Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gleanings

"US economic growth slows to slowest pace in almost 5 years" says the headline as the DOW hits a record 13700. My MSN home page is from Winston-Salem NC ( a place i lived for a few years) and daily reports on the closed factories, furniture, textiles, tobacco, manufacturing. Airline employees took a 40% pay cut. Insider trading is on the rise (Check out Che Bobs recent post)

The Dems fold, Cindy Sheehan quits, more people hopefully take the constant barrage of fundraising pleas from both parties and throw them in the trash. Surge keeps surging, we can't stay and we can't leave.

Walking into the Hitchin Post tavern in Melrose Mt after a hard day guiding I ran into fellow fishing bum Jim Harrison. Drinking Stoli on the rocks, Jim spins some great tales of saltwater flyfishing with Ted Williams and Stu Apte back in the day. I love True North and the poetry, but he is one wild character, eyes askew, untamed hair and random teeth, he could be any homeless guy in any big city.

This supposed "free speech" fight in Venezuela creates a lot more questions than answers. Look at the dress and skin color of the two groups of demonstrators and you start to get a feel for Venezuelan society. What role do Amnesty Int , Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders play in political battles? How does propaganda or for that matter advertising in general fit into our notions about the free exchange of ideas? Does modern mass media change the paradigm? The discussion rages over at Renegade Eye. What role did media play in the Rwanda massacres, in Hitlers rise to power, in the Iraq War?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bound for Controversy

Despite the odds (and my projections of doom) , I must admit there is still a little space in our society for radical discourse if someone like Ward Churchill can exist. The perenial "bad boy", he is once again in the news, recommended for dismissal from his tenured post at U of Colorado Boulder. It is claimed he plaigerized and falsified research. We know he purposefully hit the hornets nest by likening some 9/11 victims to Adolph Eichman (the banally evil) and has spent his academic career sticking his neck out and pissing off "the Man". I didn't read the 9/11 piece but did (coincidentally) just finish his highly controversial Pacifism As Pathology, first published in 1998. He relies heavily on the experience of the European Jew in the Holocaust to posit that pacifism is highly over-rated as a method of self defence. This was not his first hornets nest but probably the biggest and while I find some of his methodology, evidence and reasoning questionable I can appreciate the courage of anyone willing to bring up the subject of armed resistance and use of violence in the overwhelmingly banal discourse of our time.

Che Bob is willing to broach the oh-so-sensitive subject as well, as he did in the last thread: "Perhaps it's time for the 'serfs' to pick up a gun..." Anonomous commentor also manages to prove Churchills thesis in one fell swoop when he says to me: "you would be far worse if you had any power...the violence you would be willing to unleash is no mere speculation..." Here it is admitted the citizen has no power and that non-violence is the " axiomatic and all but universal"way for me to resist my condition. What is pathological about the modern non-violent "revolutionary"approach is the way it both serves the needs of the State (and Anon) by being mostly ineffective (it has a tactical role), and my own needs.While putting me in no real jeopardy it still allows me to think I am "a revolutionary"standing in solidarity with the oppressed of the world! Beautiful.

Of course ,one we have decided the ends justify the means, we have no way of setting any limits on this praxis (at least Ward doesn't discuss any). Any ideas here? Who determines what is just? There is a discussion ongoing about the new SDS, and what lessons it should learn about the Weathermen. Almost 40 years after the Black Panthers and Watts the prisons of America are filled with black men. Remember the Symbionese Liberation Army?

The bad joke of "non violence" was also on display yesterday as America honored it's warrior class, waved it's flags, and buried it's new dead. 38,000 humans will die "non-violently" of starvation today and who knows about the other species. Anon expects me to wave a sign.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Week 1

It's going to be a long season. I take rich people fishing for a living, yes, a "high class" whore, an "escort" perhaps, and it is a trial in the best of times. But now, with the Empire desperately lashing out and it's apologists becoming more and more delusional, I am finding it harder and harder to swallow my bile and hold out my hand. A not untypical scene:

During the hour long ride to the put-in on the lower Big Hole last Friday, my long time client starts in on how our plan to bring freedom to the Iraqis has not turned out as well as was expected. I can only laugh, (we had this conversation last year) and express amazement at his total lack of awareness, honesty, integrity,etc.. We openly discuss politics, he knows my ideology, but it never usually opens into a candid debate because I work for him, we're supposed to be "relaxing" etc. Still, he acts hurt, a little indignant even at my inability to take his comment seriously. With anger creeping into his voice the jumbled, confused, incoherant slogans which are his belief system come spewing out with no space for interjection and I am forced to jabbing rebuttals on top of the non-stop jingoism. In the confusion his true ,guiding philosophy comes out as he states "I will do whatever it takes to hang on to what I have."

At last, the layers of psuedo-intellectual rationalization are peeled back and we confront each others realities. He is living the "American Dream", owns tremendous wealth and property which creates unlimited opportunity for himself and his children and my socialism, all the "terrorists" and all the "Other" out there are a threat he is willing to confront with any amount of force necessary. The "Other" includes all deviations from his social norm, feminists, gays, other races, religions and ethnicities but the bottom line is haves and have -nots and I am at once relieved all the pretence of "compassionate conservatism" is gone and the naked desire, avarice and fear lay exposed and of course saddened this decent human cannot source some empathy to fight the greed. My clients college-age son in the back seat parrots his Sean Hannity sound bites knowing full well what he stands to inherit, fully immersed in his lacrosse team reality, a nice car, apartment and summer job with Dad's company. "Islam is a demented religion","Arabs are a violent race"," the teachers at his private college are left wingers","schools are teaching kids to be gay", Duke team frame up, Iran will wipe out the Jews, Why can't the UN save Darfur? on and on through the whole moronic litany till we finally get near the river and he turns to me oh-so-sincerely and says "We all want the same thing for our children, peace."

Nineteen more weeks to go.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Day of Prayer

Today is the Day of Prayer for Colombia , organized by Witness for Peace, so my wife and I are going in to Missoula to stand in solidarity with my Colombian brothers and sisters who have endured so much suffering, to pray with a local congregation for an end to the violence and to visit with my great friends Che Bob and the soon-to-be-Mrs.Che Bob. As for prayer, I'm not a believer. If there were a Merciful and Omnipotent God, things on earth would would be very different from their current state. ( I will often curse a Higher Power when I smash my thumb with a hammer and occasionally thank one when something goes right but my hearts not really in it) This will be an organizing trip, an opportunity to reach people in their own environment , however foreign it might be to me.Tommorro is the concurrent Day of Action, and here is where I put my "faith". We are asking folks to take collective action to try to change the destructive US policy in that region.



Which brings me to renegade eye's comment to my last post, that we need "mass action under correct demands". I have been reading comments to posts over at Common Dreams .Org, where the mostly "liberal" or "progressive" readers are struggling to explain and find solutions to the current rise of totalitarianism. Most are still locked in the liberal mindset of supporting this or that candidate, signing this or that petition, etc.. but many are finally breaking through to see the truth in renegades proposal. A general strike needs to be re-invented for late capitalism and implemented, with "correct demands". Meanwhile there is lots else we can be doing, legal and less legal.



Last night we watched Lennon Vs The US which provided much flashback material for an old hippie/leftist like me. Seeing the old criminals, Johnson, Nixon, Kissinger, G.Gordon Libby, reinforced the knowledge that only radical change can save us if we ever want to get off the merry-go-round of capitalist violence, oppression and suffering. John Lennon sensed it but was unable to articulate it fully and in my opinion, remained ideologically unformed. Of course ,Power to the People and War is Over showed more sophistication than Give Peace A Chance. M.L.King realized it at the end and so was killed, Angela Davis and Bobby Seale were nuetralized in more subtle ways, as were the yippies and students (I guess Kent State was not so subtle) and blacks in general. (And as was I, truth be told)

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Out of The Loop

Every May Troutsky has to leave the world of political activism (and it's attendant blogging) and head back to the world of trout, rowing wealthy clients around the Big Hole River in piscatorial pursuit. I need money. They got lots of it. I will check in periodically, try to post some, but my focus is on fish for the next four months.

There is some INTERESTING conversation taking place within my link circle, Che Bob, Renegade Eye, Sonia ,Graeme, Beakerkin and others seem to be slowly breaking through some of the bullshit layers but I must admit to being a little to impatient (agitated) to partake. I am in a wierd space right now, having just returned from ten days of little or no news or media of any kind to find everything the SAME AS IT EVER WAS. Inertia and the status quo have a terrible force, relentless and debilitating.
"Modern tyranny leaves the body free and attacks the soul." Tocqueville

We watched Children of Men last night , I highly recommend it. In its dystopic vision modern tyranny attacks both the soul and the body. There is some interesting comment by Slajov Zizek, Naomi Klien and others on the DVD.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wishful Thinking

( Written Sun. 6th) Maybe I just projected this but it truly seemed to me like like George Tenet had an existential crisis moment on Meet the Press this morning. Some question of Russert's triggered something and Tenet choked up like he was thinking "Oh my God ,what have I done, what kind of system am I part of , what have I become?" If so, it would be the first human moment I have witnessed from a talking head in ages. Were those tears?

Speaking of pikers, Paul Berman ,Mitchell Cohen and Thomas Cushman all use the occasion of a Forum called Exporting Democracy;What have We Learned From Iraq (Dissent Spring 2007) to exculpate themselves for their own poor judgement in supporting the war. They attempt to deflect criticism in the usual pathetic ways, calling the far left treasonous, bad intelligence, mismanagement blah blah. Can't anyone just bow their head and admit they were tragically mistaken? Anyone heard of Alberto Gonzales lately? Valerie Plame? Jack Abrahmoff?

The overly hyped boxing match between Merriweather and De la Hoya was a Perfect Spectacle, complete with 35,000 dollar ringside seats ,filled with shiny celebrities, and totally mediocre pugilism. Phat Floyd came out with a huge sombrero and Fiftycent doing a rap rhapsody. The only honest response is to drink alot and think of boxing in the day.

I feel the urge to rouse you know who.This seemed typical of that "liberal media" we hear so much about. Headline Saturday on MSNBC "Hamas Rejects US Document; Rocket Fired" next to a picture captioned : An Israeli examines Damage to his House. In the second paragraph we learn: "Islamic Jihad militants fired three rockets toward Israel, damaging a house in the town of Sderot, to avenge the killing of three members of the group by Israeli undercover troops a day earlier."
What about this headline? "Israeli Troops Murder Three Palestinians in Extra-Judicial Assasination" and in the second paragraph "followed by rocket damage to Israeli house."Right.

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The Gangs of Medellin

When Medellin's Native Son, ex-governor of Antioquia and now Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was inaguarated, says Forrest Hylton in his NLR essay, Medellins Makeover, "the outlaws became the Establishment". It is a classic case of a term coined by Barrington Moore in his book, Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, "gangsterism that has become society itself".
Medellins brutal history of narco-capitalism and para-military terror run amok is being superceded by a new order of trans-national investment. "After three generations of cocain-fuelled urban warfare," Hylton writes ," Medellin is now positioned to become the leading edge of economic integration with the US."

We should be concerned here in the US with both our corporate and governmental ties to this capitalist gangsterism. We are being asked to supply huge quantities of tax dollars for aid and our Representatives are negotiating trade agreements with a criminal ruling class with ties to horrific state/narco-capital terrorism and paramilitaries used to "secure investment, property rights and profitability.."

In the same Mar/Apr issue 44, there there is a fascinating examination of the situation in Turkey, NATO's Islamists. Author Cihan Tugal explores the hegemonic convergence of neo-liberalism confronting a deeply embedded secular- military vs Islam schism. while balancing extreme nationalism, anti-Kurd xenophobism and a modernist desire to join the EU. Thats a mouthful, but it is a complex State most of us know little about but which contains many of the crucial contradictions of the modern era. Like much of the US working class, the lower statas of Turkish society have turned away from the left towards nationalist religion with a grudging acceptance that "politics and economics have their own self-regulating logics".

Friday, May 04, 2007

Four Dead in Ohio

The anniversary of the Kent State shootings. I saw the footage of the LA cops opening up on the demontrators and was thankful they had rubber bullets but reminded of how little else has changed. Mothers still raise their children to wear uniforms and brutalize their fellow citizens and kill people in foreign lands where they don't belong. So the rich can get richer. C'mon Moms!

I will make a prediction: Gen. David Petraeus will someday run for president. Think of the hype, the great genius hero warrior scholar. Colin Powell without the excessive tan and UN lies.

Chavez threatens to nationalize some banks and a steel corporation if they don't start thinking about helping society rather than just lining their own pockets. He completed oil deals with most of the Majors in the Orinoco and told Phillips-Conoco they need to settle quick or leave. Lula tells the Pharma Godzilla Merc to shove it's profits where it doesn't shine, they will manufacture their own generic AIDs drugs. Meanwhile in the US, our leaders lick the boots of General Electric.

I just finished the book by George Lakoff and wonder if the real elephant is the one in the room which he never mentions, capitalism. His progressive politics are all about wording, "framing", linguistics, semantics, blah blah. Nothing but small ideas for a reduced discourse of "values" and a stunted imagination about what might be possible. His "authoritarian father" versus "nurturant parent" model does have some explanatory value. I also finished Government In The Future by Chomsky (more a pamphlet, Ill review later) and am about to give up on Durruti In The Spanish Revolution by Abel Paz. 793 pages is a bit much. Think I need a break, gonna go with What Maise Knew by Henry James.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Went Down to the Demonstration, Again

In my never ending search for my fair share of abuse, I actually went to two demonstrations in the last two days which were juxtaposed by some Intrigueing Factors. The first was the Second Annual Missoula May Day celebration where a ragged band of Wobblies, anarchists, punkers and assorted Leftists gave a small but dedicated crowd some revolutionary hip hop, a biting Forum Theatre piece (with myself as the tyrannical university president), followed by the commandeering of one lane of Higgins Ave. in an un-permitted march (with song) to the County Courthouse where the IWW flag was proudly planted after an almost seventy year hiatus. When we yelled "happy May Day!" to the startled pedestrians, they would often sprout a smile as they recognized the symbolic import of our little island of Red and give a wave back. An older gentlemen approached me and asked whether I was the Marxist who" gave the speech last year". I reflexively ducked, but he simply shook my hand and told me how much he had appreciated my interjecting a radical, historical perspective. I invited him to take part in a broader discussion.

Contrast this with yesterdays "demonstration" where a hundred well-meaning liberal-progressive-peace activist types gathered by the road to protest Bush's veto. Cars honked and flashed the peace sign in solidarity as young childrens legs were blown off in Baghdad. We politely waved our signs and the local reporter showed up to document the dissent but in the end we got back in our cars and "stayed the course". I do wonder at the folks who gave us the finger. (perhaps beakerkin can enlighten me) Do they revile us? Their neighbors and fellow citizens?

Gary Younge agrees with my Don Imus-Duke Rape case analysis in his Nation essay. We have finally located the "nappy headed ho" and Rupert Murdochs New York Post plastered a "huge photograph of Crystal Gail Magnum" with the headline ,"Now America Can See Her Face". By the way, the New York Sun is to publishing what Fox news is to television journalism. Except it loses a million dollars a month, selling 13,000 hard copies a day (the Post sells 700,000) which it's four right -wing zionist investors ( Steinhardt, Tisch, a board member of the Manhattan Institute, Kovner, Chair of the American Enterprise Institute, Hertog,chairman of the Manhattan Institute) feel is worth it in order to get their propoganda out to beakerkin. Money talks, as they say.

Bush said leaving Iraq precipitously would create a situation similar to the one created in Cambodia when the US left Vietnam. This is the ever popular mass-slaughter argument for staying. Surprising though, that they would be anxious to use Vietnam analogies, unless they assume their re-write of history has been absorbed sufficiently by Joe Sixpack, who never really knew who or why we were fighting there in the first place. Bush didn't read the report by Ben Kienan and Taylor Owen of the Yale Cambodian Genocide Project which said "civilian casualties from US bombing drove an enraged populous into the arms of the Khmer Rouge insurgency." Who we aided through proxy groups (many allied to Communist China) so Pol Pot could get back to work in the killing fields. So it goes.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

All Thats Left Was This War...

I was so excited to see so many comments on my last blog post! Then I read them. I want to apologize to Anonomous (is that you Brad?) for my misinterpretation of the point he was attempting to make. I want to apologize for not reading the Sun before commenting on it. I want to apologize for any slanderous term I may have used or any false accusation I may have made. I want to apologize for any Utopian visionaries of the past whose schemes may have turned out badly, for all the idealists and dreamers whose attempts at creating a better world caused more harm than good. (And there are plenty)

I wish the Truth (historical and otherwise) were written down in one Huge Text, a combo Bible-Torah-Quoran-Book of Mormon- Sutra-Encyclopedia perhaps, so that we could just reference the Book to correct one anothers assumptions and passionately expressed points. But because it isn't, we are left with this imperfect system of discourse, this exchange of interpretations, and the best we can hope for is to agree on a map of the areas where there is disputed territory. (of knowledge, wisdom, logic, discernment) I would like all of you to stay and help with this work. But let's not fight over the territory just yet.

It's May Day and Im going to try to rally people into an organized opposition to a system which will not share power willingly, that must be prodded. I will march proudly under the banner of the Left, realizing the history of this struggle contains moments to be proud of , as well as those of which I am ashamed. We are only human beings, we try.