Sunday, April 26, 2020

Noam Chomsky, Lesser Evilism, and Democracy

Over the years Noam Chomsky has advanced a scathing indictment of U.S. elections, saying that they are really more "public relations extravaganzas" than ideological contests, that they therefore mean very little, especially at the national level; that he himself votes "less and less" at that level; that the system is not generating issues that resonate with the public; that there really aren't any political parties, but only "candidate producing organizations" driven by marketing concerns; that the quadrennial farce that plays out at the presidential level is worth no more than "five minutes time," and this, only to determine which candidate represents the greater threat, in order to vote against him; and that, in view of all this we should reserve our main political energy for vastly more meaningful work, such as popular education, union organizing, and cultural resistance. 

Nevertheless, in recent years the significance of voting has loomed large in Chomsky's mind: he warned that failure to vote for Hillary Clinton was a "big mistake," that allowing Trump to win could be "the death knell of the species," and that the nearly surreal 2020 electoral farce is the "most important in human history." 

Note the juxtaposition: voting is not worth more than a few minutes of our attention, and it's likely to determine the fate of the earth. Are these assumptions really reconcilable?

Probably not. If it is really true that we are at a "tipping point" vis-a-vis global warming, then it does not make sense to spend the vast majority of our political energy working for the long-term goal of transforming the U.S. into a country where a decent person could live without shame. Far better to throw ourselves unreservedly into the campaign to elect Biden now, in order to insure ourselves the time to deal with longer term matters later. But most Bernie Sanders voters will not do this, to say nothing of those farther left, and even Chomsky is not recommending it.

Nevertheless, there is logic to the claim that those who abstain from voting actually are helping re-elect Trump. This is uncontroversial, mere "arithmetic," Chomsky says, since only Biden or Trump can win in November. Therefore, subtracting a vote from Biden by staying home has the same impact as a positive vote for Trump. In short, for Chomsky, November's ballot should be understood to read as follows:   

a) retain Trump
b) remove Trump 

The "b" vote is a vote for Joe Biden. Abstaining is a vote for Trump, since it represents a failure to vote against him, as is a vote for a third party candidate.

Chomsky's logic is correct, but are his underlying assumptions equally so? Perhaps not. In the first place, the Democrat-Republican binary is not a law of nature, but a result of awarding corporations (legal fictions) the same constitutional status as biological people. This could and should be overturned, as corporations are nowhere mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, and only a handful of dubious legal decisions give them their unwarranted power. This cannot happen in time for November, but could happen later if the energy currently wasted on lesser evil electioneering were dedicated to this outcome instead.

Incidentally, the triumph of popular fervor over duopoly has already been achieved once, as the Republican party itself was the product of a successful third party challenge to the Whig-Democrat "binary" around the issue of slavery. The issues today - climate change, a collapsing economy, global pandemic - are equally grave, and could destroy the two corporate parties altogether. In fact, Trump already destroyed the GOP that existed prior to 2016, famously calling out each of his numerous Republican rivals for their deficiencies during a televised national debate, then surging to victory in spite of total media hostility and constant RNC efforts to consolidate the Never Trump vote. Bernie Sanders, lacking Trump's killer instinct and facing the stronger wing of the U.S. establishment, failed to duplicate this achievement on the Democratic side.

But back to the dismal matter at hand. Is it really true that Biden is the lesser evil? Chomsky nowhere takes note of the fact that Trump is the choice of the Republican base, not the elites, whereas Biden is the choice of the DNC, which openly defecated on the Democratic base, and not for the first time. Therefore, as detestable as Trump's rule is, it is at least somewhat democratic (slightly more responsive to the concerns of working people than Pelosi, Schumer, and Biden), while the Democratic Party remains implacably hostile to granting its social democratic base the slightest representation, and this, eighty-seven years after the New Deal was enacted under a Democratic banner.

Incredible as it may seem, it is Trump, not any Democrat, that is experimenting with limited Medicare For All, covering all coronavirus-related expenses, while Biden promises to veto any Medicare For All bill that reaches his desk as president, and Pelosi advocates subsidizing COBRA benefits, which would keep parasitic HMOs at the forefront of health-care delivery during a global pandemic. And it is Trump and the Republicans that offered the larger direct cash payments to Americans, while Pelosi initially opposed them, then  blathered about "means testing" token financial help. 

So if there is any hope for achieving universal basic income and Medicare For All, it rests with Trump, not the Democrats, who are ideologically opposed to populist concessions. Lacking ideological convictions, the president can afford to indulge a little democracy, especially if it extends his political life.

Nor is it entirely clear that Trump is worse than the Democrats on foreign policy. As Matt Taibbi noted in a recent podcast, he lacks an infatuation with launching new wars, unlike Hillary Clinton, and he sensibly advocates that the U.S. "get along" with Russia, as opposed to the Democrats' approach of aggressively promoting regime change via belligerent confrontation and a steady stream of insults directed at Vladimir Putin (HRC compares him to Hitler). Furthermore, Trump, much to the consternation of Democratic leaders, favors a diplomatic solution between North and South Korea, which he may yet achieve, while Democrats prefer issuing threats and ultimatums in hopes of forcing North Korea to unilaterally disarm. In short, with two nuclear adversaries Trump favors diplomacy, while the Democrats prefer adolescent bullying and an attendant risk of nuclear war. Who's the dummy?

Finally, what is the point of keyboard revolutionaries like Chomsky lecturing the non-voting population about the meaning of its voting behavior? These people (44% of the electorate in 2016) are in the bottom half of the wealth pyramid, that is, the most exploited part of the population, and they will continue to be no matter who wins in November. As Biden himself told rich donors last year: "Nothing would fundamentally change" (in a Biden administration). So why should non-voters worry about the end of the world when their lives will remain a pitiless struggle to make it to the end of the month?

Of course, all this assumes that there are actually going to be elections in November. There may not be. With a deeply corrupt DNC constantly rigging and even canceling primary elections (New York), Trump has the perfect pretext to cancel the general elections. If he ends up ruling extra-constitutionally, thank a Democrat. 



Postscript: Years ago, philosopher Alan Watts referred to a study on schizophrenia that may be an ideal illustration of our voting plight. An experiment forced dogs to discriminate between an oval and a circle. Failure to do so resulted in an electric shock. Gradually, the oval was widened until it became nearly indistinguishable from the circle. At that point the dogs suffered the equivalent of a nervous breakdown, as there was no way for them to avoid getting a shock. Chomsky's "rational" solution to this dilemma is to teach the dogs to look through a microscope. Not very helpful.





Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Dementia Follies With Joe Biden

I had the great honor of being arrested with our UN ambassador (Andrew Young) on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see (Nelson Mandela) on Robbens (sic) Island.  

-----Biden on being an anti-apartheid freedom fighter

No, I was never arrested and I don't think he (Biden) was, either. 

-----Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young on reality

Friday, April 17, 2020

A Gaffe A Day Keeps The Youth Vote Away: Biden on Crime

It doesn’t matter whether or not they were deprived as a youth. It doesn’t matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society. It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re the victims of society. The end result is they’re about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons. It doesn’t matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society. 

------Biden on the harsh ghetto life his family endures in the "wooded, secluded area" he says they live in.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Joe Biden Losing His Mind

You're a damn liar. I’m not sedentary. You want to check my shape, man, let’s do pushups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test. OK?” (Biden to an Iowa man at a campaign stop).

You're full of shit . . . Don't tell me that, pal, or I'm going to go outside with your ass . . . . Don't be such a horse's ass. (Biden to a Detroit worker). 

You’re a lying dogfaced pony soldier. (Biden to a New Hampshire university student).

He's saying it was President ______ my boss, it was his fault. (Biden forgetting the name of the president he served for eight years).

We cannot get reelected, we cannot win this reelection, excuse me, we can only re-elect Donald Trump. (Biden on the urgency of the 2020 election).

We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.  (Biden on the importance of logic and reason.)

Why why why why why you’re getting nervous man. (Biden to CBS reporter Ed O'Keefe, who asked why he continued to attack Bernie Sanders after accepting an apology from him).

We cannot let this, we've never allowed any crisis from the civil war straight through to the pandemic of 17__, all the way around 16__, we have never, never let our democracy sakes second fiddle way, we can have both a democracy and elections, and at the same time correct the public health. (Biden trying and failing to reassure the public about the coronavirus crisis).

 Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids. (Biden offering an alternative to "racist" Donald Trump).
   
And Corn Pop was a bad dude and he ran a bunch of bad boys . . . And I said hey Ester off the board or I’ll come up and drag you off. . . . You may cut me, man, but I’m gonna wrap this chain around your head. (Biden to a black audience on how he heroically challenged a razor-wielding thug in his lifeguard days).

I got hairy legs, that turn blond in the sun, and the kids used to come up and reach in the pool and rub my leg down, so it was straight, and then watch the hair come back up again. They'd look at it. So I learned about roaches. I learned about kids jumping on my lap. And I've loved kids jumping on my lap. (Biden currying favor with the same black audience about his lifeguard life).

Think about it. We hold these truths to be self-evident: all men and women are created by the ko you know the you know the thing. (Biden trying to recite the most famous passage of the Declaration of Independence).
      
One hundred and fifty million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability. (Biden suggesting that nearly half the U.S. population has been killed by guns in the last 13 years).

It would put 720 million women back in the work force. (Biden suggesting that the equivalent of the female population of China is out of work in the U.S.).
     
If you agree with me go to Joe three oh three three oh and help me in the fight. (Biden trying and failing to identify his contact information during a campaign debate).

Make sure the television excuse me make sure you have the record player on at night. (Biden on how to overcome poverty).

. . . kinds of things that, that have to be done, um, you know, there's a uh, during WWII, uh, you know, Roosevelt came up with a thing, uh, that, uh, you know, that was totally different, WWII, he called it, he had the War Production Board. (Biden on how he would handle coronavirus)

I'm not going nuts. (Biden trying and failing to assuage doubts about his mental fitness for office.) 
    


Monday, April 13, 2020

Joe Biden With His Mind Intact

"I do not believe this is a rush to war. I believe it is a march to peace and security. I believe that failure to overwhelmingly support this resolution is likely to enhance the prospects that war will occur. … 

[Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons. … For four years now, he has prevented United Nations inspectors from uncovering those weapons…

"The terms of surrender dictated by the United Nations require him to declare and destroy his weapons of mass destruction programs. He has not done so. …

"Many predicted the administration would refuse to give the weapons inspectors one last chance to disarm. …

"Mr. President, President Bush did not lash out precipitously after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss a new inspection regime. He did not ignore the Congress. At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation. …

"For two decades, Saddam Hussein has relentlessly pursued weapons of mass destruction. There is a broad agreement that he retains chemical and biological weapons, the means to manufacture those weapons and modified Scud missiles, and that he is actively seeking a nuclear capability. …

"We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after….I am absolutely confident the President will not take us to war alone. I am absolutely confident we will enhance his ability to get the world to be with us by us voting for this resolution."


--------Senator Joe Biden, October 2002

Friday, April 10, 2020

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."



 "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism   because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

Giovanni Gentile* “Encyclopedia Italiana”

This definition from one of the exponents of the program has far more clarity than the over-used one coming from present day people of mostly liberal persuasion who define fascism as anything they don’t like about present reality, without understanding that without capitalist reality there would be no possibility of what can become what is called fascism.

When capitalism is in its most critical state, pretense of democracy vanishes and big money power that always ruled from behind the scenes comes forward to publicly bring order to what seems to threaten chaos; democratic power accruing to the great mass of the people, which translates to chaos for the minority rulers who get away with being out numbered not only by employing imperial military forces but keeping majorities under control by use of consciousness controlling mind management techniques creating commercial distractions among them and hiding class behind false human differences like ethnicity, religion and race.

Far more important in the suppression of democracy than, say, pain management or anger management for individuals is the social ignorance management practiced by major political media, at the present moment in attempting to destroy a social democratic and even socialist consciousness rising among Americans by doing everything to suppress, misinform, disinform and otherwise bury that threat to fundamentalist, fanatic obsession with our economic private parts. This amounts to a form of masturbatory politics that finds us forced into identity groups reduced to primarily playing with, for, and against ourselves while remaining mostly unconscious of our human connections.

The present crisis in the capitalist political economic system, heightened by a tragic and potentially socially devastating if sometimes hysterically over-hyped pandemic, highlights the fact of a system at a severe stage of breakdown and the need for radical transformation that leads to democratic control and ends the bloody farce of a private profit marketplace assuring poverty, unemployment, illness and death to a population innocently financing the economic war killing people here and currently slaughtering thousands across the world. The danger is so great that recent austerity fanatics and fundamentalist public sector destroyers are proposing salvation of the system through methods that would have labeled them socialist-revolutionaries a short while ago.

Their hated “big government” has created trillions of previously unavailable dollars, mainly to save corporate business but also to bail out ordinary workers suffering the inability to buy what the businesses sell. This usually social democratic salvation for capital when it nears moving to fascism is coming from sources previously labeled fascist by the comfortable class which is becoming more uncomfortable each day. While label exchanges and ignorance combine to have unfortunates cursing alleged socialism for robbing ordinary workers and other unfortunates cursing alleged fascism for the same thing but from a slightly different perspective, the labeling and identity businesses profit for their minority owners by blaming the as yet unorganized majority suffering in maintenance of minority rule. But every downside creates an up, or at least offers the opportunity to do so, and the present approaching near if not total collapse of the capitalist market of private profit is helping bring about what could be a massive change for humanity.

While the American fa├žade for democracy in November will produce the usual billionaire financed struggle in which a minority of the electorate supports a winner to proceed in maintenance of the system with different sectors of the population showing benefit while the majority pays, larger parts of that majority are seeing, feeling and gradually understanding that the system does not serve their interest, by design, and only a social revolution, whatever language it may be covered in by their supposed leaders, can bring about a reality that serves them and not just the nation’s incredibly rich owners and their well-to-do professional servant class.

The threats to our social and natural environments grow more deadly, with the viral pandemic added on to the profits for those loaning imaginary money to private wealth and charging real debt service to the paying public. But calls for universal health care, public banking and even public ownership and control of the federal reserve system are growing at the same time, and while control remains in the hands of a tiny if most powerful sector of humanity, the opposition to them is not only a budding national movement but even more important a move towards global democracy. All over the world there are rising voices, organizations and demands for radical change in the political economics that bring incredible wealth to some but only by forcing more and more into unpayable debt and poverty, both physical and mental. Strikes among newly organizing workers are hardly featured in major media which is more busy telling people we’ll all be killed by the virus if we don’t follow often conflicting orders from leaders who follow one another around a circle of ignorance, but they are numerous and further signs that the conditions capital has created are teaching lessons people do not have to attend colleges to learn. And the overwhelming majority of Americans are workers fast becoming educated beyond the teachings of a minority able to expand horizons in higher education but too often having those horizons shrunk by being taught just how to maintain a system that offers them a possibility of some creature comfort only by falling into debt while making misery and deprivation absolutely essential for the great majority.

While many fear the intrusions in and control of individual lives by electronic authority created by the pandemic reaction, others see the possibility of a truly democratic system of life enhancing controls when power is removed from minorities and truly performs on behalf of the public good and not simply for private profit. An electronic watchdog to protect and enhance life itself and not simply some life for some people can be the outcome of control falling to majorities instead of the present situation which if allowed to continue will lead to an outcome even worse than the fears expressed by some who see “them” having too much control while “we” are kept from control, mainly by seeing individuals and not systemic forces as our major problem.

Capitalist political economics are why the market is near crashing, the pandemic struck, and wars continue in the Middle East and are threatened further in Latin America. And the creation of global socialist democracy is the only counter measure to global capitalist fascism. That creation is a job for an international majority of humanity but it begins in the national cultures we all inhabit and will extend long past any November election. We all need to learn, if not remember, that Trump, Republicans and Democrats are a problem, but capitalism, the system they serve, is the problem that must be solved if humanity is to have a future.




*A speech/ghost writer for Mussolini





















Thursday, April 9, 2020

Letter To Politicians Re Corporate Looting During Global Pandemic

 Dear Corporate Tool,

The trillions being funneled to bankers so they can buy up distressed properties after workers and small businesses forced to shelter-in-place for months predictably can't pay their bills is a disgrace. The unanimous Senate vote (only one dissenting vote in the House) and the refusal of the recipients of such "Nanny State" largess to allow public equity in their companies, shows all too clearly the contempt in which the public is held by big business and its bought politicians. Believe me, the feeling is very mutual. You are breeding the conditions for violent revolution.

Yours very truly, 
US Citizen

Bernie's "Pathological Liar" Tells More Truth Than He Himself Can

"Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats and the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!"

          ------Donald J. Trump, April 4, 2020

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Sanders Suspends Campaign; Joe Rogan Says, "I Can't Vote For That Guy" (Biden)

ERIC WEINSTEIN: I think that in general people, when they are given no choice at all, express themselves moronically.

JOE ROGAN: When they are given no choice at all — How so?

WEINSTEIN: I want a choice of an actual president that’s viable. I don’t have one. Now you’re going to ask me which of the non-viable people do you like best?

ROGAN: This is the real issue with the Democratic Party. They’ve essentially made us all morons with this Joe Biden thing.

WEINSTEIN: Can you imagine?

ROGAN: I can’t vote for that guy.

WEINSTEIN: I can’t vote for him, I can’t vote for Trump.

ROGAN: I’d rather vote for Trump than [Biden]. I don’t think he can handle anything. You’re relying entirely on his cabinet. If you want to talk about an individual leader who can communicate, he can’t do that. And we don’t know what the fuck he’ll be like after a year in office. The pressure of being President of the United States is something than no one has ever prepared for. The only one who seems to be fine with it is Trump, oddly enough. He doesn’t seem to be aging at all or in any sort of decline. Obama, almost immediately, started looking older. George W. [Bush], almost immediately, started looking older.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

What Shall We Do With The Democrats?

" I hate them. I want to burn the party to the ground and salt the earth, so it can never come back."

------TrueAnon co-host Liz Franczak on the Democratic Party