Monday, December 17, 2012

Where's the Cake?

I love this sign posted at Occupy D.C. a while back which read: I was told there would be cake. It sums up the totally clueless atmosphere I(barely) exist in. Workers told to jump simply ask: How High? Students who owe hundreds of thousands ask for more credit. People without health insurance wait till they are too sick to cure while listening to Rush Limbaugh.In this sense it is a perfectly representative government: morons representing patsies. All of them wondering where the cake promised by Ms. Antoinette is. Then there is the people (morons) they elected. Bob Lake was our state district senator and I actually had a number of conversations with him through the years- trying to get anti-bullying legislation passed, trying to stop the teaching of "intelligent design", the kind of human rights stuff that he had no time for what-so-ever. He is so stupid and incompetent that he was just elected as a member of the Public Service Commission where he over-sees utilities. This is his opinion on alternative energy: "I believe we have the opportunity to tell people that are either trying to force things (such as wind power) or trying to drive things out (such as coal) ,to say 'I'm sorry, that's not going to work here, because we have the obligation for the cheapest power." If Bob takes his obligation seriously, wouldn't he want to hire some child slaves from Africa to run him around in a rickshaw? Cheaper than the caddilac (though he probably puts the caddy on his expense account). Wouldn't it be cheaper to poison all the endangered species so you didn't have to worry about providing habitat for them? The main thing is he loves the free market and IT decides what's cheapest. The knucklehead they appointed to take his place is a large, rabid, red-faced hunting outfitter (which means he hates wolves and other predator species, a big plus if you want to be a successful politician here) He said this in an interview with the local paper: "I believe in the Constitution! I am passionate for less government, lower taxes, capitalism and free market." Forefather values, blah blah. A moron. But the very fact he had to say he is for capitalism shows I am having a real effect.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Failure Of Progressivism

I know I know, another critique, but within critique are the solutions. You have to unpack what is not working and why in order to imagine what might be, and so... What we are witnessing today, from Europe to the Middle East into the Americas is the break down of systems built on the cherished notion of liberal democratic capitalism. At it's heart, the hegemonic ideology underpinning this system stressed the historic break from labor-capitol antagonism and conflict to a new administered, managed, frictionless system. In Europe this was expressed in the form of social democracy, a large interventionist welfare state that mediated in some neutral fashion between labor and capitol. It was the result of a victorious Labor Party expressing the will of powerful industrial, public and trade unions and a general will for modern, progressive planning combined with markets and finance capital. As we now recognize, this was a fragile arrangement which depended on mystifying certain class relations and a new form of colonization. Wealth was distributed from South to North and East to West while profits shrank and debt increased. This "crisis" provided the perfect opening for neo-liberal tendencies to take hold and the old resentments to resurface. Fascism, xenophobia, chauvinism, all find fertile ground as the system spirals downward. In the Middle East we see another form of the failure of "capitalist-liberal-democracy", expressed in the battle between secular and religious forces over interpretations of law, constitutional authority and government. This is exacerbated by a breakdown in the global labor market leaving a young, educated youth with no prospects and an under-class suffering from food shortages. Here debt is also the only thing that rises consistently. In the US we are witnessing the death throes of a labor movement which also thought it had a "grand bargain" with capital but now find they have no answer to globalization and the rise of the modern multi-national corporation. Labor, like all t6he other oppositional movements (peace, environment, human rights etc ) accepted the framework of capitalism and now find themselves impotent and neutered. Especially in these developed economies, debt is a juggernaut that is now consuming the mythical "middle-class", the most cherished of progressive concepts. The common thread linking these failures of progressive thought is the tenuous construction of the majority, of a "We the People" expressing a hegemonic unity around which to present demands. In the case of labor, there is no longer a worker or "class consciousness" as such. In the case of nationalism, there is no longer a respect for the minority, the "other" or pluralism as such. We are all customers now, We the Credit! This universal "estrangement" and alienation/atomization caused by modes of production, consumption and allocation can appear as a victory for capital, if one just looks at a snapshot. But History is far from over. Capital is amazingly adaptive and nimble but it is not God. It is more like The Great Oz.