Democracy


#780

The ever growing economy is the fundamental logic of capitalism, particularly in its most current permutation, and I agree that this expectation needs to be abandoned. I don’t advocate for primitivism and think that we should continue to evolve technologically but that technology should be tasked with solving real human needs and the needs of the environment and not just towards the endless churned of consumerism and planned obsolescence.


#781

My practical side is all about tactical voting and that is how I approach it - what will cause the least harm. On the other hand I think not having a positive message is what prevents Democrats from being able to create any positive change (which I don’t think the neoliberal wing actually wants). I’m being slightly reductive, but the Democratic party’s platform is essentially “look at those other guys, it could be a lot worse” and then pursue a course of neoliberal policies (but hey, we have women, POC, and queer folks in our corporate board rooms).


#782

The state is torn apart, only the mountains and rivers remain.

Weeds and trees run rampant in the city this spring.

Do the flowers sense the times, that they, like me, should weep?

Do the birds feel the emptiness, they seem so fearful?

For three months on end the garrison beacons have glimmered at night.

A letter from home would be worth a heap of gold to me,

An old man waiting, whose remaining white hairs

Will soon become too sparse even to hold a hat pin.

Du Fu, “Spring Prospect”, 757

(original and 56 alternate English translations) http://homepages.ecs.vuw.ac.nz/~ray/ChineseEssays/ChunWang.htm


#783


#784

De Tocqueville sussed out “democracy” 200 years ago, and didn’t have the purely rosy view of it often promoted now - used the phrase the “tyranny of the majority” to highlight the possibility of stupid people banding together to rule stupidly. But in fact, I would on the one hand clarify that the US is not a democracy (federal republic with representative elections), and on the other hand assert that even if we called ourselves a democracy, we have never been anything like it - in no point in US history have all adult citizens eligible to vote had fair and equal access to voting or asserting their political will. Voting has always been restricted, repressed or suppressed, and money has always talked louder than votes anyway. And I will go even farther - I tend to believe that no society of any significant scale (Empire size, ala US, Russia, China, India, Ottomans, Romans, Greeks etc) throughout history has ever been anything but a fascist oligarchy in practice. Sure, in theory they might call themselves something else, market themselves as something else in history books, and have a veneer of economic, social and cultural activity that pretends to something else, but if you look at how power/money flows, who wields it, and what they do with it, I believe my theory holds. And I don’t think it’s just a matter of “power corrupts”, I tend to believe there are a number of causes, not least of which are the limits of human cognition. They say politics is local, and as a society gets larger and larger, it gets harder and harder to know intimately the ramifications of all of your political choices as a citizen; the parasite class understands and exploits this. Whereas in a smaller scale society - Iceland for example - you can actually jail your bankers. I suspect their ethnic and cultural homogeneity helped there as well, but I don’t want to promote that as a “good thing”. So anyways, our current moment is nothing more than the fascist oligarchy (transnational, unelected, hidden bankster criminal gangs funding the military-data-infotainment-complex) consolidating it’s power and preparing for the Clone Wars. And it’s not a “US vs the World” thing, despite the plot of the Trump Show. It’s a .01% against the 99.99% thing, and our politicians are as much slaves to that as anyone (notice Trump’s stumbling to condemn Saudi Arabia’s obvious state murder of a Turkish journalist, or maybe he was just mad he didn’t get to kill one himself yet?). Maybe the Singularity will save us from ourselves, or maybe we’ll end up harvested for carbon.

So yeah, I believe both FUCK TRUMP AND JAIL HER, but I also believe FUCK HER and JAIL TRUMP. And FUCK THEM ALL and JAIL THEM ALL. Or simpler, GUILLOTINE ALL OF THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS BEFORE THEY SEND IN THE CLONES. ;D


#785

A wonderful reprise of De Tocqueville’s book is Baudrillard’s America (1985). It puts the same thesis in a more or less contemporary setting, with very poetic descriptions. It’s not just critical, there is also a great love for the country that flows from every sentence. In both cases that which is most cherished is also the source of the greatest frustration and despair. The Janus-face. You cannot have one without the other. You can only perhaps change things from within. (It’s also well worth picking up Robert Frank’s photo book The Americans, as well as Harry Smith’s folk anthology.)

The problem is “her” is “us”. And “she” is also not that far from Trump. Both are of the same generation, both came from highly privileged backgrounds and are completely blind to that privilege, both attended elite schools, their children were until recently very close friends (and still may be ‘behind the scenes’ – who knows), both have been from the first to the last completely blind and insensitive to the challenges most Americans face. “Her” is also for the most part “us”, so why not start with “us”?

We don’t need any more guillotines, any more violence, whether actual or metaphorical – and the metaphorical ones have a way of becoming actual. We don’t need any more transcendent splitting of the Real, any more “us” vs. “them”. We need immanent critique; we need transformation from within. We need positive change in the sense of a change that “posits”, a change that creates anew in the steadfast and authentic heroism of absolute nonviolence. Whether one calls it “art” or “magick” or “revolution” (I call the equivalence of the three “praxis”) we need to keep on doing the work necessary to bring forth a new world in which the idea of the future once again makes sense.


#786

Splitting is one of the essential tasks of creation. Solve et Coagula. Assuming the Royal We for the sake of argument, We are sick, overgrown with cancer, and We need to cut it out, or accept that it will keep killing us. I agree on the need for fundamental transformation - as long as the current order holds, We must develop greater abilities to manage ourselves as individuals in a global context, so that we can have a greater ability to manage ourselves as societies. It’s not just transformations of our personal psychologies that is needed, it is a fundamental transformation of human nature. Sadly, We think it’s too late. We are lit to pop and nobody aint gonna stop. Shorelines are changing. There’s microbeads in our food supply. The butterflies are all gone away. They’re selling Hippie Wigs in Woolworths, man. The systems supporting a lifestyle where this transformation can occur are collapsing in on themselves, and We tend to believe We’ll enter a Zombie Mad Max Future Primitive era sooner than later. It’s hard to become Post-Human when you’re deciding whether to eat grandma or not.


#787

Too many people earnestly believe there’s no distinction.

Or in other words, it’s hard to have hope if you’ve never had it. The problem with revolutionary futures is that you have to see it to believe it. And people have seen a lot more grandma-eating than revolution for the most part.


#788

Unity is possible. Other things are still possible. The point is to posit.

Food, shelter, education, health care.

Medicare for all, building affordable housing, welcoming immigrants (not only those on work visas, but especially refugees), making the highest quality education and the unencumbered privilege to pursue that education available to all, so that all Americans can take advantage of the jobs that actually exist rather than propping up fake manufacturing jobs. Many other things can be posited. Universal basic income, for instance (though here I’m not totally on board with this, I explain this a bit later). These of course will benefit everyone, including Trump’s and Clinton’s grandchildren. So what?

Jailing bankers – we forget that when the “little guy”, for instance one of the refugees from Honduras, wants to start a business, and isn’t born into a world of connections, bankers (in some form) are the only option for that person. This artificial split between ‘productive’ and ‘financial’ capitalism, often with horrible antisemitic undertones, has always been a myth propagated by the far right. It angers me to no end that the left is so often complicit in sharing it. In fact what is termed “financial” capitalism is just core capitalism. The essence of capitalism is M-C-M; money-commodity-money. In other words, money, not labor, makes money. An optimizing agency is also involved: maximize ROI, if you don’t do this you’re betraying contractual obligations to shareholders. See, for instance, a very nice summary of this concept by Levi Bryant https://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/c-m-cm-c-m-capitalist-ideology/

Now the problem with UBI. Given M-C-M: once “making stuff” is no longer the optimal path, or once paid laborers are no longer needed, labor could simply disappear. This is why the idea of UBI is so dangerous, it is primarily pushed by the tech CEO crowd and represents basically a reversion from paid to unpaid, equally alienated labor (people’s sole existence becomes to generate “big data” as every aspect of their lives – what they eat, where they go etc. becomes mediated – not only observed but structured – by some totalizing, Facebook-like platform known as the “smart city”, the “internet of things” or some equivalent). So UBI, if instituted, must follow a very different narrative, and the infrastructure doesn’t at this point really exist for that narrative. It’s getting there, with crowdfunding and blockchain, but they need to merge under a radically new and post-capitalist idea of the corporation. I need to write more on this sometime, but people like Mat Dryhurst are doing some very interesting thinking in this area: https://medium.com/blockchannel/soundcrowd-tokenizing-collectivizing-soundcloud-5c4f60ed4961

Back to M-C-M and the myth of the “productive/financial” split: capitalism makes itself acceptable to its subjects thanks to the myth that labor, not money makes money (i.e. that people “work hard for their money”); in other words, the Horatio Alger story. Only the far right has any real stake in keeping this myth alive; without it their system would crumble. So they hide M-C-M under the false dichotomy between “good/productive” capitalism (labor making money) and “bad/financial” capitalism (money making money), where honestly the whole system follows the “bad” side.

Anyway, huge digression into the essence of capitalism – the point is to posit something practical, something that addresses real needs (which is to say, in the short term, even preserving the structures of capitalism – I have in mind among other things, in the artistic version of this, the 1980 rozz-tox manifesto: http://www.altx.com/manifestos/rozztox.html or in a much more beautiful presentation: http://egypt.urnash.com/rozztox/), and make it a reality, do not compromise on a single point. By being actually effective, by making everyone better off, this will unify people. Cowardly political compromise and appeasement never unifies, it only deepens the divide, I only hope Obama understands how much his legacy is tarnished by this. Even in the short term, positive strategies, actually effective strategies, these are the only effective antidote to Trump’s poison. Giving in to anger, thinking destructively, just ends up feeding his base who at bottom see Trump as a “wrecking ball”. Solving problems for all, including Trump’s base actually transform that base so it is no longer a base for anything hateful. Kill with kindness, basically.

[Of course we can tax the bankers; we need to do this under the general rubric of progressive taxation, there’s no reason we shouldn’t seriously consider Sanders’ proposal to tax financial transactions, money transfers and so on. But this should be done in a complementary move, to offset the elimination of sales tax and other regressive taxes e.g. tariffs… wonder why Trump loves them so much?]

Anyway, I DO feel your outrage, I’m actually a very angry person as well these days, each time something comes up on the news the anger is continually refreshed. Believe me. In the end though, it’s about what works. I have to keep re-centering myself on effective strategies, instead of just allowing myself to be consumed with hate and rage.


#789

Heh, of course Unity is possible. As I said: Solve ET Coagula.

As for jailing bankers - again, splitting helps. We can split those who committed crimes that tanked the global economy and lined their pockets from those who barely survived the downturn and were still able to make community loans. Jailing bankers doesn’t necessarily imply ALL bankers, just the ones who acted illegally, unethically, immorally, and used their ill-gotten gains to build their golden bunkers in New Zealand.

Proper discrimination is the first ability every hero must develop. You get your sword first, THEN your shield. It’s D&D 101.

But for that matter, since when does refugee status guarantee a right to a business loan? Freedom always comes with equal responsibility (one sword, two edges, both can cut), and if you don’t have the cash to fund a startup and can’t get a loan or investor, no one is stopping you from saving up for it. You may want to start it NOW instead of having to save up, but nothing entitles you to it. Wants are not rights.


#790


my wife made this image and turned them into stickers + shirts.
I was passing out the stickers at all my recent shows which lead to some wonderful conversations on the topic of democracy and the judicial system in this country.

feel free to use/distribute the image in whatever get-out-the-vote capacity you see fit.


#791

I wonder, what would we do if we burned the current system down and looked around and found we had no tools to build a new one with.


#792

I wish I could find it, but there is this truely sppoky interviewwith Kurt Cobain where someone asked him what breaking the system would look like and i swear on my life he said Donald Trump. Theres a couple of prophetic things like that in pop culture (simpsons)

What made me look at the entire world differently is this

It shows just how easily one can go from Accountant to gas chamber attendant

So yeah words matter- especially fromleaders - even the orange babooon 45


#793



#794

Please vote - no matter what vote…

People DIE for that privilege in a lot of countries so dont throw away the only power - literally the ONLY power you hold is that vote.So use it PLEASE


#795

Your point is well taken. That said, if I work with other people, I absolutely have more power than a vote’s worth over my government ^-^


#796

In what way? I was being as literal asi could. 1 vote, 1 person.
Influence is another matter.

Organizing to get people to vote if they dont have the means or whatever,yeah thats power but a different power

It matters not unless you vote


#797

when Eric Garner died, so many of us took to the streets of New York City that we stopped traffic on West Side Highway. I wish we had won something more concrete that day, but at the same time, in that moment it definitely mattered more for people to see us than to hear our votes.


#798

Of course, as when choosing which module to get the answer is “get both” haha. The teenage punk in me will always be sympathetic to the “if voting changed anything it’d be illegal” point of view, but voting has also never felt so important to me as it does now. But again, neither has direct action! (Though it felt like the world was ending in 2004, too)


#799