"...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

Aug 31, 2011

Spielzeug Self

Shorter former corporate attorney:  make sure your kids play in a purposeful, directed way that will build them up into high IQ future CEOs and project managers and who are both successful and compassionate, as well as focused on achieving goals set by superiors and kind to strangers, because there's nothing in those fucking double binds that could possibly shatter a fragile ego shaped and formed and stretched to the rack of the tyranny of success.

Aug 30, 2011

A Pig Hunting Pigs

Any time a person yields to the masochistic urge to read Matthew Yglesias, she or he would do well to picture Yglesias nestling himself into a thousand dollar smoking chair with a mint and fruit flavored boat drink clutched tightly in his legacy fattened fingers, expensive tablet in lap, arching his brow. As he sits there, imagine him muttering, "How can I make sure my friends will remember that they used to say, 'Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias said'...", and failing to conjure for himself an appropriate mental rescue from the moral predicament of being both less intelligent and well respected than Klein and yet the less venal and monstrously casual with considerations of justice and human feeling, of the pair of grasping sycophants, he keys into electronic life the expensive tablet merited to himself by virtue of being born a rich man's son.

Knowing he cannot equal Klein's mercenary facility with numbers, or his friend's capacity to transform the suffering of ordinary folk into data points in defense of the status quo, he starts instead to tap his thoughts out in another direction. It's at this point that he writes something like this:

"I’ve gotten some pushback from folks who say that it’s wrong of me to focus attention on Ron Paul’s desire to make abortion illegal when there are so many others issues out there."

And this, because:

"...according to Ron Paul, [abortion] 'is the most important issue of our age'...”.

Before we take ourselves too far down Matty's gold brick road, we should settle an issue with the map: Ron Paul is a sideshow.

Let's stick a knife in Lady Probability's knotted skein, and tearing her threads to wind blown snippets, entertain the notion that Ron Paul will be elected to the Presidency in November of the year of the next and last most important election ever, a year only more noteworthy this time around for the other national sideshow - the one where idiot white paranoiacs have their spoiled interloper colonization of Mayan time spat back at them by a universe that will go on long after we've slagged the only planet we know for certain carries any life.

Let's toy with the notion for a bit: "Ron Paul is elected to the White House."


Nothing will change.

Because Ron Paul is, as better sorts have already noted, incapable of altering the operation of the machine. That he even wants to run that machine, if only in donor funded theory, should quell any notion that he has a plan or the power base sufficient to substantively or even incrementally change how it's run. How it is run is changed by the refusal to obey it. And by actively damaging it. Often. At any available juncture between it and the population it rules. Until it fails to function at all.

Ron Paul isn't about that.

Yggles either doesn't know that Ron Paul would have little power to change the system, or he doesn't care. Neither do the libertarians or conservatives who have signed on to the "Love Revolution" this time around. Either from a risible naivete or a calculated ignorance, Ron Paul supporters and Ron Paul critics alike, including Mr. Matthew Yglesias, simply assume that he is both viable enough to be elected to the supreme command of the imperial expeditionary forces and empowered by his magical wisdom, and the impossibly turned blind eyes of those who actually own the country, to transform the empire into its better self by virtue of his transformational occupancy of the Oval Office. They do this, one imagines, for a host of reasons: because they still believe that the extraction and protection racket's stated raisons d'etre - welfare, safety, education, progress and the safeguarding of human goodness - are its actual ones; because they are gatekeepers who don't want voters to realize that voting is a complete waste of time; or, because they might even honestly believe that the answer to the scourge/vital right of abortion will finally be provided by the election of a singular candidate, or by the prevention of that election.

Matthew Yglesias, I think it's safe to conclude, is not worried about the actual election of Ron Paul to the Presidency. When Yglesias writes that Ron Paul has a "desire to send the world economy into a new depression with tight money policies" he is signaling his faith in the system to which he (like Ron Paul and every other candidate for elective office) has pledged his fealty, and from which he draws his salary, and the validity of his legacy education. He is letting his readers in on the fact that he, like them, knows the score. The smart people aren't going to allow a Ron Paul Presidency. Because he would be bad for their business.


Ron Paul will not be elected to the Presidency.

Why, then, worry Paul's well-known and rather consistent position with regard to the state's regulation of a woman's uterus? 

Thankfully, we have Matty Yglesias. Mr. Yglesias is kind enough to tell us why, and since he is not the truly reprehensible Ezra Klein, he is even a bit forthright about it:

"I respect that a great many people are frustrated with drug policy in the United States and are doubly frustrated by the fact that President Obama hasn’t stopped DEA raids on 'medical' marijuana dispensaries in states that have used this route to create de facto decriminalization. The fact is, however, that most anti-drug laws and most drug law enforcement happens on the state level, and the President Paul won’t be able to repeal federal drug legislation without backing from Congress, which won’t happen."

Matty respects that people don't like drug policy. He respects their opinions so much he places the medical in medical marijuana in scare quotes. He respects them so much he's going to prevaricate a bit, and pretend that most drug policy comes from the States. He's going to do this, of course, by ignoring federal guidelines, federal funding, federal prosecution, and in case we forget for ourselves, the fact that nearly half of all enforcement dollars are spent directly by the Feds, even if the enforcement happens "on the state level."*

But, he doesn't want them to lose sight of the broader picture, here. That's why, tablet in hand and despite the fact that he's no Ezra Klein, Yglesias needs to remind liberals and progressives - especially those voters who rightly wonder at the grotesque failures of the Drug War - about Ron Paul's abortion problem.

And what it comes down to, for liberals like Yglesias, but also for any number of party endorsed conservatives, is legitimacy.

The problem with Ron Paul isn't that he will ever win the Presidency. With the exception of a half dozen paleo-conservatives, Ann Coulter when she is three sheets to the wind, Pat Buchanan when he's not working hard to convince the executives at MSNBC to void his contract, or that stoner dude who forgot to the clean the opium out of his bong before he packed in some kind bud, there are few people who actually believe Ron Paul will ever be President.

Ron Paul's appeal doesn't come from viability.

Ron Paul's appeal comes from his willingness to address the State's legitimacy problem. Ron Paul's appeal owes itself to a growing doubt about the state's legitimacy.

It's not that he thinks the project of government is a waste of time. He's right at home with the minarchists and lean government conservatives who haven't thought their core convictions through to their logical conclusions. Like Congressman Paul, they fail to make the connection between an efficient state reduced to policing, war and arbitration functions and the fortunes of the class which actually manages that state as a shared ownership venture. As long as the federal State, and the several States, are obligated by public discontent and unrest to dispense a portion of the Commons back towards the people who actually produce not only wealth but the Commons, the State is prevented from triaging whole segments of the population, in anticipation of the twin and rapidly approaching disasters, for the ruling class, which have been produced by the capitalist distribution of labor, goods and resources: pollution and food supply collapse, and Peak Oil. Furthermore, a state which has some recognized obligation to provide for its captive population is a state which will degrade and ultimately collapse under the weight of the emerging  feedback loop between food supply collapse, and Peak Oil - the surplus oil population.

Ron Paul is not going to address these problems. He has neither the worldview nor the understanding of the crisis of capitalism which would equip him to use an imaginary Presidency to prevent the disastrous culmination of capitalist production and distribution. Assuming his election to the actual Presidency, the office he will have won will give him tremendous power to assassinate, bomb, invade and appoint to positions of power those men and women who will execute his authority to assassinate, bomb and invade. He will have no power, no coalition and no effective authority to reduce spending of any note, to prevent Congress from forcing his budgetary hand, or to restore the gold standard.**

And for Matty Yglesias, and the rest of the bumper crop of warbling progressives and professional liberals, this is the real problem.

Ron Paul, on the point of the power of the office he would assume, is saying as loudly and as often as he can that he would not use it.

Ron Paul's problem is that by assuming the mantle of the Presidency and thereupon refusing the exercise of its one set of actual powers, Ron Paul would threaten the legitimacy of their use, altogether. It would actually be better, for critics of Paul, if he were an anarchist. Nobody listens to those raving dreamers. Alas, for our progressive friends, Ron Paul believes in government, just like them. And that makes him far more dangerous.

He's sharing their stall and he's drawing away customers.

That's what he does every time he turns fairly run of the mill paleo-conservative protectionist and isolationist platitudes into modern idiom. Whether he is addressing the abuses, failures and consequences of the drug war, or drawing attention to the catastrophes wrought by seventy years of ceaseless intervention in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, the Caribbean and wherever the US has projected its martial might, he gives credence to the simplest of ideas: the use of power is almost invariably worse than the refusal to use it.

And if Ron Paul, just by being Ron Paul on a permanent and quixotic campaign for an office he cannot and will never win, can call into question the legitimacy of power itself, well, then it's up to people with large audiences to remind those stupid pot-smokers and youth voters tempted by his siren song that Ron Paul is lacking in...

...legitimacy. You know, because for all his rhetoric about meddling and power, he's just one more wealthy white dude who wants to get all up in a woman's uterus.

So, Matty Yglesias can't be Ezra Klein. He doesn't have the chops to quite manage the banality of Ezra's numerical evil. But he can, at least, keep a gate with the best of them, and like a good master's little pig, go out hunting one of the other pigs who went off the master's private enclosure.

* - I'm sure a competent researcher might be able to help confirm what percentage of the states' combined budgets is actually federal grant, block and contribution monies...

** - no modern capitalist state will allow this because those who own the state don't want a money supply constrained by gold, or silver, or platinum, or anything but the fiat power of the creditor's state...and besides, Yglesias has an actual point buried within his gate keeping effort: tightening the money supply, right now, would trigger a depression that would actually hurt the ruling class

Aug 29, 2011

What Carrie Underwood Never Said

"...Look, I know this is uncomfortable for you self-flattering rebel sympathizers who imagine yourselves at the wheel of a Spanish ambulance each time you type your login name and password into your Google account, but you are being played for fools and suckers; your extravagant sympathies and your juvenile desires to align yourselves with revolutionary causes blind you to your meager posts as adjunct propaganda writers for the Western war machine..."

 ~ IOZ

Aug 28, 2011

Your Freedom and Democracy™ Best Super Duper Popular Rebellion Great Job Yeah, Part II!

Tip of the hat to Mr. Floyd:

"...The killings were pitiless.

They had taken place at a makeshift hospital, in a tent marked clearly with the symbols of the Islamic Crescent. Some of the dead were on stretchers, attached to intravenous drips. Some were on the back of an ambulance that had been shot at. A few were on the ground, seemingly attempting to crawl to safety when the bullets came.

Around 30 men lay decomposing in the heat. Many of them had their hands tied behind their back, either with plastic handcuffs or ropes. One had a scarf stuffed into his mouth. Almost all of the victims were black men. Their bodies had been dumped near the scene of two of the fierce battles between rebel and regime forces in Tripoli...

The atrocities have apparently not been confined to Tripoli: Amnesty International has reported similar violence in the coastal town of Zawiyah, much of it against men from sub-Saharan Africa who, it has been claimed, were migrant workers..."

I don't think an honest observer of any civil war should expect that the victors will, in a perfect deviation from the perfect track record of human perfidy, behave as if the vanquished are actually members of the human race. People who win wars tend to act with the temporary impunity which victory confers upon the victors.*

This isn't to suggest that the coalition of throatslitters, bankers, smugglers, regime defectors, university professors and lawyers who make up the Transitional National Council and its armed faction are actually the victors of the Libyan contest.

The clear winners will eventually emerge, and they will likely sail or march under the flags of ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BHP Billiton, Total SA and Areva.

But, in the meantime, the super noble Freedom and Democracy rebels (beloved of muscular liberal interventionists who will never actually have to visit Tripoli) who think they've won themselves their own private Idaho are busy renationalizing Libyan jobs:

 (photo credit: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

* - An observation, one hopes, which informs my own ambiguous relationship with the image of the French Doctor's Remedy...

Aug 27, 2011

Some Kind of Maxim

Rotting at the moral heart of a future Mussolini is a frustrated anarchist* who measures freedom by a golden age mythology and whose complaint, in the end, can be understood as bitter failure to understand the strength of women. He will call his resentments, "insight," and his contempt for the weak, the "soft" and the feminine, "liberty."

* - he might call himself, also, a "libertarian"...

Aug 25, 2011

Your Freedom and Democracy™ Best Super Duper Popular Rebellion Great Job Yeah!

Meet your rebel leadership, liberal friends of the "Libyan People's Revolt."

The President of the Transitional National Council (that is, the organization so committed to Freedom and Democracy that its only acts, thus far, have been to make a bank on paper so that Obama, NATO and the UN can assign it ownership of Libyan state assets, and officially beg for those assets to be unfrozen):

Mustafa Abdul Jalil. Qaddafi's former Justice Minister.

And his Prime Minister:

Mahmoud Jibril. Qaddafi's former National Economic Development Council chief, and well known as a neo-liberal proponent of privatization, trade reform and closer ties to Washington and London, in Libya.

Plus, some defected army chiefs, several lawyers, a few economists, the former Qaddafi appointed head of the Libyan National Air Force, and about a thousand fighters comprised of drug traffickers, smugglers, and poorly armed teenagers who, when not killing black Libyans, were busy calling air strikes down on each other.

(Shh...we're not mentioning the foreign powers, their flying piloted death machines, tons of munitions, special forces operators, including the British SAS [and rumoring, the French Foreign Legion], remote controlled sky death robots, off shore bombing from French, Italian and American naval vessels, and the completely innocent official recognition by about 30 states desperate for concessions or Western assistance...)

And what are they going to do with their glorious and totally spontaneous, popular uprising against a bad man who no man in his right mind would ever be associated with?

Why, hand out concessions and re-construction contracts to those Western powers that bombed the bejesus out of Libya with so much tonnage of explosives that reconstruction would of course be necessary the "foreign countries which backed"  a cynically transparent extraction and resources power grab an innocent and spontaneous popular uprising, and all this for the calculated pillaging of a resource rich nation the noble and democratic sake of an extraction regime of bankers, Qadaffi stooges and university professors the glorious people's revolution.

...with the acuity of an eagle's eye turned in on itself...

Robert Farley loves you.

He loves you with such great passion, and depth of feeling, that he wants you to sleep well tonight. You - you sweet, gentle souls - you matter to him. And he wants to salve your troubled spirit.

Unlike the naive and misguided complainants against the institutional order of things, Farley wants you to rest assured. Especially if you are a good liberal. He doesn't ask you to risk your mortal soul in challenge against the rightness of our betters. He's a good man, this Robert Farley.  When bombs are falling on foreign soil, Farley reminds you, you must remember that they are international.

A consensus sends them.

Can you really oppose a consensus of loving governments? I mean, c'mon now...

Sure, sure, it's okay to wonder if our benevolent leaders have sufficient foresight. Farley worries. He wants the best. It's a reasonable concern. Our leaders are only human after all. Though, one mustn't reach from their mortality, towards a dangerous assumption that betters might not be betters. They are, we must remind ourselves, leaders because they lead us. Some might fail, but that is no reason to doubt leadership.

So, when discussing the invasion of one of the most abused, destitute, war ridden countries on the face of the only planet we know with certainty sports any life, Farley also has concerns. But, they are the right questions. Nary a Marxist or silly anarchist in sight would ever voice them. They are, we've heard, unreasonable folk. Where an anti-statist might wonder at minutia, like corpsified children and the tendency for freedom bombs to fall astray of their righteous targets, Farley hones in on the really important stuff:

"...To recap, the "Afghan Model" involves the combination of special forces, indigenous proxy fighting forces and heavy precision airpower. Proxies screen the special operators from attack, fix enemy positions and exploit tactical victories by seizing ground. Special forces operators identify targets and coordinate proxy ground assaults with precision strikes. Precision air attacks either destroy enemy formations or suppress them enough to allow proxy forces to overrun their positions. This model worked very well in the first several months of the Afghanistan War, but it worked rather less well at the start of the Libyan Civil War. Although airstrikes were able to freeze loyalist forces, rebel offensives in the east initially failed, and for a time it looked as if the besieged city of Misrata would fall.

With what looks like a rebel victory in the offing, the specifically military aspect of the Afghan Model seems to have been vindicated, albeit in slow motion. Compared to the war in Afghanistan, the pace of the rebel advance in Libya was glacial. To date, the NATO intervention in Libya has lasted five months and four days. In Afghanistan, the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar fell on December 9, 2001, just two months and two days after the beginning of U.S. airstrikes. Of course, there are also important differences. The pace of airstrikes over Afghanistan was more intense than those over Libya -- by roughly a factor of three -- and the strikes themselves were heavier. While we may never know the precise composition of special forces in either the Afghan or the Libyan campaigns, the contingents were likely larger and more active in the former conflict. The organized military forces on both sides of the Afghanistan War were more experienced than their counterparts in Libya, a fact that may have made it easier to undertake the offensive that eventually seized Kandahar, as offensive infantry tactics generally take longer to master than defensive tactics. The geography of Libya, which forced most military operations into a relatively narrow corridor along the coast, also favored the use of airpower.

However, the Afghan Model is as much a political as a military concept. Politically, the model is supposed to minimize domestic opposition in the intervening country, minimize nationalist reactions in the target country and minimize international upheaval. In Libya, the grade is mixed on all three. The leaders of the primary NATO countries -- Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron -- clearly did not expect the war to last this long. Obama was forced to manufacture a questionable legal justification for the war after it exceeded the limits of the War Powers Resolution. Cameron and Sarkozy also came under domestic pressure, and other NATO countries grew steadily more critical over the course of the campaign. However, the relatively low cost of the campaign in both Western lives and Western money undoubtedly blunted domestic criticism. In Libya, the overall political impact of the air offensive remains unclear. The broader international community remained relatively quiet, although the violence in Syria and the ongoing collapse of the global economy may have drawn their attention away from Libya.

The other political aspect of the Afghan Model involves post-conflict stability. Because that model eschews use of large-scale ground forces, it assigns de facto responsibility for post-conflict management to the rebel forces. This has the upside of being cheaper for the intervening power and ideally avoids the nationalist backlash typically associated with a large-scale occupation. However, it also puts tremendous stress on the rebel coalition. The rebels, who may not have previously worked extensively with each other for any purpose other than winning the war, suddenly need to assemble a working government coalition. The rebels also have to decide what to do with the surviving elements of the defeated government. All of these obstacles represent potentially disastrous pitfalls inherent to the Afghan Model. If Libya crumbles back into civil war in the wake of Gadhafi's fall, it will not reflect well on a strategic concept that promises large returns at minimal risk. On the other hand, if the experience of working together against Gadhafi's forces helped build relationships between the rebels that can serve as the foundation for a representative government, the slow course of the war in Libya may have had hidden benefits..."

See from how deep springs Robert Farley's human love? Witness what exercises his loving and compassionate soul. The model, kind readers. The model, itself! The model might be in doubt if our benevolent leaders apply it improperly. Oh, how we must shudder.

I mean, can you believe the horror should that occur?

Our leaders, our institutions, their very structural selves, might lose a method, might stumble upon an instant of doubt, and in doubting, discover a traitorous self-reproach.

This must not happen.

This must not happen, most especially, in Libya. Afghanistan is Bush's Folly. Good Obama, that transformational and transitional man - he's got a peace prize. We ought not lose sight of that.

Farley's meaning is clear, and it almost takes the form of a confession: the state must step rightly, and publicly, in order to preserve its ability to step in and into the future.

A "stable, democratic regime" must follow upon the path blasted into the earth, a path forward made ready by freedom bombs and superior force projection, a road towards stability begat by just and democratic war. We must not waver. We must work and labor for this hopeful tomorrow, extending it into the bright future of a world where air power cannot be in doubt, and where good doctrine prevents the resurgence of those who would not be so casually upended by death from the sky, or even - gasp! - ruled at all.


If Farley's point reminds a honest reader of a Rumsfeldian argument, circa Autumn 2003 through Spring 2004, the reader should not doubt her impressions. Farley is exactly arguing, with the acuity of an eagle's eye turned in on itself, that the Western powers foray into Libya was and is "a genuinely multinational effort."

He is, no doubt, joined by august company. I imagine they'll also take great pains to remind goat faced doubters that out of a thousand French armed and British coordinated smugglers, drug runners, former Qadaffi staffers and royalists, aided by American, Norwegian and French air strikes, a revolution makes itself.

But, you know, when discussing the six thousand seven hundred forty five separate air sorties against a country of six and a half million people, what matters most is that the French bombed more people and land than the pilots of the half billion dollar flying American death machines.

All things being temporarily equal, I wonder what the six and half million or so citizens of the State of Washington would think if China, India and Russia, in an attempt to liberate them from the pernicious regimes of Gregoire and Obama, dropped thousands of tons of ordnance over a period of five months, during six thousand seven hundred forty five separate bombing runs...

It should also be noted, that Farley had his doubts about intervention back in March. Not condemnation of American interventionism. Doubts. And not even about intervention, or freedom and democracy bombing. Farley's laser of concern was focused on what sort of regime the US could get something out of the venture.  Farley is a good liberal:

 "We can’t throw open the gates of Libya, then “let the Libyans decide for themselves;” the very act of throwing open the gates requires intervention that will work to the benefit of certain actors, thus necessitating the question 'Who shall we install in Tripoli?' ”

* - with roughly the area of the Pacific Northwest including British Columbia

[I originally wrote a crowvian snark attack upon this Lawyers, Guns and Money piece by LGM founder Robert Farley, mocking and ridiculing the institutional liberal perspective which allows an ostensibly intelligent man to treat with air war with the posed objectivity of an announcer at a mid-week summer Little League game.

It didn't work, mostly because announcers at mid-week summer Little League games are almost always thirteen or fourteen year old boys and girls, and their delivery runs from excited self-involvement to comedic boredom. Even the poses they take are endearing, what with their youth making up for their failure to yet become serious.

So, it didn't work, and then Farley made it easy by doubling down.]

Aug 24, 2011


There are, if der guegler speaks a binary truth, thirteen million two hundred thousand results for a search of "Responsibility to Protect." Der guegler provided, right at the top, a non-profit linked to in posts below, and no less than the usual suspects (The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The CFR, Foreign Policy, The NYT and Brookings) offering the expected fare, ranging from measured approval (The Economist) to bleating cheer leading (no surprise here, The New York Times).

Let's save them all a lot of trouble.

Kipling, in his own Kiplingerian way, has already sussed it all out for us:

"Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden--

In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--

The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--

No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden--

And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--

Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke  your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--

Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel, 

The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!"


You got to give it Obama.

That fucking guy is bold.

We really ought to step back and admire Obama's audacity, for a moment. There's not a Republican in the country who could have pulled off an escalation in Afghanistan, the destabilization of Syria, an increase of support for Baluchi irredentists in Pakistan and Iran, a robot war on the Arabian peninsula, the toppling of Qadaffi, the re-entry into Somalia, the breaking of public unions and the handing over of billions of dollars to banks and insurance companies at the exact same time as shepherding in a vasty vast domestic austerity scheme.

Imagine, if you will, John McCain sitting at the helm during all the same. Think he'd have pulled it off with Public Enemy Palin looking over his shoulder?

Not a chance.

But, get a transformational world historical fan of the sky death robot - one who knows how to stake a motherhood position better than Ronnie Saint Reagan - into the job, and you almost have to applaud the guy for the audacity of his grinning, casual evil.

Aug 21, 2011

Q Out

It's nifty that the NATO/UN/US backed central banking cabal freedom and democracy liberation of Libya looks just like a resources raid. It must be appearances. Or my jaded eye. This couldn't be exactly what it seems to be...

...but, hey, five or ten years of pillaging will be good for USSOCOM and the burgeoning mercenary market...

Aug 20, 2011

If you meet a Luddite on the road, kill him.

Tools aren't the problem. Complex tools are just that - tools. Yes, tool usage has consequences. Living has consequences. If you don't like that, kill yourselves. Because that's the only way you'll ever escape contingency.

High energy technology isn't the problem. There's no going back, anyway. People quite rightly enjoy not living in mud huts and festering shanty towns run down the middle with open sewers and rounded about by shit dumps and cesspools.

Wealth concentration, power concentration and capitalist control and ownership of the means of production are the problems.

The proximate causes of human suffering cannot all be attributed to human organizations - because microbes and viruses and earthquakes and hurricanes are inhuman, and laudably disobedient -  still, we do have some capacity to organize differently. And a good start is to get rid of the rich.

If you are instead counting on collapse and a "return" to some prior or old-new pristine state of grace, please - fuck yourself in the eyeballs with a loaded rifle. Pull the trigger while you are doing it. Collapse isn't going to restore a lost balance. There was never a balance. Never any harmony. Never a bright moment of equilibrium with "nature." It's a golden age myth, and it takes a moron to believe in it.

There is only beating death for a while. And then there's losing out to it. Why not use these nifty fore brains to make it easier for everyone instead of pretending a lone wolf "autonomy" to avoid thinking about consequences, eh? Why not tackle the real issues, the control of the means of the production and the control of states to enforce inequity, instead of waiting for death and disaster to solve the problem for educated white people. Because...

The collapse of our high energy complex of systematic techniques and specialized tool use platforms equals exactly the death of billions. Starting with all the poor fucks still living "close to nature," you know, the ones already on the ass end of the distribution and extraction networks.

Want to know who's going to escape the worst consequences of collapse and the "restoration of balance"?

The people who are already buffered by the rest of us. The wealthy, and powerful.

Every time a fucking luddite bitches about tools, or technology, remember what he's advocating by way of a thoughtless elision:

The murder and death of billions.

A luddite fucking clown is making the argument of our masters. They'll survive "collapse." In fact, they are counting on it.


If you meet a Luddite on the road - kill him.


Effing blogger. Stupid Jack.

Long post on collectivity and individuality, few notes. Too pissed to rewrite it, now.

A concise visual history, instead:

Also, since I'm being pissy about shit that shouldn't bother me, I guess I'm a bit hurt that this song is being used to sell cars and body products...

I guess it's all good as long as this one isn't about to be used to sell Axe body wash or leather upholstered yuppie strollers:

Pigskin in Frills

The women featured below play real football. They play it hard, and with intensity. This is without doubt fierce competition, in a difficult sport, by serious players with demonstrable talent.

Still, I wonder if it would be the "fastest growing pro sports league in the nation" if they weren't playing in their underwear:


I know, I know. It's a silly question. It's like asking what makes the difference between a dirty anarchic riot and a glorious uprising for freedom, for the producers of FOX News, CNN, the Beeb or MSNBC...

Aug 19, 2011

Pilgrim's Regress...Or Towards a Barbarous Shore

A galley, used for both trade and war.

And they are the same, war and trade, though often settled differently.

Rough seas, and a storm forebode by the flight of birds and the shapes of clouds to come. Slaves, chained to their oars. Rowing, and rowing some more. A merchant man, on deck - a deck he owns, because he owns the boat; ,we hear also the voices of paying passengers, their guard, and a troop on transport to a foreign war. The merchant man drinks wine with his captain, and the soldiers' headman, joined also by the merchant man's brother, a learned doctor of the law, tenured at some ancient peninsular university. Over wine, and chess and a sea roughened table, they speak of war, and profits, and of fortunes measured by rarer coin. The general tells his tales, predictable in their blood and pathos. The captain whispers of the fickle seas, and the murmuring of the slaves below. He crosses himself, but prays silently to fortuna and the gods of the oceans below.

His cabin boy rushes to fill their cups.

The general pauses, as the passengers join them. A physician, a banking house factor, a slaver and a trader in spice. The slaver fills his own cup, smiling. He has a fine catch, in the hold below, captive rebels purchased cheap from a shattered republic. He'll have to break them. He'll start with hunger. They're packed in tight, secure in chains, aft of the trader's spices. He has already contracted a deal with the trader. His prisoners, to carry the wares. At cheaper rates than the dock agent could ever offer.

The future is bright. Storm clouds are his sunshine.

But, the slaves on the oars have different designs. They have plans, too. Unlike many slaves on a host's host of different galleys, they've got it together. It's been a long voyage, this one. They've had time. Time to shape themselves, to harden. They've hoarded tools, and food, made mental maps of the guards' schedules, the merchant's habits, the passengers' private quarrels, the General's blinding hauteur, the Captain's dependence on the merchant's commands.

And they know a humble truth: every tool is a weapon. Even if only by making it go missing.

It should come as little shock that they have a sense of timing. Everything in their narrowed world is a matter of tempo. The drum beat sounding along the boards, through their chains, commanding their labor. The susurrus of the waves. The rhythm of oars slapping the heartless ocean in tempered unison. The discipline, the punishment.

Their long night is coming.

The skies, and the storm, darken on their last chained day. Rolling ocean gives way to the tormented waves of swell upon swell. They snap their oars, breaking them so the ocean's rage cannot kick them back against bodies chained to rows and benches. The galley pivots on a crest, cast adrift by slaves in rebellion.

Above, the captain knows that below decks, things have gone awry. He's peering over the edge, and he believes what he sees, back lit briefly by flashes of lightning. The oars are gone. Broken bits stick out, here and there. The slaves are no longer rowing. The merchant grabs for him, as a wave breaks over the planking. The captain braces his employer against wind, and water. He calls out to his guard and they close ranks around them as they take shelter in his cabin.

Already gathered there, hunching over a dimming lantern flame, he finds the general and the merchant's paying passengers. The doctor of law is visibly sickened.

The ship crashes downward, into the trough of a wave. It goes on like this for half of a forever.

The long night passes with the storm; daybreak brings a sea change.

Below, the galley slaves have freed the slaver's foreign prisoners, who ready to riot and rage. They've smashed open the stores of spice, and wine, and broken into the ship's larder. Rum cups travel from hand to hand, as does sugar, and tobacco. Someone strums a stringed instrument. Others take up a stomping dance.

A voice calls down from above, demanding terms and the release of prisoners.

Wiser heads prevailed, the dark night prior, and the slaves do have themselves some prisoners. The task master, a factor, a servant, an indentured laborer. The task master is a bit worse for wear. No one below seems to mind his state of bodily disrepair.

No one answers.

The doctor of law stands up again. It is unlikely the slaves will answer him. He is disturbed, and his heart is burdened. The natural order of things has been upset. The below refuses the mastery of the above. And it is that mastery which gives the world order, and harmony, and the form of a machine which improves the caliber of men. When the merchant finally agrees to let the general and his soldiers settle this trouble, he will write a missive to the appropriate Secretariat, praising his resolution of the matter. But, he will also lament the needless loss of life, and the necessary brutality which exists outside beloved law, the better to restore it. He returns to the cabin, bearing news of the the silence from decks below. He adds his voice to a debate which has raged more strongly with each hour that passes; the seas and skies may have becalmed themselves, but the betters above cannot agree about what to do with their upstart inferiors below. He argues with conviction: "For order to prevail, law must be ignored so that later it can be strengthened."

The captain disputes the general. "Who will row the oars, and get us safe to port or shore?" he wonders. "We cannot break the rebels, below. Not now, not yet. We must settle this, surely. But we need them chained back up again. Punished, yes, yes. But, worse for them when we reach our port of call."

The trader lends his support to the general, as does the slaver. Their stocks and profits can only diminish the longer this stand off is not brought to its inevitable ending.

The physician, alone, takes up the captain's standard. He argues as convincingly as the lawyer, but he knows his position weakens the longer the vessel drifts towards an outcome no one yet really wants to ponder. "We must," he mulls, "refuse the temptation to add injury to degradation. The slaves have rebelled because their conditions are terrible." The ship must reach its harbor, and then set out again, repaired and doubly commissioned towards new ports, and new horizons, increasing always its objects and its ends. He concedes this, willingly. But, has he not also bought passage on this ship? Doesn't his fare too pay towards their common destination? Hear him, then: "Why not," he wonders, "promise them an improvement? A carrot to sweeten the sting of the stick..."

He is interrupted by a knock on the door. A soldier opens it, shepherding in the indentured man.

"The task master is dead. He died from wounds, early this morning," he says. "The galley slaves have released the slaver's prisoners. They have made a riot of below, stealing what is not theirs. I have been let go to give you their demands. You must submit until the voyage has ended. You will row the remaining oars. When they reach their goal, they will leave you to your own, all but the merchant and this slaver. You two, they will take with them. The rest they will leave with a warning. 'It does not end with this'..."

He pauses, to gulp breath. His heart sobs. He was so close to earning his final stake, and buying out of his indenture. Dreams of a free man's largesse fade to webs and cobbing, and the desert wind of his impoverished future blows even those strands away. He withers. He still believes he will some day be a rich man, but the day will only arrive come Judgment and his passage to God's great heaven.

His betters do not ask his opinion, but he is too angry to withhold it.

He hopes, with faith and fervor, that the galley slaves and the filthy foreign slaves below get what is coming to them. If only they had not seized the master's larder. If only they had refused the savage urge to take what was not theirs. They could have negotiated. Spoken their grievances. Oh, they would have been punished, and rightly. But, with patience and obedience, they could have earned their master's respect. With cunning and fidelity to darkness, they have plotted evil instead. He has overheard their secret intentions. This life is a pilgrimage, but they don't understand that. It's a progress towards improvement. They are ignorant, preferring regress. They will fix oars and sail for a barbarous shore which civilized men everywhere, and anywhere, would do well to avoid, and do better to conquer.

The physician knows his case is lost, but he clings to it with desperation. The slaver grins and the general swaggers. The doctor nods, his head heavy with its cultivated gravity.

The merchant listens in. He gives no hint of his intentions.

But we know. We know - don't we? - how this will end...

And with corruscative splendor, we arrogate an illumination

My wife, who works in medicine, received an email back in June which spells out, in a singular example, how hard won gains are easily lost, and maybe a bit about why.

My wife, who is not an anarchist like her husband, perhaps because she is a sensible and pragmatic woman, took away a different lesson than the idealistic, angry radical to whom she is married.

Where she sees this as a struggle to shore up the existing system, to create new safeguards, to fight on the ground for control of the infrastructure at the point of contact with austerity (not a word she would use, natch), her angry anarchist husband (heh, married anarchists...) sees this as one more sign and signifier of the uselessness of the government, and the state, as a guarantor of liberty, mutuality and a strong and durable Commons.

The Commons are not sacrosanct; nor are they immune to capture. Rather obviously, common and shared resources, including land and infrastructure, but also custom, culture and language, are routinely stolen, grafted, wheedled away, and taken by force. In our own modernity, right now, the idea of the Commons as separate from the State is so foreign to normative assumptions that an anarchist or anti-statist has to spend considerable time and argumentation to establish their difference, and the distinctions between commonality and government, long before she can make a case against the State, precisely because the various States have for so long controlled commonholds created by the people.

There are plenty of decent women and men who feel as my wife does - that if only good people could win a few battles, the bad would retreat.

It's just that history, that faithless lover Clio, does not seem possessed of a propensity to offer a record in support of this belief -

The email, to drive the point to staked heart:

"Dear Colleague

The Manchester Health Department has been recently notified by NH DHHS that due to a lack of funding, contracts for STD/HIV services will be discontinued as of June 30, 2011 (see attached letter).

As a result, the Manchester Health Department will no be offering HIV testing and counseling and STD clinical services.

Over the next three weeks we will be working on a transition plan and communication plan, but I wanted to provide you with as much notice as possible so that your agency may prepare.

If anything changes over the coming weeks, I will certainly keep you updated.

Please feel free to pass this information along to other providers in the community that may be impacted..."

This was shortly after the State of NH decided to withdraw contributions to the Planned Parenthood, which, in spite of deceitful and ill-informed Christer rhetoric to the contrary, mostly just provides routine care and testing to poor women.

The State as it exists belongs to the ruling class, and its factions. We could dress out some vulgar Marxism and argue that the state of the proletariat (as a new and revolutionary ruling class) would be functionally different from the state as owned by the capitalist ruling class, because its constitution would recognize a more horizontal reorganization of social and economic relations. Perhaps this is generally true, but I see no evidence for the claim, and no immediate, short term or long term probability of testing it in real life.

The needful thing to remember is that the State is common property. It is the shared property of the ruling class. This property is composed not only of land, but also of armed servants, institutions, currencies and laws. Properly understood, laws are intellectual property owned in receivership by the ruling class which controls their enforcement, used according to the needs and devices of whatever faction(s) of that class currently manages the application of power. The armed staffers of the state ought to be seen in the same light. They are used as property because they are property. They are, in degrees depending upon loyalty, indoctrination, temperament and self-preservation, instruments for the enforcement of the state's policy. That policy (enumerated not only in laws, but also in factional contest) is itself intellectual property. We encounter it, often enough, presented as a boon to the ruled (see, law and order; see, keeping brown people from improperly exploiting their resources) but is applied for the benefit of those who rule them.

When people argue for direct, electoral or popular control of the State which actually exists, they are arguing that property which belongs to the ruling class ought to be transferred, by law and custom, to the ruled peoples.

Let's sum this up as neatly as possible: our well meaning friends who argue for the peaceful, legal, bureaucratic or electoral capture of the state(s) are expressly arguing that the ruling class ought to use its intellectual property, its armed agents, its factional disputes, its electoral system, its funding mechanisms and its stolen wealth to undermine itself in order to provide the people it rules with the means to abolish the ruling class.

They are politely asking those who own the State to commit economic and political suicide.

We should not be surprised that them as rule are not inclined to agree. Self-preservation is not only a human characteristic, it is the hallmark of those who own and control hierarchies. A hierarchy is a means of using others in order to gain benefit.

It is beyond naive - in fact, it approaches the despairingly stupid - to believe that those who arm and rank up in order to live easier, safer, more powerful lives will simply hand it all over, on account of remonstrations to do good.

A lot of time, labor and life was given over, often freely and without recompense, to forcing the ruling classes, their several factions and their capitalist state into a stalemate, with minor concessions. Those concessions included a limited social safety net, the public provision of services to the destitute and the needy, regulation and the promise of occasional prosecution of cartoonishly nefarious wealthy offenders.

In a matter of a mere two generations (from my grandmother to me), that "social safety net"** has been signed away where it has not otherwise been outright sold off to private contractors*, the public provision of services can be withdrawn as a line item in a budget, the regulatory agencies are now enforcement arms for the industries they purport to regulate, and cartoonishly nefarious offenders (see, Madoff) provide bread and circus distractions from ongoing systemic pillaging and piracy.

The gains of five generations of bloody struggle, signed away and re-appropriated through the budget process.

Because the State is the property of the ruling class.

The state belongs to the wealthy.

Government is for the rich, because it is wealth which creates it in the first.

And whenever the rest of us forget that, even for a historical moment, our earthly lords and masters are more than willing remind us. Today, it's STD testing for poor people. Tomorrow (well, also today*) it's State highways and bicycle paths for white people.

So perhaps, just maybe, the next time we gird up long enough to force them back a step or two, we'll do the reminding ourselves, and remember first not to take our hard won gains and hand the right back to those who would rule us, by encoding them as functions of government...

* - See: Kasich, Ohio...

** - short term revolution prevention system...

Aug 18, 2011

The Jester Has A Sword

Returned ripe and prodigal, again from another visit to a specialist who can manage only to specialize in a lack of conclusions. I have blood leaking into my legs, below the knee. [Resist the urge to sympathize; I will hate you for it.] Staining my skin, a clown nose red in wing mottled patches. Elsewhere, the color of dried cumin.

It does not hurt. It does not sting, or itch. Rarely, it burns, but that could be anything. I make it worse, because I'm a runner. Every impact springs free some hemoglobin goblin escapee from the confines and prisons of a too narrow pathway back to chambered prison heart and the death of an anonymous re-absorption.

"I have seen it worse, at your age," the specialist said, perhaps to comfort me. Comforting did not occur. "It isn't common, or everyone would have it." Ha hah ha. Amusement burps and bubbles.  No, really, I am entertained. Fucker. He has pictures on his wall, photos he took himself. Last time in the office, from a sojourn in the Alaskan wilderness. Today, from scuba diving off the Turks and Caicos. He poses with a shark.

I have never been away from this little life, even when I lived it larger. I have never been outside of it. I keep having to pay. I'll pay the ferry man. I'll pay the coin. But, beware the moonless night I finally get across the river. Like most abused and broken cast outs, I would settle accounts with our betters and sleep sounder for the doing of it.

And the costs for a moment of honor have not failed to catch up with me. Or accrue. Like blood debts and blood stains around my ankles. Few of us get respite, get away.

I have been as far as New Orleans, and I had to steal a car to get there. Running from the law, each with varying degrees of guilt and innocence. For my own case, neither condition obtained. I did a stupid and terrible thing, was certain I was found out, felt no shame for a necessary and vile decision - but the law never caught me. No one but we three know it ever occurred, and three are now two. This secret I have always kept. It was only a shade more despicable than that which prevents me from ever, ever returning to Canada. I swear to you I did not know that car was stolen. By and by, Mounties are as eager to do an aggressive and rough handed cavity search as the New York State police are to follow it up with one of their own. Alas, indignities are not like bank accounts. We cannot draw from our deposits, there.

Anyhow - New Orleans: not understanding fully the implications of our act, we left our stolen yāna in the most blighted neighborhood I've ever seen, somewhere off the Chef Menteur. The residents did not strip it as imagined. They reported the car, stolen.

We were clowns to think they'd see it as a boon. It was a provocation. An interloper's addition to their existing troubles. Flypaper for copper yellowjackets.

It was not the first time I'd been a clown.

My mother used to dress me as a clown. It wasn't a pathology. Well, not as your first reaction spelled it out in your dirty little heads. We were death clowns. It was a religion thing, I gather. We dressed as painted fools, to sing and juggle and play act for dying children, or the elderly abandoned. Cancer ward pagliaccios.

I fucking hated it. I still fucking hate clowns. I can conceive of no greater insult than clown. Do you know what it's like to be too young to confront death, and have to confront it anyway? Two or three times a week? Dressed as a clown?

The distance from then to now has shortened itself to a footnote; time has passed and gone, lost to embittering forevers and untrustworthy recollection. It has sometimes even flowed over me, lightly. But, a boy should be an old man before he is forced to whisper his memento mori in a clown suit and a grease paint smile.


I'm not too young to misunderstand the pleasures of evil living, or a rugged go at sovereign monstrosity. You should try it. It gives your compassion a finer boutique, should you later manage to ferment yourself some.

I'm also not too old to ready myself for death, or dying. It insults me that, for all the evil that I've done, and some of it with relish, I should come to this - clown nose red blood stain skin leggings and the specialist's kindly reminder that it will, yessir, only get worse.

Blood that refuses the modesty of remaining within its banks.

Somehow, I'll ken out a way to find this all very fitting.

But not now. Not yet.

Because I won't be a clown. Not ever. Not ever again.

I'm a jester this time around. And the jester has a sword...

Aug 17, 2011

Glibertarians Get Wood

How the story was written:

"Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch--free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be 'a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons'..."


How it should have been written:

"Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating tax havens and wealth sinks for trans and metanational corporations.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build corporate piracy coordination centers, tax shelters and corporate headquarters on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea itself could be judged as either vulgar cynicism, or ugly naivete. It is cynical, since these tax havens will be wholly owned subsidiaries of banking houses, oil companies and extraction firms, and will therefore allow them to operate with the same dual function as the Vatican, as both an independent nation, and as a parasite upon subject populations outside of national confines. It is naive, especially for those without wealth who, yet again, are advocating for their own declining ability to counter concentrations of power, because it assumes that small, relatively affluent polities would be immune from predation by larger territorial nation-states, or other corporations. The idea is for these countries to start up with considerable corporate funding, especially through shell companies and cut outs--free from the already rudimentary and largely unenforced protections against the concentration of wealth and power, for those unfortunate enough to belong to such a polity, but not maintain an ownership stake.  Details says the experiment would be a way for libertarians who can never afford to buy a stake in these capitalist platforms to pretend that they can win theoretical arguments against other people on the internet who are stupid enough to be wrong about the super duper awesomeness of glib libertarianism. And while glibertarians will naively continue to imagine that no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons will result in a paradise of Freedom, the truth of the matter is significantly more sordid, tragic and predictable: those who can afford to purchase their way out of fealty to a nation state will rule those who can only manage to sign on as jobbers, with even fewer resources to employ against those who would degrade them further..."

Aug 13, 2011

Breaking the Buffer

We who are not powerful are worn around concentrations of power and wealth as layers of buffering. We absorb diseases, and discontent. We act as filters, and bellwethers. As isolated communities, as artificial families, we absorb the animosity of opposed and opposing sects, neighborhoods and polities. "Left" and "right" matter, not only because we model our capitulations accordingly, but because they divide us into buffer zones. We team up, according to training, temperament and disposition.

Concretely, as accident and as structure, we exist as perpetual human shields. That is our secondary function.

First, we labor - we build the systems by which we are contained and captured. We build hierarchy, and maintain it. For a least into the foreseeable future, it is impossible to maintain a complex civilization, and the benefits which accrue to those who run and own it, without captured laboring and consuming populations. We create value, and values.

But, we serve a second function, the usefulness of which, to the factions of the ruling class, is increasing. We absorb discontent for factions. And we provide it, against other buffer populations. We are chained up in our own loyalty, and it is a faith with obligates us to squander ourselves. We are encultured, and believing such and such to be true (sometimes, the content of belief matters far less than its context), we are made and remake ourselves into "fidelities." We devote portions of our lives which are not formally labor to the defense of those who rule us. We politic, and church up. We defend.  A work, without recompense.

Where we do not do this willfully, we still serve the function anyway.

If you are not a hermit, or inclined to wander some wilderness for most of your day, you probably live near to or within a corporative community - a village, town or city conceived as such, one which provides an identity to you, even by opposing it. As a member, you exist around a nucleus, or competing centers, of power. These have orbits, captures of labor, capital and property. You work at one, and for one. You serve it.

It's even likely that you are, at least seen from a distant perspective, tossed around between several gravity sinks - church, family, work, party, team. Your labor for them, your loyalty, your emotional defenses and your memories are all coded and caught up as buffers. As protection for the hierarchy which exists within them, in order to steal the greatest possible benefit from their continued existences.

It is ominous, then, when the state which exists to co-opt and coordinate these factions into a whole that serves the needs of the ruling class, is publicly re-conceived instead as an adversary of these buffer communities, these protective layer populations, these absorption zones and social filters - as part of a declared war to remake civilization and civil society with an eye to triaging not only the poor, but the superfluous:


Down From the North

I was going to link to this essay by Steven Erikson no matter what. It's been sitting in a tab for a day and a half, while I fleshed out for myself what I wanted to write.

I don't have to write anything, luckily. (A happy accident, not unlike the comment section to the post directly below this one, where a brilliant discussion unfolded, and which was at least a hundred times better for me being too stupid to say much within it.) Cuneyt has writen, quite without knowing I was going to re-purpose it, a brilliant introduction, already:

"...I would say that here many of the right praise the small town, praise the rural and the wild (even as they seek to plow it all over). Makes sense; rural populism only has rightwing nationalism to feel good about itself. Leftism, true worker leftism, is dead in America. You might not find it everywhere. But sure, the right in the US adopt the survivalism and the posture of the independentist. But when it comes down to it, Democrats and Republicans both believe in state capture.

I'm not sure how much of the left really believes in Marx, understands anything about him, or really how much any of the left exist in America. The right is very diverse; it has libertarians and isolationists and neocons (who paleos call leftwing because they hate them) and religs and seculars and politicals and apoliticals.

They have, in Darwinist terms, speciated because they are a fucking bloom. They have dominated and they are finding greater and greater diversity. Leftists? Don't talk to me about American leftists. They are sickly because they are intellectually inbred, stuffed with antibiotics, scared of the sun. And Democrats are nothing more than the backbred hybrids of native left and native right..."

That's shiny, for its own merits.  But, being a bit of a dick, I'm going to add more value to it, as a preface to this:

"...Historically within the genre [fantasy] the role of the ‘barbarians’ has roughly split into two morally laden strains. On the one hand they are the ‘dark horde’ threatening civilization; while on the other they are the savage made noble by the absence of civilization. In the matter of Karsa Orlong, we can for the moment disregard the former and concentrate instead on the noble savage trope—such barbarians are purer of spirit, unsullied and uncorrupt; while their justice may be rough, it is still just. One could call it the ‘play-ground wish-fulfillment’ motif, where prowess is bound to fairness and punishment is always righteous. The obvious, almost definitive example of this is R.E. Howard’s Conan, but we can take a more fundamental approach and consider this ‘barbarian’ trope as representing the ‘other,’ but a cleaned-up version intended to invite sympathy. In this invitation there must be a subtle compact between creator and reader, and to list its details can be rather enlightening, so here goes.

We are not the ‘other,’ and this barbarian’s world is therefore exotic, even as it harkens back to a pre-civilized, Edenic proximity. The barbarian’s world is a harsh one, a true struggle for existence, but this struggle is what hones proper virtues (‘proper’ in the sense of readily agreeable virtues, such as loyalty, courage, integrity, and the value of honest labour). Against this we need an opposing force; in this case ‘civilization,’ characterized by deceit, decadence, conspiracy, and consort with evil forces including tyranny: civilization represents, therefore, the loss of freedom (with slavery the most direct manifestation of that, brutally represented in chains and other forms of imprisonment). In essence, then, we as readers are invited to the side of the ‘other,’ the one standing in opposition to civilization. Yet… we readers are ‘civilized.’ We are, in fact, the decadent products of a culture that has not only accepted the loss of freedom, but in fact codifies that loss to ease our discomfort (taxes, wage-slavery, etc). In this manner, we are offered the ‘escapist’ gift of Fantasy; but implicit in this is the notion that a) we need to escape; and b) that civilization is, at its core, evil.

[So, is it not ironic that Leo Grin (a great fan of R.E. Howard) attacks modern fantasy as nihilistic? This man's incomprehension of Howard's own nihilism and anarchic rejection of civilization is, simply, jaw-dropping. Amusing digression ends.]

This brings me (and I can almost hear the groans) to anthropology, although one could approach the notion of the ‘other’ from a whole host of theoretical stances, including mytho-Jungian, sociological, psychological, etc. The point is, the ‘other’ is universal to the human condition: it exists in every culture. I won’t go into too much detail here, since the singular point I want to make is that the notion of the ‘other’ is implicitly arrogant. Most cultures give themselves a collective identity (the ‘us’) and often attribute to themselves a name that means something like ‘the people,’ implying that the ‘others’ are not quite people. This has of course justified all manner of conflict and subjugation, from ancient times to the present. Accordingly, it is not unique to ‘civilization’ per se but to all cultures, regardless of their technological level and social organization. To be the (one and only) ‘people’ is an arrogant assertion: defined in terms of specific habits, behaviours, physical features, language, religion, and so on, but ultimately profoundly conceited in its essential world-view. By this means all manner of atrocity is possible when dealing with the ‘other’ (and all militaries impose psychological ritual to ensure that the soldier sees the enemy as an ‘other’ and therefore less than human and therefore permissible to kill).

[It's not all grim: the notion of 'us' has essential virtues in collective identity, through the sharing of values, community cohesion, and so on; but it's probably fair to say that the pay-off is not quite a balanced one, given that the inherent weakness of 'us' hints at fundamental flaws in that kind of thinking, even if the notion of 'us' also happens to be necessary for a society to function] 

Barbarian societies can be as arrogant as civilized ones: the only difference is in the expression of that arrogance. At its core it’s all one, and seems to be a characteristic of the human condition (to this day, for all of our efforts at self-identifying ourselves as a global culture, we continue to impose borders, define select privileges, exercise extortion of weaker peoples, and in the rejection of one community (the neighbourhood) we raise countless others, defined by political afiliation, religion, skin colour or whatever).

There are other implicit judgements to the ‘other.’ Among the Romans the ‘barbaric’ other was not viewed as less-than-human, but in terms of inherent weakness (of their culture). This justified subjugating them, occupying their lands, and enslaving as many of them as was economically possible. The notion of being ‘Roman’ was considered the height of civilized and cultural identity (though it came back to bite their Roman asses). [incidentally, and at the risk of offense, this is what made the teachings of Jesus so revolutionary, as they directly challenged the accepted definitions of self-identity and the institutions of authority in place to maintain them, only to be later co-opted and segmented into rival sects—more us's and more them's—in direct defiance of those very teachings. But one can also argue about the 'us' of believers and the 'them' of non-believers... I sense a vortex ahead so will end digression there]. This Roman stance was the notion of might-as-right and is of course yet another expression of arrogance. Later on, with the (re)-institution of slavery, drawing from Africa, the notion of less-than-human became the dominant ‘justification’ for brutalizing the ‘other.’ One can then turn to the treatment of Jews in Europe, and so on. The point is: history is the study of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and little else...

I wanted to address the fantasy trope of the ‘barbarian’ (from the north, no less, and isn’t it curious how so many heroic barbarians come down from the north?), but do so in recognition of demonstrable truths about warrior-based societies, as expressed in that intractable sense of superiority and its arrogant expression; and in recognizing the implicit ‘invitation’ to the reader (into a civilization-rejecting, civilization-hating barbarian ‘hero’), I wanted to, via a very close and therefore truncated point of view, make it damned uncomfortable in its ‘reality,’ and thereby comment on what I saw (and see) as a fundamentally nihilistic fantasy trope: the pure and noble barbarian. Because, whether recognized or not, that fantasy barbarian hero constitutes a rather backhanded attack on the very civilization that produces people with the leisure time to read (and read escapist literature at that)...

One of the areas of serious disturbance among readers is, quite understandably, the rape scenes. There is a counterpoint to these, found later in the novel, that includes Karsa’s very direct answer to it, which while on the surface may seem contradictory to his nature, is in fact anything but. Another area is the use of the word ‘children’ when voicing his exploits of slaughter (but then, if child-slaying is a universal taboo, what does that say about our culture, with its missing children; and what does it say about our foreign policies and/or our fanatic religious beliefs, that see children killed every day; or our notions of wealth, that see entire countries left to starve?).

Having established this tight, myopic point of view of the ‘classic’ barbarian (reasonable for an isolated people of remote mountain regions)—and structuring the tale empty of overt authorial judgement yet relentless in its detail, one might then expect to see me take the ‘dark horde’ route and offer up civilization as the beacon of virtue and enlightenment. But then… maybe Howard had a point? For all that his nihilistic rejection of civilization, personified in the Hyborian Tales of Conan, is an invitation to despair (like a bullet to the head), it cannot be dismissed out of hand. Civilization has its problems, and even more distressing, there was indeed a kind of freedom in the pre-industrial age that we can only dream of (but how rose-tinted are those dreams, discounting as they do death-in-childbirth, intestinal parasites, disease, disfigurement, starvation, slavery and so on? Just how far into the ‘escapism’ from reality should the Fantasy genre offer up? Oh, and that is the sixty-four dollar question I’m slowly approaching: the expectations of the fantasy readership, but everything in its time…). Accordingly, Karsa’s introduction into civilization is one made in chains—in the stripping away of his ‘barbaric’ freedom. But arrogance is an unruly beast and he will not so easily be tamed, and so the struggle between barbarism and civilization becomes his own personal struggle (even Conan grumbled as much)...

One of the traditional appeals to epic fantasy literature of the ‘dark horde’ variety was its simplification of morality. There was clearly defined good and clearly defined evil. Good was good and evil was reprehensible. We were invited into a world where we knew who the good guys were, we knew who the bad guys were, and we knew that by the end the good guys would win, standing triumphant on the corpses of the bad guys (restless corpses were better, since that invited sequels). This is the child-like, play-ground appeal, and in appealing to the child in us it comforts by virtue of its simplicity; while at the same time its codifies the ‘good’ virtues and the ‘bad’ vices, which could in one sense serve as life-lessons. Accordingly, this kind of fantasy’s engagement with reality was one of reduction, infused with exotic ‘otherness’ to stir the wonder of an imaginative mind. Comforting stuff, affirming stuff—in fact, the very stuff that Leo Grin applauds.

But that’s ‘epic’ fantasy. It’s not sword and sorcery fantasy: it’s not R.E. Howard (arguably, it’s not JRR either, but I’ll skirt that particular can of worms here). Howard’s barbarian hero promised chaos and destruction—well, he promised to maintain his barbaric virtues even if it took the world down around him (lovingly spoofed in Jakes’ ‘Mention My Name in Atlantis’). And it if did, well, that was a civilized world, wasn’t it, so good riddance. The sword and sorcery form of fantasy literature twisted things, but something of that simplistic, reductionist sensibility still remained. Good was good (if a little hard) and evil was evil. Only the stigmata had changed. The ‘good’ was the purity of the Cimmerian ice fields; the evil was the steamy civilized southlands with their serpent gods and all the rest. It’s escapism of the nihilistic vengeance sort, the fascistic scouring away of corrupting forces (that part Leo liked, so doubt), with the Northern (white-skinned) Man standing triumphant, a freed and happily large-breasted ex-slave wrapped lovingly round one leg, on her knees of course).

Escapism is seductive, and what it might reveal about us is not always pleasant on reflection: it comes down to the flavours we prefer, the paths we find most inviting to our more fundamental belief systems—whether self-articulated or not, and that alone is enough to make any thinking person shiver..."


Well, that's that. Apologies in retreat for copying as large a set of sections in as I have. I. Loved. It. Want to disseminate it as far and as wide as I can imagine. Erikson is, I believe, one of the finest English language writers with an audience, alive. And, although I don't know if it was his intention or not, he's helped tap a stake into the dessicated heart of the Tolkien vampire.

For that alone, he deserves a feast day and a plaque on the wall...

Aug 12, 2011

Em Em Tee and Me: Or How I Repeatedly Piss on the Good Will of Pleasant Strangers

Joe Firestone, at Corrente:

"...I'll try my best to spread the news that THE WORD IS OUT! And also spread the further news that the Government can't run out of money, no matter how much it owes and that there is no solvency problem. 

So there is also no deficit reduction problem, no national debt problem, or any Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid problems, or grandchildren burden problems based on fears of, or claims about, insolvency unless we pay our debts back!

I have to say however, that even though THE WORD IS OUT that solvency is not a problem, and that the austerity/human sacrifice crowd must now either fall silent or flip flop to inflation as their new rationalization for driving working people into poverty; I don't think for a minute that they will do either one. 

Instead, I think they will assume that the news will never get out to most people and that they are free to go on with their same old narrative about possible insolvency making austerity necessary, without people either laughing at them or calling them liars. The MSM is unlikely to notice that the Government can create currency whenever it wants to, and they will just forget about the admissions made this week after the S & P downgrading, and reinforce the old money scarcity story, without missing a step, to please the Peter Petersons, Kent Conrads, Alice Rivlins and David Walkers of this world. The president already did this in a speech he made today.

So, I think that besides doing our best to spread THE WORD, we also need to pressure the President to prove that the United States Government has no solvency problems, and can never run out of money. In other words, we need to call for the President to use very high value Proof Platinum Coin Seigniorage (PPCS) to begin to pay back the national debt and also to create a balance in the Treasury General Account (TGA) that is so large that no insolvency claims are even thinkable.

The basic idea is to mint a $60 Trillion platinum coin, turn it into electronic credits at the Fed, use the money, first to pay down $6.2 Trillion in debt immediately and the rest as it falls due, and confront Congress with a balance of of about $52 Trillion in the Treasury General Account (TGA). Then, facing that $52 Trillion in available financial resources, and with the President using the bully pulpit, let's see the austerity/human sacrifice crowd, even with all the money in the world behind them, try to justify voting for spending cuts in entitlements and other much needed areas of domestic spending."


"This MMT...stuff, while often very well argued, and well intentioned, reads exactly like Glibertarian calls for the repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments, like a newly minted syndicalist's calls for the immediate abolition of the state and the sui generis rebirth of a complete socialist order, like a conservatarian's demand for a 19th century application of the Constitution, or like Gold Standarders demand for the end to fiat currency and the fiat return to a metal standard.

Before I'm misread - I understand that you are arguing for an aggressive use of the fiat, but you don't seem to really get that the public doesn't care, and you cannot make them care.

This is futile agitation, because the state that actually exists is never, ever going to do what you want."


"Since it's so useless...why don't you just go back to despair and staring into the void. Thanks."

"Could be. But I'll keep trying because I know the public will care when there's $52 Trillion in the bank.


"When my youngest...wants to spend hours talking to me about Guild Wars and this new ranger build he's worked out, I don't feign interest. I am interested. Because I love him and he's so fucking beautiful it hurts me to realize that he's ever going to die.

But, I have no illusions that his fascination with a video game character will substantively change the world.

Because it won't. No matter how earnestly or honestly he tries to communicate the importance, right at this very moment, of this figment un-thing he's made, this little fraction of the total noos which he believe he controls all by himself, I know that his passion alone cannot move people to care.

Because this toy doesn't resonate. Its language is not the language of people in their everyday lives. It cannot move them, or us, because we have a shared knowledge, a common and sad recognition: a distraction is the admission of impotence. The obsession with a perfect game, or a fantasy world where the impossible hero has the one key which saves the kingdom? This is the admission of powerlessness.

Back when I was much, much younger, I had friends who were just as invested, just as passionate, just as fascinated with their Dungeons and Dragons characters. They longed for the end of the school day, or the absence of a parent in the house, to rush into contact with the suspended and unrealized worlds they'd spent hours imagining into a labile half-existence, fraught with imperfectability because they were precisely and utterly fictitious, always bordering as they were on a complete collapse, following the slightest interruption, perhaps from mom's return, or a phone call, the bark of the neighbor's dog, or the need to take a shit.

This is your MMT, as I read it.

That I understand it exactly as a tinkering with a character, or a map, or a dungeon from a role playing game does not mean I'm somehow committed to despair. I'm not. I just believe that a different set of paths to justice are more likely to become trails, and then roads, and perhaps even highways.

So, here we are:

You are role playing, in my humble opinion, from your own recognition of powerlessness and impotence. And I don't mean that as any sort of condemnation, or disapprobation.

I am without material substance. I'm ill, and poor, and because I decided to undertake the role of homemaker so my wife could return to the workforce, I'm a joke applicant now even at Wendy's. I kid you not when I tell you that one of the interviewers said to me, "Dude, you can't be a dude who stayed home to raise your kids for five years and expect to get a job. We have real men applying every day."

I understand powerlessness, and impotence. 

I'm looking at your tinkering from the outside. And not with any hostility. It reminds me like nothing else as much as it reminds me of a teen aged, geeky dungeon master crafting the perfect Saturday night mission. 

(I know you are not the only one, and I'm using the "you" in its plural form as well.)

But, there the lot of you are, with your maps and your graph paper and your manuals, and you really have built the best story, with the most fully developed narrative and characters imaginable. It's just that the guys on the football team, and the school principal, and the guidance counselor, and the mean office secretaries are not going to ever hand you access to the school's PA system, so you can tell all those kids sitting through home room about this best-est, totally most gnarly game ever.

And even if you did steal into the office, and risk detention or suspension in order to get your game notice out over morning announcements, anyone with a sober head and a kind heart could predict the outcome.

You are in for a long year of unremitting misery.

Which doesn't mean you shouldn't try. It's just that you don't really have a grasp of your own actual environment, at least as I see it.

And me - an anarchist - telling you this is some kind of irony, I know.

But, that's fundamentally also where we differ. I'm no stranger to utopia. I believe our reach must always exceed our grasps, or the stumbling forward into the future backwards that is such a salient feature of our too brief existences becomes a headlong pitch into the mud and the muck, with no real reason to get up again.

You've got to know your world well, you have to know how to hate it, in order to place a flower of hope in the vase of utopia. You've got to be honest about it. You have to be sober before and after your fancy, and your intoxication. If you're not, the drunkenness loses its charm, and becomes an uglier kind of fixation, and then - an addiction.

The state we have is not constituted to embrace or promote your form of Chartism. That state is a wholly owned tool of the capitalist over class. It is not run for the benefit of the proletariat. It only interfaces with that other perfect fiction, the middle class, to task the smallholders with hating on brown and/or poor people. You will never capture it and make it something it cannot be until you get rid of the over class which constitutes it.

And if you can actually get rid of that over class, there will be no efficient national state to capture in order to impose this perfect, fantasy fix."



Aug 11, 2011

Wingless Birds

When the Perry/Photogenic White Woman Administration is finally sworn in, in January of 2013, I expect the current crop of cruise missile liberals and technocrats to once again assume the approved position:

 ...with regards to the last four years of Reagan's eighth term.

Aug 10, 2011

Braining the Chicken

I'm a polemicist, partially out of a mild case of what I believe to be a reasonable paranoia. I don't trust anyone all that well, and as ready as I am to identify that I live in NH, was once a bit of a tough and spent a number of years doing awful things to stay alive, worked for Republicans as a sniffer, and then later crawled up and out high enough to manage several large money making concerns before I regrew a conscience that fit at the back of my head like an orange sized tumor, I'm not all that identifiable.

That suits me fine, though I have no illusions about der guegler, the FBI or the Wisconsin state labor board being able to identify me with a warrantless request to dump my personal data into a policeman's save file, if they wanted to.

Polemic is easy, anyway. It's a good way to avoid earnest recommendations, optimism or other serious effort which gets you noticed. I almost never manage more than 100 page hits per day; I get to interact with people who, though mostly anonymous or pseudonymous, write replies which I respect, enjoy, debate or at least over which I get to have strong emotions and temporary amusement.

I also write polemic because it has a minor function, and I have no illusions about my talents, competencies or ability to do better, or worse. I used to write analysis for politicians, trend analyzers and loss prevention specialists. I was very, very good at it. I don't know what it actually feels like to have a "frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter" in one's mouth, but I imagine that it cannot be too dissimilar from finishing a long day pouring over printouts, doing trend analysis to identify, finally, on which shift an employee was most likely to have stolen a Snickers bar. And then firing the poor sod because, damn it, corporate numbers don't lie. Unless, of course, you spent the previous three months teaching an assistant ass kisser to do those trend analyses, on the advice of corporate, and she managed to turn that knowledge into a medium duration grift and graft which only cost six people their jobs, their health insurance, and for one of them, a weekend in county. Let me reiterate, now, what others elsewhere have already written: a store video camera's footage can be interpreted any number of ways. It's amazing what corporate loss prevention and the cops will see on the tape, once they've decided in advance who is the guilty party.

Polemic never leaves that imagined taste in my mouth.

A needlessly wordy introduction now out of the way, I've apparently written something serious, earnest and perhaps even useful in comments below, and have been asked by people I respect to make a post out it.

I'm vain enough to make a go of complying, so here gives -

Slim Charles asked:

"...So (and I'm sure you expected the question, so here it comes), what, in your opinion, should the unions have spent their money on if not the recall election?

In other words: what is a better use of their time and money if electoral politics is self-defeating?"

I unthinkingly replied:

"At the point of work:

1. Wage hikes.

2. Vacation time extensions.

3. Increased health care coverage.

4. Shorter working days.

5. Shorter working weeks.

6. Anything which forces a company to reduce contributions to its profit statement.

Outside of the work place:

1. Larger strike pay funds.

2. Comprehensive child care facilities.

3. Independent and semi-independent food supplies, so that striking workers and their families can eat without fear of starvation.

4. The construction of low rent or no-rent union residences, so that striking workers do not have to calculate the hit to their paychecks as a first step to eviction.

5. A better outreach to women and minorities, by ending "outreach" efforts and agitating for exactly what they want: equal pay.

6. A coherent message which can be simplified to this: It Should Be Easy For Everyone. This conservatarian/bootstrapper ethic which dominates our culture and society has got to be fucking attacked, and mercilessly. Hard work and poverty don't improve character. They break lives."

Well. There it is. Have at it. Or not.