Friday, June 27, 2014

For Sale: Personal Brands & Commodity Lives

For Sale: Personal Brands & Commodity Lives     

Modern marketing changes language and machinery but not its material foundation, which existed long before the industrial age. An allegedly “new” economy of information technology - IT - is just an update with different jargon and tools but the profit and loss substance remain exactly what they’ve always been: great for some, nice for many, and terrible for the earth and most of its people.

Consuming at the market is the same whether walking, riding a horse or driving a car to get there, ordering on a phone or tapping a keyboard. Fewer and cheaper workers result in more profits from new forms of automation, which bring greater loss to those no longer employed. Along with being replaced by machines, exporting jobs to cheaper foreign labor markets and importing cheap foreign labor to this market, we can add apps that act as hi-tech scabs by displacing workers with phone-text-symbol manipulation. All these create profits for private investors and loss for everyone else.

Sometimes, in contradiction to ruling dictates, people use newer tech to communicate about things other than commercial consumption. These steps toward real democracy have not yet been “branded", though they could help create a product called social revolution in a transformed marketplace of the near future.

Slavery, peasantry, wage labor and middle classes have been means to an end for centuries. Machines, computers, cheap immigrants, native scabs and other ways to put people out of work and get more private profits at public loss are nothing new. The techniques change but the game is always the same: lower costs for investors while increasing profits for them and their servant class and telling those who absorb the loss to work harder and things will get better for them. Or telling them to pray, see therapists, get drunk or get stoned. If that doesn’t work and they resist, just kill them in the biggest profit maker of them all: War.

Talk of “new” markets only means commodities with new packaging or new labels being sold to still another consumer group with ads describing old stuff with new terminology. The present global crisis of incredible wealth amassed by a shrinking minority with expanding majorities carrying the loss has created new jargon to rationalize such inequality as the will of market deities. But sometimes the power centers revive old terms and unconsciously reveal more than they would like about just what is going on. At least if we pay attention.

The all-encompassing term “branding” was initially used in modern market-speak to make products out of all entities at the mall, including those in what used to be considered a public sector, supposedly free of market forces. Colleges, museums, and other real or imagined non-profit institutions have spent tens of millions of dollars in order to fix their “brand” in people’s minds and differentiate it – supposedly – from all similar products. Brand names and branding have meant products, firms, businesses, and the revived term “entrepreneur” – moving from economics classes into every day thought – all involve lessons for individual endeavors in the market under this all consuming term. Its original use was not quite the adventure in ego and commodity glorification it has become. The creatures suffering the “branding” did not find it romantic or pleasant.

Cattle – the cows and beef we milk and eat - had ownership established by investors burning their initials-logos into the flesh – “branding” – so that no one would confuse one owner’s cattle with another’s. They all looked alike  - packaging hadn’t yet been invented and anyway they were animals - so there had to be a way of establishing distinctions between different products, which is all they were and, to an uncomfortable extent, we still are. And cattle rustlers – early crooks who took far more risk than present financial swindlers – would have more difficulty selling the beasts when burnt flesh revealed the “brand” of the original owner. We’ve come a long way?

Now our owners don’t need to actually burn logos into our flesh, since our minds are more easily accessible and invading them isn’t as likely to cause us to retaliate as violently as we might against people who would put us to the torch. But personal brain-branding has joined all the other forms of marketplace consciousness controls, with people urged to differentiate their “product” from others in the same way major firms and institutions separate themselves from the alleged competition. It’s not by creating a better, more reliable, longer lasting and healthier product, but by getting people to believe their “brand” is far better than any other, despite the usual lack of material evidence to back up such claims.

Thus we have athletes, entertainers, celebrities from all walks of wealth and even folks selling “gourmet” food out of glorified pushcarts all “branding” their products – their brawn, beauty, money, hot dogs - to better claim what is called market share. Even that humane term – sharing – has become a brand in profiteering as people claim a new “sharing economy” as a brand in competition with less sharing marketeers, especially those with union employees. An important part of the so-called new economy is what the old economy taught it to dread; workers who organize and act in a democratic style that contradicts market profits for their owner investor bosses.

We haven’t yet seen the term used to describe the real nature of our economy – warfare – and if it were used we’d hear about hundreds of thousands of humans in the Middle East being branded as “dead”, while millions more would qualify for the brand “refugee”. And of course the horrifying brand “terrorism”, the alleged cause of our most recent slaughters, would acquire a negative cache as a product only to be seen as positive in clandestine deals conducted by weapons merchants. They are always positive.

Perhaps our most negative brand, mass murder, will force us to confront the horrors of life reduced to commodities bought and sold and move us to strip humanity of divisive marketing labels and finally face the unity of people. Along with new product names like democracy and social revolution we might develop the catchiest and most priceless brand name of all:

Universal Peace.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wikileaks Cables Reveal Harrowing Future of Identity Politics

"Diversity" Governments Likely to Yield Human Extinction, CIA Fears

by Michael K. Smith
Legalienation News Bureau

A series of wikileaks cables only recently inspected by scholars reveals a frightening future under the rule of "diversity" governments in the United States.

According to CIA analysts a series of "first ever" presidents will carry out increasingly destructive policies culminating in world-wide social collapse, which will be described by the fiercely independent U.S. media as "the birth pangs of utopia."

The first Latino president - chosen from the Cuban mafia in Miami - will drop atomic bombs on the 21st century socialist states of South America and achieve record sales of Cuban cigars on Wall Street in the aftermath.  Colombian death squads will take over governing duties on the continent, which Washington will praise as "Tough Love Democracy," while clouds of radioactive debris circle the world.

The first Asian president will declare Hiroshima and Nagasaki sacred sites, occupy North Korea, and radically devalue the Chinese Yuan by forcing Beijing to adopt the dollar as the national currency.  Domestically, he will ban the term "nip," leading to billions of dollars of losses to the catnip industry, and mass arrests of racists who insist on describing cold weather as "nippy."  He will also demand tougher quotas for affirmative action policies in order to keep white males competitive on the world stage.

The first Indian president will assassinate Bolivian president Evo Morales and dispatch coca-chewing Bolivian farmers to gas chambers donated by Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.  

The first woman president will achieve gender parity through a series of "free trade" agreements reducing wages to a national average of $2 an hour for women and men alike.  Gender reassignment surgery will be free, leading to the country's first "ex-male" president, who will also be the nation's first combination president-First Lady.

The first Arab presidency will coincide with the opening of mass commercial space flight.  Palestinian Arabs will be given free and compulsory flights to colonies on Pluto, where they will live permanently. Israel's birthday will replace Martin Luther King Day in the national calendar, and will be celebrated with televised executions from Guantanamo presided over by Hillary Clinton.   

Though much yearned for, the first Jewish president will prove impossible to achieve as prospective Jewish candidates will refuse to "take a demotion" by becoming president. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Warfare State of Capital

“War is a bastard but the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”
Berthold Brecht

The destruction of Iraq, which began under the conservatively emotional Bush regime, continues under the liberally placid Obama administration. There are differences in style when an intelligent landscaper replaces a slack jawed gardener but the plantation they serve differs only in the cosmetic facade it sells the public, not the diseased crop it produces. The present political opposition is led by people who make pinheads and maniacs seem thoughtful, but our current CEO still acts the sibilant bully talking tough and selling weapons to stop violence his cabal helps start in Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, the Middle East and even the Middle West. It contrasts itself to its blood thirsty opposition as a peace-making arbiter among squabbling foreigners, but those squabbles often originate in our meddling foreign policy which looks like the rest of our economy; dangerously de-structuring.

While Obama rattles verbal sabers in the Far East by ordering China to behave better in the South China Sea - they act as though it’s on their border – his witless secretary of state barks about threats in the Ukraine, many of them financed by the USA. These all mean arms sales from our multi billion dollar military-industrial complex - unmentioned by americans worried about personal gun ownership - for our Pacific puppets and NATO marionettes. That euro group was supposedly a bulwark against communism but it’s still around long after communism’s demise. Now it represents a bulwark against democracy and peace.

Meanwhile, the recovering (?) economy continues piling wealth into the coffers of a tiny minority who rent giant computers to stash their electronic loot because there’s so much of it, while the working people politicians call a middle class sink into greater debt to pay  rent or mortgage - if they have housing,  medical bills - if they have health care, and  education loans - if they have schooling.

This is accompanied by news about the recession having ended, again, and the economy bouncing back to new highs, again. As always only for the upper percentiles, with the middle sinking lower and poverty rising higher. But the place where god lives, unintelligent design prevails, and the big bang explodes all day every day – the market - is really booming for the 1% and its professional class servants. So there’s really nothing to worry about since we’ll soon have increased weapons spending to employ more robots and immigrants while killing more people. Wonderful.

We have moved from a policy of wars that send Americans to kill and die in other countries to one of financing of color-coded electoral “revolutions” and if necessary, civil wars with less need for invasions of anything but money, weapons and mechanized zombie warriors. Investments of dollars instead of lives are more profitable for warfare capital, especially as more American consumers threaten to become citizens by demanding peace and democracy. People still die but they are almost all foreigners. The profits that come from those deaths increase while the body count losses at capital central decline. Nice. Great economy. Sure.

The increasing bloodshed in the middle east, which may have its maps redrawn by Arabs who live there instead of Europeans who don’t, may fit Israeli plans to break up the arab - Muslim world in as idiotic a way as american arming of ideological fanatics to fight communism has come back to haunt capital. Instead of a few arab nations led by supporters of global capital’s new Zion there may be several ruled by those who will not tolerate a european apartheid state in their midst. The safety and future of the middle east is also the safety and future of the rest of the world, and if the warfare profit state rules much longer, our world may plunge into a bloody collapse of nature in all its substance.

The Ukraine, Detroit, fracking, gmos, guns, abortions, Palestine, Israel, homeless people, sheltered pets and everything else that make up usually misunderstood reality are part of the private profit and public loss system that always means inequality. That word has recently been rediscovered because it has become so blatantly obvious that even academics have noticed.

Bulletin: profit on one side demands loss on the other and that makes inequality a component part of the system. Who knew?

Private minority control of a market where some always do well at the expense of most others is nothing new. It’s just that the system’s present crisis is more noticeable as the losses are being suffered by greater numbers of people while the fantastic profits increase for a much smaller group.

Liberals and conservatives are two sides of the political coin of this realm. While Americans are reduced to choosing from these lesser evils and calling it democracy, indigenous people the world over are rising to do battle with capitalism. Inspiring some real democracy in South America, they clearly see it as not only their enemy but also the enemy of the planet, or Mother Earth, as they unashamedly address our multi-cultural uni-racial home.

Whether ecological problems are seen a short-term environmental menace or a long-term climate disaster, they are the result of reducing earth and its people to private profit producing commodities that must be balanced by humanity’s loss. This demented economics has become a form of justifiable genocide, a war conducted on humanity itself. Minority rulers cannot help but care for anything but increasing private wealth in a system becoming more depraved with each creation of an individual with a billion dollars in a world where a billion individuals live in poverty. The warfare state must be transformed into a democratic state of peace, within and without its borders. If that seems too difficult for rich North Americans to achieve, maybe we should ask poor South Americans for advice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Obama, in Warsaw, Pledges Solidarity With Eastern Europe

Tells Western Israel; Don't worry, your check is in the mail.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Orthodoxy, Heresy, and Hypocrisy

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."

                                                                                                              -----Mark Twain

It's commencement season again, so the nation's pundits are taking advantage of the opportunity to take university youth to task for rejecting commencement speakers who espouse unpopular causes (anti-Muslim crusader Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Rice, I.M.F. head Christian Lagarde etc.), which demonstrates a failure to be open to a true "marketplace of ideas." Of course, the circulation of ideas is a lot more significant than a mere "marketplace," but since profit is the only value that capitalism will tolerate, and capitalism is not about to disappear tomorrow morning, we'll leave that consideration aside for the moment.  Just what moral standing does U.S. punditry have to condemn others for not tolerating speech it can't stand?

The obvious answer is, "none at all."  "Liberals," and "conservatives," (and for that matter, many university students) are quite similar in their intolerance for political views that conflict with their own.  The corporate media, those entrusted with the task of perpetuating political orthodoxy, i.e., the incapacity to question, does not, cannot, and will not tolerate speech delivered by doctor David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, the honorable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bolivian President Evo Morales,Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Syrian president Assad, any spokesperson of Hamas, and Holocaust revisionists such as Ernst Zundel and Bradley Smith, among others.  Even Phil Donahue and Helen Thomas have been ex-communicated by the media czars, the former for questioning the wisdom of attacking Iraq, the latter for suggesting that (illegal) colonizers of Palestine ought to return to the lands where they have legal standing.  In short, the pundits presuming to lecture American youth on the virtues of tolerance and respect for a diversity of views are themselves partisans of a narrow orthodoxy, one they don't even know they have, much less are willing to question.

From the point of view of the upholders of a "free marketplace of ideas," you are a racist murderer if you think lack of forensic evidence of homicidal gas chambers in WWII poses a problem for those who believe in them, an unreconstructed Bolshevik if you question capitalist rule by a microscopic minority of investors, an apologist for chemical warfare if you don't support overthrowing the government of Syria, a supporter of dictatorship if you think the Russian people have the right to resist a U.S. orchestrated coup in the Ukraine, and an apologist for terror if you support democratically elected Hamas's right to govern the Palestinian people.  Small wonder that Americans have a dim view of politics and are reluctant to participate.  When vulgar smears greet every original thought, who in their right mind wants to participate?

Meanwhile, how do the pundits greet whistleblowers?  In general they applaud the jailing and torture of Chelsea Manning and the forced exile of Eric Snowden for revealing state secrets to the American people, who otherwise would not have any means of knowing about many of the crimes committed in their name.  The American First Amendment establishing press freedom is much celebrated by the punditocracy for distinguising the U.S. from Canada and European states, some of whom have official secrets acts that allow the state to raid the files of media companies.  However, the presumed moral superiority of the American system becomes difficult to appreciate given the perpetual eagerness of the corporate media to spout the national security state's propaganda of the moment.  As the saying goes, once the bull has been spayed, he receives all barnyard privileges.

The existence of the First Amendment is precisely what makes the corporate media's craven submission to official doctrines reprehensible.  If the press and broadcast media were subject to state intrusion, they could plead self-defense in making "news" coincide with the propaganda needs of the state.  But since they do not face any penalty for crafting the news however they see fit, one can only call them cowards for giving credence to the lies and distortions favored by Washington.  Base and criminal cowards.

Reject this hypocrisy, students, and demand full employment for graduates by establishing a free and independent media with access to mass audiences.  Let freedom ring!

Obama to Take Action to Slash Coal Pollution

Obama says White House will run exclusivley on fracked fossil fuel, urges nation to increase threat of climate change and environmental destruction.

"Once we destroy all life on earth, um, a biblical prophecy will be fulfilled and, uh, we will have provided a planet without people for, um, a people without a planet."