Democratic Party, Politics, Socialism, Uncategorized

The Sanders “Revolution” Is a Blind Alley

“The working class will acquire the sense of the new discipline, the freely assumed self-discipline of the Social Democracy, not as a result of the discipline imposed on it by the capitalist state, but by extirpating, to the last root, its old habits of obedience and servility.”–Rosa Luxemburg

Bernie Sanders’ reformist welfare state capitalism is not, in any way, shape, or form socialist, let alone Marxist. His way is just a prettier repackaging of neoliberalism for desperate Millennials emeeging from the warm nest of the post-WWII capitalist bubble into the cold reality of late-stage capitalism in crisis.

Sanders & his ilk seek to improve the material conditions of the middle, and to a much lesser extent, working classes WITHOUT addressing the system which creates and will continue to create the conditions seeking to be reformed.

Sanders’ kabuki theater “revolution” is a essentially a morphine drip for the petty bourgeois Millennials who are the first generation in the advnced post-industrial west to experiance the full savagry of late stage-capitalism in crisis. His policies would make the current generation more comfortable with their misery under the current system, and would have as a consequence the INTENSIFICATION AND PROLONGATION of the crisis and its’ attendent woes & brutalities. Only the overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement with communism will ameliorate the condition of the working classes & disintegrate the class barriers that stratify society. Sanders is a new coat of paint on the walls of the same old reformist blind alley.

 

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poetry

An Ichthyarchy

Goyafish

Blessed be the wrath of me

my fervor an aeipathy

febrile and sweet sweat

a cotton cloth well met

high mound of dead flagblenny

remains of ichthyarchy

down nepenthe, drown regret

So much I must forget

on down upon bleeding knee

I intone the rosary

Drag on glass by teeth wet

blood Sherry I pay my debt

want and wish and mourn for slavery

instead of man mart bibliopoly

qat on tongue blemish bet

I know it is niff a loo debt

witch watt in the right race cavity

deposit something else white gravity

they fool themselves and fear the Tet

align themselves with the hellbound set

they decry their wholesome scaevity

at mount mass Abraham’s thysiastery

blessed be the wretch who let

the space where her grapes Zion blet

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Immigration

Some Excerpts From a Debate on Immigration

CALIFORNIA-FAMILIAS INMIGRANTES

The following is from a debate I had only with a xenophobic anti-immigrant fellow. I have removed his name for privacy’s sake.

A. [Redacted], you are being defensive and calling out everyone for attacking you for correctly characterizing your opinions and views as bigoted and xenophobic. Does that make you a bigot or a xenophobe? I don’t know. Only you know that. In other words stop whining. No one is forcing you to enter this “den of leftists” (and I am sick and tired of right wing people trying to dehumanize their opponents by calling them by random nouns… “the leftist” “the illegal”…just shut it…we are all human) 

B. English is not and has never been the official language if the USA. We have no official language. We have always had different languages spoken in this nation and government documents have been printed in multiple languages for generations now and last I checked the Chinese have yet to invade. 

C. I would always wish to be on, or even err on, the side of social justice and openness. If that means a small expense to us blessed, pure blooded, “native born” people then so be it. I am willing to live with your discomfort Angel. 

D. There is no evidence that the people coming into this nation are any more crime prone then any other random assortment of people. On the contrary, immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have a lower crime rate then native citizens. Don’t take my word for it though…I got this info from a few minutes of searching the FBI crime statistics database. It is laughable for those racists in Murrieta, California to call the “illegals” criminals…these are babies, toddlers, and their mothers. They meet the federal definition for refugee status, and that is why they were being taken to federal processing centers: to ASSESS THEIR STATUS. So what the protesters were ACTUALLY doing was disrupting the legal process of finding out who these people are, their status, and what do do with them. They are disrupting the very thing they are calling for. So they are not just racists, they are fools as well. 

E. WE CREATED the crisis in these Central American countries that is leading these people to flee. The gangs that run rampant in the streets there are tools of the corrupt governments that we have propped up and funded for years at the expense of democratic and social justice oriented movements in this nations. Look at what we did in El Salvador with the literal death squads, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala. We are reaping what we sowed during the Monroe Doctrine fueled imperial backed corporate land grab perpetrated by this government under both Democrats and Republicans since at least the early 1800’s. We have a responsibility to these people and we owe them at least a fair chance at asylum. 

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Constitution

Thought on Constitutional Rights

Rousseau

In his Giles Hickory letters published during the debate on the Federal Constitution (and on whether it should include an enumerated bill of rights) Noah Webster wrote

I know it is said that other nations have lost their liberties by the ambitious designs of their rulers, and we may do the same. The

experience of other nations furnishes the ground of all the arguments used in favor of an unalterable constitution. The advocates seem

determined that posterity shall not lose their liberty, even if they should be willing and desirous to surrender it. If a few

declarations on parchment will secure a single blessing to posterity, which they would otherwise lose, I resign the argument and will

receive a thousand declarations. Yet so thoroughly convinced am I of the opposite tendency and effect of such unalterable declarations,

that, were it possible to render them valid, I should deem every article an infringment [sic] of civil and political liberty. 

 

Webster was a true critic of constitutional systems and a strong proponent of a more representative and malleable form of government and governing charter. His was not a libertarian view of government, at least not the anarchic and all but lawless form of libertarianism subscribed to by modern conservatives and Free Market cultists. This is the sort of libertarianism that errs on the side of protecting human decency and using the mechanisms of government to protect and expand upon liberties and rights, and to protect their exercise in the public realm. Not an individuated liberty, but a societal and collective one based on the philosophy of the social contract.

James Madison, on the other hand, had a very different view on the subject of rights. In the National Gazette he wrote

In its larger and juster meaning, [property] embraces every thing [sic] to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.  In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandise, or money is called his property.

In the latter sense, a man has property in his opinions and the free communication of them.

He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.

He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.

In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.

 

The equation of landed and capital property with intellectual, religious, personal freedom and the needs of common man for his welfare creates a system wherein the rights of man can be parceled, packaged, and negotiated over. Every court is a court of property, all law is property law, all rights are subject to constitutional justification, codification, negotiation i.e. all rights derive from a contract, being in this sense a contract concerning business affairs and services demanded and expected. The Enlightenment as applied through constitutional law by the founders turns man into a commodity and universalizes the notion of a liberal political economy. Man as merchandise, rights as property, laws as contract, life as waste land made civil and useful by exploitation…

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extremism, opinion, Politics

The False Hope of President Obama: A Critical View From A Far-Left Former Supporter

keepcalm

I must admit my part in a horrible mistake. In 2008, a lifetime ago from the perspective of my political and intellectual development, I supported the campaign of Barack Obama for the Presidency of the United States. This was back when I still believed that change and reform could come from the current political system and its elected leaders. I believed that a charismatic, kind seeming, friendly, ambitious and intelligent young liberal could bring about some change and move us forward as a society. I no longer suffer under this delusion. Barack Obama was and remains a remarkably talented people-pleaser and political operator.

Unfortunately he has used his talents to further the interests of friends and colleagues in corporate finance, big business and in the lobbyist class. Obama is not a Muslim nor is he a Kenyan…but he is a corporatist, a militarist and an avowed capitalist. He is no socialist. If he were I would seriously have to reconsider my political philosophy. A socialist does not sell the government to the highest corporate bidder and he does not open his arms to all the bankers, investors and financiers who ruined the economy you have pledged to repair.

My problems with Barack Obama began when I realized the extent of his support for covert warfare and high tech weapons. He seems to have taken the profane security apparatus put together by the men and women who controlled George W. Bush and used to it further an ever expanding war on terror. He has surrounded himself with ex-Bushies and former defense contractors and manufacturers who tell him that there is no limit to what must be done to protect the “homeland”. Unprompted preemptive drone warfare is now seen as a legitimate way of maintaining our always tenuous feeling of security. Our government now tries to claim the authority to assassinate US citizens abroad who they deem to be a “terrorist” or even just a “supporter” of terrorism. Even Bush did not go this far. That is not to say that Obama is “worse” than Bush. This is a red herring thrown out by liberal apologists trying desperately to justify the rejection of the ideals they claimed to stand for when it was a conservative who demanded unlimited extra-judicial military power.

The point is not who has done more wrong but what wrong is being done and how is it being justified? The “traitors” have become the “patriots” and the left has taken the place the right monopolized for the past decade: as the representatives of national security, government power and institutional preservation. The left may be less crass and overtly bigoted in their exercising of the patriotic prerogative but they are just as skilled as the establishment right at manipulating the fears and anxieties of a society told for decades that they are one major terrorist attack away from societal collapse. The point is not that one president is worse than the other on these issue, the point is that with each new president the national security apparatus is expanded and built up upon the foundations created by the last. The presidency has become a creeping pseudo-dictatorship that exploits political loyalties and genuine goodwill for their imperialist and corporatist causes.

I truly tried to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt. I naively believed that change to the system could occur within the system itself by replacing leadership. I, along with many of my left wing comrades, bought into the euphoria surrounding the election of a charismatic and amiable leader with a fascinating and compelling background and story. But I slowly came to realize that black, white, latino or otherwise the presidency is the presidency and it possess an allure and an intoxicating sense of ethical invincibility that verges upon the delusional. It is the office itself that is corrupting, it is the system that demands that a president must abandon principle in favor of self-justifying realpolitik. The executive now has powers and a scope never contemplated by the founders, flawed as they were, and for the most part the people are dazzled into complaisance by the glamour and spectacle of an imperial presidency. Who doesn’t like pomp, circumstance and feel good nationalistic self-importance, especially when it comes wrapped in a smiling face and a self-deprecating sense of humor? We are coached by our media and by our popular culture to see the president as a sort of uber-American, the personification of all our aspirations and values. How can the man who roles easter eggs with adorable children on the White House lawn be the same man who orders drone strikes on farmers and Islamic militants without provocation?

The “preemptive” warfare condemned by the left under Bush II has now become the new normal under an Obama administration increasingly obsessed with its own power. The same anti-war left that took to the streets over the disgusting abuse of power by the Bush administration now hems and haws when confronted with the fact that the man they elected to erase the stain of the Bush years as largely embraced his predecessors national security philosophy. Where then is the moral core of the establishment left? When the left resorts to apologizing for what it once found morally reprehensible when practiced by a member of the opposition why is there any reason to believe they have our interests at heart?

As the Manning case, the Al-Awlaki assassination and the general criminalization of public dissent demonstrate, the perimeters by which terrorist activities are defined continue to expand exponentially. Journalist Jeremy Scahill, during an interview on MSNBC, noted that by choosing to carry on with this targeted assassination program we are forced to deal with the very elements of society that we claim are out to get us. We are “out-sourcing our kill program” to “warlords” and Al-qaida affiliated thugs. He goes on to say

“One of the things we see under President Obama is the expansion of “signature strikes”, this idea that [accused militants] are engaged in pre-crime like [The book and film] Minority Report, where we are targeting people based on a pattern of life.

A pattern of life and behavior that has a priori been labeled a threat by the powers at be based on perameters that we are not privy to, nor should be be privy to according to those same powers. How is this in anyway a “liberal” position? Was this the sort of “change” from the Bush administration that millions of liberal minded voters wanted from the man they elected president twice? Why do accept near-tyrannical exploitation of our fears and anxieties when it is done in the name of liberalism? And while the gnashing of teeth from the Right over these abuses smacks of the most hysterical sort of hypocrisy their anger serves to confirm the idea that when you give unlimited power to one you trust that same power may be used by someone someday who you would less like to see wield it.

Add on top of all this the emerging facts about an NSA domestic spying program that dwarfs that undertaken by the Bush administration during its nadir and one can begin to realize that there really is no substantive difference between the Democratic and GOP positions regarding the national/homeland security state. The only difference is cosmetic, really a matter of PR. Obama may actually be the best sort of liberal the capitalist system can offer: a happy intellectual who tells us how he will keep us safe and that we should not worry our pretty little heads about programs that we were never supposed to know about in the first place.

So once more I must admit my mistake. I bought into the simple-minded politics of fear and faction when I voted for and supported Obama. When Exxon, GE, Lockeed Martin Goldman Sachs and faceless security “analysts” have more say over the policy of the US then do 300 million citizens is it really time to quibble over whether the person who caters to their every demand has a D or an R after his name? Obama is not the solution or the problem. He is in fact quite irrelevant in the scheme of things. The real problem is the ever expanding power of the executive and his officers. We must stop expecting change to come from the presidency because the presidency as it has been reimagined since 9/11 is an office dependent upon ethical and societal stagnation, or at least apathy in regards to our own human rights. We must reject the allure of the traditional political process easy jingoistic scapegoating and strike out on our own in a new direction, a new path that leads to true democracy and an empowered people and society, a nation that is not dependent upon the suffering or exploitation of a world we are constantly told we must fear. We must give up on our political “heroes” and begin to see the potential within ourselves. We are better than Bush, we are better than Clinton and we are better than Obama. Change will come when we begin to realize this fact.

UPDATE: The NSA whistle-blower has come forward and it is Edward Snowden, a former analyst and adviser for the NSA. Here is a an interview with the man, who is now on the run from the US government http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-interview-video

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Democracy, Liberty, Philosophy, Politics

The Quiet Tyranny of High Expectations: Thoughts on the American Dream

If you work hard and you are not lazy and you really believe in the American Dream, then you too can have everything you ever need. Preferably you will be a business owner and “job creator” and not a worker drone who is a leech on society. We must be a society of owners and managers and bosses. Everyone can be a millionaire, and if you end your life below market expectations then you have no one to blame for this except for yourself and your lack of drive and hard work.

Or so we have been told for over 100 years in this country.

Before there was a cohesive labor movement in this nation there was just labor: often for your own family or for a small mill or a farm owned by your landlord. Life was hard and often work was harder, and the rewards were unfairly apportioned. But, you worked and nothing more was expected of you by your kin and your fellow workers. Surviving was thriving, and most people hung onto the very edge of both. The rich were the rich by virtue of birth or by force, and they had an almost deity like influence on the lives of the poor workers who never really knew their presence as fellow human beings. There was no tease, no promise of “this can be you if only”…There was work and there was death. The former led to the later while at the same time holding it off for as long as it could. If there was a dream it was not an “American” one…it was a workers dream, a dream of surviving to enjoy some of the fruits of your labor. Not much was excepted of the working and poor classes, so when they were able to have relatively happy lives it was seen by the community and the society as a bonus, and as an example of how luck can play as much of a role has skill and hard work in making a “successful” life. And this was only if you were not born a chattel slave!

Things began to change with the shift from overtly slaved based feudal proto-capitalism to the modern industrial verity. People no longer had the ability to take care of themselves the way the once did; populations were growing and the strain on each and every family was getting greater and more unbearable. There were other pressures as well: pressures from a newly emerging consumer market that began to suggest, quietly at first but with increasing urgency and rhetorical violence that your life was not worth living as it was. Capitalism promised a better life, a life more full of possessions and promises of yet more lavish and expensive possessions later on. There were new things to eat, new things to wear, new pieces of ephemera with which you could adorn your simple and oh so pathetically inadequate life. So it was time to leave the confines of subsistence and sustainable expectations, as meager and as unfair as they were, in order to pursue a new life in the bosom of industrial capitalism.

There we find the sons and daughters of slaves and farmers, men and women used to the smell of manure and the aroma of backed bread and wild flowers. They are now stuck toiling, choking on the industrial effluvia that passes for air in the factories and steel mills and slaughter houses and breweries. The worked far beyond their natural capacity; they shortened their lives, ruined their health, and filled their days with mind numbing repetitive action. They also rarely saw their families anymore. Of course industrialization led to amazing advancements in culture, technology and even medicine, but for the poor and the working classes you caused these things to come into existence they might as well have been the peacocks and gold plates of the old Liege Lord’s table: entirely unattainable. There is a special kind of cruelty in being forced to manufacture and ship objects, products, foodstuffs and tools that you cannot ever possibly afford. That cruelty though was beginning to be offset by a new incentive, a capitalist incentive. It was no longer appropriate to outright enslave people as chattel. That was far to uncivilized a system. Something was needed that was far more palatable to the blasé bourgeoisie Christian guilt that was now in fashion. Something like a pious servitude, a system that could bring in hordes of men, women and children who would gladly sacrifice themselves for some greater reward to come. Something like a dream.

You toil, you fall ill, you are treated like a piece of the machinery you work with, but hidden within you is an upper class gentleman or gentlewoman! Why subsist when you can indulge and grow in wealth and status forever! That nice rented home you have? It is a token of the lowly failure that is your life. Don’t you want your children to be better? And their children? And theirs? The American dream of perpetual advancement seemed to be a material Fibonacci sequence that was self-sustaining and self-justifying. Why do you need these new things? Why do you need to own a house you cannot possibly fill? Why do you need to own a car that only serves to get you where the capitalists want you to shop? Why do you need products to make you more appealing? Because you must show off your wealth and status and shame your neighbors and their failure. Because those things that you are told you want to buy the rich already have and look how happy and moral they are! Because your lower class stink is overwhelming and the grim of the factory and the farm still colors you as a lesser being.

Work! The dream becomes even more appealing, and even more unattainable. The promise of the next generation being better off than the last, as impossible and unnatural as that promise was, became the motto of the working classes: work and you will become better than who you are! For if working towards more material and capital success makes you a better person, then being poor is of course a lesser sort of existence for a lesser sort of humanity. How to explain away the nasty little fact that out of millions who work themselves to the bone only a relative handful ever achieve anything remotely approaching comfort, let alone the relative affluence of the American Dream? Well that is where the mentality of the old order, the feudal order, comes in handy. Some are lazy and meant to be poor, some fail themselves and their communities by daring to fall on hard times. If an American fails at his chosen (or chosen for him) profession then there must be something wrong with that American, or with his work ethic. And what is a work ethic but red badge of conformity and fealty to a mode of production and acquisition that creates the potential for infinite growth? The value of hard work is no longer just valued for its ability to keep a family and a community alive and possibly comfortable. No, that is not enough in the new world where everything MUST have a marketable value: Working hard means that you are given your all to the masters of industry, to the people who bless the lesser elements of humanity with the left-overs from the great feast that is made from the fruit of their indomitable genius. For surely no man who is rich can be rich without a reason? No man is rich who does not deserve it, and not man is poor without his deserving that state as well. Wealth is self-justifying, and above reproach. The American dream is a creed, and the “successful” (by standards created by and for the successful) are the prophets and the priests of that holy edifice that is the American Free market.

So they found themselves slaves again, only this time it was a more spiritual and emotional kind of slavery, and many, many more people found themselves in chains. Fortunately for the fragile and hypocritical values of “society” this slavery was an acceptable sort; they type of servitude where the slave can be blamed for his own condition because he chose to become a part of that system of his own free will. You cannot be a slave if you choose your own chains! And the trappings of wage labor…Well salaries can be cut or “negotiated” down with the token Unions we allow them. The hours can be cut because we will just invent new modes of working that force more activity and seeming productivity into every second. And if all else fails we can just blame the government for coddling and spoiling those brats of the working class. When your worth is work it follows that when you are not working, even if it is not of your own choice, you have no worth. The Dream must be preserved, and it is the new standard of what it is to even be a worthwhile human being. Everyone can be a success…if by everyone you mean everyone who is a success. It is easy to round out the math when you drop the lowest common denominators: everyone who was not lucky enough to be born into wealth or lucky enough to come upon it through the random turn of events that define life.

But, if any man can “luck” upon wealth, then that means there is nothing morally superior about the American Dream. That cannot do…The workers will not toil for an ethos that has no eternal and intrinsic value to it. So therefor there must be no luck…Luck is just another word for success, another word for hard work. Luck is just another merit in the mind of the worker to be anything but a worker: abandon all hope all those who do not succeed. And what is success? If you have to ask you are already a drain on the system. The value of capitalism and the market is in that intangible feeling that you are getting away with something. If the bar is set high enough only those born in mid jump have a real chance. Or else they must happen upon a benefactor who cares enough to give them a boost. This is a tyranny of high expectations, a system based on the idea that if you do not succeed you were never meant to succeed in the first place. The American Dream is just that; and it is not even a dream of the working or poor classes.

It is a reverie made up out of whole cloth by those who have wealth and wish to acquire more by leveraging the work and sweat of others into gold they can wear about their necks and on their little fingers. And the most insidious thing is this: the rich and the powerful do not even need to expend the energy bringing this message to the lower classes: every poor mother sings the lullaby of great expectations to their children as the drift off to sleep. Every working man works for a future that could be his if only if he toils just one minute more. There is no need for a lash or a bludgeon if you have a dream that seems real but is not. The mind of a man is the cruelest tool of the oppressor  because that very mind can persuade itself that they too can be better than who they are. And better still if they can work themselves into the graves for the future of their children! Children are the future, and the future always seems to offer more potential, at least in the minds of the men and women who live stuck and toiling in the present.

For that is the most insidious part of the American Dream…It is infectious and thrives on the hopes and dreams of the naïve and the innocent. In the eyes of a child his parents can do no wrong, they cannot be working for nothing because…well because then there is no reason for them to leave them the way they do. There must be a dream! There must be dream that justifies the sacrifice of the family and the community upon the alter of progress and the market. It cannot just be for a rare shot at riches…There must be a pot of gold to find! And indeed the act of working hard and leaving the family must be a virtue. Or else…What is the point? And that is a possibility that the rich and the powerful cannot allow to be ruminated upon: what if there is no point to hard work? What if the riches of the world are apportioned largely at birth and after that mostly at the fickle whim of luck? What if it is not better to work hard for someone else? What if it is indeed ok to settle for “less”, if that less means that you are happy and able to know the family and community we are told to value? What if success is just a word, just a dream unto itself, a concept that has no objective meaning and no inherent value? What if we do not need all that we are told we need?

But that is just a lie, the sentiment of losers and failures and freeloaders who do not want to be part of the most perfect system the world has ever known: The Market! So strive you workers! Toil and slave and sacrifice for the good of the company and the shareholders! It is in their hands that your fate resides, in their hands and yours…If you continue to work them raw.

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