Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Return to the Political

"Refusal of politics, power from below, making revolution without taking power- rather than being stages of a journey, partial truths which should not be renounced, these risk becoming elements of a fossilized subculture, a repetitive rhetoric that prevents self-reflection or an exacting definition of priorities."

Lucio Magri The Tailor of Ulm NLR 51

Maybe this pressing desire for "an exacting definition of priorities" is a product of me (and Lucio) getting old fast but I grow weary of "Social Forums" and "movement of movements" and especially all this focus on sociopaths or evil.I am itching for a "program extending social ownership to all sectors of the economy, ending the distribution of profits to shareholders, and replacing the system of selling labor for wages with collective decision-making about the distribution of an organizations income." Worrying about whether George Bush has any empathy etc is exactly such an element of a "fossilized subculture", in my humble opinion. We need to focus on systems and structures, that is, questions surrounding a vibrant radical analysis for our time. Leave psychoanalysis of the Bush's to liberals. I'll pose some of those questions in the next post.

NY Times is now promoting socialism in it's Sunday article (propaganda piece). Finding "remarkable change " and an "important milestone for stability in Iraq" we meet Mr. Maliki "who is increasingly seen as a true national leader". Your shirts will be whiter and your teeth brighter! They could sell flip flops to eskimos! But the best part is this tidbit: "One young man said that even though his house was right across from a distribution center, he was not allowed to buy it there at STATE PRICES, but instead was forced to wait for a militia-affiliated distributor who sold it at a higher price."

WTF, what happened to the free market and the Amerian way of life? Our soldiers are dying for a system of "State prices"? I live next to a distribution center and I have to wait for a corporate-affiliated distributor!(who is probably a militia member!) who jacks up the price so he can buy a new Hummer. Where are my "state prices"?

"Because this is a convulsion brought by 'Anglo-Saxon' finance driven capitalism, it will have a character of it's own. Japan did not have hollowed out industries, a negative savings rate,or an infestation of untested,unpriceable structured finance."

Robin Blackburn on why the subprime crisis could be deeper than most care to admit. All these calls for regulation remind me that capitalism thrives on instability and the illusion of "reform". As the Harpeth Institute for Social Policy puts it ,"We will win battles but lose the war as long as we believe that reform of this economic system is possible. Fighting for reform is absolutely necessary but it must lead to the socialization of wealth and production for human needs." How then do we make "reform" the beginning stage of a broader agenda? What language do we use with workers and liberals?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Too Much Is Always Better Than Not Enough

Dear President Bush,

I was just wondering if it would be possible to get another one of those "stimulus" checks from y'all, see, I've been reading about how consumer spending is keeping the economy going and I'm willing to do my part but the first check went in a flash. I've been wanting a jet ski for years, actually, ever since my fancy pants brother in law got one, so I plunked down my check on a down payment but there were some problems, that is, things that I hadn't really thought through all the way. Such as, I need a trailer to carry it on, for one. And a truck to pull the trailer. Plus, the nearest lake is about four hours away so I'm going to need some time off from work but then there's the problem of my mortgage payments and credit card, both of which I'm a little behind on.
I'm no economist either, but it seems to me if these "stimulus" checks were to show up on a regular basis it would be a real win-win for the economy as a whole and for getting my wife off my back about the new pistol I bought. I always knew we had the "right to bear arms" and it's got a great finish but now the payday loan guy is on my ass about that!
Anyway, Iv'e been a big fan since since you said "bring em on" , I really liked that, and I watch your speeches on my new flat screen tv when I can get the wife away from her cop shows. Keep up the good work and I hope you'll seriously consider my idea about keeping the economy "stimulated".
God Save Texas, Troutsky

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Look For Me In Butte

When the organizers of the National Folk Festival announced they were bringing the event to Butte Montana, the local Wobblies ( Kevin, Amanda, Dennis) jumped into action and created Union Corner right in the heart of the activities. The festival people weren't happy about it (they strive for a Disney-like non-controversial atmosphere) but much to their dismay, our Fellow Workers pulled an end around and we had a great space where we sold t-shirts, cd's, books, displayed union history, sang labor songs, chatted with folks and proudly displayed the red and black. Dennis created a great shirt with the picture of Wob martyr Frank Little along with the words : "murdered by the Copper Trust, Aug 1 ,1917". On Sunday my wife and I wore the shirt all day as we listened to the great music (Afro-Cuban, reggae, Quebecois, blues, gospel, bluegrass etc) and I personally was approached a dozen times by people who wanted to know more about the IWW.

Of course Butte is a unique place with a strong union history but it was amazing to have old working class guys come up to you and call you brother, show you their IWW pin or fathers old red card. Perfect strangers wanted to talk Gramsci and Debord. Young people wanted to explain their ideas about anarchism. There was actual idea exchange spurred in part by current events (the economy) but also by the very fact that radicals were out front with their flags and tshirts, openly displaying their resistance. We simply tapped into a very real dissatisfaction with the status quo and the dilapidated ,empty buildings of uptown Butte were the perfect backdrop, the perfect realization (in the shadow of the nation's largest Superfund site) of capitalisms propensity towards "creative destruction". These people have first hand knowledge of how it leaves workers and communities struggling in it's wake when it moves to more fertile territory.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Personally Thanking Alan Greenspan

Dear Mr. Greenspan,

How cool is this? Fanni Mae ( was that the redneck Barbie in Beverly Hillbillies?), Wachovia, InterMac, Banks collapsing, investment firms failing, governments bailing, the whole stinking confidence game choking on it's own hubris, and where are you hiding Alan? I need to thank you and your Wall Street Journal syncophants for all you've done. The New York Times warns us that "the failure of just one of the companies could be catastrophic for economies around the globe". Interesting, because I remember you saying how independent and stable this whole system was. Maybe you need to get off the meth.

The same article described these country cousin mortgage lenders as "government -sponsored- enterprises", (known in the former USSR as "collectives") even though Henry Paulsen just made a point of calling them "shareholder owned"? Confusion? Wouldn't Lockheed and General Dynamics and General Mills and General Petraeus also be "government-sponsored-enterprises"? The American people are in need of some soothing reassurances . The propagandists are now saying the bailouts could help "spare strapped homeowners from the WRATH of the market" but this is also confusing , Alan. Do markets really act in such emotive fashion? I thought it was a purely rational process? "Creative Destruction" and all, that, you remember, weeding out the bad actors, rewarding the clever ones.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for all your hard work, and while I'm sure you're still mourning the loss of your old guru buddy Milton, I hope you can find some comfort in the fact that at least you ended up rich enough to "weather the storm" as they say.

Deepest regards, Troutsky

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

Jesse Helms was a mean little ignorant prick and thankfully he is worm food at last. He was the poster-child for stupid pride and bigotry and it is interesting to watch the media slip on their extra-sensitive condoms in their measured "memorium" of the hateful troll. He took close-minded, intolerant redneck and turned it into a trademark for the (mostly) Southern masses, celebrating the anti-intellectualism that brought us Reagan and GW Bush and sending this country into it's present historical tailspin. He epitomized the petty, abusive, bully and demigogue as he whored for Big Tobacco, rallied the extremist religious fundamentalists against AIDs research funding and licked the ass of every brutal dictator he could find. The perfect symbol of all thats wrong with America, I hope a moment of clarity on his deathbed brought him untolerable anguish. Every North Carolinian who ever voted for him should be required to go work a year on an Indian reservation or do hospice work for AIDs victims.