i'm hoping that the forces conducting the war on women and the forces conducting the war on whites can transcend their partisan bickering, find their common ground, and join together in a war on white women. jihad jihad jihad!
i'm hoping that the forces conducting the war on women and the forces conducting the war on whites can transcend their partisan bickering, find their common ground, and join together in a war on white women. jihad jihad jihad!
empathy varies inversely with power. i'd say that's something we all know by experience, though it's nice to have some evidence. perhaps you have actually dealt with high school principals, policepersons, judges, irs officials, very rich persons, or senators, for example. i'd explain it as follows: people who seek power are morally worse, on average, than those who do not (this is true more or less by definition, as though i said: people who try to accomplish evil are worse on average...), and sometimes people who seek power get it, while people who do not rarely do. and second, power makes you a worse person, which is actually the conclusion of the piece. now, if you do not draw anti-authoritarian, anti-hierarchical - indeed anarchist - conclusions from this, you should try. and what i would really recommend is that people stop lionizing the powerful, worshipping barack a la 2008 or clinton or gore or bill gates or whatever it may be. powerful people should be under continuous suspicion, should be regarded with continuous skepticism. the only real point has to be to hem them in, mitigate their disastrous effects, or tear them down. the human desire to be subordinated just puts us in the hands of the worst among us. that we want the exploitation, poverty, and rape that we receive from authorities, however, does not entail that the authorities aren't evil.
on the other hand, the piece does that silly brain thing, where they say that, though some people think that powerful people need others less and hence attend to their feelings less, the authors have a different hypothesis: 'we contend that when people experience power, their brains fundamentally change how sensitive they are to the actions of others.' now first of all, why aren't those alternative descriptions of the very same thing? and second, what the heck do you gain by retreating into the brain? it's just doing no work. 'my brain is making me less sensitive' or 'my brain is changing me': how much sense or content is there in claims like that? or maybe i am making my brain less sensitive. when my brain affects me (how surprising!), what is affecting what? this same let's say casual line of thought might identify my self with my brain, which would make it very strange indeed to say that my brain is changing me. is it supposed to be explanatory to say the x is the cause of x? but it does suggest that power and interactions with others in general can be reduced to internal brain states, which is just counter-productive. actual interactions of your brain and the rest of you with other people and the outside world are actually occuring. the problem is interpersonal, not intracranial. but if it were in your brain, power and its effects could possibly be treated with drugs or psycho-surgery, which would be good, and might keep us from having to open internment/re-education/labor camps for assistant principals after the revolution.
there's been a lot of criticism directed at obama for invariably attending fundraisers galore as the world dissolves. but i think that it is very important that he do so, in order to take direction from the people who are running the country. obviously, the pres needs to maintain close ties to the super-rich who govern us. barack and hillary and other members of the billionaires' staffs are going to devote the next few years to addressing economic inequality, by enjoying it immensely every day.
the idea, currently bruited by palin and hinted at by many others, that obama should be impeached for things like granting waivers to the aca, is just ridiculous. but i say again that nothing in the history of the republic has been as impeachable as nsa. the extreme abuse of power, the global violation of the constitution, the performance of billions of acts that would be criminal if not done by officials: those are the sort of abuses of citizens that impeachment was designed to redress. if not, as jefferson said, insurrection is the only possibility. that's going to be hard when they have all our communications, however.
i think there are three ways to try to make the left-right spectrum coherent, or to say what it means: (1) state vs capital, (2) future vs past, (3) collectivist vs individualist. obviously one's positions on these dimensions need not coincide, so any particular person's positions can well be both left and right if we're using all three. that is, obviously these are not 3 ways of saying the same thing, though you might wish they were. (2) is just a bunch of wacky propaganda bullshit. people purporting to speak for or as or from the future need to chill. i dealt with the first in the atlantic piece, or really it needs a lot more than that. the third is the grossest thing ever. just make your mind up to this: collective consciousness or decision-making is compromised by coercion. however, when the left goes 'what about the collective?' they actually do mean precisely and usually exclusively coercion. it is really the most repulsive, most disingenuous reversal one could readily imagine.
individualism and collectivism really can't be opposed. if you and i unite, it is precisely you and i who are uniting. but still, you and i might always disagree. that could be good too.
one thing about the left-right spectrum: it has been such a long, long slog and i am so so tired. it's just sadly fatiguing to watch the repetitions. really it's a century and a half of the same. there's always a revival of leftism in progress: new waves of intellectual marxism from adorno to zizek to pikkety - hardt and fucking negri, here to save the day - new revivals of radical unionism or something. each time it has its energizing quality: a revival of the inspiration. but each time it's harder to get it up, really. i swear, it's still ripples of 1848, itself a ripple of 1789. nothing has been so thoroughly explored and exploded historically or intellectually; the left-right spectrum is still an etiolated version of that now, for some reason. if you can't think in some way outside that, you can quiet down now; i already know what you're going to say. man the phrase 'late capitalism' is very...grueling. likewise "neoliberalism'.
little leftist and rightist totalitarians have devoured millions of people in their projects. one great contribution that they made together to history is the "cult of personailty", which you'd have to say is at least very funny.
the pew center survey on polarization is interesting. the most dramatic result, as they emphasize, is that about a third of people who are defined as 'consistent conservatives' or 'consistent liberals' regard the other side as "a threat to the nation's well-being". obviously, both sides are right about that. as you might imagine, i am going attack "consistent', which is defined here. 'consistent' here means toeing the party line. but on each side that just means a random grab-bag of mutually incoherent positions on this and that. so, the basic right-left divide is defined in terms of anti- and pro-big-government. now, nothing about either of those positions has anything at all to do with issues like gay marriage or abortion, for example (on these and many other questions, a 'consistent conservative' has to endorse various incursions by the state into people's private lives, while the liberal position should be understood as attacking the legitimacy of various state constraints on autonomy or choice.) to be a consistent conservative on the pew scale is to be both a small-gov libertarian and an enthusiastic proponent of a big military and the domestic security state. in other words, the most consistent people on the pew scale are the people who most boldly endorse flat contradictions. these, i say, are basically social configurations or something, because they are certainly not anything like actual political ideologies; rather, they are randomly assembled collages of prejudices. seeing how passionate people are about endorsing such things at least provides some comic relief amidst the stupidity and suffering and catch-phrases.
so obviously we are suffering from our political polarization. people are always trying to prescribe a cure; mine is philosophical i guess. try to make your positions consistent not with the narcissistic empty crap of hillary clinton or ted cruz, but within themselves. don't try to be consistent with your facebook friends, but with yourself. then there will be no left/right polarization because there won't be any left and right.
i used to live in what is now eric cantor's district in va, and i taught while in grad school at randolph-macon in ashland, where cantor's conquerer brat (and his opponent in the general election!) teach. cantor's defeat shocks me as much as anyone else. but i think it is incredibly hopeful. brat won despite being outspent 40-1 or something and one of his lines is "dollars don't vote; people do." he sounds fundamentalist (describing his victory as "miracle from god", which is a bit scarily grandiose). and running against immigrants makes me kind of sick. but he also ran against economic inequality, believe it or not. you can see both who cantor is and part of why he lost here, where they describe how unhappy 'big business' is about his loss. they're unhappy because eric cantor is their little errand boy (quite a repulsive one, too). running against "the establishment" now is running against the government-corporate monster.
if you continue to try to understand what is happening or what people want in terms of left/right, you miss every single actual fact. and if you conflate the tea party with the club for growth or something, you're believing the pitiful attempts of groups like that to annex the grassroots energy. none of those groups rallied behind brat. if you're on the left, you have got to stop expressing your preference for "mainstream" republicans, on the sadly incoherent or entirely empty grounds that they are to the left of the tea partiers, or else you are just the chamber of commerce or the chamber of hillary = goldman-sachs. the spectacle of people who regard themselves as on the left wanting to put the whole economy at the service of citibank while squawking about inequality is one of the many delightfully amusing features of today's politics.
the left-right spectum is a manipulative tool. you will have to vote for hillary because she's to the left of whomever, thus betraying all your professed principles, or a goodly portion of them. in mega-corporate boardrooms here and there, they are snickering about that. they are rapacious capitalists dedicated to putting all the money on a barge and shipping it to the high end of the hierarchy. and they control the american left.
Not so long ago, a buddy of mine named Eric Garland tweeted that he didn't think most of Thomas Piketty's critics had read the book. I responded by asking if he had just learned about the nonexistence of Santa Claus. Eric, a somewhat anarchical economic analyst and bass player responded with "No Santa? Next you'll say no confidence fariy."
But, his ironic comment about the critics and Piketty makes a great point. If you're reading this blog, you probably recognize the name, and have an idea about what the guy has established as a position. Accrued wealth accrues more wealth faster than labor...or, rich people get rich faster than workers.This results in imbalance and is not a positive factor. But, sheesh, it's a thick book and most of it is review of research and a lot of it is boring stuff about calvados and cheese production in Normandy or something -- is there a Powerpoint adaptation?
Last weekend, John Oliver ranted for 13 hilarious minutes on his new TV show, Last Week Tonight about the problem of boredom. We have the collective attention span of gerbils. So, if you want to sneak something by us, do so in the most boring possible way. In the Senate and the House, they can use their rules to safely put those of us not working n the capital to sleep-deprived fever dreams in no time. With bureaucratic things like Net Neutrality, they can do it with discussions of rules.
I have Oliver's piece and my thoughts on the mess available here. Short form, they want us to trust the broadband industry to take care of our interests. Sure, trust the bureaucrats (did you know the guy running the FCC is the former chief lobbyist for the Cable industry??) and the lobbyists because...Benghazi?
i hope that elizabeth warren runs for president. obviously that's not because i agree with her about everything. but look: even though, judging by the incomprehensible partisan standards of today, she and hillary are on the same side, seem demographically similar, and so on, she cannot possibly want hillary clinton to be president. that's because, as well she should, warren does not like the fact that the democratic party in the clinton and obama administrations has been annexed by the banking industry. and nothing could be more obvious than that they have been; they literally just hire representatives of the biggest banks to run the economy, and then send them back to the banks afterwards. when they're back in the private sector, they contribute massively to democratic candidates, issue groups, and so on, and hillary and co spend their days sipping champagne with them and telling them how great they are and how much they can do for them. (after that, they pretend to wonder why economic inequality is increasing, to which the only possible answer is that they are trying to increase it.) it has got to have occurred to warren that when it comes to matters like this, she's no more happy with hillary than she is with paul ryan or whomever. elizabeth warren out on the stump for hillary clinton is elizabeth warren repudiating in every way except rhetorically everything she ever advocated about the economy. right, i hate the left-right spectrum and think it's senseless. but i would rather have a proper leftist than people who talk equality and then spend all day kissing the ass of the fatcats and doing their bidding.
marx, giving his positive program in the manifesto:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.
it is pure totalitarianism, the very model for the forced collectivization of ag, etc etc. here, in short, is the formula for achieving equality: introduce the most extreme assymmetries of power, the most excruciating hierarchies, that the world has ever known. here's the formula for liberation: extreme oppression. it's scientific!
i think what is most disgusting about marxist communism and related developments is the idea that thinking independently, or for example listening to the deliverances of your own conscience, is the merest bourgeois individualism and must be crushed. well, any power-mad ideologue or self-deluded fanatic might recommend that you believe all and only what he tells you. individual conscience is indeed a a barrier to collective action, such as genocide. but what is really amazing is that millions of actually bourgeois people, and maybe a few others, decided that made sense and tried to destroy their own independence of thought, and overcome all conscientious individual qualms. it was like they performed lobotomies on themselves, using steak knives from down at the rustler. it's a mindless endorsement of mindlessness. even if it wasn't in the service of a farrago of jive, that is a formula for astounding doltishness, profound evil, and non-stop mass murder for no reason at all.
that the left in the 20th century, apparently in the pursuit of justice or equality, descended into horrendous totalitarianism, resulting in the suffering-unto-death of millions of persons, is not, i assert, a forgivable or an understandable mistake. endorsement of marxist communism or state socialism was just an obvious endorsement of tyranny, oppression, exploitation, and mindless propaganda. advocacy of twentieth-century communism constituted advocacy precisely of inequality and injustice of the most extreme and explicit imaginable variety. it's no more forgivable than endorsing, let's say, the annihilation of the jews or chattel slavery. and i will say this: the left is still utterly dominated by statism, and it's no more decent or plausible or egalitarian than it ever was.
dude, you did not have to wait for stalin's show trials - though if you persisted after that you were explicitly endorsing a monstrous politics in a way that you couldn't possibly hide from yourself or anyone else. the point was incredibly obvious to common sense, but also all sorts of people were warning you about it, including a whole nother strand of the left. they warned about it 1840, 1900, 1919 (emma goldman on the soviet union, e.g.), and at all points between. marxists kicked the ass of anarchists, but definitely not because the marxists were making even vague sense, and certainly not because their inspiring vision of the future wasn't a nightmare of stupid pain.
anyway, i'm prompted to return to these points by rereading kropotkin's modern science and anarchism as i gear up to teach it. this is 1901, but anarchists had already been saying this for sixty years. proudhon attacked the state communism of weitling and others in 1840 on precisely these grounds. kropotkin:
The opinions of the anarchists concerning the form which the remuneration of labor may take in a society freed from the yoke of capital and the State still remain divided. To begin with, all are agreed in repudiating the new form of the wage system which would be established if the State becamne the owner of all the land, the mines, the factories, the railways, and so on, and the great manager of agriculture and all industries. If these powers were added to those which the State already possesses (taxes, defence of the territory, subsidized religions, etc.), we should create a new tyranny even more terrible than the old one.
marx endorsed placing all these powers in the hands of the state, and added, for example, banking, education, and communications (see the end of the commie manifesto). it's just the most obviously disastrous formula in human moral history, and people even of the left with some shred of decency knew that when it was being articulated. you hardly even have to state the refutation: the thing just sits there, being palpably ridiculous and straight-up evil. and honestly, anyone who ever endorsed it was or is a dolt or a slave or a very bad person or some combination. i am going to include in that assessment benjamin and adorno, for example, or zizek, say, or hardt and negri. no the grotesque basic failure of heart and intellect is not mitigated by burying the whole thing under various new layers of mumbo-jumbo. the shit has just got to be over.
dilute versions of that thing are all the left has, even now. they could have gone another way, but they weren't good enough as human beings or not independent enough as thinkers to draw the most obvious conclusions; in some cases they expressed their devotion even as they were dying at the hands of the totalitarianism they wanted. the mistake is so obvious, the position so implausible, that embracing it - i would have said if i didn't know differently - is just not possible. there is no explanation, excuse, reationalization that makes this forgivable.
so people of vague leftist leanings just think that that whole side of the spectrum means well, has a basic commitment to justice or equality or progress that makes it all understandable or something. racial suprematists, or terrorist jihadis, or for that matter laissez-faire capitalists, have exactly the same excuse: well, they mean well, if you listen to themselves. if you forgive some of these people on the grounds of their stated intentions - even while their actual procedures lead to utter disaster precisely for the values they themselves purport to hold, and even though that is the only thing that could possibly be rationally expected - you should forgive them all.
now, when i say the position is 'unforgivable', i do not mean that we should execute zizek or negri, or lob them into a new gulag, or place them at the forced-labor farm, or censor their works, or have the secret police blackmail their families to expose their misdeeds, desperately as they're begging for it. but we should definitely take it as a reflection on their intellect, sincerity, or decency. disqualify anything they say that has any political bearing on anything.
when democrats talk about income inequality, all they want is political hierarchy. when republicans talk about individual rights, all they want is economic hierarchy. neither party's ideology is compatible with even a vaguely sincere egalitarianism.
“Clapper lied in the name of security, Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy,” Paul said, adding that the intelligence director “should be tried for perjury" (ruth marcus this morning). it is, i say, astonishing and encouraging that such a person is a united states senator. and again, i predict a scandal around him in the next few weeks, lobbed to fox by clapper &co. he is saying this about people who have all his communications for the last decade. guts, son. if he and everyone around him is clean, which would make them very unusual humans, then i'd worry about debilitating illness or extremely non-foul-play death. or they'll send squads of agency hookers with webcams, etc., for they have sworn a scared oath to protect the american people!
so here's an argument that one might hear at some point from putin, which i feel even angela merkel might receive with a certain sympathy: the greatest threat of totalitarianism, everywhere in the world, is presented by the government of the united states. the government of the united states is engaged in a new imperialism on a new terrain. these are capacities that should be interpreted by everyone, starting with the citizens of the united states, as presenting an extreme threat: i want you to really think about the access to power that this world-wide surveillance/control provides. any country in the world can and should represent this thing as an invasion of sovereignty. the blackmail possibilities alone - on ceo's, political leaders (including the domestic congress and supreme court), military people - are crushing. they have all the passwords, hence access to infrastructure systems, missile systems, everyone's accounts, etc. in this light, that putin has sheltered snowden makes him plausibly a brave fighter for freedom in the face of an emerging world totalitarian state. this is, putting mildly, ironic.
republicans have condemned the all-night climate-change yapyap in the senate as "political theater". but what's cool about it is that it's avant-garde political theater, a step beyond the autistic drama of artaud; it's like beckett, though with less I-the-Genius hooey: theater without an audience, or indeed theater to which it would be impossible for anyone to pay attention. it's both the culmination and the annihilation of the very idea of theater. the blankness, the sheer repetition, the vitiated collective rhetoric, the automatism: it is both an example and, implicitly, a critique, of the postpostmodern era, a perfect correlate of these, the last days. the charcters are postpersons, not really distinguishable qua moral agents from their podium. really, a devastating portrayal and a profound critique of this era when even airliners, like ratiocination, disappear into an interdimensional wormhole.
i watched a bunch of the last day of cpac. now i want to consider this "nuanced analysis", attributed by dan balz to henry olsen, who distinguishes four factions of the republican party: somewhat conservative, very conservative, moderates, and liberals. i say this is a perfect example of what i call "spectrum blindness": you can't see anything about anything if it has to fall on the left-right spectrum. so, rand paul, who killed the straw poll, is a severe peacenik, screamingly anti-nsa, and more or less sympathetic to gay marriage and marijuana legalization. but he's anti-welfare-state in a big way, and will start by savaging government spending. sarah palin who finished the whole thing up with a masterful if substanceless stand-up routine howled small government throughout, except for the part where she was extremely about increasing military and intelligence spending. rather a silly juxtaposition. there was a lot of anti-immigrant talk, and jesus and "pro-family" (=anti-gay) stuff came from a number of speakers. then you have heldover bushy national-security state pure huge gov hawks. now when you try to range these extremely incompatible positions by which is very and which is somewhat conservative it obviously makes no sense, and these factions are more incompatible with one another than with the obama they all hate. so, you've got to go: libertarians; neo-cons or military-security hawks; religious/social reactionairies; and chimerae such as palin. it's amazing that people can keep going 'sorta right, right, very right' when it just obviously has nothing to do with reality. who's further right: palin or paul? dan balz has no more idea than anyone else, really.
while people lob little hitlers at each other and casually call one another fascists, try this thought experiment: quick, without looking something up, sketch out the basic positions of fascism. oops you don't know what it means. now look it up, guess what, you still don't know what it means. as a real historical political ideology it was just a grab-bag of random elements, completely incoherent, and at this point it has no more content than "asshole" or whatever. ok ok! i've done it too.
The news that the United Auto Workers lost a union election at a Nashville VW plant has sent the labor movement into something of a what the hell just happened spin. Unfortunately, I think that the results were preordained, back in about 1863. We have an interesting history in this country of well meaning northerners going into the backward and dirty south to enlighten these poor sons and daughters of Dixie, and it just doesn't work because the Northerners aren't trusted and the track record hasn't been all that great.
Hell, the post-union industrialization of the South wasn't by VW but it was by Northern Manufacturers who realized that they could make a lot more money moving steel from Pittsburgh to Birmingham and screw the workers in Birmingham a lot less than they were being screwed by their own boss class, but screw them a lot more than they were screwing over their own workers in the North. One might write an interesting history of American Expansion and Exception as a race to exploit the more easily exploited at cost to the somewhat less exploited. Now, the industrialization of the South screwed over a lot of people, and the big companies took the blame; it was possible to find Southern bosses and they did. Reconstruction ultimately turned out OK for the Southerners although not ideal from their point of view; hence the 100 year affiliation to the Democratic party although not necessarily the party of Roosevelt and Johnson but something else entirely.
Corn in the fields.
Listen to the rice when the wind blows 'cross the water,
King Harvest has surely come
I work for the union 'cause she's so good to me;
And I'm bound to come out on top,
That's where she said I should be
I will hear every word the boss may say,
For he's the one who hands me down my pay
Looks like this time I'm gonna get to stay,
I'm a union man, now, all the way
The smell of the leaves,
From the magnolia trees in the meadow,
King Harvest has surely come -- Robbie Robertson, the Band
Billy Yank and Johnny Reb compare resumes There's a wonderful moment in Gettysburg when an Officer of the 2oth Maine is talking with some Southern prisoners, primarily with a private. It's pretty interesting in that I think it's incredibly real and captures something that we miss at times. They ask each other where they're from, and the Rebel says, "Tennessee. How about you?" The Yank says, "Maine. I've never been to Tennessee." The Reb says, "Don't reckon I've ever been to Tennesse either."
the only interesting thing about jay-z and beyonce's performance at the grammys was her butt, which i admit is the very center of american culture.
the state of our union is stupid, vicious, and over.
here's what i propose to do with the common core curriculum: flay it with a razor knife and peel off its skin, dangle it from a noose and dip it in a vat of vinegar, pull it back up and club it like pinata to see what's inside, soak it in kerosene and set it on fire, and, in the process of putting it out, drown it, then insert sticks of dynamite in each of its orifices in a rape-like manner and light the fuses. after that, we will step back and re-assess.
every value that barack obama ever espoused, every ideal, every hunk of sort-of inspiring bullshit that he has muttered in his entire career, is given the lie by the nsa. democracy, freedom, equality, justice, america, etc: in his mouth, they are nothing. he yaps like king, but he is j. edgar hoover.
if you think that the democratic party has any way to reduce inequality, or that it wants to, you have not been watching. who is telling them how to ameliorate poverty? oh, you know, bill and melinda gates. as the cult of bill gates shows, we are a people who believe that wealth is equivalent to goodness, wisdom, and truth, no matter how bad the software sucks. a society like that loves and wants and deserves its extreme inequalities. on whose behalf do obamas or clintons administer the country? goldman-sachs. this technocracy they've created of harvard j.d.'s and wharton mba's is as hierarchical a caste system as could be imagined.
who wrote the common core? the bill and melinda gates foundation. obama wants the richest man in the country running absolutely everything, for he is the very best among us: provable in $$$. that's how we're going to get more equal. perhaps we should ask poor people, like people who actually know something about the situtaiton, how to address inequality. wait. poor people? those ignorant hilarious fools, those rednecks, black folks, and meth addicts? if they were smart, they'd have the cash/credibility. only billionaires and harvard professors know anything about poverty, bro.
i'll prove to you that poor people know nothing about poverty: where are their ted talks? the state of our union is gates.
wow i am in a nasty mood, i guess. i need to find some aspect of the news or our culture that i can affirm.
there are many striking formulations of the fact that extreme inequality is devouring our species, but this is a good one: the richest 85 people in the world have as much as the bottom 3 billion. we spend a lot of time admiring, loving, and rewarding those 85: think of how people treat gates or buffett or that fuckwad whatshisname who ran apple. but there is only one possible solution: all forms of hierarchy must be simultaneously dismantled. you can't use the political hierarchy to ameliorate the economic hierarchy, because the two are completely intertwined. understand that the political state and international multi-state organizations are what has made this degree of inequality - which is a completely absurd moral disaster - possible. beefing up the state sector to redress the injustices of global capitalism is exactly as plausible as beefing up the governments of spain, portugal, france, and england in 1670 to redress the injustices of colonialism.
release elizabeth warren on this and you just reinforce the sorts of mechanisms that made it possible in the first place. try equalizing on a state-control-of-the-economy basis and one thing you get is this: chinese princelings stashing their nation's wealth in caribbean havens. that is how marxism-leninism-maoism-etcism has turned out in the real world. seriously, this thing where we're going to use political power to equalize wealth is an article of faith: it is empirically absurd. look at the actual intertwined histories of capitalism and the state. nothing has ever been more obvious. 'davos' is a good name now for this identity. it is the place where all hookers gather to fellate the corporate state, which is really the hobby of all of us, essentially our whole lives. communism is just a slight permutation of this, and historical communism is yet another demonstration that political and economic hierarchies are mutually reinforcing.
people appear to be mystified that inequality increases under both democratic and republican administrations. oh my god! you've got to stop listening to what these people say about themselves. right? they both have entirely hierarchical orientations. they are both up inside wall street like tapeworms in your intestines. dems and reps, right and left: they have different adjustments in mind for your pension. and that appears to be enough to make y'all absorb your whole lives screaming at each other. they have massively the same political and economic orientation. surely you see that. america at the historical crossroads: hillary clinton or jeb bush? oh for heaven's sake.
the only coherent position, and the only position that is responsive even vaguely to reality has to be: oppose all coercive hierarchies. otherwise i'm telling you this just gets worse and worse. it gets worse under neocons. it gets worse under leftists: they all have the same position, really, and it is underlain by the desire to subordinate and to be subordinated. i don't actually see the distinction between the positions of paul wolfowitz and mao. or rather i hear their opposed rhetoric and i see their identical reality. i think that paul ryan and elizabeth warren have the same position, stated in slightly different ways for slightly different audiences. they do not know this about themselves, but they are perfectly complementary: we can oscillate between reinforcing the state hierarchy and reinforcing the corporate hierarchy, but these are the very same hierarchy. but also the tea party and occupy don't know this about themselves either, but they are on the same side too: the only other side.
i just want to say this up top: no doubt the tea party consisted of ignorant rednecks operating out of racial resentment. their opinions were manipulated by fox and rush, rather than by the harvard j.d.s manipulating the opinions of decent people from portland. however, they were so, so right about obama, and about the nature of the american government now, and about the fact that the american political tradition of freedom, as enshrined in the constitution, is over, betrayed. so absorb that. pardon my 'you' but i can't help it: they were right and you were wrong. they were true and you were false. they were clear and you were muddy. they were zoysia and you were astroturf. they were oppressed and you were oppressors. they said something and you said nothing. birtherism turned out to be a nice false symbol of the truth, which is perhaps why it has a bizarre power and immunity to evidence. right the man was born in america. but he is not an american as i would understand what that means.
so let me ask you this, antiteapartiers. if i think barack obama is a tyrant, does that make me a racist? i'm reading, for example, the individual mandate in obamacare back through the lens of the nsa: this is a person who runs roughshod over the constitution, has no concept of individual rights, and sees no limits to the legitimate use of state power (well, in these senses he's a culmination of american liberalism; indeed, the basic leftist position is that individual rights are merely capitalist ideology). this is a man that thinks you can be forced more or less at gunpoint to purchase specific items. and he is a person who yaps democracy and commits utterly to a secret program of universal surveillance paid for by its victims. let's just say i'm confident i'd feel the same if it were hillary, though of course then i'd be a sexist. indeed, i think on the pc account, any opposition to tyrranical power is racist and sexist. so, either you're an advocate of oppressing certain groups, or an enthusiast for the oppression of everyone. quite a bleak dilemma, actually, and we have indeed landed in quite a bleak future.
so, bill de blasio and the whole dem party is shifting to the issue of economic inequality. quite the urgent issue, not that it's atypical of any large state-dominated society in the history of the world. but i do not believe that what they are proposing - insofar as they are proposing anything - can have any effect on structural inequalities, and i suggest that this is as demonstrable as anything along these lines can be. so what do you suggest? more food stamps? longer-term unemployment benefits? do these things change people's basic social or economic status? (right, it is important that they might enable hungry people to eat!) going to try again or pretend to try again to equalize education across poor and wealthy communities? what in the world would make you think that this has any effect on the basic structural or relational situation? has the welfare state or compulsory public education redressed structural inequalities? i would like to see the evidence. i would point you toward a century of dicking around with education to no effect. giving poor people more benefits can slightly ameliorate their situation. but it does nothing to change the structure, and indeed i suggest that it freezes the situation into place, that it and also public education, for example, makes the basic structure chronic. public education has been a caste system and a reproducer of the class structure in the next generation since it was instituted. if you look squarely at the real history of these programs, i believe that's what you see. well, maybe you are going to do them better this time. no, you'd have to actually do something comepletely else.
i'd rather be ruled by illiterate peasants than by harvard j.d.'s. how do you get a harvard j.d.? by following the rules better than anyone else, by mastering, with tutorial help provided by your parents, the standardized test. i do not believe the average harvard jd is more intelligent than the average person on the street. and i am certain that overall the moral quality of the latter is superior to the former, partly because the deepest need of the average schlumph doesn't consist of dazzling worldly success achieved by total conformity. i don't believe we live in a meritocracy. i believe we live in a frozen class hierarchy. all my life, i have been hanging out, for example, with ph.d.'s and with barbers. i don't think the ph.d.'s are any smarter, but they certainly often are more conventional thinkers, sheer wielders of ideological buzzwords, geniuses of the empty phrase, etc. when you get them to politics, they all say the same sentences in the same order, and they congratulate one another for their intelligence as they do, and sneer at anyone who doesn't. they haven't reflected on their basic beliefs since they were born, and one of the functions of the institutions in which they rise is to require that and call it excellence.
we are really two nations, or two continents. this is an example of what is now a whole genre: new yorky journalist tries to calm his nerves and drive into rural/small town america. really for years he's only read, you know, michael tomasky, jill lepore, and thomas frank or whatever: the people out here, these teabaggers, etc, are insane, stupid, and evil. other than that, though: the salt of the earth. they are entirely manipulated and have no idea what their own interests are. maybe eric lutz figures he can slip somebody a hint down at the diner.
it is very much like british explorers penetrating the dark continent in the 1830s, let's say. the savages are so fascinating and incredibly stupid. don't they understand anything? why aren't they working in textile mills? do they want to live like that? we'll have to re-educate them, under compulsion if necessary, which it definitely is. so it's odd that we speak more or less the same language with more or less the same accent, are all familiar with the same television ads and stuff. we sort of share a culture. but insofar as eric lutz shares a culture with the assholes driving trucks out here, he's no doubt consumed by self-loathing.
so really, speaking on behalf of, say, rural country fans, i want to say: you obviously do not want us in the same nation as yourselves. you despise us. you don't listen to a word we say under any circumstances. all you do is dehumanize and patrionize and insult us. cut us loose, for we are to you mere filth, and take a long warm bath in obamacare to clean yourself up. but here's what i'd like to tell you, eric lutz, and i direct this at your whole ilk: you are an elitist. you are a classist (and also, dear god, a leftist: spend the next two years engaged in withering self-reflection. then do another piece like that.) you are so full of self-righteous ignorance that you have become unmoored from reality. so i hope next time you head out here, we'll have worked out the border fencing and attack dogs.
one very possibly good effect that country music could have in a less polarized culture: it could represent something of the experience of rural americans to urban and suburban americans. (believe it or not, i think hip hop had an effect in making suburbanites sort of understand something about black ghetto-type experience. think about what it was like for a kid from the burbs to take in public enemy during the crack epidemic etc.) i think we are in a golden moment of country artists doing that in a compelling way. i would adduce kacey musgraves and her sometimes collaborator, the very fine brandy clark (about whom more later). (musgraves and clark co-wrote follow your arrow.)
they are very critical of the experience of, say, growing up and living as a female person in economically depressed small-town america. but they represent that experience in a compelling way, in a way that might have the potential to make eric lutz see something about what it's like from inside, and register the people who have it as human beings with experiences that are comprehensible to other human beings, even across our berlin-like barrier. see, his empathy machine is broke. art is a good mechanic that way. but then he'd have to listen to the country station for a half hour, whcih would be against his religion. and i do mean religion: his sheer, wholly irrational faith.
funny but when i travel or live in rural america (whiteford, md; york springs and seven valleys, pa; batesville, va; cottondale, al, for some of the residences) people are by and large amazingly nice. i look a little off, i'm sure, and true i am myself a somewhat educated person. and yet they don't shoot me at all. i was talking to a slovenian prof at a conference in poland this summer, and he was saying, with real fear in his voice, that he was going to be spending time in rural texas. he said 'tea party' and 'guns' in a heavy accent. i'm like: dude, i'm telling you if you have never been in rural texas, you're gonna love it. amazing food. great music. and the world's friendliest people everywhere wanting to help in any way they can. and so on. chill, it's ok!
remember obama's 'clinging to their guns and religion' thing? that might actually be the moment the tea party started (or perhaps it was the point where the man who said that actually became president). it's like romney and the 47%, only obama meant a different 47. they highly overlap, however. now: here is somebody who knows, to help explain it to highly-educated sophisticates everywhere.
the kennedy thing, i have to say, is amazing. yesterday i was listening to another npr show of ecstatic tribute to a great man. so what were his main accomplishments?, asked the interviewer. um, well, the bay of pigs wasn't all his fault: that was one accomplishment. he really understood civil rights deep inside, even though his record on that was...mixed. really he started the vietnam war. but one of his accomplisments was that if he'd lived, he supposedly would have stopped it. ok ok, moonshot and peace corps.
anyway, it soons turns uber-woolly: he was so significant because he was so inspiring to a whole generation. what was supposedly great about kennedy was his charisma, and everyone goes there very quickly: he accomplished charisma. now, in my opinion, either charisma is a supernatural hypnotize-you-at-a-distance-of-miles super-power, or it only means sexiness. i think sexiness was kennedy's real policy accomplishment. probably, one should reflect on who one is following around taking inspiration from, and why. what we're really nostalgic for is our masochistic ecstasy: find a beautiful man and believe whatever he tells you to believe. now, fortunately in the case of kennedy, there were no very definite ideas coming out of that perfect mouth, because when there are definite ideas, this charisma crap is merely dangerous.
many people pride themselves on the rationality of their political approach. where does their whole body's desire to be bathed in charisma fit in with that?
In which Crusader AXE reflects on the cooption of patriotism into something more vulgar than an ad for Stars and Stripes Personal lubricant, the nature of nations as Phrog Farms with the help of noted Management Consulting Anarchist Jerry B. Harvey, and points out some personal responsibility through the prose of a better writer in The Guardian. With music.