Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Confused Nation

I refer here specifically to the "progressive" magazine which considers itself the standard bearer for the left in the US, such as it is. On one page we have an article titled "Europe Lurches Right" explaining how neoliberal social democracy is a dead project, especially the variation known as New Labour.The recent elections made clear that the forces of reaction are ascendent. On the very next page is an article by Walter Mosley ( who knows better) called Ten Things You Can Do To Stimulate A New Economy. Is one of them End The Profit System? No. It's all about "kinder, gentler" markets and "good banks", in other words, social democracy. Their economics correspondent William Greider just wrote a book called "The Future of the American Dream" where he urges government intervention and changed consciousness. The cover story is about college debt. All progressive pap and Green dreams that refuse to confront the real contradictions.

Market Democracy is a dead-ender, I don't care if you call it "social" and put all kinds of little welfare programs around it. Yes I am for a single-payer health care system but I have no illusions about that being the end of the working class struggle. Hardly. It is simply a new chapter and is useless unless it brings about worker control.

At least the right-wing in Europe is somewhat straight forward in it's nationalism and zenophobic agenda. (here they call themselves "libertarians") Allied with the corporate class it is indeed a dynamic and dangerous combo (y'all remember WWII ) and it's hate for The Other can mean bad news for the Left-Left. The Nation magazine surely understands this but just- can't- quite break from it's progressive hope in reform and legislation. Maybe after their health-care dreams and Employee Free Choice Act dreams and Colombia Free Trade dreams come crashing down they will see that compromising with capitalism is the enablers addiction. Despite all the sweet talk and promises it will always abuse, perhaps this time with a Nazi flair.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Everybody In

The last discussion about the resistance to a "public option" in the healthcare reform leads to some critical points. First, I believe such a two tiered plan is bound to fail because those with the greatest risk factors are statistically poorer and so will end up in the "second tier", forcing taxes to be raised and the plans popularity to diminish. Insurance companies will see to it that failure is hastened so that they can get back to business as usual and a "national health plan" is buried forever.

It is fascinating to me how the same people who insist we live in a "post-class" society see nothing contradictory in the concept of a "two tier healthcare system". My fishing clients last week were a retired doctor and radiologist and they were adamant that any government regulation of fees was unacceptable. They truly consider themselves the best and the brightest ,deserving of luxurious lifestyles and lavish rewards. They are not used to mingling with commoners socially and would have no problem flashing their Platinum Card and using a private entrance to the Health Care Center. They would not wait in line with the unwashed masses voluntarily yet would insist that a unified "We the People" exists in America, one that is "right of center" and searching for "moderation". I say any National/Universal Healthcare Plan would need to treat everyone exactly the same so that social unity can be built.

On a different note, in the last post we delved into Mind and Self a little bit and Gregrandar seemed perplexed I was unable to distinquish between reason and instinct in my own actions/reactions. I remain convinced the hegemonic power of capitalist ideological/ cultural production makes this task difficult for everyone and if he believes himself immune he is mistaken. I watched the film Into the Wild last night, which touches on some of these themes that kultur has introduced, ( our lost ecstatic/ authentic life )as this kid searches for meaning and wisdom and freedom on his own personal "ecstatic" voyage. Very Homer-esque with a dash of Freud ( parental issues) and a pinch of Huck Finn, Tom Saywer and Jack Kerouac/ London. I spent my own youth "on the road" and could relate to a point but at some point you realize Enlightened Adventure is all about Me.

Because it was the classic Modern Naval Gazer about salvation and redemption and nothing about politics or social development I thought it failed (and he failed) as an American Story. I am much more interested in the story Che Bob will have to tell when he returns from Chiapas. He took a group of students into a Zapatista caracol to learn language and a new/old way of revolutionary living. Nature and Society. Self-development and politics.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Single Payer

I see upon my return ( I live without computer or news throughout the week) that they have brought out the "Big Guns" to fight against any form of "public option" in the healthcare reform battle. Excellent. It confirms my own instinctual reaction that this fight is more critical than the Employee free Choice Act because it directly confronts the logic of capitalism in all it's hateful perversity. Coming to the defence of the Market System are the enemies of the working class and never in my lifetime have the lines been so clearly drawn. The pigs are so greedy they won't even let any crumbs fall to the floor so it's time to take the whole cake.

Which side are you on? The elite wealth hoarders, the Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Profiteers, their paid politician bootlickers, the media and the AMA on one side. The excluded citizenry of the USA, tired of being raped and abused on the other. At question is not just our personal welfare but our hollowed out "democracy". Combined with the global economic collapse, the glaring contradictions of the "free" enterprise system are in such stark relief that the conservative ideological facade is glaringly becoming more and more transparent. Raw power and greed are in stark relief. If there is any remnant of the rebel left in the American working class character they will not stand for such blatant abuse.

The Power Lobbyists fill the halls of Congress. The money changes hands. Big Pharma, Insurance, Finance, hope they can break out the old tried and true myths and methods one more time, fear of Evil Socialism, Faith in the Invisible Hand, the Biblical Struggle between the Self-Reliant Individual and Big Totalitarian Government, blah blah blah. Liberals "hope" for a compromise they can live with, Democrats plead for understanding but it might just be that the People have had enough this time. Their wages have been stagnant for thirty years, their homes foreclosed, their 401ks decimated, their jobs shipped overseas, their healthcare driving them into bankruptcy. How much more will they take?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Shared via AddThis

Subjectivity, Laws and Ethics

My worthy opponent over at Thoughts and Ideas, hoping to reconcile free market capitalism with his Catholic libertarianism, tells us that "...the laws of economics are comprehensible to man through the use of his reason alone...The nature of economics then, is such that it is not concerned with ethics." He means you don't need Holy Ghosts keeping things mysterious, you are endowed by ( neutral) God with Reason.

One can find few examples which better demonstrate the logic of capitalism and its ability to reproduce its own ideology. Brute power, violence and greed are transubstantiated (sorry, I have been looking for an excuse to use this word, especially arguing with a Catholic! :to change into another substance : the change in the eucharistic elements at their consecration in the mass from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ) into Enlightenment Ideals such as "laws" and "reason". This has taken centuries to drill into human consciousness, through media,myth, education and culture more generally. We have all heard of these "laws of economics", natural, immutable things which govern the processes of exchange and here we learn that through the application of reason and rationality we can deduce their pragmatic workings. How wonderful.

But there is more. This "dismal science" also has a nature, fixed attributes and attitudes independent of Man ( in this case casually dismissive as concerns our general welfare ). Which brings to mind a great line from Brechts St. Joan of the Stockyards:
No one to blame for crises!
Over us, changeless and inscrutable, rule
the laws of economics,
and natural catastrophies recur
in dreadful cycles.

Within capitalist logic, The Invisible Hand, like Nero, simply points thumb up or thumb down, but unlike the Great Emperor, it is done divorced of all emotion, it is simply a rational, natural ( Animal Spirits) and amoral judgement of the Cosmos. Blameless and Pure.

It is the ethico-political challenge of the Left to destroy this form of idolatry. Young Libertarian-Austrian-Objectivists feel high on "free thinking" as they are injected with this poison, courageously fighting the State and Totalitarianism and all sorts of Evil on the road to Free (dom) Markets!

Meeting this challenge means demonstrating that we are all "excuded" (Hardt-Negri) ,that our solitude is debilitating, and that it is not just a struggle of proletarians "who have nothing to lose but their chains". It is a struggle for all of us , who have everything to lose, our subjectivity, our commons, our livable planet. Because the relation between historical circumstances and the production of this subjectivity keeps changing, the capitalists "immutable laws" are funk, bunk,junk science and have no chance against our indignation, refusal and rebellion. Their ethics-free universe has no claim on our dignity.

"For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts and try to set afoot a new man."

Franz Fannon from Wretched of the earth

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Extracting the Truth

There is a quick way to find out if this Sotomayor woman is indeed a "reverse racist" ( Limbaugh) and that would be to have Dick Cheney waterboard her. Perhaps as a television special, with contestants guessing how long she can hold out! The difficulty I am having personally is this. Because I want to take privileges away from rich people ( black, white and other ) does this make me multi-racist ? Equal opportunity racist?

Most people know me as a very patriotic person, I love my country, that is, the ground. I love the property that is America, the people I can take or leave. That which I own, for which I have title, and for which our forefathers fought and died, that I love. So I was a little perturbed when the two women Jehovahs Witnesses showed up on MY LAND yesterday with their message of eternal redemption. "You're tresspassing" I said. "Yes, but we are not tresspassing against you" they replied and showed me why I can ignore "all the terrible headlines in the paper" by simply concentrating on the NEXT life. I considered the fact that I'm not required to wait for them to trespass against me before I act. I could pre-emptively strike. Perhaps waterboard them.This mission they're on,it's like organizing, you knock on peoples doors and talk to them, only you are not struggling against anything REAL. Actually, it's more like salesmanship and you are selling a magical fairy land and escape from reality. Like drug dealing! I think Jesus would be in the headlines daily!

My fishing client last week wasn't really into fishing. He wanted to spend one day driving around (and drinking) following the route of Lewis and Clark from the headwaters of the Missouri up the Jefferson River. The three branches of the Jefferson were named after the wise Founding Fathers virtues, the Wisdom, the Charity and the Philanthropy. These virtues were reserved for white people of course, ( no reverse-racism here) ,that is , white people with property. Indigenous peoples were annihilated, having more to do with capitalist virtues and property. Since my client was into local history, I made a point of stopping off at the graveyard in Butte, America where Wobbly organizer Frank Little is buried. The largest funeral procession in the history of Butte brought him to his final resting place after he was drug from his hotel room by thugs hired by the capitalist bosses,who then tied him to the back of a car and drug him to the trestle where he was hung with a note stuck to his body warning other organizers. The bosses were worried about their property as well, being good, white , patriots.

Meanwhile the dreaded, elected dictator Hugo Chavez ( that's right Sonia, so was Hitler!) has a different take on property relations, evidenced by his taking (nationalizing) five iron and steel plants and putting them under worker control. The country he loves seems to involve the people who do the work and who he believes should be running it. They will be electing management and opening the books, forming councils and participating at all levels. This is not charitable or philanthropic but it is wise. Compare this to Obamas statements about the peoples share of our new car companies: "We don't want to micro-manage these companies". We see which America Obama loves.