Volatility

December 6, 2012

The Temporary Resumption of Petty Middle Class Faith

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1. Despite a brief surge of proto-revolutionary feeling in 2009-10, the “early adopters” have gone back to their idiocy. In spite of all they saw and all they supposedly learned, in the end they followed Bernanke, Geithner, and Obomney and learned to love and believe in the Bailout.
 
2. Meanwhile, in a spectacular example of cognitive dissonance and pseudo-religious fundamentalism, liberals have responded to the overwhelming evidence record by doubling down on their faith in the Obama cult. “I believe because it’s absurd.” They’ve also had second thoughts about their own dependency on organized crime. They still have their crumb for the moment. They have a cowardly, cringing mindset. Do they really want to gamble that crumb right now?
 
3. After a brief period of progress, truth-tellers like me are back in the position Hoffer described – “they won’t listen to him”.
 
4. Instead, as we see all over the blogosphere, presented with a clear structural critic and a troll, your aspiring do-gooder ignores the critic and tries to reason with the troll. Of course, this is ingrained in the do-gooder’s temperament. But for a little while there the do-gooders were starting to overcome that temperament. Now they’ve gratefully gone back to it. This is reinforced by how they’ve reaffirmed their psychological comfort in living off the fruits of crime.
 
5. This is part of why there’s no good Food Freedom discussions online. (Besides, the food movement never reached the consciousness of the anti-bank movement. Just like political blogs almost all suck, so food blogs almost all suck, while the only real action was at the econoblogs.)
 
6. For now it seems to me it’ll have more inflammatory than probative value to participate on sites like that. I’ll try to just read the posts but ignore the “discussions”. If I find this impossible, then I’ll drop those sites completely. I’ll continue looking for discussions, but be ready to abandon them as soon as I see how lame they are. For the time being a critic can’t, with any good return on investment, guide a basically conformist conversation onto a critical path.
 
7. So we have to head back to Geneva for now. The 1905 blossom has withered. It’s time to start over from the beginning and build, first a nucleus and then a movement, from scratch. My own blog is senescent. A blog’s not a great forum anyway. Just use the blog to advertise the forum. Start a real discussion, and moderate it just as relentlessly as these liberal petty bourgeois idiots do. (They’re especially idiots because, on account of their own SQ brainwashing, they don’t even realize their own aggressive ideology, nor how their selection of discussion emphasis comprises a vicious pro-system bias.)
 
8. It seems that philosophically it’s time for slow fermentation. We need to build the full basis for somnambulistic counterattack. We can start in the sweet spot, the good wedges of Community Food, anti-GMO and anti-corporatism, without primarily insisting on Food Sovereignty. (It’ll be better to do this where we can choose our own battlefield. It’s harder to stick with it at places where the liberal and petty bourgeois idiocy is jabbering right there in front of us.)
 
9. Part of this sweet spot is relentless counterattack on the government food police and how they’re preventing America’s economic resurgence. (But this too is for a core audience? In the period of system retrenchment, won’t most people including system NGO types disregard the real need for Food Relocalization? Their actions show that they do.) But every attack on the government has to include at least some anti-corporate element, and some teaching that government and corporation are the same thing, the same enemy.

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September 9, 2011

First Principles: Morality and Action

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We need to get back to first principles. We need to purge all aspects of the elites’ own framework from our thought and expression. Here’s the example (from Derrick Jensen*) which spurred this post, though any regular day in the blogosphere provides similar examples:
 

For years I have been asking whether abusers believe their lies, and I’m finally comfortable with an answer.

This understanding came in great measure because I finally stopped focusing on the lies and their purveyors and I began to focus on the abusers’ actions. I realized, following Lundy Bancroft, that to try to answer the question of whether the abusers believe their lies is to remain under the abusers’ spell, to “look off in the wrong direction”, to allow myself to be distracted so I “won’t notice where the real action is”. To remain focused on that question is exactly what abusers want.

Endgame Volume II, “Abusers”

 
There’s been some progress with this in the blogosphere. We don’t see as much solemn rumination on whether e.g. Tim Geithner is corrupt or merely “captured”, and the last I saw when someone like Simon Johnson would continue to write in these terms he was getting more blowback among commenters saying “Who cares?” (I haven’t followed Baseline Scenario in awhile, so if anyone is still doing so and can provide an update, by all means do.) There’s less of this at Naked Capitalism as well.
 
“Captured or corrupt” has been replaced in some venues with the question “Stupid or evil?” This is a substantive improvement (less euphemistic, more truthful), and the fact that the question is increasingly being asked (and that the answer is usually “evil”) is an advance.
 
Still, we need to get beyond asking this question at all, since it still frames things according to the elites’ own framework of morality, where (their proven) intention is the most important thing.
 
Let’s stress immediately that in the class war no one’s intention really means anything. The elites want to plunder and enslave, and they do plunder and enslave. The only thing they care about where it comes to the non-rich is our compliant action. The state of our minds and souls is irrelevant.
 
But it is useful to them for us to sit around doing differently toward them from what they do toward us. We waste time and energy parsing an alleged nexus of their actions and their intentions, allegedly trying to puzzle out the morality of things, but likely just engaging in Peter Principle-type procrastination.
 
When are we going to reject the entire question and simply judge according to actions and results? When are we going to judge capitalism purely by its results? When are we going to judge representative government purely by its results? (This purely empirical evaluation of representative government, BTW, is a core part of the American Revolutionary philosophy.)
 
Most of all, when are we going to judge elitism as such, and this kleptocracy, purely by its actions and results?
 
(I’ll add here that the stupid/evil question can have practical application. It can be of strategic and tactical value to understand to what extent your opponents are inertial idiots, as opposed to intentionally brutal thugs, as opposed to intelligently evil. But this is only a practical matter, not a moral one. Given the ubiquity of available knowledge, it’s not possible to be innocently ignorant of the truth. One can only be willfully ignorant, which is just as morally culpable as to be a calculating evildoer.
 
To what extent we publicly say this is, of course, another tactical question. But we must fully digest it as an element of our philosophy.)
 
Nietzsche (for whom analysis of morality was the number one priority of his thinking) differentiated between what he called the pre-moral and moral stages of humanity’s natural history:
 

Throughout the lengthiest period of human history—we call it the prehistoric age—the value or the lack of value in an action was derived from its consequences. The action in itself was thus considered just as insignificant as its origin, but, in somewhat the same way as even today in China an honour or disgrace reaches back from the child to the parents, so then it was the backward working power of success or lack of success which taught people to consider an action good or bad. Let’s call this period the pre-moralistic period of humanity: the imperative “Know thyself!” was then still unknown.

In the last ten millennia, by contrast, in a few large regions of the earth people have come, step by step, a great distance in allowing the value of an action to be determined, no longer by its consequences, but by its origin. As a whole, this was a great event, a considerable improvement in vision and standards, the unconscious influence of the ruling power of aristocratic values and of faith in “origins,” the sign of a period which one can designate moralistic in a narrower sense: with it the first attempt at self- knowledge was undertaken. Instead of the consequences, the origin: what a reversal of perspective! And this reversal was surely attained only after lengthy battles and variations! Of course, in the process a disastrous new superstition, a peculiar narrowing of interpretation, gained control. People interpreted the origin of an action in the most particular sense as an origin from an intention. People became unanimous in believing that the value of an action lay in the value of the intention behind it. The intention as the entire origin and prehistory of an action: in accordance with this bias people on earth have, almost right up to the most recent times, given moral approval, criticized, judged, and also practised philosophy.

But today shouldn’t we have reached the point where we must once again make up our minds about a reversal and fundamental shift in values, thanks to a further inward contemplation and profundity in human beings? Are we not standing on the threshold of a period which we might at first designate negatively as beyond morality, today, when, at least among us immoralists, the suspicion stirs that the decisive value of an action may lie precisely in what is unintentional in it and that all its intentionality, everything which we can see in it, know, “become conscious of,” still belongs to its surface layer and skin,—which, like every skin, indicates something but conceals even more? In short, we believe that the intention is only a sign and a symptom, something which still needs interpretation, and furthermore a sign which carries too many meanings and, thus, by itself alone means almost nothing. We think that morality, in the earlier sense, that is, a morality based on intentions, has been a prejudice, something rash and perhaps provisional, something along the lines of astrology and alchemy, but, in any case, something that must be overcome. The overpowering of morality, in a certain sense even the self-conquering of morality: let that be the name for that long secret work which remains reserved for the finest and most honest, and also the most malicious, consciences nowadays, as the living touchstones of the soul.

Beyond Good and Evil, section 32

 
Nietzsche called these stages false in differing ways. Today we can recognize the “moral” stage as having devolved into a scam. Meanwhile, if humanity is ever to reach that extra-moral stage, it will be doing so in a more tortuous way than he envisioned. We’re not evolving to what Nietzsche called extra-morality, we’re returning to the pre-moral. (Indeed, we’re reverting to the original pre-debtor position he describes in On the Genealogy of Morals. What we must do, and what the criminals must try to prevent, is our restoration of pre-formalized community relations in place of formalized debt.
 
Here as everywhere else there are two strange attractors – the reactionary path of restored (but far more vicious) feudalism, and the renewal and redemption path of true democracy. Either way, whether imposed by the alien criminals or sprouting from the soil of our souls, we shall traverse the mental and spiritual path where nothing but action matters. It’s our choice whether these are to be slave actions or cooperative democratic actions.
 
This is part of how in all things we need to get back to first principles. All existing words, philosophies, institutions are beholden to the structures of kleptocracy and feudal capitalism. We need to look anew at everything from a purely democratic perspective. This is part of how we shall be born anew as true human citizens.
 
I hope this isn’t too vague right now. I’ll be developing the idea further. For now the first practical lesson is, to repeat, the only thing that matters is how any action affects the class war. Alleged dissonances between intention and result, where it comes to those in power, are morally meaningless. Jensen said the criminals want us to fail to notice where the real action is. The real action is nothing but the action itself.
 
[*Please, no arguments about Jensen's own philosophy. I accept and reject parts of it the same way I rejected parts of it at the LATOC forum. Nevertheless, parts of the book are excellent, and this passage makes my point very well.] 

August 10, 2011

Urban Uprising (London) and Implications for the New Movement Morality

Filed under: American Revolution, Civil Disobedience, Internet Democracy — Tags: , — Russ @ 1:46 am

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One of the most interesting things about the London unrest, and of similar outbreaks in the past, is the way people loot corporate retailers in direct imitation of those corporations themselves, turning the exploiters’ own looting practices against them. I welcome every sign that the people are learning to give back to the system as they’ve received from it. This is the attitude we need to cultivate toward the real Work to Rule tactics and overall mindset.
 
While I’m not kidding myself that these demonstrations are on the whole politically conscious or guided by a strategy, they still evince a fierce energy ready to reject meek compliance with the system and lash out in some direction. (There’s also evidence that even “rioters” like these are mastering the techniques of the tactical use of communications media like Blackberries and Twitter to coordinate actions and fight the police in classic asymmetrical style. Pretty soon we’ll have a full-blown tactical doctrine for this stuff. Maybe someone’s already written it.) The will to renounce the system-imposed identity, to embrace something new (but the new something still being indeterminate), the readiness and ability to fight, the rage, the numbers – these are all a latent force, up for grabs.
 
The imitation of capitalism in the happy willingness to loot* foreshadows the bigger question of the willingness to imitate the system on the part of those called by many names in many national economies, the lumpenproles of Marxism. We can look with expectation to their frequent willingness to attack the system (during the first stage of the Egyptian Revolution shantytown dwellers attacked police stations in some smaller cities), doing so primarily based on a mirroring of the system’s own aggressive materialism. But at the same time we must beware of their propensity to let themselves be astroturfed by the system itself as mercenaries and thugs. So we face the question which has loomed for us at least since the mid 19th century. As Fanon put it, if the revolution doesn’t organize the lumpenproletariat, the counter-revolution will.
 
[*While in a perfect world an urban uprising would refrain from looting its own neighborhoods but systematically range into the commercial and residential neighborhoods of the enemy, the crowds seldom achieve that level of coordination at first. The opportunities immediately available for the people rising up include looting corporate stores, thereby striking a blow against globalism and at the same time acquiring often useful material things they couldn't otherwise afford, but to which they have a perfect right given how these goods are the embodied form of their stolen labor and destroyed jobs. In that case, looting those stores is a moral and rational act. We could wish they'd refrain from attacking their own local businesses, but this isn't always honored. That's part of the imitation of the indiscriminate destruction of capitalism.]
 
Part of this goal is the new morality we need to build among the oppressed, which by now includes not just impoverished urban dwellers but all the non-rich, all of whom are on a direct downward vector to serfdom, no matter what their material status today. (As I wrote before, we’re all lumpenproles now.) This nothing but the same old Golden Rule morality among ourselves, Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, but with the added emphasis on community and democracy, for by now we know it to be a law of history that if we don’t hang together we’ll all hang separately. So the community-building and positive democratic morality is not only affirmatively a wonderful thing. It’s a self-defense imperative. (One of the purposes of my posts on co-production and time banking is to go toward building the ideas and forms of this new morality.) 
 
This leads to the corollary, Do unto others as they’ve always done to you. This must dictate all our relations with the system, which in principle we must renounce completely with loathing and contempt. This must dictate our relations with government, capitalism, corporation, employer, property. (In all these I’m talking about the big, powerful manifestations. Small manifestations of these should be seen as conscripted and exhorted to identify not with the elites, who are the enemy of the small businessman just as much as of the worker, but with the people. But if in his conduct a small actor or local politician proves his pro-elite malevolence, he should be regarded and treated accordingly.)
 
This will include mustering our own resolve, relentlessness, indefatigability, to match those of the system and its cadres. Since we’re driven by an ideal and by physical necessity, our will to fight should be more than a match for those who are actuated by purely mercenary concerns. (It’ll also mean that the erstwhile “rioters” we can bring to our side as true activists will be worth far more to us than those the enemy is able to astroturf as thugs will be worth to them.)
 
It’s important to start getting the ideas out there, fastest with the mostest. Here the perfect, as in waiting to perfect doctrine and strategy, will be the enemy of the good if the quest for such unachievable perfection turns into an excuse to procrastinate. We don’t need to struggle endlessly to achieve this. We only need to attain critical mass to achieve a tipping point at which point the movement ideal starts to exponentially propagate itself. This mass may be as low as 10% of the population.
 
There will certainly be vast convulsions in the mass psychic energy, and the forms this will take, the conscious ideas people will formulate, will depend completely on what ideas are available, what ideas are speaking to the suffering and fear and rage they feel. These go far beyond the inner cities. The arc of their explosion is longer among the incipient ex-middle class lumpenproles, but shall be the decisive detonation. This is where we must make the great push, where democracy will prevail or wither, where feudalism shall be resurrected or remain a corpse, where humanity shall triumph or perish.

June 14, 2011

Internet Doldrums

Filed under: Internet Democracy — Russ @ 3:31 pm

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Sorry it’s been some time since my last post. It’s been a combination of being busy with offline stuff (good stuff, thank god – preparing for the farmers’ market season, getting the time bank together, working in my own garden..) and feeling pretty down on the Internet lately.
 
Some of you talked about a change you’re seeing at Naked Capitalism. I’m getting sick of it too, although not so much because of an ideological change I’m detecting (the increasingly obnoxious ads and Yves’ equally obnoxious justifications of them are a different story).
 
Rather, I feel like the econoblogs seem to be going the same route as the stupid “progressive” blogs. In each case, what started out seeming to challenge the status quo ended up making peace with it and eventually becoming a part of it.
 
I feel like the discussions are just stupid by now. Haven’t people (the ones who claimed to be opposed to the way things have been going) made up their minds about anything yet, drawn conclusions from the evidence, moved on from an untenable position to a more robust one? To me, some preconditions for believing one has been paying attention and cares and wants to do something include: That one has absolutely renounced the two parties; that one recognizes the absolute malignity of corporatism and has vowed to fight it to the finish; that one recognizes the totalitarian criminality of the elites; that one recognizes the absolute futility of appeasement or of compromise.
 
Yet, if you leave out identifying facts, the posts at NC from this week could be shuffled with those from 2008, and it would be hard to tell the difference. Ingenuous analysis of DC politics, questions of when and where to politically compromise (not to mention all the “shades of gray”, as one commenter lectured me). Sure, Yves still castigates the banksters, but is this supposed to be leading anywhere? It seems not, given continued discussions of the critical importance of Elizabeth Warren and similar nonsense.
 
I don’t mean to pick on NC, which has been far better than most. I’m griping about it because it’s the one with which I’m most familiar. But the phenomenon is general. The blogosphere as any kind of mass rallying point seems to be reaching an end.
 
Meanwhile the little blogs are being forcibly subject to Gleichschaltung (coordination). In a comment or two I alluded cryptically to the New Order at WordPress. I was referring to how it has forcibly imposed an objectionable facebook link on many WordPress blogs.
 
Mine is an anti-totalitarian blog, so of course I absolutely revile the corporate thug Zuckerburg and the rest of the facebook regime. I’m not talking about individuals who choose to have an account there; that’s their business. But I’d rather choose to have ads for Goldman Sachs and the GOP national committee on my blog, which at least everyone would recognize as outside-generated ads, than have an icon inflicted against my will on the blog itself, as if I somehow endorsed it. 
 
As if it’s not bad enough that I’ve had my blog defaced with this politically and morally loathesome facebook icon, and that the reply box, which used to be nicely minimalist, is now hideous, I have constant trouble posting comments.
 
Endless problems – old comment texts stuck in the box; the box refusing to expand once the text reaches the bottom of it; difficulty selecting the text, which of course I always do before hitting “post”; no scroll bar, so that I have to use the arrow keys on my keyboard; greatly increased wait time for it to post.
 
So they’re not only inflicting this assault on behalf of the facebook thugs, but they were so eager to do it they couldn’t even do it competently.
 
For two years I’ve blogged and loved the experience, yet for some days it’s been like I don’t even want to come here any more. I used to reply to almost every comment, now I just select a few (and give greatly shortened responses). I’ve been wanting to be here as little as possible.
 
So I apologize to commenters whose contributions I slighted in any way, either with curt replies or no replies at all. Like I said, in many ways I’ve been mechanically having trouble even writing comments.
 
My blog used to give me relaxation, and now I feel stress at the thought of it. And then I went to the WordPress forums where others were complaining about this assault, and saw nothing from the WordPress powers that be but glib lies and petty-dictator sneers. I guess we see their true colors now. (Or, I guess it was silly of me to see WordPress as something better than e.g. Facebook, as opposed to a petty version of it.)
 
I suppose some of you are calling me a crybaby by now and thinking, Suck it up, and of course you’re right. Some fighter I am if I can’t overcome this. But it’s true, that this has sort of symbolized a doldrum I’ve been in. Hopefully, writing this rant and finally putting up another post will clear out the badness. I need a “drainage ditch”, as Nietzsche would call it.
 
I know I wasn’t the only one with these kinds of qualms, as some people were discussing some similar qualms in the last thread. So let’s see what we can do about this among ourselves. We’ve talked before about the kind of blog/forum network we need. I guess it’s getting to be that time where it’s now or never; and it’s us or no one.
 
Thanks for letting me rant. I hope to get back to a regular blogging schedule (maybe a little lighter for the summer, as I’ll have so many offline things to be doing) imminently.

May 23, 2011

Basic Movement Strategy

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I want to continue combining ideas toward the development of a basic strategy. Here’s some suggestions for the arrangement of many of the things we’ve discussed at this blog. I place them within the strategic framework laid out in this post. The emphasis throughout is on action, on things we can do.
 
1. ***Engage in “apolitical” economic relocalization as much as possible.***
 
For food relocalization, this includes setting up farmers’ markets, community gardens, regional food distribution networks, seed libraries, trying to close energy and waste loops, develop localized biodiesel generation for use on-site and for local distribution; on an individual level, encourage the Victory Garden and Freedom Seed movement. Set up Garden Share programs, tool banks, anything else which can assist people whose spirit is willing but wallet or schedule is weak.
 
Those are food examples, and the same principle can be extended to many other sectors – energy, transportation, education, health care. In all sectors we should be trying to exchange skills and in general learning as much as we can about living without fossil fuels and without centralized government (and perhaps facing the hostility of the latter).
 
Time banking and other alternative currency schemes can help coordinate these. Just yesterday I added an offer to help with seed saving as part of my profile on our new Time Bank.
 
Alternative currency programs are also part of our effort to free ourselves of the tyranny of the dollar. The banks and government want to use taxation to forcibly keep us within the dollar economy, while at the same time they want to abolish physical cash and force all our dollar transactions through electronic toll booths. All this is taking place within the context of the ongoing liquidation of the real economy, where it will be more and more difficult to earn dollars at all. This is the debt indenture trap they’ve laid for us. The way to escape is to escape the dollar itself as much as possible.
 
So relocalization has to mean organization of the informal economy. Cooperatives, gift exchanges, some kinds of alternative currencies, time banks – all these can help. Barter itself is in theory taxable, and we can expect the kleptocracy to seek out any attempts to organize it. So at least legally the key to the position is organizing, not barter, but reciprocal gifting.
 
But the political battlefield, not the legal, which is the real battlefield.
 
2. ***Among committed citizens, form a nucleus for political relocalization. Systematic political education goes on among this group. This group must also formulate a politically and spiritually inspiring philosophy and mindset to accompany the toolkit of actions.***
 
This nucleus will develop the political philosophy of the economic relocalization. It will also contribute to developing a general philosophy for the entire movement.
 
Some aspects will be to articulate the necessity for Food Sovereignty, as a physical (Peak Oil) and political imperative; the basic nature of the kleptocracy; develop something like the Bridge strategy; develop political declarations (like No Taxes on the Non-Rich; Total Austerity for the Criminals, Not One Cent More From the People); the philosophy of positive freedom and direct democracy; an American Revolutionary mythology.
 
We’ll develop a full awareness of the Land Scandal.
 
We’ll articulate the real nature of money and how to Take Back Our Money.
 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we should each take responsibility for reporting on a topic.
 

In the meantime, we communicate information about the state of our polity and economy. Here I think we could fruitfully divide our labor if we had a significant number of blogs dedicated to similar transformational goals. These blogs could confederate under a “brand name”, link to one another, and delegate among themselves responsibility for regular reporting on particular topics.

Here’s some examples of what I think are the most important subjects: The state of the Bailout, failure of bank reform, corporate welfare, unemployment (and the phoniness of “job creation”), inequality of wealth and income, the SCOTUS and courts, globalization, the state of the money supply (including MMT), energy issues, the Permanent War, civil liberties, the Land Scandal, the health racket bailout, net neutrality and other Internet issues, intellectual property, corporatist ideology, and Food Sovereignty (farm issues, biofuels, GMOs, the Food Control structure).

That list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but those are the things that immediately came to mind.

And then there’s the many affirmative topics of agroecology and sustainable food production, distributed and decentralized energy, alternatives to money, land redemption, tallying protest actions, home schooling toward a goal of better citizenship, alternative medicine, non-fossil fuel crafts, every kind of decentralized and/or non-capitalist production, every kind of community-building endeavor, democratic ideology. Again, those are just some examples.

So for example if we had fifty bloggers, each could agree to take special responsibility for one or two of those and to regularly report on it. Of course everyone would also be free to write on anything else as well.

 
Some commenters weren’t so thrilled at this idea when it sounded like the same old discussion of corporate and government crimes. So how about a more practical emphasis: We should, where it comes to each and every issue, compile a log of what people are doing about it. We should strive to be aware of all actions, what’s working and what fails, and why. And we should report on what we personally are doing, and how well it’s working.
 
This nucleus also should assiduously practice political skills of polemical writing, public speaking, debate, etc. Last year I offered a suggestion for how to organize this.
 

Here’s one possibility for idea coordination, which could also have many other benefits. Are readers familiar with Toastmasters? It’s an organization for the practice of public speaking. I’ve never been to a meeting myself (the times I checked there was no chapter within a convenient distance), but I’ve read about it. I guess the members are mostly careerists looking to hone their business and backslapping skills. But we could use these skills as well.

So my idea was that people who share a dedication to a political cause could form their own such groups. Nominally it would be a public speaking/book discussion group. But it could also serve as the vehicle for coordination of ideas and messaging, including people taking on particular tasks.

The way I just described that involves meeting in real life, wherever there were enough people within driving distance of one another. But something similar (of course without the public speaking component) could be done online as well. FireDogLake has its regular book salons, to give one example.

 
This could either be one way for the nucleus to organize its activities. Or conversely, forming a public speaking/book club could be the initial form which then evolves into a political nucleus.  
 
3. ***To whatever extent possible, this nucleus becomes involved in local politics. But this may not be an initial priority everywhere.***
 
One conventional activity which is being embraced by communities is the passage of model ordinances on subjects like local food sovereignty and rejection of corporate personhood. These are not only vigorous declarations of local power, but they’re great exercises in participatory democracy. We should always be seeking to initiate actions which are worthwhile in themselves and which extend this political participation.
 
There’s also getting worthwhile initiatives on local ballots, and running for office where feasible. There’s also the ways in which politically conscious relocalizers can get the word out to the community at large.
 
One example is the kind of community lecturing program I described for the Land Scandal.
 
Another is the idea of placing all this political consciousness-raising within the framework of a new Constitutional Convention. Or, we could declare ourselves an alternative community council, Continental Congress, Citizen Congress.
 
One promising development is the recently passed Local Community Radio Act. (I’m still not sure how this got passed, given how atypical it is. I know somebody who’s gung-ho about it, so I asked him. He said it was the result of years of citizen pressure. I hope that’s true, although that kind of pressure doesn’t seem to work in other places these days.) Where possible we have to get on the local radio.
 
4. ***To whatever extent government and corporate power hinder the activities of (1), the political activists take any opportunity for broader political education of various producers and perhaps the public.***
 
Government and corporate oppressions will provide opportunities to use the occasion to publicize the full philosophy and program.
 
We also need to figure out how to organize civil disobedience, both open (preferred, where willingness and/or a critical mass makes this desirable) and covert. One example is refusal to purchase the health racket Stamp. Another, even more critical, will be resisting any attempts to deploy the new powers granted by the Food Control bill in totalitarian ways.
 
We should also think about how to fight back, at the local governmental and if necessary at the street level, against private thugs.
 
5. ***Wherever necessary and possible, the locally involved political activists take on responsibilities of local and regional government, gradually achieving objective legitimacy. But actual assertion of authority against parasitic “official” structures would have to wait for later.***
 
Many community volunteering efforts already take up the slack where, according to the civics textbooks, government should be doing its job. This will only accelerate as the Depression sets in, need increases, and governments are further starved of the federal funds they’ve come to rely upon.
 
While economic relocalizers may go about their business unaware of, or complacent about, the way they’re performing quasi-governmental functions, our political nucleus should always be looking for ways to increase recognition of these functions by the community. As we become acclaimed as reliable service providers and political educators, the goal becomes to gradually become an alternative government which would then be in a position to make policy and where necessary challenge the abdicated authority of the de jure government.
 
6. ***To whatever extent possible, these organizations, at whatever level of development, would come together to consult in a kind of federation. To whatever extent possible, they could coordinate and assist one another.***
 
Here’s where online organizing can help with all the things I just described. All the physical localities, no matter how geographically far-flung, can become neighbors online. They can share information and results, confederate their local councils and Conventions, function as Committees of Correspondence.
 
One particular need is coordination among rural, suburban, and urban regions. Some of the problems here were described well in this thread.
 
The goal would eventually be a federated movement encompassing all of America and becoming international as well. 
 
7. ***This structure would then gradually make its presence known to the public, mostly through “apolitical” education about the economy and relocalization, but also political education, wherever it seems that would be fruitful.***
 
In the same way that each local nucleus works to build political awareness in its own region, so the confederation tries to do the same thing on a broader level. These processes may be simultaneous, and on particular issues progress is likely to be faster on some fronts (some regions advance faster than others; some regions advance faster than the national consciousness which is faster than other regions).
 
8. ***Then, once the next, terminal crash comes, and/or the general deterioration into permanent depression accelerates, the movement will be prepared to offer a home, a means of self-help, and a realm of action, to any size mass of people ardent and desperate for a solution.***
 
Every advocate of an alternative to a powerful, entrenched status quo seeks to make the people as a whole conscious of this alternative. We want to get the ideas out there. Then, as the saying goes, when the crisis comes, people grab something from the ideas which are laying around. Our goal is to get the people to grab our idea. If we skillfully and aggressively argue our case and provide exemplary instruction in the way we live our lives and carry out our actions, we have an excellent chance.
 
Because our ideas are the right ones.

April 26, 2011

What’s Our Affirmative?

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In my last post and the subsequent comment thread we discussed how our scattered blogs may be able to coalesce, and what the preliminary basis of such a coalescence may be. The consensus is that people want to write about actions we can start to undertake now. So I figured I’d jot down a list of some of these relocalization actions and ideas, as well as a few notes on the underlying philosophy which will encompass them. We’ll need to share our expertise and experiences with all these things. In most cases we’ll be sharing during the act of developing this expertise through experience in the first place. I’m sure no expert yet on any of it. To most people all this stuff is pretty new.
 
1. Food Sovereignty: This is the philosophy that we have a human right, not just to food but to the land to grow the food, and to a polity and economic structure which supports and enhances this right. Then it’s also the practice of this right, including the political struggle to attain it.
 
There’s the core of my whole program. Agricultural science has proven that medium and small size organic agriculture is more productive than corporate monoculture. This fact will become ever more critical for our physical survival as we enter the post-oil age, since industrial agriculture is overwhelmingly dependent upon fossil fuels for fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, mechanical harvesting and processing, and transportation. So this agricultural transformation is a physical necessity. 
 
I add that this transformation to a nation of tens of millions of small and medium-sized individual and cooperative producers is the only thing which can provide the basis for full employment on an autonomous basis. This then can be the foundation for economic and political democracy. Making a virtue of necessity, we can transform our current travail into the full triumph of the democratic movement. We can simultaneously save our lives and conquer our freedom, or else we can do neither. 
 
So where do we start toward this great goal? We start at the start, with the simplest and most broadly accepted actions – planting gardens, saving seeds, establishing farmers’ markets, and similar deeds. From there we elaborate these into a comprehensive plan for food relocalization, with personal production supplementing (or even being supplemented by) localized food distribution networks which bring together a coalition of regional farmers and regional buyers, all of whom achieve a much greater resiliency and security for themselves and for all the people of their communities. We enlist the mythology of history by resurrecting old heroic names like Victory Gardens and coin new ones like Freedom Seeds. We accompany all this activity with an educational program which puts it all in our current political and economic context. We gradually propose that common sense prevail, that none of this will work in the long run if we allow the potentially productive land to remain uselessly enclosed. (Not to mention that those who enclose it are those who stole it.) We study successful examples of land redemptions like the Landless Workers’ Movement of South America. 
 
This can then be tied in with parallel efforts at community education on the Land Scandal, which would include organized land redemption among its proposed solutions. 
 
2. Alternatives to money: Since I’m soon going to devote a separate post to Time Banking, I won’t delve into this one here. But I’ll just mention the many alternative currencies and exchange structures which have already been tried out, often with considerable local success. 
 
Here the basic medium-run goal is to extricate ourselves from the globalized economy and the cash economy as much as possible. The main vehicle will probably be some form of cooperative organization, since this looks like the best way to overcome the challenges of both being cash-poor in the first place, and of running a functional local economy without incurring the full tyranny of bureaucracy and taxation. I’ll have lots more to say about that. 
 
3. Energy: We’ll have to relocalize it as much as possible. I don’t know much yet about the full potential and the limits. I’ll leave that to others. 
 
The main thing I’m personally interested in is on-farm biodiesel generation to run the tractors and other equipment and the trucks to locally/regionally distribute the produce. I haven’t read studies yet, but I suspect that where rational farming practices prevail (where the manure and/or crop waste generated by the farm is recycled back into the soil), sufficient fuel could be produced to close this farm-to-eater loop.
 
4. Transportation: This one looks trickiest. We really are slaves to the car, and most of us have to use the car for almost everything. As much as possible relocalization will have to strive to minimize the need for driving.
 
5. Health care: The existing system is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels, and would therefore be unsustainable even if it were equitably organized. As we know, it’s also organized in a predatory, profiteering way. Since the goal of the health care system is not to care for health but to generate profit and be rationed by ability to pay; and since the people are now being economically liquidated; it follows that fewer and fewer of us will have access to care. We’ll need to turn to alternatives. Living in a healthy way to begin with is now paramount. We see another linkage with a redeemed food production system, since organic food is far more valuable in terms of nutrition and lack of unhealthy inputs. We’ll also need to learn about herbal medicine and tend herbal medicine gardens. That’s one example of an alternative. 
 
Lots more about the malevolence of the health system at my health racketeering page. 
 
6. Education: The gutting of school budgets and the pernicious character of the curriculum and socialization at our “public” (that is, increasingly corporatized) schools, means that we’ll be turning to educational alternatives like home-schooling, including on a cooperative basis, more and more. 
 
This schooling will become more and more entwined with the practical education of learning to grow food, produce manufactures without fossil fuels, salvage materials from obsolete items, etc. 
 
That leads to the whole panoply of relocalized crafts, manufactures, reskilling in the pre-oil ways. 
 
All of this will take place in an environment where we’ll have vast opportunities and responsibilities to educate a broader public and bring it into these activities. This environment will also contain many risks and dangers, as our enemies try to block us and, failing that, repress us. We’ll have to fight back through direct action, evasion, passive resistance, appeals to that broad public, and anything else called for by circumstance. So the strategy and tactics of the struggle against oppression is also part of our project.
 
And what’s the principled basis of all this? The same simple, wholesome beginning we made in 1776: We want to build a society which exalts life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The economy and the polity, which today so aggressively seek to destroy all of these, must be liberated and rebuilt toward maximizing these. This means we seek economic and political democracy. 
 
So there’s an overview of the challenges we face, the goals we seek, and therefore the affirmations we must write about.

April 21, 2011

Online Organizing

Filed under: Internet Democracy — Russ @ 9:07 am

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While I don’t have a fully fleshed-out concept yet for how a movement could organize online, I wanted to jot down a few notes.
 
1. I think almost everyone agrees that in the long run the Internet is no substitute for real life meeting and working together. This is especially true since movement-building requires foundation actions sustained over a long period of time. These actions, whatever they are, take place in the real world, not online. The only significant online action is information exchange, which I’ll get to below.
 
So a primary goal is to use the Internet to form relocalization and democratizing groups in the real world.
 
2. As these groups are formed, they can coordinate and form a rudimentary confederation online. Again, real confederative activities will ultimately have to take place in real life.
 
3. In the meantime, we communicate information about the state of our polity and economy. Here I think we could fruitfully divide our labor if we had a significant number of blogs dedicated to similar transformational goals. These blogs could confederate under a “brand name”, link to one another, and delegate among themselves responsibility for regular reporting on particular topics.
 
Here’s some examples of what I think are the most important subjects: The state of the Bailout, failure of bank reform, corporate welfare, unemployment (and the phoniness of “job creation”), inequality of wealth and income, the SCOTUS and courts, globalization, the state of the money supply (including MMT), energy issues, the Permanent War, civil liberties, the Land Scandal, the health racket bailout, net neutrality and other Internet issues, intellectual property, corporatist ideology, and Food Sovereignty (farm issues, biofuels, GMOs, the Food Control structure).
 
That list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but those are the things that immediately came to mind.
 
And then there’s the many affirmative topics of agroecology and sustainable food production, distributed and decentralized energy, alternatives to money, land redemption, tallying protest actions, home schooling toward a goal of better citizenship, alternative medicine, non-fossil fuel crafts, every kind of decentralized and/or non-capitalist production, every kind of community-building endeavor, democratic ideology. Again, those are just some examples.
 
So for example if we had fifty bloggers, each could agree to take special responsibility for one or two of those and to regularly report on it. Of course everyone would also be free to write on anything else as well.
 
4. Everyone would also have a responsibility to try in various ways to spread the word around the web.
 
5. If resources allowed, it would also be good to have one or more online forums, where larger-scale discussions to could take place.
 
6. Although we might start with a relatively broad mission statement, at some point it would be good to draw up a platform. But that could wait till later. (I’m sorry I got sidetracked from my plan for a mock Convention at this blog, but I’ll get back to that shortly. That exercise should help discover what we really agree upon.)
 
7. We know we can’t rely upon the Internet to always be available for this kind of organization. So as soon as some real life confederative action is taking place, one of the first goals has to be setting up a redundant, real-world communication system, including a plan for print media.
 
So there’s some notes about the Internet.

April 15, 2011

Where Will We Find the First Wave?

Filed under: Internet Democracy — Tags: , , — Russ @ 1:48 pm

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In his book The True Believer, Eric Hoffer postulates that a mass movement cannot spring into being solely of its own accord, but that the road must be prepared by the steady, corrosive educational work of “men of words” who are alienated from the existing regime and have broken with it completely. Conversely, where all intellectuals and writers support the regime, the movement will never rise.
 
Today in America there’s no such alienated faction among the various groups of publicly visible writers. In the MSM, in academia, among established NGOs, the communicators are overwhelmingly flunkeys of the corporate regime. Whether out of real belief, or cynical careerism, or cowardice, they’re all public lackeys. Offhand I struggle to think of even individual exceptions, let alone discernable groups.
 
It looks like the alienated men of words and revolutionary writers exist only here in the blogosphere, a place isolated from the public and whose very existence is tenuous. How do we break out to reach the mass consciousness? To ask a more specific question, with whom should we start as a target audience? The answer seems obvious.
 
One of the most extreme examples of this regime’s short-sightedness, and one of the real reasons we have for optimism, is its disregard of the same intellectual-literary basis of its support I just mentioned, one of its main bulwarks against an adverse movement’s rising.
 
This is the way the regime is proceeding, for nothing but the sake of short-term bankster profiteering, to liquidate the job prospects of the newly educated, even as it saddles them with undischargeable debt. It’s doing this even as it continues to exhort and practically order everyone who can “afford” it to go to college. In this way the regime will produce an ever-growing logjam of unemployable, financially pre-crippled intellectuals. History proves that there are few social bottlenecks which are more explosive.
 
It’s clear that here, among these unemployable college graduates and permanent debt slaves, their entire lives ruined before they’ve even begun, ruined by an intentional government/bank/university scam, is where we must seek the intellectuals of the movement and the first big wave of its real cadres, to join the handful of us who are now trying to pioneer this movement. Once this is achieved, we’ll have the manpower to make a mass appeal.
 
So one of the first tasks is to figure out how to attract this Internet-active audience to our websites.
 
 

January 1, 2011

2011

Filed under: Freedom, Internet Democracy — Tags: — Russ @ 5:42 am

 

Throughout history cowards and criminals always told the commenters of the time, “You’re wasting your time. That can’t change anything.” Often the aspiration didn’t happen at all. Other times it was tried and failed. And other times the great change succeeded.
 
So we can’t know whether everything we’re doing in the blogosphere will count for anything in the end. I know it’s worth trying. The evidence of history proves that. I get up every day and go online, conscious that I’m entering the fray and participating in the democracy, the only one we have left so far as I’m aware.
 
Perhaps a hundred years from now, and for the rest of history, people will say the blogosphere was the place of ferment for the great change. Or one of the places.
 
Or maybe there will be no change, Gated Community 2.0, the end of net neutrality, and the intensification of direct censorship will lead to the death of Internet democracy, and it will all have been for nothing except the experience lived now, but not remembered in the future, since under those circumstances there will no longer be “history”, but only totalitarian stagnation. There will still be hominids, but humanity will be extinct.
 
We cannot know today. Maybe it’s sometimes hard to even believe today. All we can do is live as if we believed there was a fighting chance. It’s the living and the pretending which always generate the true belief. And that belief in turn makes what was impossible possible. And once things are possible and fought for, they are sometimes achieved. 

December 15, 2010

What Do Wikileaks and Foreclosuregate Have In Common?

 

Much has been written about Julian Assange’s theory of how aggressive forced transparency can impose a “secrecy tax” on authoritarian conspiracies like the secrecy regime of the US kleptocracy. The ability of a system like this to smoothly function is predicated on its ability to easily disseminate information among the insiders while keeping it secret from outsiders. So the more paranoid the system becomes about its ability to maintain this monopoly, the more it must restrict information flows, police its own members, and devote resources to this maintenance. Like any other illegitimate, parasitic structure, it becomes less and less efficient and resilient as the self-generated resistance to it grows. According to Assange, Wikileaks is dedicated to imposing this secrecy tax upon these criminal organizations. If the tax becomes onerous enough, it can even render the system unable to function.
 
When I thought about this, it struck me how similar it is to other ramifications of the system crime. Everywhere there are signs of the self-imposed crime tax hindering smooth system function. Probably the best example is Foreclosuregate, where the banks’ systematic refusal to comply with the most basic, stone-carved legal procedures for conveying title and constituting MBS trusts has rendered all “ownership” questionable, and has perhaps in fact rendered most mortgages and most or all MBS trusts unsecured loans. In non-recourse states, the mortgagee may in fact not be able to have recourse even to the house itself. Meanwhile if the scofflaw servicer tried to belatedly (and illicitly) convey the note to the trust, the trust would be revealed as having been fraudulent in the first place, the trustees would incur a severe tax liability, and they’d be exposed to lawsuits from the defrauded investors.
 
The same would be true if the originator simply foreclosed on his own:
 

On one hand, the problem is easily cured – the party who is the documented owner of the loan could foreclose (the original lender). The problem with this is that the proceeds of the foreclosed property, including the recoveries intended to reimburse the servicer for advances, would have no mechanism for getting back into the trust.

If the original lender foreclosed, took title and liquidated the loan, accountants would have an issue with how the proceeds could possibly end up back with the trust. The result would be a total loss for the trust for that loan.

The servicer’s attorneys have no desire to go this route – it terrifies them.

 
Every time I read something like this my first gut thought is to doubt there’s anyone in the system who isn’t willing to break any and every rule and law.
 
But then I figure that a massive criminal conspiracy within the system must run up against the same inertial obstacles revolutionaries have often complained about – that existing professional cadres, no matter what the professional intent of their members, are still as a group committed to certain ways of doing things. It’s their professional culture, and even as intentional criminals they must still often feel the need to dot the i and cross the t.
 
And then the system is supposed to be set up to maximize the flow of loot upward and minimize leakage at the lower levels. Having a perverted but still mechanically functional rule of law and process of bureaucracy is supposed to help effect this. This is why the Nazis were always as punctilious as possible about “legality” for their crimes.
 
So perhaps the half-baked kleptocracy, having run its crimes so far out ahead of its “laws”, will be unable to fix this mess even with its own pseudo-legal contraptions, and will sustain a major blow here.
 
Just like its hysterical attempts to put out the Wikileaks fire are already demonstrating the validity of Assange’s ideas. Although I’m not a tech expert, from what I gather it would be impossible to shut down Wikileaks short of “shutting down the Internet itself”, which I take to mean rendering it far more slow and inefficient. We can imagine what that would do for the system’s economic “recovery”. That fits into their intensifying “cyber war” rhetoric. Joe Lieberman and others have also been threatening even their own friends in the MSM like the NYT. Government agencies and contractors are imposing all sorts of restrictions on what computers within their purview can be used for. I had one commenter tell me his company is even trying to restrict what employees can do on their own personal computers at home. And funniest of all was the spectacle of universities warning prospective government employees among their students about how intensely all their prior online activity is likely to be scrutinized by this prospective employer. The vision of these Ivy League Hitler Youth scrambling to try to sanitize their past online lives and even more vigilantly self-police their words and actions going forward gives us a prime piece of Schadenfreude.
 
So it looks like we already are imposing this secrecy tax.
 
[We can see from all this why we don't want any sort of "modernized" mortgage registry, which would simply be easier to "legally" game. It would put up less resistance to organized crime. Its very pseudo-efficiency would offer fewer handholds for citizen action.
 
We're learning everywhere that so-called inefficiency and redundancy really mean resiliency and at least the potential for accountability.
 
In this case, there's nothing wrong with the existing legal procedure. (Not the scofflaw mortgage mill and securitization procedure.) Is this slow when you're trying to convey and securitize millions of loans? Yes - which is a good thing. Slow is Good. And as we should have learned by now, we never needed or wanted such financialization of mortgages in the first place. They should have stayed with the originator, with what worked perfectly well before these crimes were invented.
 
There's no need for shock-doctrine speed and false efficiency, which as we've learned to our sorrow is a false economy.]
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