Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rebels Without a Cause

Big rally in Hamilton Montana this weekend by a group of folks tired of the smoke from forest fires. Seriously. These people paid a lot of money for nice homes and retired here because it is (was) so beautiful and now their "viewshed" is disturbed all summer by this decidedly unattractive smoke. They want the US government, which they all hate as the primary agent of all things evil and socialist, to DO SOMETHING, stop the fires, remove all the trees, change the direction of the wind, SOMETHING. They are not all wealthy and retired, of course, many work hard for poor wages and have simply bought the package of lies and distortions sold by a corporate dominated media and culture. The modern form of"chains".

These folks are, of course, backed by those same corporate interests that prefer option #2 ,remove all the trees, otherwise known as the Presidents "Healthy Forest Initiative". Nothing new here, conservative morons with an idiotic gripe manipulated by business interests in the search for higher profits. These are the same folks who burned their Dixie Chicks CDs, who sport NO Grizzly Reintroduction bumper stickers on their gas guzzling 3/4 ton pickups, and who still think Osama bin Laden and Saddam Husein are the same person. (seen one raghead , youve seen em all) John Kerry is a fake hunter while Dick Cheney is a real one.

Lots of them built their new mansions way up on the hillside ("million dollar views" in the real estate parlance) right next to the unhealthy forest and the grizzly bears. So that the evil government has to spend millions of the working class's tax dollars to protect them and the lives of firefighters are put in more danger trying to prevent the inevitable. I'm going to the rally Sunday and will ask to speak in favor of massive government forest thinning projects funded by tax hikes on the wealthy and hiring masses of immigrant labor at high wages so that they can help their communities back in Latin America. I will also call for zoning regulations so people stop building in the urban /wildland interface and a massive tax on carbon production because in the final analysis it is the global warming caused by us mass consumers which is really causing the smoke.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stark Contrast

The Labor Now conference held at the University of Montana last Saturday provided the local Wobblies with a great forum to demonstrate the difference between addressing symptoms and attacking the actual problem. The keynote speakers both came from respected "progressive" mainstream labor rights NGOs and proposed policy for reforming institutions, or for more "rights" to be bestowed upon the deserving workers by the benevolent grantors in order to curb the excesses and abuses of capitalist penetration. The IWW representative ( our own Che Bob)pointed out, in the words of Simone de Beauvoir that "there are no 'excesses' or 'abuses' here, simply an all-pervasive system" and he provided a radical critique of that system, probably not heard in Missoula since Frank Little spoke here.

These labor rights organizations, funded by who knows who, are all about "collaborative"efforts between labor, government and business to make happy and nice for everyone for ever after. We call bullshit. We refuse to be counted among those "well intentioned" who are willing to trade the "expansive,magnificent concept of justice" ,as Arundhati Roy so eloquently puts it, "for the far more fragile discourse of human rights." What the Wobblies prefer to talk about is worker POWER and it woke a few people up from the old conference doldrums. It seems to me that the optimistic La La Land in which these intellectuals dwell is subversive to the degree that they subtley disregard the notions of equality and parity and settle for "decent" wages and a "first step" up the ladder of development. Especially when they are speaking to idealistic young students facing real questions of how best to do some good in the world, this diminished discourse needs challenging. What was interesting was the inability of anyone else on the panel, including the representative of mainstream unionism, to provide any examples of where all their hours of work with their large budgets had affected any real positive structural change or gave us any reason to be hopeful. If the Wobs had their resources sparks would fly! Decent my ass.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Naomis vs Neocons

I watched the attractive and intelligent Naomi Wolf utterly destroy some poor deputy under-secretary droid in the Gonzalez Justice Dept. the other night on the new Dish TV. Ouch!He had helped old Alberto craft the Patriot Act but he was having trouble defending it's constitutionality aginst the articulate Ms.Wolf. It didn't help that he was homely and stuttered. Earlier I watched the other famous Naomi, Ms. Klien, who also just happens to be attractive and brilliant. She also writes well and I am finding her new Shock Doctrine well argued.

"What is clear is that human beings are much to intelligent not to have a rational society; the most serious question we face is whether they are rational enough to achieve one."
Murray Bookchin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Third Way

So many well-meaning reformers lately, trying so hard to build a consensus on how to move forward. From Paul Hawken, William Greider, Naomi Klien , to Tom Nairn, Jaques Attali and Roberto Unger the call goes out to build a social democracy that can last. Working through a modified system of markets and profit making these folks and many, many others seem to believe a revived, participatory democracy is the key to this lasting settlement, to building a system where equitable results can compete with efficiency and greed as motivators. What I don't see explained very well is the how, the ways in which we are to get from the current model, with it's hegemonic inertia, it's built in mechanisms for reproduction, and this new land of shared interests. Maybe I'm missing something.


Environmental and social activist Paul Hawken appeals to reformists of a liberal/progressive bent in his book Blessed Unrest, concluding that a giant yet somewhat invisible "movement" toward more just and sustainable outcomes is in fact already well underway. He is prepared to stick with markets, though, because they are "unequalled in providing feedback, fostering innovation and allocating resources." He just thinks they need "constant tending". In her new book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klien states her belief that " a free market in consumer products can coexist with free public health care , with public schools, with a large segment of the economy- like a national oil company- held in state hands." Her critique of late capitalism is scathing yet she thinks as well that it need only be better managed. Post-Keynesian nostalgia is natural as we survey the landscape littered with the corpses of failed laissez-faire doctrine, the ruined democracies and shattered societies.

The basic premise for nearly all these arguments is that while unmanaged capitalism, and certainly the neo-liberal version, are causing havoc and leading to severe crisis the other historical trend of note, Marxism and it’s variants with their revolutionary program, have proven equally untenable and unworkable. Enter the Third Way, mixed economies guided by a civil society advanced in it’s democratic processes, it’s knowledge and moral commitment, and realistic safeguards against those forces of profit making with which it is in tension. As a reply to “grey capitalism” it proposes a grey socialism, a path between ‘market socialism and “vain attempts to anticipate a complete suppression of the market.”
Robin Blackburn describes it as “strengthening the element of planning and re-distribution to the point where it’s logic encroaches on the logic of capital”. Or could it just be that placing faith in the 'altruism' of "newer market economies" is actually a surrender disguised as a synthesis?

Often this approach is linked to a new humanism, one which “has the power to annoy people and to propose a seriously new set of ideas”. Jaques Attali imagines a “hyper democracy where the globalization of markets will be counter balanced, and made tolerable, by an equivalent globalization of democracy and the formation of a social or ‘relational’ economy in which profitability is only a necessary condition of development." We see these arguments surface in the tracts ofRoberto Unger as well as books such as Richard Sennets The Culture of the New Capitalism. "Managed capitalism" may be inevitable , but it is not fated to remainain Reaganite. Murray Bookchin developed this concept of radical democracy combined with a new humanism and " libertarian municipalism"in his formation of Communalism ( I know,I know, a lot of isms) but his critique of markets remained firm to the end. The new paradigm is "Good Capitalism- Bad Capitalism".

As we look at Venezuela and it's 21st Century Socialism we have to wonder if this marriage of convenience between markets and social emancipation will remain viable when the Resource Wars really heat up. Is there a future for mixed economies such as the Scandinavian experiments or do the recent turns toward the center-right in France and with Britains New Labor tell us something fundamental about such loveless marriages? We are all sick of bloody revolution, both the Right and the Left varieties but I believe the Third Way is utopian in the negative, religious sense and that the Marxist analysis of the basic antagonism between markets and justice remains true. Markets have no soul and von Hayeck, Friedman, Ayn Rand and Co. could never give them one.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Relevent and Timely

With this coming Saturday's conference titled Labor Now and it's theme of exploring the role of organized labor in the 21st century, I thought it timely to find a great piece in the Fall Issue of Dissent titled The Future of Global Unions: Is solidarity still forever? by Alan Howard. Mr. Howard does a good job dissecting the problems and opportunities in the field of global unionism and I wish conference participants could all read this piece but I will try to summarize the main points and give us a base for future discussion.

The article points out what most realize, unionism has been slow to adapt to a rapidly changing global economic environment and it pinpoints the reason for this failure , accurately ,in my opinion, with the unflexible, hierarchical structure of traditional unions and associations of unions. Howard states "Union structures look much as they did a hundred years ago, rigid but not necessarily coherent hierachies, from the broad, sprawling base of increasingly diverse workplaces to local union hall to national headquarters reaching a pinnacle in the recently formed International Trade Union Confederation", which represents 168 million workers in 153 countries. Within these structures , unfortunately, "all to often the energy and creativity of many talented and selfless people is smothered by a lethal bureacratic mentality and more than a few leaders whose first priority is is to defend their own fuedal powers.."

Examining the myriad difficulties unions have had in adjusting to new global realities, Howard points first to his own experience as an organizer for UNITE and it's attempts to "follow the work" around the world as garment manufacturers began moving to Mexico, Central America and the Carribean. They found they were unprepared to deal with complicated cultural, legal and political issues nor could they answer the question: Once you crossed the Rio Grande, where did you stop? "Because whether you are a corporation, a union, a person looking for work-or an imperial army-crossing any national border means a new and often unpredictable complexity.." Neither European nor American unions understood what they were doing by allying with "their" employers to restrict imports or agreeing to all kinds of concessions to save jobs that eventually dissapeared anyway. The question is; Is it to late?

Certain unions are forging effective programs of international work such as the Teamsters, with it's Global Strategies department, SIEU, which has launched a high profile campaign to organize property service workers in dozens of cities around the world and the Steelworkers, which are attempting a merger with UK workers unions and have embraced the anti-sweatshop movement. Unfortunately, there is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of national unions which thwarts efforts towards any profound change and this relates to the meaning of solidarity. Take for instance the debate within the AFL-CIO only a decade ago,"when any activity associated with international solidarity was characterized..as little more than "labor tourism" and a waste of money" ( How could we fight for the rights of Guatemalan workers when their employment took our jobs?) The new efforts that seem to be effective, for instance the United Electrical workers union's alliance with Mexico's FAT federation or the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center, have these traits in common, according to Howard. "They are fluid networks in which the agenda is set by participants directly linked to the shop floor.Sometimes they include organizations that are not unions but are integral to the process.They can turn on a dime and discuss anything they think is relevent." Very unlike traditional union structures.

The article then goes into some interesting detail about how " for more than a century , unions in the USA have cooperated , reluctantly or enthusiastically ,with the US governments foreign policy." To me , this points to another fundamental contradiction because US foreign policy is always in the service of capitalism. Whether we are talking about the Cold War, Vietnam. decades of Latin American intervention (continuing with the AFL-CIO meddling in Venezuela and it's taking government funding for international work) this subservience has undermined unionisms credibility and there are valid questions as to it's ability "to provide an effective counterweight to the inequities of capitalism. This is a race against time, and the stakes are very high. As weak as it is, organized labor, with it's global reach, it's billions in assets, tens of millions of members, thousands of employees and historic vocation for uplifting the downtrodden, is the largest social movement on the planet and perhaps the last, best hope we have for averting the rendezvous with disaster that our profit-crazed economic system seems determined to keep."Obviously then it needs more seperation from government policy and ideology , both at the leadership level and within it's rank and file.

Will unions find the sophistication necessary to deal with China? Will they find a coherent strategy or the semblance of a practicle program for organizing and raising the living standards of the 1.5 billion workers of the Global South ? Efforts such as the revived IWW, the Brussels based textile global union federation , the nine other federations doing such work (previously known as international trade secretariats) , or the new ITUC may be hopeful signs and the "labor movement" is much bigger and more inclusive than simple "organized labor". Wworker centers, NGO's womens ,immigrant, community and research organizations worldwide defend the rights of workers and function as their advocates before governments and the general public.

"Whether we are talking about formal and official mergers of entire institutions or the global networks growing organically with specific campaigns, unions have begun a process of global integration that could prove to be historic." This could also prove to be our last chance to save our societies from the barbaric predations of globally rampaging capital. The very concept of justice is under attack and losing. How many members do we want in our union? At least 30 million!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Southern Sister

Centolia Maldonado Vasquez came and spoke in Missoula last Thursday and peeled back several layers of misconception we priviledged norte americanos cling to in our desperate need to rationalize. Centolia comes from the state of Oaxaca and explained the effects of mass migration to the north on her country, region, culture and family and then linked this calamitous phenomona with it's roots in US policy.

Whether white and affluent or colored and working class, most folks think of immigration only in terms of how it might spoil their little parade here in the land of the free, home of the brave, but there is of course another story and the more it is told the more these destructive myths can be shattered. To think of your fellow workers as the enemy is to be a stooge, the kind the bosses laugh at all the way to the bank.

She also spoke of the resistance movement in the region which arose from a teachers strike and then briefly flourished ,with solidarity coming from many social organizations, before being brutally repressed by state violence. It was a painful part of the discussion for Centolia as she recounted her dead , wounded and jailed comrades and she was obviously dismayed at the governments successful infiltration and suppression of the movement. Of course it is far from over.

The group Witness for Peace coordinated this event (along with CAJA and SESJ) and is facilitating Centolias tour throughout the northwest. They organize one to two week delegations to places like Oaxaca, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela so folks can learn first hand the effects of US foreign policy on our neighbors to the south. And put a human face on what are to often abstract discussions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Local Boy Makes Good

"After persuading the Bush Administration to abandon it's CO2 pledge, Bracewell launched a full-court press on behalf of another industry priority; relaxing restrictions on coal-fired power plants. Enlisted in the cause were key GOP lobbyists, including Haley Barbour, C.Boyden Gray and Marc Racicot, former governor of Montana, a Bracewell partner who was a top lobbyist for Enron and head of the Republican National Committee."

Our "boyish looking" ex governor, who served two brutal terms (for the environment,public education,public trust in general), is a snake. A viper among vipers. Rudy Guiliani is a partner at Bracewell,whose clientele includes plenty of Texas scum like T.Boone "Swift Boat" Pickens and Tom "Clear Channel" Hicks. Which reminds me of a couple of new verbs now in use, swiftboated and Dixiechicked. Though not yet found in Websters they mean : directed hate mongering campaign through mobilization of ignorant redneck lackeys. I know ,I know. What is hate mongering for Texans. Sorry, but think of Lyndon Johnson, John Connally, John Cornyn, Tom Delay! Snake pit.

From Steve Earl's Christmas in Washington:
There's foxes in the henhouse, cows out in the corn
the unions have been busted, their proud red banners torn
to listen to the radio, you'd think that all was well
But you and me and Cisco know It's going straight to hell

So come back Emma Goldman, rise up old Joe Hill
the barricades are goin up
They cannot break our will

La lucha obrera no tiene fronteras!

"It is hard to find any fervent post-colonialist who will agree that, having thrown off the imperial yoke, the ex-colonial peoples should be free to choose dictatorship, theocracy, tribalism, nepotism, clitoridectomy, or the rule of warlords." Robin Fox, in his essay The kindness of Strangers, is attempting to explain the difficulties of emancipation but I think he misses the mark, especially when he claims the old formula,"No bourgeoise, no democracy" holds true. In the case of any kind of collective trauma (such as colonialism) the victims are not left "free" in the sense he describes. As in the instance of Stockholm Syndrome, would we say a kidnap victim is "free" to join his/her captors? If the Iraqis are a "long way from grasping the concept of citizenship" I would ask him to consider their collective experience (CIA assisted coup, years of war,sanctions, dictatorship) and tell me any society would emerge without pathology. As for bourgeois democracy, it is a hollow shell, a game or parody, acted out on the stage for the benefit of convention and appearances. Healthy people, I don't care what culture or ethnic background, do not choose exploitation and oppression. Sorry if I sound like Reagan or Bush.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fair and Balanced

Perhaps in order to counter all the Amy Goodman and Free Speech TV I've been absorbing lately I decided to keep my radio dialed to KLYQ all day. This jewel is a talkshow and Fox News station broadcast right here in Hamilton Mt and for two hours I listened to Rush Limbaugh and for another three I listened to Sean Hannity while painting my house. In what I can only assume is an average day, Rush invoked the spectre of socialism four times in his slot and Sean spat out the word five times in his. Of course, socialism is equated with anything left of Joseph Biden so it gets somewhat blurred by references to Move On and old Ted Kennedy. Voluntarily listening to this is a form of spiritual self-mutilation, like the Salafists flaying themselves or Catholics kneeling on broomsticks. And a real test.



These wingers are unbelievably fixated on Hillary right now, with Nancy Pelosi a close second in the running for anti-Christ. All the males on the show used the same tone they might when speaking of ex-wives and were incensed that silly women were going to vote for a woman JUST BECAUSE of her gender whereas all the guys were voting for Rudy because they are.... discerning. They spewed venom on Al Gore (what Paul Krugman is calling "Gore Derangement Syndrome") and his ridiculous "warming theory"(and the Nobel Committee), on Frank Rich for his "good Germans" op ed in the Times yesterday, (and all "drive by media", which is everything but Fox and NY Sun) on Reid for stirring up the Armenians who are upsetting the Turks and all the other usual suspects (public education, public tv, public anything) Surrender monkeys, freedom fries, purple fingers, General Sanchez, all the good news about the surge, the strong field of Republican candidates, Ditto Heads in La La Land. Rush even took the opportunity to mock the N.Carolina Governor's call for water conservation, saying he had all his cars washed everyday as should every good American. Remind me not to do that again for awhile. All the more reason to get our socialist radio station up and running. Live From Lenningrad! 24 hour Cuban music! We can play Chavez's new CD!

"Over any fairly lengthy period of time, successful imperialism requires that a domestic Republic or domestic democracy change into a domestic tyranny." Chalmers Johnson from his new book Nemesis

NBC's Today show opened with a segment on the captured child rapist, went to Prince William's girlfriend, then to an interview with Larry Craig and wife, and of course the requisite pieces on OJ and Brittany. Not a word about Texas oilman Oscar Wyatt Jr. pleading guilty to charges that he paid millions in illegal bribes to Iraqi officials to win contracts connected to the United Nations oil for food program. I'm just finishing a book on Texas and it's assholes, over five thousand pages so far.

"Is Nixon "human"? Probably so,in the technical sense.. By almost any standard of responsible journalism the President must be referred to as "human". It is one of those ugly realities- like the Amnesty Question- that we all have to face and accept." Hunter S. Thompson

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Too Much Information?

This could be dangerous for an "issue" junkie such as myself. The wife signed us up for dish TV so I have gone from two and a half stations to one hundred ,overnight, and my head is exploding.

How did 60 Minutes do it? They must have read my last post and quickly produced a piece on the new "hyper-workers". Leslie Stahl interviewed a bunch of yuppies working 60- 80 hours a week, talking on two cell phones at once during their hour commute in to work, sleeping with their blackberries and putting tv screens in their showers so they could watch business news. When one company decided to lighten things up and let their people work at home they found they actually worked MORE hours. Slaves who have so internalized the whip that the boss can go sailing and the workers will sweat blood voluntarily. Beautiful.

Then we saw a piece on returned Iraqi veterans being interviewed about their wounds, amputations, maiming, blinding, ptsd etc.. Much of the same internalized discipline and obedience, circular reasoning, defensive posturing that one would expect. (as a survival mechanism I suppose) Still clinging to that gossamer thread of justification (defending freedom) I expect they will hit that brutal wall of realization that so many Vietnam vets plowed into: We Were Chumped! Then shit gets ugly.

Another segment covered some mega-church in Texas that was a converted 20 million dollar sports stadium, packed full with the faithful. Some young preacher served easy listening Christianity- lite (the Kenny G of religion) and then passed the buckets (forget the little plates) around for cash. It was all New Agey "God wants you to be rich" and keep smiling through the rain. The connections to the other shows are painfully obvious and, to make one final linkage, we saw Eric Prince defend his own private Christian army against the soft balls lobbed at him by some cute Brit.

To combat this trend towards outright mutilation, self-mutilation, and voluntary lobotomization we are going to try to get a community radio station put together. There is a small window open to get a rare low- power FM spot on the bandwidth. The non-commercial range (89-112) is already clogged with 25 Christian broadcasters, mostly Calvary Radio, and the area desperately cries out for some radical and reason-oriented programming. It will tale lots of time and money but what the hell else do I have to do? ( hint: work, fish, travel, organize,agitate)

Meanwhile, we are in the middle of one of the most incredible falls in the history of the universe. I have to go steelheading, the reflection of the gold trees on the river at sunrise will help me on my journey. That tug on the end of the line wouldn't hurt either.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Working Class Heroes

Montana's unemployment rate hovers around 3% and yet actual wages and buying power are falling as the cost of living rises. Add to this a rise in worker productivity and we have a real contradiction in classic economic terms. We would expect low unemployment to create wage pressure but what is different now is both the types of jobs being created and the mentality of the new workforce, both products of what is generally called "globalization" but what I think can more accurately be called the colonization of everyday life.

We used to extract resources here (still do but scaled way back, most is outsourced to countries with lax environmental laws) and it was hard ,physical work that required concentrated labor. Logging , mining, dam building, road construction all needed industrial forces that were mobile and not particularly educated(in the formal sense). These workers were easily organized because they had a native grasp of class relations, exploitation and power relations. They fought for their share of the profit, they understood that without their productive capacity those natural resources could not be extracted.

Now days, a whole new division of labor has been constructed,workers are fragmented, atomized into small concerns and less rigidly defined categories. Service workers, small business employees, co-ordinators and contractors have taken the place of industry per se and this new labor force has been indocctrinated in the public school system to believe notions of "class" have been replaced by much more opaque categories of exclusion and division. The notion of solidarity, common cause or union has been systematically displaced and demonized through culturalization with active participation of media, entertainment and organized religion. National and racial exceptionalism lend meaning to lives of working, consuming, and paying for wars or yachts for the wealthy.

So people work harder for a smaller and smaller share and blame their predicament on straw men, vaguely concieved enemies and cultural outsiders. They are cynical of a hollowed out politics but frozen by apathy ,denial and powerlessness to effect any change. Montanans continue to buy the newest, biggest pickup which they cannot afford to fill with gas, complain about taxes while making minimum wage and sport flag decals and Support the Troops stickers.
The Montana IWW hopes to restore some pride and move people to regain some control over their own lives. If not now, when?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Working Our Way South

Not everyone in Bolivia is into re-distributing wealth and power. The eastern part of the country, rich with natural resources, is a region where "US style consumerism, bootstrap mentality and racial make-up don't easily mix with Morales' vision of a communal state ruled by the traditional values of Bolivias long oppressed Indian majority. Santa Cruz's elite made their millions from soy plantations, cattle ranches and real estate and feel targeted by government plans to sieze land judged idle or fraudulently obtained and give it to the needy."

This elite sounds like the kind of California- Reaganite- fascists Beamish could really get down with. These ultra-nationalists call themselves the Bolivian Socialist Falange Party with no hint of irony. There is lots of pointless debate lately on other un-named blogs about labels, who was a communist blah blah. These guys call themselves "socialists" as did Hitler, Im going with fascist. Meanwhile the always reliable US State Dept. is "participating" through USAID and OTI ( the wonderfully named Office of Transition Initiatives), agencies which distribute grants and expertise in "democracy building". This approach is a bit softer than training murderers at the School of the Americas but has the same goal. subvert self-determination.

Costa Rica voted today ( a popular referendum) on whether to ratify CAFTA. An even subtler approach.
Tariq Ali gives a good rundown of the tenuous situation in Pakistan in this months London Review of Books. It's always about blowback, of course. "Most of today's jihadi groups are the mongrel offspring of Pakistani and Western intelligence outfits, born in the 1980's when General Zia was in power and waging the West's war against the godless Russians, who were then occupying Afghanistan. During the 1980s and 1990's this complex (Islamabad madrassa) became a transit camp for young jihadis on their way to fight in Afghanistan and, later, Kashmir. Abdullah (cleric with state patronage) made no secret of his beliefs. He was sympathetic to the Saudi-Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and during the Iraq-Iran war was only to happy to encourage the killing of Shia 'heretics' in Pakistan."

In an even wierder form of "democracy building",now we support another in a long line of military dictators in a power sharing agreement with a corrupt "over-inflated raft in the shape of Benazir Bhutto." He is under siege by the newly invigorated judiciary on one side and Muslim fundamentalists on the other and the jaded populace watches like it is some kind of Bollywood extravaganza. (which it is) "Some escape- there are 20,000 Pakistani doctors working in the US alone- but others come to terms with the system, accept compromises that make them deeply cynical about themselves and everyone else." Add to this the fact that Pakistan is reported to be building a plutonium production reactor and it's another fine mess you've got us in Ollie!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Make A Deposit

CitiBank, with it's 2.2 trillion dollars of assets is in a position to call some shots, this being a democracy and all, where spending money to influence things is a constitutional right. In their new "Green-ness" they are "engaging with their clients on their carbon reduction efforts."
Of course business is business and there are plans for 150 new coal fired power plants across the country. ( Montana has six in progress or on the drawing board) Citibank and Bank of America are the top lenders to companies involved in this expansion, which would add between 600 million and 1.1 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide emmisions and negate every other effort to combat climate change. Forget the lightbulbs, the Prius, planting a tree. Invest in choking the life out of yourself.

How about the bank where you do business, what do you suppose they invest in? Maybe they are owners in Chinese or Indian coal plants, the global leaders in this sector and a place to make real profits. Speaking of Montana, our Governor has big plans to liquify our coal and burn it cleaner and sequester carbon in the ground. This could make us the Saudi Arabia of the US! He could be a shiek! Maybe Missoula could be a northern Dubai. Gleaming glass towers , fountains, Tiffanys, Bentleys! Then we could really BE SOMEBODY. Time to make another deposit.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Late Capitalism

The stock market seems wildly exuberant considering the overall global situation but it is just this irrationality that best exemplifies the period. "Late capitalism has an irreversibly destructive logic" says Walden Bello, pointing to the failed policy prescriptions trotted out to counter-act the crises of over accumulation. These "kinder, gentler" globalizations recognize the damage of the neoliberal "Washington Consensus" but don't solve the inherant contradictions and so the Band Plays On! Bigger Mergers, Bigger Bombs, Bigger Yachts!

Meanwhile, down at the Union Club in Missoula Montana, the Wobblies are patiently and diligently organizing for the day society finally looks into the mirror and sees nothing. We (our community) have a great speaker coming on the 18th to talk about the uprising in Oaxaca and a conference coming up later in the month for a discussion on New possibilities for organizing labor, including getting rid of the bosses! Meanwhile Ann Coulter is showing some leg on the Today show and flipping her blond mane while cracking wise, the traders on the floor are furiously buying and selling their promises, hopes and fears and the distant rumbling continues.

I have been trying to work through Jameson's Late Marxism word by word but it is heavier than wet concrete. Mandels Late Capitalism is far more accessible.
Despite the hegemony of neoliberalism, an examination of the different aspects of 'the new world order' hardly warrants confidence in the systems stability.Decisive economic events and class conflicts loom over the horizon. Got to go ,it's getting late.