June 14, 2011

Internet Doldrums

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


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.


  1. Russ, please read Counterpunch’s article Italy.

    Comment by tawal — June 14, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

  2. 2008 was when I began obsessively reading financial blogs, realizing as I did that I knew absolutely nothing about financial capitalism (or really, the actual-factual workings of the economy, as opposed to Econ101 stuff). I remember starting to read NC just after AIG collapsed, and feeling fairly well electrified reading the comments section- reasonable people, fully embedded, and invested in, the capitalist economy, were calling for the lynchings of bankers and USG officials, and not at all in jest. It may have just been the heat of the moment, but it suddenly seemed as if anything could happen, any idea could catch fire and radically alter the now-evidently decrepit status quo. I’m not sure how different the content of the comments is now, but the tone feels much different. The reformists who sneer at anything that isn’t b-school conventional wisdom are out in full force, and everyone else is past the point where specific elite perfidies are of much import in the vast constellation of wrongdoing that’s been documented over the last few years.

    I used to be fascinated by the inner workings of each and every scam and hustle, but I hardly read NC anymore except for the links. The story’s always the same, tarted-up thefts and scams masquerading as sophisticated financial transactions. The game is always rigged in favour of the house, and even if you think you’re not playing, you’re still getting your pockets picked. For me, Yves’ work is basically complete. She’s graphically demonstrated the criminal nature of our economy, and the impossibility of achieving reform through electoral politics or appeals to the powers-that-be. She seems to be unable to pursue remedies which are outside of that framework, and that’s where I part ways with her work. Now that I have a basic understanding of what’s really going on at the apex of our shared kleptocracy, I’m much less interested in it.

    It’s clear to me that disengaging from the corporate economy is the only way to directly assault it, that we will never be able to compete within the system, that our interests will never be represented. The game’s always rigged, we’re always going to have our pockets picked no matter how far outside the casino we are, so let’s empty our pockets. “Because the sage does not compete, no one can compete with him.”

    All that said, I never would have found this blog, and would not be developing my political and practical philosophies anywhere near as quickly as I am now with the flow of the community here, were it not for your comments on NC. So I think there is some value in contesting those spaces, even if it’s only to leave a “calling card”- one of the clear statements of the obvious, moral and rational position on the issue at hand that you excel at.

    As far as wordpress goes, the solution is, unfortunately, 3rd party hosting. If you run a wordpress blog somewhere other than wordpress.com, you can do whatever you want to the comment widget, as the code is open source. That means paying money for hosting (or hosting it yourself and leaving your computer on all the time), and a lot more work on your end, so I’m not sure it’d be worth it at this point. As you suggest, it’s worth thinking about putting together a community blog on an independent host that will let everyone do that kind of thing, or even a BBcode forum. The advantage of a community forum over a blog is that one person isn’t responsible for framing and driving discussion all the time, so if you want to take a break from posting, other people will pick up the slack. If it’s a fairly low-traffic forum, we could host it ourselves on one of our computers, and pay the $5 or $10/year for the domain name, and that’d be about it. A buddy of mine used to have linux server that was up 24/7, I’ll give him a shout and see if we can get a BBcode forum to play with, see if it’s something people are interested in using.

    Comment by paper mac — June 14, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

    • Ok, my buddy was bored, so it’s up already.


      Feel free to make an account (email doesn’t need to be real), muck around, post whatever. If you guys want anything specific implemented just ask, or I can give you admin powers so you can do it yourself. I can make specific forums for people to post blog-like in, or whatever people want to test out. We can also conceive of having a site with individual blogs for members, and a discussion forum for comments, or whatever. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but it would be nice if things were more linked up so discussions don’t get confined to specific blog postings etc.

      Comment by paper mac — June 14, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

      • Papermac, thanks for the forum. Yes. I think Russ might need to coordinate it in such a way so that important discussions be targeted effectively, but a conceptual thread be allowed to take its own form (which a forum is pretty good at). I know Denninger maintains his soapbox, while readers entertain his ideas, among others, on the forums he’s provided. It’s not so spontaneous, but I kind of understand the reasoning for the hybrid approach. To avoid confusion and dispersion of energy, it would mean turning off comments here, wouldn’t you think?

        I would love to see a page dedicated to links for further reading. There have been so many works unknown to me, which Russ and commenters have referenced in passing and in the comments; it would be nice to establish a “library” page.

        Comment by Lidia17 — June 17, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

      • Yeah, you’re absolutely right about the library- I’m going to set up a library subforum on that mucking-about forum ASAP. As far as the forum/commenting thing goes, I have a vision of a “blog” page which would basically have the blog entry as the first post of a forum thread, and the comments would be subsequent posts. That way, you could view basically a series of “first posts” from a particular individual as their “blog”, or you could go to the forum and see all of the different “blogs” and comment threads, etc. I don’t know if that makes any sense, it would probably be easier to draw a diagram.

        Comment by paper mac — June 18, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

    • For me, Yves’ work is basically complete. She’s graphically demonstrated the criminal nature of our economy, and the impossibility of achieving reform through electoral politics or appeals to the powers-that-be. She seems to be unable to pursue remedies which are outside of that framework, and that’s where I part ways with her work.

      I think that sounds about right, and that’s the conclusion I drew awhile ago as well. (To be fair to Yves, I suppose she’d say “I never claimed to be more than the kind of real journalist you guys say you want, and any editorial or normative content I added beyond that was just extra.”)

      Thanks for the 3rd-party hosting link. I’ll go there today.

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 4:12 am

    • Papermac, I have had the identical sequence of feelings… well, put. I’m looking forward to seeing whether you can help Russ put together something that will work better for him and for his goals.

      Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 9:37 am

      • You should check out the new forum paper mac linked above. It’s just the kind of spot we could use for more free-wheeling discussions.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  3. Russ, I used to post regularly on an economics blog that has now become quite large in the blogosphere. The blogmeister had been going though some personal difficulties, so I invited him and his friends to stay at one of my vacation houses. He taught me a lot about the business of blogging.

    He explained to me how he made approximately $400,000 a year through advertising and through promoting a mutual fund. It put things into perspective for me. I understood how he could have devolved from being anti-corporatist to anti-working class. No one from the working class advertised on his blog.

    After a few other private discussions, I learned just how shallow his knowledge of the neoliberal world was. While he wrote posts about the FRBNY, he couldn’t name the NY Fed President nor any Board members. While Maiden Lane 1, 2 and 3 never crossed his radar, he he rarely missed an opportunity to rant against the teachers who opposed uber corporatist Chris Christie.

    Eventually, those, who reach what some consider to be the economics blogging big time, feel honored to be recognized by the same corporatist criminals they once railed against. Once they make enough money, they become the economic blogosphere’s version of Al Sharpton. It’s almost like some kind of financial Stockholm Syndrome. After finally being accepted by their captors, they no longer have to rave against the machine or even invent a Tawana Brawley in order to get the big boys’ attention. If they can’t beat bezzlers, they join them. If the bezzlers can make them money through advertising or big media gigs, then they lionize them.

    “I absolutely revile the corporate thug Zuckerburg and the rest of the facebook regime”

    Russ, you obviously don’t appreciate how well FaceBook has worked in organizing violent flash mobs:


    Comment by black swan — June 14, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    • Thanks for the econoblogger anecdote. That’s just the same process the “progressive” blogs went through.

      Let me clarify about Facebook: I wasn’t attacking the social media itself, which I know can be very useful for lots of things. I was attacking this Leadership and the way it manipulates the users, who should of course own the network themselves. I thought it would be implicit I was separating the Zuckerburg regime from Facebook as such; sorry I wasn’t clear on that.

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 4:18 am

    • Mish.

      Comment by Tao Jonesing — June 15, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

    • Black Swan, I used to frequent that blog. From the outside, it really did get seem to get corrupted just as you describe from the inside. That guy banned me for writing more or less what I write here: that capitalism in general can no longer function going forward for reasons of mathematics rather than of ideology. I used to think he was reachable, with his engineering background… that he could be more dispassionate. But then again, as I discussed a while back with papermac, a lot of engineers and scientists are also autistic: they don’t do empathy.

      Still, $400,000 is a shit-load of money—I’m amazed at that figure!—but I’d like to think I wouldn’t have my intellectual integrity so easily purchased. I think he also got off on the adulation from the other angry-white-male fanboys, to tell you the truth. Mish as “thinking man’s” Glenn Beck… I’d never really looked at it that way; in my own naive fashion, I wanted to think he was on the up and up.

      Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    • BS and Russ, re. Facebook. I just saw that Massimo Fini (an Italian journalist who invented a “Movement Zero”) announced a protest event on Facebook (I’m not a FB member). I’ll keep an eye on this, however he seems to have but a tiny following:



      Comment by Lidia17 — June 17, 2011 @ 2:07 am

      • Thanks, Lidia.

        Comment by Russ — June 17, 2011 @ 4:55 am

      • For reasons of my husband’s health, I doubt I will be able to go, but it would be educational, even if we were to be “4 cats” (quattro gatti, a risible number).
        Too bad, also, that Fini is an open misogynist and perhaps-less-open racist. Other than that he is brilliant… 😉

        I’ve posted my translation of his manifesto here before:
        NO to globalization, of men, of capital, of merchandise, or of rights
        NO to Capitalism and Marxism, two sides of the same coin: industrialism
        NO to the glorification of work, whose derivation is as much capitalist as Marxist.
        NO to representative democracy
        NO to political and economic oligarchies

        YES to the self-determination of peoples
        YES to small countries
        YES to the gradual, limited, and reasoned return of forms of self-production and local consumption
        YES to direct democracy in limited and controlled environments
        YES to the right of peoples to weave their own history, without falsely benevolent “humanitarian” supervisions
        YES to global civil disobedience. If the vertices no longer recognize the untouchable sovereignty of the states, then it is the right of each of us to no longer recognize ourselves in a state.

        Comment by Lidia17 — June 17, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

      • I’m sorry to hear about your family situation, Lidia. I wish you well with that, and hope to see you around sometime.

        I don’t know Fini, so I don’t know about his misogyny and racism, but that manifesto at least looks good.

        Comment by Russ — June 18, 2011 @ 2:11 am

  4. I agree; it all seemed so easy & ready to come together, but the heavy truth is settling in. The “powers that be” are in sufficient control that the effort required to make substantial change in a realistic (generation) time frame are overwhelming. The data, facts on the ground, and new prognostications make a firm foothold highly uncertain. Yves seems like she’s hiding behind details under her control and avoiding new opinions. Zero-Hedge is hedging. It seems P2P is the only site totally enthusiastic, with a concrete agenda and the capability to manifest at least some of their goals. And many people, myself among them, don’t agree with enough of those goals to support their efforts.

    Comment by Natalie Golovin — June 14, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

    • Even crazy ZH is waffling? That’s quite a data point. (I haven’t been there in awhile, so I don’t know.)

      I also haven’t frequented P2P in awhile, but what you say sounds familiar: Enthusiastic about presenting an alternative vision, but the vision itself is sometimes questionable for other reasons. (I admit I don’t recall exactly what qualms I had about P2P; obviously I wasn’t repelled or I’d remember. More of a vague aversion to some of the ethos.)

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 4:23 am

      • Maybe it’s just a syndrome whereby, after pulling back the veil, you’re confronted with “now what”? The intellectual energy, excitement and outrage in sussing out that the thieves are not in, but of, the system now has to take on a different complexion: one of committing to a.) destruction of the system, b.) construction of an alternative system, or c.) more jawboning. The jawboning is more fun and less hard work, admittedly.

        Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  5. Russ,

    I’ll make an offer similar to Paper Mac’s. I have an offshore Linux server that I use for business and offer to comrades to use gratis. A very long time ago, I used WordPress, but replaced it with Drupal when I ran a group blog. We use Joomla now more than anything else. A Linux server equipped with MySQL and PHP will accommodate any of those.

    Email me if you’d like to know more.

    And I know what you mean about the frustrations of blogging. I started an Anti-Capitalist Meetup on DK of all places, and while we’ve managed to broaden the discussion there some, I’m as frustrated by the pwogs always whining impotently about the latest outrage as I am disgusted by the Dem Party shills.

    And while I share your views about NC, I find it one of the best places to “get the news” on the web. Far better than DK, Counterpunch or LibCom.

    BTW, I had a “story” that I wanted to get to Yves, but she apparently puts no email on the site.

    Comment by Goin' South — June 14, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

    • Yves is reachable at webber@auroraadvisors.com. An offshore server is probably not a bad idea for any permanent forum/blog site/whatever..

      Comment by paper mac — June 14, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

    • I agree about NC being an excellent journalistic site. I suppose the best thing is to take it as that, while viewing any participation in the threads as advertising ideas (like paper mac said above) rather than actually trying to affect the discussion at that particular site.

      Thanks for the hosting offer. I’ll be in touch, and I’ll also check out paper mac’s site.

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 4:28 am

  6. Russ,

    It’s late and I might say more about this tomorrow but for now I’d just like to second what paper mac said: I think Yves’ work is essentially done, and were it not for your comments at NC I would probably not be thinking now in terms of dropping out of the corporate economy as the only means of resisting it.

    Also I agree with you that anyone who has been paying attention these last two or three years, and yet still hasn’t renounced the two parties, or who doesn’t understand that we live in a kleptocracy or who still believes that our corrupt system can be reformed in any meaningful way, well, that person probably isn’t worth wasting one’s time on.

    Such as this Foppe character, with his infinite shades of gray and this talk of how progressive the Roosevelt Institute is, and all the system needs is a few reforms here and there, and a lots and lots of debating to help us in the nearly impossible task of distinguishing right from wrong (at least according to him). I mean what can you say to an idiot like that? Nothing is going to change his mind. And if it’s left to reformists and progressives like him (assuming that’s what he is), then nothing will ever change.

    Comment by Frank Lavarre — June 15, 2011 @ 12:16 am

    • I defintitely think it’s not worth anyone’s energy to keep arguing with those still mired in mindsets like that.

      On the other hand, it’s still worthwhile to present the ideas, since there’s eventually bound to be more and more new people coming around looking for new ideas.

      So I’ll try to make that my new rule for myself (and that I recommend to others): Present pro-democratic, anti-corporate ideas, but don’t waste much energy in attacking idiocy.

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 4:32 am

      • Russ,

        Just to be clear, I wasn’t criticizing you for arguing with Foppe. After all, he went out of his way to launch an attack on you, which required some kind of response. Up until then, I hadn’t paid any attention to him, one way or the other. But from now on, I’ll ignore his comments, like I ignore Pilkington, Anonymous Jones, and so many others.

        Comment by Frank Lavarre — June 15, 2011 @ 9:49 am

      • Sure, I didn’t think you were criticizing me. I may have been criticizing myself, not so much for arguing with him but for my initial over-the-top response to that stupid letter.

        I actually think Foppe was right about that part. I keep vowing not to let my anger at liberal treachery spill out onto the page (screen), because it’s really beneath me. But sometimes I have lapses…

        Oh well, I now revow. 🙂

        Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  7. Us and them seems unavoidable, regardless of the revolutionary effectiveness of blogs. Every time we castigate others for not being open minded, don’t we too risk being close minded, fanatical? That probably sounds weak, but from what I’ve been reading of consensus democracy, progress without compromise is impossible. The question is this: how bitter will compromise be?

    The Internet is a brand new phenomenon. It has arrived on the scene in a particular culture at a particular time. Two years of fighting is nothing. 10 or so years of a growing ‘open,’ global network of information distribution is nothing. Globalization, capitalism, free market neoliberalism, the whole shebang, is a mighty behemoth with enormous momentum that still has its claws and roots deep in our cultural soil, IS the soil (to abuse the metaphor). Changing course takes both time, and, if the change is to be profound, huge shocks to wake people up. And then people have to understand to shocks. And reach consensus.

    I am 45 years old, have two daughters, ‘responsibilities,’ and a history. That my opinions have changed and are further changing at quite a speed, is, for someone of my age and position, rare, not common. Then to reorganize my life to be better able to ‘fight the system’ I’m dependent on, necessitates involving my wife and daughters. I have no debts, so it’s relatively easy for me to opt out. Nevertheless I’m going to have to earn money, pay taxes, remain part of the German bureaucracy (which is enormously complicated and interfering). For example, if I take my children out of state sanctioned education I become a ‘criminal’ and can have my children taken away from me. To put them in more radical schools costs a lot of money. That means I have to earn a lot. And so on. Extrication from the system seems impossible. And I have no garden to grow food in. To flee somewhere else with little bureaucracy and land to learn to farm (at my age, with my back!) would not only be foolhardy in the extreme, but would do nothing to fight the system. It would be escape. And what about the billions that can’t do so?

    Nevertheless, I’ve resigned from my job (starting November 1 I’m ‘free’), and will try to free up my life as much as possible, but I will still have to earn Euros. The many bills I have to pay must be paid in Euros. There’s no way around that (yet.) Nevertheless, I’m taking this risk, with my family in tow, because I believe the future has to be very different if we are to survive as a species. But, this has not been an easy decision at all, and I know no one else in my age group and position doing anything like it. My friends and colleagues are flabbergasted. My wife has yet to inform her parents. You get the idea.

    In short, the change we need to effect is unprecedentedly deep and wide. These things take time, even though time is of the essence.

    That said, Naked Capitalism is not about change, it is about endless discussion of endless details. And yet, it is still a place where the slightly more open minded of those still intellectually and emotionally attached to the paradigm flirt with, and are exposed to, some quite radical ideas. Thanks to you, Russ, and others of course. That is not to be sniffed at. Critical mass will have to include people from deep within the system. They need to be exposed to alternative ideas in a format that is not too alien, not too challenging. We are all only human, all conditioned, all limited.

    Patience, attempter, patience. But keeping fighting the good fight. And anyway, who said there’s any guarantee of success?

    Comment by Toby — June 15, 2011 @ 1:51 am

    • That’s a gutsy move, Toby. I saw you mention that at NC. (You and somebody else, I forget whom.)

      Everything you’re saying about living our lives is true, and the best answer is that we have to do the best we can given the circumstances we’re in. The only absolute imperative is not to join in harming others.

      The problem with your idea about the Internet being young is that, whether you want to see it as young or old, this manifestation of it seems to be nearing the end of its life cycle. To the extent it continues to exist at all, the Internet (in its broadest sense) will be available to fewer and fewer people, while that broadest sense will be more and more corporatized.

      Meanwhile, to look at the bright side, although neoliberalism seems to be at the pinnacle of its strength, it’s actually far more vulnerable, economically and in terms of energy, than previous empires. It’s tenure, as well, is bound to be a short one.

      I wish you the best of luck with your new life, and I hope it works out well for you and your family.

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 4:42 am

      • Yes, your point about the internet is true, and something I forgot to elaborate on. The general point about blogging is very fair also (in your post). In fact, speaking from my intuition, peak everything includes really everything. There’s something very exhausted about the system’s vibe. It’s punch drunk, tottering, dangerous, unpredictable. And yet The Internet is a taste, a potential taste, of the famous Other Way. That it has to change quite deeply to be that Other Way is true, but the taste is there for sure, the sense of it.

        Action to build new structures that can withstand collapse at local level is called for, is paramount. That should be the focus now. When November rolls around I’ll be looking into what Berlin has to offer re. alternative currencies, food networks, etc, and build from there. That seems to me to be the only sensible way for all of us at this stage, while staying networked globally, exchanging information and experiences. Let the monster collapse, prepare for the detonation.

        Comment by Toby — June 15, 2011 @ 5:21 am

      • Regarding alternative currencies, although my ideas on this are still raw, I think Time Banking


        has vast potential for helping with the framework of an alternative economy. (I don’t know if they have Time Banks on the continent, but they’re spreading in Britain and North America.)

        Since I’m involved in setting up a Time Bank right now, I’ll have lots of opportunity to experience the action and think about it in every sense, so I expect my ideas to keep developing, and I’ll write about it as they do.

        Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 6:06 am

    • Toby, that is a huge step, and more power to you… I don’t know what your financial situation is, but if you have EU passports I would think about moving to someplace with a lower cost of living, where you can own or have access to some land… someplace like Portugal? Ireland? If you look for “intentional communities” or “ecovillages” you might find something that fits your needs and personalities, or that gives you ideas. Some of them are loopy, but you never know…

      Don’t consider it escape, consider it a move toward the kind of future you want for yourself and your family. What you say about fighting the system isn’t entirely true, you can fight it best by not conceding it any power in the first place. Since my epiphany, I unintentionally find myself thinking of those who remain voluntarily sustaining the conventional systems to be mad, suffering from a kind of mental illness. Do I want to remain in the madhouse? Why? To fight Nurse Ratched?

      Am I mistaken in recalling that you have a blog, as well? If so, could you post the address here? I’d like to find out how you are doing as you work things out… Best wishes.

      Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 10:46 am

      • Replying to myself because I believe I have found Toby’s blog: is it “Econosophy and Other Musings”?

        I very much enjoyed the post “Sustainability or Growth4Ever? The Choice is Ours” [http://thdrussell.blogspot.com/2011/01/sustainability-or-growth4ever-choice-is.html]
        because it explicates the most mind-blowing part of the “growth” game to me… the realization that it is not just ‘desireable’ for political or hedonistic consumption reasons, but that it is mechanistically impelled. Never a student of finance or economics or history or philosophy like a lot of you, I had come to this conclusion on my own, and felt like I was having a psychotic break!!

        What Senf calls the “pump” I have thought of as “extraction”, and it would be bad enough if it were not locked into exponential acceleration. The debate about increasing wealth inequality that goes on among the talking heads and even among most economists completely disregards this exponential nature, AND the fact that we are tied to its railroad tracks: the outcome just cannot be any different in an interest-based money system, no matter the degree to which social “amortizzatori” (shock absorbers) like health care or welfare payments are implemented via taxation. We will never, mathematically, be able to bail out the excess “liquidity” that’s swamping the boat.

        The moral implications of this are grave, but I prefer to explain it to people—on the rare occasions that I find it opportune to do so—in more clinical terms, trying to get them to understand the broken-ness at a basic level that is removed from emotional ideological or partisan ties. We need to focus on “the money” itself as the source of the problem, because otherwise we just end up with people suggesting other things to “do with the money” that is being shunted to the rich, not realizing that “the money” is a bundle of claims that already exceeds the Earth’s potential to satisfy. It’s a predicament beyond a political solution at this point, as I see it. Russ may disagree.

        ANyway, thanks for the site Toby; I will add it to my bookmarks next to “Volatility”.

        Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

      • I don’t know what you think I disagree with. Who has more contempt for today’s “money” than I do? All I said was I see possible political uses for certain ideas.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

      • Hi Lidia,

        thank you for your advice and kind words. And yes, I write the econosophy blog.

        What I mean by escape is that the solution I might pursue along those lines cannot be useful to millions of people in cities across the world. It would be escape for me and mine that has low to no value to the rest of humanity. But I have thought about it, and have not ruled it out. However, my wife would not want to do it. And I have a very weak back from multiple injuries over the years and a decade of IT desk-work, and no knowledge of gardening or farming. Also, ‘knowing’ collapse is coming is impossible. It’s too Hollywood, too Conspiracy Nut, too Doomer. In Berlin where I live everything is fine; the trees are healthy, supermarkets well stocked, transportation systems efficient, unemployment is falling, and so on. So, the combination of all these things adds up to ‘stay put.’ But there are things in Berlin I will be getting involved in, farmers markets, moneyless give-and-take shops and exchanges, an organization that calls itself “The Happy Unemployed,” courses on finding medicinal herbs on the streets and abandoned lots, etc. So, that’s my plan. Fight the system by withdrawing from it and focusing whatever time and energy I have to building genuinely alternative structures. Time Banks interest me greatly too.

        Yup, doubling time and the exponential function are factors we humans don’t want to address. We’re addicted to glitter and bling, bewitched by economic ‘growth.’ I’ve come to see money as the planet’s most potent irrelevance, a deep dream from which we must awaken. Deeper still though is the sense of isolated self. Charles Eisenstein (www.ascentofhumanity.com) talks about The Age of Separation and the coming Age of Reunion. For him money as we have it is a manifestation of the delusional sense we have of ourselves, ego-based, as separate from nature, and of nature as discrete objects that bump into each other sometimes. In his thesis that delusion is breaking down, and with that dissolution money’s potency is fading. If you haven’t already, check out his stuff, you’d probably really like it.

        Comment by Toby — June 17, 2011 @ 1:31 am

      • Russ, I wasn’t trying to irritate you: just the opposite, I was being deferential: “It’s a predicament beyond a political solution at this point, as I see it. Russ MAY disagree.”

        Comment by Lidia17 — June 17, 2011 @ 8:15 am

      • Sorry. I was just getting the sense that you think I ever called for (let alone am calling for today) the enactment of MMT-based policy, when what I (thought I) said was that we can learn some things from the idea, and perhaps find some political use for it.

        Comment by Russ — June 17, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    • Toby, Deep Respect. The very best of luck.

      Comment by Timbo614 — June 19, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  8. Hey Russ,

    I just wanted to let you know I’ve been an avid daily reader of this blog for well over a year now. Volatility is always one of my first stops every morning. I suppose my natural rejection of the status quo lead me here piece by piece along the trail. I recall finding you through NC.

    I’ve always been content yet fascinated just eavesdropping here. The writing and intellect on this site between you and the roundtable is above my paygrade, even so it’s been quite enlightening. I suppose the discovery is similar to my finding of books on Atheism that make compelling cases against the institution of religion- an institution I always struggled with but just needed to see the case against it better constructed & presented. In addition it was comforting to confirm that I wasn’t crazy by discovering that I was not as alone as I felt.

    It was not until discovering this site that I was ready to accept the full criminality of the status quo. For whatever it is worth, you have helped one little sheep to release the shepard. Quite often I use your posts to make arguments with my own personal roundtable with mixed results (some people just aren’t ready). I guess I just wanted to give a quick thanks for the education, I love the bite with which you write, and you have made a difference- whether you continue your project with this blog or end it today.

    Regards, Pete

    Comment by Pete — June 15, 2011 @ 9:21 am

    • Thanks Pete, that’s great to hear, and you’re welcome.

      Yes, I’ll be continuing. Like I said in the title, it’s just a doldrum. Even this stupid wordpress thing shall pass. I already feel like I was making too big a deal out of it.

      Comment by Russ — June 15, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  9. I understand what you’re going through, Russ.

    From the perspective of the state, there are two great things about “free speech.” First, people who may endanger the state identify themselves to the state. Second, most people, if allowed to complain about something, will do nothing about it. Complaining is more then enough, as long as there sympathetic people standing around nodding in agreement.

    The problem with all the major econoblogs is what I’ve been calling “now-opia” (a temporal version of myopia). They’re constantly applying the same analysis to the latest problem, but they never solve the last problem. They’re just complaining, and the commenters are nodding sympathetically.

    You might find blogging relaxing again if you stop trying to be good at it. This is your web log. Use it as a diary to record your thoughts. It doesn’t have to have a consistent theme or message. You’re not in it for the money but to connect and, hopefully, make a difference. You’re a human being, not a message. Use the blog for whatever strikes your fancy at the time and don’t worry about crafting it up. You can always delete a post.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — June 15, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

    • Thanks for the advice, Tao. You’re right, I do need to feel like I have the right to take it easy when I need and for as long as I need. I think my plan for the rest of the year is twofold:

      1. To review everything so far, but in an organized way (as it is now I feel like the ideas are scattered around).

      2. To discuss specific aspects of relocalization and food sovereignty.

      I was glad to see you got back to some blogging, too.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 5:20 am

      • There’s more blogging in my future, but I’m definitely back to logging thoughts I want to follow up on. I’m done trying to convince anyone of anything over the internet, which seems best used as a tool for identifying potentially kindred spirits.


        Comment by Tao Jonesing — June 17, 2011 @ 12:17 am

  10. Russ,

    I agree with Tao that this is your weblog and you should feel free to experiment with it, in whatever way you find that might make blogging more enjoyable.

    Related to your comment at NC this morning about Warren and the irrelevance of the CFPB, and your latest post where you refer to the likelihood that union leaders in Greece are already plotting to sell out the rank and file, here’s an article about labor-funded progressive leaders who have been crossing the Huffington Post Picket Line:


    The following excerpt sums up not only the article, but also the infinite gullibility of progressives:

    “Some progressives have justified continuing to write for the website because they feel Arianna Huffington is operating in good faith with the union and are hopeful a settlement will eventually be reached between the unions and Arianna Huffington. This despite a public statement by Arianna Huffington mocking those on strike, saying “no one really notices”. – end of excerpt

    And that’s the whole problem with progressives as far as I’m concerned. Despite massive, overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and no matter how many times they are mocked, humiliated, or treated with contempt, “pwogs” simply refuse to see the elites for what
    they are (i.e. criminals) and continue to believe they are “operating in good faith”.

    Comment by Frank Lavarre — June 16, 2011 @ 9:31 am

    • PS – related to my comment above, the following comment just appeared at NC under the links:

      malagodi says:
      June 16, 2011 at 9:40 am

      what do you think about not posting articles from or links to HuffPo until Arianna gets right with the writers.


      Comment by Frank Lavarre — June 16, 2011 @ 10:02 am

      • That would be a fine idea, and I think someone tried to organize something like that, but of course that picket line was overwhelmed immediately.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    • Yup, that’s our “progressives”. Textbook behavior – that paragraph reads like a parody.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    • Under the neoliberal Washington Consensus, “progressives” challenge the status quo as too strict, but only to maintain the status quo. “Conservatives,” for their part, challenge the status quo as not strict enough, but only to maintain the status quo.

      At this point, anybody who embraces either label should be shunned. They’re either a fool or a charlatan.

      Comment by Tao Jonesing — June 17, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  11. It seems in order to truly transition away from the global capitalist dominated internet we must abandon the digital financial transaction altogether. Use cash… stop the financial thuggery that is the digital financial transaction in all forms. The global financial model cannot really afford its’ own overhead without your participation. Use cash.

    Comment by BillMc — June 16, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    • That’s certainly better than any digital currency. best of all would be liberation from centralized currency as well.

      The kleptocracy wants to force the opposite process. First they use taxation and other measures (as the old imperialists did in their colonial conquests) to force people into the cash economy. (Taxation, especially today, is primarily a means of social control, not of raising revenue.)

      But their eventual goal is to outlaw cash as well, forcing everyone into a digital labyrinth of bankster tollbooths. That’s why as much as possible government and corporations try to enforce electronic transfers.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

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