then I heard about all the local Democrats I should vote for in the upcoming election. So all and all, exactly what you would expect, although you don't usually get free beer. These liberals have an extraordinary capacity for endlessly repeating the same useless, banal tactics while expecting different results. After all these years I can still be stunned by their cluelessness.

Monday, April 21, 2014

More Farmer Rants

It's not that I'm obsessed with farmers but, think about it, all those farmers out there just farming away and who really pays them any mind? They totally fly under the radar! And then think about this Farm Bill; who really gets the Farm Bill? How come fuckin farmers get their own Bill? All those price supports and complex formulas for adjustments and powdered milk and "spring wheat" and shit, or manure, as they say on the farm. ( moo poo) What up? And when it is all said and done, and all the cows have gone back to the barn, do you know what it finally comes down to? Corn. That's right, EVERYTHING hinges on corn. Corn pone, corn on the cob, corn syrup, corn rows. That's all I've got for now but it's far from the last word on farmers. Believe me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

States Rights

So I'm trying to picture some guy in Connecticut reading about this Nevada standoff and going "armed militias" ? WTF? Isn't "armed militias" something they have in Beirut, in Syria, or the Ukraine? Oh yeah, no, we got armed militias out here ( I live in Montana) and they act with impunity. They got the NRA and most of the legislators rooting for them. Remember Oklahoma City and the Nichols brothers? They would win if they ran for county commission where I live. These people live on high alert and they are networked. A few tweets and a couple calls and you got firepower backing you up. Lots of em have bunkers full of food and ammunition and they are READY for whatever comes. Now imagine that some left wingers converged "in the hundreds", armed and threatening law enforcement officials. Think any of them would be alive? Of course it is far from over, as much as the "Patriots" might be celebrating. They all got their picture taken, they can all expect an IRS audit and no-fly lists and a hundred different ways to make your life miserable. Still, I'm kind of jealous. Lefties would take two months to build consensus over what their signs should say. And now it makes more sense how polite and appreciative the police were on Sunday at our coal train protest. Seven people getting arrested for non-violent civil disobedience is a walk in the park compared to confronting a couple hundred well armed cowboys, many of whom were probably trained by the Marines.