Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jim The Electrician

I am taking a course on writing Liberatory literature over at ZSchool. This is an attempt.

It started out as a day like any other day. As any other day off, that is. Jim slept in till eight and then sat and drank coffee while reading the local paper till his son Jeb woke up. He skimmed the headlines, same old same old, then flipped to the sports section to see how the Phillies did. He planned to make some pancakes and throw in some laundry then maybe go get the truck washed. Then he would settle in for a little football and whatever.

It was going pretty much to plan until he heard a commotion out in the street in front of the two bedroom bungalow he shared with his son. A crowd had suddenly gathered on what was normally a quiet little street, fifteen or twenty people, some carrying what looked like television cameras and microphones. His first instinct was to sit back down to finish the comics but then he recognized the fellow who seemed to be the center of attention, none other than one of the presidential candidates whose face had been in the news non-stop for six months now. Farouk O’Conner was the young Democrat everyone was going crazy over and if he was hoping to be surrounded by adoring fans, Jim thought he might just disturb those plans. Jim would in fact like to ask this slick liberal an embarrassing question of two and see if he could squirm out of it on camera for the six o’clock news.

Jim was raised in a working class neighborhood where dads worked at the Westinghouse plant and most moms worked too. They ate dinner in front of the TV and didn’t say much. Though he only had a high school diploma, Jims dad made good money as a machinist but had expectations for Jim to go to college and get a profession. Jim had little interest or ambition when it came to his studies and he joined the navy like his father had at 18. He spent two years in North Carolina then two years with the fourth fleet and he married a girl he had met in Virginia while on leave.They had a son but the marriage hadn't worked out. Finding work with a local building contractor, he learned some basic trades then hooked up with a self employed electrician, running wire and drilling holes. He wasn’t going to do this his whole life, that he knew for sure, but it paid the bills.

As Jim approached the tightly packed crowd in the street, he nearly changed his mind about confronting the candidate, “politics is all a big joke anyway” he thought, but his resolve returned when he thought of what direction this joker was trying to take the country. Most weekdays at work he listened to the talk-radio stations and lately he had been feeling increasingly outraged at all the corruption and incompetence he had been hearing about. Where was the commonsense? Where were the old American values of hard work and fair play? The nanny state and the freeloaders who depended on it seemed to be taking over everywhere you looked and nothing was being done about the illegal immigrants taking all the jobs and white males being discriminated against. Government may be a joke but there was no way to stop it because the media and the universities and Hollywood were all in on it. These angry opinions were developed in conversations with other tradesmen on the construction sites where in between sexist jokes and discussions about the merits of various pickup trucks, the occasional discussion about “politics”
would creep in. Guys like Limbaugh and Hannity could put into words the things he felt
were wrong and he tried to learn some of the basic talking points from them
as well as from watching FOX News in the evenings. He thought Lou Dobbs should be the one running for president. He would heatedly deny that he had an “ideology”. Jim was rarely bored enough to read a book, but by picking up a Newsweek or Time and scanning his local paper occasionally he felt he stayed informed.

Though he had no savings ,lived month to month on expanding credit card debt and was actually in arrears to the IRS, he clung to the belief that he was destined to be a “player”, that with a few breaks he would hit the big time and live the American dream. He was convinced such transformation can only happen in America. Of course, as the cost of living skyrocketed, his hourly wage had not kept up and he still had no health insurance but he put the blame on immigrant labor and tried to keep the resentment at bay when he considered his bosses new boat, flat screen tv, and vacation to Hawaii. Blame also fell on the government waste that he knew was eating up his tax dollars, his hard earned money that was going to welfare queens and “clean needle programs”. He knew minorities were getting preferential treatment landing contracts so that his dream of owning his own electrical contracting business stayed just out of reach. All this talk lately of the government buying up banks and government run healthcare and zero down loans for illegal immigrants all smacked of socialism and the next thing we’d find is everybody having to dress and act and think the same. Jim wasn’t going down that road. Not while he still owned a gun. This guy O’Conner was saying he would just tax the rich and “share wealth” but that was the same slippery slope to the gulag. Being successful needed to be rewarded, not penalized, or everyone would sit around watching Oprah all day, eating bonbons. Wealth needed to be created, not “re-distributed”.

Jim the Electrician approached the candidate, question memorized, anger and nervousness in check. In fact an eerie calm engulfed him as he spoke up and plunged headfirst into the grinding gears of the Spectacle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Real Change I Can Believe In

Took a great hike and broke bread this evening with some new comrades, Carlos Euceda and Willy Barrenca. Carlos is a Honduran Mayan with the Mexico Solidarity Network who is touring the region informing folks of the perils of Plan Mexico (Merida Initiative). He has spent a great deal of time in Oaxaca and Chiapas and spoke about the popular struggles and social movements and the effects of US policy in those areas specifically. Willy is an aspiring film maker and activist, also a Mayan from Guatemala, who did the translating and helped with logistics and keeping spirits up. Visit his blog and buy his movie, support his work, help make change happen. His next project is to round up used video cameras and computers and turn his whole village into documentarians! Also along were a highschool and college student and teacher giving me hope this movement is getting a fresh infusion.

Losers Of The Week : Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, Phil Graham,Rep. Michelle Bachman,Rush Limbaugh and Senator Albert Beveridge who famously said : "God has not been preparing the English Speaking and Tuetonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self admiration. No! He has made us master organizers of the world... that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples." Masterbaters perhaps, certainly not organizers.

Helmut over at Phronesisaical did a good piece a while back called the Colombia Connection. Check it out. I think it was significant that Obama mentioned the human rights abuses under Aribe that make it impossible for him to support the Trade Agreement. We need to keep the pressure on this one. The Right is as disoriented as they have ever been, totally flumoxed, and it is time for a major offensive. Talk about socialism and democracy, autonomy and liberty. Surge while they are "shocked" and awed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Layers

My never ending quest for "my fair share of abuse" led me to a meeting put together by the Higher Ground Foundation on Wed. night. One of the biggest issues dividing our local community is land use planning ,with those wishing for planned growth through zoning squared off against those who feel their property rights (and much, much more) threatened. This fight has been raging in various forms for twenty years and I went to the meeting to check in on the state of the opposition. (I'm in favor of a Growth Plan, these folks are vehemently opposed) As an amatuer socioligist I find this valley a fascinating laboratory. It is called "higher ground" because the wealthy funder knowingly (in defiance of regulations) built his house in the flood plain and was forced to move it.

The gal doing the actual presentation was obviously uncomfortable speaking in front of crowds. Her hands were shaking so bad she could not hold and read the papers. She had tried to organize her materials and her thoughts but her argument was so convoluted and incoherent that she soon lost track of her thread (the Plan had grown too big and complex, process was not fair, elite forces had too much power) and fell back on what is, after all, the core issue : the rate of change is outstripping their ability to comprehend all it's ramifications.

It is really a microcosm of the planet at large with environmental damage affecting the economy (mills shut down due to over-harvest, degradation, markets), cultural wars raging, ( ranchers , loggers vs newcomers, progressives), religious and political extremism (Assembly of God, Mormons and militia-types) and a steady influx of retirees, nouveau-riche and attendent service workers driving up land places, sending ugly sprawl along highway corridors and generally "changing everything".

She put down the papers and her notes and told the assembled that what was at stake was nothing less than Our Freedom and The American Way of Life. Property rights were sacred as was the capitalist system they upheld. Zoning was an attack on the Constitution. Open space requirements, stream set-back regulations, urban clusters, restrictions on Big Box store development, in sum all imposed limits, were "takings", encroachment by the government on individual liberty and free enterprise. This led to a discussion on the U.N. and it's agenda for a New World Order. It could have led to the Illuminati but we ran out of time and adjourned. Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Indigenous -Campesino Divide

The struggles for social and economic justice in Latin America are diverse and at times divergent. In many regions land reform ( more taboo words for US media) is an issue sparking violent confrontation and re-igniting historical conflict but it would be a mistake to view these simply through the lens of class struggle. While the landless Peasant Movement has identified with "anti-globalization"forces, with their emphasis on trade and development (soft imperialism), movements for indigenous power have maintained a degree of separation and autonomy.



In Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico and recently Colombia, peasants and indigenous peoples are actively re-occupying territory and contesting ownership, often with deadly results. Since colonization, land has been super-concentrated in the hands of an elite class of oligarchs (much of it with European racial history) but new industrial agricultural monopolies, especially soy production, have been particularly devastating and served to increase conflict. What is identified under the general term "globalization", with it's investment and trade strategies, structural adjustments ( dumping of subsidized commodities,privitization, concentration on export, reduced social expenditure, etc) has served to dislocate and disrupt indigenous communities throughout the region but it has also served to focus resistance. Peasants and the indigenous have become organized , educated and inspired by success on various fronts (political power especially) and they are mobilizing at a time when traditional counter-vailing forces are weak or distracted elsewhere. These are incredibly resilient, patient and persistent peoples as demonstrated by a banner seen waving over a peasant encampment in Paraguay recently which read : Land or Death.

In Paraguay there is a face-off between peasants and Brazillian para-militaries sent to protect soy production. In Bolivia there is a face-off between peasants, indigenous peoples and right-wing oligarchs over land redistribution. In Colombia and Venezuela peasants and indigenous communities form a common front against repression and also call for land reform while in Mexico the Zapatistas are the most vocal and visible face of resistance and expression for land reform, trade justice and autonomy. Even elements of the North American native community are caught up in these struggles with calls for secession and true sovereignty.

While the US media is focused on it's own myriad crises and elections, these world-historical forces are shaping a truly radical agenda in opposition to neo-liberal capitalism and other entrenched forms of domination and exploitation. We must pay attention and help where we can, in opposing so-called 'free-trade' agreements (Colombia FTA), in opposing militarization in the guise of 'War on Drugs" (Plan Colombia, Merida Initiative, etc) and in opposing intervention by clandestine "development and democratization" forces such as CIA, NED, USAID, etc.. Pay attention and give where you can.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tax the Rich ,Feed the Poor

It's been a long time coming but I do believe we are going to have a little National Conversation on the Distribution of Wealth. Of course it will be within the context of the Spectacular Discourse, but still, just seeing the subject brought up is a fascinating development. The dominant conservative meme is "Obama supports and promotes socialist ideas such as nationalization and wealth re-distribution". The Right uses this as a battle cry knowing that while it's corporate sponsors are a bit shaky (they are intelligent enough to know government bailout and wealth sharing are effective strategies to SAVE capitalism), this will resonate well with the brainwashed shock troops of ideologues and stupid people. (their base and ,by the way,not mutually exclusive)

All thinking people realize "wealth re-distribution" has been in full-assault mode since the 70s with a well documented shift from the actual producers of society to the investor class (see graph). As this data becomes disseminated,as I think it now must, stupid people will have to confront the fact they have ONCE AGAIN been duped by the propaganda of market fundamentalists and Reaganophiles. Sonia will be "adapting" her theories to the new reality, the Economists (techno-professionals) who did not see this coming and have no predictive abilities will "adapt" their theories and people will once again turn to them as Experts. A good example of this adaptation in action comes from James Speth, a Dean at Yale and considered a "founding father " of modern environmentalism. He says

"we should be looking for a nonsocialist alternative to todays capitalism." He is advancing "a real revolution in pricing...transformation to a post-growth society...and a wider variety of ownership patterns in the private sector."

Even Joe the Plumber will come to realize he has been hosed and that it is the tyranny of markets and their attendant "creative destruction" which has brought us starvation amidst plenty and a century of World War. The "invisible hand" is already being chopped away at by "establishment" economists like Stiglitz and Krugman and investors like Soros. A more radical critique follows close behind. As Alain Badiou writes (through infinitethought via Nate Holdren :

Most of society is "vaguely unsettled, understanding little, totally disconnected from any active engagement in the situation" due to the debilitating effects of the Spectacle. From this "shadow play" he advocates a "return to the real". (much as he did in a great essay in NLR 49 Jan-Feb.2008 titled Communist Hypothesis) "To the nefarious spectacle of capitalism, we oppose the real of peoples, of the resistance of all in the proper movement of ideas. The theme of the emancipation of humanity has lost none of it's power."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Society of the Cynical

Whether you are Joe the Plumber, Joe Sixpack, or someone "clinging to his guns and bible", you want to be aware of the Spectacles frightening power to turn you at once into Everyman and NoMan and the often tragic results that may result. Becoming the symbolic centerpiece of the culture war can have unhapppy results and whether Andy Warhol understood this or not, it is often better to just lead "lives of quiet desperation" than stare into the klieg lights and find yourself stripped naked.



Apart from the destruction of a particular life though, this may prove to be an unusually instructional episode as Joe's beliefs (with their symbolic value) are scrutinized and de-constructed. I paraphrased Adorno a few posts back on the subject of self-repression but Joe has forced me to dig up the quote: "As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than the rulers themselves, the decieved masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Imovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them." Joe, though delinquent in his own tax payments and struggling to make ends meet, is fierce in his opposition to the concept of "redistribution of wealth". As are the masses in general. The true "key to consent is getting sub-altern classes to auto -repress, to forge their own mental manacles out of their own best hopes." A perfect example of that "molecular, integral, invisible control" of the modern state system Debord explained.

"In every cry of Man, in every infants cry of fear,In every voice, in every ban, the mind-forged manacles I hear." William Blake

Now we have Hank Williams Junior singing an anthem to Sarah Palin. Hank lives nearby and personifies the "good old Boy" mentality which pervades our rural idyllic. (and I do mean Boy, men who never will or can grow up) Country Western music is a tool of the ruling class to keep the outback mythologized (nationalism, paternalism, anti-intellectualism, etc..) and helplessly sentimental. They really are "clinging" because they are losing all bearings.

As modern society Slouches Toward Bethlehem, I am Fishing Through Meltdown, taking my own advice and hitting the stream everyday during this glorious fall. The tangible benefit of being an expert flyfisherman ( my real gift) is I can pick off the biggest fish sipping the smallest flies in the quietest, shallowest water. Too much fun. Think I'll do it again today. As Bob says : Too much is always better than not enough!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name

"Elsewhere,government bank investment programs are routinely called nationalization programs. But that is not likely in the US where nationalization is a word to avoid, given the aversion to anything that hints of socialism." NY Times



See, in the US we just make up meaningless feel-good words, so, for instance, we call unprovoked attacks "pre-emption"! We "avoid" words like justice or equality. I don't care much for wordplay personally- call me what you want, just don't call me late for dinner! Actually, word taboos are being violated at an unprecedented rate the last few days, I have heard the words "capitalism","socialism" and Marx used in the mainstream media more than in the last five decades combined ! It's great they are reading my blog!( I even heard someone use the word "justice" in an economic context on CNN) .This does not mean the fundamentalists have given up, far from it, Limbaugh, Hannity and the Citizens for Common Sense Tax Elimination are now even more inspired to defend the Bastille. With their backs to the statues of Reagan and Friedman, they brandish their swords and shout the familiar slogans about "moral hazard","free market" and "supply side"! In that Puritanically sadistic fervor that sustains talk radio, they insist on punishment and redemption through suffering, but of course theirs are cries in the wilderness, the pragmatists carry the day because their only ideology or religion is MONEY.



And this is where Naomi Klien got it wrong, she failed to realize that the Shock Doctrine is only for foreigners. They aren't prepared to install a Pinochet here in the good ol USA. (just yet) Instead We The People get some "preferred, non-voting stock" in those banks deemed necessary for maintenence of the financial system.( I assume the certificates will show up with the next stimulus check) Paulson first eats his words and then eats crab with the Europeans, who find this extremis all a bit provincial.

The underlying trope to all this is "class war",placing the same mouthpieces of the Right in the uncomfortable position of having to defend nobless oblige and inherited privilege. (popularly known as "trickle down") I appreciated Tom Brokaws question: "Do you believe healthcare is a right or a responsibility?" which provided a rare opportunity for ideological delineation. I wonder if Sarah Palins prospective son-in-law Levi, who is dropping out of highschool to work the oil fields and is not registered to vote, wants to hear Sean Hannity say that by placing higher taxes on the wealthy we will be "hurting the sales of luxury goods,one of the principle motors of our economy!"?

Monday, October 13, 2008

MAS

One of the most important political parties in Latin America is MAS or, roughly translated, the Movement Towards Socialism. While not ideologically uniform throughout the region (and not always supportive of policies I favor) it presents an interesting platform of radical reform and stresses , even in it's name, the idea of transition. In Bolivia especially, it has gained power through the formation of a popular front including communist parties, indigenous movements for autonomy and factions of the progressive/democratic bourgeoise. I think this type of coalition building may provide lessons for us Norte Americanos and this interesting article by David Schweickarts deals directly with that type of organizing and the possibilities presented by the current global economic crisis.

I have written before of my struggle accepting any approach which accepts markets and I feel a clear acknowledgment that regulated markets are but a phase towards their elimination is necessary. Author Emir Sadir uses the term "post-neoliberal" and describes them thus in the NLR July/Aug 08 essay Strategies in South America:

"These are all anti-neoliberal social forces, but not necessarily anti-capitalist. They might become so, depending on the ability of the social and political leadership to bend the struggle in that direction... We use this term to denote approaches that combine the restoration of several state functions: it's regulatory capacity..; it's ability to carry out universally inclusive social policies, as the representative of the great working mass of society; it's scope for creating new mechanisms of political participation and for re-defining the links between the social and the political. In such economies the recast state will exercise hegemony, but in cohabitation with a sizeable private sector, and socialized properties may take different forms- cooperatives, small family concerns,etc. The goal is to create a new model of socialization by refounding the state around the public sphere, with the idea that 21st century socialism means the rehabilitation of the public domain, the universalization of rights, and thouroughgoing DE-MARKETIZATION."

Along the lines of Naomi Klien in Shock Doctrine and Mouffe/Laclau in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It leaves nervous libertarian Marxists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc wondering if the State will actually ever be encouraged to "whither away"? Other Marxists wonder if "de-marketization" can ever be complete if you leave it's tentacles attached? A bigger question is whether the current crisis discredits "market fundamentalism" enough to create an opening?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Nightmare Continues

Say you are Bill Kristol and you wake to find Conneticut has become the third state to legalize gay marriage, North Korea has been taken off the "Terror List" and Mc Cain is having to throw water on Palins racist fire. Your old pal Greenspan is in disgrace ( he said his faith in derivitives remains "unshaken") , the economy is in ruin and you are just waiting for the lecture from Osama bin Laden or Hugo Chavez. I turn on CNN and the syncophants of Reaganism are howling in rage from their mortal wounds, Bill Bennet talking of virtues, others insisting on tax cuts and less government, a dazed look which begs " when will I wake up?" The pundits have perfected a kind of shrug and idiot grin, suggesting they too have been transported into a realm outside their narrow conceptual capabilities. Even that nice Ms Bachelet from Chile has adopted a mocking tone and I can only imagine the jeers at the G7.

Poor Cornel West sat there thinking about how much he was being paid to be polite and how much he would like to reach across the table and give them a good shake, rattle and roll. Instead he declared Reaganism dead and they started twitching like the methadone was wearing off. The howls have a slightly more bloodthirsty tone at the Mc Cain -Palin rallys, but the rage is the same. Many Americans cannot accept "less", they don't do "sacrifice", unless it is the human variety, and if they think they are losing their precious credit cards and Wal Marts to a terrorist loving socialist half breed, well, at least for now the jewish bankers are spared. (for how long?) Did you see the clip of the poor old gal who told Mc Cain that Obama was an "Arab"? The entire crowd was momentarily embarrassed (in a very collective sense) and then the howls started up once more. As precise a demonstration of our historical moment as I have ever witnessed.

It is now a part of popular entertainment culture to have "on the street"interviews with "uninformed people", as it were, so that others may laugh and wince and feel smug in their own knowlege of "a country that begins with a U" or some other absurd question. Leno does it, John Stewart, Bill Maher, etc .. People realize instinctively that it is this public ignorance that is the real "crisis" of our time. But of course they are unable to articulate it. It is not some bizarre version of capitalism ( "American" , "neoliberal", "monopoly" late global" etc..) which has failed, it is democracy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Right Wing Nightmare

A negro in charge of a socialist America. Rush is about to explode and things are coincidentally getting nasty in my own, rural neighborhood. Obama signs are being torn down and replaced with "nigger lover!!" signs. Both presidential candidates are trying to rally The People by saying American workers will rescue us by WORKING HARDER! Part of our great exceptionalism, you see, is our ability to produce more for less! Yes, boss, we'll shoulder the burden PROUDLY. Fuck that, what the workers of the world ought to do is GO FISHING! Let the beast consume itself while we have pot-lucks and play frisbee for a few weeks, sweep away the ashes and fumes of sulpher and then go back to work for ourselves. The passing of the market economy "can become the beginning of an era of unprecedented freedom." Karl Polanyi

I found that quote over at leninology.blogspot.com , where Seymour presents as concise an analysis as Ive seen on the contradictions of free market ideology. He also explains beautifully Marx's "ideology criticism"and ends with this gem. "Free market ideologues "spent a great percentage of their adult lives believing that the alternative to perpetual liberalization of the markets was the restoration of serfdom. Capital and it's managers were always more pragmatic: their aim was to hegemonize the state ,to make it a powerful instrument of their interests, not to diminish it." Adorno said something like : The slaves accept ruling class ideology more than the rulers! An argument for Graemes anti-statism?

We saw a powerful presentation Tues. night by a group out to abolish the death penalty. Montana had such a bill fail last session by one vote. There were family members of murder victims as well as speakers who had been on death row for crimes for which they had been framed and finally exonerated. Heart wrenching testimony took me back to the Darryl Hunt trial and meeting a man who had spent 17 years fighting for his innocence. Retribution is another barbaric practice that must be stopped.

Finally, Stephen Zunes from Foreign Policy in Focus (see link on blogroll) is a scholar who pays attention and to whom I pay attention. Check out his story : "Aminatour Haidar, a nonviolent activist from Western Sahara and a key leader in the nations struggle against the 33 year old- US backed- occupation of her country, with this years Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award." The situation in Morrocco is rarely covered and it took courage to give the award.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What Might it Bring?

As I chortle at the CNN ticker showing the steadyDOW collapse (9250! this morning) and world markets in turmoil, my wife turns to me and reminds me that our investments are being wiped out, our children can lose their jobs and futures, my mother could end up living with us, and on and on, the REALITY of an economic depression. She has that wise womans sense. I am aware of these terrible consequences and still I celebrate because this is a moment of possibility for justice unlike any I've experienced in my lifetime. I'm not naive. It could turn to naught.But I think there is a chance this collapse will provoke a shift, a rupture, will do more than simply result in politics as usual, in empty rhetoric about change or sacrifice, or in a meaningless " progressive adjustment" of the current barbaric system. Therefore, the question becomes: Who will this mobilize?

When the smoke clears and the dust settles what sorts of questions will be asked? Will young people buy into the same fantasies and be re- sucked into the Spectacle or will this "crisis" provoke a deep examination of accepted beliefs, dogma and ideology? I remember a moment when all the lies I was being told about US involvement in Vietnam were exposed to me and my reality was upended, forcing a reappraisal of my own responsibility and allegiance. Awakening happens.

In moments like this I unfailingly turn to Rush Limbaugh for a guide through the idiocracy because much can be learned from the fear of reactionaries. Today he is in full panic mode. He senses (perhaps sub-consciously) the edifice crumbling, and intuits that soon the curtain will lift to expose his pathetic form lying prostrate before his own hollow idols, money and power. He is breaking out every possible weapon like a street fighter backed into a corner, race baiting , "class war", anti-intellectualism, misogyny, and zenophobia. He can't decide who to spew more venom on , Obama or McCain. He is forced back to his sixties nightmare and lashes out at commies and hippies and braless women, he defends wealth and privilege and every melting pillar of movement conservatism. It's all the fault of ACORN, of Bill Ayers, of Hillary and Nancy! of Brown People and Bleeding Hearts!

Russia has "suspended" trading on it's stock market. Iceland is in meltdown. Britian is nationalizing it's banks. Sonia is still drooling over Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Another Season

I finished my twenty second season as a trout fishing guide yesterday. I packed up my cabin and said goodbye to my comrades and the river I love and drove home through country so beautiful it made me want to cry. We saw a herd of elk, including a nice six point bull, down in the river bottom (fairly unusual), as well as deer and antelope , ospreys and eagles. The reflection of golds and rusts on the water was breathtaking. We even caught some nice fish. It's dirty and it's smelly and it really don't pay, but I'll be a trout guide till the end of my days.

Now I'll do some fishing on my own, for my own pleasure rather than money. Trout on the Bitterroot and Clark Fork, steelhead on the Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. I'll keep working on my new garden spot and take a course on ZNet called writing political literature. I'll keep working on my book and this blog. Maybe I'll make it to Bolivia.

As the DOW loses another 200 points ( 9760 at 10:50) they are ritually piloring the Evil, Corrupt and Greedy CEOs of Lehman, AIG, etc in front of Congress. They are trying to get at the TRUTH! The ECG CEOs appear heartbroken and shocked and appropriately humbled. Henry Waxman is looking for "mismanagement". The American people keep drinking the kool-aid because to face REALITY is far, far to painful. We can Win The Wars with Honor, we can become "Energy Independent" by burning Clean Coal and Drill Baby Drill and investing in New Technologies! The American People are Exceptional, the Hardest Working, Beacon on the Hill ETC ETC..ad nauseum.

"The individual, though condemned to the passive acceptance of an alien everyday reality, is thus driven into a form of madness in which, by resorting to magical devices, he entertains the illusion that he is reacting to his fate. The recognition and consumption of commodities are at the core of this psuedo-response to a communication to which no response is possible."

Guy Dedord from Society of the Spectacle

We must end the commodification of life, interrupt the "passive acceptance" and concieve a response. Soon.

Monday, October 06, 2008

DOW 10,000

Ten months ago I predicted the DOW would hit ten thousand. Today I am right. How do I do it? I don't know! Lucky , brilliant, hard working American fishing guide. Now I will predict Bird Flu hits Asia in next twenty years!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Owners of Everything

From Pablo Nerudas poem El Pueblo:



Yo creo que en el trono debe estar

este hombre, bien calzado y coronado



Creo que los que hicieron tantas cosas

deben ser duenos de las cosas

Y los que hacen el pan deben comer!



Y deben tener luz los de la mina!



I believe that heaven must encompass

this man, properly shod and crowned



I think that those who made so many things

ought to be owners of everything

That those who made bread ought to eat



That those in the mine should have light



Soon it seems the citizens of the US will be owners of shares in home mortgages. 700 billion worth. (worth?) Perhaps they will begin to desire a democracy so they can have a say in how their shares are managed. If this takes root they may demand "shares" in many more aspects of the productive economy, including nationalized banks , power companies, factories and distibution networks. They may see how they,the workers, have been played for fools by the ruling elite who always convinced them that only THEY should own and manage, THEY should do the investing, THEY would allow wealth to trickle down.



Some are seeing the crisis as an opportunity for a social democracy to assert itself, as a step on the path to socialism. I remain skeptical of this market approach. Nerudas poem comes from a collection titled Fully Empowered. In the introduction, Alastair Reid writes:
"The word pueblo invokes in Spanish much more than either a place or the people who inhabitit: it humanizes a place as a state of being,as a set of values and allegiances."

This begs the question as to whether Americans could consider themselves "el pueblo".This unity unravels so quickly when faced with core issues and only presents itself when we are attacked. 159,000 more jobs were lost in September. Can unity arise from shared misfortune?