Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Jimmy Dore vs Sam Seder

So there are two "progressive" video bloggers in the USA who I've been following. The first one I encountered is Sam Seder's "Majority Report" and the second one is Jimmy Dore's "The Jimmy Dore Show." I've since discovered that Seder was originally the co-host of the show with Janeane Garofalo and that it ran on "Air America" and Dore began as part of an ensemble cast of a show on "The Young Turks" network.

These two guys have developed an acrimonious dispute as to the proper strategy for progressive citizens in the USA. Seder insist on focusing upon changing the Democratic Party from within, at the local, state and federal levels, while Dore says that the Democratic Party is hopeless and that a third party led by Bernie Sanders or some other charismatic [is Sanders charismatic?] figure is what is needed.

I have to say that I side with Jimmy Dore. While Sam Seder is clearly more knowledgeable about the mechanics of the US political system and is more scholarly in general, he is, essentially just offering a more intellectual version of the whole "lesser evilism" shtick that has seen decent people lashed to the super-corrupt Democrats in decades of deluded servitude. In the comments section to a video where Dore was actually debating (via telephone) with Seder, somebody wrote how Seder has no illusions about the Democrat leaders being his, or any progressive's friends. The party is a tool for people to try to get what they want. "The art of the possible" in other words. The problem is that Seder, for all his intelligence, is the tool that people like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are using to get what they want.

Dore is a much more simpler man. And he repeats himself a lot. But his outrage at the entirely disgusting state of the USA's political culture is very real and very necessary. He is genuine when he says that he supports people like the Democratic Socialists of America in their efforts to challenge Democratic corporatists from within. (Indeed, his show was one of the first to provide an outlet for the campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.) But in the end, he correctly insists that the Democratic Party is hopeless. He does not let up from pointing out the abominable scuzziness of Hillary Clinton and the entire team of anti-democratic filth (such as the revolting Deborah Wasserman-Schultz) who sabotaged Bernie Sanders in the primary, betrayed the party, and foisted Clinton as the party's candidate.

To deliberately pick a candidate associated with the status-quo at a time when the status-quo was (and remains) loathed by all, and on top of that, a candidate with decades of baggage from right-wing attacks (most of them stupid) was just indicative of Hillary Clinton's massive set of entitlement. In one of his videos, Dore describes an exceptional New York Times article [I tried to link to it but too many goddamned ads started loading and crashed my browser.] wherein Black citizens of Milwaukee explain why they didn't vote or cast a protest vote. Two guys (I think) wrote themselves in, and one guy voted for Trump as a protest against Hillary Clinton, whose husband's policies put him in prison for 20 years. [This is probably a reference to Bill Clinton's "Three Strikes" policy that Hillary enthusiastically campaigned for in her attempts to combat "super-predators" and "bring them to heel."]

I mention this because some of Seder's fans, who imagine themselves progressive pragmatists, have tried to accuse Dore of enjoying white, male, affluent privilege. I don't know what Dore's net worth is. It's probably well above average but nothing spectacular. But the argument is bullshit because the people who are hurting the most have been ABANDONED by the Democrats. Is it that much of a stretch to believe that the president who told Wall Street criminals that he would protect them from the mob with the torches and the pitchforks might also be responsible for those same criminals enjoying 90% of the GDP growth since he came to power? And mighten't some of that wealth have been extracted from the poorest? Partisanship can make fools of us all and liberal partisans are just as capable of disgracing themselves as the stupidest Trump fans.

Finally, I have to say, that even before I was aware of the Dore-Seder rivalry, I was already iffy about Sam Seder. His video titles are often pure "click-bait" and while they might be parodying the way that right-wing shit-heads title their own videos, it's still off-putting to watch a video entitled "Sam Seder DESTROYS [name of right-wing shit-head here]" and watch it for 9 minutes and not hear anything even remotely relevant. Also, when Seder is the host, it means there are 3 other people interjecting trying to be witty and too often failing. (Sometimes the co-host, whose name escapes me, is in the chair and then there's only two other people competing with him.) With Dore, he clearly runs the show, and his co-hosts (often his wife Stefane Zamorano, aka. "The Miserable Liberal", and young comedian Ron Placone) show much more restraint when they interrupt, and then he asks for their feedback at the end. It might appear more domineering and/or narcissistic I suppose, but it makes for a smoother presentation. I will say though, that Zamorano's comments are often more profound than Dore appears to give her credit for. This might be misogyny or it might be just the way people take their spouse for granted or it might be my imagination.

And, at the root of it all, I see a lot of myself in Jimmy Dore. I'm a working class guy. I'm unpolished. I have a highly developed sense of outrage. I'm not a partisan. I often don't have all the facts immediately on hand. I watched his stand-up special a week or two back when I was high and remember thinking that I enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

stephen harper's new buk

So, plodding dullard, pants-pissing coward, anti-democratic doofus, brazen hypocrite, overall incompetent, stephen harper has (in a desperate attempt to appear relevant) farted out a book of sorts.

It's called I'm Really Stupid Now (or something). In it, he apparently says that something he calls the global free-market economy has produced winners and losers and that these fucking losers are turning to extremists such as Donald Trump (on the right) and Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn (on the left).

Of the two extremes, harper says that he's more scared of the left. [Since harper is on "coward" mode full-time he's obviously terrified to the point of nausea and incontinence.] What is necessary to combat this extremism is to construct a "conservatism" that pays attention to working people's concerns.

I'll give Andrew Coyne a word-in here. (While I think Coyne's own political-economic theories are incredibly dangerous, he showed himself to be one of the more principled critics of harper's contemptuous treatment of Canada's parliamentary institutions, and he therefore has my respect.)

And yet the mind it reveals is not that of the subtle, sometimes rueful voice of experience he clearly wishes the reader to imagine. It is, rather, all too conventional, even banal. What are presented as iconoclastic insights, in which the rise of populism is explained in terms of the failings of conservatism — former Conservative prime minister breaks with decades of conservative orthodoxy! — are a mix of received wisdom and undergraduate shibboleths, many of them long debunked.

It was Jim Owen, guest-blogging at Dr. Dawg's who first hepped me to harper's sad effort. I'll quote a couple of sections wherein he, like Coyne, exposes harper for the banality that he is:

Apparently globalists are doing much better than localists, but in Mr. Harper’s argument this remains a hidden premise, which spares him the trouble of explaining it. How globalists came to be independent of the nation-state, and how exactly this confers invulnerability from the woes affecting localists, is left to our imagination. One supposes that perhaps they are wealthier, and that there might be a class conflict between a wealthy globalist elite and a dispossessed state-bound proletariat. Certainly Harper employs the claim, in explaining the West’s restive populism, that “incomes of working people have stagnated or even declined over the past quarter-century.” But, curiously for an economist, he does not clearly connect the growing wealth gap with the dominant form of economic activity in the West, that is to say, a capitalism that actively resists state regulation....It is a regrettable trait of ideological thinking to start with an answer, and then apply it to whatever problems one observes. Stephen Harper has correctly identified a growing class conflict between the well-to-do and “working people” — an idea he might have encountered in another form during his studies in economics — but has made the colossal blunder of failing to work from this observation towards a rational and unprejudiced course of action. Instead he clings to a set of “values” that must guide us, notwithstanding their suspicious resemblance to the very principles that he says got us into the mess in the first place: pro-market, pro-trade, pro-globalization, pro-immigration. More than this, he says that any unnamed alternatives would be “a big mistake” without offering any reasons why, at least in this excerpt....There is more to be said about this book excerpt. Its analysis of the Make America Great Again movement in terms of the international politics of Iraq and Afghanistan is regrettably shallow. According to Mr. Harper, these misadventures incurred “enormous human and financial costs…with very little success.” As a result, “global security deteriorated,” which fed the populist America-first movement. One longs to explore the failures of these initiatives, and to trace the concomitant deterioration of security, in order to learn what mistakes were made and how they might be prevented.

In short, harper has produced what could only be expected of him. A dully written set of shallow assertions about the state of the world and his wholly inadequate suggested solutions. Some people are evil geniuses. They're terrifying in their creativity and their practical accomplishments. Whereas others people, like stephen harper, are more like this small lump of foul-smelling evil sitting in the middle of the room. It's best when faced with a turd like stephen harper, to get a dustpan and a broom and sweep it up and toss it outside.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Traumatized Societies

I once watched a documentary about Berlin in the interwar period. "City of Sex" was the title I believe. I was interested because Weimar Berlin was also a hot-spot of artistic creativity: Dada (brought in by the German ex-pats who created it in Zurich during WWI, Expressionism, Bauhaus, Brecht, Gross, the cabarets,etc., etc.,). Also, I was interested in just how those stodgy old-folks from the 1920s (okay, they were youngsters then) were able to shake-off the Victorian-era prudery that persisted everywhere else until the late-1960s.

Ah! Here's a link to the documentary: "Cultural Alchemy Special Berlin Sin City of the 1920's." Now, it's either in that documentary or I heard it somewhere else, but this is what I heard; That (with a little joke about typical German organizational abilities) in 1920's Berlin you could go to one street and find mother-daughter prostitute teams. Another street was pregnant prostitutes. Another one was fat prostitutes. And so-on and such-forth.

Now, here's the thing: There had never been such a time in Berlin's past or in its future when the women of that city decided to do such things. I'm guessing that they were desperately poor due to the unemployment and the hyper-inflation and the other economic fall-outs from defeat in the First World War. I'll also go out on a limb and imagine that their clients were the war-profiteers, speculators and con-men of the era, plus wealthy foreigners from England, the USA, and France mostly.

Meanwhile, the men (who were not starving at home, perhaps getting drunk and disagreeable while spending the money their prostitute wives were earning) were fighting each other in the streets as socialists, communists and fascists. Again, this was due to the economic crises resulting from the War.

These economic crises were on top of  the moral crises that come out of defeat in war. I know that we Canadians get a little thrill out of having bested the Yanks in 1812-14 (even though that was the achievement of British regulars and Iroquois warriors; the latter of whom we've have treated abysmally ever since) and out of having been on the winning side in most of our other conflicts. The British certainly puff-out their chests over their victories in the two World Wars (and many others besides). France was subjected to an intense round of soul-searching over the 1941-44 period. And they weren't plunged into anything like the interwar catastrophes following WWII.

So, the Germans, a proud and militaristic people, were defeated in WWI, subsequently disarmed and demoralized and then ground down into the gutter by economic crises for two decades. They were traumatized as a society. And the response of those desperate times (as allowed for by German capitalism) was Hitler's fascism. And we all know how well that worked out.

But Hitler wouldn't have gotten anywhere if capitalism hadn't have fucked-up so badly. Hitler's rise was assisted by the immediate dislocations of 1918-19. Then by the hyper-inflation of 1921-23. His Nazi Party's support was ebbing in the late-1920's before soaring again in the Great Depression of 1929-33. The point is that traumatized societies are not healthy societies and they go in unhealthy directions.

An obvious indicator of this is the Trump presidency. True, he didn't win the popular vote. True, Hillary Clinton won more votes in absolute numbers than any of her predecessors. This BBC article gives a good analysis of the numbers though, and adjusting for population growth and other things, Hillary Clinton did better than Gore did against Bush II, but not so staggeringly well as her proponents insist.
The 2004 election had a higher turnout than the 2016 election by about 1.7% of the voting age population, Stanford University political scientist David Brady points out.
If the 2016 election had the same percentage of voting age population, about 2 million more voters would have gone to the polls.
Important fact that. Anyway, the point is (I keep having to use that phrase) that Trump is a symptom of a sick society. If things weren't so consistently shitty, then the level of anger and hatred against the status-quo wouldn't be so intense. (Stupid and/or ignorant people have always blamed scapegoats for their plight, and the more people for whom the word "plight" sums up their situation, the more support you have for racist blowhards like Trump.)

Women are traumatized. This has just occurred to me. Some guys hate women because they've been hurt or rejected by them. They'll bloviate about their hate and loathing of women at great length on the internet amongst like-minded "Men's Rights Activists" or "MGTOW" or "Incel" sub-groups. But these same men can't wrap their heads around the idea that women might therefore have good reasons to hate men. And if they do, they're just engaging in "typical man-hating feminism." But read the accounts of sexual assault survivors. And of victims of sexual discrimination and harassment throughout this patriarchal society's institutions and across history. (In all honesty, I meant to write about something else here but this just dawned on me. And, you know, I think if there's one thing that makes this notion of "trauma" not apply here, it's that "trauma" applies to a profound change of circumstances. Women and long-oppressed minorities generally don't act traumatized because they've spent their entire lives under such conditions. They've been conditioned/reconciled to their state of affairs since birth basically. Still and all, abuse is abuse.

The Jews were traumatized by the Holocaust. They'd been an oppressed minority for over a century in Europe. But the industrial-scale slaughter carried out by Hitler and his Nazis was unheard of. It traumatized them. The helplessness and the humiliations. And, so, they started acting-out. Everything they've done in the Middle East, in Palestine, since 1945, has been the result of the societal trauma created by the Holocaust. And for too long (and not for entirely this reason) we've indulged them out of guilt over their trauma. But it's not good to enable a traumatized person's indulgences. A trauma victim might turn to booze or drugs. They might abuse the people around them. They might became selfish, entitled, self-pitying human wreaks if nobody steps in to teach them more proper ways to heal.

Unfortunately that's not what we've done with Israel. They've been enabled, and enabled, and forgiven and indulged and now they're a sickeningly racist, blubbering self-pitying, murderous, disgusting nation. From top-to-bottom they're moral imbeciles and their judgments upon others are looked at with derision by sane people.

The Middle East is being traumatized right now. Just as the Jews suffered in Europe, the whole Middle East; Arabs, Muslims, Kurds, etc., ... what do we think the long-term ramifications are going to be from millions slaughtered, tens of millions made refugees, tens of millions losing their countries and being governed by US-puppets or (often the same thing) Jihaadist psychopaths? The helplessness and the humiliation. If it wasn't for the fact that the monsters in Washington DC like terrorism because terrorism provides excuses for the military-industrial-complex and the surveillance state, this would be seen as a bad thing. But for those witless foolish monsters, it's GOING to be a bad thing, by their definition, because the level of terrorism created by the massive trauma of tens of millions of people since the beginning of the Great Bullshit War on Terror will be much bigger than they think they can control.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

More Easy Answers

So, yeah. Easy answers. Achievement without effort. This desire for maximum output with minimum input is hard-wired into us. Being able to figure out the simplest way to achieve one's goals is a survival mechanism. But sometime's evolutionary traits can backfire. Especially when one lives within a self-reinforcing protective bubble of information.

The climate change deniers, the anti-vaxxers, right-wing troglodytes, Hillary-bots, partisans of all stripes, hive off into their little communities of self-adulation and self-praise and become so enamored of the endless stream of mental rewards they dole out to one another that they become disconnected from reality.

And when the deluded praise supplants the actual achievements, they don't even notice how insane they're acting. Personally, I'm of the opinion that Justin Trudeau is probably not a bad guy. I'm sure he's somewhat arrogant due to the prestige of his father's name and due to his own astonishingly good looks. Combine this with what appears to be a definite mental shallowness and I'm also sure that he's not an individual I'd ordinarily seek out for his company. (He'll live, I'm sure.) But overall, he's probably a fairly agreeable chap.

So why is he pushing these bitumen pipelines and running roughshod over promises (very important promises) to the First Nations? Why is he continuing with stephen harper's Orwellian surveillance legislation? Why is he so prepared to be a neo-liberal thug in so many areas (albeit while wiping a tear from his liberal eye)?

Probably because he has immersed himself in the bubble of delusion that is the Liberal Party of Canada.

Think about it. He spends all day either very busy reading reports made by like-minded researchers, or speaking with like-minded partisans. And much of his workplace discussion focuses on convincing a conservative, corporatist media on the soundness of Liberal approaches to ideas and policies. He has neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the incentive to genuinely consider and interact with contrary sources of opinion.

And, when he suffers cognitive dissonance from encountering new facts that are unexplainable by his Liberal worldview, he simply stops thinking about them. And, of course, this process works for previously accepted knowledge that no longer fits with his present Liberal world-view bubble. This explains his ability to have had sincere, fruitful discussions with David Suzuki about the dangers of Climate Change and what is necessary to counteract these grave dangers, and then, following his attaining power, to simply stop talking to Suzuki. Upon gaining power, Trudeau and the Liberals immediately embraced "pragmatism," or, balancing the "needs" of the psychopaths in Calgary and Toronto's Bay Street with those of the environment and the human race.

This has to be done of course because there's a competing political party that's vying for power: The morons and troglodytes and sleazy con-artists and religious freaks and pathetic closet-cases who comprise the Conservative Party of Canada. These shit-heads deny the reality of climate change and make no pretense of serving anyone other than the capitalist elite. (That's not exactly true. They DO gratify their voting base with policies of discrimination and racism and other forms of bigotry towards scapegoats and the weak. The low-functioning level of their voting base is such as to be easily requited with the abuse of "the other" even as their own lives continue to deteriorate as a result of the main thrust of their own party's policies.)

So it is with Trudeau's false promises to the First Nations. Whatever he wants to think, Trudeau remains part of an imperialist-colonialist project of genocide against the First Nations. Their precedence on these lands, and their existing claims on rights and resources are a hindrance to the capitalist project of exploitation and so they are to be eliminated. Canada did not have the power to simply massacre them all at once and so has settled for long-term "low-intensity-conflict" wherein we destroy their languages and cultures and deprive them of services and resources (while forbidding them from accessing their own resources) and, when necessary, we break solemn promises to them while continuing to deny them the resources they surrendered and the actions they had taken, in return for those promises.

And Trudeau justifies all of this behaviour with standard Liberal platitudes, and he is able to do this because he exists within a bubble of self-reinforcing Liberal platitudes. That's how he and his witless Environment Minister can pose in super-hero costumes as "Climate Superheroes" while they continue to suck dirty tar out of the ground to give to the Chinese to burn. It's how Trudeau can continue to give heartfelt apologies to past crimes against the First Nations while continuing to inflict new ones upon them and pretending that the vast majority of the First Nations do not now hate his guts and despise the sound of his voice.

Because he's surrounded himself with a bubble of stupid Liberals and stupid Liberal platitudes. All day, every day, he's immersed in a soothing bath of "We make sure that every Canadian has a chance to reach their fullest potential" and "Politics is the art of the possible and we are the ultimate in what is possible" and "We represent ALL Canadians, rich and poor, all creeds and colours."

How to conclude this little shpiel? I don't know. Break that bubble. But how? I've sent my own Liberal MP some e-mails but I can't even be sure that he reads them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Climate Change, Capitalism, and Easy Answers

This is a good essay from "No, Capitalism Will Not Save the Climate" by Karin Nansen.

We are facing deep-rooted climate, social, and environmental crises. The current dominant economic system cannot provide solutions. It is time for system change.
For Friends of the Earth International this means creating societies based on peoples’ sovereignty and environmental, social, economic, and gender justice. We must question and deconstruct the capitalist logic of accumulation.
The climate catastrophe is interwoven with many social and environmental crises, including oppression, corporate power, hunger, water depletion, biodiversity loss and deforestation.

She really cuts to the chase:

We must tackle climate change and the associated social and environmental crises by taking rapid and bold action to address the common root causes; privatization, financialization and commodification of nature and societies, and unsustainable production and consumption systems.
The magnitude of the crises we face demands system change.

And so on and such forth:

System change must address people’s individual and collective needs and promote reciprocity, redistribution, and sharing.
Solutions include public services achieved through tax justice, social ownership and co-operativism, local markets and fair trade, community forest management, and valuing the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Go over and give the whole thing a read.

But my question is (as always): How are we to achieve the very good things that Nansen is calling for? Our political-economic system is dominated by pro-capitalism, pro-corporate, neo-liberal parties that serve authoritarian oligarchs. Our media system is dominated by neo-liberal, corporate propagandists and "public relations" brain-washers. One-quarter of the voting population in the industrialized countries consists of stupid, ignorant, racist, patriarchal, authoritarian, brainwashed, right-wing chumps. Another one-quarter consists of partisan liberal shills and hypocrites who will turn a blind eye to the most blatant betrayals of their principles if the politician doing the betraying is nominally from their team.

Why do our politicians do the things they do? With some of them, like Donald Trump, the Ford Brothers, or Paul Calandra, ... it's because they're hollowed-out morons. They have neither the ability to empathize with others nor are they possessed of the intellectual weight to be able to discern right from wrong. Calandra has literally defrauded his dying mother. Rob Ford railed against "drugs and gangs" and then smoked drugs with gangsters. Doug Ford is just a stupid bully. A rich man's son who was a high school drug dealer and who used his brother's populist appeal to build his own political career which is all about his personal benefit and the implementation of his own personal belief system of self-serving bigotry and greed. Donald Trump is a serial con-artist, psychopath, rapist and hypocrite. A moral degenerate who could barely restrain his sexual desire for his own daughter. What sort of man would strike his own son in the face for not wearing a collared-shirt and a tie to a sporting event?

It's obvious why scum like this do the things that they do. But what about the liberals?

Not enough has been said about Barack Obama pardoning Chelsea Manning in the closing days of his presidency. I don't see that this action exonerates Obama for his numerous crimes. But considering who Chelsea Manning was and what she did, I find it remarkable. How many other presidents have thrown people like Mumia Abul-Jamal or Leonard Peltier into prison and then left them there to rot?

Obama's pardoning of Manning shows that he often knows what the right thing is, but he chose not to do it. One has to remember that Obama (like most politicians) is something of a psychopath. He did everything necessary to be the first Black US President. His chameleon ability to affect the mannerisms of whoever he's speaking to are well noted. His self-control is extraordinary. As was his brazen duplicity (telling voters he'd go after Wall Street criminals at the same time that he was filling his Cabinet with them). Becoming the first Black President (and not getting assassinated for it) was a difficult achievement. But he hardly tried when it came to climate change. Because that would have meant trouble. It would have meant stirring-up powerful adversaries. For Obama, NOT doing what imbeciles like Bush II did, or maniacs like Hillary Clinton wanted to do, was the extent of his efforts.

I see I've written much more than planned and haven't really said anything. I'll post this now and pick it up later.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The World Doesn't Owe Us a Living

This is one of the most pervasive assaults on left-wing calls for social justice; that we expect that the world owes us (and everyone else) a living, simply by virtue of our having arrived on the planet. It is at this point that those who champion an economic system of unlimited growth on a finite planet begin to shriek about "scarce resources" and how we can't just give people riches without their having to work for them.

But the criticism resonates with ordinary people because resources are scarce. There has never been a time or place where everyone could consume without having to work. (Although some hunter-gatherer societies have, at times, enjoyed periods of considerable leisure.) Ordinary people imagine that leftists are calling out for endless benefits for lazy people (such as leftists) and that they will pay for these benefits by taxing productive people.

This gross oversimplification and outright distortion is mainly the product of a propaganda system that benefits the rich. Certainly there are small groups of people who would like to do nothing and live off of other people via public assistance. Such individuals exist at all times in most large-scale societies. But the numbers of people on welfare have always been small. And the vast majority of this small group of people are using these programs for less than a year. The problem/danger that has been conjured up to frighten people from social justice is imaginary. It doesn't exist.

But there IS a small group of long-term layabouts who consume vast amounts of resources for almost their entire lives. The wealthy heirs of great fortunes! The idle rich who "earn" money from "investments" that other people gave them and which (for the most part) other people manage for them. For instance, those asshole Koch brothers, ... one of them has a son.

Or, Paris Hilton. Or Kim Kardashian. Or Paul Godfrey.

We've gotten to the point where there is more than enough productive capacity to ensure that everyone has a roof over the head and food in their belly. This is PARTLY the result of the release of creative forces through capitalism that Karl Marx spoke about in the 19th Century. But it is this same political-economic system that seems compelled to degrade and humiliate people who might want a roof over the head and food in their bellies and who need public assistance for this because that same political-economic system made them redundant.

Capitalism is dependent on the impossible premise of endless growth on a finite planet, with this growth being achieved by ever-increasing consumption (by those with "effective demand") of more and more resources.

Social justice and other "leftard" values such as environmentalism, democracy, human rights and dignity, are all dedicated to creating a sustainable society based upon the real limits of the planet's productive capacity. It is the "hard-nosed" anti-welfare "realists" who have their heads up their asses.

Edited To Add:

Apparently it was the Disney cartoon and not the Warner Brothers' Porky Pig cartoon that had the song I was looking for.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Good Essay From "CounterPunch"

This piece -  "Workers' Power vs. Climate Destroyers: What It Will Take to Save the Planet," by Bruce Lesnick, is the kind of thing I'm talking about here:
Asking those few with wealth and power to please do the right thing is not a very effective strategy and it hasn’t gotten us very far up to now. A much better approach would be to take the power and wealth into our own hands – into the hands of the majority – and use that power to directly address the problems we face. This would shift us away from the defensive posture of beseeching those in power to kindly consider the greater good, even if it meant acting against their own interests. Instead, we must adopt the much stronger, more democratic position of giving the orders rather than continuing to accept the crumbs offered from the unelected minority that has been running the show for generations.
To break the logjam and implement a rational energy policy, the energy industry must be converted to public ownership. As with the other demands described above, taking the energy industry out of private hands is not a luxury we might shoot for in the expectation of settling for less. On the contrary, we will either nationalize the energy industry under workers and community control or we will not be able to stop runaway climate change. This is a battle we cannot lose if we hope to win the overall climate war.

Personally, I'm not sure we'd necessarily have to nationalize the energy sector under "Workers as Citizens" but I'm not very opposed to the idea.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Inevitability of Steady-State Economics

You cannot have unlimited growth of anything on a finite planet.

Obvious, right?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Soldiers and Cops

In our system the state has a monopoly on the use of violence. The police and the military are the main tools by which the state exercises its monopoly on violence. The only message that I want to convey with this post is that if you have access to members of the police or the military (or, really, any other enforcement arm of the state that can cause serious damage to a person's life), that you use this access to convey progressive messages towards them.

Now, certain types of people are attracted to police work and the military. Often their personality traits are such as to make them our enemies. But many within these organizations have enough intelligence, humanity and principles to make them amenable to concerns about social justice, fairness, and democracy.

Personally, when conveying my message on radical democracy, I wouldn't say anything that would incriminate me later. This is easy because "Workers as Citizens" isn't about smashing the present system but about working within it, by its own rules, to achieve a radical transformation of society.

The more exposure soldiers and cops have to a progressive message and progressive values, the more it will impact on their thinking. It's better than nothing at all. And even if you don't think you've made an impact immediately you might be surprised later to find out that you had more of an effect than at first appeared.

As I said; Even though "Workers as Citizens" is all about working from within the system to implement legitimate changes through legitimate structures ("legitimate" literally and within the stated values and rules of the elites themselves) the elites will not hesitate to distort it and portray it as a seething, violent, illegitimate movement against all that is right and true. I am not naive in that I believe that if a movement plays by the rules that it will not be attacked. I am well aware of the moral emptiness of the ruling class. But I am also aware of their power and our weakness. It seems to me that as much as super-anarchists might revel in throwing off all rhetorical restraints and taking on the system one-on-one in the streets, the fact of the matter is that the propaganda system has most of the populations in the industrialized world against them. Their numbers in the streets are inconsequential. And if they ever went beyond mere token levels of violence and "ungovernability" they would be crushed.

They would be crushed by the violent apparatus of the state. The police and the soldiery. But the police and soldiery are human beings. Often from social strata more like our own than that of the elites they protect. The smallest cogs in the machine can be affected so that the machine doesn't move as smoothly as the elites would wish.

One of the problems of the left is to write-off almost every group that isn't immediately amenable to our messages. It is this process of self-isolation that, well, ... we're marginalized. What else is there to say? T'would behoove us to bring those people as we can onto our side.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Change the Narrative, Create an Alternative Narrative, and Destroy

George Orwell's 1984 describes how a totalitarian government can manipulate people into believing the most grotesque, inhuman absurdities. It can delude people into thinking they're free, even though they're miserable and trapped in a system they can't control. It robs them of the words, the capabilities, to even understand what is wrong, to explain it to themselves.

To a great degree WE live in a totalitarian culture. We're told we live in a "free market" when, actually, we live under an economy dominated by oligarchies that control the governments, and therefore, the parameters of whatever competition there is. Canadians are told that theirs is a country that has no enemies. That we never had slavery. That we are protecting the First Nations. That we are tolerant and fair, democratic and free.

In reality, Canada has few enemies because we're not important enough. But we've created an enemy with the cocaine-fueled Crown Prince Limpdick of Saudi Arabia and from the muted response from our so-called "allies" we see we have very few friends as well. Slavery WAS practiced in pre-Confederation Canada. And we backed the pro-slavery Southern Confederacy in the US Civil War. We didn't (and don't) protect the First Nations. We exploit and abuse them. We attempted deliberate physical genocide against them (through the starvation policy of our Founding Father Sir John A Macdonald), and cultural genocide (through the residential schools) and it continues to this day with the underfunding of services; the mass incarcerations; the almost total inaction on the suicide epidemics in First Nations communities.

I could go on about our shortcomings but this isn't my main point. Just as Canadians are fed national myths; so are the British: That England was a beacon unto the world. That Winston Churchill saved Europe and perhaps civilization. The United States of America has the biggest whoppers; that they're "free" despite the fact that they have the largest proportion of their population behind bars than any other country on Earth. That they're "brave" when they attack civilians with robot drones remotely piloted from bases in Nevada. That they're anti-imperialist when they have military garrisons scattered in hundreds of bases around the planet. That they're democratic when they're blatantly dominated by a super-corrupt oligarchy.

The awesome writer Caitlin Johnstone has been writing an awful lot lately about how the oligarchy's power is based on their control of the narratives that create our worlds and that the biggest thing is to simply reject these narratives and their power will disappear.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. The world is better off being controlled by the collective will of the people rather than the will of a few sociopathic oligarchs, and we absolutely have the ability to take that control by force whenever we want to. All we have to do is shift value and credibility from plutocrat-generated narratives to popular collective narratives, and cultivate an aggressive disgust for all attempts by the powerful to manipulate the public dialogue
Read her if you don't already.

What she says is true though. But I think that something more is needed to more effectively destroy the power of elite narratives. And that is a counter-narrative. We need the story of the mass of humanity. We need a story that justifies the claims of the vast majority of the people who have ever lived. Furthermore, we need a coherent path to power of the many, for the many, for all.

Obviously I'm talking about my own hobby-horse: "Workers as Citizens." And, again, I fixate on this idea because to date I have heard no coherent argument against it. I'm enamored of my own idea perhaps because I'm a self-centred conceited narcissist, or perhaps because I think it makes a helluva lotta sense.

If you don't know already "Workers as Citizens" says that workers, as human beings, should enjoy human rights within their workplaces. A human being is not an object to be used and discarded. If you need to employ other human beings to make your business dream a reality you must concede that they are human beings and make them citizens of your enterprise. It is a COLLECTIVE UNDERTAKING. Especially since it is as labourers that we earn the means whereby we can physically survive. So much that is important hinges upon employment: physical survivor of the workers and their children; self-respect; physical and mental health; etc.,  that it is ludicrous that we allow ourselves to be rented and discarded by the capitalist class so easily. Especially since their power over us stems from the political creation of a landless proletariat with zero rights to anything at the dawn of the industrial era.

Think about it. In the state of nature, you take what you can get. You take what you want. If there is not enough, obviously you starve. But if you're hungry and someone has more, you take it from them. Hunter-gatherer societies were noted for their egalitarian social structures though. If you had enough, you shared it with the community. Property created inequality. Many people farmed and gave a portion to an elite who prided themselves on not having to work. (Smaller numbers of people made bricks or forged metal tools or served as soldiers and etc.,) But even in these societies most people were farmers who were entitled to farm. Western European societies came to gradually abandon domestic slavery (unlike, say, Tsarist Russia with encumbered serfs well into the late-19th Century). It was through the Enclosure Acts whereby the British Parliament took away land from the peasantry and then enacted laws making it illegal to sleep outside; to be on the highway at night; or any number of activities that impoverished people are forced into. The goal was to push these people into the towns where they would have no choice but to labour in the dangerous, inhuman factories that were beginning to arise in 18th-Century England.

This state of affairs is basically where we are today. Those of us who "own" our own homes are obligated to the banks for much of our lives. We don't own our homes and they can be taken away from us if we lack the financial resources to continue paying for their (increasingly rising) costs. The rest of us (more and more) do not own our own homes. We rent and we have no resources other than our incomes from work. We have nothing without work other than uncertain public unemployment insurance programs and meager general welfare assistance. And it is pretty clear that the capitalist class would like to eliminate these "labour market distortions" because of the "rigidities" they create. (And, sadly, most workers, especially low-income ones, would also be happy to see the safety net go, as they imagine that they are working to support those who will not.)

The counter-narrative of "Workers as Citizens" doesn't involve defending the welfare state. (That will happen organically.) It involves elevating the humanity of those who work. Furthermore, it uses the rhetoric of those it opposes against them. It does not advocate a revolutionary upheaval that those in power would be entirely justified in resisting. It does not advocate collectivism over individualism. Every individual worker must be given their human rights because every individual is equal. "Workers as Citizens" incorporates the whole liberal notion of rights and equality and freedom and pushes them to their logical conclusion.

It does not ask of people to imagine a radically different society with different decision-making bodies and new laws and new powers (such as expropriation, or "proletarian dictatorship"). All it does is it asks people to take the world as it is and imagine themselves as free, autonomous individuals with rights within their workplaces. And where do they get this power? Not through the physical takeover of their workplace. But through the passage of legislation. Just like stephen harper's C-51 took away our Charter Rights n' Freedoms, the passage of "Workers as Citizens" takes away the dictatorial powers of capitalist employers over their work forces.

Because, let's face it: The bulk of people don't follow politics too closely. They don't think about the structures they work within. (They simply adapt to them.) Decent liberals will talk about a Tobin Tax or the relative merits of a Carbon Tax versus Cap & Trade while your average shmuck is wondering what sporting event is being televised this evening. When they think about politics it's to self-righteously slam all politicians as "the same" (which is to say liars and thieves) who are giving their money to crack-whores on welfare and bullshit "refugees" who are actually Islamic terrorists or Latino gang-bangers. These people aren't going to read a whole electoral platform. I don't even read those things. Here in Ontario in 2018, Doug "drug-dealer" Ford won an election without even having one. People vote with their gut. And guess what people? To win, we need more people on our side. This HAS to include people that we might call "deplorable." And you're not going to appeal to them with arguments about social justice for other people. You have to appeal to their own self-interest.

After this legislation has been implemented; imagine what flows from there! You could still have imbecile financial sector parasites buying up the stocks of a company and becoming the new owners, but when it comes to laying-off thousands of workers to pay for the debt incurred to buy the stock? Nothing doing. The workers have a vote and, obviously, they tell the parasites to find the money some other way. Is the company in trouble? Just like the government budget, the workers in a workplace have the right to see the company's budget. If there really is a crisis, everyone decides where the cuts are made. New environmental regulations to protect the planet? The management says "fuck that" and proposes closing-up and moving to some impoverished country where there are no regulations. The workers reject this and the company stays.

Say there's a nice hippy guy or girl with all sorts of flower-power ideas about what the factory could be producing instead of useless consumerist junk. Also, they have ideas about reducing waste. Presently, nobody listens to them because it's all a waste of time anyway. But say they have the right to speak freely? And say that there are other workers who have no vested interest in the status-quo. The hippy could get a hearing. "Why don't we do this?" At the very least, people will be exposed to new ideas with the understanding that they could actually make these things come to pass if they so desired.

I could go on, but I want to get to the third section of this post. "Destroy." Obviously much would be destroyed by "Workers as Citizens." Much that NEEDS to be destroyed. The power of the capitalist class would be irreparably broken. The fortunes of the top 10% would inevitably be greatly diminished. The whole apparatus of propaganda, surveillance, inequality, racism and incarceration would be undercut. And the elites would know this. They would have difficulty arguing against a parliamentary implementation of a law elevating the human rights of workers within their workplaces. But they would try. They would distort. They would divert. They would attack the integrity of its advocates. They would promise catastrophe if it were implemented. And, obviously, they would physically attack those advocates.

This is all explained in a brilliant post from the wonderful Ian Welsh: "The Creation of New Worlds Imagined Through Myths"

New worlds, new realities, can only be born in the destruction of the old world.
Because that destruction often entails much suffering and death, often we put off the creation of the new until the old is completely untenable. But by doing so we usually make the transition much worse than it would have been otherwise.
Capitalism needs to end. It needs to end because it has failed the climate change problem: it didn’t deal with a problem so catastrophic it will forseeably kill a billion or more people and which might end in human extinction. Capitalism knew this was likely to happen, capitalism didn’t just not deal with it, but capitalist institutions fought (and are still fighting) to conceal that it would happen and against doing anything.

To create a new world we will inevitably have to destroy elements of the old one. But we like to pretend that things can be done peaceful and easy. You know, I'm sure that Justin Trudeau is not that bad a fellow. And when talk was cheap, before he got power, he could speak sincerely with David Suzuki about the need to seriously fight climate change. Once he got power though, he knew (as he'd tried to put off thinking about before) that it would be impossible to do this without stepping on the toes of Big Oil. Of the USA and China. Of Bay Street. Of the whole denialist economic system. So, like so many of us in difficult situations, he put his head down, mouthed banalities and hoped nobody would get too mad at him. He knew he had nothing he could say to justify his inaction to Suzuki, so he simply stopped talking to him and hoped he'd go away. (Along with the reality of Climate Change.)

Are we any different? I don't think so. We know that on the one hand, we are ruled by amoral, greedy, psychopathic monsters. But what do we do? We continue to participate in bullshit elections with bullshit election platforms that our bullshit parties have no intentions of seriously pursuing. Between elections, we have tiny gatherings of the converted to "demand" things when we have absolutely no intentions of backing up with negative consequences should our "demands" not be met. We believe we can petition our monstrous psychopathic overlords to act against their own self-interest simply because we have facts and morality on our side.

Revolutions are not created by reasonable people acting reasonably. But nor are they won by deluded people acting irrationally. So let's dismiss the anti-Parliamentary radicals right here, right now: Do you have a massive revolutionary movement behind you? Yes or no? You do not. Why not? WHY NOT??? What have you been doing to try to rectify this? Do you have a strategy for taking power away from the present elites outside of the official political process? You do not. Do you believe that dressing in black once in awhile at public events and breaking some windows will bring the capitalist system to its knees? It will not.

One thing that is definitely needed is the destruction of the comforting delusions of super-radicals that their isolated actions and their total lack of strategy will somehow, someday, lead to everything falling into their laps.

Another thing that needs destroying are the mewling fantasies that a social-democratic system can be implemented without addressing the relative power imbalances that exist between progressive and regressive (capitalist-authoritarian) forces.

What could is the truth if anyone who speaks it is assaulted, physically smashed, and incarcerated?

The birth of the new world, however necessary, will have to be a seriously fought one and it will require pain. Let's hope it's the pain of the Dick Cheney's and the Stephen Harpers and the torturers and the militarists and the oligarchy in general. And not ours.

Monday, August 20, 2018


Sort of.

I still think humanity is too stupid to survive. I still think blogging is a waste of time.

But it seems to me that living a lie is also a complete waste of time. Recently, I've been seeing a lot of click-bait titles about how to have a better life. You know these sorts of articles: "Yoga hacks for greater energy." "This Billionaire CEO Avoids These 5 Bad Habits." "The BEST Way To Respond To Set-backs" etc., etc.

There's a flood of them.

Some of them might have some good advice. But the fact of the matter is that it is POLITICS (political-economy) that is going to change real material conditions for the vast masses of people. Everything that I do these days, I do thinking that it doesn't matter one way or the other. Either way, I'll die when I die, and I was just a bunch of atoms and molecules building up to a biologically-experientially invented "self" to move my [this] carbon-based bag of mostly water through a meaningless existence. And, as this "self" I believe that living as an empty-headed, hypocritical moron, sleep-walking through one violation of what I was trained to think was important after yet another violation, is intolerable.

People who say of Mexicans facing starvation in the years after NAFTA flooded their country with cheap subsidized food and made their own farms unviable; "Let them starve!"

People who now say of Central American refugees fleeing violence and oppression; "If they didn't want their children taken from them, they shouldn't have broken the law!"

Such people are imbeciles. Moral and intellectual imbeciles. And hypocrites. Because they would have done, would do, the same things that fleeing populations always do, when placed in similar situations, and they would scream blue murder in the face of the callousness and ignorance that they themselves express.

Most people simply don't care about people outside their own personal network of connections. To some degree they can be made to care briefly about strangers when the media thrusts them before their eyes and when helping these strangers (or just pitying them) requires no great sacrifices on their part. Victims of an earthquake or a drought-caused famine? Give 'em a few bucks. Fourteen Thai boys trapped in a flooded cave? We're praying for 'em! Victims of a government our media has trained us to hate? Somebody should do something! But for the most part, their primary, almost solitary focus, is on immediate family and friends.

And, perhaps, that's the most efficient way to live. Life on this planet was not (I don't think) created by any good god or gods. There might be some unknown/unknowable divine force animating the universe. But being unknowable it would be good of us not to try to speak of it. No, life appears to have been an accident with no moral purpose. We invent codes of morality to negotiate social interaction with one another. And these codes arose out of the same sorts of behaviours shared by our primate ancestors and our primate cousins today. I don't think chimpanzees get too worked-up when they have to engage in selfish behaviour to get what they want or need. And neither do most humans. That's what it takes to survive.

Me, I've got the counter-productive desire/need to have a consistent moral code and a life that justifies its own existence. Not for me the pointless job making or selling useless garbage and subscribing to the incoherent religion that I only half [if that] believe in. (And only as a security blanket to let me believe that I'm going to persist throughout all eternity.) I'd rather die now if I found out that such an existence was going to be my fate.

So, I'm going to blog, and, more than that, attempt real stuff as well. With what time is left to me.

We'll see.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Trump Derangement Syndrome and Russia-gate

I've mentioned this before but I'll say it again: Critics of the moronic george dubya bush were often accused of suffering from "bush derangement syndrome" [bDS] by his supporters. To whit; pointing out he was stupid, that his case for the invasion of Iraq was based on lies, that he was a craven servant of the plutocracy, that he stole elections, was "deranged." But all of those things turned out to be true. (NEWS FLASH!! I'd read the words "bush derangement syndrome" on various right-wing sites but it's only now that I see the stupid term was coined by Charles Krauthammer. How precious! I never bothered to read much of what that imbecile wrote but the one time that I did he proved himself to be garbage.)

[Some might say that 9-11 Truthers were also included as suffering from bDS but that's a separate category. Personally, I believe that bush II's regime was determined to let something/anything happen, and were therefore deliberately lax in doing their job of providing leadership/focus/direction, but they had no idea it would be so big. And, anyway, bush II's official investigation into the event was bullshit, so let people think it was an inside job for all that I care.]

So bDS wasn't really a thing. But "Trump Derangement Syndrome" certainly is. Sure, Trump is vile and loathsome. A bloated, orange, combed-over piece of racist, misogynistic sludge. But just look at the deranged things that certain of his opponents are prepared to say:

  • That the CIA and the FBI are friends of democracy and the rule of law.

  • That the USA had a flourishing democracy in the first place and that it is now, for the first time apparently, endangered as never before by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

  • That the USA actually operated under the Rule of Law before Trump/Putin but now this too is threatened.

  • That Hillary Clinton's "hacked" emails revealed nothing bad, and they didn't even exist, but that nonetheless they were "hacked" (not LEAKED) and these non-revelations of nothing bad somehow cost the election.

I guess this is all part and parcel of "Hillary Derangement Syndrome" (HDS). So let me go into THAT for a little bit:

  • Hillary Clinton was THE MOST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE EVAH!!! (And if you challenge them on this shit-assed ludicrous assertion prepare for either an avalanche of invective or a summary social-media blocking. I, personally, find it immensely gratifying when the hateful insults are being hurled by a female Hillary-bot who would ordinarily condemn such behaviour as a symptom of "toxic masculinity" such as saintly women never stoop to.)

  • That Hillary Clinton's vagina somehow overcomes her slavish devotion to the military-industrial complex and her fealty to Wall Street criminals and her serial assaults on the well-being of ordinary US-American (her active ongoing support for corporate health insurance/the industrial-prison complex/welfare "reform" that threw millions into destitution) and the blood on her hands of Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Hondurans, Venezuelans (to name only the most egregious of her imperialist crimes). Seriously. So many people were prepared to exalt this piece of shit because she was a woman, which really comes down to her genitalia. Because when it came to her policies, she showed herself just as violent, cold-hearted, cynical and corrupt as any male politician. She didn't exhibit any of the supposedly inherent qualities that make women different from men.

And on and on it goes ...

  • That a few hundred-thousand dollars of social media ads produced by a click-bait farm in Russia gave the election to Trump in an election that cost over $1 billion. Yes. If you're reading this blog then you're probably one of the people who convinced themselves that a fucking "Black Lives Matter" meme/ad, posted after the goddamned fucking election was over, helped get Trump elected. Jesus Christ! STOP!!! How the fuck could an ad purchased AFTER the fucking election influence the fucking election?!?

  • That indictments of Russian nationals who will never be extradited to stand trial constitutes "evidence" that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election.

  • That Russia committed an "Act of War" when it meddled in the 2016 election but that pointing out that the USA "meddles" in the politics of other countries (including invasions and overthrowing of governments) is called "Whataboutism."

  • That Trump's belligerent tone towards North Korea was a threat to the future of all mankind, but his meeting with Kim Jong-Un was disgraceful kow-towing to a dictator. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's ravings about shooting down Russian planes over Syria wasn't problematic at all. (And why are you still talking about Hillary Clinton? By the way; You should have voted for Hillary Clinton. She was the greatest candidate EVAH!!! And it's your fault we have Trump you stupid PURITY PONY!!! Wahhhh!!! She lost because of YOU!!! I'll hate you forever!!!!! Wahhhh!!!!)
  • That (the latest) 12 Ruskies hacked into the electoral roles and purged thousands (?) hundreds of thousands (???) .... well, they purged enough Democrat supporters from the roles to suppress the voter turnout. Democratic Party supporters showed up at the polls on election day 2016 and even though they swore they'd registered to vote they weren't on the list and therefore couldn't vote. And so they quietly went home. And, unlike the complaints about butterfly ballots in the Florida voting during bush II vs Gore 2000, or the shenanigans in bush II vs Kerry in 2004 (long lines in Democratic strongholds/complaints about voting machines switching votes from Kerry to bush II/unprecedented discrepancies between exit-polls and final vote counts) that were noted at the time, as far as I can tell, these politically-timed FBI allegations are the first anyone has spoken of this.  Two years of silence and now all the gullible suffers of TDS are scared shitless about how the Russians deprived vast numbers of people of their franchise. 

I could go on. But trying to channel this nonsense is tiring and depressing. Listen people: Trump IS disgusting. So was/is Hillary Clinton and the entire leadership of the Democratic Party. It goes without saying that the whole Repugnican Party is vile. They BOTH suck. And they will BOTH destroy civilization given the chance. Obama is the first president to have allotted to his office the power to murder US citizens without trial. He maintained and expanded the carnage in the Middle East. He presided over the transfer of 90% of the growth in the GDP to the top 1%. And he was the saner one out of himself and Hillary Clinton. A vote for her would have been an endorsement of a rotten status-quo.

Go after Trump for his real crimes and horrors. But EVEN IF he got some Russian help; he's not Putin's puppet. He can't be. The USA is too powerful. And Trump's fans have forgiven him so many scandals that any pee-tapes would have no impact on their devotion to him. Stop trying to ratchet-up tensions between the nuclear super-powers you fucking idiots.

So, at long last; What do we do with these stupid mother-fuckers? These ranting, paranoid, conspiracy-theory nuts? These shameless hypocritical morons?

My suggestion is to obtain as many large bank vaults as we can and fit as many of these Russia-gaters as we can into each of them. Strap them all into their chairs and fit them with one of those bondage gags that allows things to be stuck into their mouths:
The above "Deep Throat Gag" sells online for $25.94 at eXtreme Restraints (dot-com), although I see they're out of stock at the moment. (And, just so nobody gets it into their pretty little head that the Schoolyard is into displaying graphic images of females being bound and humiliated, I draw your attention to the "Locking Penis Pump Gag" from the same online merchant, which sells for $72.67.)

I posted that first bondage gag image for a reason. To whit; That's where we'll put the lit stick of dynamite into the restrained Russia-gaters' mouths. (Aha! They're apparently called "ring gags.") Then, when all their mouths are filled with explosives, we'll close the door to the vault and allow these imbeciles to enjoy their own personal Armageddons, while we go on to try to make something of our lives.

I have no intention of being vaporized for such hypocrisy and ridiculousness. This evidence-free braying about Russian "acts of war." Fuck you assholes. Now and forever.