Category Archives: MARXISM

Soylent Green and corporations have less in common than you think.

Well, I’m breaking my self-imposed blog embargo for this missive. It’s been rattling in my head for a while and I just need to get it out.

It started with something a friend of mine said recently. A group of us were ragging on corporations, and someone commented about something vile a corporation recently did, and the friend quipped, “It’s almost like corporations were made up of people.” The subtext to his sarcasm was to imply that it’s silly to discuss corporations as if they’re some separate entity from humanity because, after all, corporations are made up of people and, evidently, will only do the same good and ill that humans do.

Unfortunately, despite what the conservative-leaning Supreme Court thinks (vis-à-vis “Citizens United v FEC”), corporations aren’t people. They are a collection of people, that, like any collection of people, make a gestalt that is very different than the sum of its parts. To claim to not be able to analyze and critique (and judge ethically) corporations as a separate thing because they’re made of people, is utterly meaningless. By that rationale, nothing could be said about anything within the realm of human culture and creation because, after all, it’s all made by, or made up of, people. Like all forms of human culture and its production, corporations can — and should — be analyzed and critiqued as a concept that acts separate and apart from humanity in general. Why?

Think of it this way: Would you walk into a library and find a literary book club in progress and expect it to behave and have the save motives and agenda as, say, the group of Ultimate Wrestling fans that show up regularly at the local sports bar? Or how about the local Baptist Bible study group versus the local Society for Creative Anachronism group? They’re all made of people, yes? But any group of people with a shared goal, or interest, is going to A. be very similar to other groups that have the same goals and interests; and B. be very different from groups with different goals and interests. Similar groups will be similar enough that you can usually talk about that kind of group using generalities, and different groups can be different enough to be able to critique them as altogether different entities. This sounds silly and obvious when stated like that, but it’s the ridiculously obvious reason corporations lend themselves to separate and justified deconstruction and critique apart from the motivations and behaviors of people in general.

One of the reasons should be obvious: self-selection. Particular type of people with particular types of demeanors, attitudes, outlooks, ideologies, will choose to associate themselves with others of similar types, under the banner of a shared goal or interest. You will find particular types of people at a book club and different particular types at the sports bar. Oh, sure, there will be cross-over. The occasional mixed-martial-art fan may also be a Jane Eyre fan, and the occasional Nicholas Sparks fan will be seen at the sports bar. But the exceptions point up the rule.

And so too with corporations. Particular types of people seek and earn MBAs and become stock traders and managers and accountants and whatnot who gravitate toward the corporate culture. And the larger, the more multi-national the corporation, the more the individual dissolves and melds into the background of the homogeneous culture of the corporation. Those who don’t fit in or are different than the corporate culture demands, either self-select to leave the culture, or get pushed out for not fitting in — not being a “team player.” And so the corporate culture self-reinforces and insulates itself even more in order to achieve its goals and realize its agenda.

And what is the corporation’s goals and agenda? All groups, organizations, have goals and agendas. The book club, the Bible study, the sports cub, the football team, the knitting circle, the SCA group, the anti-vaccination group, the local skeptics’ club, the Young Democrats, the Future Business Leaders of America… all groups that have come together for a shared interest have an overarching goal. And what is the corporation’s? Profit, pure and simple. Profit by means of selling a product or service to as close to 100% of the market share as possible, and by any means it can get away with. In fact, legally, a corporation can’t make operating decisions that would knowingly deprive the shareholders from making money. As observed by Robert Hinkley in “Redesigning Corporate Law,”

Distilled to its essence, [the law] says that the people who run corporations have a legal duty to shareholders, and that duty is to make money. Failing this duty can leave directors and officers open to being sued by shareholders. This explains why corporations find social issues such as humanrights irrelevant – because they fall outside the corporation’s legal mandate. Secondly, these provisions explain why executives behave differently than they might as individual citizens, because the law says their only obligation in business is to make money.

Well, you can’t make it more plain than that. Corporations exist to make money; and civil liberties, human rights, decency, laws, are all obstacles that must be worked around and, wherever possible, ignored and broken, in order to reach its goal.

A corporation, because of its self-selection and its over-aching goal that all members of the corporation buy into, makes the corporation act as something individualized and apart from humanity. In a way, a corporation is like a person — a sociopath. An amoral being without empathy or remorse, single-minded and manipulative, and dangerous. Capable and willing to do any harm necessary if it means getting what it wants.

In society, when an individual sociopathic human does harm, we punish them. We take them out of society. When a corporation does harm, what happens? The corporation may get fined, it may get sued. But as the link above explains, that’s just a cost of doing business. The corporation will likely continue on without a hitch, especially if it’s a multi-national where its finances are in the Cayman Islands, its management is in Dubai, and its production is in China. Some CEO or manager may become the face of “the problem,” get slapped on the wrist, leave the company — but the company persists as juggernaut. (And the CEO likely will be just fine as well, don’t you worry. Most corporate CEOs and managers sit on the board of directors of other corporations in an incestual game of musical chairs. Boards that hire on a new CEO from another corporation who leads the company for a while, makes several million, gets a few million more as a severance package even if he does a poor job, where he’ll move on to oversee the hiring of a CEO in another company he helps run.)

Oh, and by the way, most of the people on top, the CEOs and managers and directors of the board, aren’t generally people who started out at a community college and worked full time and took classes until they Made It. No, that group at the top, who shuffle around the companies and hand each other favors, are the type of people satirized in this “Note of Appreciation from the Rich.” So when the top of the corporate structure is led by these hereditary, dynastic, feudal lords, and the bottom 95% is constructed of those who strive to be like those at the top — you get a very particular type of culture.

Corporations are, in general, evil in the same way a psychopath is evil. (In fact, it’s estimated that an inordinate amount of corporate leaders are, in fact, sociopaths and psychopaths. Why? Again: self-selected culture.) So, like all and any construct of human creation, the corporation is something that has its own agenda, goals, motivations, effects, and sub-culture, which is perfectly open to deconstruction and ethical judgement.

For more, excellent analysis of why we should analyze and deconstruct any element of human culture, see Roland Barthes Mythologies. It’s actually very short, and a fascinating read.

 

Be it resolved…

This has, without a doubt, been an absolutely terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Probably the worst one, evah! (The only, and I mean only, bright spot was I finally got my Masters Degree in English . . . and even that’s pending until next year when I pay for and turn in super-expensive copies of my thesis and pay the rest of my school bill — not counting, of course, student loans I need to start paying on.) The badness is butting right up to the very end of the year in the last days. There’s been serious financial difficulties; there’s been a scary person, terrorizing my private and work life because they were offended by a political opinion I expresses online; there’s been legal scares; I’ve failed to make any progress on any of my writing career goals; our beloved family pet died; and the turmoil associated with completing my previously mentioned thesis. This year can’t end soon enough.

With the coming of this completely arbitrarily demarcated new year and new decade (contrary to popular opinion, decades begin on “1” years, e.g.: 2011, not “0,” e.g.: 2010), I need to make some serious changes; I need to refocus, re-prioritize, and start anew. As someone I don’t recall said, “If you want things to be different, you must do something different.”

Part of my problem is frakkin’ Facebook. It’s an evil, evil bane on productivity and a facilitator of my getting distracted and bent-out-of-shape about subjects that, while are important, serves only to make me upset and completely unproductive in regards to what’s even more important in my life: my nascent, budding writing career that I hope to make into a viable “second job,” with aspirations of it being my main job within a couple/few years.

In addition to the craptacular events that have sideswiped me and/or made me utter a general “WTF, world? W. T. F.?!” every other week, it seems, I recently read a blog post by writer/director Kevin Smith: “SMonologue #2.” The first half he discusses “Clerks 3” and the cost/process of investing in a movie idea and making it happen. But the important bit is the last half, in which he writes:

Continue reading Be it resolved…

On voting.

Once again, it’s the season where I’m absolutely inundated with requests — no, demands — that I vote. I’m told it’s my civic duty. I’m told in haughty, self-righteous, proud acrimony that if I don’t vote, I have no right to complain, as if my freedom of speech is revoked should choose to not select a career politician who I despise less than the other guy to “represent” me — when none of these people I’m told to select from actually represent me.

So, am I going to vote next week? Actually, yes. But, with caveats, and I’m more than happy to explain why.

First, a little parable:

Three wolves and six goats are discussing what to have for dinner. One courageous goat makes an impassioned case: “We should put it to a vote!” The other goats fear for his life, but surprisingly, the wolves acquiesce.

But when everyone is preparing to vote, the wolves take three of the goats aside. “Vote with us to make the other three goats dinner,” they threaten. “Otherwise, vote or no vote, we’ll eat you.”

The other three goats are shocked by the outcome of the election: a majority, including their comrades, has voted for them to be killed and eaten. They protest in outrage and terror, but the goat who first suggested the vote rebukes them: “Be thankful you live in a democracy! At least we got to have a say in this!”

Voting is a right. People fought and some literally died for he right to be able to vote in fair elections for such things as fair taxes, appropriate laws that are meant to help society function, and people who would represent them in a government by, of, and for the people.

But on most scales, that’s not what we have. We have a government where the higher up you go, the less you, as a person, are being represented so much as being governed in the interests of corporations. The congresspeople, the president, the massive support system that runs the federal government, are paid for by corporate profit — sanctified by the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend as much money as they wish to make sure the politicians vote in their interests. In fact, the only politicians at all that get to that high of a level, that get their name on the ballot, are politicians that, regardless of the R or the D next to their name, will support corporate interests over those of the people.

These people do not represent me. I don’t not wish to associate a vote, by right and purchased by many people braver than I who gave their lives to give me the privilege and not the obligation to do so, to any of these people. A vote for a less vile, less corporate-owned, less dishonest, politician is not an exercise in freedom and liberty and civic duty — it is an insult and a mockery of freedom and liberty.

My right to vote quite certainly includes my right to choose to not vote, if that represents my opinion that the people who are my forced choices do not represent me. If I despise both options I have to vote for, I will complain about either one of them regardless of whichever one wins, and I should not have to be compelled to associate myself with either repugnancey in order to be granted the boon of being able to complain about them.

Especially when what I complain about is not just the puppets that I’m forced to choose between, but the entire corrupted and perverted system that puts only bought-and-paid-for corporate tools as my choices for representation.

Indeed, there are people who don’t vote, not because they are exercising their right not to, but because they’re too uninformed, detached, and unconcerned about the process, the system, civil rights and duties. You know what? They too have a right to complain! All people have an inalienable right to speak their mind (granted, so long as it does not directly incite harm to others), regardless of whether they participate in the farce.

I may pity and scowl at them in my own elitist, condescending way for not being involved and interested and engaged in the process, the events, the system that essentially controls their lives. But they still have a right to complain.

The parable above is often used to illustrate what’s called the tyranny of democracy. The idea that the minority must concede to will of the majority for no better reason than because they’re the majority. We all know this is on many levels wrong and unethical. It was seen during segregation, where the racist views of the majority violated the rights of a minority. We can see it today in such things as California’s Prop 8 in which the rights of a minority were eliminated by a majority vote.

If you ever found yourself in a vastly outnumbered minority, and the majority voted that you had to give up something as necessary to your life as water and air, would you comply? When it comes down to it, does anyone really believe it makes sense to accept the authority of a group simply on the grounds that they outnumber everyone else? We accept majority rule because we do not believe it will threaten us – and those it does threaten are already silenced before anyone can hear their misgivings.

–From THE PARTY’S OVER: BEYOND POLITICS, BEYOND DEMOCRACY
http://thecloud.crimethinc.com/pdfs/democracy_reading.pdf

I agree with the position. Majority rule; minority suffers. That’s all well and good so long as you’re part of the majority. But everyone belongs in someone else’s minority group. What happens when the majority on a given position, or condition, votes to remove a right of yours? How fair is democracy to you then?

As an anarchist, I believe ultimately in the removal of all coerced obeisance to the will of another group, whether that group has the force of greater numbers, or a monopoly on violence (the state). But, like Marx who understood that capitalism was a necessary step on the road to socialism, then communism, I understand we’re likely not going to have mass anarchism (nor communism) within my lifetime. The state is here, and it’s not going anywhere, any time soon. And the structure of representative government, as corrupt and flawed and manipulated as it is, should at least somewhat be made to work for the people and not for corporations, whenever possible….

So, I’m going to vote next Tuesday, despite the fact it will be a violation of my integrity. (I don’t believe in the very system itself, I shouldn’t support it with my participation.) But, living completely on the grid, within the culture, subject to the will of the hegemonic cultural logic, and millions of other people have no choice — so I’ll go ahead and cast votes where, and only where, I have a choice in which I think one option is ethically acceptable, and not because it’s the alternative to a worse option. If neither option represents my beliefs, it’s not getting my approval simply because of some non-existent obligation to have to choose one.

What gets my goat, is how so many of the people who wallow in self-righteousness and decree that you’re unAmerican and not worthy of the right to free speech if you don’t vote, are people whose entire civic consciousness, entire political activity, entire involvement in the world around them, begin and end with that 30 minute exercise once every couple of years — maybe only every four years. And of course, that just the way those in power like it. Convince people that they’re actually capable of changing things, get rid of bad and install good, improve the system, by making them think that all they need to do is vote for person A or nearly identical person B, whose differences are those that make people bicker while ignoring the fact the rot goes down to the roots. Make people think that voting equals change, and just shuffle the same agents of corruption and dominance through the offices while the very system itself that underlies the main problems gets blissfully ignored.

So, if you’re one of those who sticks your nose into the air with superiority because you go out of your way to vote for a new boss, same as the old boss, save your breath on me. I’m going to participate in the farce. But you better anticipate some write-in names on my part.

Franklin & Marx, Beck & taxes.

Marx and FranklinComing up in this post: Glenn Beck and his perversion of history, logic, and data. Stay tuned.

There’s a hilarious video I can no longer find of a British comedy show sketch. Four stereotypical young anarchists come into a messy flat, and one of them passes out copies of Marx and Engles’ Capital. He says something like “OK, if we’re going to proper revolutionaries, we need to actually read this book, yeah?” “Yeah!” And with great, revolutionary gusto, they all open their copies and the leader starts reading: “The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as ‘an immense accumulation of commodities,’ its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity….” As he reads he starts getting more despondent and the others start looking distracted. After a few weighty sentences, he finally slams the book and says, “Ah bugger this. Let’s go kill someone!” “Yeah!” And off they go.

The sketch pointed out what most people, especially people who live in the U.S., have no clue about:

Continue reading Franklin & Marx, Beck & taxes.

And it profits none

If there’s anything Enron, the West Virginia mine tragedies, AIG and Goldman Sachs have taught us is that corporations care about safety, employees, doing the right thing, because capitalism and the mystical magical “invisible hand of the market” encourages corps and their owners to not put profit above all else!

Oh, wait….

  • “A Smoking Gun in BP’s Deep Horizon Mess”
  • http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2010/05/smoking-gun-bps-deep-horizon-mess
    “Seems that a crew from Schlumberger, on contract to BP, hightailed it off the platform at their own expense 6 hours before the blowout becuase BP refused their recommendation to shut down the well.”

  • “Costly, time-consuming test of cement linings in Deepwater Horizon rig was omitted, spokesman says”
  • http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/costly_time-consuming_test_of.html

    And the well-written and summary of the foundational causes of corporate disasters (whether it’s natural disaster or economic disaster)

  • BP Oil Spill A Crime Not A Disaster
  • http://www.socialistwebzine.org/2010/05/bp-oil-spill-crime-not-disaster.html

    “BP has fought the federal government on safety procedures that might have minimized the impact of the most recent spill for more than a decade. CEOs do not get bonuses based upon ensuring future generation’s access to resources, clean air, or a hospitable climate. The purpose of corporations is not to oversee the welfare of the people of the world, but to make money. Environmental damage is not factored into the corporate calculations of costs and profits. Instead, environmental damage is viewed as the collateral damage of the free market in operation.”

    Laboring upside down.

    upside down laborMarxist criticism of the capitalist system says that it’s rife with contradictions. I want to spend a few minutes discussing what I see is one of the biggest, overarching contradictions at the very foundations of capitalism. In short: capitalism has forced us to live in a world in which humans, (who presumedly control society, economy, and business), are expendable chattel.

    See, here’s the situation: Under capitalism you are an owner of capital (the richest 1 to 5% of the population), you are a laborer, or you are unemployed. Now, most people in the world are part of the labor class. (This includes those who own their own businesses. Unless you actually own production factories, airlines, a media conglomerate, a bank, you are not a capitalist. You are a laborer.) But here’s the switcheroony: labor costs is the most despised, inconvenient, troublesome cost to those who own and run businesses. All this piles of money handed out to the necessary evil of workers. Business owners (including the bourgeoisie who own small businesses), work and work (ironically) to minimize labor costs–cut benefits, lower pay, decrease the number of employees costing the company money.

    Seeing the problem here? The grand majority of human beings in the world are the enemy of business (so long as they’re labor and not consumers). Business grudgingly pays labor, as little as it can get away with, in order to give the masses the means to buy the commodities and services capitalism produces at obscene rates and worthlessness. The majority of the world’s population is the enemy of the very socio-economic base that they live under and serve.

    Now, Continue reading Laboring upside down.

    Brust on Capital.

    First, a little story:

    I’ve been a huge fan of SF author Steven Brust since circa 1988 when Taltos came out. (I didn’t know at the time that was not the first in the “Vlad Taltos” series, but it worked out OK.) After becoming a fan, I discovered Brust was a self-described Trotskyist. Being in my teens, early to mid-20s, I really didn’t have any idea what that was but I knew it was somehow connected to GASP! evil Communism! One part of my brain processed this information something like, “Huh, his writing is kick-ass, he seems really cool…perhaps whatever Trotskyism is it’s either a) inconsequential to who he is, or b) it’s not some all-encompassing evilness as my culture leads me to believe.” The other half of my mind processed more like, “LA LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING! I SEE NOTHINK! I HEAR NOTHINK! MOVE ALONG, CITIZEN!”

    So the cognitive dissonance was dealt with by ardently ignoring it.

    Until around 2007 when I started grad school and my first instructor was Dr. William Burling: the most influential professor, and one of the most influential persons, I’d ever met. I had the privilege of being a student of his for three (almost four) fantastic classes. What his greatest influence on me was to introduce me to the idea of questioning culture, society, government, art, everything. Everything is, to a greater or lesser degree, either a product of or a reflector of the socio-economic base of a culture and nearly everything in the culture is in service to those who control the wealth in society. In short, Dr. Burling was a Marxist, and by the fortune of serendipity, happened to come into my life just as I was questioning political structures.

    At that time I was moving from Democrat to vague libertarian. It took nearly a year of questioning and study and investigation and debate, but eventually I too became a self-described Marxist. Although I’ve barely scratched the surface still of Marxist theory.

    So, at one point as Dr. Burling and I were discussing Marxist theory and SF and fantasy literature, I realized something from the long forgotten recesses of my mind… (See, I kinda stopped reading Mr. Brust’s books by this point–not because I stopped liking them, but I’d pretty much stopped reading for pleasure altogether! I am glad to say I’ve since picked pleasure reading back up and have caught back up with all of Mr. Brust’s “Taltos” books at least.) I recalled that tidbit of info about my favorite fantasy author being a Trotskyist. I asked Dr. Burling, who had introduced me to Stanley Kim Robinson, and China Miéville, and Philip K. Dick, and a Marxist outlook of William Gibson (who, now, I have no idea how you couldn’t read Gibson with a Marxist outlook! My god, the man is postmodern materialist cultural criticism up and down!) if he had read any Steven Brust. He replied, somewhat dismissively that he didn’t have time for any pleasure reading. Then I mentioned Mr. Brust was a Trotskyist and, if I recalled, wrote in a couple of his novels about a peasant uprising in his fantasy world.

    Dr. Burling grabbed a pen and asked me what that name was again.

    Sadly, Dr. Burling passed away a couple of years later. I never did find out if he started looking into Brust’s writing. Probably not; he was pretty busy, in addition to teaching, editing a book of essays on Kim Stanley Robinson and working with  Miéville on a book of criticism about Marxist SF. *sigh* I still feel acute sense of honor of having been able to know the man and learn from him. He changed my entire way of looking at life and I could have missed it if I’d been a couple of years too late.

    Anyway, so now that I’m deep in trying to learn and understand Marxist theory, both as it applies to literature and culture, guess what my favorite Trotskyist fantasy author has started doing? He’s reading and commenting on Karl Marx’s seminal work on socio-economics, Das Kapital.* (Volume 1, I believe, which is the one Marx had worked mostly on before he died, while Engels wrote the other volumes.)

    What’s really cool is that just before this he had read through and commented on Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (arguably the father of and the manual of modern capitalism). This kicked-ass because not only did I learn something from it (unfortunately I came in rather late), it just goes to show that Brust is interested in exploring all the angles of modern socio-economics and doesn’t just surround himself with material that fits his perceptions or ideologies. That’s certainly a quality to admire and emulate.

    marx-victoryI’m looking forward to reading what he has to say about the tome. And I’m very glad that one side of my brain stopped being a pest and started paying attention. Marxism is not evil, Trotskyism is not evil, communism is not evil. These are just ideas, concepts, ways of investigating and ideas are never evil. They may not be good or practical ideas, but one should never dismiss a way of thinking, a way of investigating, because authority has proclaimed it verboten, taboo, out of bounds. Question everything, especially authority. There’s a reason why they are in power, and a means by which they stay in power.

    * I think he’s moving his blog over to a new location. I’ll try to update this link if I can when it happens.

    Beyond Democracy. Thoughts on anarchy.

    never

    The Tyranny of the Majority:
    If you ever found yourself in a vastly outnumbered minority, and the majority voted that you had to give up something as necessary to your life as water and air, would you comply? When it comes down to it, does anyone really believe it makes sense to accept the authority of a group simply on the grounds that they outnumber everyone else? We accept majority rule because we do not believe it will threaten us – and those it does threaten are already silenced before anyone can hear their misgivings.

    […]

    Three wolves and six goats are discussing what to have for dinner. One courageous goat makes an impassioned case: “We should put it to a vote!” The other goats fear for his life, but surprisingly, the wolves acquiesce. But when everyone is preparing to vote, the wolves take three of the goats aside.
    “Vote with us to make the other three goats dinner,” they threaten. “Otherwise, vote or no vote, we’ll eat you.”
    The other three goats are shocked by the outcome of the election: a majority, including their comrades, has voted for them to be killed and eaten. They protest in outrage and terror, but the goat who first suggested the vote rebukes them: “Be thankful you live in a democracy! At least we got to have a say in this!”

    –From THE PARTY’S OVER: BEYOND POLITICS, BEYOND DEMOCRACY
    http://thecloud.crimethinc.com/pdfs/democracy_reading.pdf

    So, I’ve discovered this Web site: CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective (http://www.crimethinc.com). They have some blog posts on the G-20 protests…and most interestingly, a non-protest that was treated as a violent protest by the police and resulted in more than a hundred arrests (including a great many who weren’t doing any protesting) and many injured. (State Repression at the G20 Protests) From this I started looking over the site. It’s an anarchists’ site, filled with info and publications geared toward helping people find the anarchist within and fight the system.

    This is what’s struck me as interesting: Their reason for existing, their criticism of the system, their complaints of capitalism and democracy, I completely agree with–and I’ll explain why in a moment. But their explanation of their remedy, their idea of anarchy, I’m having trouble with. (Note, that anarchy does not mean violence or chaos in the sense of abuse of others, harming people. It simply means no government, no rule of imposed law, no masters.)

    Ironically, these anarchists have, from what I can see, I great disdain for socialism, communism, any -ism apparently derived from Marxism. I say “ironic” because their entire criticism of the current state of capitalism and authoritarian democracy comes straight from Marxist criticism, 101. Take for example this page from the book Days of War, Night of Love:

    daysgallery3(page image link: “How Does Capitalism Work“)

    This is capitalist criticism straight from Marx’s Kapital (not verbatim, of course). Everything this anarchist site decries about the current state of capitalist economy, culture, and the police state used to protect the hegemony and the owners of capital, is Marxism stripped of the Marxist lingo (like “hegemony”). There’s nothing about their critique of capitalism I don’t agree with (my being a Marxist). However, and this is where things get uncomfortable, their ideas of overcoming the system I don’t know if I can support. Well, let me clarify…

    At the core, I consider myself an anarcho-socialist. I too believe that the best path for humanity, for human advancement, equality, justice, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the complete lack of government and forced adherence to someone else’s majority rule. However, I also believe that married to that must be a social contract of mutual cooperation, shared resources, publicly owned and operated resources, manufacture, distribution…capital. This is different from anarcho-libertarianism, or Objectivism (vis-à-vis Ayn Rand) which believes that in addition to lack of any forced rules or regulations, private ownership is valued above all. That humans are selfish and greedy by nature, and that we should live to acquire as much for ourselves as we can and help others only so much as we can gain from it ourselves. Pretty much ethically and morally bankrupt, in my opinion.

    As I read through the CrimethInc site, most of what they believe (and what they purport anarchists believe) matches up with my anarcho-socialism. They support cooperation, mutually beneficial action, gift economy. Hey, great! But they also support a sort of worship of anti-social behavior, crime, vandalism, activities that make me cringe (e.g.: shoplifting). Although, all the anti-social behavior they support, is all geared toward the state, corporate America, the power structure, and not against other individuals and their personal rights. OK…that sounds good… I guess.

    So, I’m left to question: Is my cringing because I’ve lived my entire life controlled by the hegemony, brainwashed into subservience to conformity with passivity, being a good little worker bee who keeps his head down and continues to make profit for his capitalist lords without making any trouble for them? Well, yes I have. We all have. That’s the entire goal of hegemony, be it capitalist or feudal or slave economy. Those in control use whatever sociological means available to control the other 99% of the people for their own benefit. This requires blind obedience to their laws. It requires complete acquiescence to state-supporting meek mildness.

    When I remember these things, which I’ve been studying and contemplating for some years now, it reinforces my belief in the anarcho-half of my anarcho-socialism. So, why does the action of subversiveness bug me?

    Since President Dubbya started taking away civil liberties after 9/11, I started studying libertarianism and even anarchy–but always from a level of personal rights and liberties. It wasn’t until I started grad school and my first professor, Dr. Burling, introduced me to Marxism that I learned that Bush, civil liberty removal, the corporate ownership of the government, wars, all of it, are a result of the economic foundation: capitalism. It is essentially the base on which everything is a superstructure built extending from it. Everything is about the material question: Who uses it and what is it for? With that in mind it’s easy (easier) to understand power, wealth, who benefits from it most, and how they exploit those without it. Dr. Burling helped change my entire outlook on culture, laws, economy, politics, etc.

    But when asked why doesn’t he live outside the corruption and control of capitalism, his response was, in essence: you can’t escape it, it affects everyone, might as well not make your own life unnecessarily difficult fighting it. And this is a guy who, in addition to being an unashamed Marxist, was also a musician with a focus on rock (meaning nothing exactly, except an implication that he has a rebellious spirit).

    And it also makes me think of vaunted Marxist cultural critic and major figure of the Frankfurt School, Theodor Adorno, who it is said that during the Paris riots of 1968 when asked by his students why he didn’t participate or support the student protests, he replied “How can you actively fight for something before you fully understand it?”

    There is “theory,” and there is “praxis.” Praxis is putting theory into action. Is it that these Marxist critics and theorists I look up to, who happen to be intellectuals and educators, don’t know how to put their words into action? Do they not have the courage of their convictions? Or are all they are about is understanding and criticizing the current system, but not about doing anything about it? When asked what good is knowing how culture develops, knowing how the hegemony controls and influences our decisions and our wants? They have replied that it helps you understand why you make the decisions that you do, why you choose what products or how you sell your labor. But is that enough?

    Frederic Jameson (Marxist cultural critic) has developed a concept of applying “cognitive mapping” to cultural criticism, which is a theory of mapping the contradictions in capitalism, where it affects our lives, and finding and exploiting the holes in it. And it’s a step toward praxis, which gives people like me hope of doing something to make a difference. To help turn the tables on capitalist exploitation and help the “seeds of rebellion” grow. But…what is that rebellion? What are we Marxist intellectuals waiting for? We who study culture, and politics, and socio-economics? Dr. Burling had cryptically referred to the biopic about Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries, in which a young, pre-revolutionary Guevara is asked about how to spark the South American peoples into revolution against their oppressors, he responds that you can’t have a revolution without guns.

    But then, Dr. Burling often referred to other ways to create such drastic upheaval as to eliminate capitalism, without revolution and war, and used as examples Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy and 40, 50, 60 trilogy. Stories in which the only way to evolve from capitalism to egalitarian socialism is either to colonize another planet, or deal with Earth-shaking environmental disaster. So, do we just wait for change?

    Back to my point: Are these anarchists doing what we intellectuals fear to do, but are a natural and proper result of the same Marxist-rooted criticism of capitalism we both share? Am I a hypocrite for complaining about and railing about capitalism and its ills and evils, but I continue to lust after home ownership and getting a better job and obeying all the laws of the land so I don’t draw the attention of the state’s police apparatus?

    Is it because I have a family to care for? I don’t risk rocking the boat, and so I participate, if grudgingly, in my own commodification and the orgy of consumerism? Of course, this is exactly what the hegemony counts on, this conservativism that we’re all supposed to grow into. We’re allowed to rebel a little as a youth, test the bounds of social acceptance, and then “settle down.” Grow a family, buy a home, get a job you can’t leave because you can’t live without the insurance benefits. You become a productive worker bee who has too much to lose by questioning authority, bucking the system, making waves. Be a quiet little worker bee, and you get to go (somewhat) unnoticed by the system that exploits you and uses you and extorts you, giving little in return except an addiction to mass consumption.

    Are anarchists heroes I fear to admire? Or are they the hemp clothing wearing, organic food growing, dumpster diving neo-hippies that I can easily dismiss and marginalize, exactly as I’ve just done, because they threaten the social stability and conditioning I’ve internalized because I grew up brainwashed to become a quiet and non-trouble-making worker bee? Is that why when asked, I say I’m an anarcho-socialist “in theory” but “in practice” I’m a democratic-socialist? Isn’t that just a way for me to marginalize myself?

    I don’t know. But this Fighting For Our Lives: An Anarchist Primer is at the very least thought-provoking reading.

    “The Despot Lincoln”

    This post may get me back into the good graces of my libertarian friends (hi, Tony *grin*). Got clued in via Twitter to a recent review titled “The Despot Lincoln” of a 2002 book, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. (Seems the Republican penchant for unnecessary wars goes back a ways.)

    To be fair: I’ve not read this book, only the review of it, so I’m kind of talking about something twice removed. But that’s ok–I’m actually going to be talking around the subject and about the review itself anyway.

    So, evidently this book deconstructs the legend and the myth of Lincoln and really gets into the reality of his politics, policies, and socio-political beliefs based on his actions during his presidency and his time in Illinois politics. It turns out that an overarching belief of Lincoln was a strong federal government in control of social organization, individual state affairs and commerce, and the structure of mercantilism (which, by the way, was the socio-economic base preceding true and modern capitalism). And the Civil War was less to do with slavery than about federal (and imperial) control of the resources and wealth of the South.

    Years and years ago, even a little into my teens, long before I had any ideas of libertarianism or especially Marxist criticism, I thought there was something wrong with the whole Civil War story we’re taught through both school and culture (the former really being a tool of the later, anyway). War itself is wrong, but that’s beside the point: What’s really going on that half a nation would want to split from the rest, and the side that controlled the organized military should act just like the empire we fought not a hundred years earlier to be free of in using armed force to prevent it? The idea that it was all about freeing the slaves didn’t ring true to me and seemed implausible, and for some vague and esoteric idea of simply keeping One Nation together is an even worse idea. (You don’t wage bloody war against your brother for some phantom notion of nationalism–at least, no rational person does. And if they do, how horrifically immoral and vile of an act is that!?)

    No, even back when I still thought Marxism was the equivelent of Satanism, I understood it must have to do with economics, wealth, resources. (Later, as a Marxist, I’d learn that all wars are fundamentally about economics and resources.)

    Ironically, this review of the book (and presumedly the book itself) while critiquing Lincoln’s political and war motivations as being economically motivated, (which is what materialist Marxism is all about doing), the review (and, again, evidentally the book) spends some time railing against some early 20th century American Maxist-Leninists who were working hard as historical revisionists to white-wash Lincoln and put a positive spin on his fascio-socialist politics. Now, these guys the review/book mention may very well have been Marxists, I don’t know. I’ll grant them this. And if true, the review/book is factually correct on this count and that’s fine. But the strong implication of both is that this is evidence that goes to the arguement that all Marxists approve of fascism and imperialim and seek to promote the kind of centralized goverment control of all resources and wealth that Lincoln appeared to want. And this mischaracterization simply points up yet again how very little libertarians, conservatives, capitalist bulldogs understand about Marxism.

    For example, while it may be true that these particular Marxists the book likely cherry-picked were of the pro-fascism ilk, most of the Marxist critics, democratic-socialists, anarcho-socialists I’m aware of from the same time period would have been appalled at the kind of federalized control of commerce and wealth Lincoln was moving toward, and most especially the idea of waging war to secure that wealth and resources for federalized control. It was Marx and Engles who, before and during the very years of the American Civil War, were in Germany writing about how capitalism was the corrupt foundation upon which unjust, unnecessary, violent, wars just like the Civil War are based upon. They decried the very basis of wealth and resource and labor-exploiting economy that fueled Lincoln’s alleged desire to federalize and command.

    Socialist activists like Max Eastman, John Reed, Emma Goldman, fought and were imprisoned for their views on wealth-inspired wars and their anti-war activism… In the 20s. Early anarchists like Bakunin (sp?) fought for anti-federalism (anti-governments in general) and were also socialists and believers in Marxist criticism. Marxist critics like Max Weber and Erich (sp?) Fromm (who identified as a libertarian socialist) were staunchly anti-war and anti-centralized power based on accumulation of wealth and resources! Modern libertarianism owes it’s existance to the early Marxists and scads of anarcho-socialists and libertarian socialists!

    But nearly every current (American) self-proclaimed libertarian I know, knows nothing of their movement’s history, knows nothing about the various forms of socialism, erronously groups all socialists as Stalinists, and has no understanding whatsoever of Marxism. And sadly, they tend to have no interest at all in even acknowledging any differences. The differences, for one example, between a Soviet communist and an anarcho-socialist are as stark as night and day. But, when I try to even point this up, I’m usually met with a wall of righteous dismissal and the evident desire to remain ignorant as additional information would simply complicate their black-and-white ideological blanket hatred.

    Hmm, OK, this will do nothing to improve the graces of my libertarian friends. Chances are, this may be the end of friendships. 😛

    Back to the Lincoln review/book: their anti-Marxist diatribes aside, their critique of Lincoln seems to make complete sense given the evidence. We live in a nation where the federalist North won, and the winners get to write history (and craft the general cultural message of why they won and what it was all about in the first place).

    Now, don’t misunderstand me, and no offense meant (…OK, maybe a little offense, sorry…) I’m not only not a Southerner but I really don’t in general like the South. Besides their past hanging on to abhorrant slavery (which, again, had little to actually do with the war and the North was for a long time also a supporter of and a longer time a beneficiary of), I hate their current general racism, scientific ignorance, mysoginistic bigotry, religious zealotry, and food. (*sigh* OK, a lot of offense. Sorry.) In general, stereotyped broad strokes.

    But even before I knew the word libertarianism, or the concept of anarcho-socialism, I believed in the message of the Declaration of Independence that stressed that any people have the right to rid itself of government it finds intrusive, abusive, overly controlling, domineering, and counter to the peoples’ desires for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the 10th Amendment that states that all rights not expressly dictated by the Constitution fall to the states and to the people. I believe that includes the right to secede from the union should the constitutional, federal government grossly overstep its rights and bounds and violate the limits of the Constitution and the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. (Did I get you libertarians back?)

    Thanks, corporate news!

    Thanks Corporate News

    Ah, that ol’ “liberal media,” avoiding the truth and spreading lies. Well, part of that statement is correct.

    (Feel free to skip the following introductory diatribe and go right to the featured link at the end of this essay. What it has to say is certainly more interesting and coherent than my ramblings.)

    Until I gave up XM Radio, I used to listed to Air America all the time. It’s a very, unabashed, left-leaning radio media. And for the few years, during the Bush administration, that I listened to it, I would often hear of some new event, or disclosure, or revelation, or news of some sort that implicated Bush, Cheney, or any number of their cohorts, in war crimes at worst and outright deception at best. Now, knowing that I’m listening to a truly left-wing media outlet, (unlike most people who watch FOX news and listen to Limbaugh who think what they’re getting is “fair and balanced”), I would try to validate what I heard with other sources and gauge its certainty before I went around talking about it. If nothing else, I hate the idea of propagating a story to then turn around and find out it’s unfounded–but mostly, I worship at the altar of truth and try to live my life in discovery of what is and isn’t true.

    Anyway, so when I would check out a story and find that it has enough credible, independent support to be true, I’d wait for this important, vital discovery or revelation to appear on mainstream news. And what would happen is maybe, maybe it might make a tiny appearance on Keith Olbermann’s show. Sometimes, rarely, it might get mentioned on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show (which is null of any affect since the context is it’s a comedy show). And if it did on either, it’d be the once and then never hear about it again. Would it get mentioned on other MSNBC shows? Nope. CNN? Never. ABC News and the like? Not hardly. The idea of the mainstream media being “liberal” was laughable!

    For a long time, well…most of my life, I believed in the press as being on the whole fair and interested in the truth. It was our “fourth estate,” charged with uncovering the sometimes painful truth where those in power would want it buried. And then a few years ago, as I started to learn about who actually wielded socio-political power and discovered it was not the politicians by and large, but the top 1-5% richest people in the country (and the world), and that all aspects of our society are controlled and regulated (both intentionally and subconsciously) by capitalist hegemony, some truths started to come to light for me.

    The mainstream news, the media, are all corporate owned. Major transnational, global market capitalist corporations which have as their bottom line…the bottom line, and not truth, news, fairness, balance. The money defines what becomes newsworthy and what gets ignored. The corporate media’s very close ties to the Bush dynasty helped keep his administration’s war crimes out of the news or its import minimized to insubstantial.

    Now, at one time I would have argued that this control surely wouldn’t filter down to the reporters and the editors who research. Well, yes, it does. A climate, a culture, an agenda filters down from the top to the bottom and when people need work and can’t afford to be too choosy about who exploits their labor, er, pays them and provides their medical benefits, they’re willing to push what the overarching corporate agenda wants pushed and ignore what it wants ignored. And if that’s too much for a reporter to deal with, the editor above them, who has an even greater vested interest in his job, will help make sure the message conforms to the corporate agenda. And as the agenda becomes obvious and doesn’t remain latent, and the employee can’t handle being silenced, they’re free to work on the edges of society and blog, where they’re ignored by all but the fringes and are dismissed by society as irrelevant.

    All this to introduce a recent SALON article which discusses this very corporate controlled media dynamic, even in what is thought of by most people as the most “liberal” of all media, Keith Olbermann. Enjoy:

    … Having Richard Wolffe host an MSNBC program — or serving as an almost daily “political analyst” —  is exactly tantamount to MSNBC’s just turning over an hour every night to a corporate lobbyist.  Wolffe’s role in life is to advance the P.R. interests of the corporations that pay him, including corporations with substantial interests in virtually every political issue that MSNBC and Countdown cover.  Yet MSNBC is putting him on as a guest-host and “political analyst” on one of its prime-time political shows.  What makes that even more appalling is that, as Ana Marie Cox first noted, neither MSNBC nor Wolffe even disclose any of this….

    (Facebook viewers: Any images or video from this post have been stripped by FB. To view the original blog post, go to: http://www.celticbear.com/weblog/)

    “Canadian Perspectives 2009: The Failure of Capitalism and the Need for a Socialist Alternative”

    Facebook readers: this post came from my official blog; the auto-transfer to FB tends to strip any embedded images.)

    michael-hacker-capitalism1This will be a quick post by me; I can discuss my thoughts on this at great length, but I think it’s more important that one just simply read this fantastic article:

    “Capitalism has failed. This fact conditions all future developments.

    Since the fall of the Soviet Union, all the mouthpieces of capitalism repeated the mantra, ‘socialism has failed, capitalism has won, there is no alternative.’ Francis Fukuyama declared it was ‘the end of history.’ Free-markets, privatization, corporate tax-cuts, deregulation, and outsourcing were seen as the only way forward. In short, there was a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. The workers had lost and there was very little pity from the victors.”

    It is kind of a long article, but please don’t let that dissuade you from reading–it has excellent material from beginning to end, especially as the thesis starts to really pick up steam about halfway through. This article is vital for anyone of any political bent: If you’re a die-hard capitalist, this article may give you a better understanding of real socialist perspectives so you can fight against actual socialism (if you continue to wish to do so) and not some false cartoon propaganda mockery of socialism that hasn’t existed since Stalin; people curious about what socialism is all about, this will give you a great, practical, real-world idea; socialists, well, I don’t need to say anything to you. 🙂

    Bottom line: anyone interested in what’s going on in politics and economics lately, and what the future may hold, should read this article. As Kim Stanley Robinson mentioned a couple of weeks ago, humanity’s survival may depend on becoming post-capitalism!

    SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson on social responsibility.

    Last week, on Earth Day, during my university’s day-long thingie on “social development” and environmental concerns, SF author Kim Stanley Robinson spoke for a bit on social responsibility for humanity’s future. He said some great things, I took notes, he signed a book of mine and we had a very brief conversation. Here’s a summary of what he said, mostly paraphrased quotes, and a lot I’ve forgotten. I’ll try not to digress too much.

    KSR is an award winning Utopian author (with a PhD) who’s written, among many other critically acclaimed works, the Mars trilogy and the “Science in the Capital” trilogy. The former is about terraforming Mars and “Utopian” society that develops there, and the latter is about the effects of global warming. In his regular life, KSR is an “American-leftist” and works for social change and climate change awareness. (He made interesting comment that when he started writing, “utopian fiction” meant writing about perfect society, nowadays it means simply society surviving. Kind of indicative of some significant social change.) His talk was in dedication to Dr. Bill Burling who he collaborated with and edited a book of critical essays about KSR. (Dr. Burling was my professor and mentor who I recently mentioned passed away.)

    Alright, so, what he said:
    Continue reading SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson on social responsibility.

    Spending our future.

    (OK, last post for tonight…)

    I have a love/hate relationship with the blog “Classically Liberal“. I couldn’t agree more with his analysis on the failed War on Drugs, the criticisms of institutional education, his disgust for the encroaching police state, police abuse of power, face-palming frustration at the destructive and absolutely absurd criminalization of sexuality, and pretty much anything having to do with civil rights. But his hatred of socialism based on as terrible misunderstanding and misrepresentation of it as the creationist “understanding” of evolution, really crinkles my spleen. His economic libertarianism is based on a very elitist, self-righteous, belief in immutable “human nature” and the inherent existence of an objective sense of “the good the true and the beautiful” in class-defined artistic production.

    But, I have to say I’m really starting to agree with his criticism of this horrific spending-spree the government is on in bailing companies out. I wish I could remember who I heard recently say: “If a company is so big that it can’t be allowed to fail, then it’s too big for the ‘free market’ and must be broken apart.” Yep.

    Anyway, check out this alarming video he has linked on his site under Spending our Future: The Bailout Crisis:

    (For the Facebook users: This is a post from my blog getting auto-noted to Facebook, which cuts off any images or videos in the transfer.)

    Marx was right.

    (OK, only a couple more of blog posts in this surge.)

    BoingBoing has an article: “Marx was right!” in which the author discusses his move from being a dot-com capitalist to a return to a respect for Marx’s criticism of capitalism. (His wife, who said of his return to Marxist studies that it’s “worse than your reggae phase!”, could commiserate with mine!)

    [quote] The work of Karl Marx is ultra relevant to understanding the world’s current financial mess, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Marx has become intellectually indispensable to me again, as if there ever should have been any doubt. It’s fascinating to consider that during the time period when Marx was writing “Capital,” there were few factories in England –it was largely an agrarian society still– yet somehow Marx was able to see clearly the mess that we would be in today. He’s the most accurate prophet in all of history, there should be no doubt about this. Marx viewed history with a very, very long telescope. How he was able to see so far into the future is a mystery of his particular genius, but Marx accurately extrapolated how capitalism’s endgame would play itself out at the very birth of the system. Marx saw how utterly destructive this system would ultimately become. Look around you: Marx was right.[/quote]

    (On a related note, Richard Metzger posted a followup: “Marx was… second???” about Thomas Jefferson’s essay on “fictitious capital” decades before Marx wrote about it.)

    Well, I could write for a long time regarding my thoughts and history in Marxist studies, but you don’t care, do you? 🙂 Instead, let me link to this great page that helps explain both Marxist and anarchist theories in ordinary terms that speaks to the common person:

    Questions about Capitalism and Class

    Yes, it’s Chumbawamba’s Web site. They live the spirit of anarcho-socialism, and their answers to common questions about materialist criticism of capitalism is really fantastic! I really encourage you to read at least this one page I just linked top to bottom. That’s it, all I ask.

    (For the Facebook users: This is a post from my blog getting auto-noted to Facebook, which cuts off any images or videos in the transfer.)
    (Drawing of Marx and Engles stolen borrowed from http://www.hermes-press.com/distinctions.htm)

    In honor of Bill Burling.

    I think that’s the first time I’ve not written “Dr. Burling.” I’d known him since my first day of grad school three years ago and he’s had more of an impact on my life than anyone I’ve ever known, short of my wife and daughter. He was my professor, my mentor of sorts, my scholarly and philosophical model…and he died this weekend from cancer.

    I actually first met him a few times at the local astronomy club before I enrolled in grad school. He was the guy who first helped my sight my new telescope in to Saturn, and that’s an incredible sight! Imagine my surprise when weeks later on my first night of English 600, I discover he’s my teacher.

    And in that class I was introduced to the concept of questioning ideology. I’d been a born-again skeptic for a couple/few years before that. But Dr. Burling taught me to go even deeper and examine and question the very base of all cultural assumptions and the very concept of “common sense” and “natural law.” It was from him that I learned that “Marxism” was not a dirty word. That I learned about critical theory and cultural criticism, of Lacan and Derrida, and Adorno and Jameson. I learned in that class about the politics of academia, the ideological nature of education, and the value of scholarship. That was literally a life-changing class.

    And the next two classes I’d have with him continued that incredible education. I learned that science fiction was not embarrassing genre fiction meant for geek entertainment, but had a special place in cultural criticism. I would never read sf, (which I had always loved simply as escapism but knew just subliminally that it spoke something more to me, but I didn’t know what), the same way again.

    He inspired me my first year to write a paper for a conference. I did, and presented it. And would the next year thanks to him. He inspired me to write for peer-reviewed scholarly journals. I have. He gave up his time to help me write at a much higher level than I ever realized I could. He spent a collected many, many hours talking with me in office hours, after class, in e-mails, about everything from the origins of sf to underlying ideological assumptions in current politics.

    He was going to have Kim Stanley Robinson, who he had been corresponding with for quite some time and had edited a book about him, come talk to the class he was teaching this semester. This would-be 4th class I would have had with him. Now, whatever synergy of Dr. Burling and Kim Robinson’s time together with us could have gifted us, is gone forever.

    I learned so much from him, and I was only just beginning. There was so much more I was planning on learning from him, so much more he could have taught me. It’s a selfish loss, I know. But I’m keenly missing the lost opportunity to confer with him in my future writing and scholarship, to seek his advice and counsel, and continue to learn from him. His wit, his audacity, his brilliance, gone. I’m not ready.

    He had on a few occasions called me his peer. That was the greatest honor he could have ever given me.

    Dr. William Burling was fiercely intelligent, absolutely committed to his students and the subject of his expertise, dedicated to the ideals of critical thinking and learning which surpassed the confines of organized, institutional education. He inspired me, pushed and challenged me, opened my eyes and changed my life. It’s a little darker of a world without him in it.

    Reds, Reds everywhere!

    This is going to have to be short…so tired….

    Something that’s got me irked late in the Presidential campaign is the constant bandying about “socialist” this and “Marxist” that. One person I follow on Twitter remarked of Obama after the election, “…too bad he’s a socialist,” and he was rooting for him. Now this:

    Georgian Representative Broun took Obama’s comment to encourage and build up a civil service agenda (civil workers and Peace Corps, etc.) as tatamount to Marxism, like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. I am so sick of people throwing “Marxist” around to mean anything non-American–and being utterly wrong.

    Hitler was a national socialist at best–fascist in reality. Stalin was a fascist dictator. Neither of which in the least bit Marxist. Stalin started as a Marxist, back in the days of the Revolution with Trotsky and Lenin, then quickly abandoned the spirit and the letter of Marxism in order to become a religiously worship dictator, counter to Marxist concepts.

    Marxism is indeed a criticism of capitalism–a very pointed criticism, indeed. But what Marx and Engles recommended or believed in was NOT socialism controlled by a dictator or even a ruling “party.” They believed in society owned by the proletariat, the workers, the people–not fascist rulers giving lip service to such ideals but in fact ruled the people with iron fist and continued to control the means of production and distribution. Marx would have been appalled by what Stalin did and disgusted by Hitler.

    Obama is a liberal, but very much a liberal capitalist. And when it comes to actual (or nearest thing to) socialism: when you look at the high average level of lifestyle, lack of poverty, lack of health care induced bankruptcy, high level of social health, low infant mortality rates, high education rates of socialist countries like Canada, Sweden, Netherlands…. I have to wonder, what’s wrong with that?

    Capitalist economic “endgame” described.

    moneybagsAn amazing article by David Rushkoff that briefly explains exactly how the capitalist system we work under was a contrived system to serve the royals and proto-capitalists (and is not a “natural” development as the hegemony would have you, the proletariat and the petite bourgeois, believe), and how what we are witnessing may be the beginning of the end of it:

    . . . Unlike local currencies, centralized currencies were biased towards retaining their value over time. Capitalism (in addition to being a lot of other things) is the way people get rich simply for being rich. Capital becomes the most important component in the capital/labor/resources equation. Since the purpose of the Renaissance innovations was to keep the currently wealthy wealthy, the currency was biased to favor those who had it – and could mete it out at high interest rates to those who needed it for their transactions.

    What we witnessed over the past decades has been the necessary endgame of the scenario.

    . . .

    The collapse of centrally controlled commerce and currency simply creates an opportunity for local commerce and currency to revive. For people to learn to work and live together on a human, local scale – as the original free market advocate, Adam Smith, actually suggested. Admittedly, this would be a painful transition for many – but it’s better than maintaining dependence on a fiscal system designed from the start to turn people and communities into extractable corporate assets. (Think about that the next time you’re called up to “human resources.”) . . .

    This reminds me of the post I wrote not too long ago in which I discuss, ad nauseum, the failures of conservativism and the corruption of capitalism, and the ideals of anarcho-socialism:

    And to a lesser although probably more readable degree: