"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Mar 31, 2011

A neoliberal and a neoconservative

...have an argument over who can best make the case for imperial humanitarian intervention:

Well, That Answers It

The question, you wonder?


"Something about civil wars which make intervention more likely? Does war debilitate or divide populations in a way which is not present in regions experiencing mass or popular movements?...

Is that the window of opportunism?

Is it that the US military tends to be used in regions
successfully destabilized into tragically Greek stasis? "

And the answer:

"Barack Obama signed a secret order authorising covert US government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to government officials.
 Mr Obama reportedly signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, four US government sources told Reuters. [...]The New York Times reported that the CIA has had clandestine operatives who have been gathering intelligence for air strikes and making contact with the rebels for several weeks."

Humanitarian interventionists will have a perfectly reasonable defense of CIA shenanigans, no doubt. It's all about saving the poor, defenseless, democracy loving rebels on the verge of slaughter, of course...

Tip o' the hat to Mr. Caruso at Distant Ocean.

Lovely Update Number One:

"The new leader of Libya's opposition military spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland, according to people who know him
Khalifa Hifter was once a top military officer for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, but after a disastrous military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s, Hifter switched to the anti-Gadhafi opposition. In the early 1990s, he moved to suburban Virginia, where he established a life but maintained ties to anti-Gadhafi groups..."


Lovely Update Number Two:


Background to # 2:

"A 2001 book, Manipulations africaines, published by Le Monde diplomatique, traces the CIA connection even further back, to 1987, reporting that Hifter, then a colonel in Gaddafi’s army, was captured fighting in Chad in a Libyan-backed rebellion against the US-backed government of Hissène Habré. He defected to the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF), the principal anti-Gaddafi group, which had the backing of the American CIA. He organized his own militia, which operated in Chad until Habré was overthrown by a French-supported rival, Idriss Déby, in 1990.

According to this book, “the Haftar force, created and financed by the CIA in Chad, vanished into thin air with the help of the CIA shortly after the government was overthrown by Idriss Déby.” The book also cites a Congressional Research Service report of December 19, 1996 that the US government was providing financial and military aid to the LNSF and that a number of LNSF members were relocated to the United States."

Mar 30, 2011


I've recently learned that anarchism means bombing Libya as long as someone somewhere asks the bossman to do it, and the label "humanitarian" is applied. Just today, I've learned that it also means having authority as long as you "prove" that having it isn't wrong.

You like that logic error? I did. I mean, apply it to anything. You too can be anything you want as long as you "prove" it isn't wrong. 

Tomorrow, I expect to learn that worshiping Vishnu makes a person a Christian.


In Greece, an anti-capitalist uprising. In England, France, Italy - student and labor protest movements.

In Tunisia, a popular bourgeois anti-dictatorship mass movement and revolution.

In Egypt, a protest movement, verging on a militarily co-opted revolution.

In Yemen, Syria, Albania, Bahrain, Algeria, the Emirates, Iraq and reportedly several cities in Saudi Arabia, civil disobedience and growing protest movements.

All met with varying degrees of state violence, austerity measures and with the US government refusing direct involvement.

In Libya, a civil war.

As was similar in Korea, Vietnam, briefly in Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan.*

Followed by direct involvement by the US, under the auspices of the UN and/or NATO.

Something there? Something to it? Something about civil wars which make intervention more likely? Does war debilitate or divide populations in a way which is not present in regions experiencing mass or popular movements?

What does this say about the coming troubles in Pakistan? Or are the factors already divergent, since the US has played so significant a part in instigating a likely civil war?

Or is that it? Is that the window of opportunism?

Is it that the US military tends to be used in regions successfully destabilized into tragically Greek stasis?

* - in recent history, Iraq is the anomaly...perhaps because the No Fly Zone did not precipitate a civil war. The Kurds were crushed. The Baluchis exported to muck with Iran. The Shiites ground under...

Burying the Body

"NATO's supreme allied commander, Admiral James Stavridis of the U.S. Navy, will take charge of the alliance mission in Libya, and decisions on what targets to hit will be determined by the council's military leaders, the U.S. official said yesterday. Allied air strikes yesterday targeted the capital, Tripoli as well as Sirte, the Associated Press reported, following earlier attacks on government tanks, artillery and soldiers that enabled the rebels to continue their westward advance and enter Brega and Ras Lanuf."

(emphasis mine)

This after ground attacks on Sirte (about four hours worth) accompanied by NATO air assaults upon the same city.

Any hope that NATO or the UN would or could somehow manage to undertake this latest desert adventure without serving US interests, under US command, ought to be utterly dispelled by a knowledge of the actual command structure in place.

And while NATO is not exclusively staffed by officers and soldiers of the US, it has no existence without it. NATO is an instrument for the extension of American foreign policy. American foreign policy is conducted with the interests of the American ruling class in mind.

Barack Obama, that fucking Arthurian sneak, serves those interests. As did each and every one of his predecessors. You do not hand a man a standing army, a budget and a list of enemies and expect him to make peace. You give him these things to make war.

Although Clausewitz is dated in so much as the Westphalian order is degrading before our eyes, he could never have been more right on the purpose of military force. Metals and material are extracted from the earth, refined by human labor, built into increasingly complex killing machines and instruments of violence - so that those who own them and those who own the ones who wield them can get what they want on the comparative cheap. It is, on their terms, far lest costly to spend treasure on warfare, to kill, harass, maim and imprison those who oppose them, than it is to share.

Ponder that, humanitarian interventionists. Think fucking hard.

War is, from the vantage of those who benefit, cost effective. Like organized ownership, organized violence has a purpose. It has a stable function, repeatable over place and time. Its function is to monopolize force, to make persons into managed instruments of harm; to use human labor to produce weapons and systems of suffering which reduce or prevent threats to power.

To use human labor to produce violence in order to prevent human labor from emancipating itself from violence and control.

Warfare also captures societies in a permanent gambit - defend the warmakers who control you, or fall prey to their opponents. Protection rackets to make the mafias and tongs look like kindergarten imitators. Which, in truth, they are.

What appears to be inconsistent, haphazard and patchwork application of humanitarian or democratic first principles (in the jargon of modern media and academic parlance) is in fact the consistent application of a single principle: the investment in organized violence serves the interests of those who rule far better than any comprehensive or above board investment in cooperation.

And while there is no grand conspiracy of perfect and perfectly evil competence, as Monsier IOZ has very recently explained, there is no humanitarian impulse in the exercise in power. The powerful may pity, but they cannot afford to care.

They would rather make and bury corpses than give up their loot. Start here. Start with this.

This is why the NATO mission is run by a US naval officer.

And why it will never be run by the local vegan coop.


UPDATE (via BDR): So you think they aren't invested in a particular outcome, eh?

Mar 29, 2011

If These Be Rebels, or...Here There Be Dragons

The idea that you can compromise with those who would rule you - who govern how you work and how you feed yourself -  and not end up compromised - this idea is more pernicious than the belief that history has a motive and a determined outcome.

For although historical determinism* has neutered radicalism, and often reduced its adherents to astrologers of economic night skies, the acceptance of it does not negate the fundamentally necessary rejection of the order of the world which consumes you so that others might live. A person may wrongly believe that history is teleology, and still at the minimum live as if this history, as if this current arrangement of persons and events, ought not persist.


If you do not reject the domination of your life, however impersonal and routinized it might seem, however out of reach the levers of control, you can only in the end suffer it bitterly, or resign yourself to a crippled awareness of your impotence. Pretending that there are no social spaces free of the dominant mode of life is not only moral self-betrayal, it is the recognition that you are not and should not be the sort or kind of person to undertake the risk of rebellion.

Worrying your escape, you will never rebel.

You do not change the world by telling yourself or others that you cannot escape its effects. Everything is always contingent, anyway. There's never going to be an escape. You don't even look for it. You don't worry it. You don't waste time - yours or others - trying to redeem the coupon for it. There is no standing outside of experience. That is mysticism. A fool's errand. Always embedded in your own events, and in the wake of them, you can and must realize that there is no other, no else, no option which is not yet closed to you.

This is it. To change it, you must say, "No!"

If you stop at the contingencies which bind you, you will live a life which betrays itself, which gives lifeblood to those who rule. You betray the lives of all who depend upon you. You betray the voiceless.

And, if you encounter those so-called allies who say they share your goals, but refuse to say that "no" in a clear and public voice, they will have no loyalty when it counts. You can count on it. They'll be looking for clean social spaces, toleration, cafe mocha and the latent "revolutionary" symbolism in a film produced to make someone richer.

If they cannot say "no" to this latest, predictable example of an obvious human evil, they cannot be trusted. They are the latter day farce of tragic mystical and scholastic Papistry, scrutinizing the firmament of power for signs and wonders, looking for reconciliation when they ought to be planning how to take down the gates of heaven itself. They will not be there when it matters. They'll be buying their escapes, cooing in soothing voices of passive aggression.

And if, having watched or learned of all that passed in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Vietnam, in Chile, in Honduras, in Guatemala they can still identify with American military power, you have all you need to know about who and what they are. If they can ignore how Qadaffi got his guns, his oil concessions and his reconciliation with London, Paris and Washington, if they can use the royal we to laud the "humanitarian" murder of innocents, you know their quality.

Especially if they're nuanced, thoughtful and nice about it.

* - though never as deleterious as cultural studies Zizekism or academia itself...

Mar 25, 2011

What the Telly Won't Tell You

Since it's not about Barack Obama's Jesus bombs or his anti-Qadaffi death rays of superhuman goodness:

Yep. Mass protests in Morocco.

Now back to Charlie, Lindsay and Chuck Todd's smug bewilderment.

See the rest @ one word: Revolution

Mar 24, 2011

...and now for a break from learning that "anarchist" means "US Air Force..."

I just watched a trailer for the "steampunk" movie, Suckerpunch, directed by the guy who ruined Watchmen and the story of Thermopylae.

The quoted review described the movie as "sexy."

Since it appears to feature up and coming (that is, still look like  fourteen year olds) actresses making faces at FX dragons while dressed as patrons of the Blue Oyster, I guess what the reviewer - and the movie's producer - is trying to communicate is, "Hey, nerds, u 2 can haz kewpie dolls."

I propose a thought experiment. Let's treat the word "sexy" is if it's automatically replaceable with its more profane cognate.

Anytime you read "sexy," what the user is trying to tell you is, "fucky."

So, if you see the word "sexy," maybe it's worth it to try reading it as "fucky."

Let's try it out:

1. That sure was one fucky romantic comedy. But was it as good as the smart, fucky thriller starring the fucky Ms. Jolie?

2. You look fucky in that dress.

3. She's not as fucky as she was before she had a kid.

4. I think Jessica is fuckier than Brittany.

5. Why don't you try to be more fucky? Maybe you could curl your bangs, or put on some lipstick? That would make you look more fucky.

6. I feel so fucky when you look at me like you'd like to use me to masturbate that.

7. He could be fucky, if only his nose was smaller.

8. That's a fucky pair of pumps. They make your legs look fucky.

9. When she's asleep and snoring I don't find her all that fucky.

10. This is a fucky little skirt for you to dress your six year old in...


Assume that you know of a woman who is living in a home with a man who is accused of abusive behavior. Assume that you are aware of her, but don't actually know her by name, location or contact. You have never actually met her. You do know the husband's name, and perhaps even where he works. You also have it on relatively reliable report that he's got a bit of a history, when it comes to smacking women around. Rumor has it the woman would like some assistance in escaping her plight, but you cannot confirm this as unassailable fact. It seems reasonable, and in agreement with almost everyone you know, you hope and wish she manages to free herself.

With only that information available to you, what is your opinion of the following scenario? -

At 3 AM on a Sunday morning an entire neighborhood, totaling almost fifty homes, is raided by the local police department, with assistance from country sheriffs and the State Police. They are searching for the abusive husband, in an attempt to rescue his wife.

Four people are killed in their beds outright, after policemen are fired upon by the startled inhabitants of several houses, and one apartment. Another six die in the hospital from wounds received in the cross fire, including two children. Five homes are set on fire, perhaps owing to the confusion, the use of crowd control gasses, and other factors not yet clear on first reporting. Three more people die of smoke inhalation. Another fifteen are wounded by bullets, flame and collapsing structures.

The police do not apprehend the husband suspected of beating his wife. And in the days following the raid, her whereabouts remain undetermined.

Was it worth it? Is it right for you to advocate for the police response, especially knowing from prior experience the manner, impact and tendency towards overkill of their involvement?


My apologies in advance for not finding a way to link this all to something a cultural studies professor once wrote on the margins of a term paper, a film produced for a Swedish festival, two obscure books published by University Tenure Press, Lady Gaga's state of undress, and the social sexual habits of the inhabitants of Zeta Kleepak Four.

(originally a reply, here slightly modified, en chez IOZ)

The Logic


"The fact is, as much as we do not like Western power in principle, in practice there are many instances where we solicit it for what we think is right, because there is no alternative. Naturally, we seek out these alternatives if we can. But it is hypocritical to foreclose the same options to others when in our daily lives as Westerners we pursue them all the time."


Heard in an imaginary cafe:

"Johnny gets paid $45 an hour, why shouldn't all those people over there?"

"But, that's not the point. The point is that Johnny gets paid to..."

"Are you a hypocrite? Johnny has access to the best medicine, the best insurance, the best food. Why shouldn't everyone else have what Johnny has? Why shouldn't I?"

"Okay, let's back up, maybe? What we have to discuss first is what Johnny does to get the money and access, and..."

"You're not paying attention to all the people who don't have what Johnny has. It's easy for you to complain about what Johnny's doing because you're not looking at all the people who don't get what Johnny's got. We have to think about what they want."

"...what we're trying to show you is what Johnny does to get what Johnny has. It's not that complex a problem. If Johnny wasn't doing what he does everyday..."

"Do these people have a claim on the same benefits Johnny receives?

"Sure, but that's not the point, here. We have plenty of room to discuss how to get everyone these benefits. That's a great topic, but it has little to do with Johnny. You refuse to consider or admit aloud how it is Johnny gets his goodies. You want to ignore how he obtains his benefits, in order to argue that others should have access to them. You don't seem to understand that you can't make this arbitrary division between the benefit, and how it's got."

"If the people want what Johnny's got, who are you to argue against them? Your privileged Western upbringing blinds you to..."

"Can you at least recognize that Johnny is a mercenary security specialist for an oil outfit, with a questionable track record and history of breaking his promises?..."


Overheard on the sidewalk outside an imaginary cafe:

"Why are you punching me in the face?"

"That girl over there said she was in danger."

"From me?"

"Nope. Just that she was pretty sure there was danger to her coming from somewhere near to where you are standing."

"I've never seen her before in my life."

"So what? You're standing right where all the danger is coming from, and..."

"Could you please stop punching me in the face? If you don't stop, I'm gonna hit you back."

"You're going to use violence? Well, see, the girl was right. There is danger right here, where you are standing.

Moral Sums and Inquiries

Is rape an act of love?


No, of course not.

Bombing is not humanitarian intervention. You can pretend all you want that someone, somewhere might be asking for help, but if you apply that underlying logic to any other violent or penetrative violation of life or autonomy, you'll find that it's not only dismal, it's monstrous. If you apply the logic of salvationist intervention to the workplace, the home or any other situation where people enforce their will with violence, or where competing authorities vie for power over labor, belief, resource and loyalties - it fails.

Whose power is secured by the act of intervention? Who actually benefits from the exercise of control in the name of victims and rumored victims?

Do the police, by using their authority to occasionally rescue a person in need, abandon their other, primary functions? Does a jailer unlock all the doors to the prison whenever he intervenes to stop a fight? What about all those fights he does not end, or prevent?

Does the Navy cease to be the mobile, flexible projection platform for the greatest purveyor of violence in all of history, just because sailors and Marines have delivered foodstuffs to hungry people?

Does an abusive husband ease the impact of his violence, on account of his good intentions, or because he also does the laundry?

Does a rapist get a pass because he helped his victim fix her dress?

Mar 23, 2011

Tokyo Water Unsafe for Babies To Drink

Justin (Americana) has a very thoughtful post on the conflicting reports - media and government - describing the nuclear disaster which has compounded the natural one, in Japan.

Describing the disparity of official concern emanating form Tokyo, as compared to Washington, he writes:

"The U.S. government and other assessments of the situation have been far more dire than Japan's. But even there still exists a gap between what we can see and what they are saying,"

...and proceeds to further argue that spokespersons from the US government are probably already downplaying the scope of the nuclear disaster. The whole entry is worth reading, but in illuminating the quoted text above, I hope it serves as credible preface to what follows:

"Tokyo on Wednesday warned that radioactive iodine over twice the safe level for infants had been detected in its tap water due to the disaster at a quake-hit nuclear plant northeast of Japan's capital...

...In one Tokyo ward, a water sample contained 210 becquerels of iodine per kilogramme, a city official said. That is more than double Japan's legal limit. Tokyo's stock market dived 1.6 percent on the news.

The government advised residents throughout the city to avoid using tap water to make infant milk formula until further notice, and said it would distribute 240,000 water bottles to households in need...

...The new inspection zone extends to Saitama and Chiba, part of the greater Tokyo urban sprawl that is home to more than 30 million people.

The health ministry said radioactivity drastically exceeding legal limits had been found in 11 kinds of vegetable grown in Fukushima.

Radioactive caesium at 82,000 becquerels -- 164 times the legal limit -- was detected in one type of leaf vegetable, it said..."

At the point of overstating the grossly obvious, I'm not a nuclear scientist, or trained in environmental protection or inspection. I don't know what this all means, so I'm unwilling to draw conclusions about the impact or scope of the still unfolding nuclear event in Fukushima prefecture.

I would certainly like to believe that the radiation already released from TEPCO's Daiichi plant is minimal - whatever that can mean, given the context of nuclear damned radiation - and that the ongoing mitigation efforts will result in success, with success properly defined as (a) sealed, "entombed" reactors which (b) no longer emit radioactive material and (c) pose no short, middle or long term threat to the health of people who live near to them, and around the world. It's already bad enough that many of the people at greatest risk of exposure to radioactive release are homeless and destitute, following the destruction of their homes and livelihood in an incomprehensibly destructive earthquake and tsunami.

But, in the same way that I cannot bring myself to trust arguments for humanitarian war, when mouthed by capitalist heads of state, I have a difficult time reconciling the media, state and corporate assurances of minimal nuclear impact with reports that Tokyo's water supply is too radioactive for babies to drink.

Freedom has a Leader

Libya has a voice for freedom:

That's the free youth of Libya on display right there, ain't it? I feel all inspired to change my position now. I mean, he doesn't remotely resemble the sort of aging suited bureaucrat or torture technician that Western governments just love to promote to chief stooge of a client state.


He's a man of the "Libyan people," this right chap. There's nothing dodgy about him.

This is the guy picked by the rebels to lead their "interim government." There couldn't possibly be anything to recommend against him, right?

Mahmoud Jibril is a voice for liberty, revolution and justice. People of conscience everywhere can now rest easily, knowing that American, British and French bombs did the work of peace and freedom, buying space for the "Libyan People" to choose a guy who was, until very recently...

...Qadaffi's hand appointed Minister of National Planning.


UPDATE (10:21am):

"Mahmoud Jibril - foreign affairs

Before the uprising, Mr Jibril was involved in a project called "Libyan Vision" with other intellectuals, which sought to establish a democratic state. He is also head of the rebel council's crisis committee, which aims to streamline decision making.

Born in 1952, Mr Jibril has both a master's degree in political science and a PhD in strategic planning and decision-making from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. 

After completing his doctorate in 1984, he taught strategic planning and decision-making at the university for several years. He also wrote several books and ran leadership training programmes in several Arab states. 

He later became the head of the Libyan National Planning Council. Then in 2009, he was appointed chairman of the National Economic Development Board (NEDB), reporting directly to the prime minister.

A leaked US diplomatic cable from November 2009 written by the US ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, described Mr Jibril as "a serious interlocutor who 'gets' the US perspective".

"He is also not shy about sharing his views of US foreign policy, for example, opining that the US spoiled a golden opportunity to capitalise on its 'soft power' (McDonald's, etc) after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 by putting 'boots on the ground' in the Middle East," Mr Cretz wrote.

An earlier US diplomatic cable described Mr Jibril as 'reform-minded'..."

(emphasis mine)

Translation: Jibril is a US educated technocrat whom the Office of Economic Development would love to get into place in order enforce a strict neoliberal structural adjustment line, in Libya.

Well, he's probably going to get his chance. Good looking out, pro-intervention lefties. Good looking out. You weren't useful idiots or anything...


You know what? This all calls for some Fela:

("Expensive Shit")

Mar 22, 2011

Prelude to Dawn

In replies to the post below this one, I linked to a John Cole - yes, surprisingly, that John Cole - entry wherein he presented a far more defensible position than any number of other alleged liberals, leftists, anarchists, libertarians and civil libertarians.

I wanted to highlight it, here, as a preface to something he writes further down in his own comments thread - a  subject about which I was myself speculating, but for which I could (for obvious reasons) find no evidence.

From his original post:

"I’ve learned something very interesting the past few days, which is that after mindlessly warmongering and supporting a debacle in Iraq and intractable mess in Afghanistan, it is somehow a personal failure on my part that I need to be persuaded to engage in another military adventure. You would think that setting your default position for supporting military action to “Show me why we should do it and until then no” would be what we might bluntly call LEARNING FROM YOUR PAST FUCKING MISTAKES, but apparently that is just not the case. Turns out that is, according to many of you, just being block-headed in a different way. Interesting, that.

What makes it even funnier is that I don’t really have a say in things- nor do any of you. Not sure if you are paying attention, but they went ahead and got involved in Libya regardless what any of us thought, for or against, and right now we’re just holding post hoc pissing matches. Nothing we say or do is going to get us out of Libya a day before the powers that be decide it is time to go. See also, Afghanistan and Iraq, where no one in positions of power gives two hoots in hell what the public thinks."

And in reply, in his comments section:

"Worst case, boots on the ground (although even that is a relative term, because if we are using cruise missiles and the like, we probably already have Special Forces all over the place anyway, and did so before the official UN action) for a long time."

(emphasis mine)

And that's the thing, isn't it?

If the US Navy and Air Force are launching Tomahawks and other cruise missiles at targets in Libya, as well as hitting them with Missouri based stealth bombers, it is already very likely that wetworkers are in country and in place, illuminating targets and doing recon. And I'm being generous, as to their workload.

I find it entirely plausible that "boots are on the ground" in Libya, right now. And have been for days, if not weeks.

Which puts Barry Pendragon's recent statement in a cold light:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may try to wait out a no-fly zone and military assault that has damaged his armed forces, President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an interview with CNN.

'Gaddafi may try to hunker down and wait it out even in the face of the no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded,' Obama said."

Seems like he's doing advance propaganda wetwork, in a manner reminiscent of that which is done by special forces operators before and during bombing campaigns. Establishing his arguments and justifications in preparation for an assault on the American public and media environment, like black ops mechanics establish the targets and strike zones for aerial bombardment, in preparation for the advent of death from the sky.

To what, I wonder, is this a prelude?

As Long As the Victims Ask For It

What's with the vogue and ill-thought argument that, as long as some Libyans want the US to drop bombs, it's good or okay for a vulgar death state to do exactly that? Do the people making this argument not fucking understand that the imperial death state does things only towards and for its own ends, and in a way which guarantees a maximum of damage and injury to those whom it purports to protect?

Were Vietnam, Grenada, the Falklands, Iraq One, the Iraqi No Fly Zone, Belgrade, Kosovo, Somalia, the Sudan, Eritrea, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq Two, Angola, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iran, Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia or Paraguay not good enough examples of bad intent for you?

You utterly fucking misunderstand the import of Saddam Hussein? Or Qadaffi in the Eighties?

Or Milosevic?

You think that because some local fuckwit is a bad person and because he does harm to "his own people" that the death state's bombs distinguish between the sort of moral distinctions which are usually only available to comfortably numb residents of the Core?

The people running the show care about (a) their wealth, (b) their power, (c) their ability to protect their wealth, (d) keeping their power, and all of its attendant privileges, (e) securing their wealth and power for their offspring, (f) incarcerating, delegitimizing, injuring, using, demonizing and ultimately discarding those who don't have that wealth and power. Also, killing them, when it suits their purposes.

But, hey, keep arguing that as long as the victims of one thug are asking for help from another thug, that what we should do is "listen." That'll change things. Surely, it will. I see a bright future right around the corner, now. It all makes sense.

PS - Those who rule appreciate the back up, too. I'm sure a few of them even giggle a bit when one of the help goes all house slave and makes their case for them...

PSS - You know those people to whom we're supposed to lend our ears? They're the fucking tribe of the deposed king of Libya. Good job, lefties. Good to see you throw in your moral concern for a bunch of monarchist, traditionalist zealots who'd just love to be client princes for the western extraction corporations.

I'm also sure you'll conveniently forget to parse this shit when it comes to their track record on women...

I remember when...

...Iraq was conceived as a palliative for the Vietnam Syndrome.

Now Libya is openly argued as a cure for the Iraq Syndrome.

Kingdom of the fucking blind.

Under Cover of War

Colonial Garrison State uses multimillion dollar aircraft to attack isolated, trapped, impoverished prisoners kept in the largest open air prison on planet.


Mar 21, 2011

The Poverty of Pop

(courtesy BuzzFeed)

Outcomes IV

Anyone want to wager on how long the NATO forces will remain in newly liberated/partitioned Libya, to battle entrenched AQ type terrorists?

Or to train local forces to defend their newly imposed friendship with the US and Europe?

I'll kick off the bidding: indefinitely.

Mar 20, 2011

Outcomes III

After Poppy Bush and Saint Ronnie spent two terms dishing as many nasties to Saddam as Congress could ignore, Poppy got his ass a seat on the golden throne, and set out to test Team USA's orders-of-magnitude superior defense industry goodies on Iraq.

Bubba got to bomb them for six of his eight, plus add whole bunches of starved kids to the ledger.

Dubya followed in Poppy's steps, kicking off Team USA's first dual front war in a generation.

Poor Barry Pendragon, how was he to make a name for himself?

By normalizing Qadaffi, sending him goodies, and continuing the existing policies of his predecessor?

Not enough. Just not enough flash and bang, for the Constitutional Scholar and Nobel Peace Laureate.

So, like Poppy testing out the latest bashers on Saddam, Barry Pendragon's sending in the ghostplanes and letting the bombs fly.

Poor Moammar. He learned nothing from Saddam. Object lesson, client state despots. Object lesson.

Anyway, Team USA is once again at war with a "mad man" who, until days before the bombs started falling, was a valued customer, ally and friend.

The death dealing sky robots will be coming next...

Maoist Douchebag Lets Slip the Gig

A few days ago Broadsnark posted a fair if too brief take down of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, which was further discussed by Justin at Americana.

And while it's amusing that Che's visage has become a marketable commodity, the reality of the man's life, failures, beliefs and import illustrates the fundamental problem with the democratic centralist (Leninist, Stalinist) approach to remaking society.

It doesn't work.

"Che," as a revolutionary, has no use value whatsoever. He means nothing. He failed. He's the "the clapper" of revolution, an ultimately untimely gimmick introduced at the moment of its obsolescence.

Armed with the mystical dialectic and an urge to murder, he managed to botch everything he touched. Not only have Bolshevism and bureaucratic socialism proven to be revolutionary dead ends, but the arc of events  - oh vaunted Clio - have demonstrated the ineluctable truth of Che Guevara's uselessness as an exemplar and model for action. Rejected by the people he traveled across a continent to save from themselves, Che died the exact death he deserved, the one he earned - in and at the hands of an enemy as implacable as time. An enemy which knew its time as Che never did, and never could. Che, so fond of firing squads and tribunal "justice," died as he lived, producing in the end a corpse which served the needs of his killers in the same way that the corpses he produced, in the name of "revolution," served his own needs.

But don't let pissy "Maoist" douchebags in on the score. For Maoist douchebags who preach revolution from the beachside cabana, probably merited off of daddy's college contributions, Che is "one of the most successful and inspiring revolutionaries of the last century."

Murdering failures are inspiring to Maoist douchebags.

And in case that's not very clear to you, read on:

"Lemme make something clear: we like firing squads. We are down with internment camps. We think working class and oppressed people have every right to shoot their class enemies in the neck and leave them in a ditch."

You get that, kind readers? Some self appointed revolutionist* thinks he belongs to the revolutionary vanguard and its cool and neat and hip to intern people in camps or line 'em up for the firing squad.

For Maoist douchebags with a fondness for murder, I guess Che Guevara would inspire. I guess reading about his many failings and his own original douchebaggery is offensive, or something.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, right?

Still, I wonder why they can't get anyone to sign up for their revolution. The masses must be contracted and contradicted in their consciousnesses, n'est ce pas? Yeah, that's it...

* probably a trustafarian, this one...

Outcomes II

After minimal investment and in less than twelve hours time, the US has launched one hundred twelve Tomahawk missiles at "targets"  - this means murdered persons, regardless of their service in the Libyan armed forces - in a toothless, decrepit, isolated and sanctioned North African country.

One hundred twelve.

The standard explosive payload for a conventional Tomahawk missile is one thousand pounds.

That's one hundred twelve thousand pounds - or sixty inhuman tons - of death from the sky.

Humor yourself, if you will, and imagine throwing one 1/2 pound incendiary at the side of a local police station which houses but a single bad cop. The outcome of that act is certain. If caught, you will spend anywhere from a year of your life to the rest of its natural duration in the custody of the state, depending upon the charge(s). Given the current political climate, I'd wager on a terrorism charge. Killing or harming no one, causing no damage, you can and will be charged with a major felony, during the trial of which you will bankrupt yourself to put together a legal defense, have your reputation sullied, your family disavow you and any number of your friends and coworkers prove how little their loyalties are worth. At the conclusion of the affair, you will lose your freedom, and much more, and the machine will grind on without you.

Now, lose all sense of humor, human sympathy and satisfaction and imagine the speaker's fees Barack Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy and David Cameron will command after they finish their terms of office...


Heads up: John Caruso took on the same subject five hours before I wrote this. Wish I'd read his first. 

Mar 19, 2011


One of the most noticeable consequences of US, NATO* and UN policy in the Middle East has been the encirclement of Iran with destabilized war zones, client states and US bases.

Of of the most likely outcomes of the US, NATO, EU and UN war against Qaddafi's (formerly tolerated and favored) regime will be a criminalized chaos zone struck deep into the heart of the Arab revolutionary region, severing the Maghrib in two, and severely curtailing the revolutionary potential for cooperation between insurrectionists, trade unionists, radicals, labor agitators and other rebel factions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt - as well as in the Levant, Morocco and the Gulf.

Iran contained.

The Maghrib cut in half.

Don't bet against deliberate policy, here, however strongly characterized by reaction to events.

* - listening to wargrumbler McCaffrey whining about delays and the need for further violence, as I typed this out, he mentioned NATO six times in a two minute period. He seemed intent on hammering home that NATO was the integrating umbrella organization for the war to establish a friendly oil despotism in Libya, um, to liberate Libyan captive mineral and hydrocarbon wealth from clutches of its Arab oppressors, er, to sell the Libyan people into servitude to cheap labor predators and democratic capitalists, ah fuck, to free the Libyans from the grip of a bad dude...

ADDED IN EDIT: US launching air strikes into Libya. 3:36pm EST. Some no fly zone, that Libya...

3:40 pm, McCaffrey (talking to whatever kewpie doll MSNBC has on right now) conjures up images of Qaddafi rounding up people for torture, in Tripoli "right now," as a justification for missile stikes against Libya...

Mar 18, 2011


Those of us lucky enough to have our births recorded within the borders of the US, France, Germany, Britain and the various bourse capitols of the Western world have an obligation, I think.

A compelling one.

In the same way that Obama can declare that "these terms are not negotiable...and will be enforced," we ought to do the same.

We ought to make our various homelands fucking ungovernable. And then declare all of our terms and demands non-negotiable. All. Of. The.

We are obliged to do so. People are dying in our names. And, listening to Barack fucking Pendragon Obama, right now, the Western powers have decided to cozy up to their Arab League despot clients, and kill thousands more.


George Bush involved himself in two warfronts.

Obama's up to four (Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya).

Where's Bush's Peace Prize?

Mar 17, 2011


I don't know what the fuck that word means, anymore.

A good thing. Progress.

I get a blossomy smiley feeling whenever a woman escapes the gravity sink of femininity. I can't imagine trailing that fuckload of conditions, pre-conditions and antecedents around, trying to conform to that shit.

I can't even bring myself to shave between September and July. Which says a whole lot, I think. Because no one expects me to. If I didn't have teenaged boys who'd pay a real price for having me do a public act, I'd spend a week traipsing about this shitty little dying mill city, me in a wedding dress. And that also says something, doesn't it? Because they would pay a price.

I look all Muslimy, with my greying chest length beard, my greenish skin and these black, black eyes. I've more than once been called a "raghead" and a "terrorist" (that, while trying to buy a burrito outside a laundromat, screamed by a woman driving* a minivan, blasting country music and trying to slap her kids into submission).

I'd love to combine the great stocky bearded Mediterranean looking thing with a shiny white wedding dress. And pink shoes. But not pumps. Whoever invented those gave Dr. Guillotine a run for his technician's mechanical cruelty.

I'm sure as hell not feminine. And the only thing which conforms the wedding dress to the term, feminine, is the doily brides-priced straightjacket of surrender and abjection that comes from stitching oneself into it.

Fuck that. Fuck it.

But, I don't have to put on "feminine" to get though my day. No one's going to call me the equivalent of "unladylike" if I just do my own thing, as long as I don't shit or piss in public spaces and can keep most of the crumbs off my chest when I sit down to eat. Hell, these is modern times. I can even cry in public and someone will care, as long as I keep it in my shorts.

(My wife? She got sent home for crying at work today.)

Whoa boy, "feminine" matters. In the expectation of it. And the expectation of its absence. I'm not telling any folks with female parts, or fluid gender, or gay attractions anything new on that account. I've got no illusions here.

But, I saw it all raw and unforgiving today, on our way to a box store, as a mother slapped her pre-teen daughter and told her to stop acting like a girl. The mother was in a skirt designed by a dude. The daughter was in the latest expensive hooker wear.

A world of eye opening, that.

You want to know the best part?

There were fashion model try outs in the Mall attached to the box store. We'd just stop to gawk, wife and I, at mothers conforming their daughters - some really, really young ones - by way of blush, eye shadow and clothing-as-effacement, while a company jerk explained what we imagined were the fee schedules for the portfolios and photo shoots.

We passed them, on our way back to the box store, less than a minute before the slap.

Which the universe lined up also nice and neat like. Outside of the Gap...

* - "driving" is a generous characterization of what she was doing with her urban assault vehicle

Fuck It

Maoist rebels and comfortable "Maoist" teenagers who would be rebels if only they weren't also the sons and daughters of affluent assholes and therefore more likely to confuse classism for class and identity policing for active struggle, Republican and Democrat party functionaries, neo-Bolshevik academics, department heads, college deans, shop bosses, working group coordinators, Conservative or Labour Party organizers, bank managers, non-coms and brass, station chiefs, cops with guns, priests and prelates, NGO and charity administrators, magazine publishers and editors, producers, shift supervisors, the UN and a new no fly zone, Barack Reagan Obama Dubya Bush Bubba Clinton Poppy Bush Saint Ronnie Jimmy Cardigan Stumbles Ford Tricky Dick and His Allstar Bombers Band...fuckin' aye...electric company executives, prime ministers and presidents, mob bosses, drug lords...

All them fuckers, rooting in the mud for the truffles of control.

Centralized power does not get people to agree, to cooperate. It is organized to force people to follow orders, to give shape to events by allowing some behaviors, while preventing the enactment or attempt at others. We cooperate in spite of it. To spite it, often enough. A lesson there.

Moammar's gonna find that out soon enough, and he's reaped that to his own suffering, and the sad refrain of those who've already suffered enough at his hands, and at the feet of empire.


And again.

Until the only thing raining down on us are a million million reminders of our subjugation, the degrees of it which divide us, the complicity we eat, sleep, breathe and fuck.

And then...

The poor sods in Fukushima. The brave protesters in Bahrain. The silenced Algerians and Albanians. Egypt betrayed. Tunisia already slipping back into the French orbit.

Enough to give an aging son of the red and the black the blues.

So, John Lee Hooker to sing us into the darkness, while the "one day Irish" ruin another anniversary of womb exit strategy number one:

(That's Tupelo, No Shoes and Serves Me Right to Suffer, in order...)

Mar 16, 2011


"Converting 41 [public] schools to charters would save Detroit Public Schools $75 million to $99 million in operational costs, according to estimates released by district officials this week.

In addition, DPS spokesman Steve Wasko said the district would generate an estimated $21.8 million in lease income from the chartered schools and save about $22 million by not having to close and secure the buildings.

'As opposed to a school closure, there are no costs associated that would accompany closures. These typically include hiring a move manager, emptying out the building, securing and boarding, monitoring and patrolling and the ongoing utilities and campus upkeep,' Wasko said in a statement."


Read the above, if you can spare a few minutes, in light of Justin's series on econo-thought.

The people who manage Detroit's educational system have presented their radical restructuring of education - which is the further transfer of some forty schools, as well as commonheld property, into for-profit company possession - on the premise of saving taxpayers money.

Two initial responses come immediately to mind. First, "taxpayers" here means "people of some means", suburbanites, the wealthy of Detroit and its surrounds, and residents of other communities in Michigan who have money and don't want to part with it in order to educate poor and black kids. Second, the educational system is understood by those in power as a burden on the system. They may talk about education as an "investment" in children and the future (which is itself more pervasive econospeak), but their institutional choices contradict even that minor fabulation.

Educating people who no longer serve the purpose of providing a disciplined labor pool is a burden on the system. It generates no capital, not in its initial investment stages, and not over the medium and short terms.

So, children (who are required by law to attend school) are being sold off to private companies, to test pedagogical theories rooted in the sincere and material conviction that children are an exploitable and valid profit center.

Charlie Sheen may have tigerblooded theories about what winning is or is not, but I know losing when I see it.

And those kids, and their families, are losing.

Mar 15, 2011


GE buys positive press for a cheap $5 mil, gets quickly to the business of expanding its nukular plant products into India:

"Immelt said GE would donate $5 million to relief efforts and extend technical support to Hitachi Ltd..., Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Power, as well as the government.

The accident in Japan has already started to raise doubts about the future growth of the nuclear power industry globally...

"...When asked if the nuclear power accident in Japan could prove to be a turning point for the industry, Immelt said: 'There is now almost a 50-year track record of nuclear power that people can look back on and make their own judgments about.'

In 2007, GE combined its nuclear ventures with Hitachi on the expectation of a nuclear renaissance in the coming years...

GE is keen to invest in India's nuclear energy market, set to grow considerably in coming years.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament on Monday that the safety of all the country's nuclear power plants would be immediately inspected in the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

GE, which makes goods ranging from jet engines to medical diagnostic equipment, is keen to tap a potential $150 billion atomic market in India.."

I'm trying to imagine a disaster, region, resource or a people that cannot be capitalized. I know, silly wasted effort and exercise in mental futility...

Thanks to Marisacat for the pointers towards Immelt...

Notably Quoted

"Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or knife on the steps of the palace of the rich and stab or shoot their owners as they come out. Let us kill them without mercy, and let it be a war of extermination and without pity."

~ Lucy Parsons

How It Spreads

After almost eight decades spent pillaging the Caribbean and Central American, United Fruit renamed itself, updated its market portfolio and went about its business as usual. Perhaps in glum recognition of its own limits, it also stopped directly knocking off local governments with CIA assistance, preferring to go along with the new international management regime run through the IMF and the World Bank.

During the near century of is hemispheric might and of Western extraction, repression, disruption (done alongside other resource removal firms, such as Anaconda, Occidental, Exxon and the mafia), in general, the region was well and truly broken. In this period, popular reformist governments in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Colombia fell to openly hidden "secret" wars managed from Washington and London. Uprisings, ejercitos, people's movements and revolutionary organizations were cracked open by various national officers trained at the School of Americas, by the CIA and its British analogs and by mercenaries working directly for the American and European extraction firms. Policies and practices first undertaken in the Caribbean and Central America were refined, developed and expanded in South America's more prosperous Southern Cone, with similar results.

Four generations sold into servitude.

Desperate for work, fleeing repression and economic despair in their own countries, thousands and then hundreds of thousands fled north, into the United States proper, where they were demonized as a new yellow plague while being further exploited for their cheap, manageable and disposable labor.

Most of you reading this are already aware of these facts, and familiar with the story. I'm not trying to tell you anything you don't already know.

But it occurs to me to mention that the pillaging and degradation of an entire continent mirrors the same disaster, in kind and dispersal, currently playing out in Japan.

It's a function of capital relations. It's also predictable, because capitalist exchange runs on a forced inequity. Whole regions are subject to legal, judicial, police, martial and extra-juridical assault, this to enforce the colonizations (both market and material) of their social and geological space which allow for resources to be extracted at reduced cost, using local disciplined populations as an unfixed labor pool, with minimum and manageable resistance.

In the same way that United Fruit exported chaos - transforming or obliterating pre-existing social norms - in order to import raw and refined produce, modern energy corporations export violence and control in order to harness the atom, the oil molecule and the cubic foot of natural gas. Nuclear plants are not built without the edifice of the capitalist state. Oil ports are not built and protected without the superstructure of the capitalist military machine. Natural gas and petroleum does not get moved from West Africa to Port Elizabeth without a "global force for good" primed to destroy any lesser challengers and enforce the maritime peace of empire.

Chaos and violence are allowed to spread from the capitols and bourse cities of the US and Europe, from emerging China and rising Brazil. They are not allowed to flow back. When "illegals" cross into Arizona, or third generation "guest worker" Turks ask for rights in Stuttgart, the system's managers, officials, factors and armed enforcers respond. When Marxists seize portions of the Colombian llanos, the weapons, funding and material support flow to contain and kill them. When peasants siphon off oil from sabotaged pipelines in Nigeria, mercenaries get their orders.

There are few obstructions, going outward, and countless coming in.

Power's effects flow out from the center, spread by law, exchange and force outward as chaos, as discipline, as repression, as the peace of tombs and graves. As the marketization of love, loyalty, entertainment, hunger, sex and death.

Until they don't.

Because, eventually, the conceit of empire wears thin, ground down by the friction of its own operation. Inhuman events intervene. And while arrogance in the halls of power is rarely mitigated, or itself dispersed, it eventually must encounter the monsters of its own making. Toxic financial crises. Irradiation of whole regions and nuclear catastrophe. Nakedly viscous calls to hunt human persons are prey animals. Drug wars, and border conflicts. Commercial real estate collapses. Food shortages. Rising oil prices. The tepidly misnamed "climate change." Revolts first along the periphery, followed by reaction, and overreaction. The ultimate failure of a system designed to create and manage chaos, when the chaos begins to consume it.

The developing nuclear disaster in Fukushima province is not a metaphor. It doesn't symbolize anything but itself. And it is awful and horrific on its own terms.

It nonetheless demonstrates fundamentally and radically the ultimate failure of the conceit of capital. United Fruit lost Central and South America, and the CIA failed to prevent a socialist awakening. It may in fact have hastened one. The US is losing control of its oil despot client states. The EU is losing control of its markets, its internal cheap labor zones and its no longer domesticated "guest workers."

But, like the unfolding horror in Japan, these conditions and events force us to concede a vital point, or kill ourselves us by denying it: the effects of our way of life eventually outpace their causes. We may think that it all spreads outward from us. That we keep the chaos of our making at bay, beyond firewalls of law, punishment, exchange, money and faith.

But, it doesn't, and we cannot and won't. Like irradiated steam and caesium 137, the fall out of capital's discontents force us to either admit that we are not gods, and to start to live accordingly, or in ignorance and denial remain complicit in the destruction of peoples, environments, and inevitably, ourselves.

Nuclear power plants built on major faults in earthquake prone zones along tsunami threatened coastlines will eventually be overwhelmed by the failures and faults coded into their operation and management, into the costs of doing business and generating power for profit.

Economies built on degradation, commodification, alienation and the systemic oppression of whole peoples and continents will eventually be overwhelmed by the failures, inequities and faults coded into their operation and management, into the rising costs of just doing business.

Especially as more and more of us become capitalism's discontents.

As we become how it spreads...

Mar 13, 2011

How Stuff Works, Again

Who puts themselves into the breach to save the lives of thousands, tens of thousands and millions?

It isn't these folks:

They get paid very good money to order the deaths of thousands, to facilitate war and conquest. And I don't need to tell you that.

It's not them.

So, who does it?

On a day to day basis, you and me. Us. Not just because most of us don't ever want to start wars and kill other people's children, mothers and fathers. Because we labor and play despite the misdeeds of the wealthy, and the very wealthy. Because we live the lives we live, however desperate, however compromised.

When it gets bad, we help our neighbors. They - those fucks pictured above, and the people like them - look for ways to profit.

In a crisis, the real deal catastrophe? Those bastards look for the loot.

It isn't the people pictured above, or anyone like them, who does what needs to be done. They pay themselves to be important and live very rich lives off the labor of others.

In a catastrophe, who runs into the fire? Not Barack Obama.

It's people like Victor Burkin who do the right thing:

"...Fourteen minutes earlier, at 1.26am on April 26, 1986...Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant had exploded, releasing 100 times the radiation of the atomic bomb that had exploded over Hiroshima.

'There was only the light from the fire — black and red flames and lumps of molten material everywhere,' Mr Birkun said. 

'The reactor’s roof had blown off, throwing asphalt, concrete and graphite upwards and outwards. Where the graphite landed it turned everything to lava.'

As the plant managers and technicians fled or frantically tried to contact Moscow, the firefighters rushed straight into the inferno. With only a cotton uniform to protect him, Mr Birkun drove his fire truck over the reactor’s metal roof, now lying on the ground, and up to 15m (50ft) from Reactor 4. 

Using his bare hands he lowered the engine’s siphon into the nearest cooling pool to suck up water for his colleagues as they battled 300 fires around the complex. Within seconds he began to feel the effects of the gamma rays that were bombarding his internal organs. 

He started vomiting about every 30 seconds. He grew dizzy and weak. After two hours he could not stand. 

Doctors later gave him a certificate indicating that he had received 260 ber (biological equivalents of roentgen), equivalent to 1,000 years of background radiation. 

But experts estimate that the radiation that he absorbed was even higher, and enough to cause acute radiation sickness (ARS). 

'I’m amazed he survived,' Michael Repacholi, the top radiation expert at the World Health Organisation, said. 

'It was a hugely heroic effort, and I suspect anyone who understood how much radiation was there would never have gone in.'

Twenty years on Mr Birkun knows he is lucky to be alive and living in Moscow with his wife, Nadezhda, and his daughters, Lyudmila and Valentina. 

Of the 134 'liquidators' with a diagnosis of ARS, 28 died in 1986, including at least six firefighters. Mr Birkun, now 56, is proud of the sacrifice that his team made to reduce the cloud of smoke that spread radioactive particles across Europe and even as far as Japan.

'These were the people who saved Europe,' he said, fingering a black-and-white photograph of his former colleagues. 'If they had not done what they did, the fire would have spread to Reactors 1, 2 and 3.'...” 

It's the still anonymous technicians and plant employees at Daiichi nuclear power plant, located in the Fukushima prefecture, Japan - struggling against the stuff of the cosmos itself, exposed to radiation which will sicken and may very kill them, struggling to literally stave off an often incomprehensible horror.

If you can spare a moment, try to imagine Barack fucking Obama running into that breach.

Try to imagine the warmongers, the arms peddlers, the princes of distribution and entertainment, the petty despots of a thousand boardrooms and executive suites doing that, doing what needs to be done.

If you cannot imagine it, if the images or the words and sounds do not come to mind, perhaps you know what side of the bread your butter's on.

Remember that, the next time one of those bastards tells us that we need to tighten our belts, offer up our sacrifices, take a cut to our incomes, put our households on an austerity regime, or send our children off to murder the daughters and sons of people we will never meet.

Remember it, the next time one of those fucking fucks wants you to cast a vote, or worry about the other party, or buy some "revolutionary" product, or tune in on a Sunday to watch a rapist throw a ball to a wife beater at a thousand dollars a minute.

Remember that it's someone punching a clock who is struggling to save her neighbors, and strangers, from disaster. It's an overworked nurse or teacher. It's a guy who fucking cleans bathrooms on the night shift and empties trash on the overnight, so his kids don't go hungry, so his mother can get her medicine.

It's my wife, who spends her whole day making sure that women who cannot afford gynecological and obstetrical care can still get appointments, who keeps the schedules open and the office working, who works with dozens of other women to keep a charity practice afloat, with too little staff and too many patients, while the bigwigs pay themselves in six figures and public announcements.

It's your kin. It's you. It's people like us, whom we have never met.

It's somebody's sister, or brother, or mother, son, father, friend or neighbor, working against the clock to prevent nuclear disaster. It's a Ukrainian fireman and his brethren, killing themselves to save the whole of Europe.

That's how shit actually works.

Mar 12, 2011

...on crawling out from under the failures which came before, and the ones which compound them further...

In the eighties, as one of only a few communist sympathizers in my small town, I was struck by the willingness of most of my friends and neighbors to tolerate my public possession* of a few works by Marx (and all the others they'd never heard of) - because communism was seen as so ridiculous and impossible, that only a contrarian, willful, rebellious young'n would trouble his or herself with it. My scout leader was amused enough to make me Senior Patrol Leader because, and I remember this distinctly, "At least a red believes in discipline." When I was finally kicked out of the Scouts, it was for selling pot, not for reading Karl Marx.

No one doubted that we'd grow up and get over it, which is of course exactly what happened. Because you don't get gainful employment posing as a red.

I suppose if I'd grown up almost anywhere but New England, the story might be differently told, but the only roles you couldn't inhabit (well, openly) during that time, and in that region, were (a) homosexual, and (b) pagan, and by the mid to late eighties, enough of the local kids were into Ouija, meditation, seances, tarot and the rest of the faux spiritualist baggage handling that Fag™ was really the only verboten identity. It still is, as far as I can tell. (Well, in a nod to some progress, skinheads get little love. See, sometimes advances are made.)

Those members of the dominant culture who had no cause or reason to question it, or even be aware of it in a conscious way, expressed and probably felt the abiding confidence which characterized that slice of history. They were sure of themselves, and their concerns and fears reflected this fact. Red baiting was still in vogue, obviously, and the Soviet Union was very much the Evil Empire which any right believing person disdained and pitied, in a distant and detached fashion, but in all truth the Soviets were way the hell Over There. They were a foreign threat, and one which managed itself very nicely, in tidy packages which were fit for domestic consumption.

They were a given. Easy to detest, because nothing was known about 'em except that they were Bad - but not supremely so, especially after Chernobyl and the Afghan debacle. They were also easy to ignore, those Soviets who were so much a part of a the world that I doubt anyone believed they were going anywhere, except perhaps the Party leaders trying to stave off collapse.

Plus, the wily Japanese were already in the ascendant as the new black beasts of foreign concern

Anyway, the real threat on the homefront was homosexual satanism, or satanic homosexualism, or demons in our midst, or homegrown nihilist godlessness...or black men. The kind of problems which might trouble a people who knew their place in a stable, divided and manichean world order and who just wanted to "get ahead" and keep the shit that proved they'd done so.

We had invented domestic worries, which everyone pretended were real, and therefore made so. Kind of like today, when it comes to Mexican migrant workers, Arabs, Muslims, Central American gangs and the Chinese.

The culture in force encouraged a facile self-satisfaction for those who benefited from it.

This was not the case, in that small circle of would-be revolutionaries. Or for the loose affiliation of like minded fellow travelers to be founded in Portland, Burlington, Worcester or Boston. Especially Boston.

In those circles, I remember almost no one who was sure of his or her self. It was a milieu characterized by self-doubt coupled with supreme historical arrogance, deliberately struck and ridiculous poses, sectarian nastiness, recrimination, turf conflict, ideological puritanism, doctrinaire immovability, implacable hatreds and an unjustified certainty in the immediacy of the historic moment when the various vanguards would announce themselves to the masses - often imagined, those anonymous multitudes, as historically ready and ripe for the exact message which the various vanguards and true revolutionaries had finally refined into the core dogma of a future perfect. Or, in equal measure, sure that the same masses were so dumbly benighted that only a true dictatorship of the proletariat could usher in the coming age of collective revelation.

Decades have passed, the beneficiary classes have grown smaller and the ruling class richer, but the anti-capitalists don't seem to have moved much from their treasured, comfortable and familiar estate, replete in their replication of all the same tropes. It's a whole new generation come and gone. Two of them, in fact.

And yet these kids are stuck in the same places as their various sectarian ideological forebears - sniping at each other from behind fictional barricades, convinced they alone possess the secret keys to a revolutionary tomorrow, as sure of their place in vaunted Clio's ledger as the Trots, Bolsheviks, CPUSAs, Maoists and Bakuninists who preceded them.

In truth, I think they're even worse off. Because now they not only have ideological baggage over which they can savage each other, they have all the identity shit to go with it. It's not enough to say, aloud, "dump the bosses, feed the poor first, break the banks and disarm the enforcers."

It's not enough - at least, that's what I get from reading their manifestos and complaints - to organize and stand together.

Now, you have to make sure you make all the right noises about the "queer struggle" and "white privilege" and "the kyriarchy" and "marginalized bodies." If you don't, you're an Enemy. Big E.

Not a class enemy. An identity one.

Never mind that very few identities are stable over time, or essential, or immune to influence and alteration. Never mind that most of us exist as cultural hybrids, since almost none of us are villagers from single industry, three family, one church backwater hamlets stuck in the lesser years of the Nineteenth Century.

Which brings me to a pause, because something has to be written in implied bolds before I continue: I don't for a moment think that it's easy to be handicapped, gay, black, trans, illegal, or often enough, female. White men, especially ones with money and legacy, do really still run the damned imperial project. And they make sure, in their various legal and illicit ways, that their sons and favored daughters stand to inherit it.

The capitalist endeavor - if a cobbled together series of crises, Emergencies, enforcements, enclosures, wars, conquests, dynasties and corporate boards can really be treated as a templated whole - produces its own conquered internal spaces, bodies, communities and symbols. Capitalism, in its everyday operation, in the outcomes of competition between factions of the ruling class, in the production of commodities, and in the consumption of them, also produces those persons who define capitalist existence by failing it, and failing within it.

It produces losers, defeated subjects - people not only immiserated, but signified as such. It is not mere coincidence that whore, cunt, nigger, bitch, faggot, tranny, wetback, gimp, crip, dyke, tard, idiot and gay  work as stand-ins for "outsider, excluded, loser, abusable, defeated"  whether or not their hostile users know it precisely in those terms.

They mean, in short, "glad I'm not one of you, and oh yeah, I can do violence to you."

All of this is true, I think, and not only particularly, regionally -  but generally so.


When it comes to building an actual resistance, an opposition, and perhaps even a revolutionary movement which has any kind of resilience and durability, purity tests for attitude, doctrine, belief, outlook and especially identity sure seem like a shortcut to self-destruction.

Excluding anyone who doesn't pass muster on some aspect of identity marginalization is excluding everyone. Our encultured and assumed identities not only overlap, they also contradict each other. Insisting on a homogeneity of belief, with regard to identity, is insisting on failure, because the capitalist mode of production which produces us and our materially shaped outlooks also shatters, commodifies, marginalizes and/or absorbs any identity the co-option or isolation of which profits those who rule its centers of power and influence.

While in the schoolyard, during intense and almost routinized sexualization of gender and identity, as well as race, being cast out as a "faggot" or a "nigger" or a "bitch" can and does reinforce the disciplinary and normative order. But, years later, that same identity can be commodified, packaged, sold, accepted and marketed as a signifier of toleration, wealth and status, especially for those willing to embrace the gap between the process which isolated them as a defeated body and the process which re-absorbs the isolated identity as a confirmation of the rightness and goodness of the dominant order. If you don't believe me, look to Bravo, A&E, MTV and Lifetime as media examples how this is done.

Any identity produced by that order can be consumed or used by it, to whatever ends or means serve those who rule it, and enrich themselves by doing so.

Identity is febrile, shifting, unstable ground, because almost none of us possess a singular one, especially when it comes to those produced by our involuntary and enforced participation in capitalist exchange. (Perhaps the only people I know who have publicly singular, and almost neuter identities, exist as symbolized permanent toddlers - those with Down's Syndrome, Autism, severe mental handicap...and the black-men-as-bad-children which populate news casts, Hollywood movies, cop shows and rap videos.)

It is not a good place from which to make a revolution, or to challenge the order which benefits from the many competing identities which it itself produces, manages and fetishizes.

Identity conflict  - especially in the form of purity tests - serves the interests of those who rule, because they are the ones who arbitrate which identities signify success, and which ones confirm the system by virtue of their exclusion from it.

Struggling to make sure that everyone in a movement (especially one whose members propose to significantly challenge or even topple the status quo) consciously identifies as anti-racist,  pro-queer, feminist, and ally-of-this-and-that is struggling to ensure its defeat. There is no way to successfully police the attitudes of people who come together at great risk - and with the increased probability of sanctioned harassment, rape, injury, incarceration and death - in order to organize conflict within and against the capitalist system which produced them.

We can only learn to see how others are marginalized by living, working, struggling and fighting with them.

Didactic, moralizing tirades will not do it. These tirades will, on the other hand, cut off fellow workers and resisters before they ever commit their emotion, loyalty, bodies and reason to a conflict which promises hardship, isolation and the full force of a threatened order waged against and inflicted upon those who undertake the great work of destroying it.

This is not to suggest, even remotely, that a community in opposition ought to tolerate racists, misogynists, bigots or the package deal of inherited privileges.

But, if we are to avoid the sectarianism of the middle decades of the anti-capitalist project, we should probably avoid its more obvious errors.

And we can begin, I believe, by refusing to compound them with another set of purities.

I don't know, I could be wrong.

I probably am, and I've learned to count on that fact.

I know, all the same, that when I look upon the sleeping faces of my children, and wonder at the future they are forced to inherit, that I really don't have a choice. It's either my body, love, loyalty and mind against the system which guarantees their misery, or my complicity in their suffering.

And I'm not willing to let the manufactured differences produced by that system get in the way of what needs doing, and will be done...

* - in hindsight, it was all probably more ostentatious than I remember it was...

Mar 10, 2011

Strung Up in Wisconsin


Intended to write about letting my oldest skip school today, about "schooling" as "besting, defeat" in common usage, about the colonization of minds and bodies, and how this sort of all relates (I believe) to disciplining boys into assholes, girls into repositories for asshole ejecta (pun half intended), porn and war. A meditation, if you will. Not an exposition. Stan Goff has mapped that territory already, and he's a damned good cartographer.

Maybe later.

For now, the AolSwoonington had a great and greatly ironic headline, reading:

"Labor Vows To Step Up Recall Effort Against Wisconsin GOP, Challenge Anti-Union Bill in Court"

...and reading it, I coughed up a mouthful of blueberry mini wheats and nearly choked to death on my own amusement.

I don't mean to scoff too mightily, but -  really?

That's what "labor" wants - to remove some Republicans from office in a so-so state?

To what end?

Presumably, to replace them with Democrats. Because we all know how labor friendly their policies will prove, right?

Anyway, the editorial posing as a report starts off just so:

"Dealt a major setback Wednesday night in a high-stakes battle over union rights in Wisconsin, labor leaders nevertheless insisted that they would emerge from the three-week long saga energized and eager to continue fighting."

So, let's get this shit straight - "labor" actually means "labor leaders."  Never mind the abuse of the word "saga," for a moment. This fight - which amounted to some invigorating and festive street protests, the peaceful occupation of a state capital, and the mild toleration of local law enforcement - energized the bejeebus out of Wisconsin working folks so damned much that their leadership came up with the fuck all brilliant plan to...

...bog down in partisan electoral politics to the ultimate benefit of corporatist Democrats, invest labor and loot in rooting through the pig's trough court system, in order to declare victory, in the end, with a "compromise" that cuts benefits packages, real wages, pension contributions and anything else that might keep the various states from becoming full time milice operations.

Fucking winners, these union bosses.


Hours after Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and his Republican allies in the state Senate took nearly everyone by surprise and pushed through a stand-alone bill stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights, labor officials pledged to ramp up efforts to recall Republicans and challenge the legislation in court.

Whoa nelly. See, here's the thing. The Wisconsin Republicans did not strip any rights from anyone.

"The State cannot give rights, and the State cannot take them away," a wise poet once mused.

I'm not sold on the concept of "rights" to start, but that's neither here nor there for the purposes of our little rant. What ultimately matters has very little to do with what some elected poombahs do or do not write into a law which may or may not be realistically enforceable. What matters, for those who care to preserve their liberties and the fruit of their own collective labor, is action.

How we live our lives. Not how we dance on the puppet strings of those who pay themselves to manipulate us.

But, that's what "labor" appears poised to do, in Wisconsin.

To put on the strings and to twitch in reaction. To cede momentum, organization, ground and initiative to a disciplinary system organized for and completely in the hands of its mortal enemies. Friends, comrades and strangers -  this legal, judicial and legislative system does not operate for the benefit of we who are ruled. It cannot. Organized ownership demands its own protection racket, and none better exists than the one it currently has - a system which they are right now, as we read and write, streamlining and militarizing in order to better govern the range of fast approaching available futures.

When we engage the ruling class and its factors and agents on ground it controls, on territory it defines and maintains at our expense, and to our detriment, we cannot expect to win our contest, our fight or our struggle.

We should not even describe it as such. There's no struggle, here. There's no fight. It's over before it starts because the outcome not only depends on the mediation of our mortal enemies, but on their enforcement mechanisms.

Any victories which we might achieve can only appear as such; they won't actually defeat the opponent - and they serve the immediate interests of those who rule us. Assume, for a minute or two, that labor manages to spend effort and treasure successfully recalling a few Republican state senators, finding also a judge sympathetic to a reading of law and the Wisconsin State Constitution which preserves the legal fiction of protection for collective bargaining.

Who will fill those seats?

Who has the money, the organization and the institutional support to capture those vacated seats?

Who benefits from vacating a couple of Republicans?


Corporatist pig NAFTA passing, warhawking, revolution breaking, union busting, greenwashing, TARP voting, bank bailing, abortion limiting, rape apologizing, big business...


And to rub this point in, and all the way to the bone, your labor "leaders":

"...While there was some initial chatter (and even some protesters chanting) about the possibility of a general strike -- a large-scale strike by all workers in particular industries -- labor officials say it is not in the works at all. Union leaders for both Madison and Milwaukee Public Schools teachers, as well as the Wisconsin Education Association Council, also put out a statement urging its members to go to work rather than the statehouse to protest on Thursday. 

One area labor will be focusing on is stepping up efforts to recall Republican senators. Only one Republican, Dale Schultz, voted against the bill on Wednesday. A moderate who previously proposed a compromise, Schultz may therefore now find himself spared from Democrats' recall efforts. Eight Republican senators are currently eligible to be recalled, and Walker will find himself in a similar situation next year -- once he has been in office for a year..."

And what will they do with a few extra seats in the Wisconsin Senate? Or in Ohio. Or Indiana. Or New York. Or in Congress?

They'll do what Democrats do, friends. They'll take the time and labor of working people, they'll buy up and block off the right and just anger of migrants and immigrants, they'll bottle up homosexual agitation, they'll corral conservationists, they'll ignore peace factions, they'll continue to pretend and protect with law the belief that uncompensated household labor is a gift and a given, they'll keep their boots on the necks of black people everywhere while they increase funding for the drug war and the prison industrial complex -  and they'll damned sure make safe the way of capital.

Because the idea, the manifestly excellent idea which some actual workers actually imagined - general strike! - scares them into a sweet, wriggling terror.

Because, and this may in fact be an exact truth, how we live our lives matters. It really fucking does. And if we live them in open, organized, cooperative defiance of the rigged system with which they rule us, we shift the very arena of contest, and the ground of struggle belongs to...


We gain the initiative. We do it.

They know this, the bosses and factors of the ruling class. They know it in their marrow and bones, and often far deeper and with greater understanding than we do.

Which is why they expend the cake they do to get us to believe that a court date and a new election represent the real victory against them...

Mar 7, 2011

Things I did not know until today...

Isaac Asimov died of AIDS related complications.

Would it have mattered if it had been acknowledged that one of the most public faces of rational inquiry, speculative fiction, playful disbelief and popular science had died of AIDS, back then?

I don't know.

Seems like it might have.

Creep in Two Modes

I don't really much care for Radiohead. Maybe it's because I never developed a fondness for heroin; still, Creep is a good song:

Especially since Chrissie Hynde has put her mark on it:

Mar 5, 2011

Low Culture

I usually post YouTube videos with a reduced embedded size, well, because I think that a lot of the video detracts and distracts from the music.

But, I think you have to see to hear, in the case of these:

Which puts me in mind to offer up a little Finnish vodka folk metal, in the form of Korpiklaani:

* - thanks to SMBIVA's Al Schumann for the title reference...