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

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

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

Mar 19, 2013

By Way of Reply

Competition is an ideology. It is an assertion of the primacy of a single perspective, in a cosmos which permits neither primacy, nor single perspectives. "Competition for survival" is an ideological, almost spiritualized, overlay upon observed phenomena. Ants do not compete to win their niche. They do not have a war plan, a game plan, or victory as an intended outcome. They do ant-ish things, and sometimes this works out for colonies of them.

Competition is itself a moral claim about an amoral world, but it lacks any of the grace or efficacy of other moral claims, like cooperation, mutual aid, nihilism or apathy, because competition asserts as its fundamental and only claim that those who win are better for having done so.

"Better how?" is rarely answered, because to do so is to lay bare what competition really proposes, as a way of life: "I have defeated you, and now I will not only eat your life, I will memorialize this act of cannibalism as history, religion, culture and law."

Competition, as a moral claim, assumes that cannibalizing the lives of others is not only good, it's an improvement over all other ways of thinking or being human.

Mar 12, 2013


Why can't we have a society where the sick, the depressed, the lonely, the broken are sheltered? Why is this anathema? Why are we actively thwarted in establishing a polity, a Commons, where a a person who is clinically depressed receives care as a priority? Why must society be arranged so that the cruel, the hard and the domineering receive all the social benefit, where people who can use others and dispose of them have all of the machinery of state and culture and advancement at their disposal, but where a child who cannot explain her sadness is just supposed to shut up and get tough in order to prove her moral worth?

Why is that men who rape and abuse are routinely forgiven their transgressions, in a set of networks organized to isolate their pasts as off-limits to their present, but a woman who "experiments" once is a whore now, was a whore then, and always ever after will be a whore?

How is it that a relatively small cabal of people who treat others as mere tools can order up and maintain vast armies, exploitative systems, niche polluting power systems, alienating transportation grids and whole continents as rent extraction regimes, but basic survival for the rest of us is a drain on the system?

Is this natural, inevitable, the consequence of merely being human, or is it in fact a history imposed from above, enforced with violence and privation, and therefore subject to alteration?


Mar 10, 2013


Please read Devin Lenda's donkey pyramid scheme. It reminds me, again, why I walked away from Omelas.

Mar 9, 2013

And to be clear...

...we are already extinct. We just don't know it yet.

Anatomy and Dissection

So, a couple of conservative acquaintences are gloating and bleating to me, already, about how Hugo Chavez was a liar and thief and how socialism is all about stealing money from the poor and hard working so that jumped up peasants can live like kings. Yeah, I know. There's bunches of cross pollinated bullshit and bad logic in that.

In questioning one of them, I was trying to understand where this notion of Chavez stealing money from Venezuela was coming from.

I didn't take long to find out:
The  Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), which defines itself as a risk assessment and global analysis firm in Miami, claims that Chavez left about $2 billion dollars to his family. They allege he gave $5 billion to the Castro brothers each year in oil profits, from companies he stole. They also concluded that since 1999, he and his friends in the Bolivian gangs have stolen $100 million in oil profits.
The conservative echo chamber is a twitter with the news. Problem is, as with most conservative "facts," it appears to be the fabrication of a single man, one Jerry Brewer (he who is CJIA, pretty much all by himself), who didn't even say that Chavez stole the money. He said he believes that Chavez probably stole as much money as he believes the Castro brothers have "stolen" from Cuba, which guesses would be around $2 billion dollars.

I suppose it's just fairly predictable that conservatives can't conceive of socialism except as theft from the "real people" who really deserve all the world's wealth because they have the right morality, phenotypes and gods. I suppose there's also no use wagering against the likelihood that conservatives will reduce world figures into Bad and Good. Manicheans just think that way.

But, you know what I find really insidious about the treatment given to Chavez's legacy?


As a politician, Hugo Chavez was a force of nature, as strangely masterful as he was polarizing. But as an economic steward, the socialist firebrand was something sadder and far more ordinary: "an awful manager," as author Rory Carroll succinctly put it in the New York Times today, who squandered a world of opportunity after he took over Venezuela's presidency in 1999.
Which sets up this conclusion:
But judging Chavez's record on poverty in isolation would be a mistake. Brazil, Peru, and Colombia also made significant progress on measures such as poverty and child death under more traditionally capitalist economies. Latin America, on the whole, was growing. It would have been hard for it not too: It's a resource rich continent that's reached relative political stability at a time when the world is desperate for oil, food, timber, and minerals. It was a bit like being dealt a pair of queens in Texas Hold 'em -- a very good hand, which  Chavez didn't play particularly well..

... Chavez isn't leaving Venezuela's as a full on economic basket case (we're not talking about Zimbabwe circa 2001, here). But rather than helping the poor by setting his country on a path towards long-term prosperity, he attempted to resurrect a long-discredited version of state driven economics that's led to the deterioration of the country's most important industry and wreaked havoc with its consumer market. It's hard to imagine who in the long run will benefit from that legacy. 
Conservatives may conjure up stupid phantasmagorias, sure. They do it all the time. That's what you get when you trap people in god-driven moralities and bourgeois sentiment, spending a quarter of their lives immersed in bootstrapper mythology and the seemingly concrete belief that one's victories are a reward for one's own, individual effort.

But, what explains the market technocrat, eh? What explains the merit liberal, who cannot conceive of the use of a resource for anything but growth?

Something far, far worse, I imagine. A triumphalism which makes the conservative variety look like an evening with Mr. Rogers.

Mar 5, 2013


I pity the fate of Venezuela.