Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Modernity

In a long essay posted over at Headwaters I have outlined what I believe is the underlying conflict of the 21st century. Ambitious? Damn right. Once again Ive lost a wonderful opportunity to keep quiet.Basically, I do see a religious war between Christianity and Islam not so much as it is expressed in the "war on terror" but in the overall cultural clash between what paradoxicaly are very similar world views. It is actually a "war on modernity" fought not only between societies but within them as well by forces who may actually have more in common than in opposition. The external clash is actually minor and incidental in relation to the internal conflicts and contradictions. Ive tried to think dialectically. The historical irony is tragic.

I have also been investigating "free-market anti-capitalism" or mutualism or individualist libertarianism. The scholarly analysis of political-economy is intimidating to a lay person but I want to find,as part of my project of finding common ground and forming coalitions, where we can can agree and where we can agree to disagree. Im all about anti-capitalism ,Im just not sure about the anti-collectivist or individualist organizing principle. or theory of labor. or program for effecting change. or its relationship to historical development or class analysis. or real possibility of an existing "free market". I need to learn more because anarchists will need to be part of this project.

I finally made it through The Age of Extremes by Hobsbawm, a tough slog but worthwhile. A review is forthcoming but I think my wife would rather I go shopping.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Good Place to Begin

Always wondering what is to be done? I could say Start With the Lawyers...but no, let's start by subsidizing golf (my libertarian friends arent going to like this). The bastion of ruling class elitism (my wife, a proletarians prole, says she didnt know anyone who played the evil game till she got to college) needs a huge dose of egalitarianism and it seems to me if the green fees at Pebble Beach were determined on a sliding scale, if "private clubs" were relegated to the dustbin of history and Joe Sixpack and his mates could "play through" the Jack Welch foursome with a breezy gooday it would be a step towards a real democracy. Checkered pants and sporty caps would be optional. I would favor banning the game entirely, the rich use the time to conspire (Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for a merriment and diversion but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.") but it's good exercise, the open space has value and we could keep our eye on them.

I still can't get used to their audacious capacity to lie, to watch Richard Perle on CNN the other night look right into the camera, half-lidded eyes, smirking grin and say "certain illiterates believe the war was about oil. If the US want's oil, it simply buys it on the market." My jaw drops but the host doesn't gag or miss a beat. Like Mc Namara or Wolfowitz, he realizes that being an architect of an obscenely miscalculated, ineptly executed and tragically flawed policy, along with this ability to laugh as you lie, is the key to obtaining an exalted position at a global financial institution.

But if you admire this altruistic, humanitarian project of liberating the middle east why are you not upset over the oppression and starvation in Sudan, the genocide in Darfur,the pandemics and food insecurity that plague the African continent? Because Africa is the ultimate Welfare Queen, we send them all that money and they blow it on drugs and cadillacs. Reagan is not alive to explain it but his followers are, see, aid just enables them, makes them dependent, actually HURTS them and anyway, it's all part of Gods Plan. Helping Iraqis won't hurt them because they can pay us back with the oil we aren't there to get access to. But Sudan has oil and the Chinese have contracts. Maybe we can help them.

"The root of the Spectacle is the specialization of power.It is hierarchical societies ambassador to itself, delivering it's official messages at a court where no one else is allowed to speak." Debord

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Around here we participate in Buy Nothing Day, something I believe was started over at Adbusters as an antidote to the consumption mania of this bizarre festival of capitalism on meth which takes place the day after Thanksgiving. So much room for the culture critique it's almost not sporting, the gorging on food ,football and credit financing, I will leave it to better observers than I. American Indians, native peoples, indigenous, whatever the proper term, must still be stupefied that such a race landed on their doorstep, could even exist ,much less conquer and thrive. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Be afraid , be very afraid.This has been the prime directive for as long as I have been alive. I know Iv'e harped on the subject of fear, it's so third millenium, but are THEY really suggesting we live our lives worried about losing our freedom to Islamofascists? Am I really supposed to be worried turbanned terrorists are going to storm the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana and end our way of life, keep us from deer hunting and driving pickups and drinking Bud light? WillI find myself kneeling towards the East twice a day? I wasn't particularly afraid of commies and I refuse to be afraid of these morons. They blow up buildings or busses, we hunt them down and kill them. There are of course, some very real things to be afraid of, even terrified I suppose. They could start a process of annihilation,kill for the sake of killing,it has certainly been done before. But my fear can have no effect on that and I really don't believe them to be mad men either, in that purely evil sense,at least not collectively. Fear diminishes hope and thats no way to live.And it's such an effective tool for social control, it's force worries me more than religious fanaticism,political extremism or madness and it's one thing I can do something about.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Socialism for the 21st Century

I want to start a thread here that can be a forum for examining what possibilities exist in the now, that is, our current collective spatial/ temporal space, for creating a more equitable and just global economic structure. I especially want my comrades at CAJA to participate, as well as any other interested persons out there in cyber space, so that we can get a diverse and wide ranging array of opinions within these parameters (sorry, I just don’t have time to argue with reformers): We reject the global structure of advanced capitalism as a predatory, unjust and unsustainable way to produce, allocate and distribute services and goods. We reject any authoritarian, totalitarian or class- based system which enforces hierarchical or bureaucratic State power over that of the People. My hope is that the ideas developed here can form the basis for a community wide discussion format such as a conference or symposium, eventually finding expression as a much needed opposition movement and/or alternative political entity of some kind. Within those sideboards, anything goes.

It is my belief that a “socialism for the 21st century” will incorporate and be a synthesis of, the revolutionary traditions which have preceded us, namely Marxism, anarchism, syndicalism, communism et al..and that to the degree that we who adhere to these theoretical systems can explain our arguments and reasoning while avoiding sectarianism, dogma, doctrine and over the top polemics we can contribute to this necessary, I believe critical, discussion. Of course one needn’t adhere to one of these “isms” to participate. Please provide sources or references to help others locate relevant information.

Current anti-capitalist discourse is centered on two main areas, which are at once inter-connected, and approached somewhat differently by different interest groups. These are the issues around what is termed “globalism” or “globalization”, which tend to be centered in the economic realm and those of human –rights, for which the language of democracy and law tend to dominate. Because the United States is at once the worlds largest economy, the center of global capital expansion, the most powerful military apparatus and hence the most entrenched force for global exploitation our task as subjects of this hegemon is to explore the opportunities available to us within this limited space in order to effect change.

How are the social movements in the global South, those of the indigenous peoples, of land reform and the re-distribution of wealth, those rejecting privatization and other neo-liberal economic programs relevant to our experience here? How do the global economic institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization affect development, trade and self-determination? What are the contradictions that lead to crisis and openings for radical change and what structures can replace the current model and eliminate those contradictions? Is trade unionism still a viable movement? Why is there such a propensity for anti-capitalists to splinter off into groups with seemingly minor theoretical differences? What new divisions of labor, forms of production and class relations need to be explored and defined? What role does culture play in this project? Let’s get down to it.

Fear and Terror

From Jill Lepores' new book, New York Burning:Liberty ,Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan ; "In March and April of 1741, a series of ten fires erupted in Lower Manhattan...Slaves, together with some down trodden whites, were found to have conspired to burn down the whole city and murder the whole white population, ..the slaves were to become the Masters. The defendants had no representation ...confessions were extracted at the stake.Arrests were made:152 blacks and twenty whites.Thirty black men were hanged or burned at the stake; two white men and two white women were hanged.The bodies of two supposed ringleaders,one black and one white, were gibbeted,the corpses left to rot for weeks on public display. One resident called the episode the 'Bonfire of the Negroes'."

They took their "War on Terror" pretty seriously back then,and their "Patriot Act"( there were revolutionary rumblings going on as well), as does Cheney and some fervent right- wing bloggers (Tran- Sient, Goesh et al). "The decorative wrapping on the conspiracy theory was that the whole uprising..was a papist plot with blacks acting as the Popes minions." Are there other examples in the historical record of over zealous prosecution by an overly empowered authority, using fear to inspire state terror? Only about a hundred but these lessons are lost on the wingers who are supposed to be such brave defenders of individual liberty.I am terrified that an innocent (myself ,for instance) could be caught up in a sweep, sent to a classified ,undisclosed location, held indefinately and tortured. If this does not worry you ,you are either naive, have lost your moral bearings or both.

Then there is the archetypal, sub-conscious terror of Blacks On The Rampage. Compare the American response to uprisings in the ghetto ( after Rodney Kings beating where eighty blacks were killed and hundreds wounded, the recent looting in New Orleans,etc.) to that of the French. We Americans are obviously less confident about the durability and strength of the threads holding the fabric of our society together and collectivly in denial about the roots of extreme disenfanchisement.

Busted

Have you ever been caught in a lie? There are a few strategies people typically employ to extricate themselves , the obfuscation and the qualified admission being the most popular. Obfuscation as in “I know I said I was going to Bobs’ house but after we got there we decided to go to Bills house” or the word parsing obfuscation as in “Well we were ‘going’ to Bobs house but we turned off in a different direction”. The qualified admission is also effective in deflecting punishment as in “Im guilty of not ending up at Bob’s but blah blah”

Both these strategies were attempted by our President in his “back at you” speech but the problem with this approach, as all of us at one time or another have discovered, is that you must continue a course of deceit to cover for the initial deceit ,in fact digging your hole ever deeper, and further antagonizing those who simply want you to come clean. Calling dissenters unpatriotic and claiming they aid and abet the enemy throws more fuel on the fire and claiming your critics are attempting” to re-write history” only invites a more thorough examination of your clearly documented statements, hurting rather than helping your chance for extrication. Notice how Bush goes back repeatedly to the words “lie” and “manipulation”, two words open to very broad interpretation, reminding me of Clintons’ famous “it depends on what the definition of is is”. Notice also how bringing up the complicity of Democrats is presented as a defense as in “they did it to”.Didn’t work in Junior High and certainly won’t work now. Even Reagan admitted he misspoke but except for the true believers, Bush continues to alienate himself.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wonker

Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin give us ,perhaps, a more tempered assesment of possible weakness in US hegemonic power,opposing themselves to Arrighis' more optimistic position. To be fair, Arrighi described current trends such as the US facing the possibility of yet another failed war , record trade deficits and US debt becoming more and more foriegn owned as signs of an "unravelling" and not necessarily the demise of the empire, but certain terms he used such as "terminal crisis" may have been premature trumpet blowing.Panitch/Gindin do a good job (Dissent Sept./ Oct.) pointing out the structures which facilitate the resilience and capacity for adaptation that characterizes advanced capitalism and which have bedeviled Marxist theorists for some time. Negri and Hardt, David Harvey and others have tried to locate this "unique type of imperial political rule"by describing its "seamless accumulation",international capital inter-penetration where America became the global manager, and financialization as a way to manage the crisis of over-accumulation. All fascinating to a wonk. Was it just coincidence that just as Bush passed his tax cuts, threatening to sharply raise interest rates and throw the world into a severe recession, the Bank ofJapan pumped 35 trillion yens' worth of liquidity into the world system, buying US treasury bonds and in essence financing the private sector capital flight out of the dollar. This drove the strong global expansion of 2003-04 ."Was the BOJ simply serving as a branch of the Fed, as the Federal Reserve Bank of Tokyo, if you will?" Whether implicit co-operation or explicit coordination, it works.

This is not to say crisis has dissapeared. The legitamacy of US imperialism rests to some degree on 'liberal-democratic ideals,juricical reforms and political institutions'. The credibilty American democracy lent to the US state abroad helped legitimize the claim that imperialist military interventions were about human rights and freedom. This legitimacy may be ending as the world gets more and more glimpses into the "underside " of American society and it's hollow democratic structures. Neoliberalism could also undermine the project, as States find their soveriegnty encroached upon. Poor countries are tired of imperialism in any form and developed countries find mobilizing electoral support more and more difficult. It is a "complex political task.. developing such cracks in the imperial carapace into strategic openings". And you heard it here first.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

MoreTangled Web

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created in 1983 by the Reagan administration as a new instrument of Cold War U.S. foreign policy that aimed to roll back the Soviet Union and extend U.S. influence. It was to achieve this by promoting “free market democracies” allied with the United States, which would be driven by what Ronald Reagan called “the magic of the marketplace” and managed by political systems similar to that of the United States and where the dominant political parties were all U.S. aligned.

In an earlier post ( neocon hornets nest)I mentioned the IRC's Right Web site and the more I delve into it the scarier it gets. Some will remember allegations of US involvement in the short -lived coup of Venezuelan Pres.Hugo Chavez where this NED and it's conduit ,The International Republican Institute recieved prominent mention. Check out this impressive lineup of Straustifarians on their masthead, united in their fanatical hate for communism.From Defense, Rumsfeld, Rodman (both Freedom House fellows, an AFL-CIO outgrowth) and Carl Gershman,who along with Wolfowitz,Abrams and a few other neo's are also associated with the Social/DemocratsUSA.From State you got Dobriansky and then these assorted luminaries: Elliot Abrams, William Bennet, Frank Carlucci,Newt,Kristol,Rachelle Horowitz. (Israel has friends in high places) Linkages extend to the American Enterprise Inst.,Free Trade Union Inst.,Project for the New American Century (see post) This is one ,slight fringe of a matrix funded by Olin and Scaif, we're talking hordes from hell. Jean Kirkpatrick and a fellow named Penn Kemble were instrumental in funding the Contras in Nicaragua through NED. These same zealots fund the Discovery Institute, gaining notoriety for it's role in Kansas creationism battles, and is called "the love child of Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell" by the Bullitt Foundations Denis Hayes. I like that. Along those lines, upon hearing that a school board election in Pensylvania ousted eight creationism supporters, Pat Robertson today said "If a natural disaster sweeps through that town, they better not look to God for any help." This is our new campaign motto, Vote God Out of Your Town!

Over at neo-neocon they are busy parsing the exact meaning of "lied" ,as in they can't believe people are falling for this left-wing generated and mass media supported "meme"( they're all over the new lingo) that Bush lied. It depends, of course on what the meaning of is is. They see no irony in this at all. Meanwhile ending a tax cut is a tax hike, the "death tax" will destroy family farms and reducing the eligible number of food stamp recipients isn't a cut ,it's slowing the rate of growth.

Whiteness

"From now on it is not dying we must fear ,but living.It is such supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they're used.The fact that they exist at all, their very presence in our lives,will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom.Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking.Control our behavior.Administer our societies.Inform our dreams.They bury themselves like meathooks beep in the base of our brains.They are purveyors of madness.They are the ultimate colonizer.Whiter than any white man that ever lived.The very heart of whiteness. "
Arundahti Roy The End of Imagination
I truly never thought I would live to see this day. We drilled for nuclear war when I was in grade school (during the Cuban missle crisis) by first hiding under our desks, to escape the broken window glass, then forming into color coded groups to march home. Presumably so we could die with our mothers. (suburban homemakers) I was in the blue group. I suppose Im still in the blue group.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Perhaps

If the Jetsons didn't ,this will definately date me. Doris Day had a hit (back when music was music)(joking) that had this great line which describes some debates I am involved in; "If you can't make your mind up, we'll never, get started" When is the right time for action? What form should it take? Lenin was all about getting off your ass but PERHAPS he was a little premature. I could certainly argue that workers today "have nothing to lose but their chains" but I would have to be able to show them the chain of debt, of militarization, of no health care. What of the chains of the middle class, alienation, overconsumption, overwork? Zizek argues praxis is it's own truth. Right or wrong ,just make it happen. Does this alienation make you want to strike out or curl up into a ball?

'Marx wanted sensible objects to be superior to ideal objects, but he did not grasp human activity itself as problematic activity. Thus he considered material life as the only true human one,while thought and poetry were grasped only in their conditional and ideological forms." Kostas Axelos

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dance Like No One is Watching

One of my super-rich fishing clients, in moments of reflection, tries to explain that "you can do well and do good". This puts a moral glazing on his disproportionate wealth. He also believes that all political conflict is "solved" by both sides moving to the glorious middle. Both bourgeois ideas I find dangerously subversive to the project of justice as I will try to explain.

The first concept is exactly what got us into Iraq, not to mention providing justification for all forms of colonialism and empire building throughout history and into the present. Is Iraq "a graveyard of good intentions or chaos stemming from greed? This delusion of a win-win situation where one can help people while exploiting and maiming them helps many Christians sleep well at night. Whether intellectual failure, cognitave dissonance or, as my wife prefers to think, apoligetics for good old greed, Jesus was making a statement when he chased the moneyboys from the temple. As for politics, the idea is not to solve all conflict ( welcome to totalitarianism) but to resolve issues through an adversarial process. Consensus and collaboration may be useful at times but it can also easily be a mechanism for entrenched power to maintain the status quo. Opposition parties are intrinsic to democracy and advocating their weakening is another aspect of self delusion or cynical greed.

"The main objective of the US food assistance program is to purchase surplus commodities from agribusiness." Did you see the fake presidential debate on West Wing? The Republican (Alan Alda) argues Africas' endemic poverty and food insecurity stems from "a lack of capital". There is a lack of global capital? No one could make this claim seriously, but then he proposed lowering taxes as the solution. So.

I have been debating with those who equate "smash the state" with breaking windows, an ethos adopted by some at the Summit of the America's. Locating power is not simple, but I know it does not reside in buildings. The structures we need to demolish are systemic and conceptual and having stood at the front lines, facing well armed shock troops, I know how entrenched the guardians of property are. Discipline is needed to pick battles well. I have argued here for reinvigorating praxis, for getting off the pot as it were, but action must be strategic.
"I place my bet on the weak force of those alter-globalisation movements ( movements that are still heterogeneous, still somewhat unformed) ,full of contradictions,but that gather the weak of the earth..." Jacques Derrida

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Not Norm Again?

This blog began as a space to create a rebuttal to an article by Norman Geras accusing the "socialist left, some of it of Marxist persuasion" of reductionism in allowing "the category of imperialism to dominate and exhaust it's thinking and lock it into regrettable positions." The primary regrettable position he refers to is not supporting the invasion of Iraq. The primary failures of "thinking" are anti-Americanism and "lack of any genuine grasp of ,or feeling for, the meaning of extreme forms of evil." It's all laid out in the winter 2005 Dissent. This left "time after time...minimizes ,if it doesn't completely evacuate, all competing considerations..." As regards Iraq, and the War on Terror in general, the charge irritated me because it smacked of hypocricy and while I have formulated and posted two replies so far I continue on what I feel to be an important project.

In Stephan Holmes' insightful review of Paul Berman's newest book, Power and the Idealists (November 14 Nation), he ends with this crucial question. "How is the left to regain it's moral bearings in a world where the right has brazenly stolen progressive ideals ( human rights, liberation, democracy, relief of suffering) and marched the country into a bloody calamity under a false flag of liberty?" I would answer that they could not have achieved this end without the collusion and aid of pro-war leftists like Geras, Berman, Hitchens and others. Holmes states: "Their heady support for war... did diminish and isolate voices of dissent.." I will use some of Holmes' essay in refuting Bermans' theses as I believe they relate to my rebuttal of Geras. There are many similarities in their arguments and Geras quotes Berman to back his claim. They both claim to "intuitively grasp, the way Bush's critics do not,' the dangers posed by the extremist currents in the Arab world." Something had to be done and that something would be war,"a human rights intervention that was also going to be a national -security intervention." Notice the order in which these are placed, remember the order in which we heard them.

These liberal-hawks, for whom the "contours of the political landscape had been brutally illuminated" on 9/11, now percieved that "the spirit of absolute evil (apocaliptic totalitarianism) had survived the cold war and migrated to the Middle East and transmogrified into Arab and Muslim extremism." Remember these New Leftists "had shed their anti-militaristic, anti-capitalist, anti-bourgeois and anti-colonialist stances and become, instead, fiercely anti-totalitarian." Now they imply that Bushs' anti-war critics are,in some unwitting fashion, both collaborators with violent extremism and opposed to any and all humanitarian intervention, in so many words, pro-totalitarianism. And their analysis," turning "totalitarian" into a catchall phrase covering OsamaBin Laden as well as Hitler, Saadam and Stalin also encourages Americans to cling unthinkingly to their cold- war habits of mind", totally accepting a war paradigm and rejecting any hint of a crime paradigm for the mass murder of 9/11. By convincing the public the dangers we face can be eliminated in a war, or Crusade, we do not have to face how deeply intertwined with American power and prosperity the real danger is. "By encouraging us to focus obsessively on Islamic extremism...we can ignore the extent to which our economically open and technically advanced way of life, and not a replaceable network of zealots intoxicated by an amalgam of religious and revolutionary slogans, is the frighteningly enduring problem with which we have to cope."
So yes, as a Marxist at whom his charge of having" minimized all competing considerations" was perhaps directed I reply: Did you consider the nature of the people whom you trusted to prosecute this war? Did you consider they were making the same absolute truth claims that the Islamic fundamentalists were making? Did you consider the effect that having the second largest proven reserves of oil might have on the motivation of those rushing to war? Did you consider the damage that might be done to the project of humanitarian intervention if the invasion was ill concieved, poorly executed, planned by people with no historical or cultural knowledge and resulted in chaos such as we now see?Did you consider the possibility,widely predicted and expressed by so many, that it could end so tragically?
Who minimized competing considerations? Who was guilty of reductionism? If it walks likes imperialism, quacks like imperialism, perhaps it is , Norm.

Praxis Plea

Thanks to leninology.blogspot.com for the link to a great essay by Slavoj Zizek wherein he argues that the "spirit of Lenin" is needed to re-invigorate a moribund revolutionary project. It has been argued elsewhere that "praxis has become an enigma" and certainly one hears the expressed feeling of overwhelming powerlesness almost daily. Even the location of power is fuzzy."Habermas designated the present era as that of a... new opacity. our daily experience is mystifying.Modernization creates new obscurantisms, the reduction of freedom is presented to us as the arrival of new freedoms." You know how focused I am on Debords brilliant take on this phenomenon.

Again Zizek: "Systemic politics is always ready to listen to the demands of the social movements, thus depriving them of their proper sting." We are essentially given two choices for political engagement, the long march through the institutions or joining the new social movements."And again the limits of these movements is that they are not political in the sense of the universal singular; they do not relate to the social totality." In other words identity politics or human rights does not engage us at the level of ,as Arundahti Roy puts it, the"magnificent" or universal level of justice for all,which has to necessarily include economic justice. This is a false and spurious "choice",one we needn't accept. Action can be it's own truth. According to Lenin "The Marxian doctrine is omnipotent because it is true." And of course he favored action through the Party. Zizek "the leninist lesson is that politics without the organizational structure of the party is politics without politics, as the Jacobins said to the Girondin compromisers,'you want revolution without A revolution'". All the fragmented social movements, against poverty or war or nukes or pollution, or discrimination, for human rights or debt reduction or liberty or whatever, lack this structural cohesiveness and hence, power. The argument against Bakunin we will leave for another time as well as the discussions of Lenins mistakes and crimes.

One needn't buy into grand conspiricy theories to be frightened at this web of power relations. This is pretty scary as well. According to the Dept.of Energy, projected energy use will rise 35% between 2002 and 2025. Global use between 1990 and 2025 is projected to rise 85%. Thus the evil web linked to above. Michael Klare looks into policy in the Caspian region at recommended Foriegn Policy in Focus site. "government can certainly encourage US energy firms...but it should do nothing to fan suspicions...by playing an active,conspicuous role, that they are essentially tools of Uncle Sam." So would an invasion and occupation qualify as a conspicuous role? And who's a tool of who?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Meet George Jetson

The Jetsons was a Saturday morning cartoon that came on right after Yogi Bear and the Flintstones ( it is all about clever names) and portrayed a futuristic family driving around in little rocketships, being served by robots, having typically modern dilemnas. I remember the idealistic notion born of these times that modernization and automation would free up tons of leisure time to be spent... somehow. Anyway, how to spend that free time turns out not be the dilemna once envisioned because except for the tiny group of, elite, idle rich, nobody has any. instead we work longer, struggle frantically to be more productive in that time and produce more and more profit for, you guessed it, that group of elite, idle ,rich.

The Spectacle is the bad dream of a modern society in chains and ultimately expresses nothing more than it's wish for sleep. Debord

Thursday, November 03, 2005

de-constructing construction

I really wonder what percentage of conservative backers of Alito actually understand the concepts of judicial philosophy enough to describe the meaning of "strict constructionist". Republican bullet points such as "judicial activist" etc are mimicked but personally I think it is all a smokescreen for the simple over- turning Roe. Red meat for the base gussied up as intellectual discourse. And whats up with Italians (Scalito?) out of Trenton? Do you require your wife to notify you or ask permission for her activities? Should the State?

A returned soldier from Nebraska describing his motivation on a radio interview. I paraphrase: "When I walk through these corn and milo fields, and see the deer and pheasants, and think of the last generation who fought for our freedom, I feel proud to serve to defend our country." OK. War on Terror, War in Iraq, can this relationship really be described? For many, democracy and free markets throughout the planet equals peace and security for US. Big project but then capitalism is just that. But defend, protect, are the cornfields and way of life of Nebraskans really threatened ? In the form of Islamo-fascist attacks, takeover? Obviouslythe US is not Afgahnistan but we do face isolated terrorist actions. What's the response? Can we separate the irrational demands of the terrorists from the grievances and aspirations of the societies and cultures from which they draw support and not be seen as appeasers? Would it be sensible to adopt policies which support moderate Islamists?

Here in Montana we have our own cultural divide (Im not suggesting it is anything like that of the Middle East and yet..) one manifestation of which is the clash between advocates for motorized versus unmotorized access to public lands, of which we have millions of acres. Roadless land/ wilderness/ non-motorized folks are characterized by the opposition as elitist, non-native, ex-counter culture types who wish to lock up, "preserve", establish dominance over still wild landscapes. Motor people are viewed as consumer zombied, techno-fetishizers brainwashed by a radical "wise -use" movement and ORV manufacturers lobby. In terms of class, walkers are latte drinkers, motorheads are Budwieser. Tennis vs Nascar. Ranchettes vs Doublewides. We need to discuss class but it will have to be later.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Neocon Hornets Nest

I innocently wander over to neo-neocon.blogspot.com/ on occasion, due ,I suppose, to a perverse fascination ( and if I had to be honest,a little jealousy),with her popularity. She is on the topic of anti-zionism = anti-semitism,a common conservative rant and increasingly popular leftist rant,exemplified perhaps by David Hirsh, Waltzer and others over at Dissent and I should know better by now, but I plunge right in by asking what her concept for a "final settlement" ( I specifically did not say final solution) for the Palestinians might include and I am set upon by the hounds of hell. I get the usual who-was-there-first history lesson, a finders keepers losers weepers aproach to social justice. (I suppose if some archeologist digs up a cro-magnum Arab all will be settled?) Selective history I might add, leaving out those nasty Phalangists and assorted other unpleasantries. Then there is the "Jews made the desert bloom" rationale, wherefore he who builds the most roads and creates the most "value"now owns the land. This form of colonisation goes back to the Dutch but my point was not to glorify the Palestinian cause (knuckleheads just like everyone else) nor to demonize the Jews (some of my best friends are Jews) ( my wierd humor) but to seek clarity on what I feel to be a dubious position intellectually. Is it impossible to be against the Zionist project as it has manifested itself and not be an anti-semite? she also has the Kill em All, Let God Sort em Out types over there, which is the danger with this format. Calling me a bigot and a troll. I admit to a tendency to occasionally slip into snarkiness but troll?

Pres.Bush will speak at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina this week, a place where 60% of the populace rejects his destructive trade policies. The opening speaker, Venezuelan Pres.Hugo Chavez does not mince words. Anti-Bush rally and march to follow.I so wish I could be there. Most countries pressured into those neoliberal "structural adjustments" now have remittance economies, based on the money sent home by men living ten to a trailer.

Speaking of our leader, it occurs to me he is to the presidency what Harriet Miers would have been to the Supreme Court. His bird-flu strategy seems to be protect the USA and screw the rest. Scientists and doctors have been pleading for us to put resources into stopping the spread of the disease in places like VietNam and Cambodia BEFORE it becomes a pandemic but that just aint his style. And we are not hearing those voices in the MSM.

I mentioned Friedmans Flatness a couple posts back, here is a good review by Jeff Faux in that same Dissent online. I couldn't have said it better myself , and didn't. One last thing, would you vote to ratify the US Constitution as it is now written?