Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Uniforms and Religion

Watching the Egyptian "security forces", the Puerto Rican "security forces", the U.S.,Syrian Honduran, Yemenese, Colombian, etc, etc.. "security forces" and others around the globe unleash brutal retaliation at those who would challenge their authority, I start thinking about the bizarre hierarchy and the effect militaristic training and uniforms have on working class recruits. Young guys with the blood lust, clubs swinging, dragging women around by their hair...

It's true the US cops don't fire live ammunition into crowds of Occupy protesters (yet) but there is plenty of historical precedent. Yet even the pepper spray and billy clubbing demonstrates the psychological effect of Putting On The Uniform, joining the elite club of legal enforcers and carrying the capacity for raw power and force over your fellow citizens.

In Egypt, this brutality and circumventing of the revolutions democratic goals is facilitated by the deafening silence of the opportunist religionists. They now collaborate with the very regime that oppressed them for so long because they smell some advantage, basically bourgeois electoral dominance in a corrupt system. I am reminded how Christians hitch their boat to war mongering profiteers here in America when it suites them, when it promises to further their prurient social agenda.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Pipe

There is a serious showdown looming over the fate of the Keystone XL and I love it. It goes perfectly with the whole Victory In Iraq Moment, industrial energy needs and the logic of Empire bumping up against ecological catastrophe, white men bumping up against First Nations, desperate Workers bumping up against Populist Expand The Middle Class union buffoonery. This is gonna be interesting indeed!

I'm sure David Axlerod thinks he has this all handled but I believe History is outpacing his political calculations. If Obama smokes that Corporate Crack pipe all the residual hopey changey delusions go swirling down the electoral toilette. They will have to throw Jim Hanson and Bill Mc Kibben under the bus and face down an American Spring with riot police and tanker cars of tear gas. We got the G20 and NATO summits in Chicago ( Haymarket Square?) then the conventions in Tampa Bay and Charlotte. Forest fires and droughts and tornadoes Oh My!

The European Double-Dip contagion will make itself felt and the White House organic garden won't feed the growing food lines. The Durban protesters will have had time to talk to Bolivian piquetaros and Chiapan Zapatistas and Spanish Indignados.

"Well the gamblin man is rich
while the workin man is poor
and I ain't got no home in the world anymore." Woody Guthrie

This all means that there will be PLENTY to occupy. The Postal Service, coal fired power plants and train loads headed to China, the Veterans Administration (vets will be looking for work, perhaps camping out in D.C.?), ICE and the INS, not to mention Wall Street, Main Street and K Street. Penultimate Pipeline Percept?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Human Rights

Obama's proclamation on the Declaration of Human Rights Day:

"All people should live free from the threat of extrajudicial killing, torture, oppression and discrimination, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability,"

Yesterday he ended the war in Iraq by saying We don't invade others for resources, "we do it because it is right."

American exceptionalism has become a key theme in the presidential campaign. Newt has made a movie and written a book about the shining beacon, city on a hill, more perfect union thing and Barack and the others must race to catch up. American hypocrisy, on the other hand, is the long acknowledged but never spoken (not since Carter's Malaise speech) thing and government approval ratings show this pretty clearly. Ron Paul was a courageous defender of foreign policy Reality in the last debate but his economics are in la la land. Some people have even read the history of US intervention in the Philippines.

And Christopher Hitchens, go ahead and rest in peace, we all make mistakes.

Poor Mitt Romney went on about how some of his business ventures failed (making him a better possible President?) and how luck is an important ingredient to success, seeming to counter his devotion to meritocracy. I doubt many conservatives noticed the contradictions. (not really their forte)

Gar Alpowitz had an interesting op-ed piece in the NY Times saying that the cooperative model is already affecting capitalism. Worker owned and managed enterprises are growing at an unprecedented rate and I wonder how this fits in with Hardt and Negri's assertions about the biopolitical subject and democracy coming from a new "commons" of the immaterial economy. I want to believe this is significant but also know emancipation won't come without a real fight over powers hold on resources. Labor and value are still real struggles exported to the periphery and the excluded grow every day.

Here in my little Montana valley, my neighbors are struggling to establish a re-cycling center but the capitalist ideologues in power are suspicious. At the latest hearing, County Commissioner Mat Kannewisher stated:

" the idea of a free market was important to him philosophically." He also noted that recycling was not a right and that the government's job was "not to provide everything we want." These same commissioners also hope to engage the Forest Service in something they call "coordination process" to re-create a timber industry here. It has something to do with county sovereignty and the tenth amendment and probably guns if I know these folks. "It's our forest,..it doesn't belong to the Forest Service. It belongs to us." said Bill Grasser. Ah yes. Us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Clear Choice

This is finally the debate I've been hoping for. From the Occupy Wall Street Journal we get one view:

"This is not about banks. This is a permanent CRISIS. daily, when the alarm rings, it comes over the kitchen table all the way to our work places and into the streets, right through our relationships and bodies, to our bank account, screaming for low wages, competition and mistrust. it works with our fears. this is the daily madness of competition, of capitalist culture. this is a permanent crisis. we won't pay for this crisis any more."

And from Bill Moyers from his article in the Nation we get another take:

"...(everyday citizens) laid down the markers of a civilized society: legally ordained minimum wages, child labor laws, workers safety and compensation laws..and rules that promote competitive markets over monopolies and cartels."

One believes it is "madness" to compete with his/her fellow Man over the abundance which lies before us and the other celebrates it. This is one of the prime divisions which exists within the "99%" and which so many hope to avoid indefinitely in order to go from a moment to a movement.

Some see the crisis as profound,"permanent", and solvable only by driving history forward into a new epoch. Others believe it is just another orbit in a cyclical universe so that the old answers of populism and a New Deal re-solve the crisis once again. Some see the entire legalistic/constitutional framework as not only inadequate but fatally flawed. Others believe them to be an eternal foundation upon which We The People may forever rest. Some look to a new culture, some worship the old.

Bourgeois populism and democracy (legal-political) have a huge advantage in this debate but I hope the "complex unity"of the Occupy Movement will at least allow it to play out and not come to blows. Competition is just a small part of the content struggling to fill such floating signifiers as equality and justice, there are plenty of others; merit, risk-reward, property, aptitude, competence, etc.. dangling just below the discursive surface. Time to meet liberalism and it's Protestant ethics head on. The unease of the West coast dock workers over the attempted blockade was just the opening gambit.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Light a cyber cigar friends and foes, old Troutsky is a grandfather once again. I was in dreary Portland all week helping my oldest so she could birth a beautiful daughter named Arya and so my efforts are re-doubled to end this corrupt carnival and get on with something more life affirming.

Speaking of carnivals, the Repub candidates were united in their sympathy for a "merit based society" last night, by which they must mean the thing which brought such stellar individuals such as themselves into the national limelight. Ah yes, merit, worthiness, dare we say it, superiority; an increasingly rare quality in this Age of Occupations and evil moral/cultural relativism.Lets just say you know it when you see it. If it's on a stage, behind a podium, you see it. Why,it's practically reflexive!

At it's core we have an insistence, a mantra even, going back to our Enlightenment Founders that "all are equal in rights but not in fact." Quantitatively, this is true, we do not all have equal AMOUNTS of each quality or attribute. For example, some people have far too much ambition, some people have an excess of work-ethic, some people are over-burdened with drive and so yes, they should be utilized. These people are "born" to toil and often seem to enjoy it so it is only right they should provide for those of us with better uses for our time. But qualitatively, we are all equal in worth and no one gets to judge lessors or betters. This is a question of value, to which Sartre replied: "Value haunts my being."

I wonder if someone should tell Newt that Americans are an "invented" people? Or that the free market all of the candidates proudly worship is a violent, barbaric invention? This is Curtis White's answer from his essay Take Back Your Emptiness:

"We are blind to how our freedom to believe actually masks the baseness of the way we live. To apply Tolstoy to our present condition, the principles by which we as a people live have far more to do with capitalism, with the freedom of the market, than with any ethical principles. But of course, capitalist principles ARE ethical principles. It is a moral system before it is an economic system. Unfortunately, these principles argue that violence is legitimate if one can benefit from it." (What is also called our "national interest")