"...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

Feb 24, 2011

The Future

One of the benefits of the American system, from the vantage of those who own it and those who run it for them, originates in the partial success of the once very red American labor movement - improved working conditions and increased personal accumulation offset and negated a larger awareness of class, class rule and class warfare; especially since conditions improved most for those who existed within the already capitalized urban enclaves, who belonged to the accepted cultural and racial majority, and who paid at least public fealty to unifying religious and national sentiment. That these benefits and improvements passed over rural, poor whites, immigrant and migrant laborers, poor women and black folk only served to reinforce the emerging national identity which followed upon the "successes" of the once radical and revolutionary labor movement. Having achieved membership in the so-called middle class, the (now friendly to) business unions abandoned not only their radicalism, but their amity towards the rest of the working class, accepting or negotiating for positions in society which excluded those elements of labor which did not belong to the national identity, and whose exclusion from it helped to define it.

The newly formed and largely illusory (that is, mostly a matter of symbols and identities) "middle class" no longer agitated for revolutionary goals because its members no longer lived with and within working class conditions. They, and their children, benefited from the gains of labor - but they no longer lived as labor, accepting instead a mostly fictional and officially taught national mythology of founding fatherhood, benevolent nation-making and universal brotherhood.

The laboring class which remained behind, defined by its exclusion from this new middle class, now consisted mostly of those also used as symbols of internal otherness: race, foreign birth, migrant and unskilled work, uncompensated female labor and poverty.

Since these people officially defined, and still mostly continue to define, the nation by virtue of not belonging to it, their continued exclusion from the organizations, state protections and associations of membership helped to shape and entrench the hostility of the new "middle class" to its social, economic, cultural and political inferiors, furthering removing its self-identifying members' capacity to understand living conditions as material, economic and socially formed.

Without a materialist and experienced understanding of labor conditions, the new middle class became, especially over the decades of rapid accumulation and expansion (1975 - 2000), a cultivated and sponsored ideological seed stock for reaction, embracing instead spiritualist, moralist, racial, identity and nationalist explanations for economic disparity and the shape of society.

Despite still possessing a class membership which labored to enrich the wealthy ruling class, as professionals, skilled workers and managers, the middle class lost all revolutionary potential, because its members no longer experienced life as oppression.

The partial gains of trade and business unionism created a new set of social conditions for the middle class - conditions which insulated them against the excesses of the system which they now helped to manage, conditions exported and directly absorbed by the socially excluded underclass of misbegotten and unapproved national and cultural identities, as well as by the foreign workers who labored for proxies of the American and European economic consensus which exists to extract and convert raw resources into material wealth.

Those foreign workers, and the still extant excluded underclass, have not lost their revolutionary potential. In fact, finding their conditions worse than ever, and with a growing awareness of their shared plight and numbers, they now provide the rest of the world, and all of international labor with not only the faces of revolution, but its new emotional and territorial home ground:

"I went to my workplace on Thursday of last week, and I found out that there were over 3,000 workers demanding their rights before they called a general strike in the construction site in Saudi Binladin Group. The workers were very angry. Their workplace is one of the largest construction projects in the country, which is worth SR.100 billion. 

However, they live in a terrible conditions. One of the workers told me, 'I live in a room four metres by three metres with eight people, and for every ten people there is only one toilet.' Another Egyptian worker told me about the working conditions and the restriction of religious freedom: 'They are Zionists, they don’t even allow me to pray on time!'

And another worker was speaking about the water at the site, which is infected and full of filth and insects: 'The managers wouldn’t even wash their hands with it, but for us we have to drink it because it is the only drinking water at the site.' The others talked about the delayed salaries and the unpaid overtime: 'Can you believe that some of the workers here are paid only 700 riyals a month, and I am paid 1,000 riyal. How would we survive?'

They couldn’t continue in the old way. They organised themselves and decided to do a demonstration at the site, to demand their rights immediately. It was the most interesting scene that I have witnessed in my life. When a group of coordinators and security guards tried to persuade them to go back to work the workers replied by smacking their hats on the walls and they shouted we demand 'food, money, accommodation – we need to be respected'. All the managers, for the first time since the start of the project four years ago, took the workers seriously. 

The police force couldn’t control the workers. When a police officer told the workers that they need to return to their accommodation and their issue will be solved later, the worker replied by throwing stones at him, and they managed to frighten all the police officers around him. The stones missed the police officer, but unfortunately it did not miss his car! It was the first time in my life I saw a police car smashed in Saudi Arabia.

When several coordinators, sent by the managers, tried to promise the workers change, I and several other socialists pushed for the occupation of the construction site, though that did not work. However, when one of coordinators said, 'We will give you a new accommodation with a football pitch,' one of the workers replied, 'How would we play football after 13 hours of work with an unpaid overtime?' Then the coordinators promised that every worker will be paid after five days. Someone replied, 'What would we do with today’s bread after five days, we need it now, we are sick of excuses, a billionaire cannot pay his workers today?'

In the end, the owner promised the workers that they will pay them on Saturday. The workers went back, and on Saturday they received an extra SR, 500 on top of their salary and the owners promised them that they will improve their accommodation and they will pay them 100 hours for their overtime each month. 

The workers started to organised with a sister company, which belong to the same owners to start a new wave of strikes in different parts of the construction site. Through this week, there were several strike actions in King Fahad Library and in a construction sites in King Saud University."

We have seen the future, friends, comrades and strangers. It doesn't look like us, anymore. But that doesn't mean we cannot or should not join it.

h/t pink scare

Feb 21, 2011

The Season

I want to mock this (from John Cole), but it was once a position I shared more closely:

"I do, however, want to state again, that I find the almost celebratory reactions by Americans on twitter to be odd. Not to be an old fart, but the fear of the unknown is just too much right now. While I’m all in favor of people being able to democratically choose their own future, I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us."

His initial point is not invalid. Fear of the unknown will drive "middle class" reactions to waves of protest, uprising and revolution - both domestic and foreign -  because those people who consciously identify as "middle class" are more often than not deeply conservative. I don't mean to imply that they don't self-identify as social democrats, liberals, labour or progressives. Many of them probably do. But, their self-positioning in the middle of a consciously admitted class structure, often after extended education in a professional or skilled career and with all of the accompanying socialization, speaks to an acceptance of an order of society which (a) has classes and (b) has them working to belong to the economically more independent managerial and middle tiers which nonetheless and ironically depend rather fundamentally on an entire class existing in relative and actual poverty beneath them, as a defining limit to their own comparative affluence.

In other words, they have an investment in the way of things.

The "Tea Party" reveals perhaps one manifestation of this reaction to systemic change, especially insomuch as the average Tea Partier possesses greater wealth than most Americans, and certainly than most people who have the misfortune to live elsewhere atop resources rich people want. That the Tea Party is xenophobic, border obsessed, anti-immigrant, and prone to grossly if unconsciously racialist characterizations of Black and Hispanic Americans should come as no surprise. That its members lionize strong political and religious women while backing the most aggressive legal and judicial attacks on the autonomy of women in at least a generation should also come as no real shock. The American middle class has a deliberate shape, one cultivated by tax law, religious propaganda, politicking, media, entertainment and rent/lending practices - and that shape is functionally Anglo-European*, familial and nativist.

I don't know as much about the BNP and its analogs in France and Germany, but a cursory reading of their place in their own contexts seems to mirror that of the Tea Party and other xenophobic and nativist groups stateside.

But, professional liberals depend also on the maintenance of this order in which we find ourselves, because they too identify consciously as members of the much lauded "middle class." As noted over the last several months, liberals will embrace an expansion of social tolerances with greater alacrity than their nativist counterparts, but that appears to provide the relative limit to their revolutionary and reformist potential.

Because a liberal is not a reformist or a revolutionary. He or she is in fact someone who accepts and/or believes in the validity of his or her class, and the place occupied in the scheme of things. Liberals may not have nativist tendencies, or at least as overtly so as their more consciously conservative counterparts - but they do identify with their own wealth, education, institutions and merit certificates in a way which marks them, to even a casual observer, as invested members of the capitalist project.

Like their nativist counterparts, liberals have begun to look for causes and symptoms of a social decay they can perceive, but cannot properly identify.** Unlike the nativists, they find their bête noire not in foreigners, blacks or non-familial women, exactly - but in the "corruption" of once trusted institutions. The liberal does not want to abolish those institutions; institutions which enforce class, which define property, which confirm their merit, which punish transgressors. The liberal wants to restore them.

Similar to the nativist who wants to restore a mythical golden age of national and religious purity, the liberal wants to restore mythical institutions of justice and merit.

And both projects, we should understand, reflect a conservative impulse so entrenched in membership within the capitalist "middle class," and in the encompassing and reinforcing identities of that class, that any perceived or existential threat to it will likely force a series of rubicon crossing events which place all members of the managerial middle class in opposition to the poor, the oppressed, the alien and the underclasses, whether or not both wider camps continue to fight each other for control of the emerging milice rump state which even now takes on a clear shape in the "anti-terror" apparatus which consumes more and more of the tax receipts of various Western governments; a leaner, more efficient state, stripped of its cumbersome welfare functions, to better serve transnational capital during the period of flux which will shatter norms and Westphalia over the next decades.

Cole, of course, does not necessarily outline or identify these factors. He doesn't need to. Instead he uses a rote, casual and I daresay even instinctive short-hand, when he writes:

"I’m also cognizant that a lot of these people might choose to go with leadership that will make life very difficult for the United States. Like I said before, free societies mean societies that are free to hate us."

John Cole, uniquely a good liberal and a recovering nativist, does not have to spell out his identities. His is no voice-over commentary. It's implicit, a part of the dialogue itself. For Cole - as with both the institutional liberals and the nativist reactionaries - the "United States" which is perhaps already threatened by revolution and unrest is also "us."

And he means it - as I think do most liberals and nativists  - when he says that he believes that unrest and social collapse threaten that conscious "us."

Because it does.

And we whose very existences threaten it should take note. And take notes. Because when push comes to shove, and it will come to shove, they are going to push back like fully invested, co-opted, threatened people. And they already live rather comfortably not only with the reality of prisons, endless wars and pacification - but with the ideas of them...

*  - the old, first Republic Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic ideal has of course been expanded as waves of Poles, Italians, Greeks, Irish, Jews and other Europeans have been incorporated into the urban (and later, suburban) body politic by law and industry - usually as a counterweight to blackness and actual black people, but also as a buffer against poor and rural whites. We should also note that the liberal sense of triumph over prejudice, paranoia and narrowness is in fact a confirmation of the basically exclusionary form of the middle class. Whereas the liberal identifies as a member of that class by seeking to return it to a largely fictional ideal of universal brotherhood and merit, the nativist more correctly identifies it as, well, native.

** - this is a willfully broad statement as I have neither the time nor inclination to write out the five or ten pages necessary to make this point in finer detail...

Feb 18, 2011


It takes a while to break the habits of obedience. It takes too many injuries, too soon together, in many cases too late. We have far greater tolerance for our overlords than history warrants. A sign of our decency, and of the realities and burdens we must already bear for the pleasure and benefit of those who rule us - who live off the theft of lives that is their industry and economy. It's hard enough getting the kids up and fed and clothed most days. It's hard enough being human when those who rule you are jackals. Which is, in all truth, unfair to actual jackals, when you think about it.

But, it sure is pretty when that line is crossed and people just stop taking it:

And it sure is telling that our protests always look like feast days and festivals:

Until they send in the cops.

(photos courtesy AOLHuffington, which is sure to get the angle on the story wrong, over the coming days, by making it about the execrable Democrats...)

Feb 16, 2011

Division below, unity above

"In the wake of last week’s announcement of the planned $2.9 billion merger of the Toronto and London Stock Exchanges comes confirmation the operators of the New York and Frankfurt Stock exchanges are joining forces to create the largest exchange operator in the world.

The latest deal was announced Tuesday and no name for the new company – which will have dual headquarters in both Manhattan and Frankfurt – has been floated yet.

Upon completion, the new company will also own exchanges in Paris and Amsterdam as well as other cities – all of which will continue to operate under their existing names.

The operator of the Frankfurt exchange, Deutsche Boerse, will control 60 per cent of the new company’s board of directors. At least one American politician is calling for NYSE to appear first in the new name.

The New York exchange dates back to 1792 -- an institution of capitalism that has lost some of its relevance in the digital age.



"Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind. The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere."

Feb 14, 2011

Caste Divisions

...typing while I slowly go blind, musing on the functions of spectacular media -

Wikileaks: splitting feminists from other leftists over rape, patriarchy and apologia. Further alienating civil libertarians from funding institutions and media friendly treatment.

Egypt: splitting marxists and revolutionary leftists over the proper roles of factions and parties in a foreign land in which most of them have never lived; cleaving leftists further from liberals on the outcome vis a vis the efficacy and standing of the Obama Administration and democratization.

Borders/immigration/outsourcing: separating members of the laboring class, according to arbitrary but powerfully symbolic definitions of national membership; dividing labor over the ownership of jobs which capitalists have to "give."

Austerity: dividing skilled and unskilled labor according to state and corporate issued merit certificates and membership in already crippled protective associations.

Drug war: dividing members of the same class, by the race and region, according to the unequal and oppressive enforcement of drug laws to curtail minorities with a history of agitation and organization; separating also sympathetic parties outside of urban areas from those within them; devastating also in rural communities which have lost single industry plant capacity, or exist near to now abandoned depleted resource sites, creating subcastes of permanently criminalized families and kinship groups.

Any others?

Class Interest

I would like to highlight something Mr. Kasper wrote in the comments of the preceding post. It strikes me as relevant, timely and far better written than I could offer:

"This is where the age-old bourgeouis project of cultivating a 'priesthood' comes into it. Industries, institutions, organizations set up with the intention of telling us rubes (and the powers that be) what the old boy 'really meant', splintered in to specialisms, niches and factions; preaching various degrees of 'purity'.

Since ancient times, priesthoods have always existed to mystify, and render safe, the already known. Millions around the world don't need any academy to interpret what Marx proscribed, and more importantly, what they know they need."

Abandoning the past sometimes allows you to see better the present...

An earlier version of this was posted as a reply at SMBIVA, but what the hell, I think it might merit a stand-alone, here.

So -

Perhaps it's just time to admit that while analysis and polemic which were written in 1848 and 1871 can still have some application to our times, they do not represent or embody them anymore than Lucretius' seminal work properly explains the modern popularization and lay embrace of the rudiments of atomic theory.

This looking back to look forward just sort of ignores what is new, now. It ignores the change it purports to explain.

As a reading of arabawy ought to demonstrate, not everything follows a Hegelian or post-Hegelian or dialectical development (h/t senecal). In fact, nothing does. The Dialectic is a bourgeois imposition upon events, not a revolutionary discovery of a law or process of nature. I know this a crude and unfavorable reading of a theory beloved of Lenin and Trotsky, but the conglomeration of muscles otherwise known as my heart do not contain their exact and equal opposite number, coming always in contention with the original, to later be synthesized as a new whole after a period of strife and struggle. If this ever actually occurs, the first moment I become aware of it will likely be my last, as it is undoubtedly a process which would kill me dead.

And if anything ought to come under the closest possible scrutiny, it's the broad connection between the Dialectic, as a means of explaining history and human choices, and the continued failure of the revolutionary left which embraces it; which Left is left almost always chasing actual events instead of making them (as is the case most recently made, in Egypt); and which is ever trying to push pin those events into a theory which it embraces like religious doctrine and which is as mystical and priestly as the Trismegistian Hermeticism from which Hegel originally - and openly - cribbed it.

It's time to dump the philosophical interpretations of the works of Hegel, Trotsky, Lenin, the Bolsheviks, the Frankfurters, the New Leftists, the Maoists - and the orthodox "Marxist" reading of Marx. Because they have never worked. They only serve the interests of bourgeois interlopers who imagine themselves as the indispensable vanguard to actual, historical revolutionary movements and groups which almost never even know these would-be vanguards exist.

These readings of history and the Dialectic are the correspondences and dispatches of a hundred and fifty year experiment in abject, complete and total failure. They do not accurately or scientifically describe the observable phenomena of our experience. They are priestly in their origin, and priestly in their utterance.

It's time to dump Hegel. To be done with a search for secret keys, overarching Meaning, the Spirit of Things and History, and special knowledge.

The work which faces us doesn't require a vanguard party. It does not need obedience to a doctrine, or the direction of professional revolutionaries who believe themselves armed with the secrets of an embodied and personified History, or the universe, or the mystical unfolding of dialectic processes.

That doesn't mean we should stop organizing.

It's just that we should probably not be - we leftists - so bourgeois, meritocratic, university educated and ruling class about it.

The working class, the colonized, the oppressed, the alienated and the poor don't need theories conjured up in academic discussions, in the coffee houses which line the well paved streets of upper class neighborhoods. They don't need special vocabularies and essays on superstructure, intersectionality and sociocultural meta-meta critique.

They need the bosses done with, the cops stripped of their weapons, the jailhouses broken and soldiers deprived of wars to fight for capital and Capitols.

If you  - if we - aren't willing to do that, it's time to admit what side you're actually on...
So much wrong with this:

Why You're Not Married

I'd rather do two weeks of ignored laundry.* Yep, that's what I'm going to do instead of going after yet one more piece of AOLHuffington wankery.

* - My wife rocks. I was an asshole yesterday. We had the day alone, and I blew it. My cousin is in from Saudi Arabia, and our kids were sledding with hers. Instead of any other possible combination of emotional states, I woke up grumpy and ornery. After she put me in my place we played some video game boxing. She knocked my 'toon out five or six times in a row.

I'm doing laundry today.

Feb 11, 2011


I agree with a lot that's written in this entry* (even if inspired by the high priestess of the creepily creepy Shakescult).

So, there's that.

But, this fucking doozy makes no fakegodsbedamned sense:

"Rape culture is treating straight sexuality as the norm."

Can someone please, please explain this to me? Because perhaps I use the word "norm" differently than is intended in that sentence, I'm missing what the author means. I'm really trying to understand, but I keep coming back to it and it just doesn't make kosher noises in my brain holes.

Straight sexuality is the norm. It's not only statistically more likely to occur, it's also normative. It's what most people engage in, for whatever personal, social and cultural reasons. And for a host of unreasons, because sex defies scientific rationality, at least at this point of our biological and social evolution.

Now, if the author is just trying to say that the assumption that heterosexual attraction is the only correct way to erotically align with another person or persons is a false one, that it rests on unquestioned premises, ancient religious doctrine, economic disparity, food scarcity and political machination - that makes sense.

Of course, the author doesn't write that at all. I do, because that's as close as I can read the line charitably.

The author explicitly links rape with the idea that most people assume that heterosexual attraction is normal.

And that's a leap without a net, as far as I can tell.

So, help would be appreciated.

* - as in, most of it...

Swiss Freeze Mubarak's Accounts

"Switzerland has frozen assets possibly belonging to Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down as president of Egypt Friday after 30 years of rule, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said.

'I can confirm that Switzerland has frozen possible assets of the former Egyptian president with immediate effect,' spokesman Lars Knuchel said, declining to specify how much money was involved."


According to the Financial Times, a new Swiss law allows these funds to be returned if unlawfully accrued.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

~ PB Shelley

Comedy Platinum

"...I'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity, jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight...."

You know who said these words, right? C'mon. You know. You don't want to believe it's true, because for chrissakes already, nobody can get it that wrong while mouthing words that gauche, right?

This dude cannot have that tin an ear, can he?


Of course he can. Of course he does.

Your fucking Nobel Laureate, friends, comrades and strangers:

Barack fucking Pendragon Obama.


absolutely vital h/t to drip, by way of comments over Ethan's way.

Added in edit: I'd put good money and bad on any wager, with a spread and an over/under, that the liberal institutionalists would have a collective seizure if Dubya or Weepy McBoehner had said what Imperial Barack just blathered. 

Alas, 'tis not to be. But, I'll take the odds on Yggles making it the center point of something stupid he writes over the next week...

Comedy Gold

Thank you, Navy, for spending a ridiculous amount of money to make me laugh. Your commitment to my comedy pleasure will not go unforgotten:

(I'll post the very latest one as soon as I can find an embeddable copy...)

Feb 10, 2011

Refueling the Entrenchment of Class

Per AOLHuffington:

"Reports that President Barack Obama's upcoming budget will propose steep cuts in the government's energy assistance fund for low-income Americans ricocheted quickly on Capitol Hill Wednesday, spurring some intraparty squabbling.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to Obama asking him not to drop funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by about $3 billion."

Forgetting for a moment that this so called "intraparty squabbling" amounts to naught but posturing (I mean, really...New England senators making useless noises about home heating oil subsidies? That's "squabbling"? Fuck you, Huffington Post. Get back to us when Shaheen or Kerry slap Obamulus across his smug pursed lips, and drawing some blood, take a real stand...),  Obama is doing what he is being paid to do. He's a man of his Reaganite word. Even before he took office, he promised budget "discipline," which to almost anyone but the Republican faithful, means budget cuts:

"...President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday emphasized his commitment to fiscal responsibility, promising that his team would strip the federal budget of all unnecessary spending to help offset large outlays expected for his planned stimulus package.

But Mr. Obama didn't provide many specifics, and he gave little sense of how he would tackle entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. Few experts believe the budget deficit can be brought under control without trimming spending on these programs."

Say what you want about the State and government, in general,* but fuel assistance, while obviously providing a captured subsidy to oil companies, makes a real difference for people who would otherwise run a considerable risk of freezing in the winter. It sucks to be cold in January, especially if the bulk of your income is already spent on food and the shitty roof over your head, before you ever cash your pitiful permission slip to shop at the company store.

Cutting fuel assistance, by a truly staggering five billion dollars, during one of the harshest winters in recent memory, says everything you need to know about Barack fucking Obama.

But, it's not really about Obama. He's an ass, a well paid ass indeed, but he is still nonetheless merely a piece on the board. He can order the death of innocents. He can start wars with relative impunity. He can send sky robots to murder children and count on the press reporting on his wife's dress size instead. But, he is not the root cause. He's a symptom. An agent of a world order, not the order itself.

And that order, to put it very simply, is capitalism. I don't have a Marxist, anarchist, syndicalist or New Left critique in me, right now. That's too many words, anyway.

Capitalism is an order. It's deliberate. I don't mean to say or imply that it's a conspiracy, a plot or a grand web of interlocking directorates. It's not. But, each and every one of the choices made by those who rule and those who benefit from that order are made with certain ends in mind. These are people who have goals, and they're relatively easy to understand - they want to be wealthy, they want to protect their wealth, and they want to be secure in it. Since wealth is both material and comparative, this means they have to have stuff and they have to stuff that other people don't have.

It's not wealth, in the capitalist sense of that term, unless most people cannot possess it. Capitalist wealth depends, fundamentally, on enforcement of scarcity.

I'm not writing anything particularly new or insightful, at this point. Others have surely said or written it better.

But, it needs to be repeated. Capitalist wealth does not exist without disparity, poverty and inequity. The modes of production, and the forms of power and enforcement, develop in this environment. They are created and recreated, continuously, to maintain capitalist disparity of income, distribution and control because the awareness of material conditions, and human interaction, which capitalism inculcates in those who embrace it, tolerate it, surrender to it and promote it depends on this systemic exclusion of the bulk of humanity. Capitalist wealth is only wealth if the majority of people do not have access to it. Capitalism is fundamentally inconceivable without enforced disparity.

So what Barack Obama is doing is what his service to the capitalist order requires of him. He is enforcing the disparity and redefining those mechanisms of control to suit the new special conditions which now emerge from the flux and chaos of a declining age.

Ours is a revolutionary interlude, perhaps even an interregnum - a rare moment when one order (Westphalia, late industrial capitalism) ends but another has not firmly taken root to replace it.

Returning to some earlier themes, I think there's a vital context which needs to be understood:

"Rich people (this means, people with concentrations of wealth and power) use available resources to keep what they have, and obtain more, or more kinds, of it.

Sure, they make deals outside of public scrutiny. That gets easier and easier, mind, as the perceptional topography know as "the public" dwindles. The more shit gets privatized, the more the
res privata grows, the less material, space and loyalty to find tied up with the res publica.

Powerful people build the organizational pathways which allow them to best meet this end. Call it access, or superstructure, or just country club living.

To those without power, this might look like a conspiracy, a world of backroom deals. But that perspective comes with a primary error (I believe), namely that the existential spaces in which the majority of us live (that dwindling public space, and our own tenuous private and familial existences) provide the main arena where political and powerful shit really happens. If we believe that power derives from our quotidian choices, it doesn't take much leaping clearance to assume, wrongly, that what rich and powerful people do behind our backs amounts to conspiracies, backroom deals, boiler room corruption and all the rest of the distracting movie narrative fare.

That dwindling public space, and our own parochial lives,
do not constitute the arena of power, no matter how many times the boss types try to placate us with tired slogans, such as "consent of the governed," "Main street," "will of the people" or "security of the homeland."

They do what they do, as a class, because they want to protect their wealth.

They pass and enforce laws defining property relations (with concomitant punishments for failure to obey), because doing so keeps them rich and powerful. They pass health care reform legislation, built on threats of force, because it keeps in place the mechanisms which transform our labor into their wealth and power. They send us to die in their wars because it puts nice toys in their yards and their kids into the best schools.

They don't need conspiracies and unwieldy epochal plans to do so.

By and large, they get away with it because we've got no effective choice in the matter. The consequences for insurrection (or even mere disobedience) range from heinous to fatal."

But, because their world order and their wealth is now dependent upon and entrenched within a productive system which exists to exploit a resource which has a significantly shortened shelf life,
they now have to make adjustments to the enforcement mechanisms of their power, or risk losing it all. Having crafted an Emergency model for crisis management as a response to earlier consolidations of power, and their aftershocks, we should understand, I believe, the order of the world - the conceptual map - which the wealthy comptrollers of history now inhabit:

"...An order, we should understand, that requires continuous Emergency - peripheralized insecurity which must of necessity threaten the comforts and complacencies of the well governed interiors. An order resembling everyday corporate structure, and its political analog, the garrison state. As long as threats, seemingly perpetual, emerge at this expanding periphery, the state offers a validation to the program of militarization which must appeal to the ruling, creative and managerial beneficiaries of its powers.

[The Invisible Committee ~ Jack] continue, further on, 'Crisis is a means of governing. In a world that seems to hold together only through the infinite management of its own collapse.'

This process, outlined in greater detail by Naomi Klein, in "The Shock Doctrine", and hinted at by John Perkins, in "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," depends upon a catalog of manufactured instabilities.

These destabilizations do not arise from unintended glitches within the firm and government based management of capitalist accumulation, but from the specific, necessary and ongoing transfer of national welfare state capacity towards police-military control.

As the primary resource fueling later order capitalism - oil - approaches its revaluation as a luxury commodity, the surviving managing states must look for a new approach to stability; it must look to what populations it will protect, and which ones it will exploit and control. If international currencies can no longer depend on trade in fungible petroleum for their exchange value, then one of the final necessities of the modern nation state, and the international system of loans, debt financing and trade agreement, no longer acts as a pervasive bond between it and subject populations, losing its ability to discipline the citizenry with monetary policy. Without this oil based international order, the ruling factions must re-conceive the disciplinary nation state, configuring it to protect the wealth and welfare of a smaller class of beneficiaries, while retaining the power to police externalized populations.

Oil will not remain a widespread commodity into the next generation. If disciplinary states cannot retain their hegemony over captive populations their usefulness as delimiting organizations ends, setting into motion a period of intense competition for contested resources, as newly unrestrained actors search for advantages
without enduring systems for conflict mediation. No longer assisted in conflict management by nation states, and the application of captured labor receipts to the military gelding of underdeveloped populations who happen to sit on resources, finance and extraction firms lose the capacity to shield their actions under the aegis of national interest and public security, exposing themselves as direct agents of alienation, violence and systematic oppression.

Exposing their operational logic to the immediate pressures of rebellious populations.

The modern nation state, understood in this light, remains vital as a buffer against direct opposition to exploitation, absorbing the violence, outrage and justified anger of laborers and the dwindling classes of petty small holders. For an American example, see the Tea Party. Or liberal political advocacy organizations.

But, for the nation state to serve this function, and with any degree of efficiency, it must shed either its excess populations, its welfare capacity or some of both. In the US, we have a very successful prison industry, as well as the marginalization of foreign and "illegal" workers, to provide a species of population shedding, since institutionally alienated populations (poor blacks, immigrant Asians and Latinos), subject to the control of prisons or deportation, do not immediately threaten the state's field of operation. They instead provide a justification for it, and for the increasing police-militarization of social life. In Israel, see Palestinians. In France, the residents
des banlieuses. In Germany, Turks and other immigrants.

Returning to a theme first announced above, the dismantling of the welfare state must either proceed at an increasing pace, so that the state can return to direct management of populations through isolation and violence, thus safeguarding the accumulated assets of the ruling class, or it risks collapsing before those same ruling classes can properly corral subject and captive populations into new zones of control, buffer and instability...

...The ruling class - represented in this age by corporations, military hierarchies, academia and managerial service institutions - has already cast its lot against the Commons as shared public space. It has begun the revaluation of the state, and therefore of social relations, towards the preservation of economic and social advantage in the face of oil contraction, resource scarcity and rising population. Towards this end, deconstructive crisis hastens the project of redefining the Commons as a policed military space, and away from three centuries of construction and agitation for the Commons as commonweal and social amelioration..."


"...The liberal capitalist state must consolidate its newly defined powers, shedding the excess weight of social amelioration outside of those zones which provide it with donor and subject populations.

It will cover this transformation with the veneer of reformism until such time as surplus populations no longer present a counter-weight of numbers, and as long as it can provide distractions.

The consolidation of the state power in the executive echoes the consolidation of economic mastery within liberated financial-banking-insurance combines. Liberated,
as in from the social restraints of the welfare state, which recognized the potential for revolutionary insurrection by ameliorating against it.

It will use these newly arrogated police powers, or it it will serve no use to the capitalist powers which provide it with its leadership, and who benefit most from the cover it provides.

And use those powers it will.

Because cops and soldiers need people at whom they can point their weapons."

Because this happens, now, at an accelerated pace, the taxpaying and subject populations of Western (and client) governments and states, especially in North America, have been faced with a steady and unrelenting onslaught of images and narratives reconstructing the meaning of borders. Here's why:

"...Let's elucidate the reason any state** or proto-state (see, for example, multinational corporations operating in the "third world") has borders. Borders delineate populations. Borders, when enforced, demonstrate (a) who controls the territory within them, and (b) whom they control.
Borders define captivity.

As such, all borders*** serve the purpose of warfare, since a border marks the boundary between competing powers
who have captive population groups upon which they can draw for labor, arms and fealty.

The division of persons into territorial, ethnic, religious and branded factions, by those who rule, allows the same ruling classes to isolate population groups by manipulable categories, categories which the state and other powers reinforce through compulsory education, religious indoctrination, language barriers, advertising and punishment.

Borders work, in short, because people believe them. The violence employed against border and boundary violators, the blood spilled or the lives imprisoned, serves a very specific purpose: the inculcation of identity through fear. Identity which, when accepted, marks the relevant parties as captives of the ruling power..."

Summing this all up - this redefinition of borders is not really new at all, and it is not merely territorial. These divisive delineations are in fact the same old ones which have riven human society for at least five thousand years - these are the enforced borders of class.

So that when Barack fucking Obama does what he's paid to do, and cuts five billion dollars from the heating assistance program, he is in fact doing it to (a) preserve the power of his class as the economic relations upon which they depend go into flux, to (b) reshape the enforcement mechanisms of the State by continuing the project of eliminating its ameliorative functions, and to (c) continue the capitalist project of defining wealth by defining who is and must be excluded from it.

Or something like that. I could be wrong. I'm probably wrong...

* - and I certainly, as a misbegotten anarchist, have my convictions on the subject in oppositional order...

**- "The 'state,' a fiction, serves as shorthand for "people organizing themselves in hierarchies, with armed staffers, with control over a large enough resource base to allow for the continued application of population controlling violence."

*** - "Borders overlap. Mafia organizations have territorial and ethnic rivalries contained within national borders, as well as operating in spaces controlled by competing corporations and other hierarchies."

Feb 9, 2011


The beauty of an unexpectedly long series of migraines - and I do not snark here - follows from the slow, painful reemergence into a world that has changed, however slightly.

I know this happens every day, from moment to moment; that it perhaps provides the single defining feature of our existence. But after passing through an ocean of nausea (new, for me) and vertigo which threatened to permanently reconfigure my sense of up and down, I managed to turn on the computer, and discover that all of the (now unsubtle and mechanical) blandishments of the Obama administration, on Egypt, have come to naught, even for many who connect to the revolutionary feast days only as spectators.

A real, live actual revolution has swept away the calculations of those who inhabit the pits of power. I know they still calculate, still plot some "redress" for this revolutionary grievance against them, against what they must now perceive not only as an affront to their idealization of human interaction, but to their authority.

I just doesn't matter. Come even the violent destruction of those who have turned uprising into revolution and festival, the people - the persons - who survive will remember.

No totalizing program - not even the Spectacular episodes of late capitalist coruscation, those flashes of performance and simulation which beg a conformity to a manufactured culture - has the penetration and depth of application to erase every single memory, in every single web of recollection, in each and every person in Tahrir Square.

Even at our Western distance from those events, at our remove from their more intimate memories of their own proud rebellion, where we who have too much distract too easily, there exists a not insubstantial number of us who can now believe in the possibility of our own revolutionary elan.

And that, friends, comrades and strangers, is worth more than we yet know...

UPDATE: Ken MacLeod yesterday wrote something very similar, with greater brevity, and more insight. I defer to his wisdom, and apologize for the unforeseen similarities:

"...In Tahrir Square last week thousands of people stood up to a counter-revolutionary mob and fought it back, yard by yard over a long day and night, with sticks and stones. In those few hours they proved in practice that the human being's conscious will can change history. They brought the human subject and human emancipation back into politics. Whatever the immediate outcome in Egypt, this consciousness will not go away. We can all go back to being human. That doesn't mean we will all love each other. It means we can fight each other for good reasons."

Feb 4, 2011

night silence desert, songs...

 From Night Silence Desert, Kayhan Kalhor and Mohammed Reza Shajarian -


Ey Ashegan:

Gall Inc.

So Chuck Todd, on MSNBC (1:05 pm, EST, 2/4/2011) just argued that only Obama and the US have "put pressure on" the Mubarak regime, and that they are working hard to bring European leaders into their camp, in the interests of the safety of the Egyptian people.

Whoa nelly.

The gall. It's impressive, for all that Chuck Todd now officially needs a visit from representatives of the Punch A Motherfucker in the Face Party...

missing the point

So, right at the start - I'm an atheist. I'm probably what you'd call a militant atheist. I don't buy into the whole "hard" and "soft" atheism thing, but I'm pretty sure that most of the "proofs" of God(s) merit the scare quotes. I don't even care if there is a God or a Gaggle of Gods. I'm not going to worship any of them. In all truth, I sometimes hope there is a God, just so I can tell him to piss off before I get shitcanned to Gehenna.

This does not keep me from appreciating the awesome genius of Hafiz of Shiraz, of Kabir, of Mirabai or the life and works of Thomas Merton, the Berrigan brothers, the Catholic Workers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the supremely wonderful charlatan, Alan Watts or a thousand and one Buddhists.

My atheism, and my opinions about the veracity of the so-called proofs of God, says absolutely nothing about the experiences, sincerity or intelligence of believers.

I don't worship or believe in Gods. These facts communicate exactly fuck all about anything, anywhere or when but my lack of worshipfulness.

That's a given.

What's not given, on the other hand, is this:

"...And yes, I realize most Christians will find that offensive, but it’s true. You may be highly intelligent and very well-educated, but if you believe in the Bible and think Jesus is your personal savior, it is almost certainly because you were surrounded with some kind of religious faith as a child. Those of us who enjoyed religion-free childhoods, on the other hand—and this includes Obama—don’t tend to fall down that particular rabbit hole..." 

The quote is from a feminist, so that out of the way first -

Feminists may in fact have properly identified patriarchy as a real problem.  They make a good case for it. I'm not really fond of the term, but I understand that many of them use "patriarchy" in the same way that I use "Spectacle," as a categorical descriptor, not as an actual entity. Feminism is a net benefit, in my unsolicited estimation - because its students and adherents tackle some shit that a whole bunch of dudes would rather not talk about, including but not limited to the feminist treatment of abortion, rape and marriage.

But, the above quote suffers from the same sneering snottiness that keeps other sorts of liberals, leftists and anti-fascists from making inroads into the commonholds of ordinary people. It's not only presumptive and insulting, it entirely misses the point:

Education has absolutely nothing to do with acting humanely or intelligently. Judging from the conduct of highly educated people - Albright, Clinton, Kissinger, Obama, Abrams, Kristol come to immediate mind - it may in fact correlate with depravity, for all we know. Neither does education guarantee some sort of assumed immunity from the culturally pervasive themes of the majority faiths of a society. Likewise, having a non-religious upbringing does not create a super-magic invisible barrier against interaction with the countless people who do believe religious stories, do take comfort in religious faith, and do act with intelligence, wit and humanity on a regular basis.

As an example, neither my wife nor I is religious. In fact, she's never been religious, and I was once a  wandering, wild haired, Anabaptist sort of street preacher before a series of events, study and personal crises led me to a resilient and deeply satisfying rejection of all consolation and salvation.

My children have had no religious indoctrination. We don't celebrate Christmas, the High Holidays, the Circle of the Year, Easter, Kwanzaa, Eid or any religious feast.

And yet, they know about and can identify Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddha, various trickster gods, Satan ,and because I have a fondness for the Shiva Nataraja figurines, Shiva God of Death. I let them watch Family Guy (yeah, yeah yeah), the Simpsons and Spongebob (delightfully perverse, that show) and those productions are ripe with religious and quasi-religious references. Most of their classmates are either Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim. Most of their relatives are at least nominally religious.

It would not be surprising if one or both of them flirted with, or embraced, some sort of religion over the course of their (hopefully long and healthy) lives. Because most people do.

Believing religious stories means only that religious stories are believed.

And until feminists, leftists, radicals, revolutionaries and the rest of us inhabiting these social margins figure that shit out, we're going to continue to miss the point...

Feb 3, 2011

They have no other cards to play, but they don't know how to fold.

MSNBC, 11:30 AM, 2/3/11, with Dan Senor (Bush apparatchik) and Marc Ginsburg (Zionist stooge): Egypt is really all about Israel. Protect Israel. Structure elections so that the Hamas like opponents of Israel don't come to power. Israel. Israel. Israel.

twenty thousand in Yemen

"Tens of thousands of Yemenis squared off in street protests for and against the government on Thursday during an opposition-led "Day of Rage," a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered to step down in 2013.
Anti-government activists drew more than 20,000 in Sanaa, the biggest crowd since a wave of protests hit the Arabian Peninsula state two weeks ago, inspired by demonstrations that toppled Tunisia's ruler and threaten Egypt's president."


dear know-nothing nativists

Fox News is shit. When Sean Hannity spends his slot trying to convince you to fear the Muslim Brotherhood as some sort of incipient Islamic force poised to control all of the land of the Nile, it's because a change in Egypt - almost any change not managed by the US - is bad for the Permanent Aircraft Carrier At The End of the Mediterranean,* which is in itself bad for American Hegemony.

And that's what FOX and Sean Hannity serve. American Hegemony. Because it's good for business.

Grow up already, you fucking fucks.

* - Eretz Yisroel...

Feb 2, 2011

dear good liberals

Barack Obama is your fucking enemy. I know, I know. You haven't figured that after two years of his loyal service to banks, the defense industry, the Joint Chiefs, the insurance rackets, the drug cartels, the criminalized drug cartels, the giant media zaibatsu and the ruling class.

But, c'mon already.

He gives a clear signal to Mubarak that a crack down against the popular revolution is not US business...and a day later, Mubarak unleashes violent repressions.

Get it, yet?

The word they refuse to use...

MSNBC analyst Michael Singh, like dozens of others over the last week, just referred to what's occurring in Egypt as a "protest movement," during a discussion with the talking head about the tide turning against the Egyptian people.

It's not a protest movement.

It's a revolution.

What's happening against it is not an "orderly transition" or an "attempt to bring stability" to Egypt and the region. These are not "Mubarak supporters" counter-protesting in support of the puppet regime. They're cops, out of uniform. Vile, paid thugs of the colonial garrison state's best ally in the region.

It's a counter revolution.

Feb 1, 2011

Their Need, Our Obligation

Was going to write something about growing up influenced by a Palestinian ex-pat who gave me my first job, when I was twelve or thirteen, and paid me very well to do it.

How that shaped my view of Palestine and the Arab world, despite the twin marks of a disavowed Jewishness and maximalist Catholicism against me.

It's all quite irrelevant right now.

Richard and As'ad have outlined the beginnings of counter-revolution in Egypt, spelling trouble not only for the people of Egypt, but for the millions of others already under the US-NATO-WoT thumb, or in their sights.

As I wrote earlier, we have the ability and the obligation to make that task difficult for the Empire, by disrupting government and war machine operation in our various Western natsec-state homelands.

I mean that without euphemism.*

We don't have to pull punches, anymore. There are enough of us to coordinate regional actions.


*  - so yeah, if I've attracted the attention of a lurking federale, I mean peaceful street protests and anything fucking it else it takes to make your job harder, you fucking fuck...
People who aren't in the government but who say "we" or "our" when talking about the government illustrate plainly the colonization of the mind which is the first order of any successful regime or power.*

* - explaining my impression of pundits, after watching two or so hours of MSNBC, CNN and FOX...

Two Million

Two million persons converging on or around Liberation Square, in Cairo, alone.

I am Jack's complete awe and admiration.