A couple of articles, the Salon and the Lew Rockwell ones, are great examples of how you have to be on gaurd sometimes when people try to portray themselves a certain way and describe themselves as "post-ideological." I didn't see that latter term in either of those articles, but it seems apparent to me that the intended audience for these ideas has been very carefully groomed ideologically and are those that are most likely to say they are "pragmatic" rather than ideological. Granted that this non-ideology also has its echo in the political establishment, since the agenda of special interests has long been entrenched there. The word "voluntary" pops up as an indicator of ideology. One is supposed to believe that the "market anarchy" perspective offers an alternative to a violent government which is forcing everybody to do things against their will. The inconsistency of thought is revealed by the also conspicuously placed word "liberal" in the Salon article which is a deliberate attempt to gain legitimacy for the idea that liberalism is somehow an ideology of tyranny because it involves government.

Of course, this is the type of historical revisionism that libertarians are so adept at especially now that the left has been so decimated that it cannot even maintain a semblance of any kind of discourse, even one of interfactional contention, to act as a corrective to the historical claims of its opponents. Seen in the larger picture, though, one has to do more to counter this argument found in the Salon article that 'liberal development policies sucked people and commercial life into dispersal". This is the crux of what could be called, to be kind, a deconstructive approach to history. That is, that because liberalism has historic ties to the development of the post-physiocratic economy in allowing private property, all of the evils that are inherent to "private property" are the fault of the state. This historic revisionism, really more of a philosophical travesty, relies on ignorance of several major realities. First, the corporate form is completely different from that regulated by the states during the first years of the country. If you want the info. on that read Thom Hartmann's "Unequal Protection." Second, liberalism and individual freedom relied on a pre-Marxist association of political and economic power within a democratic political-economy. It was, as awful as it is in truth, the homesteading of the U.S. that forms the corrolary of land reform movements that took off in the late nineteenth century and which continue to echo today. The "liberalism" referred to in the Salon article is therefore nothing more than the conservatism which chose the modern corporate form as its mode of social control and engineering. The various yogurt-shops, massage parlors, and "yummy tummy monster" trucks are all there to cater to the infantile and conceited whims of a young workers whose entire environment from dawn til dusk, work and social, is meticulously programmed by the management lackeys of the investor class. As for their purported pacifism, I rank that coming from these drone-protected hipsters about as highly as this from Mussollini:

Neither the Axis nor Japan wanted an extension of the conflict.

One man, one man only, a real tyrannical democrat, through a series of infinite provocations, betraying with a supreme fraud the population of his country, wanted the war and had prepared for it day by day with diabolical obstinacy.


If there is one man in the world who had a diabolic desire for war, that man is the President of the United States of America The provocations which he heaped upon us, the measures he took against us, the activity of his propaganda-all this shows that this man, who had just made a sacred promise to the American mothers that their sons would never be sent to die beyond the boundaries of the United States, this man deliberately wanted war.

Naturally, Japan could not wait for the United States to be the first to shoot. This a chivalry of olden days, if it ever existed at all. And so Japan did very well not to wait until the last moment, and inflicted upon the overbearing Americans that tremendous defeat which today imposes upon those same Americans a day of mourning and of silence.

Okay, so now that I've gotten that off my chest, to continue along the line of inquiry into this notion of city-state renaissance, Detroit is an excellent case-study. The inhabitat article discusses another aspect of the new theory of revitalization. Enter "Detroit" in the search box on The Thom Hartmann Community page and you will see several entries describing the story of what happened to Detroit; the ones with the most comments will yield more information on the budgeting issues and so forth. I intend to review that information if possible soon, and then I will be able to expand upon this subject which I have broached here. Suffice it to say for now that a manufactured crisis has been taken advantage of to undermine democracy (via a perhaps overly-maligned "emergency manager"). The opportunity to move into an area long devastated by conservative policies ("neoliberal" if you prefer; they do since it obscures their true attitude) is supposed to be an opportunity to demonstrate that an police-society is able to maintain the comfort and fun of the privileged. The entire idea that government can do anything right with tax dollars is pooh-poohed, but of course there are in fact community garden networks that could be funded (capitalized if you prefer, since capital is exactly what the for-profit urban gardens have access too as well as these "pop-ups"). If market anarchism or Lew has addressed the overall political issues of social and economic justice on the macro-scale, then I stand corrected. I doubt that has happened anywhere in more than a perfuctory, ideological-formulaic manner. That is, without substantiating any argument that market anarchism provides an alternative to the progressive agenda and its response to the manufactured crisis. Personally, as a far-leftist, I believe that most of these banksters and their lackeys should be rounded up and put on trial for crimes against humanity, their wealth confiscated and redistributed. It can't be that hard to make sure that everybody owns a home, banks are re-chartered and money printing is returned to the state.

Well, I had to take a break and come back not that this was going to be a very linear post anyway, but I do want to at least indicate some kind of connection between these various subjects and how they relate to each other. So, this reminds me that I have another post in mind focusing on the current situation pertaining to the issue of land ownership and use around the world. In Southeast Asia especially are some very pertinent cases demonstrating that if agriculture is still the core of the economy (it is), then capitalism is by no means dead. It may be in a transition phase, as I have argued that the current hegemony of the U.S. is indicative of a "post capitalism" but it may either re-emerge as a force in the global schema or something else might take its place. In my most recent post I argued that a global aristocratic class has emerged which is pushing forward with its neoliberal agenda, most importantly the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Partnership. Now, getting back to the issue of the transition to capitalism from feudalism and the neo-feudal aspects of the current neoliberal regime, the post-physiocratic situation is that of labor being a set of mobile population segments. Often, because labor (as individuals) are deprived rather than given rights of trans-border freedom, this mobility results in illegal status. Various populations are distinct historically and contemporarilly. The article about the book about coolies gives an example of post-slavery labor as incentivizing labor to leave its roots.

The way I see the mafia article in relation to this is that it is laden with ironies. It could be argued that the state represents capital, and therefore the continuity of locally-rooted syndicates within organized crime represents within the modern era a continued resistance against changing masters as new invaders and empire-builders displace and replace each other. The advantage that organized crime has over political movements is that it appeals directly to the individual's ego. The most basic and common aspects of the sense of individual pride, honor, and so forth are appealed to even if the result is a stifling conformity to a banal evil. The reliability of the average "soldier" however attests to the efficacy of this mode, since the individual's worthiness to obtain rank within a network of illegal activity is determined at an early age. Sometimes this same dynamic works in favor of the state, as in the case of Saddam Hussein who was a "tough guy" who made it up the social ladder. The military is typically the interstice for this constant state of internal tension within the state. In the U.S., it may have been impossible for capital to function without organized crime, that is as dependent upon organized crime to maintain social order in an environment of mobile labor and disenfranchised individuals resulting from industrial modernity's boom-and-bust cycles and drastic re-ordering of the economy and physical structure of land use. It has been often noted how heirarchy within the work sphere is maintained by capitalism, and how capitalism maintains order between the races by assigning them different "territories". The ward boss and the manager have in common the goal of supervising and structuring interests competing for resources.

The supremacy of the investor class maintained through technological superiority means that the wars of old, first over empires, then over religion and empires, then over political ideology and empires, roughly, will see not an age of revolutions as Arendt predicted but an age of small, localized and intense conflicts such as envisioned by Dick Cheney when he (about the time he was serving under Bush Sr. I believe). Kind of like in some of the computer games. Not to digress but I thought the book about the coolie girl was interesting in that it shows how during that time period laborers from India would travel to these parts of the Pacific, and that can be seen to be comprehensible in respect to what some have suggested as the early arc of civilization emanating from these very areas of the Pacific. This is intruiguing when the world-scale, long-term view includes the Indo-European language tree history, and the Narts and so forth. It seems that certain aspects of the linear causal chain originate in prehistory and early history. The Jews displaced by the Roman Empire, becoming a symbol of modernity and thus despised by reactionaries (see Slavoj Zizek on this); Africans displaced all over the world, peoples of various origins taking on certain functions in colonial settings or living relatively independently in smaller communities away from the commercial centers, of various nationalities taking on differnt class and economic function roles and then becoming subsumed into the changes of economic structures over time, etc.

So, onto a more abstruse insight into all this, that there are various paradigms such as those of political science which seek to organize all this information in such a way as to look for causal patterns. Getting back to the mafia thing, the author of that article seems aware that political science must be informed by an awareness of a more sophisticated mode of analysis even though he keeps it basically grounded in an approach attempting to discern the correct answer as to how to judge certain phenomenon. He discusses the phenomenon of organized crime in a historical context in relation to Capital and the State, interestingly having noted the role that mafia characters play in television fiction and films. That, of course, is a whole other discussion even given that the author is basically correct. I think he is, but there's more to say about that which I won't attempt to do here. Basically, what I think can be found by doing a meta-analysis of the various bodies of literature relating to overlapping subjects (history, culture, politics, economy, etc.) is that at the macro level paradigms can be adjudicated on a rational basis, but do not have the same explanatory power as epistemologies which are able to explain cause-and-effect in a material sense in relation to specific events.

For example, I can explain that Frank has just gone through an intersection. I can explain that he did so because of the force of his foot on his gas pedal. I can explain that the light turned green, which Frank perceived and then (arguably of free will) increased pressure on the accelerator of his car. I can explain that the local government collected taxes to purchase the traffic signal, that Frank is on his way to work, etc. But as soon as I try to explain his specific action in reference to ideas such as the imperative of artificial scarcity as it relates to capitalism or that Frank's desire to go and meet his girlfriend after work is what is truly motivating him subconsciously, or whatever paradigm I want to draw upon that explains things generally, then I have to prove that somehow. Which I probably can't do because I don't have immediate access to Frank's subjective state and mental functioning. Even if I did, I might not be able to answer conclusively whether Frank was acting "knowingly" or "willfully". But, obviously, knowledge of what generally is possible to be true of humans (identified by their body) depends upon a comprehension of the total range of subjective potentiality of an individual as contrained or lensed by the overall circumstance of a the moment.

Now, getting back to the mafia article and what I was saying about the appeal to the basic ego of the mafia, the word "naturalize" sticks out. The author does not want to naturalize the mafia, but explain it in historical context:

Quote Matthijs Krul:

Few people seem very aware of the origins of the mafia beyond a conception of them “coming from Italy” as a peculiar kind of organized crime. However, the mafia was always more than just a simple gang, or even a confederation of gangs. An organization like that does not come about naturally–neither do their strict hierarchies, honor codes, and the clan-like structure. We must not naturalize this, but examine it historically. What we find then is that the origins of the mafia lie in the struggle between the landlords, often absentee landlords, and the peasantry of the Mezzogiorno.

Now, this is in fact all "natural". It stems from human nature. That's an empirical fact, not a tautology. The word "mafia" comes from Italy, but certainly not the basic pattern of social organization. More importantly, the term "human being" includes within its set of signifieds a vast array of difference. The term is empirically based in the species, with the organ of the brain explaining the potential that develops historically according to circumstances and ongoing developments. So its not that the author is wrong, but that his observations can be comprehended in a larger scope which is rationalized in recognition of the "natural."

This transcendency of the term into a set of historic (present and past) existences is a development of the kind of broad knowledge possible to modern civilization, with the insights gained by the British probably leading the way. (Egyptology and so forth.) Although its possible that much of this knowledge may have been passed on through secret societies and so forth. Ralph Metzner has written a book I have started to take a look at which is titled "Maps of Consciousness". This work belongs to a particular stage when the university had already begun to loose its role as the guardiand of culture and society and the people were beginning to openly take authority over these matters. Thus, freedom of speech became the tool for social and cultural dynamics which have the potential to liberate from the modern condition. Metzner's meta-analysis is an example of a work that must itself be subsumed by an even broader interdisciplinary approach in order to chart a philosophical course. Individual enlightenment is a matter of mastery of knowledge and application to both one's own well-being and one's role in the world.

A friend of a friend wrote something which I think encapsulates some of this new type of thinking:

"...so much of what passes for analysis is rationalization. No one is immune to that because of the way the human mind tends to work, although I think being a bit autistic helps (being unable to subconsciously apply context is a marvelous skill for some specific applications). For the rest of us, avoiding rationalization as a result of bias is like sweeping the floor: it's a very iterative and frustrating process. It's because of this that you have to spend a lot of time admitting you're wrong to be right, which is why so few people deeply understand much of anything." --Sean Ryan

Be that as it may (I prefer to think that I recognize errors as such before I commit to them), there's quite a bit I won't be able to get to here that has to do with rational thinking. One example of why this is important is the problem of history, which I will again refer to. There was a debate on this board, or at least mention of the Napoleon Chagnon thing. It seems blatantly obvious to me that I am being asked to believe something based on the utility of the idea. It appears necessary to some people to say that pre-industrial civilization is good because if it wasn't then they wouldn't be able to argue for what they want civilization to become. This is a fallacy of ontology of some sort I believe. It has to do with the logic people use to make their decuctions. Again, this needs more explaining that I can do right now but I think one can see the failure to secure a perspective that is sufficient unto itself logically and based upon the self-validated position of the arguer. But it comes down to the fallacy of good and evil; since the arguer is arguing for something good and against something evil the arguer must identify the origin of evil as somehow outside of man in order that man might become good again. This is no better than that Christian theology that supposes that a sinful Man needs enlightenment from some divine outside force. Rather, the "will to power" is not that of the "savage id"; it is that of the noble impulse which the enlightened harness in order to drive history forward or to determine their destinies in this world.


potpourri 11-11-13


nimblecivet 5 years 34 weeks ago

What I want to do is briefly share some information on a topic I mentioned in the post above, about the gardens and discuss how these events have been discussed as an issue.

What has transpired is that Hantz Woodlands has been allowed to plant trees on some of the properties in question but not to grow vegetables for sale. A large number of volunteers went out an planted trees on the property.

Who was the winner here? Perhaps everybody to some extent. Would the gardens project, if Hantz was ever really serious about it, have provided much needed jobs to the community? Of the about 1,000 volunteers were an estimated 200 locals. Those who support the project see an opportunity to develop a larger effort.

What has been made evident by this issue is that nothing can be discussed in a context like this without having to involve contentious political and social controversy. Detroit has made headlines nationwide recently because the water has been shut off to residents who are unable to pay. As the city slowly melts down, it becomes a point of argument for different ideologies. A project such as Hantz woodlands deliberately or otherwise drags in a debate over those controversies.

More and more in general the left seems to be growing comfortable with seeing race as an aspect of political debate and the right seems to oblige. The debate is over facts and how to interpret them. The left attempts to explain them, the right attempts to propogandize with them. Detroit provides ample examples of disparities in wealth and associated problems of sentencing disparities and a crumbling city infrastructure. Long before neoliberalism and austerity became watchwords of the left and progressive movement, Michael Moore had showcased the effects of "free trade" in his film about Flint, Michigan, and therefore by extention Detroit. Only several years after "Freedom Summer", just long enough for a fledgling black middle class to begin to emerge, the "Reagan Democrat" phenomenon took hold. Over the next few decades, both automobile workers in various parts of the country and textile workers in the South lost their jobs, among others, as a "service economy" took hold and a gradual winnowing of the workforce followed.

Capitalizing on the distress caused by their own policies, the right has now largely successfully rebranded itself and sold its message to the younger generation of workers who were successful during the emergence of the tech-industry in learning and adapting the requisite skills. Pitching themselves as "libertarians", the right draws these younger and more naive minds into their fold by repackaging their message into a hip blend of "anti-statism" historical revisionism which is on the one hand too shallow to offer a substantive critique of neoliberalism but on the other clever enough to shift the blame for the problems of "blight", for example in Detroit, onto the shoulders of government bureaucrats, unions, and food stamps beneficiaries.

So, when many of the residents of Detroit hear of Hantz woodlands and the "do-gooder" enthusiasm of their corporate friends in organizing volunteers to "clean up" the area their sceptical reaction is understandable. The propaganda value of Hantz's enterprise lies in reinforcing the "us vs. them" mentality that sees the victims of decades and more of deliberate and systematic racism in vague terms of a sort of cultural evil which lies outside the rightful purview of "civilized" society. This allows blatant racism to perpetuate itself without being culpable of any explicit biological theory since the rhetoric does not depend on such a rationale although it certainly invites it. Although it would be unjustified to argue that a deliberate racism is at the root of this "cultural" explanation of differences in outcome promoted by the right, it is nonetheless insidious in that it allows supporters of racist policies to deny their own racism to themselves.

As an example of the subtle coding involved, part of the plans to gentrify Detroit include the institution of "safe harbor" points denoted by the symbol of a lighthouse, which is to be illuminated by green light. These places are to serve as resources for help in the case of an emergency, and though examples of such an emergency are a flat tire or getting lost or whatnot, it is plain to see that this program is meant to assuage the fears of those contemplating residence or visitation of one of Detroits "revitalized" areas. The cleanup of the woodland area was also billed as making the area safer for residents, though while the perception of safety as a result of aesthetic qualities is understandable from a psychological standpoint it does nothing to change the fact that so many neighborhoods in Detroit left out of the "renaissance" do not have the resources to transform their neighborhoods into safe places for their citizens to pursue a gainfully employed existence.

In fact, seven years after Obama took office and promised action to address the plight of neighborhoods, only now is the Obama administration pursuing "Promise Zones". The original plan put forward by the Obama administration during his campaign was the inspiration for much of the first round of right-wing terror, especially the murders of census workers. Now that the right-wing terrorist network which supports the Republican Party has shifted its tactics to threatening to shoot children in department stores, we are reminded that even a neoliberal faux-progressive tax-incentive type program such as these "Promise Zones" are at best a long, long-overdue first step.



Add comment

Login or register to post comments

Come Cruise with Thom Hartmann in July 2020

Join me for an exciting Bermuda getaway aboard Oceania Cruises, the world’s leading culinary and destination-focused cruise line. Set sail on the reimagined Insignia for 7 nights beginning July 25th 2020. Take advantage of Oceania Cruises’ OLife Choice promotion, where you can choose shore excursions, a beverage package, or onboard credit – Oceania Cruises also includes Wifi! You'll also receive complimentary gratuities, a $50 onboard credit and two exclusive cocktail parties. Did I mention we are planning special onboard events with yours truly? Prices start at $1199.

Reserve your stateroom today by contacting Keene Luxury Travel, and mention the Thom Hartmann Group 800.856.1155

or go to https://www.keeneluxurytravel.com/th-bermuda/default.asp

"The Saddest Thing Is This Won't Be Breaking News"

Thom plus logo As the world burns, and more and more fossil fuels are being used every day planet-wide, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels passed 416 ppm this week at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In the 300,000 years since the emergence of modern humans, carbon dioxide levels have never been this high.