Posts Tagged ‘ progressives

Rubbernecking: The Train Wreck of Integrity

My beloved and I were talking to a friend the other day when the topic of the 2012 election came up; we three range from being repulsed-by to highly-skeptical-of the notion that social progress can come from a violence based hierarchical institution deriving its powers from a corporate oligarchy.

Nevertheless, our friend reported being grimly interested by the presidential electoral process, the cultural dynamics revealed and the narratives surrounding the spectacle. I am drawn to the dark process in a similar manner. While I don’t endorse any aspect of the imperial corporate theocracy, I can’t help but be fascinated by–as one example among many–the moral wreckage of the political sycophantic class as they attempt to bend reality with pseudo-reason to indicate the superiority of their preferred ruling party.

I come to the apolitical position from the left. In my experience, most rank-and-file progressives believe the function of government to be something along those lines of uplifting and empowering human beings, protecting them from violence and helping them recover from catastrophic events. The policy staples around these abstract goals are socially libertarian in the personal realm; anti-war, anti-prison, anti-empire, anti-corporate and pro-human in the political realm.

With the political season upon us, 15 months out from the election, the political lackeys of the democrat-aspect of the ruling class are having trouble herding the rank-and-file progressives into their reelection effort.

For whatever psychological failing on my part, I can’t stop reading their attempts to alternately lure and beat their one-time supporters back into the fold. It hits the same sweet-spot for me as watching theologians doing n-dimensional mental gymnastics to prove the inevitability of their god’s/worldview’s existence.

These efforts are impressive at first because the establishment propaganda has to paint rampant corporatism, endless global war, overflowing prisons as matching exactly that which the voting progressive cares about: peace, human dignity, and justice.

Since, no matter the intellect of the authors, this approach fails on targets who’ve retained the ability to Google or otherwise access anything other than American mainstream media; the effort then devolves into incoherent screaming about the danger of policies worse yet than those that are being put in place by the current regime. Voting for a third party, or heaven forfend, not voting at all puts a reluctant progressive into the camp of the childish, the naive, the selfish, and the irresponsible.

On top of this circus, this election cycle has an extra-fun twist. Since the late 19th century, Texas congressperson Ron Paul has been providing the catch-all for the principled political right that Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich supply for the principled political left. These are the most potent and potentially revolutionary wings of still-engaged people in society; they can’t be allowed to float away from the established political institutions. One or two representatives are allowed to sit in congress or run for president thereby providing a thread of plausibility that the system can be improved “from the inside.”

Ron Paul is against foreign wars across the board, against imperialism, against the war on drugs, and against federal “protection of marriage,” etc. and must be, I guess, freaking out the democratic machine a little bit. It sounds like, from the blog chatter, there are progressives who are “being tricked” into supporting Ron Paul.

If they are supporting Ron Paul, then they have been tricked. Ron Paul can’t change anything any more than Barack Obama could. It’s impossible to turn an organization against the purpose for which it exists.

But why would democratic machine parts care that Ron Paul is running in the Republican primary? Wouldn’t their time be better spent doubling down on ridiculing Rick Perry’s idiocy or Mitt Romney’s magical underpants, or some aspect of a candidate who might actually win the Republican nomination?

The only thing I can figure is that it’s simply uncomfortable to have his wildly popular positions in the political discourse without a democratic counterpart. In 2008, Ron Paul was easy for the left-o-sphere to ignore because they had Kucinich to point to as their principled anti-war candidate and once he was gone, Ron Paul was as well.

This time around, everyone who watches this garbage[1] only gets to see republican candidates and compare them to the legacy of the incumbent democrat. When the sole anti-war voice is Ron Paul and he’s also against the drug war, etc., it creates an uncomfortable level of cognitive dissonance that may cause right-thinking lefties to give up on the system and look elsewhere for social progress. Any efforts made in this direction reveal that the state is the violent defender of social stagnation–which is the realization that all state PR and the electoral process itself is intended to obfuscate.

The democratic vote-rustlers have to associate the anti-war, anti-drug war, pro-human stance itself with racism, homophobia, misogyny and any other label a progressive voter would be mortified to have applied to them. This may work against the truly psychologically feeble for whom the badge of “progressive” is a part of his/her identity. For an increasing number of people being called a racist for opposing war or for questioning the justice of the largest prison-state in the world will serve to make the nature of the nation-state and its toady mouth pieces that much clearer.

  1. [1] Myself included.

Pity the Party Hacks

One of the many things that swing out of the mainstream from time to time to knock a bit of reality into my delightful pocket of anarchism is the political left’s inability to abandon, or even critisize, capitalism.

Capitalism, corporatism, crony/state capitalism, call it what you will–I’m referring to the economic system that has always obtained in these glorious united states. In this system, concentration of capital–purchasing power and means of production–use the legitimized violence of political institutions[1] to increase their wealth in ways that would otherwise be impossible [2].
This, in turn allows capital to concentrate in greater amounts and at a greater rate providing additional resources to create favorable monopolies, governing/regulating bodies, tax structures, and foreign policy (i.e. war). Which, in turn results in further abnormal and absurd profits, and so on and so forth.

Eventually, the oligarchs of accumulated wealth in this country have even won control of the printing of money and the issuance of debt (at interest rates set by their own cartel!). They’ve been awarded mineral rights around the globe by puppet regimes–mineral rights protected by the largest and deadliest military the world has ever seen. Their property and means of production in the home country are protected by a legion of police only slightly less well armed than the hordes sent abroad.

The reason they can do this is that they get it all for free! Certainly they pay some taxes, but in return they have access to assets on the order of trillions of (public) dollars to protect “their” property, mineral rights, even the pictures, sounds, words, and ideas that their workers develop for them.

Their employees’ retirement pensions and eventual healthcare are paid for, not by them, but by the public. The people that work for them are educated by the public. Goods flow in and out of their warehouses on public roads. Their merchant fleets shuttle cheap goods from poor countries with brutal leaders installed with public dollars to keep their people poor and compliant and working for nothing. Those fleets are protected by an awe inspiring navy under the watch of thousands of navigation and communication satellites. None of which is purchased, built, or placed by the majority beneficiaries.

Capitalism is the way by which the wealth and well-being of the 99% are trapped, extracted, and collected to benefit the interest of the tiny remainder. The entire nation-state is bent toward taking money and labor stolen from the workers and building armies, police, infrastructure, and regulation that benefit the people who built the nation-state for just that purpose.

As the inestimable Dennis Perrin points out:

Liberal groups bemoan the class war, but do little to oppose it. For one thing, they’re not opposed to capitalism — though what we’re enduring is beyond supply-and-demand definitions. Modern capital has its own language, its own currency, its own country. Liberal commentary rarely touches on this. They believe that modern capital can be bent in a progressive direction. By who or how is fuzzy. But it can be done. First, we need to elect better Democrats; and then etc. etc.

The democrats, individually and as a party, benefit mightily from serving accumulated capital. They will not take actions that threaten their share of power; if that means supporting wars, prisons, torture, a police state, the slashing of social spending, so be it.
Party Hack
The hacks on the political left benefit from the trickle down from the democrats. They can make a living reading, writing, speaking, and anlyzing as long as their conclusion is that:

  1. The structure of capitalism must remain unchanged and unchecked[3].
  2. and

  3. The democratic party, not a third party, and certainly not an alternative social structure is the means to social progress using the structures of capitalism; as Dennis says, “by who or how is fuzzy, first we need to elect democrats.”

This puts the party hacks in a weird and convoluted position. All of the traditional left-wing recommendations for real improvement in people’s lives and society at large–legalizing local organizations to compete with corporate monopolies, absolving bogus debt and laughable absentee property claims, the closing of prisons, the ending of wars, and the end of legal statute enforcing morality and social norms. . . the party hacks can’t really use any of it. They’re left cheering when the stock market goes up because maybe some of the newly appropriated corporate billions can be used to buy catfood for the elderly; or trap children in the mind-numbing prison camps of public education for 10 more days a year, or create jobs by increasing the ranks of homeland security.

It’s a testament to their intelligence that they can form a cohesive narrative and defend it at all.

  1. [1] After, if necessary, creating said institutions.
  2. [2] If you’re unfamiliar with that what of I speak, I recommend Gabriel Kolko’s The Triumph of Conservatism, or anything by Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky
  3. [3] Other than, perhaps, regulation further insulating some corporations against competition from some others; enshrining political favorites as indefinite rulers of a sector of the economy.

The Bikecast Episode #15: Rand Paul, Racism and Moral Priorities

I’ll keep the background notes short for this one. If you didn’t see Rand Paul make an ass of himself on the Rachel Maddow show (I didn’t either), here are the clips: Part 1, Part 2 . I still haven’t watched them, but I read about the aftermath in ye olde blog-o-sphere the next day. I have a pretty good idea what happened: a right-wing candidate opened himself to a charge of racism and the left, having psychologically suppressed the conscious recognition that “their” party is in complete control of the most racist institution on the planet, exploded in a cathartic release on said politician.

Download this episode of the bikecast

It’s a challenging task to be progressive in the united states today–I guess it always has been. The racist war on drugs and a racist war on terror haved destroyed millions of lives based on the accidental attributes of birth. That the drug war is racist almost goes without saying, but it’s said so well here that it bears repeating:

Except, obviously these policies are designed to cause immense suffering, to be hugely and disproportiately punitive, and to be monstrously racially unjust so as to maintain a persistent, racially segregated, socially inferior underclass. You think it’s a coincidence that the creation of the DEA and the passage of the Rockefeller drug regime and its imitators came right on the heels of the Civil Rights era, you fatuous stooge?

As to war, black and latino americans are intentionally mandated to attend the worst schools on the planet. Military recruiters feed on the broken results of a racist school system and the victims are sent off to fight other non-whites 10,000 miles away from home.

The left cannot acknowledge these blindingly obvious truths. The people they spent unfathomable time and energy pushing into power could stop both these and a whole host of other evils with a few pen strokes. They won’t because they don’t oppose racism, they oppose not being in power–i.e. the benefactor of wealth and privilege that benefits from racism. 

Asking their elected officials to actually combat racist policies would quickly lead to the realization that their elected officials don’t give a shit about righting racial injustice. Since this course cannot be pursued, the problems must be ignored at all costs. As a result, the political left must project the actual instantiated evil perpetuated by a democrat controlled executive and legislative branch onto whatever acceptable target makes itself available.

Besides being a target of projection for the evil progressives detect in their political heroes, the attack on Rand Paul serves a second purpose. Three truths cannot be brought under rational examination if the state is to maintain its control:

State capitalism is an inefficient, unjust, and anti-human way for an economy to be structured.
War is everywhere and always evil.
Violence, and therefore government cannot sustainably resolve social problems.

Anybody speaking these truths must be ridiculed to the greatest degree possible. Supporting #1 will bring charges of communism or stalinism. Supporters of #2 will be shouted down as naive accommodationists (what about the Nazis?) or racists (what about the the Civil War?) and those supporting #3 will be called, among other things, racists. In many cases, of course, they are! That doesn’t affect the truth value of the statement.

Rand Paul may not have supported the Civil Rights Act had he been in the legislature in 1964–maybe because he’s a racist. Barack Obama is actually enforcing racist laws, presiding over one million plus non-white prisoners and murdering thousands of non-white humans because on their race. Which of these two deserves to be the focus of our scorn, moral outrage, and condemnation?

Rand Paul may be a tool, but he’s not a war criminal (at least not yet).

Good further reading:
The IOZ trifecta:

This article is OK
but this comment is especially worth reading: