Monday, November 29, 2010

Truth Will Out Part 3

More leaks and this time, FOR SURE, it is the end of life as we know it. Still no word on where those WMD's are hiding. All this new information is going to be hard for Joe The Plumber to ingest, he still hasn't heard about our occupation of the Philippines in 1899. Still, it is nice to see the Great Game bastards scrambling. Welcome to the desert of the Real, boys.

The worlds governments and NGO's and global summit hoppers have gathered in sunny Cancun to straighten out this whole climate thing. Not a moment too soon either. Hardly a peep out of Bill Mc Kibben or Al Gore or James Hanson but I'm sure Pachamama is in good hands.Bureaucrats are all about getin er done.

I just got home from a the first ( this round) meeting of the Missoula Blue/ Green Alliance.Of course all I did was kvetch, criticizing (in my engaging style) both the Union guys and the enviros who showed up. This is the third such attempt in a dozen years but they always fizzle out.

EVER STOP TO WONDER WHY? Nah, just start up a new one. Same format, same frame, same paradigm.

The union guys are so desperate they would build nuclear concentration camps right now. Only forty percent of their members are working and there ain't much in the pipeline. Speaking of which, these guys would be happy to build one of those too and so all our talk of stopping the Alberta Coal Sands Project fell on deaf ears. They offered to put scrubbers on the coal fired plants they were building so that's pretty green , eh? They seemed like sincere guys but they are totally lost and compass-less in the Spectacular Post-Post Industrial World.

I also am with a union but fortunately we have almost no members and half of us are bums.( truth will out)

As for the environmentalists, they agreed that government is corrupt and broken and run by corporations ( what unites liberals and Tea Partiers) but they want to pass legislation and use regulatory provisions to stop the Project. When I suggested we could skip all that rig-a-ma-role and just end capitalism I received a room full of blank stares. They were looking for a more incremental approach.

There is no Blue Green Alliance. In the Market System this is a structural antagonism which capital exploits to preserve the status quo. If environmentalists had adopted an anti-capitalist critique fifty years ago we wouldn't be in this mess today ( to quote Dave Mason) And unless they wake up now, there won't be much left to argue over fifty years from now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Creative Destruction Part 7

This on the front page of the NY Times, shouted out on the News Hour, Good Morning America etc...

"American companies just had their BEST QUARTER EVER...earned profits of 1.6 TRILLION dollars in the third quarter...profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters at some of the fastest rates in HISTORY."

Now where could all that profit possibly come from in "these difficult economic times"? And where is it all going?

The answer to the first question is two-fold. The American worker and the foreign consumer. By getting us to work cheaper, with fewer benefits ( health care, pensions, vacation) and harder, ( productivity is way up) the owners and shareholders get a bigger slice. Tiffany's can hardly keep their shelves stocked. And by talking consumers in developing economies into spend some of their hard earned savings, multi-national companies enjoy the best of both worlds.

Capitalists have proven adept at this strategy throughout history, part Marx, part Shumpeter/ Friedman, part Shock Doctrine. Marx wrote in the Grundrisse about "the violent destruction of capital not by relations external to it, but rather as a condition for it's self preservation."

Joseph Shumpeter put a positive spin on it, saying it was a necessary "gale" for bringing innovation and progress.Look at the living standards of the Farmer of Today compared to 1700!

Using Naomi Klein's framework we could say the crisis of the financialization bubble ( speculative debt of Banks and Wall Street) brought an opportunity for Real Economy capitalists to clear out debris ( unions, climate regulation, etc) so they could start over and build new fortunes. By the way, I just love how these guys are called "Mainstreet" in the dominant narrative.

The process has gone global ( or viral) and is strangling workers throughout Europe while creating opportunity for those able to take advantage. Social unrest is rising as austerity measures are enforced but I see little unified resistance, the kind that could really challenge the entire structure.One problem with all that capital now seeking profit is it will pour into emerging markets and create new Asian Tiger- Irish Tiger type bubbles. Maybe a Green Bubble?

At least we here in the US still have our Liberty and No Death Panels, thanks largely to the Tea Party. Something to be Thankful for, eh?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beyond Campaigns

I just got back from three days at the International Tar Sands Summit held outside of Missoula Montana. It was an inspired and hearty bunch that both organized it and showed up. ( We slept in wood heated box cars and the temps are in the single digits.)

"Tar sands" is that nasty goo they dig out from under vast tracts of land and process using vast amounts of water and natural gas and nasty chemicals into, eventually, oil.Venezuela has it, Canada has it (Alberta) and it turns out Utah has it. Of course they need pipelines, which people are fighting, and gargantuan pieces of machinery, which is where Missoula fits in. They are proposing that the machinery come through here on trucks.Rising Tide hopes to stop them.

Seasoned veterans from other campaigns ( mountain top coal removal, saving old growth, stopping the war, etc) gave workshops on developing campaigns, strategy, tactics, etc and it was good to see a dedicated cadre of people ready to take risks and focus on non-violent direct action. A few of us could remember participating in demos against the Viet Nam war, there were some in their 30's or 40's and a lot of younger folk.

Unfortunately, the campaigns success or failure depends on how it is defined. We may stop the trucks for awhile and raise awareness of tar sands development and even slow IT down. But it will not stop global climate change. Energy development will shift elsewhere if we make this less profitable.China will build more coal plants. The US will drill deeper farther offshore. There will be new campaigns and summits and workshops with break-out sessions to talk about goals, strategy, tactics, objectives ad nauseum.

Because the only logical goal, and the one that was never ever mentioned by any of the so-called and self identifying "radicals", is ending capitalism. Using the same logic of capitalism, the organizers wanted to focus on "achievable, short term, goals" and so the only real solution was framed out of the "discussion" before we ever got there. My attempts to broaden the discourse were met with implicit and explicit rebukes. I was told we have to "meet people where they are".

Unfortunately, "people" are on a death march to intellectual as well as physical oblivion and I don't want to go there.It's unfortunate that the radical wing of the environmental movement is stuck in such an old, tired and unsuccessful meme, that they all went to the same facilitator trainings,(corporate model), that they don't see that they didn't stop wars or the destruction of habitat or globalization or any fucking thing with their "campaigns".By the time you start a "campaign, it is too late.

Capitalists are the real revolutionaries, always changing and adapting and extending their vision of what is possible. The left can't even acknowledge that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jews

I'm writing a novel with two Jews as main protagonists right now so sort of immersed in the whole thing. I replied to the criticism of my use of the term in the last "comments" but I think the whole interchangeability thing,( when to use Jew and when to use Israeli) deserves more discussion.Obviously not all Jews are Israelis and not all Israelis Jews, but a striking number are. It is a Jewish state, of ,for and by the Jewish people. That's where the generalizing ends.

I was ignorant till recently about the diversity within Judaism, between Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, Reform, Conservative ( and splits within the splits), between Sephardic (Mizrahi) and Ashkenazi, Hebrew and Yiddish speaking... in other words, like all religions it is factional and always in tension. Then there are political and class differences. I have found Milton Viorst's What Shall I Do With This People helpful in sorting things out.

Yitzhak Laor is a leftist who is very critical of Israeli-Jewish intellectuals for certain capitulations and intellectual laziness in his book The Myths of Liberal Zionism.He points out splits within individuals caused by cultural myths and political realities.Just like in all societies.He really tears into Amos Oz. Big time.

Over at Znet there is an interesting interview of Noam Chomsky by David Samuels about his Jewishness. His upbringing on a Kibbutz, his early influences and such.He has of course faced a great deal of criticism for his positions.I didn't realize the study of Hebrew was what got him going in linguistics.

Meanwhile the site TPM Cafe has a couple of pieces around the latest "peace initiative" news.Bernard Avishai writes A Problem With Boundaries, speculating that the 90 days of talk will actually force the huge issue of borders to the front.He compares it to Obama's strategy on health care.

MJ Rosenberg has a piece about Eric cantors latest gaffe, promising Netanyahu that the Republican majority "will serve as a check" for Israeli interests.There is always talk about the influence of AIPAC or the AntiDefamation League. Mearshiemer and Walt stuff, but the "Special Relationship" is something much more embedded in the collective US psyche.

In my book I describe the Christian Zionist movement, I analyse German guilt, I go into the violence of the founding of the state and the many wonderful rays of hope and promise that once existed. There is something for everyone to hate and I'm quite sure I won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Change Wall Street Believes In

So would you rather go to a "restoring sanity" rally and listen to Kid Rock with middle class liberals or go to a Stop the Cuts rally in London with 50,000 angry students?

Obama gives a nod to the Laurel and Hardy Deficit Reduction Commission which wants to end the dependent child deduction, the mortgage deduction, raise the retirement age,increase Medicaid payments and drop top tax rates from 35% to 23. ( Corporate rates would drop the same) Basically Barry Goldwaters platform is now the NY Times' "middle road".

Obama is off starting a currency war and promoting "free trade" with S.Korea and Colombia as Clinton licks the very last bit of blood off of Netanyahu's boots. The Hope candidate caves on the Bush tax cuts, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and his withdrawal date from Afghanistan while systematically destroying the teachers union and wonders why there is an "enthusiasm gap".

Students here in Missoula are gearing up for the Cat-Griz game ( they fly an F 16 over during the National Anthem!) and waxing their snowboards. Perhaps they will find a career in the medical marijuana boom taking over the state!

The only push-back program worth supporting will call for single-payer health care, a Tobin Tax on all financial speculation and a return to 1960 income tax rates. If taxes were levied on the top 150,000 taxpayers at those rates we could raise an additional 281 billion. Of course you have to end the wars and guarantee a minimal annual income for all citizens.

These will never come to pass under the current regime (economic-political) but, dialectically speaking, unless these arguments are made, and maybe a few factories occupied, we will continue to see our children's futures decimated. Consensus is the worst possible approach.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Biding Time

While I'm waiting for this new government of, by and for the People to start some New Conservative governing, I'm going to keep improving my mind. That way I'll be ready to respond if I'm asked for any New theoretical constructions that might be apropos for The Great Disintegration.

To that end I have returned from another pilgrimage to the Purple Room at Powells in Portland ( say that three times fast) with a fine stack. I splurged for a new hardback copy of Yitzhak Laor's newest title (Verso) The Myths of Liberal Zionism. Yet another great recommendation from Beak, thank's buddy.It's a perfectly radical critique of the Liberal Peace Intellectuals such as David Grossman ( check out the recent profile in The New Yorker), Amos Oz, Bernard -Henri Levy,Yeshoua, Yovel, Lanzmann and Co., holding nothing back and reminding me precisely of the tactics leftist intellectuals used to justify the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.Biting.

Another intriguing text (related to this novel I'm working on) is Martin Heideggers The Question Concerning Technology. One of the hypotheses in my book is that technology is one signifier for both the global disparity in wealth and power and "localized" disparity within societies. And as such, the source of much conflict. ( knowledge= power) We'll see what Martin has to say.

I also found copies of One Dimensional Man by Marcuse which I read when I was too young and The Wretched of the Earth by Fannon which I never had the chance to. Last but I hope not least is something called Ideologies:Politics in Action edited by Max Skidmore which looks to be helpful in defining left- right positions along a continuum.

Something I ordered from ZNet is a DVD of Michael Albert and John Holloway Debating the Post-Capitalist Future. Over and over I hear people say "yes, but there is no alternative" and these two thinkers are not afraid to do some sketches for us.

On the way back I heard Chris Hedges being interviewed on Public Radio about his new book. Whoever was asking the questions kept saying "yes, but wasn't Marxism an utter failure?", forcing Hedges to accept the old Marxism= Stalin= totalitarianism trope and stammer on about "corporate capitalism". Again his critique was great, mentioned the spectacle, eco-system failure, etc.. but he falls back on the New Deal and democratic market socialism. Still, for Public Radio in the middle of Washington...

I didn't manage to hook any fish but I found some great new water that will pay off eventually and spent a beautiful fall day hoping. A metaphor ? I am curious, what are others reading while waiting for Godot?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The People Have Spoken

The Repubs are really feeling that whole mandate thing and speaking openly about having "incorporated" Tea Baggers into the Party. The Baggers I know will not like this.

Interestingly, the Tea Party insists it is not a party. Shouldn't they have called themselves the Tea Parlour then? Tea Cups?

But the big issue was The Economy Stupid and already Ben Bernanke weighed in,printing 600 billion crisp new dollars for a little quantitative easing. Who knew it was so easy? John Baynor has taken a different approach, introducing a bill that would increase the value of each home in America threefold! This is brilliant! Now I can go borrow against my new equity and get things rolling again. Capitalism truly is a magical system. Watch them pull a rabbit out of my nose!

One of the best things about this election is we may never have to see Bill Clinton again.I'd rather be endorsed by Osama bin laden. But why did Amy Goodman feel the need to have Michael Moore on her pundit panel? The loser "analysed the elections" for half an hour and never once used the word capitalism. Wouldn't he want to at least plug his movie?

Here is my take. The working class broke ranks during the Reagan years and now deserve everything they are getting. Solidarity is a tactic for a REASON. Without it you are fucked and blue collar folk are jumping back and forth now like chickens on the proverbial road. They will find their way back but not before a long exile in the hurt locker.

Obama's role is pretty obvious. He was handed the perfect crisis and pussied out.Profiles in Cowardice. However it is still possible for him to channel his inner Nina Simone and say "alright motherfuckers, I want to privatize Social Security. Who is down?" " Rand, you with me baby?"

Call them out. Make this thing interesting at least. I'm bored to tears by the whole tired spectacle so will continue my quest for steelhead.(anadromous fish) I have seven so far, six in Washington, one in Idaho (last Sat.) and I'm headed back to Wa. tomorrow.