evolution of "capitalism"; I am in love with Arundhati Roy but she won't have anything to do with a slob like me

nimblecivet's picture

Arundhati Roy in "Capitalism, A Ghost Story" wrote:

...

The Dholera SIR is only one of the smaller Matryoshka dolls, one of the inner ones in the dystopia that is being planned. It will be connected to the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), a 1500 km long and 300 km wide industrial corridor, with nine Mega-industrial zones, a high speed freight line, three sea-ports, and six air ports; a six-lane intersection-free expressway and a 4000 MW power plant. The DMIC is a collaborative venture between the Governments of India and Japan, and their respective corporate partners, and has been proposed by the McKinsey Global Institute.

The DMIC web site says that approximately 180 million people will be “affected” by the project. Exactly how, it doesn’t say. It envisages the building of several new cities and estimates that the population in the region will grow from the current 231 million to 314 million by 2019. That’s in seven years’ time. When was the last time a State, despot or dictator carried out a population transfer of millions of people? Can it possibly be a peaceful process?

...

A deconstructive synthesis of the terms "public" and "private" has occured through the permutation or perhaps transmutation of "capitalism" over time. The terms "public" and "private" have been synthesized under the term "private", transformed from abstract principles which denoted seperate spheres of application in reference and action to a single rubric of capitalist political ideology. The above quote demonstrates the completion of capitalism as a political philosophy, in the process of subsuming all aspects of public life into the private domain of capital and in this process negating the applicability of the term "private" to the individual. The privacy of the individual no longer exists as a quantity within the public sphere, as the expression of individual volition within the political-economic social sphere. The private nature of capital itself becomes a public project, and it is in this sense that "capitalism" is - and perhaps has always been - a thoroughly political concept.

In the "country" called the "United States of America", the transformation of capitalism has progressed through roughly three stages of ideological rhetorical corrolaries. First, capitalism was seen as the economic system most suited to the US form of democratic society. Next, it was seen as the natural, necessary form of economic political life which defines democracy itself. Now, as Roy shows, it has negated the concept of the political except as a reference to the total synthesis of political economy as the sole discursive mode of contemporary modernity.

Roy's piece articulates the intersections of cultural and political discourse through the concept of "human rights" against the backdrop of a burgeoning police state which criminalizes all forms of dissent from the dominant order. Corporations cultivate this discussion and attenuate the expression of opinion, including protest, to the projects of the state. Roy describes the cultural projects of corporations, such as literary festivals and the commissioning of works of art, and laments the lack of oppossition to these countries practices. "This is only the burlesque end of the Exquisite Art." She continues her piece laying bare the history of philanthropy, the role of non-governmental organizations, and the facade of "pluralism" in promoting neoliberalism and privatisation (and thus corruption). Roy sounds an almost obligatory optimistic note that the Occupy movement can re-infuse society with a genuine progressive movement which addresses the plight of farmers dispossesed of their land by mining companies and the perennial hardships of the "untouchables".

During the late part of the nineteenth century through the years of the Depression and up until the end of WWII, there were major debates over the nature of political struggle and the desireability of different economic systems. It was during this period that the plutocratic class began propogandizing in favor of capitalism. The agrarian tradition influenced the outcome in favor of private property, and the constitutional guarantees of such mitigated in favor of an economic system which recognized existing inequalities of wealth as legitimate. Industrialism could benefit all classes, though capitalists lobbied hard against any variety of socialism including democratic socialism. The "Bolshevik threat" was largely concentrated among the urban workers, unlike elsewhere such as in Italy where it had roots among the peasant class which worked on the large estates (in South America "latifundia").  Democracy could still effect major reforms and regulations but capitalism was seen as desireable to communes or central planning, the other major concepts rooted in the theories of socialism and communism. Many on the left today intuitively grasp at similar models of social and economic organization by adopting the theme of "localism", but the theoretical underpinnings which could be used to effect a transformation to such a mode of political economy have been gradually and deliberately stripped out of the national discourse over the last several decades. 

After the Second World War, the rubric of neoliberalism and neoconservatism began to take shape as US foreign policy adopted neofascist, imperialist global designs. The success of the CIA in infiltrating and coopting trade unions while the State Department worked in tandem with philanthropic organizations helped guarantee that there would be no effective opposition to the power of the elites. Democracy gradually became synonomous with capitalism as the role of politics became defined through the media as the participation of the masses in the dismantling of the state. The material wealth of the neoliberal years of the 1990's within the US, while "free-trade" devastated the rest of the world, convinced the US voters to reject the themes of compassion put forth by the "new liberals" and those such as Kennedy, Kucinich, Jesse Jackson in favor of competition. Competition itself became redifined as the individual attempt to situate him or herself in relationship to ever more powerful corporations in as advantageous a position as possible. All forms of power were ceded to these corporations during this period which followed that of acquisitions and mergers which created the transnational super-corporations we know today. The doublethink of portraying corporations as virtuous and benevolent actors in an arena of amoral, vicious competition allayed any fears raised by those who protested their emergence as a global government, for example at the meeting of the WTO in Seattle. The success of protesters in Seattle was a direct result of the fact that the corporatocracy did not expect serious resistance from the masses.

They would not make that mistake again. Shortly thereafter, the WTO having been forced to meet in Dubai, a stolen election and the events of September 11, 2001 resulted in the imposition of a police state and the military invasion of the Middle East. It is likely that radical terrorists falsely believed that they could carry out the attacks themselves, but that these attacks were aided and abbetted by elements within our government and society. But that's just one theory. The point here is that terms such as "free trade" have actually replaced "democracy" in the national discourse. When the term "democracy" is used, it is only in the sense of being thought to be synonomous with "libertarianism".

The planning described in the quote at the head of this post exemplifies this stage. Central planning has become a perogative of the capitalist state. The industrial components of development and the elements of transportation are facilitated through the higher levels of the state. The impacts Roy referrs to are handled by the lower levels. This stage will culminate in the elimination of the institutions of the state as privatization completes its course and adopts the tasks of security and licensure.

Comments

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
I read this post with great

I read this post with great interest, Nimblecivet. It combines really well with my most recent post, "Is Democratic Capitalism Possible?" I think your post gives an excellent overview of the evolution of the capitalist state, although at the end, I was wondering about democratically planned infrastructure development by federal government such as has occured in the past in many nations including the U.S., and which Obama seems to be proposing. This still can and does happen, it seems to me. How do you distinguish that from private "central planning?"

I also wonder about the equating of libertarianism with democracy. I have never made that connection, and I doubt that most people have.

I know that the WTO and other organizations representing the financial elite have been trying to orchestrate political events. I don't know how successful they have been or will be, but I agree that we may have them to blame for debacles such as the George W. Bush Presidency.

I think the United States' history and special circumstances, as you aptly describe, has directed the evolution of capitalism here, and the conflation of capitalism with "democracy" (albeit compromised by capitalism) and with the privatization of government.

One other thing: Why do you say that Arundhati Roy wouldn't have anything to do with a slob like you? Is she from India? I think she would like you if she knew you.

Alberto Ceras
I wish that there were good

I wish that there were good reason to share her optimism about the Occupy Movement.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Well, Alberto, according to

Well, Alberto, according to Strauss and Howe's "Fourth Turning," it is time for another revolution to begin, and I don't see why the Occupy Movement shouldn't be the beginning of it. That gives me at least some cause for optimism.

express
express's picture
Not much hope, I'm afraid.

Not much hope, I'm afraid.

Alberto Ceras
As in the cliche, "there's

As in the cliche, "there's many a slip" between should and could. From the beginning I lamented that OWS had no charismatic leader and that its objectives were too scattered, they're all over the place. That hasn't changed. The problems are national, the objectives ought to be national and the solutions must be national if the movement is to succeed. As it is I'm afraid it's just going to "whimper" out.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Thanks for your comments

Thanks for your comments everybody.

NL I think we have been on much the same page so its no surprise that there's a consistency between the ideas you present in your last post and the ones here. I have not made much headway with the idea of democratic capitalism but I did share a news story somewhere on this site about how the provisionn of the Dodd-Frank Bill that allowed minority shareholders greater say was shot down by the WA District Court of Appeals. Anyway, I've been meaning to get over to Korten's site to see what is said on that subject over there if anything.

One question revolves around the definition of "wealth." If the 99% can effectively use the proportion of wealth that is in their hands as capital, it would have a devaluing effect on the forms of wealth held by the 1%. For example, stock options. If I understand correctly, stock options are only for the purpose of raising capital during the initial offering. Thereafter, their value reflects market share, but also projected profits of the company given the amount of debt it has taken on. Without further bailouts, a succesful bid by co-ops and other forms of democratically controlled and/or collectively owned could decrease the market share of the mega-corporations. The resultant increase in value of these people's enterprises would be a form of taking back our wealth without "redistribution of wealth" in the sense of seizure of private property. Although the bankruptcy process corporations and banks have avoided through the bailouts would afford the opportunity to restructure them perhaps.

Well, it was sort of a little joke the way I titled my post. I took my cue from Slavoj Zizek who always appears, on TV or otherwise, in a sweaty t-shirt and mussed up hair, unshaven. Its sort of a protest against the clean cut appearance standard/fashion preoccupation put forth in the mainstream media.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Ceras- How about having a

Ceras- How about having a different leader every day to spread the risk of assassination out evenly?

Alberto Ceras
Good luck on finding that

Good luck on finding that many worthy, charismatic leaders capable of uniting and inspiring all the diverse groups. So far there are exactly zero.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
I am not worried about the

I am not worried about the lack of leaders so far in the Occupy Movement. I would be more worried if the whole thing were oriented around one "charismatic leader." That would seem like a cult of personality. As far as predicting the future of the Occupy Movement or other movements in the coming years, I don't think any of us can say with any certainty, except that change is inevitable.

I am still trying to comprehend your stock option scenario, Nimblecivet. I think I get it now. If people pool their money and buy enough stocks to have the controlling interest in a corporation, the money, and the decision making power, will go to the people's group -- something like that. This seems like a really good idea, if enough people can get together and cooperate in this way. On the other hand, I have proposed abolishing the stock market, although I know we are definitely not there yet as a society.

That sucks about the provision to the Dodd-Frank bill being shot down, but yes, we are thinking along the same lines so that can be seen in our posts. The timing of your post shortly after mine was what was so surprising to me given their similaritites. I didn't see you post this on Facebook. I think Ria and maybe some other people would be interested in this one.

I hadn't heard of this Zizek fellow before. I wonder if he is Hungarian like our friend Ria. By the way, Hungary has a long tradition of populist movements, according to Ria.

Alberto Ceras
Yes, India would no doubt

Yes, India would no doubt have been better off without the charismatic Gandhi. And of course the civil rights movement might well have dispensed with Martin Luther King. And what happened to France's leaderless revolution? After the leaderless, riotous, bloody rampage It finally got a leader with a vengeance - Bonaparte.

Bush_Wacker
Bush_Wacker's picture
Bump

Bump

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Natural Lefty wrote: I am

Natural Lefty wrote:

I am still trying to comprehend your stock option scenario, Nimblecivet. I think I get it now. If people pool their money and buy enough stocks to have the controlling interest in a corporation, the money, and the decision making power, will go to the people's group -- something like that. This seems like a really good idea, if enough people can get together and cooperate in this way. On the other hand, I have proposed abolishing the stock market, although I know we are definitely not there yet as a society.

Actually, I was attempting to elucidate an alternate scenario. Here's the problem: the value of the money the 99% controlls is not sufficient to counter the fact that the 1% controlls 90% of the wealth. So, taking control of the wealth means taking control of material assets rather than "wealth" in the form of stock options in the current situation. We can't raise enough money to buy controlling stock in Coca Cola. Instead, what we do is form soda companies that put Coca Cola out of business. We can't buy the assets Coca Cola owns, but we can collectively purchase or utilize and manage assets which we use to compte with Coca Cola. This is not as easy and straightforward as it sounds, of course, since buying a factory means purchasing it at the propertly values set by the market. Instead, a collaborative strategy of marketing, production, and distribution would have to be pursued along with a political movement that addressed the need for licensure and zoning adjustments to deal with legal issues arising from this strategy.

To relate this to the discussion about currency, remember that only part of the "dollars" represented by various assets controlled by the 1% are actually in circulation. The "greenback" theory associated with the arguments of those that wish to reassert control over the production (printing; "minting") of money ("coin") can be adapted to the scenario I am proposing because the other forms of money (figures recorded in computers, eg the "dollar value" of a hedge fund) are there to represent the relationship of the owners of wealth to the consumers. The amount of money kept in circulation is roughly that which is necessary for the day to day functioning of the market despite the crisis over its value engendered by the constant piling on of debt by private interests.

In my view, the great swindle is that if you take away all these assets which represent the profits generated by the manipulation of credit (debt) you eliminate the "crisis" which is imposed upon the consumer when inflated prices are used to pressure the government to adopt austerity measures and bailout schemes. The question then becomes "Who owns it?" Well, ultimately, if a business goes bankrupt or a mortgage is foreclosed then the bank owns it. However, because the bank itself is involved in these debt schemes, the government is on the hook for insuring deposits. So the question becomes how much of the assets of the 1% are insurable and will the government be liable for after a fair bankruptcy proceeding. After that question is resolved, assuming that the claims of these assets in the form of debt can ever be traced back to their original source, the government is in a unique position (as far as I know of) to auction off these actual assets.

Even if, say, a particular hedge fund cannot be analyzed to trace back the roots of its credit offerings to particular mortgages and loans which have been bundled and tranched multiple times before being included in the portfolio of the hedge fund, a bankruptcy proceeding against a bank which has not received deposits due to the competition I described above would not imply any liability on the part of a given mortgager. Both those facing foreclosure and others would be able to write down their loans as a result of such bankruptcy proceedings.

When banks can no longer make short term capital loans, the government can step in to prevent bankruptcy of businesses who have managed their books properly. Even if these businesses feel the heat of competition as a result of market collectivization, their debt can be reduced correspondingly to the real value of their assets.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Natural Lefty wrote: I was

Natural Lefty wrote:

I was wondering about democratically planned infrastructure development by federal government such as has occured in the past in many nations including the U.S., and which Obama seems to be proposing. This still can and does happen, it seems to me. How do you distinguish that from private "central planning?"

I also wonder about the equating of libertarianism with democracy. I have never made that connection, and I doubt that most people have.

Definately, infrastructure spending is a good thing. I agree with most commentators on the left that the stimulus packages were a success and were not big enough. I also remember that Obama actually launched a website where people were supposed to be able to see where the money was going. Of course, most people cannot actually dedicate anywhere near enough time to meaningfully participate in the process overall. However, I think people can support unions. Unions are increasingly reaching out to the general public for support for their campaigns. I would argue though that while unions fight for a bigger slice of the pie, they have not been central to the fight to reform Wall St. Unions often embrace so-called "cookie-cutter" contracts which make it easier for them to operate on a mass scale as large institutions. These institutions don't necessarilly challenge the system as it is on a fundamental level. I think good jobs for all and relief for the working class from debt should be and probably needs to be focused on decentralized, local economies.

I haven't watched TV for a while. Mostly the libertarian philosophy is peddled there but the term "libertarian" is not used. I think the think-tanks and so forth want to peddle the philosophy but they also want people to think of the Republican party first and the Democratic party second before resorting to the libertarian party. This is a way of manipulating opinion to make libertarian ideas mainstream.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Alberto, we've had this

Alberto, we've had this debate before. I'm not opposed to the idea of a leader, I just think the movement should not depend on it.

As far as Occupy goes, there's a seperate General Assembly for each town and at this point even the Occupies in each city have become fragmented so its hard to see at this stage at least how your proposal could be made.

Zenzoe
Every day I learn something

Every day I learn something new from my fellow bloggers on this forum. And, practically every time Nimblecivet adds another comment or post, I learn something new about him as well. This time, the sheer breadth of his knowledge, combined with the perfect coherence of his writing, astonishes me to no end, especially when I compare it to my first introduction to him via my Gaga post, where he treated me to some rather annoying bits of obfuscation. Really, I can't help chuckling here. The boy is such a puzzlement—and why shouldn't he send Ms. Roy his writings?  I'm sure, especially given that he is so handsome to boot, she would topple head over heels for him.  Wouldn't they make a lovely pair? ;-)

Well, sorry, but I don't know enough about this subject to add anything of substance to this thread. All I know is it's time to keep reading, keep learning, and be grateful to be here among you all. And that is not to take the traditional female role of cheerleader—I just happen, as a person, not to be up to speed on this particular subject!  Clearly!

 

Alberto Ceras
nimblecivet, I made no

nimblecivet, I made no proposal. I stated, not perhaps in these exact words, what seems obvious to me, that the Occupy movement is unlikely to succeed without a coherent, focused plan and a charismatic leader. Egypt provides a stark example of what can happen when a movement, even one where lives are sacrificed, has neither.

The following is no proposal but another observation, an opinion. Most, maybe all, of the world's current financial and economic woes can be credited to globalization, particularly to the proliferation of free trade agreements. There's a movement currently taking shape for a return to protectionism, a movement that is long overdue and ought to be welcomed by "commoners." You can be sure that this incipient movement will be fought tooth and nail by Wall Street and its apostles.

A nation ought to accept as a fundamental obligation the defense of its resources, its workers and its manufactures. I admire the recent act of Argentina's brave, intelligent president, Cristina Fernandez.

People in the U.S. weep and wail about outsourcing, unemployment, decline in standard of living and the threatened middle class. Well they should. Meanwhile they drive their imported vehicles over to SAMS or WalMart in order to buy products made in someone else's back yard.

There needs to be a revolution, true. But first there needs an awakening.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Hello Alberto. To make myself

Hello Alberto. To make myself clear, I do think that there will come a time when it is important for the Occupy Movement to have a leader, or leaders, but I don't think that time is here yet. I don't think a movement should depend on having a leader, either. That makes it a cult of personality, essentially. It seems to me that movements don't need leaders in the beginning, but they need to elect or evolve some sort of leader in the end in order to formulate and enact policy -- not that I am an expert on this topic, but that is my impression.

By the way, I haven't detected any particular leader of the global financial hegemony movement against which we are fighting, either.

Zenzoe, you are being so gracious here. I think you can see the conceptual connection between this post by Nimblecivet and my most recent post. I think we are seeing the evolution of Nimblecivet here, when we compare him now to when he first started posting on this site.

By the way, I think I figured out the "bump" comment by Bush-Whacker. I think this is a way of bumping up the good threads to the top of the community homepage.

Thanks for the further explanation, Nimblecivet. I was thinking the same thing about the purchasing power of the 99%. We have enough money to buy out a few things from the 1%ers, but not that many. The better strategy in the long run would probably be to create and support products which replace the established ones which the 1%ers use to gain their riches, but do it in such a way that everybody (or at least a large portion of the population) shares in the wealth.

When it comes to playing with money, the 1%ers have the system rigged, something which cannot be fixed until systemic changes are implemented. Using our vote and our power to create and purchase products is a better strategy than trying to beat the 1%ers at the game they have created. I agree that bailouts for the rich, and "austerity measures" due to manufactured government debt, are the ultimate insult to the people as well as rip-off.

Rather than engaging in austerity measures, we should be investing in infrastructure which will more than pay for itself in the long run (as Obama is doing but not as much as would be optimal), and divesting from the collossal waste of prolific military spending. Of course, the typical Republican would rather do the exact opposite, which is a huge part of our problems in the first place. Romney as much as said yesterday that he favors military spending over social programs. Lord help us if he manages to buy or swindle his way into the Presidency. Fortunately, I don't get the impression that Romney is a cheater, at least.

My view of democracy is more one of people getting together to discuss and agree upon law and policies using voting and consensus. Libertarianism to me seems to involve rugged individualism and aversion to regulation, which doesn't necessarily imply decision making through democratic means. The keys to progress, in my opinion, are expanding democracy and democratic participation, as well as educating the electorate so that they can make better informed decisions. I mentioned this in my new thread as well, I think, and plan to write more about it in the near future. My limited experience with the Occupy Movement informs me that it is doing an excellent job of giving people opportunities to directly participate in democratic processes as well as educate themselves regarding democracy.

 

 

Alberto Ceras
I don't know how many TH

I don't know how many TH folks visit this web site:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/focal-points/the-age-of-inequality

There's none better, in my opinion. It isn't a matter of whether or not you agree with the views expressed there but the stimulation they provide. These essays, and the comments to them, make you think. Sometimes make you think that you don't know as much as you think you do. It has that affect on me, at any rate.

Take some time out, go there. I mentioned globalization in a previous comment. There's a thoughtful essay on this very topic at Project Syndicate's web page. Here's the address:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/free-trade-blinders

 

Alberto Ceras
Natural Lefty wrote: By the

Natural Lefty wrote:

By the way, I haven't detected any particular leader of the global financial hegemony movement against which we are fighting, either.

 

A different kettle of fish. This "global financial hegemony" is no "movement," a group that might unite against a common enemy. It's a rumble, a dog fight, rivals disputing for territory, for wealth. It's more like the drug cartels, except that the cartels kill one another's "pistoleros" when the dispute gets hot.. 

Zenzoe
I will add one thing here,

I will add one thing here, which can be rightfully ignored, given that it's not so much a contribution to the subject as it is a stepping back from it. 

As I've recently mentioned someplace else on this forum, right now I'm reading The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, among a few other books, mostly novels. Anyway, not to be a spoiler, in case you haven't read it, but his very last sentence (I skipped ahead) reads like this: "Without us, Earth will abide and endure; without her, however, we could not even be." 

The thing is, as I'm reading through his descriptions of various natural processes which will take place once humans depart, I can't help thinking about what life could be like for us, just before our species kicks its bucket once and for all (does nothing about global warming). I'm thinking it's going to get pretty ugly—disaster everywhere, both man-made and nature-made. Once civilization collapses, so will the federal government, and in its place, who knows what? Will local government even be possible, as opposed to police rule, mafia rule, war lord rule...  Do you think enough nice progressive types like ourselves will survive, for humans to resist a gradual devolution into barbarity? Will the likes of Natural Lefty's Rush Limbaugh-loving neighbor turn out to share his resources, or will he rob them from his neighbors by force? 

I mean, when you consider that "we could not even be," without a healthy planet; when you consider that one day our species might look back and, in retrospect, see that nothing else mattered but halting the human causes of climate change, you have to wonder why we, on this forum, ever think about anything else.

Economic issues, women's issues, bullying, blah blah blah— it's all academic, really. In going on about all this stuff, don't we assume we're even going to survive as a civil civilization into this next century? 

 

Alberto Ceras
I've stated several times

I've stated several times that, in my opinion, we may be headed for a return to barbarism, the most brutal savagery imaginable. And yet we continue to selfishlessly, thoughtlessly foster progeny - those unforrtunates who, sometime in the perhaps not too distant future, will suffer this awful calamity. And so I wonder why we think of anything other than procreation. The comment "I'm not interested" surely wasn't indicative of mature reflection. It's scary, as a friend tells me. Indeed it is. We don't want to think about it. We know, if we're honest, that any reason that we might advance is a purely selfish one

I have more that I might add to my original post. I'm thinking about retrieving it.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Today must be a day for

Today must be a day for depressing topics and pessimism. We had the topics of STIs, rape and sexual harassment in my developmental psychology class this morning. It's really pretty depressing. The good news is that on the way home, I immediately found out (on Josefa Salinas' show that has replaced Thom's show on KTLK) that today is International Denim Day (a protest against justifications for rape) and this is Rape Awareness Month, not that either of these is much publicized. I think rape and sexual harassment comes down to how boys are socialized, primarily. Perhaps we will learn to do a better job of socializing boys, adolescents and young men in the near future.

I don't think we will die out as a species in the near future; in fact, the opposite is currently happening. I do think that there might be major die-offs of us humans, and if the global financial hegemonists prevail, barbarism and misconceived social darwinism may prevail, but I don't expect that to happen. Human beings are not that stupid and most of us are not that unscrupulous.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Natural Lefty wrote: ... I

Natural Lefty wrote:

...

I don't think we will die out as a species in the near future; in fact, the opposite is currently happening. I do think that there might be major die-offs of us humans, and if the global financial hegemonists prevail, barbarism and misconceived social darwinism may prevail, but I don't expect that to happen. Human beings are not that stupid and most of us are not that unscrupulous.

Zenzoe, your comments are actually quite apropos. Hey- that kinda rhymes... Anyway, I'd like to agree with NL but part of the reason I put out this thread is to indicate the difficulties involved in a radical visionary approach. There's a lot of good thinking out there about developing sustainability and so forth, but I don't know if reform is sufficient at this point. The other day I read something about how T. Boone Pickens, etc. are buying up land and thereby the rights to the fresh water supply that will be so vital as the populations grows and supplies dwindle. I'm not saying that there aren't solutions, or that there are not ways to stave off the inevitable if we don't fundamentally alter the global system as its been shaping up. But the privatization of the water supply is just one example of how ecological realities are shaping the course of political events. Human beings now have the technology and sophistication to create islands of autarkic (self-sufficient) systems that exclude those who have been disenfranchised through the privatization. The process of determining who gets on the "Ark" will be one where radical populist politics from the left is finally eliminated if the cabal running the show these days has its way.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
btw I do agree that most of

btw I do agree that most of us are not that unscrupulous, I just think that ironically most people's aversion to conflict leads us to be manipulated by bullies. If we can't overcome that then I don't see how we can challenge the heirarchical mode of thinking put forth by the corporate culture.

We need a party and a vision. Somehow we have to come together to operate effectively, if not by the means I described above then somehow. There are options. If local elections can be the initial basis for developing a party that gains mass appeal then electoral politics offers some hope. Here in SF we had Green Party members who became Democrats once they moved up the ladder. Maybe Occupy can be the basis for a co-ordinated nationwide movement rooted in local politics, but if not then we can do it anyway.

btw Zenzoe, I may get up the gumption to address your insouciant interlocutor but I try to stay away from such exchanges as are happening on your thread. I like the guy, but sometimes dealing with people is like picking your nose and then the booger sticks to your finger when you try to flick it off.  If I have more to share I will though, like A. Roy's article I mentioned in this post includes her mentioning women farmers driven off their land by mining companies and she asks (in relation to the NGOs etc who embrace "feminism" or human rights from the female perspective) "How is this not a feminist issue?"

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
I have heard something about

I have heard something about the privatization of water supplies, too. Of course, the privatization of roads is not a new topic, either. This is just the sort of thing that could be a prelude to radical social darwinism on the part of global financial hegemonists, although I don't particularly think that such is being planned. Your comment about people's complacency allowing them to be taken advantage of by bullies is well-taken, Nimblecivet. I share that concern as well. We need a party, a progressive vision, and sustained, concerted action to make that vision a reality.

I assume you mean Zenzoe's women's issues thread. I haven't checked it for quite a while, but I guess I should.

Alberto Ceras
Globalization and

Globalization and privatization, the evil twins of unbridled capitalism as I keep repeating (uselessly, I'm afraid). This, too, gets little attention or support: term limits for Congress. And yet without this essential first step reform of the political system is dead in its tracks.

Zenzoe I think that you'd be interested in this essay but most particularly the many comments to it. You'll find much to agree with but also a lot to disagree with. I'm sure you'd enjoy it (don't let the title stop you from reading on):

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/laurie-penny-real-men-want-to-talk-about-sex--when-are-we-going-to-start-listening-7665812.html

 

Zenzoe
Natural Lefty wrote: Today

Natural Lefty wrote:

Today must be a day for depressing topics and pessimism. We had the topics of STIs, rape and sexual harassment in my developmental psychology class this morning. It's really pretty depressing...

Yeah, that last comment of mine there seemed pretty depressed, not that I disagree with myself entirely. I tend to connect the dots differently than you, I think partly because we listen to different voices and get different information; that is, we’re not quite on the same page. Of course, my mood does tend to be easily moved by whatever I’m reading, or doing, from day to day, so it’s not entirely a fixed thing. Yesterday, for example, in the morning after that lovely overnight rain, I opened the curtains, looked out at the view from my back garden and nearly fainted from the beauty there. The rain had only just stopped, the morning sun backlighting all, all that gently danced with the little breeze, and every damn leaf sparkled with dew drops. And don’t forget the birdies, all chirpily chirping away. It only lasted for a moment, as the sun moved higher and the left-over clouds dimmed the scene, but I have to tell you, I couldn’t have been more optimistic in that moment, if a god had whispered in my ear, “All’s well. Don’t worry. Everything good endures forever.”

Of course, such experiences only serve to add to my broken heart over what we’re doing to our Earth.

Nimblecivet wrote:

Zenzoe, your comments are actually quite apropos. Hey- that kinda rhymes...

Oh good. I thought maybe they’d seemed cranky and trollish.  But as for your “rhyme,” is that how you pronounce my moniker? See, I pronounce it like “Zenzoey,” not “Zenzoh.” But it doesn’t really matter. Suit yourself. :-)

Nimblecivet wrote:

btw Zenzoe, I may get up the gumption to address your insouciant interlocutor but I try to stay away from such exchanges as are happening on your thread. I like the guy, but sometimes dealing with people is like picking your nose and then the booger sticks to your finger when you try to flick it off.  If I have more to share I will though, like A. Roy's article I mentioned in this post includes her mentioning women farmers driven off their land by mining companies and she asks (in relation to the NGOs etc who embrace "feminism" or human rights from the female perspective) "How is this not a feminist issue?"

Well, at least when you pick a booger out of your nose, you don’t eat it.  But I appreciate the metaphor. In my case, it fits with lots of people here, so that I begin to think I could start a business selling “Boogers in a Jar.” (a product my grandkids especially love to imagine). I also appreciate your mentioning my “insouciant interlocutor” and your thoughts about maybe commenting over there. You’re so welcome, you know. And actually, D_NATURED has added some interesting things about men today or yesterday, stuff you might be interested in.

Thanks, Al, for the link!  I loved that article and posted it today on the “Women’s Issues” thread. My only exception to her thesis would be that I think anytime we discuss women, we’re also discussing men. And also, men get so much attention anyway, so... but still, I enjoyed lots there. Didn’t read much of the comments, though.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
I agree about financial

I agree about financial globalization, and privatization, Alberto. I assume that you mean financial globalization when you say "globalization." Global cooperation among peoples would be a good thing, but the type of corporate globalization we have been seeing is exactly the wrong sort of globalization. I don't think talking or writing about it is useless. To the contrary, I think it is doing good, but such things are so incremental that it is difficult to see the effects, at least not until something drastic happens.

I heard a caller to Randi Rhodes' show suggest something to the effect that congresspeople only be allowed to serve one term, and that they have to represent a cross section of American occupations, gender and ethnic groups. That seems difficult to put into practice, but it would solve our problems of the dysfunctional culture of political conventionality which has evolved in Washington.

Zenzoe
While the gettin's good, I

While the gettin's good, I suppose:  Fracked Up!: Hollywood Interrupted Visits America's New Boomtown.

Alberto Ceras
Zenzoe, thanks (I guess) for

Zenzoe, thanks (I guess) for the article. I'm still retching. You forgot to tell me that I should read it while listening to "America the Beautiful"  and with a vomit bag in hand.

Zenzoe
Nimblecivet wrote: ...But the

Nimblecivet wrote:

...But the privatization of the water supply is just one example of how ecological realities are shaping the course of political events. Human beings now have the technology and sophistication to create islands of autarkic (self-sufficient) systems that exclude those who have been disenfranchised through the privatization. The process of determining who gets on the "Ark" will be one where radical populist politics from the left is finally eliminated if the cabal running the show these days has its way.

That's a most terrifying reality. It makes me want to sell my place and buy some land with water on it— for the grandchildren. But, as you imply, what water will not be privatized? And, while water becomes more scarce, just how expensive will it become?

I made all natural and organic soap for the first time today. Eleven bars. They'll be ready in a month. I'm thinking this is the sort of knowledge I'd like my grandchildren to have, that and forest gardening, as well as martial arts. Much of what we depend on business or government to provide, we can do ourselves— not a new idea at all, but seems like a good time to start indoctrinating the kids toward self-sufficiency.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Maybe that's why my parents

Maybe that's why my parents are buying lots and houses in Tahoe = lots of water.

I always figured your name was pronounced Zen Zoey, Zenzoe. Every Zoe I have ever known has been a "Zoey." Well, there was one Zoe who was a lab assistant when I was in grad school.

We tend to connect the dots differently because we listen to different voices and get different information. That is very well put, Zenzoe. I apply that to people in general. Very few of us seem to connect the dots the same way, after all, at least not people who think independently enough to even connect the dots.

We don't have much of a forest around here to garden in, but my wife and I do our best with what we have. You know, we are into the self-sufficiency thing big time, along with the cheapskate thing. Tahoe seems like a good place for forest gardening. Perhaps my wife and I will move to one of my parents properties there one of these days, except I don't think we would be too thrilled about the cold, snowy winters, other than the loveliness of the view.

Alberto Ceras
Zenzoe here're a couple more

Zenzoe here're a couple more links to articles (and two books) that you might want to read and also post on your "Women's Issues" site:

http://womensinfidelity.com/

http://www.chowk.com/Views/Society/Honour-Killings-of-Women

 

Zenzoe
Alberto Ceras wrote: Zenzoe

Alberto Ceras wrote:

Zenzoe here're a couple more links to articles (and two books) that you might want to read and also post on your "Women's Issues" site:

http://womensinfidelity.com/

http://www.chowk.com/Views/Society/Honour-Killings-of-Women

Yeah, Alberto, for many years I've been saying, darnit, women have as much interest in sex as men do, and sex is as important to us as it is to men. So, your first site makes sense in that respect; as to her "insights" regarding what most women do in their marriages, I don't know. I don't know most women.

The second site brings on a cramp in my solar plexus and pressure between my temples.  I can't bear to think of it.  Such insanity.

But, A, how come you didn't post this over at "Women's Issues?" That's not really my post, not anymore, and wouldn't this have been more suited to that discussion?  Oh well, that's okay.  I doubt anybody here cares all that much.

I don't know why Alberto and Natural Lefty don't contribute up top, though, on the message boards. I think you get more hits there.

Anyway, one of those threads, the one Thom posted about Hefner's "insight" about the Republican war on women, has made a weird turn toward the subject of circumcision. Interestingly, media_muse and Karolina think that maybe circumcision accounts for all the bad stuff men do; I wouldn't know.  But, in a way, I can see how that might be true. I mean, speaking of infidelity, what if the diminishment of sensation and feeling causes men to be forever dissatisfied with their partners, compelling them to seek "new thrills" elsewhere? However, because of circumcision, they're always disappointed; and, once the thrill of the new ends, they're back to looking for another new thrill?  Just wondering.  Not having a penis, I wouldn't know.  But I'm sure even circumcised penises have a good time too, regardless.

Then, extrapolating from that micro realm, perhaps circumcision also causes men to seek new political thrills, to acquire fresh conquests as further validation of their masculinity? That is, what they lack in sensation in bed can be compensated for, as the pleasure of power, and in having that power validated over and over again?

Anyway, it would be interesting to see a study comparing cultures where circumcision isn't practiced (if they exist), with cultures where the practice is commonplace, like ours. Would there be a correlation between circumcision and aggression, for example?

Alberto Ceras
Zenzoe, I haven't time for

Zenzoe, I haven't time for both sites. As it is I spend far too much time here while chores go begging. Right now I need to put up a protector for my young tomato plants before the spring hail shreds them. But I did add one more blog this morning titled "Man Woman" relations. Check it out.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Same here -- I am too busy

Same here -- I am too busy much of the time to use the message boards, and I like the blogging section better, anyway. I am primarily a blogger so the blogging section is more important to me, after all. Don't you think the repetitiveness of the message boards gets tiresome and unproductive most of the time? I do. When I have more time, I try to post stuff there, but it often gets ignored for whatever reason.

By the way, I made some comments to this effect on a thread started by Alberto recently, but he erased that thread after he thought it had served its purpose. I guess you didn't see that, Zenzoe. It was about Bush_Wacker bumping up good threads on the message boards. I asked Sue why the spammers only seem to hit the blogging section, but the thread was gone before I saw a reply. I also mentioned that I find marking that junk as offensive is effective in getting Sue to delete those threads and ban those spammers.

I figured out who the "insouciant interlocutor" that Nimblecivet mentioned on your "Womens' Issues" thread is, and he is normally one of my top allies when I do post in the message boards, but yes, he does have some communication problems as well as having his own biases regarding womens' and racial issues, so his train has gone off the track somewhat in that thread. I think a lot of what he is posting on that thread is intended to be humorous though, so I would suggest trying not to take him too seriously. He never posts on the blogging section of this site. I have suggested that he see some of my blog posts, but I don't think he has.

Zenzoe
I don't have a lot of time,

I don't have a lot of time, either, fellas.  I just find the message boards, well, more populated. I like that.

Anyway, no opinions on circumcision? Okay.

So, our "insouciant interlocutor," yes.  And I do take him seriously. He expresses an opinion, especially about misogynistic rap music, that is shared by many in society—it's a joke, according to him, all that "shut up Bitch," that "whore I'll rape you," that "...women are stupid and I don't respect them," stuff.  Just laugh it off, he says.  Do you really think I'm going to laugh it off, NL? If so, you don't really know me very well. And why should I? It deserves push back, loud and long.

Not that I don't feel sorry for him, for his lack of education, or whatever accounts for his writing style. I have a feeling he had to drop out of school at some point and never caught up. That would be sad, if true. But it's not his style that bothers me so much; it's the content.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Pardon Moi, Zenzoe. I only

Pardon Moi, Zenzoe. I only saw the first and last parts of that thread which had milder content, not the rap crap from your "Insouciant interlocuter." That is disgusting and exactly the sort of thing that I have been saying we need to stop so that we can better socialize our young males. Given all of the philanthropic sentiments I have seen the "insouciant interlocuter" express in other threads, I find his statements, well, very surprising, even if he is attempting to be humorous. It is certainly humor in the poorest of taste, if one could call it humor. I agree that needs to be addressed, especially when it comes up in a thread about womens' issues.

I do feel a bit sorry for him given his apparent lack of education or doddering typing skills. As you probably have surmised, I surmise that he is an African-American, and so perhaps this is his way of defending African-American rappers and those who like this form of music. Still, given your "insouciant interlocuter's" limitations, I do take some of the things he says in a less than literal sense.

Yes, the message boards are more populated. So is McDonald's. And most of the people on the message boards keep ordering the same meal, a "Polititalk Whopper," I guess it might be called. I like a healhier and more varied diet. You are a blogger too, so I think you know what I mean, more or less. Also if everybody keeps going to the same place because it seems more popular, what you end up with, is a monopoly -- and thus no more blog section in this case.

Alberto Ceras
Natural Lefty wrote: Yes, the

Natural Lefty wrote:

Yes, the message boards are more populated. So is McDonald's. And most of the people on the message boards keep ordering the same meal, a "Polititalk Whopper," I guess it might be called. I like a healhier and more varied diet. You are a blogger too, so I think you know what I mean, more or less. Also if everybody keeps going to the same place because it seems more popular, what you end up with, is a monopoly -- and thus no more blog section in this case.

Very neat, NL. We go for the Big Macs don't we? But even here on the member Blogs folks incline to the safe, the popular, those topics deemed "OK to discuss" by their repetition in our mass media. There are TH bloggers who are wedded until death-do-them-part to a moldy, moth-eaten idea that’s sealed deep within the concretions of a closed mind. They see anything original as threatening; they believe that creativity means something as audacious as hanging a fading, discolored copy of a copy of an Andy Warhol copy at the exact center of their living room wall, daring as the readiness to try a new brand of toothpaste.

Some who blog on TH don’t know, or even care to know, the difference between a simian and a simile, a metaphor and a mouthwash. Old, lonely people who rarely (or never) had an audience until blogs came along. How wonderful it is that Internet offers that outlet. Even more wonderful if those who use it would also seize the opportunity that it provides them to investigate, to learn. Want to know the color of Jupiter? Internet has the answer.

Post something a bit controversial, not yet hallowed by headlines, the "road less travelled" and no one responds. I'm thinking of my recent blogs "Why Have Children?" and "Man Woman Relations." Not interested, too personal, scary?

In truth most bloggers here are extraordinarily conservative.

Zenzoe
Hey, Alberto, what am I,

Hey, Alberto, what am I, chopped liver?  I responded to your Man/Woman post, and I'm going to add something else in awhile. You should be thrilled!  ;-)

Anyway, I think you're both a couple of whiney (I'm chuckling, in case you think I'm angry), egomaniac elitists. You think your, yes, long-winded essays represent the blogging equivalent of gourmet dining, in contrast to the message board's junk food?  Oh piffle to your posh!  What snobs!  The truth is, you'll find as much good thinking and writing up there as you do down here, but, if you're going to be self-centered about it, I guess you'll never know. You'd rather plop down your tangled piles of Pasta Intelligencia con polpettes grandes e pancetta sprinkled with hairy goat cheese, so, well, fine.  Be that way.

Okay, so I exaggerated a bit.  And I do understand. "Down" here, it's a good place for an actual essay —blog post— but up there, you're more likely to find spontaneous posts that respond to something immediate, such as my "Women's Issues" post, which was a quick, spontaneous response to something Thom said on his show. The reason I go to the message boards is not because it's "popular," per se, in the sense of appealing to mass taste, but because I'm more likely to have a conversation there, since more people visit. I think people are just lazy, and that's why the blog posts don't get as much traffic, not because it's higher class, for god's sake.

Also, the message boards work best, when I'm in a hurry. I can just pop in and pop out, whereas down here I feel like I have to stay awhile. Perhaps that's wrong, but it's true.

I hate it when you edit out of order, Alberto. why don't you just add a new comment?!

See this now, in answer to your edits: http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/alberto-ceras/blog/2012/04/man-woman-r...

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
On today's menu at "Chez

On today's menu at "Chez Naturale" is an extremely sophisticated platter of intellectually sumptious tidbits on how to educate education -- sort of an intellectual appetizer course.

Of course, it was I who wrote about going to McDonald's in Phoenix, where my wife and I wound up buying a meal for a homeless man. I go for the fast stuff too, sometimes. I understand and agree with your response, Zenzoe, and I am glad it seems you didn't take it the wrong way. By the way, I have a progressive network of friends on Facebook which operates much the same way as the message boards here, as well. Sometimes I post there instead of on the message boards here. People make pithy little comments or provide interesting links, and people comment on them. I found people on a political television show putting down Facebook yesterday and minimizing its importance as a political tool. (The moderator preferred Linked-In, which seems like a work-site for professionals to me. This was Bonnie Erbe of "To the Contrary" which has an all woman cast of political commentators.)  I have to vehemently disagree with that. I find Facebook very political, mostly of the fast-food variety but also the blogging variety. I know I get labelled as a snob sometimes, although I don't intend to be a snob. Maybe it just comes naturally to me. On the other hand, if I wanted to have as many "followers" as possible, it seems the message boards would be the place to try. Some of us follow our own drummer.

One could say my posts are oftentimes what I would call "conventional," definitely not conservative, but that's because I am following a series of topics systematically. Yes, it is not always spontaneous for me, although it is sometimes. I think some people do avoid more controversial topics even on the blogging section, but sometimes, we don't know what to make of a person's unusual blog content, such as your suggestion that incest is far more common than we realize, Alberto. As a psychologist, I am aware of the enormous problem of incest, but estimating how common it is, is not easy. I know fortunately that I have not been such a victim, personally.

I never saw the "Why Have Children?" post.

I think many bloggers are wedded to certain ideas and keep banging the same drumbeat, but I see even more of that on the message boards for some reason. I can almost predict the content of many posts more or less, based upon who wrote it, regardless of the original thread topic. However, there actually is a lot of variety and instant feedback there, with so many contributors, and that is a good thing to have available.

Zenzoe
Natural Lefty wrote: On

Natural Lefty wrote:

On today's menu at "Chez Naturale" is an extremely sophisticated platter of intellectually sumptious tidbits on how to educate education -- sort of an intellectual appetizer course.

Shouldn't it be "Chez de Gauche Naturel?" But I get it, whatever.  That's what I like about you, NL: When I come to your front door and ask, "Can Natural Lefty come out to play? the answer is usually, Yes. That's pretty great. :-)

Alberto, I don't think your posts are all that far out, if you don't mind my saying so. Zero population growth, for example, isn't exactly a new idea; it's just that most of us don't see the practicality of it. Anyway, Mother Nature will take care of the population problem, probably sooner than we expect.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
Nimblecivet seems to be busy.

Nimblecivet seems to be busy. There is even a blog post about him that he hasn't responded to yet. Perhaps the rumors of him being hired for a new job are true.

Yes, I am very playful, perhaps even moreso than you realize, Zenzoe. I think "Chez de Gauche Naturel" is correct, but my french isn't that good. I remember that lefty was spelled something like "Gaucho" in french, but I didn't remember exactly how it was spelled.

Zero population growth should be a mainstream topic, if it's not already. It's necessity and the fact that humanity is quickly reaching unsustainable levels is a reality already.

Alberto, I would add that although people who commit incest, or even victims of incest, tend to avoid the topic for obvious reasons, and despite the cultural and biological taboos against it ("that's how you get retarded kids," etc.), a couple of factors make incest more common than most of us care to admit. One is the matter of convenience. As with murder, it is easier to abuse someone who is handy -- a family member. The other factor is the control issue, especially among control freak authoritarian types. Incest seems to be used as a way to sexually, physically and mentally control weaker, less enabled family members. I am more of an eclectic humanistic/cognitive/social-cognitive psychologist, and I never cared much for Freud's theory, but he was tuned into these factors, for sure. I sometimes wonder what went on in his family. I do know that nearly all of his patients were incest victims, which was largely at the root of their psychopathology.

Zenzoe
Alberto wrote: Incest, the

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
As much as I enjoy blogging

As much as I enjoy blogging here I have to admit that I spend WAY too much time here. What's the post about me, NL? And no, I thought it was obvious that I was just clowning when I copied and pasted that bit about the "job offer" from a SPAM email I got.

Wasn't there a joke back in the '50's: "Incest is best."? I think Freud was on to something when he identified "father" and "mother" as signs (to put it in structuralist terms; I don't know if he used that term but of course he was contemporary with the structuralists). It seems that people are capable of sort of a doublethink where they are told by authority that they are free. Subconsciously, there's a relationship to authority that people are conditioned with via the family. So, not being familiar with Freud, I am not clear on his handling of incest (vs., say, narcissism) as a metaphor as opposed to a dysfunctional disorder.

I think Wilhelm Reich may have had it more correctly when he identified the primary or fundamental relationship as being that of the person to him/her self (as I understand from reading The Mass Psychology of Fascism). But of course he explained the range of possibilites there as existing within the social context, esp. the family. Of course, psychology has come a long way. Jacques Lacan for example is an interesting figure in that he was a practicing psychiatrist who thought formed a contribution to multiple disciplines. I'm now reading a book called The Left at War (meaning with itself) which is quite excellent in relating difficult ideas such as those of the theorist Gramsci in a way which is both accessible to the lay reader (no pun intended) while at the same time revealing in a quite facile manner the real relevance of these academic ideas to what you guys have been referring to as the "fast food" arena.

For example, and I think I've touched on this with you before NL, there's the idea that Berube (the author of the aforementioned work) refers to as "false consciousness." This is the idea that so many on the left tend to automatically adopt, that people "vote against their own best interest" because they have been "brainwashed" by the corporate media. The reality is far more complex. Berube traces this concept of "false consciousness" back to Marxism, arguing that it derives from the notion that because the wealthy control the media they are in a position to deceive the masses. Thom argues along these lines a lot, relating the problem of getting money out of politics to the problem of corporate control of the media.

Of course, these problems are very real, but Berube is correct in that the manipulation of the masses is not merely a matter of inundating us with what Slavoj Zizek refers to as "propoganda." And this, btw, is the difference between what we have today and fascism. Fascism was a hegemony. It was the imposition of a total system: material production, distribution, social and cultural life, everything unified under the sign of the "fuhrer", that mysterious god-man who channeled the will of "the people." Gramsci's contribution, if I am relating this well enough, is, according to Berube, to point out that "hegemony" in a liberal-socialist society is at best an abstract concept. Thus there is often no rational correspondence between rhetoric and reality.

The typical "dinner speech" of the right wing was, Berube points out, predicted by Stuart Hall (who I am surmising studied Gramsci, as I cannot recall definitely that Berube relates this though I'm pretty sure he did) as being a two-part session comprised of praising the free market and then lamenting the loss of family values- in spite of the fact that the latter is caused by the former. The appeal of Thatcher and Reagan to the working class ("Reagan democrats") was dependent upon their ability to manipulate people perceptions by taking into account their particular perspective. There is no simple "class interest" manifesting itself in "class war" within the political economy. Liberalism could be simultaneously referred to as the system which allowed freedom and free-enterprise while at the same time the philosophy which threatened vulnerability through tolerance of minorities and social engineering.

Think about this in reference to the book What's the Matter With Kansas? (caveat: a book which I have not read). Well, Clinton was the "neoliberal" (to resolve the aforementioned contradictions now its called "neoliberalism" as though laissez-faire has not always been a major component of liberal thought) who is responsible for the massive loss of textile jobs to Mexico, Jamaica, China, etc. So why would they vote for a democrat? All Bush has to do is keep up protectionist measures to prevent the domestic steel industry from going under and he has their vote. Enough people still believe that Republicans still represent the isolationist thread of "american exceptionalism" that they will believe it when they are later told that they must go to war to avoid repeating the mistake of "appeasement."

Another example, though more positive, is the association of the working class with environmentalism in the Appalachian region. There, mountain top removal and strip mining have resulted in highly increased cancer rates. I think Sotomayor may have recently ruled against either greater regulation or banning strip-mining, I can't remember what, but I heard it on the Bob Kincaid show. Berube notes that this is one of the few regions where Republicans still had support after the disaster of the Bush years. Deaths of miners due to deregulation weren't enough to swing voters there towards the Democrat or left-liberal stance, and Republicans are still busy pushing the "EPA should be called the Job-Killiing Agency" meme, but the reality that "peak coal" is approaching and that the common worker has a somewhat more reliable ally in the Democratic Party may mean Obama picking up votes there.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Wow...I knew something like

Wow...I knew something like this was going to happen eventually. Well, I'll leave my thoughts on the subject over at that post.

Zenzoe
In reading this month's issue

In reading this month's issue of The Sun magazine, I came across a short essay by Wendell Berry. I thought of this thread, while reading it, for some reason, even though "waste" is not directly related. Anyway, for what it's worth, an excerpt:

Wendell Berry wrote:

But our waste problem is not the fault only of producers. It is the fault of an economy that is wasteful from top to bottom —a symbiosis of an unlimited greed at the top and a lazy, passive, and self-indulgent consumptiveness at the bottom — and all of us are involved in it. If we wish to correct this economy, we must be careful to understand and to demonstrate how much waste of human life is involved in our waste of the material goods of Cre­ation. For example, much of the liter that now defaces our country is fairly directly caused by the massive secession or exclusion of most of our people from active participation in the food econ­omy. We have made a social ideal of minimal involvement in the growing and cooking of food. This is one of the dearest’ libera­tions” of our affluence. Nevertheless, the more dependent we become on the industries of eating and drinking, the more waste we are going to produce. The mess that surrounds us, then, must be understood not just as a problem in itself but as a symptom of a greater and graver problem the centralization of our economy — the gathering of the productive property and power into fewer and fewer hands, and the consequent destruction, everywhere, of the local economies of household, neighborhood, and corn — mutiny.

This is the source of our unemployment problem, and l am not talking just about the unemployment of eligible members of the “labor force.” I mean also the unemployment of children and old people, who, in viable household and local economies, would have work to do by which they would be useful to themselves and to others. The ecological damage of centralization and waste is thus inextricably involved with human damage. For we have, as a result, not only a desecrated, ugly, and dangerous country in which to live until we are in some manner poisoned by it, and a constant and now generally accepted problem of unemployed or unemployable workers, but also classrooms full of children who lack the experience and discipline of fundamental human tasks, and various institutions full of still capable old people who are useless and lonely.

I think that we must learn to see the trash on our streets and roadsides, in our rivers, and in our woods and fields, not as the side effects of “more jobs” as its manufacturers invariably insist that it is, but as evidence of good work not done by people able to do it. (the whole essay: http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/nowact_wendellwaste.htm  )

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Can't much argue with that,

Can't much argue with that, I'm afraid. Of course not everybody is fat, stupid, and lazy, but overall there has been quite a deliterious effect by industrialization and capitalism.

People used to cook and eat together and it was still labor intensive. So I think there are, as Berry says, a lot of potential jobs in the production and preparation of food which will be less wasteful. Some people are starting to get away from processed foods.

Have you heard of the "Slow Food" movement? If not, you should check it out. It began in Italy as a reaction against the encroachment of fast-food. It has developed into a worldwide movement promoting gardening, small-scale agriculture, etc. revolving around the idea that food should be a source of great enjoyment and an object of great care. They also have an important campaign to improve school lunches. Definitely a visionary movement.

Natural Lefty
Natural Lefty's picture
NC, you actually fooled Ria.

NC, you actually fooled Ria. I sent her a message in which I told her that the "job offer" post apparently was a joke.

I thought Wilhelm Reich was the "Incest is Best" guy. My impression of his theory was that it was perverted and a result of his own experience as an incest victim. In fact, I believe I used his theory as an example of life experience biasing personality theory, in a graduate school paper. Alberto seems to have hopped onto the Wilhelm Reich crazy train.

You make an excellent point about the difference between fascism and what we currently have. Fascism is a more direct way of controlling people -- through force, that is -- while what we have is more sophisticated; it achieves a partial control of the public through a combination of propaganda and what might be termed "social engineering," which is the creation and manipulation of the culture and people's belief systems. Propaganda can be used to do that, but so can flawed but appealing (to a large segment of the public at least) arguments, for instance.

The slow food movement -- I guess that is what we are doing on this blog section, the slow but complete intellectual nourishment movement. I agree with the quote by Wendell Berry, Zenzoe.

nimblecivet
nimblecivet's picture
Natural Lefty wrote: ... I

Natural Lefty wrote:

...

I thought Wilhelm Reich was the "Incest is Best" guy. My impression of his theory was that it was perverted and a result of his own experience as an incest victim. In fact, I believe I used his theory as an example of life experience biasing personality theory, in a graduate school paper. Alberto seems to have hopped onto the Wilhelm Reich crazy train.

...

I don't think so. If you can source that I would consider it, but his reputation was attacked by Anna Freud who oversaw the American Psychiatric Association. Those charges sound like they are completely fabricated. There is nothing in Reich's works or life which would corroborate them. I have to wonder how you came to understand Reich's theories if you portrayed them in the way you did. The only work I read of his is the Mass Psychology of Fascism and I can't see any way to characterize them as promoting incest. In fact, just the oppossite. A healthy relationship of a person to their own sexuality would work against their being victimized by authority figures. Thus, it would also make the individual less likely to be susceptible to ideologies which couch their authoritarianism in language which characterizes sexuality as something to be ashamed of and which must be controlled by an outside authority (the state) which is violent and repressive in nature.

I hope I don't sound combative or defensive, but even without running to the web to look up info on the subject and notwithstanding your having written your paper on the subject I feel fairly certain that 1) Reich never made any admission of having been a victim of incest 2) never advocated for incest, and that therefore 3) the charges are from others and have no basis, and furthermore 4) even if Reich had admitted to being a victim of incest this does not invalidate his theories. Again, if he had advocated for incest anywhere it would be a matter of historical record, but it is not. And again, I doubt even that he had been a victim of incest and therefore also that he ever made a statement to the effect he had. So with all due respect I have to be skeptical of the conclusions you drew about his theories.