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Sat Oct 22, 2011 at 05:47 PM PDT

Miep banned. Kos sucks.

by goinsouth

Miep, a dear soul and faithful contributor to DK, has been banned.

I admit to negligence myself.  I have checked on a regular basis to see if Miep had resumed posting after the Obamabots (ban my ass) ran her off, but it has been a few weeks since I last checked.

Now I see this on Miep's website.  Check her username to see the Skull and Bones confirmed.

It surprises me not one bit that a cold-blooded Capitalist (and anti-feminist) like Kos would ban Miep, who is as far from being "a dick" as anyone could be, even as the essentially conformist, Establishment Kos defines it.

Long ago, folks, a lot of us made a big mistake of congregating at this blog and at two or three other profit-makers.  That's water under the bridge.

The question is will we let the "owner," an aspiring 1%-er (and he is), continue to make a mockery of the values of open access for a variety of interesting voices?  People are standing up to the banks by putting their bodies on the line.  Can we stand up to a Capitalist bully by at least writing a few diaries?  (Cue the "he owns it, if you don't like it, go somewhere else" crowd, same as JPM or GS would say.)

I'm not advocating a boycott.  Instead, I'm inviting the friends of Miep to write diaries, lots of them, condemning this asinine act.  Flood the Recents.  And email Kos and other FP-ers.

I don't know all the details.  I'm sure the site lawyer will show up and vaguely hint some bullshit, just like the banks, the politicians, the parties and the rest of them do.

I "know" Miep via this site.  She's a sweet soul.  Non-conformist.  Blunt.  Raunchy now and then.  But if the readers of this site allow Kos to bully someone like Miep, then we suck just like he does.

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Is Kos a dick for banning Miep?

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Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 07:03 PM PDT

Occupy **** and the Paulites

by goinsouth

I'm taking time to write this because it may have some applicability to other Occupy situations and because I'm taking some time off, having personally achieved the remarkable technological achievement of a hot water shower in the rehab we're doing--and living in.  Warning: the reasoning may be affected by all that PVC cement I've been exposed to.

At the IWW meeting tonight, we had a discussion about our local Occupy movement and whether the Paulites who are showing up constitute a major threat to its future.

One Wob felt that a burgeoning focus on the Fed, pushed in part by Paulites and InfoWarsmen, foretold a plunge into reactionary politics for our local Occupy, and that the IWW should therefore remain aloof.

I doubt if the experience in our city is unique.  It would not surprise me to see genuine Zero Hedge type Propertarians and Alex Jones aficionados attracted to an Occupy site because they do share some of the same anti-Establishment, anti status quo views as Wobs, Anarchists, socialists, etc.  It would surprise me even less if Koch-style astroturfers were being hired to disrupt Occupy sites with an attempt to turn it in a reactionary direction, just as my comrade fears.

My response was that we should not fear a Fed focus or anything that comports with the general view that things are fucked up.  

I see a lot of the Zero Hedge commenters/writers undergoing a severe challenge to their worldview.  The best analogy is someone living in a defeated nation (like Israel in the 6th century BCE) in the Ancient Near East.  You have a national god who provides you with everything: victory in war against other nations with other gods, rain, fertility for your livestock and your women (that's the way they viewed it and a lot of ZH-ers still do).  Everything was great until things went sour, and you had a drought or a famine.  Maybe you even lost a war and the enemy even came into town and knocked down your god's house/temple.  That's a serious challenge to your worldview.

There are two basic responses.  One is what we find in most of the historical sections of the bible.  "We must have done something wrong to offend our god."  The way to set things right was to increase your offerings, change the way you make sacrifices, change your priesthood or wear sackcloth and ashes for a year or two.  Maybe that way, your god would like you again, the rains would return or your enemies would drop dead of some plague.

That's what the Paulites and the ZH folks sound like to me.  Their god, Capitalism, is on the ropes.  Maybe if we offered it gold instead of paper or we got rid of the lousy Fed priesthood, then Capitalism would love us again, and "Leave It to Beaver" days would return.

Understanding Paulites and ZH-ers that way (sincere ones, not astroturfers), they seem more like an opportunity for conversion than enemies.  There is, of course, a different response than the "we must have done something wrong" one.  The truth may be that our "god"--whether he be the YHWH of the Israelites or our Late Stage Capitalism--sucks, and we should get rid of him.

One final and perhaps unpopular point: I view "progressives" who wish for a return to New Deal laws and remedies in much the same way.  It would take a white shoe Wall Street lawyer about ten minutes to figure a way around Glass Steagall today or, failing that, to buy the regulator who would enforce it.  Technology and corruption have combined to make regulating Capitalism a completely impossible task, and as long as we allow the rich to be the decision-makers for the rest of us, we are screwed.

Not only are we the 99 Percenters.  We are all leaders.

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I think Capitalism would love us again if...

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| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 05:54 PM PDT

The Genius and Idiocy of the Left

by goinsouth

Recent events at DailyKos have illustrated in a particularly acute way the idiocy of the Left in America.  If you are perplexed and flummoxed at how a country that has experienced a complete failure of Capitalism in 2008 could now be at the threshhold of throwing itself into the arms of supply-side, Chicago, lunatic economics, this is my attempt at explaining why.

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The American Left

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David Graeber is an anthropologist, an anarchist and a Kossack.

Graeber was interviewed  by Philip Pilkington about his newest book, Debt, the First 5,000 Years, and the interview appears at Naked Capitalism today.

(How is it that NC has become an anarchists' hangout?)

If you'd like to read something more stimulating than the latest DK meta war over Obama, I'd encourage you to give this a look.  The unusually long Naked Capitalism thread, in which Graeber participates at length, is also worth a read.

Here's a few teaser excerpts:

Yes there’s a standard story we’re all taught, a ‘once upon a time’ — it’s a fairy tale.

It really deserves no other introduction: according to this theory all transactions were by barter. “Tell you what, I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow.” Or three arrow-heads for that beaver pelt or what-have-you. This created inconveniences, because maybe your neighbor doesn’t need chickens right now, so you have to invent money.

The story goes back at least to Adam Smith and in its own way it’s the founding myth of economics. Now, I’m an anthropologist and we anthropologists have long known this is a myth simply because if there were places where everyday transactions took the form of: “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow,” we’d have found one or two by now. After all people have been looking since 1776, when the Wealth of Nations first came out. But if you think about it for just a second, it’s hardly surprising that we haven’t found anything.

Think about what they’re saying here – basically: that a bunch of Neolithic farmers in a village somewhere, or Native Americans or whatever, will be engaging in transactions only through the spot trade. So, if your neighbor doesn’t have what you want right now, no big deal. Obviously what would really happen, and this is what anthropologists observe when neighbors do engage in something like exchange with each other, if you want your neighbor’s cow, you’d say, “wow, nice cow” and he’d say “you like it? Take it!” – and now you owe him one. Quite often people don’t even engage in exchange at all – if they were real Iroquois or other Native Americans, for example, all such things would probably be allocated by women’s councils.

So the real question is not how does barter generate some sort of medium of exchange, that then becomes money, but rather, how does that broad sense of ‘I owe you one’ turn into a precise system of measurement – that is: money as a unit of account?

Well, I think this is a prime example of why existing arrangements are clearly untenable. Obviously the ‘whole debt’ cannot be paid. But even when some French banks offered voluntary write-downs for Greece, the others insisted they would treat it as if it were a default anyway. The UK takes the even weirder position that this is true even of debts the government owes to banks that have been nationalized – that is, technically, that they owe to themselves! If that means that disabled pensioners are no longer able to use public transit or youth centers have to be closed down, well that’s simply the ‘reality of the situation,’ as they put it.

These ‘realities’ are being increasingly revealed to simply be ones of power. Clearly any pretence that markets maintain themselves, that debts always have to be honored, went by the boards in 2008. That’s one of the reasons I think you see the beginnings of a reaction in a remarkably similar form to what we saw during the heyday of the ‘Third World debt crisis’ – what got called, rather weirdly, the ‘anti-globalization movement’. This movement called for genuine democracy and actually tried to practice forms of direct, horizontal democracy. In the face of this there was the insidious alliance between financial elites and global bureaucrats (whether the IMF, World Bank, WTO, now EU, or what-have-you).

When thousands of people begin assembling in squares in Greece and Spain calling for real democracy what they are effectively saying is: “Look, in 2008 you let the cat out of the bag. If money really is just a social construct now, a promise, a set of IOUs and even trillions of debts can be made to vanish if sufficiently powerful players demand it then, if democracy is to mean anything, it means that everyone gets to weigh in on the process of how these promises are made and renegotiated.” I find this extraordinarily hopeful.

I look forward to reading the book.

For further introduction to Graeber, you can check out this interview with Charlie Rose held shortly after Graeber was fired from Yale.

Discuss

Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 05:39 AM PDT

Direct Action Works!

by goinsouth

There's a story in today's New York Times demonstrating yet again that direct action works:

From inside Mary Lee Ward’s small and sparsely furnished living room in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, it sounded Friday as if a block party was in full swing in the street below. Cars and trucks honked their horns as they passed and almost 200 voices could be heard cheering and chanting.

But this was no street party; it was not yet 9 a.m. and the crowd outside was there as a line of defense.

Ms. Ward — a tiny, soft-spoken 82-year-old — faced eviction by a city marshal on Friday morning, as the result of a subprime mortgage she took out in 1995. The lender, which filed for bankruptcy in 2007, had subsequently been investigated for predatory and discriminatory practices. And so neighbors, friends, housing advocates and supporters formed a thick human wall outside Ms. Ward’s small, gray house on Tompkins Avenue.

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What kind of direct action are you willing to participate in?

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Forbes online magazine today contains yet another startling admission that Capitalism is in serious trouble, "The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War:"

The riots that hit London and other English cities last week have the potential to spread beyond the British Isles. Class rage isn’t unique to England; in fact, it represents part of a growing global class chasm that threatens to undermine capitalism itself.

That's shocking enough coming from Forbes, especially after business school professor Nouriel Roubini admitted last week that Marx was right about Capitalism destroying itself, but what really amazed me about the Forbes article was the confession that Capitalism has always relied on religion to protect it from angry, exploited workers:

The growing chasm between the classes has its roots in globalization, which has taken jobs from blue-collar and now even white-collar employees; technology, which has allowed the fleetest and richest companies and individuals to shift operations at rapid speed to any locale; and the secularization of society, which has undermined the traditional values about work and family that have underpinned grassroots capitalism from its very origins.

Now many people are familiar with Marx's contempt for religion's role in keeping the working class down:

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Less well known, however, but more directly pertinent to the Forbes article is Emma Goldman's analysis of the three oppressive pillars of Capitalist society: Religion, Private Property and Government.

Religion, the dominion of the human mind; Property, the dominion of human needs; and Government, the dominion of human conduct, represent the stronghold of man's enslavement and all the horrors it entails.

Emma treats each in turn:

Religion! How it dominates man's mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began...

Property, the dominion of man's needs, the denial of the right to satisfy his needs. Time was when property claimed a divine right, when it came to man with the same refrain, even as religion, "Sacrifice! Abnegate! Submit!"

Just as religion has fettered the human mind, and as property, or the monopoly of things, has subdued and stifled man's needs, so has the State enslaved his spirit, dictating every phase of conduct. "All government in essence," says Emerson, "is tyranny." It matters not whether it is government by divine right or majority rule. In every instance its aim is the absolute subordination of the individual.

Referring to the American government, the greatest American Anarchist, David Thoreau, said: "Government, what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instance losing its integrity; it has not the vitality and force of a single living man. Law never made man a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well disposed are daily made agents of injustice."

So now Forbes acknowledges the truth of what both Marx and Emma Goldman have claimed--religion with its "Pie in the Sky when you die" and its "respect for authority" has been an essential tool of Capitalism since that system was born.  Now that religion's sway over the people has declined, the threat of revolution increases.

Emma Goldman did have a solution for getting rid of the three-headed monster that dominates our lives:

Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.

So how did Forbes magazine end up agreeing with Emma Goldman?  Maybe somebody's been hanging out too much at Red Emma's in Baltimore.

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First Roubini. Now Forbes. Who's next?

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Nouriel Roubini is a mainstream economist who teaches at New York University and may be best known as one of the early predictors of the '08 crash.

He is no Marxist.

But today, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Roubini admitted that Marx was right about Capitalism and raised the possibility that Capitalism is destroying itself in the way Marx outlined more than a century and a half ago.

I've produced a rough transcript (Roubini's accent gives me some trouble) of the critical portion of this very interesting interview.  I urge you to read each word carefully at least once, if not twice.

WSJ:  So you painted a bleak picture of sub-par economic growth going forward, with an increased risk of another recession in the near future.  That sounds awful.  What can government and what can businesses do to get the economy going again or is it just sit and wait and gut it out?

Roubini:  Businesses are not doing anything.  They're not actually helping.  All this risk made them more nervous.  There's a value in waiting.  They claim they're doing cutbacks because there's excess capacity and not adding workers because there's not enough final demand, but there's a paradox, a Catch-22.  If you're not hiring workers, there's not enough labor income, enough consumer confidence, enough consumption, not enough final demand.  In the last two or three years, we've actually had a worsening because we've had a massive redistribution of income from labor to capital, from wages to profits, and the inequality of income has increased and the marginal propensity to spend of a household is greater than the marginal propensity of a firm because they have a greater propensity to save, that is firms compared to households.  So the redistribution of income and wealth makes the problem of inadequate aggregate demand even worse.

Karl Marx had it right.  At some point, Capitalism can destroy itself.  You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to Capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand.  That's what has happened.  We thought that markets worked.  They're not working.  The individual can be rational.  The firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else's income and consumption.  That's why it's a self-destructive process.

The full interview is here.

The portion where Roubini talks about Marx and excess capacity is here.

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Is Capitalism about to bite the dust?

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 08:42 PM PDT

Why Republicans Hate Democrats

by goinsouth

I've been around long enough to remember when Democrats and Republicans used to be able to work with each other.  They did some bad stuff together, like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, but they also managed to work across the aisle to produce the Civil Rights Act.

What happened to produce this level of utter hatred among Republicans for Democrats?  After all, Democrats have been remarkably accommodating to Republicans whether they were in the White House or not, whether they were in the majority or not in the House or Senate.

So what's their beef?

Finally, my Internet hopping uncovered a website that explained it all.  Unfortunately, the site (whatwentwrong1589.org) was wiped and even the cached copy mysteriously disappeared.  Thanks be to the Gods of Cobol that I happened to make my own copy before it was lost forever.  Here is the pertinent material from that site's "About Us" page:

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Whose fault is it that electoral politics has so little meaning?

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 06:19 PM PDT

Wisconsin Activism: Old Style

by goinsouth

Not a diary.

I just saw a superb documentary produced by Wisconsin Educational Television back in 1979 called "The War at Home."  It tracks the anti-Vietnam War movement in Madison, Wisconsin from 1963 (Yes, that was the first protest) through the Army Math Building bombing.  Since it was done in 1979, the interviews with the participants take place when the events are relatively fresh in their minds.

An extraordinary amount of archive film was collected and used, including:

1) students shouting down Teddy Kennedy as he attempted to defend the Johnson Administration's conduct of the war;

2) the Madison police riot in response to the shutdown of Dow Chemical's recruiting on campus;

3) the Cambodian invasion/Kent State mass demonstrations.

There is a serious exploration of the most challenging questions of people's movements: the role of electoral politics (McCarthy campaign); militant confrontation; alliances across racial and gender groups; and the appropriateness of violence.

The film itself is part of that post-Watergate flowering of America when, for a brief, shining moment, we looked with open eyes at the truth about our country.

It's on Netflix.  I cannot find it on Youtube.  But it's worth seeking out, especially if you're from Wisconsin.

3)

Discuss

Sat May 28, 2011 at 08:18 PM PDT

Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?

by goinsouth

Have we entered the dreamless age?  At least as far as dreams of a better world go?  Have we become so cynical or despairing that we have given up on the idea of ALL humans living peacefully, abundantly, happily, creatively?

I haven't.  And I challenge anyone to name an unchangeable reason that dreams of a world more just, more fulfilling, more celebratory of human differences, more respectful of our environment and just plain more fun are impossible now that we have more knowledge than any human generation in history.

Continue Reading

Why We are "Reds"

Just give me one thing I can hold onto.
To believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go.

John Prine, "Angel from Montgomery"

Humans do not live by bread alone.

Jesus of Nazareth

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Langston Hughes

Continue Reading

You may have heard about McDonald's putting on a big public relations blitz about offering 50,000 new jobs around the country.  In some places, there were big crowds that showed up to apply and interview.

Today, Bloomberg reported on just how big those crowds were:

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