September 14, 2010

The Brainstorming So Far – Why We Fight


I thought I’d sum up just some of the ideas we brainstormed so far in the prior post and comment thread on what we need to do.
We agreed that a clarification of principles is needed. For today I’ll just expand a bit on what I think is the dividing line of our age and all its struggle. The previous delineation of left-to-right is no longer adequate. Those who still invoke it are engaging in misdirection. Needless to say, this is even more true of Democrat vs. Republican. I’m speaking specifically of America, although the dynamic is broadly the same throughout the West. Everywhere neoliberalism* is on the march against democracy and humanity. This is what defines for humanity today the conflict of post-civilizational barbarism** vs. civilization and humanity.
[*Neoliberalism: Is there any question about this term? It’s Mafia gangsterism dressed up as a pseudo-respectable ideology. It refers to the broad onslaught of direct corporate aggression and indirect corporate aggression via corrupt governments. These combine to form kleptocracy. The basic procedures are privatization of public property (giving it away for nothing while saddling the public with any costs), gutting all regulation, cutting all public interest government spending while ratcheting up government looting of the taxpayer in order to convey the loot to corporate interests, overturning the rule of law so that the courts are inaccessible to the people while the law strips them of all protection and instead becomes the strong-arm thug of their corporate assailants, and in general the government alienates all sovereignty, all legitimacy, all authority, setting up a Hobbesian void over the land into which lawless, stateless corporate and elitist power rampages with infinite malignity. Globalization opens up all corporate, money, and cheap labor flows while interning all public interest and elite labor flows in the equivalent of concentration camps. I’ve referred to this as a kind of “secession”, in that the rich and elite are able to secede from the law and from any responsibility to “the country”, which indeed ceases to exist as a public entity. Instead all their robbery is ratified by the abdicated government and law as the new state of nature, and at that point the social contract is broken on the robbers’ terms. Thus the entire span of civilization turns out to have been one big fraud, one big scam, one big equivalent of the accountant who promised to conscientiously manage your money absconding with it.
Except in this case that accountant uses the money to hire thugs to force you to labor for him going forward as a slave. Similarly, these legally and nationally seceded elites still intend to maintain every physical monopoly over us. They’ve repudiated all citizenship and all responsibility, but they still intend to exercise an infinite prerogative and what they call a “right”.
There’s no such thing as a right except as preceded by and contingent upon having and fulfilling a responsibility. But today’s elites neither nave nor fulfill responsibilities. They’re both evil and useless. They are post-civilization barbarians.
**I distinguish between what I call the barbarians of ascent, those still physically vigorous, culturally latent, spiritually uncorrupted, those headed upward toward civilization, like the Huns, Goths, Mongols, Vikings, and today’s barbarians of decadence.
They have a total sense of entitlement and “rights” but refuse to work or take responsibility. They’re loutish and stupid in victory, whining and cowardly and demanding a bailout the moment they face any kind of  adversity. They’re aggressive but physically cowardly, hiring mercenaries to fight their wars of aggression (not to mention to perform all physical labor for them; needless to say they lowball everyone). They’re culturally exhausted, by now reduced to needing ever louder, more flashy jolts of stimulation merely to stay awake, they’re so mentally inert and moribund. They’re spiritually rotten to the core, combining the most gutter nihilism in action with the most shallow yet obnoxious proclamations of “values” and “principles”. They exemplify hypocrisy as not even a compliment vice pays to virtue, but as an insult to virtue, as virtue would never wish to be complimented by such mean, wretched, paltry, snivelling vice.]
So the struggle of barbarism vs. civilization plays out along these lines: It’s centralization vs. decentralization, concentration vs. rational and equitable distribution, corporatism vs. anti-corporatism, democratic federalism vs. Bigness itself, in two words democracy vs. elitism.
All large structures – corporations, the government, the MSM, academia, most if not all large advocacy groups – are on the wrong side of this divide. They’ve all become corporatized, kleptocratized. Even the most well-meaning cadres (what few there may be) within this structure still want elitist monopoly, elitist collection of all the social wealth, and for some of it to then trickle back down. Anyone who wants this is the enemy. 
Why is this the core line of principled struggle?
1. Concentration and elitism is an affront to freedom and justice (I’ll do more to define these terms in subsequent posts, though what I’m writing here is a start). By definition we can’t have freedom if we can’t participate in all decision making, and we can’t have justice if we’re dispossessed, disenfranchised. This would be true even under “benevolent despotism”. That’s what partially honest elitists like Hayek, Lippman, and Mises claimed to represent. Of course their trickle-down promise was a Big Lie, but at least they were to some extent honest about their elitism. By contrast today’s total liars claim not only to be benign but to be democratic.
2. As has been empirically proven after decades of neoliberalism’s freedom to perform its alleged trickle-down magic, all its effects are bad. Jobs, income, quality of life, social feelings of comfort and security, community health and psychological well-being, medical health – by these and many other metrics all its promises were lies. So even if one is by nature a conformist slave who would be happy to live under trickle-down, one would if one were honest still have to call it a failure since it doesn’t work the way it was promised anyway.
In a day or two I’ll write up some of the ideas on strategy and tactics.


  1. An aside – somewhat related –

    Many of the most elite elitest you mention actually have psychiatric conditions. They’re mentally unstable. They’re delusional.

    “de•lu•sion [di l’n]
    (plural de•lu•sions)
    1. false belief: a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of a psychiatric condition
    2. mistaken notion: a false or mistaken belief or idea about something”

    Bernanke’s positions on subprime prior to the crash were definitely delusional.

    Giethner’s beliefs on the Federal Taxes he owed was definitely delusional.

    How can we make any progress in this country with these mentally unstable individuals (elites) in charge?

    Comment by chas — September 14, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

    • That’s part of why the system can’t be reformed (and why it’s in vain to look to saviors like Warren within; there’s nobody in there, no matter how well-meaning, who doesn’t share the same delusions).

      Criminologically, I don’t care about any alleged distinction between delusion and criminal intent*. Most de jure fascists and mafioso were probably “deluded” as well, but nobody cares in their cases.

      For purposes of knowing your enemy, it may be a useful tool to try to distinguish the ratio of clinical delusion to ideological belief (whatever distinction there may be if any) to conscious criminal cynicism.

      *For anyone who wants to be a stickler about legalistic intent, I’d say the secrecy of the Fed and Treasury proves they know society would disapprove of their actions, even if they themselves think it was the right thing to do.

      So in most jurisdictions they wouldn’t qualify as “not guilty by reason of insanity”.

      Comment by Russ — September 15, 2010 @ 3:37 am

      • chas writes:

        How can we make any progress in this country with these mentally unstable individuals (elites) in charge?

        Russ writes:

        That’s part of why the system can’t be reformed (and why it’s in vain to look to saviors like Warren within; there’s nobody in there, no matter how well-meaning, who doesn’t share the same delusions).

        The term I’d use here is: corrupt culture. Personally, I think this culture, perhaps toned down, extends to a great deal of the populace.

        Now if you see this large group of people, these men behaving badly, as your enemy, what do you do to them? What does one do to enemies? Destroy them? Lock ’em up and throw away the key? Reform them?

        Do you think its important to understand where this culture and these behaviors come from? If you don’t then how can you possibly prevent them from re-asserting themselves in the future?

        You wrote something Russ, under the previous entry, which I think is worth repeating:

        What do you see people being idiotic about? Mostly where they have “opinions” about big power issues. I want those issues to cease to exist.

        A workable democracy can not be about people expressing opinions. The scientific method should have the same role in our social structure as it does in building physical structures. Government is social infrastructure. This infrastructure should not be the subject of a popularity contest.

        Comment by Karl — September 16, 2010 @ 4:18 am

      • That’s a worthy ideal, but hasn’t the scientific method proven that the Enlightenment ideal is really a myth? I agree that we should strive to incorporate reason into decision-making as much as possible. But reason has to exist within a moral framework or else it’s prone to nihilistic uses.

        After all, there’s the kind of reason we’d assume in our discussion, and then there’s the kind of instrumental reason whose logic would be “submit to overwhelming power and do its bidding out of your own self-interest”. Viewed from a short-term and hermetically scientistic perspective, that logic seems superficially better than ours.

        Well, that’s just a general reflection. Karl, can you give a specific example of what you mean?

        As far as changing the system attitude, I said in that thread that I think most people are inertial. They have good and bad potentialities. This system intentionally maximizes the bad. But real democracy where people have to take real responsibility for themselves and their communities would have a much better chance to maximize the good.

        Comment by Russ — September 16, 2010 @ 5:10 am

      • An example of using science as the foundation of politics is your recent comment:

        I always associate that concept with John Wesley Powell’s idea that the American West should have been organized as watershed districts rather than states defined by political boundaries bearing no relation to the earth and its resources.

        This thought, that men should organize themselves in relation to the earth, is absolutely lovely.

        I just watched the
        “Only capitalism can save the planet”
        debate that Steve Keen participated in. He makes a couple nice references to the lack of engineers and scientists in decision making as a cause for our financial mess.

        Comment by Karl — September 17, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

      • I agree, it would be lovely if we used reason and morality, both of which are in accord with the earth, to live fruitfully and co-cooperatively in harmony with the earth rather than have the practice of “civilization” dictated by elites living in vicious antagonism to the vast mass of humanity as well as the earth.

        I thought there were all too many engineers on Wall Street, and all too much of the quant cult, and that while this didn’t create the criminality and greed in the first place, it helped clothe it in “rationality”. It helped foster the “Great Moderation” Big Lie.

        On the other hand I agree that under decentralized direct democracy, with no concentrated power and the people managing their own work, scientists and engineers as citizens could play a constructive role in council decision-making. They would be citizens like anyone else, no more, no less. (The way things are today they usually have both too much and too little power at the same time – economic elites make the strategic “scientific” decisions with little actual scientific input, but then on the tactical level scientists are turned loose to carry out these dictates with no democratic oversight. The quants on Wall Street are a perfect example. I assume you on the other hand were referring to some way of giving a voice to those with no financial incentive to lie, who could use their expertise to publicly debunk the lies.)

        Here’s a harrowing piece I just read, on a few scientists who do see themselves as having responsibilities to both their own professional ethic as well as to citizenship, and how they’ve been treated by their establishment colleagues as a result:


        Comment by Russ — September 18, 2010 @ 2:11 am

      • No, there are no engineers on Wall Street. Science works by making reference to the physical world. Money is a virtual construct whose very purpose is to decouple decision making from the physical. This decoupling eventually leads to very bad consequences, such as those we are experiencing now. Money turns our economy into a popularity contest. Who can earn more in an hour of work? You or Brittany Spears? The use of money is a lot like religion – both require faith. Some folks had the bright idea that we should keep religion away from our social infrastructure. Now is the time to apply that same thinking to money.

        Comment by Karl — September 18, 2010 @ 6:20 am

      • That’s a good analogy, and I agree with it. To the extent we need to use money at all (far less than we do), we can certainly keep it away from our polity and minimize its distortion of society.

        Comment by Russ — September 18, 2010 @ 6:58 am

  2. Chas, They are mere gatekeepers. Keep your eyes on the prize.

    Comment by tawal — September 14, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  3. Russ,

    Henry Simons was one of the original founders of neoliberalism, but he has since been disowned by the movement. I will take some time tomorrow to share one of his proposals, which aims at the heart of bigness and kills it dead.

    Here is a link to a 1990 paper by Brad DeLong (a smart but unlikeable tool) that got me interested enough in Simons to spend 50 bucks on a used copy of his major work.

    Click to access Henry_Simons.pdf

    One of the things that needs to be done to “decentralize” is significantly reducing the costs of private actors to enforce laws and regulations. At this point, the price of admission to the legal system is just too high for regular people.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — September 14, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  4. Thank goodness some bloggers can write. My thanks for this writing…

    Comment by کونگ فو — November 11, 2011 @ 10:42 am

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