Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Sovereignty

Now I get another view of sovereignty as a fellow Occupier sends out an email saying he is prepared to go into court for some minor violations ( pot possession and loitering I think) and try a sovereign citizen defence, claiming the laws are not valid and don't apply to him. I argued against it on practical grounds and questioned the philosophical underpinnings of this libertarian approach. I also questioned it as an action Occupy Missoula would want to involve itself in and some folks are upset at my lack of solidarity. I have enough experience with the right-wing, anti-government version of sovereignty, often tied to nutty Christian/ Admiralty/ posse comitatus conspiracy theory, to think this ought to at least be examined as a questionable tactic for the "99%" vs the Power Structure. The person defending this "movement" included in her supporting documentation the movies Thrive and Ungrip. I have written about this kind of Theory of Everything appeal, these sensationalist movies with dramatic music and baritone narrators and purported empirical evidence that turns out to be opinion. A lack of critical rigor and latent anti-intellectualism will be our undoing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The local yokels want to push a "coordination" agenda here in the county which is a new/old strategy with roots in the Sagebrush rebellion. Self-styled patriots believe there are encroaching powers trying to impinge on their rights. Many go in for the whole Agenda 21 United Nations New World Order conspiracy and others just think it's Obama. Coordination legislation has been devised by ALEC, the corporate funded think tank, in the hopes of taking Federal agencies out of decisions regarding natural resource development or regulation of pollution and land use. Basically, Capital wanting to have an unobstructed path to profits. These local folks get worked up about their water rights or property rights and it mushrooms from there into these fantabulous conspiracies. The funny thing is, from the progressive side of the "political" spectrum you have groups like We The People and folks like Paul Cienfuegos pushing for local "Bill of Rights" or ordinances to put citizen sovereignty ahead of corporations. So where the right wing wants local government sovereignty to trump national( public over public), the progressives want public over private. Of course the language in the ALEC legislation just begs for costly litigation so these right wingers can spend all their hated tax revenue losing a court battle with the Feds. Much of the "thinking" on these kinds of Patriot efforts comes out of Idaho so...there's that. From a psychological perspective, so much fear and extremism springs from ignorance but the crisis of legitimation is very real to them and works to de-stabilize the center.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Problems With "Peak Oil"

For many years we have been hearing about the collapse of fossil fuel based civilization due to increasing shortages and economic crisis. This is the "peak oil" scenario propagated with varying degrees of alarm in books and documentaries. We are told our industrial economy is doomed and it is time to plant kale, lots of it! The assumptions about depleted fields and reduced rate of new reservoir discovery were published every year by the Energy Information Administration, the research arm of the Energy Department. These scientists and forecasters are consistently wrong and in 2005 they predicted total US liquid output would decline to 8.8 million barrels. Instead it increased to 12.1 million, an increase of 38%. They are doing this through new technology which allows them to squeeze more from reservoirs that were long considered inaccessible- too far underground, or offshore or encased in solid rock or gooey sand. "Today, what appeared irreversible is being reversed" write pro development energy analysts, gleefully."Here in the Western Hemisphere!" The key thing here is profitability. At the right price they will go after the last drop and because Americans have been sold on "energy independence" and "balanced portfolios" they will pay the price. (We know that price can never reflect cost to the future or ecosystems but that is another day...) This is a problem for initiatives like Transition Town which rely on the shortage/crisis scare to motivate people to "reduce and re-use" and transition to sustainability. Capitalism has once again shown that flexible ability to defer a looming contradiction, this time by squeezing oil and gas in ways not previously imagined. "All that is solid melts into air" refers also to this masking, postponing, obfuscating quality. Of course by burning fossil fuels we destroy people and places, in fact life as we know it, but this is secondary to jobs and security and and bustling malls at Christmas. And Hey,it won't happen to us. So who gives a rat's ass about "Transition"? And Transition won't say anything about capitalism so they can only watch with frustration as they once again get out-flanked.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


"...capitalist realism is very far from precluding a certain anti-capitalism. After all, as Zizek has pointed out, anti-capitalism is widely disseminated in capitalism... Far from undermining capitalist realism, this gestural anti-capitalism actually reinforces it." Mark Fisher One such gesture is punishing "bad" individuals, showing that we can hold capital accountable and saving capitalism from itself. This is marvelous theatre and a great example is the latest surge to "improve corporate board governance" , denying Big Time CEO's their outrageous salary demands or firing them out-right. Look at how We Manage Our Own Affairs! Putting Us Back on the Right Track! Several shareholder meetings recently have been on display, reassuring Us All that Greed is Out, Responsibility In. Of course just as soon as corporate boards put their house in order, along come these irrational Europeans, whining about austerity. If they are not careful they will upset the Markets and we will all be punished. Here in the land of the free and brave and overweight, we know that when the Markets say bend-over, we say "How Fast?" That is what democracy is after all. The problem with those silly Eurotrash folks is they have not learned to worship the Investor Who Makes Our Happiness Possible. They take our hard earned money and turn it into all the Good Things We Need. The Investors will leave Greece and France and Romania and Spain and Ireland and take the peoples money with them. Oh that's right, they already took it. Well then, the Investors will stop taking their luxury yachts to Mediterranean destinations. If the editor from the Missoulian happens to be reading this, be assured I can be MUCH less snarky, I was in a hurry today!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Happy Loyalty Day

If no one reports on it does that mean it never happened? I couldn't find a word about May Day demonstrations in the NY Times or on the News Hour. Guess there was lots of other important stuff like Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan and probably some other financial stuff. Speaking of POTUS, it was nice to see he declared May 1 Loyalty Day.I was just getting used to Law Day but now they'll have to update school texts. Our own gathering down at the park was less-than-inspiring in any sort of working class way. A couple of guys showed up with their single issue petitions, end corporate personhood, make marijuana legal. Everyone signed because that is "doing something political". Real Action on the Issues! The potato salad and dogs were great, as is the "thick satin quilt" that keeps us so cozy. After all the talk, the level of understanding has only increased microscopically. With legal pot the people are happy. Or a return to the gold standard or no corporate money in elections.Sorry Frank Little, Albert Spiers, Emma, Woody, we are doing the best we can under difficult conditions. I am finding some good discussion on the new International Organization for a Participatory Society site but membership seems to have stalled around 1500. Check it out and join, costs ya nothing and might bring emancipation. The Newshour did do an interesting piece on the difficulty high school science teachers are facing teaching climate science. The American Taliban is recruited by the capitalists to insist on "teaching both sides". Because, you know, gravity is just a "theory" and if God wanted us to eat more pizza, he would have made Herman Cain a little slicker, like mitt.The next thing you know godless commie teachers will be brainwashing their students into thinking the profit motive drives denialism. That's hardly an intelligent design.