Monday, February 26, 2018

Regressive Liberals, Reactionary Progressives: The New Left?

“A cabal of anti-Trump fanatics cooked up the Russia collusion story, and don't-rock-the-boat bureaucrats went along with it, so we now have a behemoth investigative monster chasing unicorns.”
Ann Coulter 

When an economic Cro-Magnon can make what passes for a left in America look like political Neanderthals, you know we’ve got big problems. The rush to passionately embrace the “Russiagate” story is only one, though a big one, of the moves of what was once called a liberal progressive segment of the american people so far to the right that mad dog conservatives are fighting to maintain their position as least logical pretenders to sanity. What is going on here?

A system so dangerously troubled that its dominating minority is losing control fast enough to warrant radical message changing to its subjects thereby causing irrationality to rule more blatantly than ever before.

Decent people have always known that poverty is an aspect of reality that should be changed but market forces, god and whatever other supernatural powers could be blamed made it impossible so the only thing to do was to be kind to the poor, maybe pray for them and send an occasional check to charity and all would be as well as possible. But the appalling and growing inequality rampant in a capitalist dominated market system has made poverty so frighteningly obvious among a former middle class sinking dangerously close to that status itself that the information flow must reflect excuses that explain away the social conditions.

Sun spots were once used as a potential rationale to explain the economic forces of a stock market and as such were no more or less logical than the religious-scientific belief in the buying and selling that relies on investments made by a tiny segment of a population, all of which would ultimately create the best possible world for almost everyone. Alleged primitive people who danced around a fire to bring rain or wore animal bones to ward off illness were more in touch with the universe and the powers of nature than many civilized types sporting degrees in quantifiable spectroscopic economic scat gathering who pose and are accepted as experts in market analysis. Living in a time which has seen the inequality gap between humans grow wider than ever in fairly reliable history while trillions of dollars of wealth are spent on warfare and hundreds of billions on pet care is likely to provoke more thought than usual about the alleged wisdom of such a system. Thus, reality tv, american politics, marvel comics and other fantasy productions to keep the remaining solvent sector occupied with the status of special identity groups and kept divided from one another enough to protect the wealthiest from any chance that unified democratic action might threaten their dominating role.

A generation ago conservative anti-Russian-communist fanatics made some liberal types smirk at their backward and narrow-minded political stance but that has now been adopted by progressive anti-Russian-capitalist fanatics swept up in the farce called Russiagate. This dementia-based view finds an American oligarchy of billionaires ruling a minority of the electorate into voting for the capitalist party with two slightly differing factions and calling that “our democracy”. At beating our minds into such mush it now claims that Putin and Russia are somehow responsible for the electoral college and alienated just enough Americans in a disintegrating system to be swept up in fervor for things facebooked next to photos of our dogs, cats and lunch that allegedly “meddled” in our sacred electoral process. A handful of bumbling Russian financial hustlers picked up dumb items from anti-social American media and furthered their entry into semi-empty American heads. OMG! To think that any foreign power in our wonderful globalized economy would have an interest in another nation’s political economic life is so far fetched it makes american meddling in foreign politics seem, uh, fictional? The Russian wino who led that nation into near disaster was a creature of American foreign policy and the Putin regime has led that nation from capitalist total disaster to only regular capitalist disaster, which is far more than can be said about the present American gang and its recent predecessors.

It’s as though the sinking Titanic crew and passengers were forced into concentrating on who the captain was and how many gay Latinos, Jewish transsexuals, white supremacists or black female impersonators were working in the kitchen while the water approached their lungs and all lifeboats had already left. We may not have reached that moment yet but at the rate things are moving and the near complete vanishing of a real american anti-capitalist left, it could be here sooner than anyone might wish. Opposition to Trump is important but really no more so than opposition to any CEO of a major corporation could be, but the business is the problem and not it’s chief clerk, bookkeeper or toilet cleaner, no matter how personally pinheaded, egomaniacal or TV famous. And Trump is opposed by the ruling power oligarchs of America and was never supposed to be able to gain his position as powerful figurehead with less power than the figures who own him. But as long as this “new left” takes on the work of the “old right”, the conditions of capitalist America will get worse and bring on material tragedies much bigger than a single oaf, or a single oafish identity group, might be able to fathom. Stop Trump’s worst possibilities, of course, but the worst possibilities of murderous, anti-human and perversely anti-social capitalism are far bigger problems for humanity and must be dealt with by a movement that goes far beyond celebrity leadership personalities and deals with political economic substance by creating radical systemic change. At this sad point, what passes for an American left is a major part of the problem and hardly anywhere near offering a solution.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Eco-Radicalism and Hitler Derangement Syndrome: The Strange Case of Derrick Jensen

You seemed like such a nice man until you opened your mouth.

-----member of the audience to Derrick Jensen after one of his talks (quoted by Jensen in End Game, Vol. 1)

Derrick Jensen is a radical environmentalist and prolific author, who has been called the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement. In 2008 he was named one of Utne Reader's fifty visionaries who are changing the world. Among his many books are A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, Endgame, What We Left Behind, and Resistance against Empire. His central thesis is that "the dominant culture is killing the planet," and we need to build a "culture of resistance" that includes blowing up dams and cell phone towers because "what we're doing isn't working." (Democracy Now, November 26, 2010)

Jensen is to be commended for reminding us that the world is run by force, not by voluntary interaction in a "free market" dedicated to delivering the greatest good for the greatest number. Nevertheless, while believing himself to be an intelligent dissident advancing a sensible argument, he demonstrates an uncritical acceptance of the establishment view of WWII, repeatedly lapsing into dogmatic assertions about Hitler and the "Final Solution" in order to establish a basis of comparison with the U.S., which he then condemns for Nazi-like behavior on an even larger than Hitlerian scale. The central preoccupation of his book "End Game" (Vol. 1) is elaborating an argument for "bringing down" civilization by any means necessary, in order that imperiled humanity may return to indigenous ways of living that proved themselves sustainable for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, the book is shot through with sloppy thinking, adolescent bravado, and snotty asides, while overlooking the fact that trying to "bring down" civilization today is like dedicating oneself to sinking the Titanic - right after it hit the iceberg.

Jensen sees civilization as purely destructive, claiming that it leads inevitably to “assembly-line mass murder” as at Auschwitz. There is, he insists, an inherent logic that leads inevitably to “the electrified fences, the gas chambers, the bullets in the brain.” He evinces no trace of skepticism of this extravagant thesis, in spite of its flimsy factual basis, but merely blunders ahead to declare, with exaggerated self-importance, that he has an “intense opposition to genocide,” thus contrasting himself favorably with the pathological multitudes he presumes are lukewarm or indifferent to mass killing. 

Having thus established his moral superiority, he expands the definition to include the dams on the Columbia River, which he insists are “instruments of genocide, just as surely, explicitly, and intentionally as the gas chambers at Treblinka, Birkenau, and Auschwitz.” The pomposity and self-righteousness are troubling in themselves, of course, but there are also important factual questions that Jensen glosses over:  Did the homicidal gas chambers actually exist? If so, why is there no forensic evidence of them? Why no corroborating archival evidence? Why no photograph? Why so much crazy eyewitness testimony (no different in kind from that claiming that Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead)? 

Jensen doesn’t say, and apparently doesn't even suspect that such questions need to be asked. And if the “extermination” was a result of the collapse of Germany's Eastern Front after the battle of Stalingrad, don’t we need to critique what started the war? Unfortunately, Jensen doesn't see the need for doing this, since he believes in the cartoon-like view of Hitler as a cosmic force that single-handedly mobilized tens of millions of Germans to rush headlong to their doom. Sure.

Digging himself ever deeper, Jensen advocates setting up a “Nuremberg-style tribunal to try politicians, CEOs, generals, and capitalist journalists” for crimes against nature and humanity. He recommends that U.S. generals read Robert Conot's, Justice At Nuremberg, a standard work on the show trial, so that they will know what “justice” awaits them when Jensen's eco-warriors succeed "civilization." 

Justice! Starving, dismembered Germany, its cities bombed into rubble and its territory occupied by four foreign enemies that excluded their own crimes against humanity from the hypocritical indictment they advanced against the defeated "Reich," retroactively applying laws that had not existed at the time the hideous German atrocities were committed. Some of this absurdity comes through even in Conot's book, such as Hermann Goering bringing up Manifest Destiny and the U.S. conquest of the Southwest on explicitly white-supremacist principles, which the prosecutors don't even try to refute. 

To make a long story short, Jensen spews out all the myth-making minnows about "progress" and "civilization," only to swallow the establishment's ideological whale about unique Nazi racism culminating in mass extermination by gas chambers. He then goes on to paint ordinary Americans today as Nazis by default for failing to stop the capitalist rush to irretrievable environmental catastrophe. It's hard to know which is the more pathetic, his slavish devotion to an establishment version of the facts, or his sweeping dismissal of Americans as being no better than endlessly caricatured "Good Germans."

In any event, seeking to rid the world of evil (like George Bush!), Jensen argues that violence in defense of mother earth is justified, just as killing Adolf Hitler would have been justified. Had someone killed Hitler before WWII started, he claims, it would have saved millions of lives, which implies that the war only occurred because of the perverted will of a single individual. Obviously ludicrous, this is like arguing that if Thomas Edison's mother had aborted him the world would never have had electricity. More relevantly, if the West hadn't reacted hysterically to the Bolshevik revolution, Hitler never would have been Hitler. 

A childhood rape victim, Jensen's analysis is essentially psychological (abusers abuse without limit; victims are victimized without limit), and sheds no light on society or history. Again and again, he opines that fear to defend ourselves in the face of boundless abuse, not failure to understand and dismantle the intricate mechanisms of oppression, is our central problem. He appears frankly uninterested in thinking, which he does reluctantly and shoddily. For example, in attempting to counter the argument that focusing on especially appalling CEOs and corporations only leads the system to replace them with others equally bad, he misconstrues this as a form of fatalism. We would never call it pointless, he says, to arrest or kill an individual rapist on the grounds that other rapists will continue to rape. But the two situations are not at all comparable, because there is no structure of rapists as there is a structure of corporate power. CEOs perch at the apex of profit pyramids that are legally required to maximize profit. No rapist is under a legal obligation to rape. How can Jensen be unaware of this simple and highly relevant fact? 

Worse than this, a deep cynicism pervades Jensen's thought, as he dismisses the vast majority of Americans as morally indifferent, if not depraved: 

“I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care. We can trot out whatever polls we want to try to prove most Americans actually do care about the Environment, Justice, Sustainability – that they care about anything beyond being left alone to numb themselves with alcohol, cheap consumables, and television.  . . . But the truth is that it’s just not that important to most people – it in this case being the survival of tigers, salmon, traditional indigenous peoples, oceans, rivers, the earth; it also being justice, fairness love, honesty, peace. If it were, ‘most people’ would do something about it. . . . There will never be a mass awakening such that a majority of Americans or even a significant minority will realize that we are destroying our land base and rise up and stop it. Good Americans are just like Good Germans." (End Game, Vol. 1, p. 341, 343) 
In short, only Jensen and the small circle of people he approves of are properly moral. This conclusion, offensive in itself, overlooks considerable counter-evidence within Jensen's own life span (he was born in 1960). When a relative handful of dedicated political activists took up popular anti-war education in the 1960s and 1970s, a highly indoctrinated U.S. population went from strongly supporting the Vietnam slaughter to an 80% majority judging the war to be "fundamentally wrong and immoral." In subsequent decades elements of that overwhelming majority grew into a myriad of social change movements raising issues of a depth and scope never even contemplated in the much celebrated protest era of the 1960s. 

True, ecological destruction has not been stopped, or even slowed down, but given the massive concentration of wealth and power at the top of society this was entirely predictable. If achievable at all, an ecologically sane world of billions of people is not the work of decades, but of centuries. The popular rebellions of the 1960s at least put the issue on the map. The collective effort to avoid human extinction will define the next two centuries, if we are lucky enough to have them. But no technique or series of actions could have transformed the U.S. into an ecologically sustainable society in a mere forty years. Nevertheless, Jensen is firm in his conviction that failure to achieve the impossible is evidence the American people are morally bankrupt.

He, on the other hand, is of the ecologically Divine Elect, blessedly free of the stain of sin. Consider this phone conversation he reports having had with a friend:

“The phone rings. I answer. It’s a friend. She asks, ‘How much longer do you think we’re going to be in Afghanistan?’
            “She can’t see this, but I look around, look outside at the redwood trees. I respond, ‘We’re in Afghanistan? I thought we were in northern California.
            “Silence on the phone. A sigh, and finally she says, ‘How much longer do you think our troops are going to be in Afghanistan?’
            “I say, ‘I’ve got troops! Really? Will they do whatever I tell them? If I tell them to take out the dams on the Columbia River will they do that?
            “More silence, until she says, ‘This is why I only call you every few weeks. I’ll be in touch.’” (End Game, Vol. 1. pps. 175-6)

Here our sympathies must be with the friend, and not at all with Jensen. The meaning of her words is clear, her concerns appropriate, and her patience admirable. But Jensen cannot see any of this. Through adolescent mental gymnastics he has convinced himself he is not implicated in imperial crimes. He is not an American citizen, but a citizen of the eco-utopia to come. American troops are not his troops; they belong to a "civilization" of which he is not a part because he has recognized the call of the wild. The fact that the soldiers are Americans, paid by American tax dollars, graduates of American schools, residents of American communities, and intimately tied in a thousand other ways to Jensen and all other American citizens and long-term residents, does not matter. Jensen is a breed apart.

And quite above the rest of us. In other words, there is not one human nature, but two: the mass of people are evil, while Jensen and a handful of heroic environmental radicals are good. And don't think Jensen will engage counter-argument on this amazing conclusion. On the rare occasions he anticipates contrary lines of thought, he slips into the sniveling tone of a juvenile delinquent: "Don't give me any shit." Or else he calls the reader stupid:  “I was going to suggest those who think the U.S. invasion (of Iraq) has nothing to do with oil should put the book down, but realized they’ve probably already tired of the big words.” Sometimes he just surrenders to empty sneering:  "I hope you're not going to suggest it would be immoral to take out television towers, that migratory songbirds should die so we can watch The Best Damn Sports Show, Period, on Fox Sports Net."  

This from the "poet and philosopher" of the ecological movement. Barf.

A legend in his own mind, Jensen considers it an affront to have to carry a driver’s license. Stopped by a police officer once and told to produce it, Jensen replied that licenses are essentially government “identity papers” which we are “asked” to show at least as often as people were in those old black-and-white movies of the anti-Nazi resistance. The police officer in question told Jensen, “If you don’t like it, don’t drive,” a perfectly sensible response. No doubt Jensen thinks that having to produce a library card to check out books is just another Nazi plot to enslave us all.

Given such consistent irrationality, we shouldn't be surprised that Jensen is hostile to science, which he criticizes for having a "basis [in] prediction and extreme control." More specifically, he abhors “the neurotic insistence on repeatability (and control) in science, and the insane exclusion of emotion – which means the exclusion of life – from both science and economics.” 

But control is only imposed in order to provide a valid basis for comparison, while repetition of results is a necessary defense against error.  Emotion is excluded from the laboratory, but not from life itself, as scientists as a group experience the same range of emotions as everyone else. What has Jensen got against being reasonable?

Friday, February 16, 2018

American Violence: Disorganized and Organized

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do”: Samuel P. Huntington 

The latest American slaughter of innocents  - at home instead of abroad - has led to the usual outpourings from political leaders expressing prayers and sympathy and then switching to attacks on the evil weapons wielders that completely avoid the social system relying on massive weapons production and their wielding by military forces glorified for making wars.

The bloody horror in Florida that took seventeen lives is known to everyone in the USA but that same population is kept relatively ignorant of the bloody horror being perpetrated everyday in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Palestine/Israel – to mention only the Middle East – by people using the armaments we sell them, when they’re not being used by our own military which we train to use our weapons to kill people; foreigners, until further notice.

The guilt tripping about guns belonging to individuals from what passes for liberals and the protection of the right of individuals to have guns from what passes for conservatives is the two-sides-of-the-same-coin debate that does nothing to stop the massive profits of the weapons industry and the attempted perpetuation of the empire represented by those profits.

The military styled murder weapon used by the mentally troubled killer of innocents in Florida is the same one used by allegedly normal military personnel to mass murder innocent foreigners who are made to seem enemies and adversaries in the same way the troubled Floridian may have seen his innocent victims. And the nature of a society which has suicides increasing along with mass murders often committed by the suicidal must be distracted by consciousness control which highlights alleged deformities in individual character while protecting a diseased social organism now devouring its own along with outside victims.

It is much easier to feel the shock and pain when we see innocent americans suffering at the hands of a usually mentally ill individual but the mind management that keeps us from seeing the massive horrors that our social weapons problem produces under the control of a mentally deranged political economics are never dealt with in what passes for a debate between people manipulated to disrespect one another instead of the system that manipulates them into an easy to control divided population of identity groups that can’t possibly act as a democracy. This even as that false definition of reality is driven through the skulls of both into thinking what each has is democracy and the other threatens it. Honest well meaning conservatives reduced to geeks confronted by sincere dedicated liberals reduced to twits while the weapons makers continue banking hundreds of billions and leave them clawing at one another with charges and countercharges at a court owned and operated by the capitalist munitions industry. 

The guaranteed outcome of this demlib-repcon hissy fit form of politics is the continued economics of mass murder when what we need is a united confrontation with the minority power that needs to be replaced in order to save all and not just some of the future victims. Until we do that, suicides, mass murders both foreign and domestic, and further economic collapse are not merely threatened but assured.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Film Industry Reels : Actresses Accused of Sexually Abusing Innocent Men

Hollywood came to a grinding shame-faced halt as new charges of sexual abuse were leveled at stars like Angelina Jolie, Holly Berry, Jennifer Lawrence and Helen Mirren. 
Not them, actually, but others very much like them.

“She pawed at me, breathed heavily down my neck and whispered off color remarks to me when I delivered her lunch” said the first anonymous accuser. Another claimed that a beautiful star asked him for a rubdown and spit at him when he blushingly refused. Both have been in therapy ever since and resolve to sue for all their mental care and inability to gain employment after these shocking experiences.

A third damaged soul said that he at first thought she was joking when a breathtakingly gorgeous star begged him to lick her feet while she read her mail. His religious teachings forbade any such behavior on his part and he never delivered mail to her or anyone else again, forfeiting a career at the Post Office.

After further investigation, and reading top-secret memos shared between the accusers and the revealing agency which were hacked, leaked or stolen by Russian agents, Legalienate now discounts all these claims. We learned that the SWTMOA, the organization that first made the charges, is Sexual Wishful Thinking Men Of America and might possibly be less than even handed in accepting far-fetched and remotely believable charges.

We are forwarding the results of this story to all major media, beginning with the New York Times and ending with Fox News, in the hope that they might follow through on  checking the objectivity of sources before reporting hysterical fables, political lies , treacherous fictions and purposely divisive slanders as :

News ?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Humanity Is Much Older and Far More Important Than Capitalism part 2

Depending on whether the science is materially based religious or religiously based immaterialist, we’ve been around for more than 100,000 years originating in Africa and in a form close to our current bi-pedal carbon based creatures of hopefully advancing consciousness. Some estimate capitalism may have roots in biblical times, though most agree that the industrial form from which present reality evolved began in the 17th century and came to full domination of the globe in the 19th. Clearly, humans have been through a multitude of social, anti-social, communal, anti-communal, organized and disorganized methods of species continuity as can be imagined since our origins. That recent capitalist history of maybe 500 years, a very tiny fraction of the time we’ve been around, based on a foundation of private profit motivation can represent the highest point of human progress attainable is most obvious to confused people with objectively opposing thumbs but subjectively empty heads, even while possessing overstocked arsenals of the most murderous weapons ever created.

Such people – sadly, all of us who allow a rich royal minority to rule – have reached a point of endangering our race in the most menacing way known, at least to recorded history under whatever system of domination controlled the history writers. It is likely a frozen earth that became a watery earth that became a drier earth and cradle of something called civilization experienced many cataclysmic disasters, but most of those happened l0ng before humans were around and certainly not in our present form. But our supposedly highest developed animal ruler of the planet status has brought us to a crisis which demands the race and the place we call home no longer tolerate minority rule of the royal rich and take on the emancipating burden of creating a system of democratic rule dependent on as many of us as possible before all of us suffer catastrophe. We may survive for many more millennia, but without radical change in the organization of our lives, that may be as something other than the human race as we know it now. And good, sublime, bad or worse, that’s all we know and what we ought to care about saving for just that reason. Transforming capitalism into a humanitarian democratic system previously unknown to humans may not solve all our problems but it will definitely solve most of them, especially the most threatening to our only-one-in existence race.

America recently celebrated a great leader but organized by our rulers to narrow the broad scope of his social criticism and fit it into a non-threatening form which has reduced him to an almost mythic figure celebrated for only one aspect of his charge to the nation by exclusion of his larger message. When Martin Luther King began publicly expressing his criticism of the capitalist system by saying things like this he may have signed his death warrant.

 …the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together…you can’t get rid of one without getting rid of the others…Why are there forty million poor people in America? When you ask that question…you are questioning the capitalist economy.”

 These days it isn’t as dangerous to make such statements but sadly no public figure with the stature of a King is yet offering leadership for system change. Bernie Sanders struck some fear into fundamentalist capitalism with his call for a return to the social democratic capitalism of the post world war two “new deal”, but the owners and operators of the nation were far more concerned about one of their own taking power. Thus the ongoing assault on Trump, deemed far too unbalanced and outspoken in his egotistical dedication to the greed and disregard for humanity that must be smothered in platitudes such as offered by the Clinton- Bush-Obama servants to empire in order to be accepted by the people under a wealthy minority’s consciousness control apparatus of mind managed surreality.

But the short comings of an anti-democratic system ruled by a minority but passing for a democracy among those subdued into calling junk food a gourmet diet and mass murder a humanitarian policy are piling up faster and in such  deadly fashion that many are beginning to act in opposition like a united race and not a divided group of market clones programmed to think that people who have different skin tones or sexes are actually members of a race other than human. That large divisive force among people, created by their rulers to keep them apart, continues to menace but as King and others long, long before him understood*, it cannot be changed in isolation but only as part of a larger change in the system that created that lie – and many others - to separate us from one another.

*“The emancipation of the producing class involves all human beings without distinctions of sex and race” Karl Marx

There is no race but human, with cultural, physical, genetic, geographic and national differences among us but none as significant as those between the sexes which are absolutely necessary for the perpetuation of the race, present marketing standards to the contrary. Same sex love is probably as old as humanity, but the perpetuation of the race demands opposite sex coitus, even if reduced to purchasing anonymous sperm or renting an unknown womb. Capital has reduced all human relations to market forms of commodity consumption, including birth, death, marriage and divorce, which all play a major shopping-buying-selling role in happening and un-happening. Love can – and should -be beautiful but just as love for a pet cannot produce a human, love for the same sex can be poetic and spiritual, but no more capable of producing new life than a man falling in love with a refrigerator or a woman having an affair with a can opener. It can be said that the capitalist market has advanced humanity in this area by making same sex love a product-commodity now finally in the open, but it can also be said that capitalism played a, if not the, major role in forcing such love into the shadows in the first place.

It is highly doubtful that our earliest ancestors were much concerned about who loved whom and how or why, given the far more important survival needs for food and shelter. The need for those things are still absolutely essential, and they are becoming more difficult for many to acquire in a world where a handful of billionaires own and control more wealth than several billion of us put together. And whether those billions are light or dark skinned, male, female, tall, short or other, we are all members of a human race which must come together to transform reality, not just for some of us but for all, with much less regard for real, implied or frequently imagined differences between us. The ocean on which we sail is dangerously poisoned by capital and our crippled ship is in danger of going down into that muck, whether we are among the minority profiteers or majority losers. We sink or swim together or not at all. That means confrontation with, and transformation of the system that is the major cause of the pollution of that ocean and our minds. And  as someone once said long ago, Das Kapital.