Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Can't You Think of Anything?

Thought I'd make today's post about the barren desert that is the Land of Left-wing Alternative visions. To be fair though, some of my readers actually imagine that voting Liberal or NDP or Green or some socialist fringe party IS their alternative. THAT'S the extent of their analysis and activism.

At least in that, they've got it all over bullshit poseur "anarchists" who show up at protests carrying signs that say "No Matter Who They Vote For, We Are Ungovernable!" and who then go home, back to their jobs or their student loans and their paying taxes and rent or whatever.

But still, when no mainstream party wants to tax corporations and the wealthy and thereby redistribute wealth that is either sitting in bank accounts or being lost in corrupt financial markets, voting isn't going to do anything. Corporate media dominance isn't going to be affected. The whole gamut of our society's sins have been accepted as the air we breath has been accepted, by our political parties.

I think most of my readers know this. Most of the lefty-pinkos I've associated with know this. So why don't we spend the time discussing how to actually change it? Why don't we do that? Why don't we sit down and write about what's necessary to change that? Why don't we propose alternative ways of doing things? What's wrong with us? I mean, what's wrong with YOU?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Positive Response

Here's a nice little essay from "Common Dreams" - "It's Time for a Post-Piketty Vision of Shared Wealth." It praises Thomas Piketty for exposing the lie of neo-liberalism, that reduced inequality is a natural result of "free-market" industrial capitalism, and for showing how it is politics that reducing inequality, not markets.
Far from creating ‘a rising tide that lifts all boats’, however, Piketty’s update of the Kuznets curve shows that a capitalist economy driven by market forces was not the reason behind the reduction in inequality in the post-war period. Rather, this was due to the peculiar circumstances of the era, such as the destruction of wealth following the great depression and two world wars, alongside strong government intervention in the market and broad-based redistributive policies (including, for example, top income tax rates of well over 90 per cent in both the US and Britain).  
Piketty's work shows that left to its own devices, capitalism produces extremes of destabilizing inequality. We therefore need something beyond a tax on capital ...
Many commentators have pointed out that the surest path to reversing inequality within countries is through strategies that create a better distribution of capital in the first instance, rather than relying on top-down, quick-fix and state-centric strategies afterwards. In other words, it’s more effective to address the distribution of wealth at its source, well before it is already stashed away in the bosses’ bank accounts.
This will inevitably require the collective organisation of labour, the protection of workers’ rights, and new ways for capital to be owned broadly by the populace – such as a dramatic ramping up of participatory ownership through cooperatives.
The article also talks about the ecological necessity for a new form of economics:
Another blind side of Piketty’s analysis is his failure to take seriously the ecological limits to growth. It is clear that he defends the free market and the idea of perpetual economic growth, since his proposal for a global wealth tax assumes that a global growth rate of 2-5 percent is sustainable over the long run. Nowhere in the book does he admit that limitless growth is unsustainable on a finite planet, a position which is now conventional wisdom for many scientists, environmental activists and civil society organisations. As often repeated, humanity is currently consuming natural resources at a rate 50 per cent faster than the planet can replenish, and we already require one and a half planets to support today’s consumption levels.
Now, there are lots of links in this article. Most of them, it seems, are going to  go to sources that back-up the factual claims of the article. Some might refer to existing co-operative groups and what-not. I shall check, but the point is that I don't think there's any large-scale initiative at any of those links that is trying to construct the widespread democratic-ecological political-economy that we needed to start building yesterday.

Allow me, once again, to trumpet "Workers as Citizens. "Workers as Citizens" doesn't propose getting people with no access to capital to form co-operatives through some combination of encouragement, innovative fund-raising schemes, or whatever. It doesn't say that the labour movement should form its own co-operative industries to compete (in a rigged game) with the corporations at their own game. No, "Workers as Citizens" proposes making democratic co-operatives of Ford Canada, Microsoft Canada, Wal-Mart Canada, Tim Horton's Canada, all at once, through legal fiat. Every single workplace in Canada (except for the public sector, which will be run by triumvirates of workers, managers and citizens' representatives) will be mandated to be run democratically. Workers and owners and managers in each workplace will be free to determine their own form of democratic practice, subject to a few caveats (such as their being no involuntary expulsions from a workplace other than through a majority vote) to protect workers (or owners and managers) who have found themselves conned into agreeing to a sham democracy.

Using our present political system, "Workers as Citizens" will mobilize to get a political party to run on a platform of imposing this obligation though either ordinary legislation or a constitutional amendment. By using the system that our elites tell us is the only legitimate source of change, our elites will have little in the way of arguments against it, and no legal recourse for opposing it. Obviously, there are practical arguments that can and will be made against it, but these can be dealt with through traditional discussion and debate. What I'm referring to when I say that they can't argue against it is that they cannot say it is illegitimate. They cannot say it is dictatorially imposed. If it is implemented the way every other law or constitutional right is implemented, then the elites will have to suck it up, or lose their own claims to legitimacy. (Truth be told, by endorsing stephen "contempt of Parliament" harper, and his election fraud crimes, and by supporting the unilateral abrogation of our Treaties with the First Nations, our elites have shown their adherence to democracy and the rule-of-law to be a sham already.)

Some of my critics have tried to argue that just as our elites have shown their inherent hypocrisy and insincerity in the past, so too will they do so here. IF (and that's a big IF) a party were elected to power on this platform and IF they weren't intimidated into watering-down the proposal into meaninglessness, our elites would rise up and crush this exercise in naive trust in legislatures and bourgeois elections.

My reply to those critics is to ask what else they propose? A  "revolution" in poorer countries that will magically sweep across the world and bring our whole system crashing down to be replaced by a utopian political-economic social order of "real" democracy and "real" economic justice and "real" this or that? In other words, some unpredictable chain of events that will somehow happen somewhere and somehow not be crushed and somehow, somehow, somehow ....!

Or do they propose giving our dying labour movement a greater emphasis on "organizing" than on protecting their current memberships, in the hopes that we can (in the face of vast difficulties of post-industrial workplaces) bring the movement's membership up to 1950's levels, whereupon we can then, .... do what exactly? Suffer the same reverses of the 1950s - today?

Or, do they propose pointlessly voting for increasingly timid social-democrat parties or green capitalist parties who will do what they're doing at the present time?

Or, do they propose putting on black clothes, covering their faces with masks, and throwing a rock through a window?

Or do they propose writing another critique of present circumstances?

Or, do they propose writing incomprehensible, stupid gibberish such as I parodied here?

I really think my critics have gotten ahead of themselves. If our elites will crush an initiative such as "Workers as Citizens," will they not then totally expose themselves as rebels against their own source of legitimacy? IF such a government were elected, it would have to be elected with something like 40% of the electorate's support to have a majority necessary to implement it. It will be a part of the campaign for this initiative that its opponents will have to obey it or else they will have exposed themselves as enemies of parliamentary democracy. If they blatantly crush the legitimate aspirations of 40% of the electorate, do you not think such an action would not have fatal consequences for their continued authority over us?

And, furthermore, if we believe that our elites will ruthlessly crush such an initiative, why the fuck do we petition them for things that we want? Why do we protest their crimes? If they're ruthless criminals, then they're ruthless criminals, right? Why will they stop militarizing the police, persecuting minorities, engaging in criminal ponzi schemes and bailing themselves out with public funds when their casinos collapse? Why will they stop their wars, their plundering of the planet, their media brainwashing, their polluting of our eco-system, their immiseration of the working class, because we petition them? Because small groups of us protest in the streets against it?

V. I. Lenin was a ruthless, murdering psychopath, but at least he realized that if you're going to take power away from the powerful, the powerful are going to resist. And by "resist" we don't mean protest for an afternoon on the street or make a website to complain. They're going to try to kill you. They'll imprison you at the very least. Lenin's system failed because, partially due to his own tendencies and partly due to the intensity of the opposition against him, he didn't know when to quit killing people. Lenin and Stalin and the rest won for a number of reasons, but one reason was because Lenin had no compunctions against killing anyone and everyone who dared to oppose them. And, he thereby implemented a terrible dictatorship.

What do my critics propose? A magical peaceful revolution. Peaceful how? Revolutionary how? When does this happen? Where does it happen? Why does it happen? Why is everything magically better after it happens?

Please! In the name of FUCK tell me! It's enormously important that you tell me! So that I will know when this magical, peaceful, perfect transformation will occur and can be dressed appropriately. Unless it's all just useless fantasizing.

And that's just it. Unless and until I hear some sort of coherent alternative to "Workers as Citizens", I am going to assume that there is nothing else out there.

Democratic workplaces will bring greater health and safety. Higher wages. Job security. They will mean more attention to environmentalism. There is a lot of literature to back-up the claim that they will be more efficient.

To transition from growth-based consumerism to zero-growth sustainability will require a strong, democratic state. Public health care, pensions, ecological clean-ups, insurance of housing and the basic necessities, ... the redistribution of global wealth to desperately poor countries, ... all of these things will require a democratic state. They're too big for vaguely defined committees of hippies to deal with (or whatever the fuck alternative my "radical" critics have swimming around in their brains).

Workplaces will be taxed and regulated and the state (with less unemployment and other upheavals to deal with) will have ample resources to do these tasks. And workplaces will not flee to lower taxation because the workers who help run the place will vote against their own unemployment.

"Workers as Citizens" is the ONLY realistic means we have for implementing the reforms of capitalism and the implementation of ecological sanity that are articulated in that article.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Too Much Bad News For Me

Reading about harper's racist contempt for violence against First Nations women, and reading the racist garbage from his racist fans.

Idiotic reporting about whether Obama should "save" Iraqis from ISIS. (Why not ask who is funding these maniacs? Why not ask why it would have been okay for them to have conquered Syria, but not Iraq?)

The IPCC report on irreversible climate change.

I don't know what to say.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bullies Don't Like it When People Fight Back

There are martial people who respect opponents who can give them a good fight. And then there are bullies. Insecure people who see every challenge as a threat to their very lives or at least everything they are. No matter how small the challenge, it could lead to more challenges and more threats to the bullies' fragile worlds.

Thus, Hamas and Hezbollah are presented as mortal threats to Israel's existence.

Canada's First Nations send right-wing racists and the Canadian state into paroxysms of fear.

Black US-Americans threaten to expose the whole racist structure of  the white, male Christian power structure.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Magic of the Multiplier

The multiplier is a macro-economic concept that states that a government tax cut, or government stimulus spending might boost the economy by much more that the lost tax revenue or the initial government expenditure.  It is possible to calculate the multiplier knowing prevailing economic conditions. But since its discovery, right-wing economists (perhaps even those at the link, which is the right-wing "Economist" after all) have been doing their best to minimize the theoretical potential of the multiplier. It would be inconvenient if everyone agreed that all a government would have to do to end a recession and restore confidence to workers, would be to spend money.

Since right-wing economists are totally discredited, this shouldn't get in our way. Government spending on infrastructure and health and welfare programs can be ramped way up. This reversal of years of austerity will probably have a major positive impact on the economy. But, still and all, we live in an era dominated by idiotic deficit hawks and mercenary credit-rating agencies. Spending is spending and deficits are deficits. Right?

Well, what's changed today is that the wealthy clearly have more money than they know what to do with. And it's rendered our economies top-heavy. Financialization and financial speculation. Which does nothing for ordinary people. Tax-cuts to wealthy and the corporations just go into the banks and into speculation. Tax-increases to the wealthy and the corporations can help mitigate government deficits without harming the economy themselves. Because the wealthy aren't doing anything productive with the money we've been allowing them to miser. We'll get more bang for the buck taxing and spending than we will allowing them to hoard it and gamble with it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Answer to Everything

What sort of world do we want to create and how do we intend to get there? There are about seven billion human beings on the planet. The scientific consensus is that the present levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are going to be joined by many more tonnes over the next few decades and that this is going to raise the average temperature of the earth by 5 degrees Celsius, producing radical transformations of climate patterns. Croplands will shift and shrink. Coastal areas will be flooded. Local species will go extinct. Overpopulation will bring wars for basic resources. Governments in many places will not be able to cope with the unrest and mass migrations. The Fordist economy of mass employment and mass production is being replaced by the Post-Fordist economy of automation and de-industrialization and mass unemployment. The official economy centres around financialization and the manipulation of public and private debt to subsidize elite speculation.

I have long argued that it would be more efficient in the long-run to work with the system we presently have and militantly see that it is improved, than to advocate for the total destruction of our present political system and its replacement with something completely new. I have argued this because it seems that the numbers of people who would sign-on to such a project are pitifully few in both numbers and resources. Also, the new society that is supposedly necessary is never clearly articulated. Even if we had a realistic possibility of smashing the capitalist-imperialist system, we would be asking people to take a leap into the dark.

Recently though, I've come across an exciting articulation of all of these issues, which has allowed me to reconsider my pessimism and think that, perhaps, a new world is possible. Allow me to quote from the most relevant part:
Everything that is, is good.  The world of the Qlippoth, the Spectacle, is all entirely evil.  Evil isn’t a substance; if it were it would be good.  The mystery of the effectiveness of evil  comes down to the fact that evil doesn’t exist; it’s just an active nothingness.

What’s evil is not distinguishing evil from good.  Indistinction is its kingdom, indifference is its power.  Men do not love evil, they love the good that’s within it.
Now, obviously, this sort of writing is what's known as "philosophical." Allow me to put it into layman's terms.

"Everything that is" refers to whatever demands the total rejection of the present. That might seem contradictory at first glance, but hear me out: The stuff we want (social justice, environmentalism, peace, etc.,) is "good." Therefore, whatever is opposed to what we want is "evil." As "evil," that which we want "goodness" is absent. Therefore the absence of what we want is "evil." What we want is absent from the present system. Therefore the present system is "evil."

If you still can't see how "Everything that is" means "the rejection of everything that is at present," well, I can't be expected to spoon-feed you. We have to move on, because this is too important to delay with mental stragglers.

"The Spectacle" refers to the bullshit of the present system of sham democracy and sham economics. It is "evil" because it is. It denies what we want, which is "good." And, because it is what is NOT, (which is what we want), it doesn't exist. If it was what we want (a political system built on what is "good" ... which, sadly, we don't have at the present time) it would exist and it would be "good."

No one can deny that the present capitalist-imperialist hegemony (which doesn't exist) is very effective. It's fooled a lot of people. But that's because all it has to do is deny what is, (what we want) which is "good." By that I mean, it's easier to do nothing than to do something. All we have to do to get along is to NOT build a better world. That's it.

We actively do evil when we pretend that the present system is not evil. Our indifference to the evil of the present system is what gives capitalist-imperialism it's ability to continue. It's a different way of saying "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Which is a statement that has never been made by anyone who believes in anything "evil."

Lastly of course, it should be added that, contrary to what I just said, that "evil" is more than just NOT doing what we should. Some people actually love the system (which doesn't exist), but that's part of its power.

What does any of this have to do with how to build the world we actually want? What does this have to do with the practical steps we have to take from the world that [doesn't] exist to the world we want to exist [which does already]? It's quite simple actually; we avoid what is "evil" and pursue what is "good."

If even more clarification is desired or needed, simply go to this thread where I, and my esteemed mentor, who goes by the nom de guerre of "slumberjack," explore these concepts further.

ETA:  Obviously, this post is complete bullshit.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I Still Got It

So this right-wing racist was on facebook the other day. Had taken over a friend's thread about the situation in Ferguson. Dude was one of those assholes who constructed their ludicrous, evil defences of George Zimmerman. (This guy regurgitated the nonsense that Trayvon Martin attacked Zimmerman because he was gay!)

So, the guy blurted out a few boners and I noticed his errors and his failures of logic and I zeroed in on them and wouldn't let him go. This guy was decent on rote-recitation of right-wing racist talking-points, but had no real talent or ability. By the end of it, he was desperately throwing out links and ad hominems, desperate to deflect from his own racism and failure.

I'm not going to bring justice to Michael Brown's family. I'm not going to bring an end to racism in the USA or even Canada. But in my little corner of the world, one of these faux-objective, "colour-blind" racist assholes was exposed as a fool and a fraud and their poisons temporarily banished.

Yeah. I have no life.

I didn't have anything else to post.