Will the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Stand and Be Recognized?

As of mid summer 2011, the cost of US wars waged over this past decade was close to four trillion dollars ($4,000,000,000,000).  And, none of this figures in the little deal we just did in Libya, getting Gaddafi out of the way so we could steal more Libyan oil.  And wouldn’t you know it; just this week the US sent one hundred special forces troops into Uganda to assist that government in fighting against the decades-old Lord’s Resistance Army. And this, just after Uganda announced striking some rather large oil resources in the northern part of the country.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let us review. We have seen four “bad guys,” Hussein, Mubarak, Osama and Gaddafi all taken out, physically, so far. Pretty good record for the Prince of Peace, wouldn’t you say?  OK, we can’t credit him with Hussein, that was done on his mentor’s watch. Yet, it does seem as though the current hegemon is setting the stage for a nice showdown with Iran. Under the Peace Maker’s watch, it does appear we have engaged in more killing, maiming, and global looting then at any other time since Vietnam.  And now that a growing contingent of the American populace has taken up residence in the streets of New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles – hell, they are even protesting in Missoula Montana – it looks like the Peace Keeper and his lieutenants are resetting their sights on those nefarious domestic terrorists.

The foot soldiers of this regime, the local police — whether undercover, in uniform, or in riot gear — have been, well… taking it to the streets as well. Their imperially-sanctioned belligerence — taunting, antagonistic — and brutality can be sensed as well as seen; the manhandling, the arrests, even an occasional beating or assault of protesters has been on display in our fair land this past month. Many worry if they will wind up with a cracked skull like the Iraq War veteran (Scott), now in a medically induced coma after facing riot gear-clad officers with tear gas in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday; or perhaps handcuffed and dragged-off in the middle of the night like demonstrators in Atlanta.

Those among us who had been previously seduced by the endless array of promises from a “government of, by, and for the people,” and its perverse sense of justice, may now be starting to recognize the State’s previously obscured but quickly emergent fascist mannerisms. Several generations of Americans are now collectively experiencing the full weight of this Grand Old “democracy” of the corporate state — what Chris Hedges has elsewhere called the heavy hand of our inverted totalitarianism.

The question haunting us is this.  Why do they, the power brokers, stifle dissent in this country? In a nation whose jawboning about “freedom” drowns out every other contravening voice, whose every public pronouncement provides ample lip service to the concept of “openness” and acceptance, perhaps it is not surprising that it shuts out the very voices it claims to protect and nurture. It now appears that any questioning of the State’s authority or its intentions is met with a cold shoulder, a head fake, more rhetoric, vacuous promises, and then a hard fist to the face; more recently, the very act of questioning is labelled “terrorism.”  Like most others, ours is a leadership that does not like to be contradicted, and does not take criticism (from anybody) easily.

And while the masses still occupying streets in MENA and Europe were initial responders to the stresses and strains of global neoliberalism, austerity, and the American corporate State supporting sundry dictators around the world — demonstrating well before we did here in the land of plenty; it is now clearly the case that at least some Americans have begun to see through the veil. They have suddenly unmasked the charade that this culture of commodification and consumerism has carefully crafted over the past two hundred years to keep them sleeping or distracted. And those sitting for so long on the blood-soaked fringes of this now collapsing Empire, as well as those more recently disenfranchised, are joining together in the chorus.  The project of the corporate State, grounded firmly in the capitalist agenda of global expansion, has finally hit its wall. And it did not even require $5 a gallon gasoline to recognize that it is unsustainable.  It has slammed up against the limits of growth; it now has to reckon with not just ecological, but societal overshoot, as well. It is not just the extinction of other species and rampant destruction of biodiversity, but the decimation of human community and the potential extinction of Homo sapiens, that has now raised the consciousness of the people to the impending global calamity called industrial civilization.  This human project, dating back six millennia, is now under a death watch.

Those in power positions, of course, do not want such scrutiny; nor do they want any questioning of their authority.  They want to silence it, to distract attention from it, to marginalize it.  And so the corporate elite do what they do best, they re-brand the demonstrators and occupiers as bums, as malcontents, and yes, as terrorists. Well, perhaps they haven’t yet seen the Italian version.

Nevertheless, until now at least, the American people (consumers) have dutifully gone along with the program, and our homegrown protestors have been fairly well behaved. But, perhaps we “will not be fooled again.”  Perhaps now the machinations and pure hypocrisy of the State are more clearly on display. Perhaps now the people will not stand for blaming some abstract or foreign Other, finding an easy scapegoat, or going after the purported bad guys. Perhaps now we will accept our long-suffering complicity in this ugly state of affairs. Perhaps now we will recognize that as long as we negotiate with power brokers within the system, we ultimately lose. After all, negotiation gives credence to the system, its institutions, and its policies.  Perhaps we will finally understand that it is the entrenched institutions of hierarchy and control that are at the root of our problem, and that as long as we allow those hierarchies their power, nothing changes, except the puppets in the slots and the specific taste of their rhetoric.

Our State, the USA, stands at the forefront of the modern civilized project. We have forcefully taken over the mantle, and set the agenda for progress.  We have taken the Renaissance challenge of Francis Bacon (1561-1626)  — in law, in statecraft, and in the natural sciences — and pushed it to the extreme.  We have sought to exert dominion not only over the earth, its “resources,” and other creatures here, but over our fellow man as well. It is this project, enforced by our laws, by our police, by our judiciary, and our military, crafted by our scientists and our specialists, and implemented by our technologists, that is now open to question. Could the New American Century see a wholesale rejection of the powers wielded by the industrial-corporate-political hierarchy, a reversal of the trajectory of domination, of ecocide, genocide, and species extinction practiced by the institutions of modern civilization?  Could this be a rejection of the propaganda and sundry tactics of autocracy, plutocracy, or oligarchy wherever, and in whatever form, they present themselves?  Could this spell the rejection of the politics and economics of global destruction; a rejection of the fascism of the State?

Granted there are many diverse and disparate elements embracing this current OWS happening and fleshing-out its worldwide presence.  Hell, even members of the god squad (Christian, Jewish and Moslem) are trying to co-opt this movement for their own political ends, as if they weren’t part of the problem from the very beginning of recorded history.  And while demonstrators and sympathizers globally march against the tyranny of the one-percent, against corrupt banking systems, against war, against austerity, and against foreclosures, loosely demanding economic and social justice, it is nevertheless true that the General Assembly of the OWS movement in New York has still refused to articulate any specific or concrete demands.  And they should resist any temptation to do so.  As long as such demands are not spelled out, then negotiation cannot occur.  And the passive refusal to negotiate could ultimately break the back of the system.  So there remains the ever-so-slight possibility that the movement itself recognizes that the system IS the disease, and that the hierarchical models that support and nourish it (religious, political, legal), are at the root of our problems.  The Empire says there should never be negotiations with terrorists; the protestors must realize that there can be NO negotiating with the Empire and the terrorist hierarchy of corporate-funded political fascism it represents.

So, what would it take to flip this Occupation from an apparently intra-systemic socio-economic-political debate to a global referendum on the trajectory of Western civilization and the Curriculum of the West, the underpinning of our unfolding, multi-tiered global crisis?  What would it take not simply to remove hierarchical modalities from the OWS process of debate, but to dismantle the institutionalized hierarchies by means of which human beings have enslaved themselves and the planet since the beginnings of recorded history in ancient Sumer, in the Persian Gulf?  While I am not quite sure of the answer, we may all find out soon enough.  But, should that occur, what will the Prince of Peace do then?

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160 Responses to Will the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Stand and Be Recognized?

  1. B Miller says:

    The rain is falling on our farm so I turn on the laptop to check email, deferring the inevitable slog through cold rain to feed the livestock. And, what do I find? Another missive from our intrepid Siberian blogger…must be raining there, too.

    Nice post on the current political trends and the “prince of peace”. I notice you use a lot of “perhaps” and “possibly” in this analysis… for good reason. It is a long way from OWS to any meaningful restructuring of our economic or social relationships. Frankly I don’t think we have it in us anymore.

    It would take a scenario of economic collapse, peak oil or a degraded environment to accomplish that task. Which it appears likely will happen at some point. At which time the question of modern nation states and a global economy may “perhaps” or “possibly” be moot.

    I like the concept of the semi-autonomous village. And, perhaps there may be enough of that cultural memory left in Russia to build on… is there? That may be the best scenario for achieving a sustainable model in whatever wreckage is left. But, I would not hold my breath that the American polis can possibly get there by planning or hoping.

    Whatever is coming down the pike is a historical force that will be shaped by unfolding events and whatever atavistic instincts still reside in the culture of wherever you call home.

    I dread what the memory will dredge up in my locale.

    Keep them coming and keep your powder dry,

    • B. Miller says:

      I wanted to add that I really liked the painting for this post.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Mr. Miller – our chief man of the land. Nice to hear from you. Hope the cows and goats are all okay in that rain. Things are a bit rainy here in Siberia as well. We saw a bit of snow last week; but nothing much. Temps are dropping good now.

        Yeah, I don’t think any of those boys and gals in the OWS movement have it in them either. Americans still are looking for the easy road home. But certainly economic collapse is not out of the question, tied to peak oil. On the other hand, Mama nature may take care of things for us, given her recent state of mind.

        Yes, there is alot of cultural memory left in Russia; and many babushkas who know how to till the soil. Here we will survive. Although some of the younger (Westernizing generation) has forgotten, or never knew how to take care. But, you are right, we do not have it in US; and you can see it just in the eyes of those demonstrating. They just want more of the pie. Semi-autonomous villages are practicable,and so is direction by those elders experienced in doing real things needed to live (whether is be hunting, farming, dancing or singing the land).

        Anyway, I always enjoy your remarks. Stay well. best, sandy

      • Disaffected says:

        I second that! The paintings are ALWAYS spectacular! kC’s got a REAL artist’s flair for choosing those!

        DA

    • Brutus says:

      B Miller sez:

      It is a long way from OWS to any meaningful restructuring of our economic or social relationships. Frankly I don’t think we have it in us anymore. It would take a scenario of economic collapse, peak oil or a degraded environment to accomplish that task. Which it appears likely will happen at some point.

      Truer words cannot be spoken. So many folks want to talk about what comes after but fail to recognize that what comes before is that everything breaks down — everything — and many people die. But before that happens, there’s a lot of mischief to be had on both sides: those who perpetuate the status quo and those who just want to break things. Someone smarter than me said the Tea Party isn’t really about fixing things so much as fucking them up worse. So far, Occupy Everywhere (as it’s turning into) is also not so much about fixing things as shaming the plutocrats. And shortly beyond either of those projects (but who can time it precisely?) comes collapse, when all bets are off.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Brutus – I think you are right about the mischief. The important thing for the occupiers is to hold strong and remain calm (non violent), but to keep amassing bodies to the occupation. And they cannot allow legalistic claims to stop their momentum. They must stay put, even in the face of arrest, etc. At some point the diverse hierarchies will become frustrated and start acting violently. That is when they (we) win. But there will be a moment (perhaps a very long one) of socio-economic (accompanied by environmental) collapse. Then, it will be dependent upon those who have organized into smaller, self sufficient communities to lead the way (by example… not hierarchically, of course).

      • Disaffected says:

        Brutus,

        Keep in mind, collapse and destruction IS a distinct phase, and many people WILL die in the process – REGARDLESS of how any of us feels about it. Indeed, many people MUST die if current sustainability estimates are anywhere even remotely accurate. And, of course, many more will die as well, perhaps “needlessly,” because the money interests among us have/will have decreed it to be so.

        Myself, I’m torn as to how to feel about it. On the one hand, it’s certainly a tragedy. On the other hand, their deaths were guaranteed at the very moment of their births by the very circumstances they were born into. Perhaps, as were our all.

        In the end, we’re all born, we’ll all die, perhaps we’ll leave a mark. Or perhaps we won’t. I don’t know.

        DA

  2. StrayCat says:

    Well, this edition is a great addition. I, however would like to respond to the darkly projected end of the western hemisphere. I’ve been at some of the Occupy demonstrations, and talked with many of those who are in continuous or sporadic occupation. I am heartened by the non hierarchical organization of these projects, the suspicion of top down leadership models, and the idea being promoted of Horizontal division of labor by the choice of the participants. This of course leaves the power groups little or no traction in their attempts to divide and conquer. More positively, the actual successes of the horizontal organizing principles in getting things done without the “leadership” ego trips we are used to is remarkable.
    I don’t know if you sense this, Sandy, as you are in Siberia much of the time, but there is a growing disenchantment with hierarchical organizing methods, and the idea of hierarchy in general. From distributed energy, distributed productive enterprises and the total rejection of the notion of status and competition, there is a pulse running through a large segment of America that bodes well for people, and ill for the power structure. I am delighted with the move from “issue” oriented demands that ask that the oligarchy be reformed, to the demand that it be destroyed, torn down and replaced by more personal and down to earth methods of cooperation. I would refer anyone to the book “Horizontalism” by a South American writer, as well as to the statements by the small “a” peaceful anarchists at the core of the Occupy movement. In each case, non violent resistance and refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the present power structure is central to the movement. And, Sandy, we do not want a piece of the pie, we want the pie to be shattered, because the pie has been baked by the oligarchy over centuries, and its crust is the barrier to access. We don’t want pie, we want the results of our efforts to be kept by us, not transferred to members of the oligarchy.

    • kulturcritic says:

      I love what you are saying SC. And I am fully onboard. But, there are suggestions in the interviews and random statements I have heard from some of the occupiers that they just feel cheated and want a fairer distribution. However, I am not “on the ground” as you have been. I am ten thousand miles away, as you correctly point out. I will be back in NYC, however, for the month of December and I am looking forward to feeling things out directly But, as I noted in the post, I am heartened by the non-hierarchical organization of the groups and only hope that they will not let this momentum die, and raise the amperage on the occupation. At some point, someone has to make a move. But I am not sure what that would look like. as always, great to hear your voice, Stay well and peace my friend. sandy

    • kulturcritic says:

      Horizontalism – a very timely work. I just looked it over and will get a copy back in the States. Thanks, SC!

      • Marina Sitrin has her own site, if anyone is interested in Horizontalism, and other things pertaining
        http://marinasitrin.com/

        • kulturcritic says:

          Thanks Malena; very informative and inspiring. My only hesitation is that such decisionmaking practices might be most effectively implemented in smaller groups where all people have some sense of bonding with the others; otherwise a consensus decision could (would) necessarily leave some feeling disenfranchised and bitter, and, well, revolutionary.

    • Disaffected says:

      StrayCat,

      Good stuff, but let me just cut to the chase and say that you guys have finally and really caught “the tiger by the tail.” I have no idea where this will all end up at this point (as I’m sure no one else does either), but let me just say this: if you even in any way BEGIN to think that the END GAME (whatever that eventually turns out to be) is even REMOTELY definable OR achievable at this point, then you are SURELY mistaken. That should be a given. If it’s not, then you should just quit right now.

      TPTB is/are LITERALLY (and I hate to say this) THE DEVIL! They hold all the cards! You are little more than “special interests” at this point; just another group of hucksters to be bought off like any other.

      Resist the urge!

      And by the way, stop all that non-violent shit. Word! It’s ALL violence when it comes right down to it.

      DA

      • kulturcritic says:

        You are right DA. In a sense it all really is violence (in different costumes). But, still we want the really physical shit to come from THEM… and with the entire world watching… on Facebook, Twitter, Al Jazeera, the Real News, and any other non-censored source. Until the Prince of Peace pulls the Internet plug (remember, he has the power!!!). Then the real shit hits the fan and people can see the belly of the beast they are living within. That is when the going will get tough… etc, etc.

      • StrayCat says:

        The predators only hold all the cards in THEIR game. We are no longer in their game, but our own. We don’t know all the rules yet, but it will be Horizontal, and not vertical, it will be distributed and not concentrated, and ownership will be communal in the sense that credit unions, agricultural coops and other organizational forms will not be corporate/private. Private property is requisite for freedom, but it is not a set of unlimited rights. The commons will be far larger and better protected than at present.
        DA, I have come to the conclusion that the Powers that Be have overplayed their hand, that they have overproduced the furniture, cars et cetera that people use, and no longer have any where to go on that front. The protests and Occupations are important, but only a starting point. We now have the flashpoint and motivation to create our own set of groups based on other understandings about people and our world than have been imposed since the beginning of our quite limited history. This leads to the powerlessness of the ruling aristocrats and their mandarins. They can only come down if there is violent confrontation. WE intend to withdraw from the corporate/governmental institutions completely When we do, and it is starting now and increasing in speed and volume, they will have no hold, no purchase on such a movement. And we will never be bought off, because the predators have nothing of value to give us, do they? This puts fear into their very soulless core. D.A. it’s time to climb off the monkey bars that were built to the sky and to live here on earth, in peace and contentment instead of anxiety and fear.

  3. rg the lg says:

    Dislike of hierarchy … the rise of horizontalism … the belated effort to approach what our lead bloggist calls the feral state of being.

    Not, I would suggest, if on April 1, 2012, the human population of the earth reaches 7 billion. That is a BIG number … I deal with the ‘problem of big numbers.’ My NM Supercomputing Challenge kids are always struggling with the idea that human contribution to atmospheric junk is ‘only’ 0.0025% of the amount of junk in the air. Yeah … but was is 0.0025% of a billion? If I offered you 0.0025% of a billion, tax free, would you take it? [Do the math … ] You would wouldn’t you? You’d JUMP on the chance to have 0.0025% of the US national debt in your checking account … ? The lotteries by comparison are peanuts … actually a peanut … !

    7 Billion is a big number … not much of a big number as big numbers go … but certainly big enough.

    Consequence? Greedy genes / dna will make it hard even if the drop the number by 50% … and thus the OWSers are on the wrong track. Maybe a better track than the T-Party, but wrong none the less. I will argue, until someone proves me wrong, that no matter what we are doomed.

    Now, to make Sandiferous the Magnifical feel less ignored: liked you article.

    • Disaffected says:

      rg,

      What kC implies is a world population of <1B for sure, more than likely a fraction of that. For the record, I agree with that. What's the number? Don't know. Suffice it to say, it's A LOT less than we have now.

      WILL we get there there at all, whatever it is? Hard to say. Given the current uncertainties, I highly doubt it. Can ANYONE EVEN POSSIBLY say for certain? Of course not.

      Given that, what will the ride down feel like?" No one knows, but we can ALL be sure (at least those of us in the first world west) that it won't be "business as usual."

      What will "the bottom" feel like and exactly when will we know when we've got there? INDEED! THAT(!) is the question!

      Something tells me, MOST of us are about to find out!

      DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ha ha…. thanks Rg! And, I might agree with your doomsday prognostication, as well.

  4. Ducky's here says:

    Well, the police may be a little restrained at OWS since the grand jury returned a big corruption verdict the other day. Lots of top union officials looking at jail time. The rank and file were six deep keeping the press from getting a shot of the perp walk.

    Still, will we see any of the banksters doing time? I think it IS significant that they tossed one of their own under the bus the other day but for insider trading not for being part of a vast criminal enterprise extracting vigorish from the rest of the world.

    Well little by little, as if we have time.

  5. Disaffected says:

    Excellent post this week kC! You’re getting to be quite a little political rabble-rouser, aren’t you? Good on you! God knows SOMEONE’S got to do it, even with all the OWSer’s out there doing it too. The world can’t get enough (IMO at least) of those right now. Me thinks we’re on the cusp of something truly breathtaking.

    A couple quick takes:

    The video was great, even accounting for a few obvious posers mainly trying to gain some camera time. I’m increasingly noticing that same stern visage of none other than the HillBillary herself, in her newly (fully) adopted role as “world scold” on behalf of the good ol’ USA. Overcoming my immediate and overwhelming urge to vomit, I always come to my senses and quickly realize the source of my discomfort: the bitch has somehow managed in just these past few years (while presumably also preparing to assume the mantle of “Great Leader” should the ACTUAL “Obamination” fail at his assigned task) become THE PROTOTYPICAL third grade man-bitch teacher from hell! That ONE bitch teacher you had way back when, when you were young and defenseless, who shamed you at every turn for every offense – real or imaginary – and made it a point to rub it in to classmates and ESPECIALLY parents alike. Complete with not so vestigial mustache and facial hair to boot! My stomach turns as I write, and I ask – is THIS what is has come to after all? Big screen, big brother lectures, from big sister (or big mother – Mother Superior) herself about how what Big Brother does to us is “for our own good.” Fucking Christ! PLEASE just shoot me now and get it over with!

    Second, I picked this one up today off of Naked Capitalism.com. Keep in mind, I’m neither particularly pro or con on this particular dissertation, and I’m particularly uninformed on ALL aspects regarding the Mayan calendar and all that. Nonetheless, I would characterize myself as an “informed skeptic” on matters such as this, and would recommend the article to those such as myself who are at least open to reviewing such from time to time. The gist of the article is that the Mayan calendar has been misinterpreted as to it’s specific end date – by roughly a year – and as to it’s implications with regard to “the end of the world.” The so-called “money quote” I took away from it was:

    As the established international monetary system collapses in the sixth night things can go essentially in either of two directions. It will go either in the direction of a grass roots organization of a new economy without banks, interests or growth serving to create a world without dominance. A collapse of the international monetary system, especially if it is linked to a moratorium of all debts, holds the potential of paving the way to a world that is truly egalitarian, based on willful cooperation and where greed will not destroy the world. This of course precludes the existence of a banking and monetary system organized in the interest of a minority and driven by the craving for abstract values rather than human needs.

    All in all, I found it a mostly informative read, with no more than the usual amount of hyperbole expected from ALL western mainstream sources.

    DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      DA – you are killin me with this paintbrush rendering of hilliary; I am peeing myself, as I read it. Please stop… give me a chance to breathe…. UNCLE!!

      • Disaffected says:

        I awoke last night in a cold sweat, licking the equally cold sweat off a good 5 day growth of HillBillary lip hair, as she nestled close to me in what could only be described as a nirvana dream of love-sex-fuck in that special place that exists only somewhere between stone cold drunken unconsciousness, and that blissful state of eternal hell that awaits all of us unbelievers, who would rather embrace ol’ Scratch himself (replete with oozing open cancerous sores upon his gross and swollen member, nonetheless displayed proudly and firmly for all the world to see in our inevitable direction). As I recoiled in horror, I asked myself yet again, for what seemed to be the millionthed time – WHAT pray tell – had I done to deserve this eternal fate?

        Had my mere vote for the nascent BillHillary in 1992 brought on this horror of horrors? Yay, said my vision, but there was more. Did I honestly think I was going to get off THAT easy? Was my foregoing vision of the ancient war gimp Bob Dole in ’96 going to come back and plague me with hemorrhoids at this late date, just as I was beginning to BE him? Indeed, was my incipient alcoholism about to turn me in to the worst result of all? A fucking mere water starved Texas “shrub” of ridiculous splendor – OR – a ridiculously monetarily fed fountain of Wyoming conservative bullshit. And then my thoughts turned to Chicago, and all the ugliness that implies…

        Alcohol! Please warn the young!

        DA

    • kulturcritic says:

      DA – Glad you got me straight on the quantizing Mayan consciousness shift and how it temporalizes itself in the return to the Garden. Can’t wait for the fruit trees to bear!

      • Disaffected says:

        kC,

        We might BOTH be surprised. I’m willing to grant linguistic/artistic/philosophic leeway myself. Food for thought.

        DA

        • Disaffected says:

          I might add, a lot more than I’m willing to grant the capitalist bullshit I’m subjected to daily, which is – on it’s face – pure, unadulterated bullshit. It’s funny how people will continue to eat the shit that they know, if only because the taste is familiar.

        • kulturcritic says:

          I like this part DA:

          “The vision that is emerging for the time ahead is thus neither that “the world is going to an end,” nor that “we will all be happily flying” at a certain preset date in the future. Instead, we see a fairly complex scenario based on the best evidence that we have for an understanding of the future. It has much in common with the difficult birth scenario for the “New Jerusalem” as this is presented in the Book of Revelation. As this book points out this is however not a world for everyone and it is a scenario that almost certainly will require spiritual strength and integrity to endure. I do not want to add any religious overtones to this discussion, but it seems clear that everyone who is aspiring to enter this new world must sincerely seek the truth and avoid simplistic explanations.”

          Certainly leaves me with a taste of rapturous glory on my lips!!

  6. john patrick says:

    @Rg…”I will argue, until someone proves me wrong, that no matter what we are doomed.”
    I’m certainly not going to argue with you. And as DA might agree, doomed is a relative term. I do think that our “expectations” of greatness, ease, and comfort will not be met. And, it won’t be an homogenous affair. To fight for better distribution of a shrinking pie, is still fighting.

    My question about OWS, or anyone wanting more, is–give them what they want. And then what is supposed to occur? Once everyone is happy, then what? Have we learned anything or contributed to a more sustainable future?

    Make all the poor rich. And then what?

    The oyster wants a pearl. Right now. What it gets is an irritant. And the opportunity to do something more…

    Great imagery and story, Sandy.

    • Disaffected says:

      JP,

      Great post, but FIRST of all, I’d be willing to accept your proposition about making “all the poor rich, and then what.” In truth, I don’t know, and neither do you, since we BOTH know that it will never happen. How very convenient that you posed it in the first place!

      The ALTOGETHER BETTER question IMO is this: how about we MERELY continue PRESENT tax and other governmental policies towards the rich forward for the next however many years, in spite of the fact that such policies are presently defined as a “tax increase” by those who first defined them (conservative rich politicians) into law in the first place? In spite of the fact that legitimate ACROSS THE BOARD TAX INCREASES for the rich are actually called for?

      The ALTOGETHER BETTER BETTER question is this: What happens when you make all the ultra-rich merely rich, and the merely rich merely well-off? Shall we play that game? Is there anyone left breathing that doubts we’re going down that road ANYWAY?

      To the rich: CRY ME A FUCKING RIVER! BITCHEZ!

      At this point, I think I’d be glad to escape with your lives and your possessions if I were you.

      DA

      • john patrick says:

        In a sense, where we have arrived is not the product of 30 bad years, but I think the result of 3000+ years. This is not something to be turned around by finding a solution to the present problem, per se. The facts are inescapable. And the math (bless Rg’s heart) is easy to see.

        That said, we arrive at Sandy’s interest of civilizations long past–that a bigger solution is not the answer. This is the point where ancient myths/stories pulled people through. Removing the sword from the stone-brain and wielding it in a previously unforeseen way.
        .

        • Disaffected says:

          JP,

          Agreed.

          If I were to propose a solution to our current conundrum, given a current population of 7B, with a roughly 1/99 economic distribution, my solution would be for the 1% – roughly 7 MILLION – to either renounce their riches ENTIRELY to the next lowest level (the average level at the 99% level), or else be “eliminated.” Just as they would expect those “below them” to do.

          For a START! Does ANYONE think that ANYONE could do without these pricks?

          Extreme? Are you SERIOUS? We ain’t even getting STARTED YET bro!

          DA

        • Disaffected says:

          John Patrick,
          I think you have SURELY misread the ways that the poor – even in capitalist ass-fucked America – hate the rich. I think that you’ll truly be shocked to find that that situations like this:

          play out all the time. Those of us on the receiving end know better. Cheers!
          DA

          • kulturcritic says:

            I don’t get the relevance of the clip, DA

          • john patrick says:

            Why would the poor hate the rich? Given a choice, most would choose rich over poor, right? To hate what you want to achieve is, well, insane. People might hate being taken advantage of. Agreed. But even poor people hate other poor people. Hate has no use. It only feeds a realm where people cannot create. It’s a form of usury on death.

            • Disaffected says:

              Actually, you’ve got it in reverse. The rich hate the poor. And there IS no “rich” and “poor” until they’re properly defined. Which is what capitalism does. Both “measured” by money, which is in itself an artificially created construct. Take away that – which is about to happen – and this conversation is moot. Shall we continue it then? Will you bring the same attitude then?

              Money. Depends on who’s holding it and who’s defining it. US Dollars? I wouldn’t be so cocksure if I were you.

              DA

        • kulturcritic says:

          I would say approximately 6,000 years

        • Apt use of the sword in the stone imagery. That sword was Caliburn, and broke from being misused, or misdirected and applied. It was healed, made new by the Lady of the Lake, after the broken pieces were thrown into the lake. The reforged sword was known as Excalibur, made new by the feral forces of nature. And, in the Jesus myth, Mary Magadeline is the Lady of the Lake figure, her name meaning something kin to “mirror of the sea”

    • kulturcritic says:

      Why, thank you JP… And you are correct. If it is just fairness or a bigger piece that they want, then we are still doomed. As Rg notes, with DA’s blessing… we are doomed anyway given the current trajectory, and even an 11th hour mid course correction of the Star Trek variety could not save this stinking, rotting heap. OMG, did I just say that?

  7. kulturcritic says:

    Just because… here is another of my favorite Russian singers. Leonid Agutin

    • john patrick says:

      Thanks, Sandy. Not knowing RU, it sounds/feels like he’s saying, “stuck again.”

      • kulturcritic says:

        BTW – This song is two artists who have a similar look and feel singing together, Leonid Agutin and Vladimir Presnakov. My Russian is not that good to translate (although I am sure it is not “stuck again”). The lyrics have not been released yet. When I get them, I will pass them along. thanks for listening, JP!

  8. Dave Jones says:

    People everywhere desire dignity. Hasn’t anyone who reads this blog heard the word used throughout history? If all you can do is whine about “the inevitable” this or that then you have already had yours robbed from you. If you are in the streets right now you understand what it feels like. And you also understand that a great deal depends on how well you can articulate a vision, spark the imagination or make a reasonable case for structural change. THE END IS NEAR does none of this. This is a long struggle with many different roots.

    As for your analysis of recently toppled governments Sandy, I don’t believe you can just use oil as the all-purpose empty signifier. Any more than you can use democracy. This is history we are dealing with, messy and complex.

    I would also add that folks be careful with the over-population discourse and it’s racial undertones, this is about distributive justice and power. I could feed a hundred people from my two acres. Which brings me to my last point. We gathered two nights ago to talk about Transition Towns. I’m leaving in ten minutes to talk to hundreds about Participatory Economy. I have met twenty new anti-capitalists in the last two weeks. What are you doing today? You are either on the bus or off the bus.

    Keep it coming Sandy, checks in the mail.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Dave – great to hear more from you. I know alot of us can be too cynical. I try to keep an open mind about restructuring, rewilding, transition towns, communal economics, etc. And I believe that is what is going to have to happen post collapse. But I have no doubt there will be a fall, and pretty hard one at that for those of us in the West. You know my greatest cynicism revolves around political hierarchy. It NEVER works. We need to make everything smaller; villages work better. Cities never do. But, I am not sure we can make the adjustments that take us back to those sorts of arrangements. Too much has transpired; many will die and others will sacrifice more than they imagine. I am not sure when, but it could be sooner rather than later. We need to build communities around consanguine and affine relations on a very modest scale. And we need to reduce specialization; we need interdependence built upon personal integration (the person who can do things herself).

  9. john patrick says:

    On movements… see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

    Michels’ conclusion was that the problem lay in the very nature of organizations. The more liberal and democratic modern era allowed the formation of organizations with innovative and revolutionary goals, but as such organizations become more complex, they became less and less democratic and revolutionary. Michels formulated the “Iron Law of Oligarchy”: “Who says organization, says oligarchy.

    Michels stressed several factors that underlie the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Darcy K. Leach summarized them briefly as: “Bureaucracy happens. If bureaucracy happens, power rises. Power corrupts.”[2] Any large organization, Michels pointed out, has to create a bureaucracy in order to maintain its efficiency as it becomes larger—many decisions have to be made daily that cannot be made by large numbers of disorganized people. For the organization to function effectively, centralization has to occur and power will end up in the hands of a few. Those few—the oligarchy—will use all means necessary to preserve and further increase their power.

    [me]
    And so, at what point does OWS morph into the very thing they fight?
    Individual inner-growth has to occur for real change. While organization may serve the expression of various states of understanding, history shows that it does not change the mind. A solidarity of zero is incapable of becoming 1.

    • kulturcritic says:

      JP – I think Michel may be correct. Within the historical record, there is ample evidence to confirm his position. This is why I have suggested that only naturally occurring tribal or band relations may constitute a meaningful, and non-hierarchical grouping. There is ample evidence of non-hierarchical band-egalitarianism in pre-literate, pre(non)-civilized tribes, both prehistorical and still extant. There are any number of ethnographies to confirm this. One that I find most compelling is Daniel Everett’s discussion of the Pirahã Indians of the Amazon, Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes.

      • john patrick says:

        Hey Sandy, had a chance to read the writeup on Daniel Everett’s work. I think hierarchy does work when the leader is willing to wash people’s feet. But, alas, THAT (in the writing style of DA) is not a popular idea. It had some success but reports are it died on the vine due to lack of interest… printing and preaching were a lot cleaner on the hands.

  10. B Miller says:

    DJ,
    I had a question about your statement that you could feed 100 people on two acres. I ask because this does get at the heart of the carrying load for population on this planet. The Chinese, more than any other people, have supported the densest rural populations for close to 4000 years. They did so through intensive crop rotations, use of extensive composting operations and manual labor.( I’d recommend the excellent Farmers of 40 Centuries for an idea of how they accomplished this feat.)

    Yet, with all of that knowledge and skill they only achieved the rate of 8 people per acre. That in itself is quite remarkable.Feeding any population depends on a variety of factors: arable land being chief among them. In a peak oil scenario and an environmentally degraded landscape worldwide finding enough arable land to feed the current population is not feasible.

    I fear that we simply are not going to come out the other side of the industrial model with anything like the current population. To speculate on that possible outcome should not open anyone to the charges of racism. Indeed the industrial West will in all probability suffer greater losses than less developed areas.

    With that said… I’m all for people putting up a fight. As Dylan Thomas said “I will not go quietly into the dark night”. So, keep up that good fight.

    My best,

    • Martin says:

      Yeah, the comment about feeding 100 people from two acres put a question mark over my head too. I think it depends on a lot of unstated factors such as: whether the soil is fertile and if it isn’t, how and with what is it fertilized; is it well-watered and if not, what is the source of necessary irrigation; how the food is produced, by hand or by mechanical means and, if the former, how many hands, if the latter, what kind of fuel for what kind of machinery, etc., etc.

  11. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    7 Bilion people is going to send our world to the brink. So what gives ? My thinking is that the global pecking order will go as following in the sweepstakes of death.

    My assumptions are based on historical facts as well as population realities and marginal lands being the first to suffer, i.e. the sahel, the north china plain and the american southwest and the indian sub continent.

    At the end of peak oil we will face the end of our short abundance and will fall into the end of the modern era.

    First , you will see massive population losses in enviromentally degraded areas of the horn of africa, the sahel, India and the north china plains. These areas are also the breadbaskets of several infectious diseases. So, you will see massive pandemics develop in these areas, spreading to the industrial world thru the trade routes.

    Second trend you will see will be the collapse of social services in the first world. This will cause the deaths of the medically dependent and disabled populations

    • kulturcritic says:

      John, we may well be over the brink already, which is why there are so many natural and man-made disasters with such a toll on infrastructure and human life. And while your analysis of the pecking order of death has some important historical precedents, it is also the case that many in the ‘third (developing) world’ know how to survive in conditions considered sub-optimal from our self-serving perspective.

      • john patrick says:

        On infrastructure… it’s one thing to run a grader down a dirt road and level it out. And quite another to repair/replace the 1000’s of miles of interstate highway. Not to mention bridges, ramps, and municipal water/sewer systems. All of this was put together during cheap/abundant oil. You can put maintenance off for a little bit, but once deterioration sets in, small crack turns into a large crack, erosion, etc.., I don’t see how the hell it can be returned to normal service…

  12. kulturcritic says:

    The world does not yet know what it is protesting; they just feel this discomfort, and they are sick and tired of it!!
    http://news.yahoo.com/occupy-protesters-arrested-texas-oregon-223442650.html

    • rg the lg says:

      No such animal as ‘too cynical.’ Cynicism, he repeats, is the thick shell and idealist grows to protect itself from reality.

  13. rg the lg says:

    The world, I aver, is not protesting … it is people … and you are right that they are clueless … mostly.

    There are moments when I think that many / most people are afraid to protest because somehow they recognize that what they are really protesting is their own set of values.

    It is hard to acknowledge, and I am not really sure any of us truly do, that the problem is NEVER THEM … but rather US … we, each and everyone of us, is complicit.

    Greed, I have said before, is ingrained in our genetics … in the very dna of us … and it is not possible to think of the concept you promulgate: “This is … I have suggested … only naturally occurring tribal or band relations may constitute a meaningful, and non-hierarchical grouping” … is just another pipe dream of the western curriculum … which is ultimately, I suspect a human condition and NOT limited only to those affected by the west.

    Oh well … another weekend watching people play as though there is no tomorrow … and maybe that is why we play so hard … ?

    • john patrick says:

      I like what Goethe said about the issue, “We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.”

      I can empathize with some of the foolishness. But the bottom line is, no one complained on the way up when the pillaging was good (for many but not all). I enjoyed certain aspects, too. But eventually, something deep down said, “Is it right for a 5 y.o. to be making your shoes in return for a nickel? And if there is a righteous god/Shiva/budha/whatever, what do you think their take on the situation is?”

      We deceived ourselves. Maybe now things will be made right.

    • kulturcritic says:

      You have a right to your opinion, Library Guy; even when its dead wrong!

  14. rg the lg says:

    From DANGER ROOM at Wired …

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/army-future-unified-quest/#more-61604

    Sandy as mimic of the military? I love it …

  15. Disaffected says:

    Okey dokey kC, you and yours have inspired me once again. After sharing some old shit I had written a year or so back with another acquaintance today, I was persuaded to update it and subject the blogging public to it again. Fortunately/unfortunately, as the case may be, it looks like YOU guys/gals have been chosen by the fickle finger of fate to absorb my inane/insane ramblings. My apologies.

    A word or two. This is obviously a work of fiction, albeit of the altogether PLAUSIBLE kind, to my mind at least. As such, please don’t come back and say this or that JUST CAN’T POSSIBLY HAPPEN(!) unless you REALLY BELIEVE that it can’t. As in, don’t say that Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachmann can’t POSSIBLY be “Queens of the Day” in 2012, just because one’s not running and the other’s not running well RIGHT NOW. SHIT HAPPENS(!), although I’ll admit, it looks like something EVEN STRANGER might happen in 2012, to me now at least.

    That said, I call this little ditty “Future Shock – 2018 Part I” (of II or III, I dunno, I’m still writing it). I had previously added the ominous addendum “A Cautionary Tale,” but decided that that was just a little bit too melodramatic. LEGITIMATE criticism of whatever sort WELCOMED and INVITED! Indeed…

    Trick or treat bitchez!

    Future Shock 2018

    The final wave of U.S. and world financial shocks began in the spring/summer of 2012, in the run up to the election that would signal the end of what remained of the Democratic “opposition” party, even as it foretold the end of the “false flag” Democratic/Republican ruling party, and, indeed, the American Republic itself. Coming on the heels of four years of blatantly pro-conservative corporate bullshit policies verging on fascism itself perpetrated by the nominally “liberal” Obama administration – widely regarded when first elected as the final hope for any remaining idea of genuine “liberalism” in the U.S. – it signaled not so much an end to the Republic, but an end to faith and hope in the VERY IDEA of a legitimate American democratic republic in the first place. Marx had been right after all – at least in our case – just as we in the U.S. had seemingly been right about socialism and communism in the U.S.S.R 20 years before. It began a nauseating spiral of political and economic descent, as the U.S. government tried to maintain the illusion of control by continued monetization of its exponentially increasing debt; until, thankfully, the military coup of 2018 finally returned a small sense of order to things. At that point, with American military and Foreign Service people virtually stranded in overseas locations with no economic lifeline, the military simply stepped in and did what it does best; forcefully restore order to failing third world nation-states. After suspending the constitution and imposing martial law, the Chinese and a consortium of remaining (relatively) wealthy world interests came to the economic rescue and made us “an offer we couldn’t refuse.” Far from representing an ultimatum, the offer came as a veritable “gift from heaven” for an American people that had finally given up hope altogether – in themselves, in each other, in their leaders, in their institutions, and indeed, in whatever remaining conception they had of “God” him/herself. As many were heard to say, there might well have been anarchy and mass destruction due to our cruel turn of fate, “but who in the hell had energy for any of THAT shit anymore?” The American people had at long last simply given up, defeated by their ultimate enemy. Themselves!

    The Constitution, along with the House of Representatives (to much applause both at home and abroad, as neither had been functional for quite some time), were both scrapped in entirety. The executive branch was expanded to a become a 3-way “Executive Committee” presidency, one to be elected by the Senate, one to be appointed by the Chinese government, and one to be appointed by the consortium, with the Chinese member having ultimate decision making authority. The Senate was reduced to 50 members, appointed by a joint resolution of the Chinese and Consortium members of the Executive Committee, with the people no longer being trusted with the vote after the Palin fiascoes of 2012 and 2016. Senate parliamentary rules were also now decided by the Executive Committee, with the Senate being pretty much openly viewed as a ceremonial vestige of the once proud U.S. past. Although Senate votes were largely “advisory” with respect to the Executive Committee, the Chinese thought it important to maintain the illusion of a “democracy,” at least in the short term, even as most political insiders had long viewed the notion as quaint, even before the final collapse. The Judicial branch remained mostly intact, with the following seminal changes: all higher court rulings were now to be reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee, all federal appointments were to be made by the Executive Committee and subject to review at any time, and the scope and authority of unilateral Executive Committee Orders were greatly expanded – without judicial review – as well. Even so, no one but the former and current powers that be paid any attention at all. Public education had long since been abandoned altogether, and those who could afford the now considerable costs of private education – which is to say the sons and daughters of the 1% who still had a small hope of wielding power over something still worth holding power over – surely knew better to pay attention to any of it. This was nothing more than a corporate takeover – no more no less – and long expected at that. The “letter of the law” had long since ceased to matter, and anyone remaining who thought that it did wasn’t worth consideration in the least anyway.

    All other government functions were streamlined across the board as well, with the elimination of nearly all the cabinet level administrative agencies – most notably the IRS and the State Department. A flat rate national sales tax – easily avoided by anyone who was in any way connected due to the now compulsory electronic banking – was imposed in lieu of the income tax, as the previous tax system had been completely discredited as corrupt and inefficient (especially when it came to extracting tax revenues from an American public that was now widely acknowledged to be completely broke), while the words “foreign policy” simply no longer existed within the bailiwick of what remained of the U.S. government, having been blamed for nearly all the ills that had brought the world to the brink of collapse, especially during the previous six years of the Palin administration. Not that it wasn’t implemented in spirit by other means. The term “foreign policy” had long since come to mean “global policy” under the American hegemon, and the Chinese/consortium policy going forward was little more than a continuation of the same. For her part, Palin remained even more popular than ever in her ever expanding role as media personality and demagogue, having largely abandoned her Presidential post after her 2016 reelection in favor of continued media stardom on the various enormously popular FOX News media outlets, which had gradually become the de facto media arm of the U.S. government in its waning days. Interestingly enough, many of the new Chinese regime found her to be extremely entertaining and not at all threatening (indeed, she was promoted and inflated as the faux “populist” she always, purely for propaganda purposes), realizing that her effect on the masses was mostly palliative, and would help ease the pain and anguish that was likely to continue, especially for the now aging baby-boomers, many of whom still held on to delusions of “American exceptionalism,” during the difficult transition years ahead.

    The military was sold off to a multi-national consortium, which had already absorbed Halliburton and its associated business interests, greatly expanded, and became the first truly global multi-national military enterprise in world history. Its scope was greatly expanded as well, now officially encompassing peacekeeping (war making), nation-building (nation-destruction and consolidation), maritime patrolling (war on the seas), corrections (civilian and military torture), civilian law enforcement (war on private citizens), private security services (protection for the 1%), and general governmental administration duties of all types (disappearance of whomever, wherever, whenever, and however it needed to happen) as well. The nuclear arsenal was located, secured, and for the most part, disassembled for storage in what remained of the U.S. national laboratories. The Chinese wisely recognized a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk the world back from the nuclear precipice, and, with the help of a truly multi-national professional military service (courtesy of Halliburton, whom they now owned), convinced the rest of the nuclear powers to do the same. All were allowed to keep a token number of weapons at the ready just to demonstrate the capability, but without the U.S. nuclear elephant in the room, most were more than happy to get the nuclear monkey off their backs. Of course it also helped that drone technology – aka the “silent angel of death” – had largely surmounted nukes in the first place, as being far more precise, far more tactical, and imposing far more TERROR on its victims than a mere weapon of mass destruction ever could. In the end, WMD’s were widely deemed to be just “so 20th century,” that they even became a joke among the masses who might have otherwise been incinerated by their use. The popular mid 20th century cautionary tale “Dr. Strangelove,” once so highly regarded for its’ cinematic, political, and witty comedic excellence had finally, alas, become mere kitsch!

    DA

    • john patrick says:

      “now compulsory electronic banking…” THAT is certainly plausible!

      • Disaffected says:

        Well god damn JP, it’s damn near ALREADY compulsory! How VERY forward thinking of you!

        DA

          • Disaffected says:

            Just fucking with you. Relax.

            DA

          • Disaffected says:

            JP,
            I might add, SORRY, it’s hard to read intent in internet posts. MEA CULPA if one is due. I’m not a prick in real life, although I more often than not play one on line. [Some sort of American Express (or similar) line goes here]. What can I say. I, as we all are, am a creature of our culture. Disgusting as that may be.
            DA

            • john patrick says:

              Eh, no harsh intent taken, DA. If you think reading “intent” is hard here, you should try the internet dating sites! There, even a photo can misrepresent a thousand years! The internet/writing is one-dimensional. And then we use written history to “tell” what things were like. Nothing like experiencing it first-hand. Or showing up for a date and, well… i should stop here. I might be recognized.

              • Disaffected says:

                Believe me my friend, I HAVE! Points ALL well taken. Life is tough, and then you actually show up! Been there, done that, recently…

                • john patrick says:

                  Picked up on your “Future Shock…” reference. Having read Toffler’s version of it years ago (like twenty years ago when it was fresh), I couldn’t help but think that things would change so fast that people would just jump off the timeline. Pick some comfortable reality and stay put there. I think it is happening. Not with the intent of escape, but because of ones ability to cope. It’s hard for a 286 processor to work in a 486 world.

                  • Disaffected says:

                    Good stuff. “Future Shock” was indeed my initial reference way back when (in actuality, I was already a HS senior in 1976 when I first read it). “Future Shock” was indeed the precursor for all of the bullshit that we hear now. 286, 486, Pentium, and all the rest. New names for the same old shit. Unremitting small changes meant for little more reason than to make their previous versions obsolete. In short: capitalism defined at it’s roots. Yeah, idealistically, “incremental improvements.” But when considered primarily from an economical perspective? Little more than profit making opportunities.

                    DA

                    • john patrick says:

                      I spent my senior year with the Woodstock ruckus going on. The only thing that I remember is the part about free love. Have we gotten that yet?!! But yeah–in the end, all we’ve done is swap apples from the tree of life. And raising the price each time. And thinking a higher price means a better apple. But, that said. If we fixed everything it’d only be a week before some bloke would spit a seed at another. And the whole damn thing would start up again. Boy–this blog sure is peaceful when Sandy is sleeping (or having one of those all-night Russian fermented oxen beer parties).

                    • kulturcritic says:

                      Vodka party, my friend!!

  16. john patrick says:

    I am always reLAXed! But seriously, I’ve noticed lately the local branches are reluctant to hand out cash. Oh–you can get it. but it seems they have to dig for it in the back somewhere (probably the copy machine). It’s hard to say how things will play out. Lots of shades to darkness… I try to stay focused on my little family. Knowing, that immunity will not be granted to any of us.

    • Disaffected says:

      Read the above. No wars. No wars. No wars.

      WHAT can I say to you my friend to make amends?

      Let us STOP all this silly bullshit right now. OK?

      DA

      • john patrick says:

        You don’t have to say anything to me, brother. I don’t feel offended in the least. I’m still pondering your story… some things need a little thinking.

      • john patrick says:

        The reason we have wars is exemplified right here… you see, here we are writing some thoughtful (maybe a stretch) little writeup, and the person who will read it (Sandy) is like 36 timezones away. So we write, and he sleeps. It’s like showing up to one of his favorite concerts three days late. And then you wonder why we can’t figure each other out. Half the world is awake doing great things and the other half is snoring. And then one says to the other, “Did you get that?” And the response is, “What?”. I’m convinced that until we all live in the same time zone, war, and certainly being beer buddies, will suffer. The latter being an issue of great discontent. Sandy is probably waking up about now. Time for us to go to sleep!

  17. Brutus says:

    Disaffected sez:

    “Future Shock” was indeed the precursor for all of the bullshit that we hear now. 286, 486, Pentium, and all the rest. New names for the same old shit. Unremitting small changes meant for little more reason than to make their previous versions obsolete. In short: capitalism defined at it’s roots.

    This reminds me of two things: a book I read some years ago called Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything (1999) by James Gleick and The End of History and the Last Man (1992) by Francis Fukuyama, which I read only in its 1989 form as an essay. Both are rather optimistic about technology and its power to transform humanity, allowing us to transcend ourselves. In a certain respect they are accurate: we have exchanged our basic humanity and mutual concern for technolust and mean-spirited hoarding.

    The idea that sticks with me the most (sparked by those writers, not provided by them) is that if technological innovation really lifts off (may not have done so quite yet, and we may hit the wall first), we could enter a phase of history where change is so rapid and relentless that we lose a sense of history (the end of history) not because we’ve reached a Utopian set of arrangements but in the Orwellian sense that we lack meaningful signposts from which to measure. The commonplace “where were you when …?” question will be moot because there will be too many fundamental shifts in a lifetime for any of them to be significant, like a string of battles in an ongoing war.

    In my lifetime, there were three major political assassinations in the U.S. in the 1960s, the energy and ecology crises in the 1970s, the Challenger disaster and the computer revolution in the 1980s, the Internet and refashioning of how business is done in the 1990s, the Columbia disaster and 9/11 in the first decade of the 2000s, etc. Throughout that time, the U.S. has been waging undeclared wars and undermining foreign governments (often through economic mischief such as the IMF), and the stock market has gone boom and bust several times. What happens when perpetual war, perpetual political gridlock (inability to solve problems), perpetual economic volatility, and perpetual reconfiguring of social norms become standard, where unrelenting change amidst perpetual, fast-moving change require fundamental adaptations every few years or even more frequently? I suspect we will become rootless and finally transcend the last shred of human decency we possess, modeling ourselves after the soulless machines and technology we so admire.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Brutus… now there’s a post to be proud of!! Well thought out and rather poetically articulated. sandy

      • rg the lg says:

        Indeed … well thought out …

        I would suggest that we, in many ways, have already reached the point at which: “we will become rootless and finally transcend the last shred of human decency we possess, modeling ourselves after the soulless machines and technology we so admire.”
        This is evident, especially amongst those who possess the latest and greatest technology, and a general trend. The issue, in my mind, is which elements of each society still possesses some form of humanity? I doubt it is amongst the folks who own lots of stuff and aspire to more …

        Sandy suggests that there is a remnant amongst the Russians he has recently come to meet. Joe Bageant suggested that there was some hope amongst the fisher folk he had come into contact with in Belize and perhaps the paisanos of Mexico. I am of the opinion that some of our rednecks possess some of the characteristics of humanity (clannish, small groups, relatively stable,geographically, the Amish and other insulated / isolated groups) …

        • Brutus says:

          I don’t think we’re there yet, but we’re barreling at it as fast as we can go. I picked up the video below at Nick Carr’s blog, Rough Type. He cites the creepiness of the uncanny valley, but I don’t find that in it at all. Rather, I think the stylized, slo-mo, robotic movements of the people become machines (or units of productivity) and their gaze fixed on screens (handheld, table- or wall-mounted, retinal display, makes no difference) like horses with blinders are harbingers of a transhumanist project borne out of self-hatred. Human life is messy and full of conflict and pain. Why can’t we all be sleek and sedated, like the zombies in the video?

  18. john patrick says:

    What is the difference between a fiat-based economy and a faith-based organization?

  19. Disaffected says:

    OK gang, Part II coming at you…

    Future Sock 2018 – Part II

    The benefits of a demilitarized U.S. continued from there. With the U.S. no longer whimsically and unilaterally flexing its military muscle across the globe, terrorist groups found themselves for the first time in nearly a century without a major oppressive power to resist, most notably in the middle-east oil producing regions. Israel, finding itself without its military ace in the hole for the first time in its history, was finally forced to sit down with the Palestinians and negotiate a just, meaningful, and (relatively) lasting peace. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran all had similar stories to tell. After a small amount of localized blood letting, all settled back to a relatively peaceful status quo, at least as measured by their unique historical standards. With the Halliburton group now exercising a world-wide, truly multi-national military and police presence – read: killer drones potentially loitering overhead at all times – terrorist groups soon found the going much too tough for their liking. Local populations no longer gave them shelter in favor of an oppressive foreign occupier, as many of the faces in the local Halliburton forces were from the local population. As the number of terrorist incidents continued to fall, they began to once again be rightly treated as the local law enforcement problems that they in truth had always been. Finally, as Halliburton gradually became more and more respected (read: feared!) as the world’s law enforcement arm, and with international disputes no longer dominating the daily news, the need for the United Nations began to wither, and it was formally disbanded shortly thereafter, officially acknowledging the new world order. Even the Russians – historical regional hegemons in their neck of the woods – seemed to accept their new fate as mere major energy suppliers of what remained of the fossil fuel stocks gladly, and as a buttress against Chinese military expansionism into old Europe (although God only knows why they would have wanted to bother), which itself had descended back into irrelevance – the heady days of their great “enlightenment” period now largely over – even before the United States. For their part, the Chinese, now stuck with the role of global financier and policeman (albeit in a greatly diminished capacity, now that the lie of truly global capitalism – aka free markets – had been exposed as just another Ponzi scheme), were wise enough not to poke their Russian bear neighbor needlessly. This was one great slumbering giant –especially with its considerable energy reserves and strategic positioning – that was best just left alone.

    Even before the collapse, Palin and company had begun what was to be referred to in later years as the “the great fire sale.” Every conceivable asset that the U.S. Government could lay claim to was either leased out or sold outright to private interest, most foreign. Vehicles, buildings, land, equipment – hell, whole AGENCIES (CIA, FBI, NSA, DEA, DHS, ATF, DoJ, etc.) – were bundled or sold individually as the case may be to the highest bidder. All in a losing effort to keep up with the burgeoning exponential debt overhang, which slowly but relentlessly swept in like the great Fukushima tsunami anyway. In a famous early example, the Washington Monument, once considered a priceless national treasure, but damaged in a freak 2012 earthquake, continued to fissure in the period thereafter (in spite of assurances from “America’s best” engineers that all was sound), until it finally loosed a lethal chunk onto a sleeping homeless family below a few years later. The family itself was considered no great loss (the now completely unregulated media had a field day with the gruesome details), but the attention the incident drew prompted President Palin to declare the monument a “crumbling, giant obscene phallic symbol of America’s inglorious past,” and ordered it torn down and sold off for whatever profit it could bring. It’s marble and granite chunks, all highly polished and mounted in suitably elegant gift displays, brought quite a temporary windfall from mostly Chinese tourists; unfortunately all of which, alas, made hardly a dent in the national debt at all. With mounting oil prices and a continually crumbling auto industry (with the single glaring exception of luxury full sized ATVs, complete with blacked out bullet proof glass and armored body panels) and transportation infrastructure in general, the interstate highway system accelerated it’s already considerable transition to a national toll road network. Toll systems were now all electronic, which made the system as fast and efficient as ever before – for those who could afford to pay – and the tolls were hailed unanimously by economists for the efficiencies they enforced, eliminating a sizable chunk of the motoring public altogether, while also being used to manage peak load situations – rush hour – more efficiently as well. Of course the tolls drove prices up for everything needing to be transported by truck – and railroads were not expanded to even marginally pick up the slack either – but that was considered to be just part of the cost of doing business under the rules of the new world order. The reduced traffic load finally prompted the end – once and for all – of the EPA altogether, a cause for immense national celebration in and of itself. Palin’s poll numbers shot to nearly 100% in the aftermath of her signing the official death warrant, as conservatives across the country were seen dancing in the streets. In the end, the White House, the Capitol Building, the mall and all the monuments – all of it – were abandoned and leased to private interests as a virtual Democracy theme park/museum. Most of the remaining actual “business” of government (there wasn’t much) after the fall was conducted electronically, as there was no more hog trough of money for travel, fancy suits, and expensive lunches with high-end lobbyists, who now openly owned the place anyway. Senators were now assumed to be privately wealthy and were paid nothing, as were federal judges, who were expected to be using their federally granted power for running a scam of some sort to cover their costs, not the least of which now included protection from irate litigants, who now routinely took matters into their own hands. Conservative interests, who had long decried “liberal activist judges,” continued to stoke the fires of public contempt for what remained of the judicial system, knowing full well that all the decisions that really mattered were being made elsewhere in closed rooms far from the halls of power, out of the glaring eye of easily manipulated public opinion.

    The Chinese voluntarily assumed, and even expanded, all US entitlement obligations, realizing that by doing so they were preventing the implosion of their symbiotic “trading partner”, and essentially just indirectly subsidizing their own export industry. Payments were made in ta special U.S. version of the new world currency, which had been officially adopted in 2015 in official recognizance (by world markets at least) that the dollar (and thus, all currencies of the time) was now little more than worthless paper. The aging, soft, and privileged first world U.S. population was recognized for the one thing it still had left to contribute – consumption – although it was also recognized that the U.S. baby-boom “entitlement generation” would be gone soon enough as well, after which all this costly non-sense would be phased out for good, and the Chinese and the rest of their Pacific rim partners could finally focus on improving the lot of their own populations in earnest. In keeping with that perspective, in one of the first acts of the new government, the new executive branch officially repealed (and subsequently approved its repeal) all existing drug laws within the U.S., and freed all prisoners convicted under those laws. There were even wide spread rumors that the major drug companies had been either ordered or allowed to release large amounts of recreational “legal” pharmaceuticals into the economy to stimulate future demand and/or to simply quiet things down during the somewhat chaotic transition. Surprisingly, this was an immediate boon to economic activity and overall law and order. Aging baby-boomers with new found wealth and leisure (but little else), re-explored the pleasures of various now legal opium based products of their youth. Additionally, the widespread use/abuse of prescription painkillers obviated the need for all those needless office calls for every little ache and pain, as well as the thousands upon thousands of assorted and sundry joint replacements which had become all the rage in the 90s and 00s. Funny how all those aging joints held up just fine to the rigors of a life at ease on the Lazy-Boy in front of the ever stupefying satellite TV (now free to every household), zonked out of one’s mind on now freely available oxycontin. A huge, largely unforeseen, additional benefit soon materialized as well: with the increased incidence of Alzheimer’s and other similarly incapacitating diseases, many boomers simply took the next logical step and used their newfound windfall in potentially lethal pharmaceuticals to go out on their own terms before the ravages of disease could take them out kicking and screaming in silent terror. While many a boomer’s adult children were unjustly accused (although rarely prosecuted) for their potential role in such “tragic” outcomes, Americans’ ideas about end of life care, suicide, and the right of the individual to choose his or her own outcome changed dramatically in just a few short years. And with the war on drugs now officially history, Mexico to the south now found unimagined prosperity, unofficially becoming a US territory (although exactly who “owned” whom now was a point for heated debate), as aging US boomers moved south to live out their remaining years in the sun, while many impoverished Mexicans simply joined up with Halliburton and left town altogether, or relocated north to take up the life as slave labor for the industrial agricultural interests in the U.S. Midwestern agricultural belt.

  20. Disaffected says:

    And finally, III of III…

    Terrorism, which had been an exponential growth industry during the 00s, virtually dried up overnight world-wide. With opium and coca products now legal in the U.S. (which had always been far and away the world’s main consumer, although most of Europe and South America, and Canada soon followed suit under the tidal wave of cheap and potent drugs, with no U.S. resources available to combat them), prices immediately dropped, and narco-terrorists simply had no one left to terrorize or the means to do it. Although prices fell precipitously, they soon found an equilibrium that allowed farmers to make a decent living, and demand among the aging U.S. population skyrocketed to previously unimagined levels. Health care professionals and religious leaders had long predicted that legalization would lead to the end of society as we know it, but once again, reality proved to be another story, as once the stigma was removed from recreational drug use (especially among the elderly, who were now the prime consumers), the overall effects were judged to be no worse than alcohol legalization before it. Likewise the long standing DEA supply or demand argument was settled once and for all, as with the supply system now able to work efficiently, U.S. demand for narcotics almost immediately, albeit temporarily, exceeded world supply, keeping prices high enough for the now legal producers to make a comfortable living, although not so high that the criminal element could profitably return. And once again, drone technology was a key player. Organized crime worldwide was now put on a very short leash indeed, as they no longer had a vague fear of possible future clashes with law enforcement personnel who may or not be trained, equipped, and/or motivated as well as they were. Drone technology had changed all of that (YouTube videos of official snuffings became all the rage for a time), by imposing the ever-present threat of instant, no notice, total annihilation, which proved to be quite an effective way of “winning hearts and minds” indeed! In the end, terrorism, like virtually every commodity before it, was merely co-opted by the state (in this case represented by a private interest), optimized for efficiency, and employed for/against the population at large. In that sense, “radical terrorism,” greatly enabled by breakthrough drone technology, proved to be just another commodity to be bought and sold like all the rest.

    Although rising sea levels were to be a worldwide problem in the years shortly thereafter, the U.S. enjoyed the fact it was simply able to abandon so much of its already crumbling infrastructure (the day Wall Street officially went under was commemorated world wide with a multi-media extravaganza) without economic penalty, an area where China, with its newly constructed special economic zones along its coast, was not nearly so fortunate. This forced some localized crowding issues in the Midwest, but once again, the U.S. was very fortunate in that so many of its working class had joined Halliburton and moved overseas, many never to return, after experiencing the pleasures of often more enlightened foreign cultures. This was eventually partially offset however, when the continued rise in sea levels forced mass evacuations of most of the world’s island nations. As the U.S. was rather sparsely populated in its western states (and was in no position to argue anyway), the lion’s share of the refugees were relocated to the U.S. and Mexico, under the rationale that the infrastructure and climatic conditions were at least as good or better than sub-Saharan Africa. Many were able to find work immediately, albeit torturous and for subsistence wages, in the burgeoning industrial agriculture industry. With the dissolution of the Environmental Protection Agency and world population numbers continuing to rise unabated, the Chinese abandoned any pretense of environmentally friendly/sustainable farming practices, as every drop of available water was diverted to farming the deserts west of central Nebraska. Eventually, even the mighty Mississippi ran nearly dry (when it wasn’t periodically flooding during now torrentially inundated wet years), and as the sediments stopped flowing to the delta, the gulf finally reclaimed New Orleans and most of the surrounding real estate south of I-10, this time for good. Among those in the know, this was all considered tragically inevitable, but necessary. It was U.S. developed industrial farming practices and food processing technologies that had enabled global population overshoot of such an enormous magnitude in the first place, and now with the added bonus of runaway anthropogenic climate change firmly established, we were witnessing little more than a high speed reversal of the process, which unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) would take care of the population problem in short order whether any one liked the show or not. It was also recognized that the problem was now completely intractable, and that the political problem of getting an increasingly indignant population, which was vitally dependent on the remaining fossil fuel stocks for their very existence, was no longer even relevant. Humans had already made their selection, perhaps as much as 30-40 years earlier, and now they were dealing with natural forces that were simply beyond their control. Hubris had indeed had its last say; unfortunately, Mother Nature’s reply was the last and final word.

    Surprisingly, the few remaining universities (nearly all top-flight research institutions, most private) flourished more than ever. What remained of the U.S. tech industry quickly reinforced existing corporate partnerships and began attracting research dollars and foreign intellectual talent in unprecedented numbers, largely due to the complete dissolution of immigration restrictions (and the agencies to enforce them), as well as the complete elimination of almost every other kind of regulation that one could imagine. As in, live human subjects for controversial research protocols? No problem. There was an immensely large, diverse, and exceedingly willing (or not) pool of volunteers ready, willing, and able for immediate work. Indeed, the larger universities fed, kept, and housed their very own large control groups for this very purpose, numbering in the thousands. The comparisons to industrial livestock production were rife, but few could doubt the legitimacy of the long waiting lists to get into such programs, or the life of relative opulent luxury lived by those who were accepted, however briefly it might last, or however horribly it might end. For many, it represented nothing less than the last remaining vestigial link to a university education, even though that standard had itself atrophied for at least a generation prior to its final open abandonment and repudiation. Although it had long been feared that uncontrolled immigration would ruin the U.S. standard of living (ironically, something the U.S. had managed to do of its own accord), the Chinese maintained tight control over social services, even mandating that privately run hospitals turn away the indigent from emergency care if they couldn’t pay the freight. With the U.S. rapidly seeking its place economically with the rest of the third world anyway – at least among average blue/no collar workers – the (inbound) immigration issue at long last simply faded away of its own accord. In time, the U.S. assumed the role of a sort of quarantined multi-cultural free-trade zone, where many of the more insidious aspects of capitalism and free trade were exported from countries wanting to enjoy the economic benefits, but not wanting to suffer the social ills. As such, tourism and the associated gambling, professional sports, and entertainment industries boomed, with mini (as well as bigger and better!) Las Vegas’s and Atlantic City’s popping up all over the country and the population itself morphing into a much more diverse, albeit transient, and decidedly less affluent one than ever before. Although never again threatening to regain its status as a world power, the U.S. finally once again achieved its dream of becoming the “engine of world economic growth,” as every hair-brained (or not) scheme was first exported to and tried out in the relative safety of the “wild west cowboy U.S.”, before it was approved to be safely implemented elsewhere. Like everything else it did down throughout history, the U.S. embraced its new found third world status, and in the process redefined the term altogether. Where third world countries were previously noted for merely being poor agrarian societies that had “failed” to make the cultural leap to first world industrial or post-industrial status, the U.S. became the first ever post-modern failed industrial first world state, and in the process, had redefined the term “third world” forever. As a cautionary tale, the U.S. had once again broken new ground and accomplished something on a far grander scale than anyone society before or since. Who would possibly have ever expected anything less?

    • Brutus says:

      Curious jeremiad. Many plausible and no-so-plausible outcomes. China looms large in everyone’s mind for a lot of reasons, but its environmental poverty is sorely overlooked. Further, its financial poverty is virtually assured once the U.S. defaults, which it must, though perhaps later than others or even last of all.

      I liked your final flourish: the redefinition of “third world” post-collapse.

      • Disaffected says:

        Brutus,

        Agreed, and thus the US-China connection at the hip. The even MORE curious connection is in reverse, is it not? Is China not a TOTAL reverse image of the US in every way? Think about it. FAR from being a reverse image of where we are NOW, they are a reverse image of where we were 100 years ago (or thereabouts) at the beginning of our own industrial revolution. Christfuck! What self-respecting capitalist would expect anything less?

        It only makes dollars (or yuan) and sense.

        DA

    • john patrick says:

      It sounds like Logan’s Run, without the run. Not sure about the specifics as I think the glue holding/sustaining the events in your story together will become more like milk. I don’t think things will be that complex. Though, am not sure it will be as simple as in Kunstler’s tale. I do think that things will be non-homogenous. Some niches doing okay/well, while others totally disappearing. I’d like to think that even in the dark ages there were small communities that existed “okay” off the radar. Out of sight, out of mind. But who the hell knows. They obviously didn’t take out a webpage and advertise how well they were doing. Oops… sorry Sandy! Better move to Kamchatka (sp?)

      • Disaffected says:

        JP,

        Agreed. Cast a wide net, catch a wide catch. Or something like that. How accurate can a big picture story like this be in the first place? And rest assured, that was all it was meant to be in the first place.

        Not to go all “religious” on you or anything (God fucking help me!), me thinks people have really lost their ability to “imagine” the future, which is in fact IMO how the future actually comes about. Not theoretically, not possibly, but ACTUALLY. That’s where people like me step in…

        Take that anyway you want. I don’t purport any of the above to be actual prophetic truth. Nor do I deny that any of it is remotely possible in the universe we’re occupying. All I’m saying is what I’ve said already, and I for one, think it was pretty damn representative of where we’re heading. As a society. In fact.

        DA

        • john patrick says:

          DA, I admire anyone who can string two sentences together without a grammar checker. You write. I read. We all do likewise.
          I don’t know how this is going to play out (dog frickin help me). I do know one thing. If you’re in hell, and you don’t know how to create a glass of water. Eh, it’s gonna’ be hot.

          • Disaffected says:

            JP,
            Agreed. So far the water (and beer) has continued flowing. As has the internet and it’s many benefits. For now, I’m EXTREMELY thankful. BELIEVE ME!
            DA

        • john patrick says:

          “…lost their ability to “imagine” the future,”

          DA, agreed.

          We have been duped. And have deceived ourselves. Instead of creating, we have mastered the art of consuming. Wisdom is choosing between two brands of jeans. Or, should I use debit or credit? Plastic or paper for the groceries? Is it any wonder we have no desire/ability to go forward.

          Lulled asleep so that our potential inheritance is defaulted upon. Given up for a bowl of dupe-soup.

          It’s never too late. But we have to have some sort of collective vision to go forward as a community. It doesn’t matter what–build a well, community garden, build a bridge. Anything. But ALL of us buying/consuming does not constitute a vision. Of anything. Except a collective need. When a need is fulfilled, what do you have left? Another need?

          We have to find something great that most of us want to do, for the betterment of all of us. All of us have to climb up the mountain for a better view. Otherwise, we will wallow in the valley and fight and bicker over who has more. Crap.

          • Disaffected says:

            VERY good stuff! Although I must add, what does “it’s never too late” mean when in fact IT IS? You can’t turn back the clock on the population explosion and global warming. Too many people = too many people = some must die in order that others might live (if they’re lucky). In short, humans (primarily first world Americans) have bought into their own PR bullshit. The results will be “interesting,” for those lucky enough to remain alive at least.

            In fact, at some point IT IS too late. Question is, is that point NOW?

            DA

            • john patrick says:

              It is never too late. To care for the sick. Feed a hungry neighbor. Care for the kids. We can always do something for someone who cannot pay it back. This is why usury usurps caring relationships and any idea of a town. It made sense with “seeds” that grew exponentially years ago, but today it is a claim on our available time.

              Two–is the smallest unit of community. It’s impossible to share while wandering the desert like a hermit. It takes two, and over time, anything is possible where both agree. Each of us has to be the “answer.” You, me, Sandy, Rg, Brutus, each of us knows what needs to be done within 50 ft of our house. To delegate it, or hope, that someone else will do it means we row the boat and someone else steers it. At best, we become slaves with well-kept oars. And ill-fed.

              Don’t get me wrong. I’m fascinated with all the shit going on. My god–run from the giant ants! THEM. It’s the best horror show around. But eventually we need to move on and do what is best, if not for us, at least for those behind us.

              Years ago I used to listen to NPR, all the bad stuff going on in Bosnia, etc.. And it’s bad–for sure. But I found it made me impotent to take care of things in my own backyard. I was so burned out on global affairs, that a homeless guy on the corner was just another stare.

              I’m not saying we’re gonna’ solve this shit. But without community, we truly are doomed. It won’t matter how much beans-bullets-gold is stored up. Without the ability to share, our talent, the goodness within us, we will truly be in hell.

              Gotta’ run. Girlfriend wants me to set the timer on the oven so she can dry the clothes. Is there a permanent press option?

              • Disaffected says:

                JP,

                Well put. Nor, might I add, was it ever too soon to do any of those things, which is of course why none of it was done during times of unprecedented prosperity. And why none of it will be done during times of equally unprecedented hardship either. Funny how that shit always seems to equal out to the benefit of the rich who proclaim it in the first place.

                I’m not saying we’re gonna solve any of this shit either. In fact, since we’ve pretty much destroyed any sense of community we once had in these past few years, I’m pretty much guaranteeing we won’t (read above). Might wanna try line dry (indoors this time of year I guess) if you’re truly one of the indigent.

                DA

              • kulturcritic says:

                Great dialogue DA and JP!

          • kulturcritic says:

            Superb statement JP. Love the directness!

  21. rg the lg says:

    Each month I look forward to this:

    http://www.killinghope.org/bblum6/aer99.html

    Hope you enjoy it …

    • john patrick says:

      Thanks for the link, RG.
      I fail to understand how any violence, however justified, can be glorified… It’s like enjoying a grand feast, where the attendees are sharks and cannibals.

      • rg the lg says:

        I concur …
        The bit from Blum starts with a chilling comment about our SOS … and it could probably be linked to any of our ‘leaders’ … chuckling at someone else demise. It is callous …

        Worse, I think most Americans have been acculturated / enculturated to that mind set by the business of athletics … even down to the HS level. Ever walked through a hallway just before a football game and read the posters the cheerleaders create? Chilling … but at the same time so banal as to be invisible …

        When I say we are all complicit, I mean precisely that … even down to the mothers milk …

    • kulturcritic says:

      An amazing summary RG!! I will get his book!!

  22. rg the lg says:

    Here is an interesting read …

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/11361/

    I agree with the point that OWSers seem rather pointless … though it is rather pleasant to see anyone gives a damn about the situation we have grown into.

    • Brutus says:

      Um, you can’t really have it both ways, griping that it’s unclear what the Occupy movement is about yet being pleased someone cares enough to bother protesting … what … nothing? I suspect you’re buying into the demands of media and government that the movement coalesce around a coherent set of demands under a clear hierarchical command structure. That’s complete rot. The fact that it hasn’t is proof enough that it doesn’t have to.

      I for one find it abundantly clear what the protests are about and have no problem visualizing what needs to be done in response. But then, see, I can think for myself and don’t feel any need to adopt the dominant propaganda. And in fact, I appreciate that those occupying the street have thus far steadfastly refused to response to and therefore legitimize the expectations of holders of power. Think of it this way: if power and legitimacy ultimately flow from the people — the assent of the governed, if you will — the protesters are fundamentally clear that they’re withholding their assent.

      Consider this fatuous statement from the article you linked to:

      Of course, the protesters don’t really represent 99 per cent of society. No one elected them to speak on anyone’s behalf. Ninety-nine per cent is a fantasy figure; nowhere does there exist a single constituency that encompasses such a large section of society. Aside from assisting the project of scapegoating, the purpose of the motto ‘We are the 99 per cent’ is to avoid facing up to the fact that, in the real world, this movement lacks a popular constituency. Whatever else it may be, this occupation of urban space is not a grassroots movement.

      What is so inscrutable about simple math? One percent of the population controls 43% of financial wealth and 35% of net worth according to this source — a disparity that’s been worsening for 40 years. Unless you’re in the 1%, you’re in the 99%. What part of that is fantasy? The supposed claim that the 99% represent a single-issue voting block? That’s a straw man trotted out to confuse people. (And it obviously works.) I spit on the notion that use of the motto is mere avoidance. Since the author can’t fathom it, let me clarify slightly that the movement is clearly about class warfare (with some cultural malaise drifting in), and the fact that many within the 99% are duped (e.g., the so-called 53% carrying water for their betters) doesn’t magically reverse reality as an act of opinion.

    • john patrick says:

      I have my doubts. Not because I don’t think it admirable to protest and raise the issue. But I can’t think of many protests/revolutions that didn’t go way beyond their original intent. Once the gathering swarms, there is no control. So maybe OWS is okay just as it is. Still–give each member 50-100K$, and would they all go home? A lot of movements lose their following when the “saying” becomes hard. Such as, “Sell all your shit and give it to the poor.” Oops… I don’t want to go THAT far for change.

      Still–I can empathize and understand the need to get out and do something. I just don’t think redistributing the pie, at this point in time, will solve anything.

      The other thing is, I doubt many of the 1% have millions/billions hiding under the mattress. It’s allocated in GE stock, IBM, APPLE, and grandma/grandpa’s investment fund. So–do we redistribute the (worthless?) stock? The physical supply of $$ is only about 3% of currency. The rest is digital. So it’s not like we’re redistributing hard goods. It’s more like “It’s a Wonderful Life” with all the wealth tied up in everyone else’s shit.

      Do I make out my next mortgage payment (which i don’t have) to the other 99%? And the utility payment? Just saying…

      Give to the corporation what belongs to the corporation. We should salvage our soul/life, music, writing, arts, community.

      • Disaffected says:

        JP,

        The true BEAUTY of it is that you don’t have to get out out and do ANYTHING yourself, at least at this point. The 99% are going to do it FOR YOU (and I) at this point at least, until the REAL going gets REAL rough. At that point, and rest assured it’s coming soon, a little more heavy lifting will be required. Will we ALL be up to it? Remains to be seen.

        DA

        • john patrick says:

          DA, not convinced lifting is the way to go. Should we raise the U.S. above the world, again (for their own good, of course). When one is on the wrong ladder, climbing down is appropriate. Perhaps even wise.

          • Disaffected says:

            The U.S. “above the world?” Absolutely not. Once again, you misconstrue. The ‘heavy lifting” is to bring the 99% metaphorically up to the 1%’s level (relatively) prosperity wise, nothing more. The U.S., as represented by the 1%, is the EPITOME of the toxic cesspool. Do you not get that? Or perhaps you do?

            DA

            • john patrick says:

              How can one lift, when treading water 🙂

              • Disaffected says:

                Once again. The U.S. is the very DEFINITION of the toxic whirlpool. In the toilet? We’re down the drain! Treading water? We would have to swim up out of the sewer pipe SEVERAL MILES to EVER see the surface again. FAT AMERICAN TURDS have a FAR better view than us.

                • john patrick says:

                  Eh, there are many who would trade places with our toilet-bowl seat view. I mean, really. It’s all relative (to quote DA 🙂 . We are able to define ourselves because we look in the mirror everyday. But many would like to have just one chance of seeing a happy face in return.

                  When is enough, enough? If one is not happy with two bucks, I doubt happiness will increase with two billion.

                  • Disaffected says:

                    True enough, but small consolation. We could play the “what if” game all night to no avail. The bottom line is, where has the “best possible outcome” gotten us, and where is it taking us? I would submit that the verdict is in, and it’s not at all fortuitous for anyone. Not even for those of us living the current “best possible” outcome.

            • kulturcritic says:

              I thought the “heavy lifting” referred to the battles of the anarchists that were yet to be waged!!

        • kulturcritic says:

          you can run, but you can’t hide!

      • Disaffected says:

        All the same, just WHO do you propose is going to give “each member” anywhere CLOSE to $50-$100K to “go home?” Do you have ANY IDEA how much that is to most people?

        Of course not.

        DA

        • john patrick says:

          It doesn’t matter how much it is. When you’re eighty years old and dying alone, does it matter what ocracy-ism we have in place. If you’re home alone because everyone else is busy working the perfect system. What have you gained.

          • Disaffected says:

            Huh?

            • john patrick says:

              My point is (being 18 hrs ago, not sure I remember) that anytime happiness is based on getting “something” from “someone” then we will be sorely disappointed. Once the need is met, the relationship disappears. Like paying off a fiat-debt. We have to shoot for something higher that goes beyond democracy/capitalism. I mean, geezus, has gov’t arrived at the promised land. Is our idea of fairness the best out there, for the next billion years?

              Personally, I think philosophical anarchism is the highest form of government. Call it, a gov’t of one, for the one, and by the one. It can certainly go extinct. And that is okay.

              • kulturcritic says:

                Post-critical anarchy… that’s the ticket, JP! And you are right… they should be shooting for something much more robust; a handout is only a bandaid on the hole in the heart that is being drained of blood and will shortly expire. kC

                • john patrick says:

                  Depending on the “master” for ones happiness or destiny, keeps oneself in the role of a slave. Each of us has to forge our own path, and take the road (no–not less traveled), take the road that only you know the destination. Otherwise, it’s no different than a mule being led to the hay pile. Or a mule following other mules with a mules-ass for a view.

                  Some things should be kept secret. But here’s the rub. Democracy depends on each one expressing their view–with a vote. Some things, the most precious, should be kept to oneself. And not laid bare for a majority vote. If I decide to climb a mountain for a certain view, what do I care how many go along in mind or foot. So again, we let gov’t take care of the castle walls. They own it. But we go onward to a grand adventure.

                  Rocks will always be concerned with an aggregate view. The water doesn’t care.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Absolutely correct, JP!!

    • kulturcritic says:

      You know, RG, I am no raving fan of the protests because I think their objectives are trivial, and if larger they should become, then hard to realize. However, the guy Furedi sound like a typical religious British blow-hard. He sounds extremely defensive about his glorious religious community, doubting that any other contingent of the poor and wretched of the earth could have any thing of value to contribute to a broader dialogue about where we have gone and where we might go. I say, humbly, Fuck this guy!!

  23. javacat says:

    An article of interest from The New Scientist: Revealed: The Capitalist Network the Runs the World

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

  24. rg the lg says:

    I feel gratified …

    I stirred the pot.

    It is interesting to me just how much affect the OWSers have had thus far … the propaganda, which Sandy sniffed out, is spinning. OWSers still remain rather hard to discern … and the fact of the matter is that ALL attempting revolutionaries can be co-opted … it is, ultimately, a matter of our greedy genes. … call it looking out for #1 (ourselves).

    I said in my original post that I thought the article was of interest. (Interest is a TOTALLY vague and meaningless term … ?) What I also said was that the OWSers seemed rather pointless … and that I maintain is about all I agree with in the article.

    The ultimate point in my mind is always: is there anything of value in a reading? I am seldom interested in persuading someone by having them read something … but I am always delighted by the debate and the thoughts that ensue.

    Gratified … that is the word I used … and I meant it. What a great batch of comments!

    Thanks …

    • john patrick says:

      On co-opting… I’ve noticed lately that anyone with an agenda is using the OWS as a stage. The cameras roll and it’s time for that 15-minutes of fame. I do feel there are some well meaning, sincere, justice-seekers in the group. But, like everything else, (remember the internet before spam) it gets taken advantage of–mostly for a buck. There are times to lead, but a good leader should step down after the original idea is delivered. The stepping down puts leadership back onto each citizen’s shoulders. Where it belongs.

      How many step down because of their faith in you/me? Why–it’s like asking the Vatican to sell their gold/artwork/palace to feed the poor.

  25. rg the lg says:

    Co-optation … it is the bane of many of my former high school and college era relationships. People quit being concerned and moved with the herd toward what they deemed as their just due.

    I can not say I avoided the contagion … mainly because I was drawn like a moth to a flame by the power of information control. While I never saw it as a way to control people, per se, I did see it as a way to influence things. And influence them, I did … . I would like to think that what I caused to happen was neither inevitable, nor passe. I would like to think that what I influenced was for the good. That is what I would like to think …

    The reality is a separate ball of wax … I am sure that many of the things I did helped in the creation of further means to consolidate wealth … power … influence … and left many out in the cold.

    So, what of the now … the only real place we are … ? I would hope that I learned my lesson … but I rather doubt it … I am human (or at least I suspect so) and I have come to the conclusion that our rapaciousness is a function of our collective genetic history. Life is resilient … and whatever comes forth after our self-destructive will have an opportunity to not be the same way again.

    That leads around to the 15 minutes of fame … and the ultimate dismissal of the totally irrelevant!

    • john patrick says:

      “… conclusion that our rapaciousness is a function of our collective genetic history.”

      Which is why I’m getting more comfortable with the idea that current events are the product of the past 10K years, and not just the result of recent foolishness. No matter who we throw out of office, or what institution gets knocked down, is that the “fix” to a very long problem. I kinda’ doubt it…

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