Saturday, September 30, 2006

Trout Goes to Sundance

I just found out I have a cameo role in a documentary called The Trials of Daryl Hunt, which is getting lots of critical acclaim and won awards at Sundance Film Fest. It's a fairly long story (which I am working on and which will soon show up at clearheadwaters.blogspot.com ) but suffice to say my wife and I were present in the courtroom the day Daryl was officially pardoned and apologized to by a system which had kept him locked up for nineteen years for a crime he did not commit. I had the priveledge of knowing several great radicals,mostly black men, who had devoted much of their lives during that time to proving Daryls innocence. As an aside, Daryl is a Muslim and the most peaceful, forgiving, and spiritual man I have ever met.

So, we find out some juicy tidbits from Woodwards new book,including the influence of the Doctor of Death himself, old Henry Kissinger. That helps explain a lot. General John Abizaid is saying Iraq could become (or is?) worse "breeding ground" for terrorists than Afghanistan was after decade long Soviet occupation. The words breeding ground obfuscate the fact that the US actually trained and supplied the terrorists, though at the time we called them "freedom fighters". Breeding ground implies some wierd, organic process which it of course was not. And these terrorists are now killing our soldiers and want to kill me and you. OOPS.

Let me ask this. Had the occupation gone well, civil society developed, a representative government been peacefully formed, would any of us now be apologizing for being pessimistic nay sayers? Would the lack of WMDs provide grounds to defend our opposition? Would the invasion have been the right thing to do? In other words, sure they lied, sure they had designs on the oil and permanent bases, but the Iraqis got out from under a dictator and had a functioning society, would the ends have justified the means?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

White Mans Burden

It is a bit difficult, I must say, helping these blasted Arabs form a genteel society when all they care to do is fight. The lusty, swarthy characters are obviously prone to violence but it is our Christian duty to guide them out of this medieval darkness and into the light of cheeseburgers and myspace.com.

The race is on to see who is the toughest. The toughest on terror, the toughest torturer, toughest love, the toughest guy with the toughest truck. Between John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart, who would be the toughest president?Talk about tough, says here "the military has increased elistments by individuals with serious criminal misconduct in their records, and eased requirements of non-citizens, of which there are currently about 40,000 in the armed services" One day of active duty and you can be a citizen. Send us your tired and huddled masses. This is an old tradition, many Irish and others stepped right off the boat and into a uniform. They'd be back on the boat headed for WWI quiker than you could say potato.

The Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca are anxiously preparing for an all out assault by state and para-military forces. This is a variegated social movement of reformist and radical trade unions and other leftist political forces converging in support of the 129 day teachers strike, demanding that the governor step down. He would rather bust heads. Maybe the Mexican Revolution starts here?

Back to the" perception" thing in the NIE. A document created by the same group that brought us WMDs. The more you read it, the more you see it really says nothing. Except that we are fighting an "image"war. We have the largest economy in the history of the world , the largest military apparatus, the largest nuclear arsenal, the highest standard of living yet we cannot allow the jihadists to have the "perception" of having won.

Darfur and the Dow Jones

Condi Rice issues another of her stern warnings, this time to Sudan, saying co-operate or else. But of course say doesn’t say exactly what “or else “is. In the image –world we now operate in, there is no more dangerous perception than that of a powerless superpower. The Iranians, the Hizbollah, the Taliban, the Chinese or Russians, none of them are “blinking” first because first in VietNam and now in Iraq we destroyed our credibility, we ceded even the perception of moral high ground, and showed our vulnerability. In destroying the concept of a “United Nations” we undermined the possibility of humanitarian intervention as well.

Back to the image- world. Check out the wording of the “controversial” National Intelligence Estimate (oxymoron?). “ Should jihadists leaving Iraq PERCIEVE themselves, and be PERCIEVED, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.” All about perception, of course, so that the same logic applies to us “viewers” on this side of the TV screen. The Spectacle, as the colonization of everyday life, the submission of human sociability to the deadly solicitations (the bright, lifeless, sameness) of the market. Fuerbach put it well: “But for the present age ,which prefers the sign to the thing signified , the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence…truth is considered profane and only ILLUSION is sacred.”

So we see a “bounce” in Bush’s approval rating and the Dow Jones average at a near-record high. Consumer confidence. Baubles ,bangles and beads. The endgame is one little box that does everything you want and costs everything you’ve got. I watched a documentary on Maquiladores yesterday evening, part of CAJA’s series on depressing situations (just joking). Toxic chemicals run through the dirt streets in the barrios of Tijuana, the women on the way to the factories have to walk across bridges of old tires,while the fumes in the air burn their eyes and noses. Buy a TV from Sony to watch Condi Rice, it was made by the women making 11 dollars a day.

And lastly, David Aarnovitch, in No Excuses for Terror,is tired of arguing , tired of questions like: “Are Bush and Blair responsible for suicide bombers? Are we all somehow to blame?” He and Norm Geras and a million right wing bloggers and the punditocracy demand clarity! They ask: “How did we get to the point where British socialists support Islamofascist Terrorism?” ( his capitals, to indicate their new status?) Of course, thinking people are looking for explanation ,not justification, but Mr. Aaronovitch has “framed” the terms of the debate with his word “excuses”. As for blame, in a word, YES, we are all to blame, me ,him , you, everyone to different degrees. To the degree we own productive capital or property, to the degree our profit is exploitive, to the degree our consumption habits enable exploitation, to the degree we support institutions of oppression. All by way of explanation, while in no way excusing terrorist tactics. And of course our complicity also extends to the degree to which we resist and support others in their struggles, David.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Choose The Blue Pill

So, a comrade from CAJA has this great fun-raising idea, easy money. You just go down to Bio-Life Plasma Services and hold out your arm. In no time your a little light headed but twenty dollars richer. WEELLL. What do they say about easy money?

Thats right, I tried it today. After filling out endless forms and getting a physical and sitting around for two hours Im finally led into the atrium, a shiny techno- chamber where several dozen droids lay lined up in naugahide recliners, hooked up by plastic tubes to blinking , buzzing machines. White coated technicians scurry from machine to machine, leading droids in and out, and carrying bags of plasma to the central deposit area. We're talking about a scene right out of Matrix. I got stabbed and hooked up to" my " machine and tried to read my New Left Review but the automatic tournequet kept squeezing my arm. I think Ill get a real job and donate an hour a week to social justice.

George Bush is like the ugly American tourist trying to speak to the foreigner. If he doesn't understand, just yell louder. Having successfully used this tactic in the past, Im not saying he won't get away with it again, but loudly denying that a document says what it plainly says, in black and white, seems like a hard sell, even to the Fox news crowd. The militarist argument is classic "we had to destroy the village in order to save it " logic.

Did anyone see that hard hitting interview of Condi Rice by Katie Couric? You can't make this stuff up. Lets see,Iraq, Afghanistan, all the other "stans", we all know about. Sudan, Somalia, Congo, not so good. Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, all in crisis. Mexico, could be trouble.Latin America, all pretty much lined up against us. Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran.N.Korea,.. So Condi, do you think you still could get married, Katie asks?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Liberte'

So what exactly is this liberatarianism and what is it demanding of us? As a political party it is not especially well supported ( candidates rarely get more than 5%) but people seem to self-identify with it's tenants or vague philosophy en masse. As a strain of the broader conservative movement it seems to dominate here in the Rocky mountain and south- west. But what is it?

This spring organized signature gatherers showed up at the malls and shopping centers of Montana to garner support for three ballot initiatives they hoped to have us voting on this November. The "lightening rod" was called the anti- eminant domain initiative and played off the basic and very prevelant anti-government , anti-regulation sentiment whipped to frenzy level by a recent court case which allowed government condemnation for economic development purposes. Language also buried in this two-part initiative , of which most signers were not aware, would make any government regulation (excepting those protecting health and safety) which restricted profit-making to be considered a "taking" of property and make the regulating agency, city, county, state, liable for reimbursement costs.

Now in this county, plenty of people would have knowingly signed such a petition, but regardless, it ran into issues of fraud and was taken off the ballot by a district judge. Some investigation found the signature gatherers were being paid handsomely (so handsomely they faked a bunch) and the money trail eventually wound to an incredibly wealthy New York City real estate developer named appropriately enough ,Frank Rich. It turned out Mr.Rich was financing similar ballot measures all across the region, at tremendous cost to himself, because of his strong libertarian ideology. The almost perfect capitalist contradiction. Though I guarantee the irony would be totally lost on both him and his minions. Buying "grassroots" democracy to further liberty that would subvert grassroots democracy? Be that as it may, what is this world they hope to bring about? The people through a process of direct democracy, fighting the monied forces of development and speculation, have tried (unsuccessfully for the most part) to design land use regulations to protect the things they collectively find to be of value. Aesthetic values, open space, clean water, habitat, have all been fought over tooth and nail here and Mr. Libertarian Rich Guy wants to butt in all the way from NYC and declare individual propery rights sacred. If someone wanted to build a feedlot or asphalt plant next to my house it is his/her God given right.I would be obligated to pay him all the profit he didn't get to make off his nuclear power plant. Whaco. So their perfect world is a chaos of unchecked individual desires,where one worships property and is driven by selfishness . Lovely.

I have had some interesting debates with a fellow from Bozeman named John Baden, a self described libertarian who runs the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment. He also hates the Endangered Species Act because it restricts the freedom of corporations to make (huge) profits. He , like other industry sponsored foundations and think-tanks of the libertarian right such as Heartland Institute or the Reason Foundation, promotes an Ayn Randian "free market" utopia where every creature is assigned a dollar value. He works against "smart growth", land use planning ,environmental regulation or any other democratic process which might promote the public trust. For him, Margaret Thatcher, and the pathetic "sagebrush rebellion" types wedded to the myths and pathos of rugged, frontier individualism,
"there is no such thing as society."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cut and Run? Absolutely

Id like to go on the record as a huge proponent of cutting and running, or walking, if that seems more "prudent". Cut your losses, walk towards the airport, get on the plane, leave. Then apologize like hell and break out the big checkbook. Lots we owe. If the bodies piled up in the Baghdad morgue filled with electric drill holes are not persuasive enough the just -made -public National Intelligence Estimate should be. I remember a host of speakers at the huge DC rally I drove down to during the runup to the war predicting exactly what the analysis says. Blunder of historic proportions and on a less intellectual level, of criminal proportions if you are wounded or surviving a dead loved one. US and Iraqi. Afgahnistan President Harmid Karzai, whose country is spinning into chaos, says today the 30 billion dollars wasted in Iraq would have been better spent on the real war on terror. Whatever. It would have been better spent sending every Iraqi on a two week vacation to Disneyland. Or Vegas. Today the Islamic militia forces siezed Kismayo, Somalia. They already control Mogadishu. It's not to late to buy fifty thousand tickets to Pasadena.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

False conciousness

Garret Keizer nails home some salient points in a piece titled Crap Shoot, working over one of my favorite contradictions: Everybody hates rich people but everybody wants to be one. He puts a unique twist on this theme by dividing people squarely into two opposing camps, players and workers. “Not to put to fine a point on it,( I love that phrase) change will not come from deciding which former member of Skull and Bones will get to drape the coffin of American labor with the Stars and Stripes.Change will come only when people who work, who love work ,whose conception of the world is of a work in progress, come to realize they have no choice but to fight.Fight or accept a world in which a shrinking pool of players lords it over a multiplying pool of slaves.”

He knows everyone wants to think of themselves as a “player” and that the secret to the Republican success of late is their ability to let bozos allow themselves to wallow in that fantasy, to think they have joined the club.With a fat cigar in your mouth and a fat check to the party you can believe you are on the team.

He ends with some great advice that I’m sure I’ve heard before: Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your illusions.

What issue electrifies conservatives in my community? War? Hunger? Global warming? Terrorism?Heck no, what Bitterrrooters worry about is the proposed introduction of 11 grizzly bears into a 16 million acre wilderness area. Next to the "support the truth" stickers on local pick-ups are the "No to Bears "stickers, a rallying cry which brings forth images of horrible maulings, jack booted government agents planting killer bears, swarms of "tree- huggers" converging on our peaceful community.

These same folks tend to be anti-choice when it comes to reproductive rights but I wonder if they would support abortions for Muslim women, Hispanics, blacks?

I just watched a Sunday pundit link Venezuela with Iran, North Korea,Cuba and Saudi Arabia (the new Axis of Evil) and wonder if the US military was prepared to fight on all four fronts. He said Chavez had "created a shambles in Venezuela". Mc Cain predictably called Chavez a tin horn dictator and when asked about illegal detention and torture said "remember, these are the worst people in the world,and we all know that."

So I ask commentor Brad, what is "over the top" mean in terms of discourse? Who gets to decide what is below, level and over? How is this determined? Is "level" the same as the "center" all these moderate polititions and pundits keep urging us to migrate towards?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ad Nauseum

I think Ill just keep going on and on about this. Minority Chair Nancy Pelosi called Chavez an "everyday thug" for "abusing the priviledge that he had, speaking at the UN" and calling Bush el diablo. Ill say it again.Fuck that. Chavez suggested moving the UN to Caracas so he could invite US leaders to come to his country and dis him there if they wanted.So far, no firm committment. Last night Nancy darling was on the Newshour, telling Jim Lehrer all about the "new 8 or 5 0r 10 point democrat plan" .(whatever) Was a little vague on getting the trops out of Iraq. Plastic face and epoxy smile. What a freak. Didn't mention Louis Posada or the US veto or dismantling our nuclear weapons.

The five permanent members of the UN security council account for roughly 80% of the global arms trade. The US does not support the Comprehensive Arms Treaty. Shocker.

Between 1914 and 1918 the US, under President Woodrow Wilson, intervened all throughout Latin America, particularly Mexico, Haiti, Cuba and Panama.The US maintained troops in Nicaragua throughout his administration and used them to select the President of Nicaragua and then to force him to sign the Bryan-Chomorro Treaty. American troops in Haiti forced the Haitian legislature to choose the candidate Wilson (and United Fruit, S&H Sugar) selected for President and troops occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. It intervened in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 1916 and kept troops there for eight years.Between 1900 and 1933,the US intervened in Cuba four time, in Nicaragua twice ,in Panama six times ,in Guatemala once and in Honduras seven times. I still smell sulpher.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Smell of Sulpher, Tip of theVeil

Im wearing the Red proudly today, talk about speaking truth to power! Chomsky's publisher is dancing in a Bolivarian Circle as well. " The era is giving birth to a heart" says Hugo, quoting Silvio Rodriguez and then he lays it out: "..please lend your goodwill to lend momentum to the Nonaligned Movement for the birth of a new era, to prevent hegemony and prevent further advances of imperialism." A little different than Condi's "birth pang".

All the commentor on NPR could do was stammer about Chavez'es "lack of decorum". Fuck that. People are dying, being tortured, displaced. Everyone smells the sulpher, some are courageous enough(rather than to polite) to point it out.

Here is Pablo Davalos, former Ecuatorian Vice Minister of Economics in a brilliant description of the hegemony Chavez speaks of: "If Plan Panama and IIRSA (South American Regional Infrastructure Integration Initiative) finally get implemented,hundreds of indigenous peoples who live in the areas of intervention will have their days numbered.Rural workers families' days will also be numbered.The tropical forest that still exists will disappear and in their place will be either desert or monocultivation of genetically manipulated crops. The Guarani aquifer will be used up in short order. After timber operations,only vestiges will remain of the Andean Choco. The multi-node corridors will not only devestate nature but also produce more insecurity and more poverty. IIRSA and Plan Puebla Panama are barely the Tip of the Veil covering the face of Medusa."

Medusa of course is the neo-liberal capitalist agenda, promoted by the IMF,World Bank (and in this case) Andean Develoment Corporation, Inter American Development Bank, Fonplata, etc.. Capitals assault on the environment, human rights, and economic justice is the hegemony Chavez and Chomsky speak of and the resistance comes from the nonaligned, from MERCOSUR and from ALBA. This is Plan Columbia, this is Bechtel, this is Coca Cola and Oxy Oil. This is WW IV, a continuation of the "permanent war" Foucault spoke of. Now is the time to pick your side.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mr.Danger Goes to Gotham City

Heres the thing about international diplomacy and world leadership. You simply cannot lie and distort over and over (and get caught) and expect to have any credibility. Colin Powell is finally sickened by the torture and bolstering the breakaway Repubs who understand the concept of reciprocity. Or the Do Unto Others commandment. Rep. Bob Ney finally pleads guilty after all that fervent denial ( isn't there a commandment about lying?) and lets hope Sen.Conrad Burns is not far behind. Rep. Chris Shays, in a tough re-election contest, changes his tune and is now for a timetable for withdrawal. The military admits they have lost Anbar province but our Generals only call for maintaining current troop levels. George McGovern and William Polk lay out a credible "Way Out Of War" in the Oct. Harpers but it only talks about spending money (rebuilding, paying for security forces, reparations, tearing down bases, aproximately 20 billion) instead of making money so don't expect it to gain much traction. 92% of Americans believe in God or a higher power, so in this respect, We are a People. From the researcher: "In general what we find is people who believe in a more angry and engaged God tend to be moral absolutists, in other words, they think things are either right or wrong, and they also tend to be political conservatives." Or what is generally referred to as "simple minded". This group was over 30% of the survey. 43% of Americans own stock.

"As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than the rulers themselves, the decieved masses today are captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities."
Theodore Adorno

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Swag

So, not that long ago, I would have recieved several books on fishing. This year I got: The Foucault -Chomsky debate on Human Nature, Open Veins of Latin America by Galeano, Brechts' Mother Courage and her Children, The Revolt of the Masses (thanks Cajistas!) by Ortega yGasset and The Motorcycle Diaries by Che. Call Me, One Dimensional. Yes It's ,Undeniably Truuue. The big question, what to get with my gift certificate to Powells Books? Planet of Slums ,perhaps?

So, Venezuela on the Security Council? Our Great Leader today is explaining to the Non -Aligned Nations how he will bring democracy and Big Macs to their needy little countries. Expect he will be treated like the Leper From Hell. Just buy the oil and shut up already GW, game over. Condi got worked over by that pit bull Matt Lauer on the Today Show. Having lost all pretense of legitimacy, government agents are being treated like Mel Gibson. It's a Show, You Know. Not Always Entertaining, But A Show ,Even So.

On a more serious note, some interesting points ( at least for fellow theory wonks) from Malcolm Bull's essay in NLR #40 titled States of Failure. In it he begins with Hegel, who found Rousseau' "social contract" deficient because it legitimized the agency of the multitude soley on the basis of it's expressing the "general" or "arbitrary" united will. Hegel felt it necessary to fuse the rationality of the "invisible hand",as it operates in civil society, with the potentially destructive unified will to form a state.

My first bone of contention then (with Hegel, Smith, Ferguson et al,) concerns this supposed "rationality"of the invisible hand. In this account, in achieving selfish ends,'there is formed a system of complete interdependence wherein the livelihood, happiness and legal status of one man is interwoven with the livelihood, happiness and rights of all'. Having just finished Arendt's study on Totalitarianism, I believe the one clear thing she showed was the arbitrary nature of legal status. An authoritarian power confers or removes this status (as the Nazis did with the Jews, as Bush does with detainees ) at will, despite any "invisible hand" of economic interdependence.

We may wish to see (or believe in) a rational logic in such a system, perhaps because it would be so clean. "When men are interdependent and 'reciprocally related to one another in their work and the satisfaction of their needs, subjective self-seeking turns into a contribution to the satisfaction of the needs of everyone else.' In its final form, 'self seeking turns into the mediation of the particular through the universal'. If Only. This so-called mediation, this "turns into" is hocus pocus. I am in no way "reciprocally related" or "interdependent" to the sweat shop worker in Bangladesh or the starving child in Sudan within this global market. They have nothing I want ( I can get my exploited labor anywhere) and I have everything they want. It is a hierachical system from the factory floor to the multi-national corporation so there is no global civil society and only conflict between individuals, cultures, societies and states.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

You Say Its Your Birthday

Well it's my birthday too ,yeah. 54 years ago today, to be exact,and I got the best present.It is finally raining in Montana! Incredible baetis hatch on the Missouri ,where I landed six big fish out of a pod right at the Mountain Palace take out. ( clients were to cold and headed for the bar). Big hatch as well on the Beaverhead yesterday, just below Buffalo, where I
watched twenty trout rising in five square yards. My guiding season is over so I can now concentrate on the Revolution.

To that end: Katha Pollit does a good job with the Fascism Defined thing in the new Nation. Speaking mainly to the new "Islamo-fascist" rhetoric, she points out both imperialism (US and the mujahedeen) and anti-imperialism (certain leftists' embrace of Khomeini) make strage bedfellows. Orwell in 46 said"Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desireable'.

In the letters to the editor Mark Hertsgaard replies to critics of his Greening of America piece: "But until capitalism is replaced or fundamentally reformed, economic growth is the means by which poor and working class people around the world make a living." So you have to use the oppressor to fight your oppression? He goes on: "for now the imperitive is to insist on genuinely green forms of economic growth." Liberals! Insist all you want, you have NO POWER. And the energy you are wasting "insisting" is energy not spent ending capitalism!

Lastly, nice quasi-apology from the Popester. Condescendingly "apologizing" for OUR inability to understand "the true sense" of his words is no apology at all and is insulting. "The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech MAY HAVE SOUNDED offensive", or in other words, he is sorry we are to stupid to cipher correctly. He could work for Rumsfeld.Then again, I suppose he does. Read the whole text of the speech. It is a shoddy attempt at a scholarly approach to comparitive religion and a weak effort at linking faith to reason. Like, in the beginning was Logos and Logos was God. His "proof" is a biblical quote, a vision, and some strange logos of his own. Whatever. He should stick to The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways and leave logic to the Greeks. Or he could begin explaining the incredible violence in the Bible and leave the Koran alone altogether. Personally ,Im with author Sam Harris (The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation) on this one. "I think we do the world a disservise when we suggest that religions are generally benign and not fundamentally divisive."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

"A Place Just Right"

I have been invited by my principled opponent, Brad, into the obvious trap of describing my vision of The Ideal Society. In getting from here to there ,he asks as well, what should be done? Is education the answer? Is there a moral imperative that should be brought to the people?From what or who should this moral imperative be derived? Let me fall right in then but ask that perhaps he may reply in kind with his own vision. The task of critique is of course simpler than that of design and I wish to have a chance at retaliation.

Not to be flippant, but an honest reply would be that my vision of an ideal society would be one where everyone was easily persuaded by my arguments and acted accordingly. Where everyone listened to Miles Davis and enjoyed it. My point is that I do not advocate for an "ideal" society but for a workable one instead, one whose structures and institutions prompt and promote the values which I have deduced are shared most widely by the human race generally. "Ideally" this system reflects the knowledge that it is the tension inherent in diversity and pluralism which is the germ of creativity . As the nature of life is change, my vision is that such a system would be changeable in it's essence, with it's organizing principles and processes so designed that "eternal revolution" as a goal and method would reflect this nature. To this end it would be radically democratic so that the "demos" would adopt a radical conception of the duty of citizenship to include participatory management of every aspect of their society. Because of my own spiritual inclinations (this is MY vision) I would hope to emphasize selflessness and unity, while at the same time repecting the rights of the individual, by fostering a spirit of compassion, solidarity and community through collective production and decision making.

I find it inexcusable that our race continues to exert so much energy and spread so much grief and destruction in competition for resources and believe this malignant state can best be explained materially. Marx tells us: "The mode of production of material life CONDITIONS the social, political and intellectual life processes in general". This not only explains history (not to sound over-determined!) but gives us a key to creating an elevated , more evolved state of development by harnessing the human capacity for engineering and design for new modes of production rather than the capitalist mode with it's irrational violence ,contradictions (oversupply) and class implications. Of course, with this explanation it becomes obvious that one cannot limit in size this project of radical transformation to any kind of sub-unit but that it must be international in scope and that the unity and peaceful co-existence I imagine requires an even rate of economic development worldwide. In very general terms, a leveling.A planned, participatory economy would remove the essential contradiction facing market economies of the need for unlimited growth within the reality of limited resources. Sustainability would be considered in all decisions of consumption. Old notions of work, occupation and profession would be replaced by new modes of shared contribution based on the individuals multiple capacities and talents. Remittance would be based on time voluntarily sacrificed for the benefit of society and an accumulation of wealth( for extra time sacrificed) would not affect ones power relation to the whole.Personal property could exist but not for the purpose of rent or profit.

At this point my critics will ask how, how does this transformation take place, What of human nature, how do you avoid violence? This kind of transformation is in fact now taking place on many levels, political, spiritual, pedagological and psychological. The movements toward greater democracy and constitutional rights, of feminism, human rights, within faith traditions that hope to see people valued above the market and peace over aggressive nationalism, are all areas of progressive change. We could start with Rawls maxim to warrant only those inequalities which are to the greatest benefit to the least advantaged, following the tolerant Protestantism in the spirit of Locke and the liberal moral doctrines of Kant or Mills. But these liberal attitudes will not in themselves have the force to displace entrenched power and are just a stage. In the end it will be a vast accumulation of contradictions fusing into what Adorno termed a "rupture" that will overcome the inertia of the status quo, just as historical conditions have formed the openings through which all revolutions have emerged. Will it be violent? Who can know? But the 360,000 mostly women and children who died today of causes related to malnutrition were killed by violence. Those who died from war or preventable disease died a violent death. Violence is something that we have become so inured to that it seems ludicrous to hyperventilate over the prospect of violence in political upheaval. How many tens of millions died in the capitalist wars of the last century?

And finally , What of Human Nature? It was Rousseau who said; "He who dares to undertake the establishment of a people (revolutionary enterprise) should feel that he is ,so to speak, in a position to change human nature." Margaret Thatcher concurred, saying:"Economics are the method, but the object is to change the soul. " Of course I am at total odds with her choice of method but agree with her and Marx about ones duty " to teach others the good that you could not work because of the malignity of the times or of fortune..." Machiavelli. This ,I suppose , is the ethical imperative, to leave something better than when you found it so that future generations can develop fully.
"I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils (class conflict) ,namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy the means of production are owned by society itself (the multitude as the State) and are utilized in a planned economy..." Albert Einstien

This is not the instant Utopian paradise of Saint Simon, Fourier or Owen but a process that unfolds with history in time and space, and is in this way dialectical. Garaudy captures well the spiritual Marxism I espouse: "Marxism contains within itself, in it's very principle, infinite possibilities of development and renewal." It is not the end of history, as many claim capitalism to be, but a step up in our evolutionary progress.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thinkagain -Tanks

This is Mathew P Moore (how I wish it was Michael Moores son but alas) of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a "conservative -free-market think tank" in Dallas Texas. Now, just because this comes out of Texas doesn't AUTOMATICALLY mean it will be inane, but I guess we will just have to wrack up one more for uncanny coincidence because, well, check it out. Here we have an argument for why we should not charge more for fatty foods, to wit, "sin taxes" hurt poor people disproportionately. The right wing ,of course, is extremely concerned about poor people. He goes on :lower income people spend a greater share of their income on the stuff". He does not care to speculate as to why. Could he think they are just stupid? poor= stupid? Or do they think in their "tank" that fatty foods are hugely profitable,subsidized products for agri-business which some farm state senator gets whopping contributions for sponsoring in the Farm Bill? Do they think these foods are therefore cheaper than unsubsidized organic, healthy foods ? Think.

The argument continues thusly: "Some suggest that higher prices on unhealthy foods may encourage people to reduce their consumption" Well , yeah, "We DON'T KNOW for sure how higher prices will affect purchases" ( I DO.) but he goes on to say that we can guess based on the sale of tobacco that purchases will decrease. So its all good ,right? Wrong. "The problem is, those who don't dial back are worse off because they are paying higher prices (stupid people). Those who do reduce consumption are considered WORSE OFF because they can no longer afford something they want." In other words, they want to self destruct , it isn't price or coercive advertising or anything. "Smoking , drinking, eating fatty foods is, after all, a choice." Here he is all for choice and not children. So why should the government have a role blah blah conservative blah nonsensense. Never heard of Medicare , Medicaid ?

But to see how truly ridiculous the argument is you have to go back to the third paragraph (editorial in the Butte Standard) where , after describing how fat America is getting "driving up the cost of health care and leading to less productive lives" Mr. Moore admits that "we know the drill... we know what it takes to get in shape and stay fit. But we actively choose not to."
More brilliant, Texas analysis, from those right wing think tanks we are all told to respect and fear.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Denial, Not A River In Egypt

Rick Santorum needs to be institutionalized. He was on Meet The Press this morning, blathering on about WMDs and alQaeda connections to Sadaam. I expected him to bring up the Niger uraniam cake and aluminum tubes. He is totally insane. He kept saying the answer to all our problems was to take on Iran! He reminds me of a kid so afraid to bring home a report card full of Fs he decides to light his house on fire to divert attention. I now understand why some people went in for "re-education camps" and eugenics. ( Just kidding, really)

Of course his opponent from the Democratic Party was totally inaticulate and lame but at least he wasn't frothing at the mouth.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Two Montanans

Here is the educated fool, Allen Barr of Stevensville (Montanas oldest settlement) in his letter to the editor: "As a retired Meteorologist (his capital M) with a Masters degree in Meteorology,... blah blah..Current temperatures are within normal climate variations...Yes it is hot..If ,run away global warming was occuring this record would be broken routinely...When president Bush made the decision to withdraw US support for the Kyoto Treaty , his decision was based on sound science...Sincerely..

And Paul Edwards, outgoing President of the Montana Environmental Information Center: "The marquee issue of the day is global warming. That we are seriously threatened is now questioned only by those paid to do so by industries that have grown richer than most countries by selling the materials and machines that have done ,and continue to accelerate and compound,the damage." He forgets stubborn and pridefull schnoids like Allen who can never admit they have been wrong. Edwards goes on:
"What neither the Gore film nor any other strong voices dare yet convey though, is a truth that looms vastly behind the threat articulated in the film.That simple , hard truth is that an economic system that demands infinite expansion in a finite world has to fail."

The more I think about the utility of WWII terminology for comparative analysis with current conditions, the less I think fascism or Stalinism are really useful. If we accept the debate on those terms I only see more muddled and baggage -laden discussion.Yes, Corporatism is a key component to that analysis, as is State Capitalism ,and all the authoritarian implications of those terms remain valid, but we can acknowledge a resurgence of fascist tendencies without trying to identify a movement as such. More usefull in my opinion is calling attention first to WWIII, what we have called the Cold War but which was hardly "cold" to the millions that died in the global power struggle between what were essentially two State Capitalist powers. Once we have clarified the conflicting forces of that period we are prepared to move on and not be tied to the old frame, or paradigm.

More helpfull might be the term WWIV (not mine) to describe the rejection of both neoliberal models, such as those imposed on Latin America, Africa and much of Eastern Europe, and the age-old model of primitive accumulation such as we see playing out in the Middle East and Persia. This gives us a continuity and dialectical way of seeing the historical process as it unfolds rather than harkening back to old conditions, old movements, etc..

Breaking News

This just in. MSNBC reports that the Pentagon has filed a report concluding that "violence is spreading in Iraq." Sharp as tacks these guys. There is a "possibility of all out civil war". See how clever that is? If there is just a "possibility", it can not already be happening. (which, of course, it is)

On the "Creative Destruction" front, I see where international donors have pledged nine hundred million dollars for the re-building in Lebanaon. Long suffering African nations should take a hint and attack Israel, get the shit bombed out of them,then get that aid they have been begging for for decades. All part of Gods wonderful plan.

I like this, from Venezuelanalysis: Caracas Mayor Announces Expropriation of Golf Course.
Hitting the elite right where it hurts, he wants to build low-income housing where there are now manicured fairways and short fat guys wearing ugly pants and shirts with little aligators on the pockets.

Did anybody else see the cute little blonde syncophant from Tennessee on the News Hour With Jim Leher the other night? A Representative (of Southern Idiocy)in Congress, she went on about Iraq was the War on Terror and Defending Our Freedom and the whole deal, every banal cliche that yet exists. Jim Leher kept asking whether she thought criticism of the war amounted to treason and you could see the little ,tiny wheels turning in that little ,tiny brain: "What would Karl Rove want me to say?" She hedged.

Finally, last night I left my fair booth (see post on Small Town) and went up into the grandstands to watch a little rodeo. A dangerous sport for little reward. A young bullrider had a good ride going when he sailed off, hit the ground,and in the next instant had the 2000 pound bull stomp right down on top of him. I left before the ambulance did. I watched his fiance, a barrel racer, being consoled as she watched anxiously, then frantically climb over the fence and get in the ambulance. I used to try bulldogging myself, back when I was much younger and stupider. Not nearly as dangerous as riding bulls or broncs but I never had the size and constantly got beat up. Its all about Darvon and the Western Mystique.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Treating Symtoms and Profit

Farmer Eliot Coleman in his essay in this weeks Nation. "An addiction to treating the symtoms of a problem rather than correcting their causes is an unwise choice made by our society as a whole." I agree with the basic sentiment but not with the socio/psychological determinant "addiction". We are actually manipulated, controlled by structural forces imbedded in forces of production. In other words power. "Choice" is much more than selecting between product A or B. He goes on:

"Like chemical agriculture, ( using pesticides and chemical fertilizers rather than building good soil) our economy is based on selling symptom treatments rather than trying to correct causes. For example , the medical profession peddles pills, potions and operations rather than stressing alternatives to Twinkie nutrition, overstressed lifestyles and toxic pollution. Governments spend billions on armaments to prepare for wars and wage them instad of committing themselves to diplomacy and cooperation."

When he says "our economy" he means capitalism. Big profits lie in short-term fixes and no amount of reform can change this basic fact. It is predatory in nature and non-compatible with health and well being or peace. David Mamet writing in the Three Penny Review, recognizes these structural issues but argues that a much strengthened labor movement can counter these predatory forces and create a kinder-gentler capitalism.It is well argued but I disagree.

Is anybody else noticing how much Neville Chamberlain is showing up in the dominant discourse? Fascism and Nazism and all the pop-history lessons and allegories and analogies? Dangerous shit, "using " history to inform the present. Be very careful.Very careful.