February 22, 2018

What’s Really Indicted by the Indictment


On its face the indictment of some Russians for internet trolling sounds just like all the previous “evidence” for Russian perfidy: A big nothing. Certainly all the attempted manipulations of every country on Earth add up to nothing compared to the daily manipulations all over the world engaged in by the US corporate system. It’s the field against Tiger Woods in his prime. But the real goal of this indictment is the subsequent criminalization of anti-corporate dissent as such. The key part isn’t the allegations about “foreigners”, but about what kind of speech they engaged in which allegedly is criminal: Regular, run-of-the-mill political speech.
The mainstream media is sounding the toy bugle of judgement day for Russia’s day that will live in infamy, while our earnest “progressives” are engaged in microscopic parsing of the statues invoked in the indictment, trying to discover whether this is “real” evidence that Putin is the Antichrist. Reading them, a visitor from another planet would think there’s such a thing as a “rule of law” here. But in reality there’s nothing but Might Makes Right with the law being nothing but a weapon to be deployed however power wants to deploy it.
All one needs to know about US concepts of “citizenry”, “foreignness”, who is and isn’t “alien” etc., is that in the US/globalization system corporations are considered legal persons as well as given priority over all nominal “law” at globalization tribunals, and that in principle and practice big money is the only real right. The most direct legal application of this to elections is Buckley v. Valeo and its appendix Citizens United. These are just logical extensions of the Mammon ideology as such, which believes money is a real thing and that all human-to-human and human-to-Earth relations should be reduced to money relations. All forms of liberalism (and conservatism) and the mainstream media agree with this and are components of it.
So it’s easy to see that the “rule of law” exists nowhere but in the minds of regressive progressives. Money also doesn’t really exist, but unlike with rule of law, the rule of money is enforced aggressively enough that it has become the real power.
So all one needs to know about these Russian allegations is what a piddling amount of money is involved, even according to the indictment. That says it all about the real effect of Russian trolling if it ever existed, how much attention anyone should pay to it, and how the real purpose of the indictment lies elsewhere: Part of the ongoing campaign, supported across the mainstream political spectrum and by all mainstream institutions, to criminalize any real dissent on the part of Americans themselves. From the corporate mainstream’s point of view, including the Democrat and Republican Parties, we are the true foreign criminals.

March 14, 2013

Liberals: Election Bribery Example


1. In the time of the Roman Republic, and in many other places and times, politicians directly bought votes. What’s better, this or the modern mode of corporations buying politicians? I’d say the former is less pernicious, while a liberal no doubt would say we’ve made progress.
2. This is another example of how liberals care only about the form, the surface, and nothing about the substance of things. As long as you don’t literally see money changing hands on the streets, things are somehow “cleaner”, and that’s a positive good. This primacy of form and process over substance and result is the core of the liberal pathology.
3. Conservatives are no better, but we’re disputing among those who claim to care about what are called “progressive” ideas. There, real believers in democracy and freedom, real fighters for them, must view the liberal ideology as the main enemy. For example, if we’re fighting for the hearts and minds of people who are vaguely worried about GMOs and industrial/corporate food in general, who’s our main rival: Conservatives or “libertarians” who will openly spew the Monsanto prerogative, or liberals who will say, “We’re concerned too, which is why we need to keep voting Democrat and petitioning the FDA and lobbying for better legislation. And good news! We just got part of the legislation we need, the Food Safety Modernization Act. We’ll keep working for a federal GMO labeling bill. So we’re on it, and all you people need to do is keep writing us checks and voting Democrat. Beyond that, you can go back to sleep. Please, stay asleep.”
4. The example of the differing mechanisms of election bribery also demonstrates how liberals are just another form of conservative, because part of the reason why they like the modern way better is that for a politician to directly buy the votes of the poor is to directly give money to the poor. Liberals, just as much as conservatives, have a visceral loathing for this, because just as much as conservatives they viscerally loathe the poor.
5. Similarly, liberals don’t mind the corporate purchase of elections any more than conservatives do. (Again, as long as it’s not too formally brazen: Thus their finicky aesthete’s distaste for Citizens United. But they have no principled objection to corporate ownership as such of elections in general, which is the basic structure of things.) This is because just as much as conservatives they agree that corporate officers and the rich are Galtian supermen, and that their ownership of society and its institutions, as de facto (and increasingly de jure) private property, is normative and desirable.
6. If you disbelieve any of this, just look at the evidence record of what policy liberals support. (I.e., Democrat Party policy, and analogous parties and policy throughout the West.)
7. Liberals are less and less inclined to dispute any of this. On the contrary, they increasingly avow it, because although liberalism has always been just another form of authoritarianism, it’s only nowadays that liberals are really finding themselves as open thugs, openly celebrating all the most powerful forms of organized crime – corporatism, Galtism, militarism, police statism, prisonism, and the cult of “authority” and Fuhrerprinzip as such.
They used to whine about evil even as they always, systematically, collaborated with it. Today they’re openly evil. This has been Obama’s primary role, to normalize the corporate liberal version of fascism.  


March 3, 2013

Bowman vs. Monsanto; Activist and Passive Corporatism, vs. Anti-Corporatism


There’s a lot of muddled talk about the Citizens United decision. In this post I’m not going to rehash the facts about the decision itself (in a nutshell: it’s further evidence that “campaign finance” reformism cannot work within a system which is indelibly dominated by finance, which should have always been common sense; by now to still call for it is intentional misdirection), but to reprise my distinction of judicial activist corporatism vs. more passive corporatism.
One of the most frequent muddlings of Citizens United is to call it a “5-4” decision, and even to refer to the “five” bad guys. But in fact CU was a 9-0 pro-corporatist decision. The four so-called “dissenters” objected only on narrow technical grounds. None of them objected on the grounds that there’s no such thing as corporate rights, or corporate personhood, let alone questioned whether formally enshrined corporations should exist at all. But these are the basic questions which have to be asked if one is to call corporatism as such into question. To not ask them is automatically to be pro-corporatist.
As for those technical grounds which distinguish passive from judicial activist corporatists, it’s only a matter of “the proper procedure”, for example if the legislature passed a law. Now, whether or not corporations should exist and whether or not they have a right to speech do not in fact have anything to do with “the law”. On the contrary, they’re fundamental questions of constitution, sovereignty, and of what kind of society people want to live in. But passive corporatists don’t care about such fundamental questions, since they’re content to inertially go with what the existing power distribution calls normative. They merely assuage their residual “conscience” by wanting the “proper forms” to be followed. (This process mentality is characteristic of liberals as a whole, though with Obama’s normalization of fascistically aggressive corporatism, liberals have been throwing down the mask and increasingly advocating direct might-makes-right aggression themselves.)
In the case of CU, the legislature had in fact passed a law which purported to reform campaign finance. This was the occasion for the passives to split from the activists. But absent such a law, it would never have occurred to any of them to put any limits on corporate speech.
This brings us to Bowman vs. Monsanto. Obviously no sane person expects Bowman to win, but I guess the idea was to at least get a discussion of seed patenting going. I haven’t seen any such discussion; on the contrary the few corporate media pieces I read were pro-Monsanto hatchet jobs which carefully steered clear of discussing any philosophical question at all (should patents on life exist? should patents exist at all?), and “discussed” even the narrow technical argument only in terms of ridicule. (This is yet further evidence that the tactic of compromising in order to “get one’s issue into the public discussion” doesn’t work. Not that Bowman’s action has this nature. He’s directly challenging Monsanto, and isn’t compromising anything himself. But we often see people proposing to compromise their projects and alleged principles in order to get this alleged discussion going. This is always the fatal step toward corruption, and usually indicates a desire to sell out.)
The corporate media coverage gives a clue to what kind of decision we can expect from the court. I won’t be surprised to see a 9-0 decision for Monsanto. The judicial activists are of course in the bag. As for the passive corporatists, the only possible hook they could hang their process hat would be “patent exhaustion”. But to apply that here would require them to go against the whole trend of the intellectual property regime. While this doctrine has been grandfathered in for some kinds of products, it’s explicitly ruled out for any new kind of product, especially GMO seeds. I don’t expect any passive corporatist to go against this trend. On the contrary, from them we can expect invitations to Congress to pass a law “clarifying” this.
More importantly, intellectual property is a pivotal foundation of corporate feudalism. “Campaign finance” offers some wiggle room, since the “elections” are fraudulent anyway. But the system depends upon the basic structural integrity of the IP regime. So even a passive corporatist will be loath to issue any ruling which could question or limit the foundation. (Compare how the FDA will sometimes ban specific additives, but went all in on GMOs as a genre from day one, and has never for a second questioned a single specific GMO. It’s because other kinds of additives can be economically isolated and are expendable, but the GMO genre is necessary for corporatism as such to keep expanding.)
(“On the merits”, of course, there’s no question whatsoever. The farmer exploited a “loophole” of functional negligence, but which has no “legal” basis. Monsanto has him dead to rights – he violated their patent. So if you believe in “intellectual property” at all, if you believe Monsanto’s patents have any legitimacy, then your decision is made for you.)
Meanwhile the duty of citizens is to reject the narrow process “discussion” and ruling and ask among themselves the basic questions – should intellectual property exist at all? Does it ever benefit anyone but the most powerful corporations? Would everyone else be much better off without it? And in particular, is not the patenting of life itself by far the worst in its effects? Isn’t it heading toward our literal enslavement? Is it not a moral abomination? Shouldn’t we abolish it completely?
Why do I write about the lawless court at all? To explain further why we should accord it no legitimacy, and see it as nothing but an alien, tyrannical imposition. The court is not part of human society, nor part of the constitutional convention which is already beginning, which shall finally ask and answer the fundamental questions confronting humanity today. As for the corporate state and its media, NGO, and academic appendages, they’re all in. They’ve embarked upon a war of total destruction, and they must achieve total victory or total defeat.


July 12, 2012

Under No Circumstances


Under no circumstances should anyone ever accept any “capitalism for me, anarchism for you” setup.
For example, governments and corporations are not “patriotic”. They regard the jobs and wealth of “their” people as infinitely offshorable. They have zero loyalty to any such notions. So why would anyone ever accept such propaganda from the system? And if you truly believe in patriotism, don’t you need to regard all the elites of the corporate state system as being traitors to the country?
Or the way system propaganda, like in the corporate media or with NGO front groups, tries to implant notions that the 99% could ever “owe” any morality to the system. But corporations are sociopathic in principle. They openly declare that their one and only imperative is profit. So why would anyone for a second entertain any notion that any of us could “owe” something like a “debt” to a corporation, as a matter of “morals”? Why would anyone ever reciprocate with anything other than the corporate Hobbesian mindset?
The fact is that it’s the elites of politics, economy, culture who made the conscious choice to completely destroy society and humanity itself, replacing it with a scorched earth free-fire zone of organized crime and psychopathic profiteering, with the formerly human victims slated to cannibalize themselves in a cesspool of cutthroat “competition”. It’s the elites who declared war on humanity. It’s the elites who want to turn the Earth itself into a cesspool of viciousness.
While we must strive with all our resurgent humanity to rebuild community among ourselves, toward those who would treat us as something less than human, toward the system and all who seek to ape it, we must reciprocate fully. We can start be rejecting in principle all morality, all authority, all legitimacy, where it comes to any system institution or meme.
Here’s one example: the “supreme court”, as a thing and as a meme. (In our context this overwrought term is appropriate, because the notion that something like a supreme court has any legitimacy, that its decisions have any objective existence and power, is indeed something injected into our psychology, like a physical pathogen, and intended to replicate itself through both contagion and heredity.) I see everywhere people who are generally skeptical of the system who are still prone to invest this court with some kind of objective existence and power. I saw one discussion about “when did the 90s end?”, with one commenter suggesting “Bush v. Gore”. He didn’t sound like he meant this symbolically. Rather, he seemed to think that a handful of scumbags calling itself a “supreme court” and issuing a proclamation intended to help a handful of thugs steal an election, somehow actually has more “legitimacy” than the same proclamation issued by a handful of scumbags on a street corner.
The truth, of course, is that just like Andy Jackson said, the SCOTUS has zero power to enforce anything, and depends completely on the executive’s thug arm. It’s nothing but a propaganda front for that might-makes-right arm. In the case of the 2000 election, to roll over and give up was 100% the unforced, voluntary choice of Gore and his sniveling supporters and voters. They made the infinitely shameful choice to surrender. No one but themselves is responsible even the slightest bit.
The same is true of any other decision. The SCOTUS does what its masters want it to do. Citizens United merely “legally” enshrined and intensified the existing vector of One Dollar = One Vote. It’s incoherent to accept the existing electoral regime but whine about CU as some kind of abuse. CU is perfectly mainstream jurisprudence and policy, agreed upon by liberals and conservatives. If you want to reject CU, you’d better start by rejecting Bellotti and Buckley, and the whole program of “elections” among contending factions of the 1%. But how typical of liberals to accept all that but whine about a trivial detail.
Similarly, the recent decision upholding the Obama Poll Tax is a perfectly consistent, normal decision, just as Obama’s tax is consistent, normal policy. (In both cases “normal” is referring to the corporate system’s vector.) How typical of the same conservatives who support the orgy of corporate welfare and corporate mandates everywhere else (how is the 10% ethanol mandate not a tax as well?) to cherry-pick an example like this and whine about what an abuse it is. How can you want the corporate state system, including a “health care” system based on private insurance monopolies, but not want the government to act as aggressively as necessary to force participation in that system (once such participation becomes necessary in order to maintain the system at all)?
The fact is that liberals and conservatives are both the same inertial coward and leech who is afraid of corporate power but also wants to free ride on it (thus the long since proven Big Lie of “trickle-down” is now the fundamental secular religion of both groups, along with electoralism itself). There’s also some intellectual laziness involved, a disinclination to even try to think beyond system brainwashing. The result is this craven, stupid acceptance of the “legitimacy” of the 1%, to the point that even those who want to reject its power tend to acknowledge its alleged authority. The cult of the “supreme court”, certainly the most obviously fraudulent “branch” of government by any objective measure (since it can’t even partake of the gutter legitimacy of Might Makes Right, which unfortunately is a legitimacy criterion to many), is a clear example of this.
One measure of our self-liberation shall be the extent to which we liberate our minds from the oppressor and casually think and talk of the fact that the SCOTUS has no legitimacy. This acceptance, once it becomes second nature, can then be expanded to encompass the rest of the corporate/state system.


February 12, 2012

It Follows from the Premise

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , — Russ @ 3:24 am


A typical example of the “campaign finance is hard to figure out” genre:

The outcome of the Citizens United ruling is to make each dollar equal in the political process. Those who have most dollars can determine who runs and on what platform. In extreme cases one person could bankroll a candidate, as seems to have happened with Newt Gingrich.

Anyone who cares about democracy should see why this is undesirable. But what is more undesirable is the difficulty a candidate would find in receiving funding if his or her platform does not cosset those rich corporations. Getting the money from thousands and thousands of twenty dollar contributions takes time and effort and can only be done by one or few candidates at a time.

Well, yeah. If you’re going to support capitalism, concentrated wealth, and “representative” government, then the campaign finance issue becomes difficult to solve indeed.
I’d go so far as to say it’s impossible to solve given these premises, and that I don’t understand why liberals keep whining about Citizens United. It’s in the mainstream of their logic, and follows logically from everything they support.


March 11, 2011

Corporations Are Anti-Democratic


Lewis Powell’s 1971 strategy memo for a renewed corporate assault on democracy included the call for corporations to subvert the polity by using their wealth to become the dominant political speakers themselves. The plan was to directly buy the government, which would then destroy democracy and politics from above.

But one should not postpone more direct political action, while awaiting the gradual change in public opinion to be effected through education and information. Business must learn the lesson, long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups. This is the lesson that political power is necessary; that such power must be assidously (sic) cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination — without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.

As unwelcome as it may be to the Chamber, it should consider assuming a broader and more vigorous role in the political arena.

The tried and true weapon of corporate constitutional “rights” would be helpful here.

Neglected Opportunity in the Courts
American business and the enterprise system have been affected as much by the courts as by the executive and legislative branches of government. Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change…….

This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds.

As with respect to scholars and speakers, the Chamber would need a highly competent staff of lawyers. In special situations it should be authorized to engage, to appear as counsel amicus in the Supreme Court, lawyers of national standing and reputation. The greatest care should be exercised in selecting the cases in which to participate, or the suits to institute. But the opportunity merits the necessary effort.

Powell himself was soon on the SCOTUS, leading an ecumenical (conservative and liberal) charge to empower corporate rule. The big modern breakthrough was Buckley v. Valeo (1976), which said, in a nutshell, money = speech, for constitutional purposes. There we’re already at the end of any democratic or political principle. It’s on the same ideological wavelength as Lochner (by definition a contract is 100% voluntary, and there’s no such thing as economic coercion) and Law and Economics (law should directly calculate what would be in the interest of the biggest property-holder and support him). There can be no debate with a proposition like “money = speech”; it’s the direct enshrinement of corruption, bribery, extortion. The ideology I sketched in this paragraph is nothing but the ideology of kleptocracy in the most literal sense. (I discussed in an earlier post how by definition corporate speech has to seek political corruption. If it didn’t, it would be a dereliction of the duty of corporate management to shareholders.)
(If one wanted to say that as long as concentrated wealth exists it would be somehow “unfair” or at any rate unworkable to not give it special rights, then the answer must be to dissolve the wealth concentrations. But it’s absurd and malign to say that because Might exists, it has to be declared Right in principle. So long as Might has the prerogative of its strength, it will do what it wants. But that’s no reason for human beings to submit in their souls and collaborate to the extent of calling it anything but criminality. If the system was too corrupt and cowardly to condemn corporate power and the power of concentrated wealth as crime, then that means we must include the system in the condemnation. The anti-democratic work of the SCOTUS simply proves the SCOTUS has no legitimacy.)
As usual the SCOTUS moved incrementally. Buckley applied to human candidates buying elections for themselves. Two years later in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti the court extended political speech rights to corporations. Soon there would be a menagerie of cases refining this fraudulent corporate speech right, always in the corporation’s favor.
How did the SCOTUS justify legalizing corruption? Is this strict or loose jurisprudence? Activist or passive? The answer is that it’s all of these at the same time, by design. The SCOTUS set up a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose double standard for its interpretations. As Ted Nace describes (chapter 13, p. 185):

These decisions placed two serious obstacles in the path of campaign
finance reform. First, the Court interpreted very broadly the connection
between corporate political spending and free speech, thus
setting a high constitutional bar in front of any efforts to restrict political
spending. Second, the Court interpreted very narrowly the issue of
corruption, making it difficult for reformers to use systemic corruption
(as opposed to direct favor trading or quid pro quo corruption). Together,
these two obstacles have drastically narrowed the ability of state
and federal legislatures to deal with the overwhelming influence of
corporate money in the political process.

Just as with the original whack-a-mole of justifications for corporate rights in themselves, so with the newly invented corporate speech right, and “speech = money” in general, the corrupt courts had to keep dodging and weaving and spinning and distorting in order to prop up a jurisprudential rationale at all, while they had to keep issuing often mutually contradictory decisions. Thus the proclaimed First Amendment rationale in Bellotti was to maximize the amount of speech available to the public. (I’ll leave aside for now how empowering money directly contradicts this rationale, but I discussed it further in my post on constitution and process liberalism.)
But it wasn’t long before the predictable result was in: Corporate money was drowning out non-corporate speech. Now some locales enacted regulations intended to maximize speech (the court’s own rationale) by piggybacking it on corporate speech. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission required the monopoly utility to include conservation materials with its bills. A clear cut case of leveling the speech playing field and increasing the amount of information available to the public, right?
But now it was the corporation who balked at speech. Suddenly maximizing speech was bad. The SCOTUS was eager to please. In Pacific Gas and Electric v. Public Utilities Commission (1986) it invented a brand new corporate right, “negative free speech”. The corporation cannot be “forced” to associate with speech of which it disapproves, even where it exercises a monopoly, even where that monopoly has been explicitly enshrined by government. The court found that a corporation, alleged bearer of First Amendment rights insofar as those rights serve to maximize speech, can deploy the same right to stifle speech wherever it chooses. Suddenly, without warning, maximizing speech was no longer the court’s rationale.
If there’s to be negative free speech, isn’t the prior speech right that of democracy itself? The formula should run: A law or rule restricting corporate speech = democracy not wishing to be associated with predatory corporate speech.
So what was the new SCOTUS rationale? Although not formally elucidated, it boils down to: Corporate management decides (Nace 200) what level and kind of speech the public should receive. The courts should validate these decisions, and state legislatures must not interfere with them. (Citizens United extended this to the federal government.) We see again the Law and Economics style of calculus, the refined neo-Lochnerism.
With this radical anti-democratic, anti-political result, we see the culmination of two major threads of the corporate coup going back to the postbellum 19th century: The extension of corporate rights (redistributing power from democracy to corporations) and the shift of power from shareholders to management within the corporation.
As Nace put it (p. 202)

Like a myopic Dr. Frankenstein, the Court had worked piecemeal
and haphazardly, grafting a finger here, an eyebrow there, until the result
was a full-fledged legal super-person. Yet only sporadically, in dissents
interspersed across the decades, was there an explicit recognition
that the cumulative impact of its decisions was to tie the hands of legislative
bodies seeking to control corporate power. In general, the Justices
displayed no awareness that the Supreme Court’s creation of a corporate
bill of rights amounted to an immense transfer of power from democratic
institutions to private ones. The process was not driven by any
overarching theoryto this day, the Court has yet to lay out any consistent
rationale to support its creation of the corporate bill of rights. On
the contrary, the process has been muddled and blurry, a perfect illustration
of the Orwellian ability of large, unaccountable institutions to bend
even ordinary language into a tool to serve their own needsthe gravitational
force exerted by power. Far from laying orderly tracks, that
force of power seemed to operate between the cracks of reason, leaving
in its wake only muddled, blurry traces.

And as we saw in discussing the reality of the “transparent veil” concept, this “corporation” is nothing but a gang of regular people, convened to commit crimes, and receiving a special charter to do so with impunity.
Clearly, for Powell and the SCOTUS, and for all corporatists, the right decision and result is by definition the pro-corporate one, and then they invent an ad hoc rationale for it.
We anti-corporatists, on the other hand, are always consistent in our correct appeal to the authority of:
1. Common sense and the simple morality of democratic principles.
2. The actual history of the American Revolution.
3. The text of the Constitution.
4. The empirical evidence of all subsequent history.
The enemy has nothing to back them up but their criminal greed. 
This combination of the monstrous concentration of sociopathic corporate power in itself, with a government which has worked assiduously to abdicate its own claim to embody sovereignty in favor of becoming corporate bagman and hired goon, has brought our politics to endangerment of becoming extinguished forever. It will be the death of democracy unless we fight back with a new vision for a redeemed and expanded democracy. This is the affirmative need.
On the negative side, we must abolish corporations, which are inherently anti-democratic and anti-political, and a clear and present danger to democratic institutions in practice and in principle.

November 16, 2010

Reversing the Polarities: The First Amendment and Commercial Speech


I was rereading the FCC’s “Third Way” proposal. (Why? I don’t know. The thing’s dead as the dodo, unless somehow Republican overreaching in the Congress to totally gut net neutrality inspires a surge of public outrage.) I thought I was wasting minutes of my life I’ll never get back, when this verbiage caught my eye:

Working to preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet through high-level rules of the road to safeguard consumers’ right to connect with whomever they want; speak freely online; access the lawful products and services of their choice; and safeguard the Internet’s boundless promise as a platform for innovation and communication to improve our education and health care, and help deliver a clean energy future.

I hadn’t really noticed at first, but looking back over the preceding lines I saw how the word “consumer” is littered all over the brief.
Now, maybe one shouldn’t read much into a political suck-up document by itself, but in fact the disparagement of the citizen in favor of the consumer is practically universal by now. The reason this example seemed interesting was because it’s a good example of how free speech as well is being redefined in “consumerist” terms, which is one manifestation of its being redefined in corporatist terms. Whether or not the FCC cares about freedom of political speech on the Interent (there is a brief mention elsewhere of “expressing opinions”), it clearly believes the most important speech interaction is commercial in nature.
This is implicitly a complete reversal of polarities. Historically, the First Amendment applied to political speech most of all. Implicitly, other kinds of speech were less important, while at the opposite end of the spectrum purely commercial speech was subject to the most regulation. Today we see how political speech is the speech most under assault, while Citizens United is the prime example of a SCOTUS surge to empower purely commercial speech as pseudo-political. We’re now in the midst of a complete inversion of these priorities. It’s a prime example of how politics itself is under assault by a corporatized anti-politics.
Consider the logic of Citizens United:
1. The SCOTUS enshrines “free speech”, including the right to make campaign donations, to “corporate persons.”
2. As the corporate apologists never get sick of saying, in principle a corporation is responsible only to the shareholders. Its one and only responsibility and prerogative is profit.
3. So by definition a corporation does not and should not function as a citizen. It functions only as a commercial entity.
4. So how can you call for free speech for a corporation unless you’re calling for the First Amendment to apply to exclusively commercial speech? Doesn’t this mean that all regulation of commercial speech – truth-in-labeling regs, terminological restrictions, nutrition listing, required warnings and disclaimers, any limits whatsoever on advertising – are implicitly void? Shouldn’t the tobacco companies fire up the old ad campaigns selling to children, claiming cigarette smoking is good for your health?
Implicitly, according to CU, the government can’t legitimately restrict it. Nobody can say, “CU was about political speech only”, because by definition a corporation cannot engage in political speech, only commercial speech. How can a corporation donate to a candidate other than as a bribe? Wouldn’t it be in breach of its duty to the shareholders if it donated on any other basis?

November 1, 2010

The Cult of Voting


“Why should essentially powerless people want to engage in a humiliating farce designed to demonstrate the legitimacy of those who wield power?”
– Dmitri Orlov
That’s the mystery at the heart of the cult of voting under “representative” pseudo-democracy, a system which is a proven failure on a practical level, and is now known to have been a criminal plot by larcenous elites all along.
It’s true that citizens really do care about voting. Many cherish the act. But the right conclusion they should draw is that representative democracy, under which their votes are hijacked to the ends of criminals, is a proven failure and scam. So if they want voting to be meaningful and productive rather than a grotesque self-mockery, they must get rid of the sham elitist “democracy” and deploy true positive democracy. Real democracy, direct democracy, participatory democracy, most of all economic democracy. Only here is voting worthwhile, since here voting is the formalization of a living process, instead of the rote robotic sterile ratification of an elite-imposed process which never consults the people or has any reference to their desires or health whatsoever.
Under representative pseudo-democracy, voting is just robo-voting, stamping a meaningless, pre-written sheet thrust in front of you, regarding which you have, by design, no knowledge, no input, no reason or even basis for hope or desire, no basis even for understanding. Your role is nothing than to robotically sign the affidavit, certifying your formal ratification of a passel of crimes beyond your ken. And if the gangsters ever run into any trouble, they simply roll out the fraudulent papers bearing your name and proclaim it as ratification of their legitimacy.
That’s the role of voters and “voting” under neoliberalism. It’s a calculated part of the scam.
Here’s an obvious question: If, as the elites contend, the people aren’t qualified for direct democracy, then how can they be qualified to elect representatives? You’ll look in vain for a good answer in The Federalist, which is the Gold Standard argument for representative “democracy”. If the answer isn’t there except for the same old boilerplate about formal debates, the deliberation of properly constituted legislative bodies, the ratiocination of alleged elites when they confer among themselves, and all the other crap which was disproven thousands of years ago, then that’s strong evidence it doesn’t exist at all. So from that we can infer that the republican elites were always conscious corrupt authoritarians who regarded republicanism, pseudo-democracy, as a scam which would make their power and crimes look more legitimate in the eyes of the people.
I’d never validate this rotten system by “voting” in one of its rigged elections. Those who do so, by collaborating with the scam, become collaborators in the system’s crimes. In a sense they forfeit all right to complain. (But I’m more inclined to tell the complainants, “Learn the lesson of what’s happening. If you now find cause to complain, then make sure you don’t fall for the scam again. Because that’s the real target of your complaint.”) The astroturfed voters become a claque who objectively applaud the robbers and vandals as they destroy the country.
The voting cult also tries to emphasize the negative over the affirmative. But I’d never be willing to vote “against” something. The systematic activism of relocalization contains vast negative implications. And if we ever found those insufficient, there’s always direct action. How myopic to let one’s vision of negative action be limited to the picayune act of voting against someone or something. I need something to vote for, if I’m going to compromise myself by voting at all. (And how silly when the robo-vote cultists implicitly admit that the system is 99% rotten but insist you should “vote for” the alleged 1% that’s good. Thanks, I’ll treat my refusal as a de facto vote against the rotten 99%.)
The fact is that there’s no moral or rational basis for the argument that if one marginally prefers one party or candidate over the other, that’s sufficient reason to vote for them. This is disproven by subsequent events each and every time, as those who were allegedly less criminal proceed to new prodigies of crime or fecklessness. This argument for voting is nothing but an authoritarian assertion which boils down to, do as I say because I say so.
“Get out the vote” propaganda is, as Dave Cohen said somewhere, not good civics but sentimentality. It’s romantic and reactionary.
Why would I “vote”? I reject representative democracy completely, and my goal is to convince others that this is the best way, morally, politically, and economically. I do not authorize anyone to “represent” me, and the vote cultists can’t authorize anyone to represent me either. They and their system have no legitimacy. The same is true vis the citizenry as a whole. The system these hacks impose upon us is simply an anti-sovereign, alien structure. The only reason it can exist at all is that enough people are still inertial enough that they suffer it to exist, and still fall for the sham of “voting” for it. I stress that this kind of voting is a de facto vote for the system as such, while failure to vote at all is a de facto vote against the system as such. Each phony election is therefore a plebiscite on the system, far more than it constitutes any choice among legitimate options. These alleged options and the alleged choice among them is almost never real.
For voting to be a value, we must go much further toward positive democracy, since negative “representative” democracy has failed in everything it claims to deliver – political participation, liberty, social stability, sense of security, the physical health of the citizenry, economic prosperity. Pseudo-democracy, which promised to deliver all these things, has instead not only failed to deliver, but has been used as a potent weapon in assaulting them all.
Nor is this an “abuse”. On the contrary, right from the inception, in the seminal Federalist papers, Madison and Hamilton openly said that the purpose of the Constitution, as they saw it, was to protect the criminal elite against the people, and to set up misdirectional ploys to divert the people from their unified interest.
So “voting” is actually bad for us. It demoralizes us while giving false legitimacy to the system. We must judge all actions and policies according to the metric: Does it strive to bring us closer to true democracy, or does it hinder that goal? Indiscriminate voting doesn’t meet this standard. An anarchist may be able to vote in a targeted way only, as a particular tactic. For example, if there were a particular referendum which did offer a real choice, then it might be worth going to the polls to vote on that referendum only. And perhaps at the local level representatives, while still not truly legitimate the way they would be under true council federalism, may still be accountable enough that it could be worth voting for one over another. That’s tactics. What we cannot do is believe in representative democracy in principle, in the voting ideology in principle, or act according to such false beliefs.
“Voting”, both in reality and symbolically, is the alienation of our own sovereignty and power. Like Rousseau said of the British with their parliamentary elections, they exercised their freedom once every five years, and each time their only act was to relinquish it.
The fact is that in principle a parliament or congress is a bourgeois institution conceived according to bourgeois needs and set up to help solve bourgeois problems according to bourgeois procedures amenable to the bourgeois mindset and always intended to accomplish pro-bourgeois outcomes. It is inherently anti-producer and anti-citizen. It’s structurally opposed to the interests of the people. The stuff that happens there isn’t an “abuse”. The system itself is structurally antagonistic toward citizen well-being and public interest policy. Congressional legislation will address these only under duress, only where circumstances force this upon it. And legislation will move to rescind any such concession on the parts of the elites the moment circumstances allow.
If we look at the circumstance of how much government elites must respond to the will of the people, as Rudolf Rocker says this is always a function of how assertive the people are, from the bottom up. Only direct action ever spurred legislative change. All worthwhile legislation was just a formal validation of existing facts on the ground. And the system will always rescind this validation the moment it believes this citizen-imposed fact on the ground no longer exists.
So “voting” is a perverse mirror image of this pantomime. Just as real citizen action can temporarily force legislative change, so the failure of citizen action, including the apathy of regarding “voting” as an acceptable substitute for citizen action, encourages the elites to disregard the people and trample their interests.
Lest anyone argue that “this demonstrates that representative democracy can work, we just need to be vigilant”, I respond that the people can never maintain that level of vigilance indefinitely. The chronic war of attrition being waged on the people by “representatives” who want to be corrupted and corporate lobbyists who want to corrupt them will always be won by the criminals sooner or later. It’s the same phenomenon as “reformism” against corporate rackets. In both cases (actually different forms of the same case) if we allow the rackets and the structure set up to accommodate them to exist at all, they will always wear us down, and we’ll always end up in the same cesspool. So it makes no practical or rational sense to keep repeating the same experiment. It has been empirically proven – freedom and prosperity cannot coexist with corporate rackets, and they cannot long exist under neoliberal pseudo-democracy.
(I’ll add that even if someone thought the war of attrition could be indefinitely “won”, this still should be morally repulsive to any human being. Why should we be willing to demean ourselves by submitting to such a struggle for no reason at all other than to allow a few disgusting criminal vermin the “freedom” to try to get away with their crimes? That’s not freedom at all, but a vile slander and trampling of it. If we the people want verily to be free, we need to start by freeing ourselves of the existence of all gangsters, and the whole repugnant struggle they force upon us. So even if the war were in theory “winnable”, it still wouldn’t be worth fighting, since with a flick of the wrist we can stop fighting it once and for all.)
Where the rotten system empowers only two gangs espousing the same ideology, anyone outside this ideology, and all of its victims, is disenfranchised. When the non-rich submit to “the vote”, they really just let a phony vote be palmed off on them. It’s like buying a raffle ticket where the prize doesn’t exist, because the organizers already stole it.
A few words about the liberals who spew pro-“voting” propaganda. Many are conscious criminals simply shilling for one of the gangs, namely the Democratic Party. For the rest, the cult of voting is characteristic of how shallow and feckless “progressives” are. They may sense the inadequacy of their mindset and action, but they’re too cowardly to break with the system, even to form an alternative party, let alone to engage in direct action. They try to assuage their conscience over how voting evidently leads to the same hermetic pro-corporate outcome. It’s the same dynamic as the way many “progressives” supported Citizens United. (BTW, Citizens United was a formal proclamation confirming the whole dynamic I’m describing here. That’s how confident and/or reckless the criminals have become, encouraged in part by the submission to the cult of “voting” I’m describing here.) Since their process liberal myopia renders them incapable for fighting for true free speech, they console themselves by making a fetish of the “process” of it. So it is with the fetishizing of the process of “voting” itself. In both cases, the substance and goal are drained from the term, which is applied only to a mechanical process. But a fetid cultish romanticism is wound around the term and the process, and this is intended to befog the fact that the outcome is the substantial opposite of what the ideal is supposed to mean. This fogging often works in their own minds, and the result is that they become objective collaborators with and astroturfers for the criminal elite.
Then there’s the pro-elite technocrats, mostly pro-Democratic, who like to sneer at discouraged voters the same way they sneer at the unemployed as “discouraged workers” and strike them from the unemployment statistics. They use terms like “apathetic” and “enthusiasm gap”. This demonstrates how liberal elitists hate what they consider the peasant scum, hate the idea of elections even as they try to convince the peasants to vote, and see the voters as another commodity, another metric.
Many liberal elitists claim to agree in principle that a high voter turnout is needed to confer legitimacy on the system. But they mean by this the same thing that’s meant where it comes to fraudulent plebiscites in totalitarian countries. Ever hear of the classical “99%” vote in a fascist plebiscite? That’s the essence of tyranny, and that’s the dream of the hack robo-vote advocates. Some even want forcibly enforced turnout, like in Australia where non-voters are fined. To the best of my knowledge, even Hitler and Mussolini didn’t carry their “innovations” that far. So that’s one for the pseudo-democratic liberals.
It’s typical that the turnout = legitimacy argument only goes one way. If enough voters turn out, the hacks and flacks will claim that legitimates the system. But if not enough turn out, they’ll implicitly (or in some cases explicitly) say in effect the voters aren’t worthy of the system.
That’s a basic distinction between a liberal and a true democrat. There’s no level of voter turnout which could be so low that the liberal would admit that prima facie the government is illegitimate. Where it comes to such things, a liberal will always side with the government. But nevertheless they still prefer the robo-voting facade, and this is the basis of the pro-voting ideology and propaganda. It’s the source of the whole “if you don’t vote you’re a bad citizen” fraud. What they really want is the complete liquidation of the people as citizens. That’s the basis of liberal elitism.
On the other hand, it’s a fact that voter turnout is always higher where a system has something more like real proportional democracy, as opposed to the winner-take-all de facto one-party system we have in the US. So anyone who believes in voting and who sincerely deplores low voter turnout ought to be fighting for change there. He ought to be doing all he can for improved ballot access, not just restoration of the Fairness Doctrine but enhancement of it in favor of alternate parties, better public financing of campaigns with lower threshholds to qualify, and most of all to help organize alternative parties themselves.
But on its face one can’t legitimately argue “voting is important” in itself, but support the two-gang status quo. That’s a self-contradiction, just like the “pro-lifers” who are pro-war and pro-death penalty, or the “defenders of marriage” who seem to have no problem with liberalized divorce laws.
So our course of action as citizens is clear. We need blunt tools, simple rules. Boycott all federal elections, and never vote for any Washington candidate. If you really want to take part in the act of voting, then do it to write “None of the Above”, or leave it blank if blank ballots are tallied. If there truly is a ballot question worth answering in the form of a vote, then do it. And I already mentioned how local elections may have a different dynamic.
But we should reject the cult of voting in principle and as bad practice. We should regard participation in their sham ritual as a disvalue, only to be undertaken in the case of the targeted tactical exceptions I mentioned.
For the big picture, our citizen activism is the activism of changing our way of life, relocalizing our polities and economies, both on a true positive democratic basis. Where system aggression forces us, we must engage in passive resistance and direct action. This is the only path to rebuilding our communities and the redemption of our democracy, our prosperity, our freedom, and our human dignity.
Robo-voting won’t help with any of this, and can only do harm.

June 24, 2010

Nothing Works Anymore


Obama’s offshore drilling exploration moratorium was typical of him – too late, too limited, anodyne, more talk than action, taken only under extreme political duress though he obviously didn’t believe in it, so he couldn’t achieve any goodwill from it anyway. Yet even in that meager way it’s still something worthwhile.
Or it was for a few days before a federal judge, at the request of a minor special interest, the ferries serving drill workers, overturned the moratorium, declaring it “arbitrary and capricious”. People are having trouble following the judge’s reasoning, since it’s self-evident that deepwater drilling cannot be done safely and with all the risk accounted for by voluntary market participants. In principle, not just an exploratory moratorium but banning it completely is exactly what the executive branch should do as steward of these waters and resources. The only thing which looks arbitrary and capricious is the judicial activism here. (Unless you look at the judge’s oil investments. Then perhaps the decision might not seem so arbitrary.)
Corporatist judicial activism has been on a roll since the Citizens United decision. The SCOTUS seems especially keen to smash all attempts to impose any sort of rational limits on election buying, no matter how modest. Now, there’s no doubt about the “supreme” court’s conscious malevolence; four of the cadre are hard-bitten corporate activists, while the other four including Stevens (leaving out Sotomayor on account of insufficient data as of yet) are at best passively corporatist*, with demented prima donna Kennedy flipping back and forth based on whatever lets him be the center of attention. 
[* I’ve previously proposed that the right classification of judges is not something phony like “strict” vs. “loose” construction, let alone idiocy like conservative vs. liberal.
Rather, since the struggle of freedom and humanity vs. tyranny as crystallized in the struggle vs. corporatism is the defining issue of our time, and since the courts are today a lawless no man’s land where the civil war is already being fought out with one judge ruling that 2 + 2 = 4, while in adjoining courtrooms on either side his “colleagues” are saying it equals 3 or 5, so it follows that the only meaningful classification of jurists is as: either corporate activists on the bench (like the Citizens United majority), or as passive corporatists (those who accept corporate personhood and the basic corporatist structure, but who oppose judicial activism on its behalf), with perhaps a diminishing few public interest advocates and even anti-corporatists here and there.]
The SCOTUS as a whole is by now firmly against the people and for the tyrants. We should always remember that just as we can never expect there to ever again be good legislation from the Congress, so we can’t expect any kind of systematic good from the courts, only evil.
But even though the court is malevolent, by now money is so entrenched in the electioneering process that these decisions will probably make little practical difference. Here as everywhere else extortion is institutionalized.
But even given this level of conscious malevolence and entrenched corruption, there are still those like Glenn Greenwald whose public interest good will seems strong enough, but who often remain mired in the process mentality, such as in Greenwald’s case his myopic fetishized version of the 1st Amendment. As I said in my post on Constitution and Process, this fetish of process over substance and result ends up betraying the substance and helps guarantee a result which makes a repugnant mockery of the original ideal. The 1st Amendment, like0 the Constitution itself, is not a suicide pact, but the process myopics seem intent on making it one.
So it’s not just malevolence, but process issues as well which congeal as a blockage in many minds to constitute an objective barrier to political transformation.
Every attempt at reform is always opposed by one or more selfish, sociopathic special interests. The result is always at least one versus zero (the atomized mass which today passes for “democracy” and the public interest equals zero). In the case of the upset drilling moratorium it wasn’t even Big Oil who brought the suit (though I suppose they financed it), but some rinky-dink boats which ferry oil workers to the rigs. So there will always be someone, no matter how small, ready to assert the aggregate corporate prerogative against any value no matter how critical, like the very life of the sea itself, or humanly majestic, like democracy and the public welfare. These are all helpless in the clutches of this system.
I’ve written plenty of times about malevolence, and that will remain my focus. But for today I wanted to point out how the problem runs even beyond malevolence. I especially reject the notion that if the problem is “just” the criminal intent of gangsters, we can simply undertake the “reform” of replacing them, but otherwise leave the structure intact, and everything will be fine from there. No. The problem is the structure. Once we have  this combination of outdated structures and longstanding organized crime having suffused the structure with its mindset for so long and so deeply that the structure has become a veritable kleptocracy, and all institutions and processes within it are systematically corrupt, hijacked and suborned, or just plain rotted, the whole thing is beyond reform and beyond redemption.
So for the sake of argument, for the rest of this post let’s assume no criminal intent but simply the “innocent” process mentality and the “just doing my job” mentality. We can see how, no matter where we turn, no matter what we try, there’s always a seemingly insurmountable impediment to reform. We are bottlenecked. Even leaving aside actual assaults like the health racket mandate or “austerity”, nothing can be fixed.
I was thinking about this as I pondered the moratorium overthrow when I read a fascinating chapter early in Tocqueville’s The Ancien Regime and the Revolution. In Book 1, chapter 4, Tocqueville describes how the institutions and laws converged in all European countries, especially France, Germany, and England. By the 18th century, although everyone still was acting in accordance with the same Middle Age forms which once used to be progressive*, these now constituted stagnation. They were blocking movement, innovation, freedom.
[*I’ll take this opportunity to introduce one of my basic ideas. I think all historical threads (forces, ideas, entities) follow at best a life cycle of four stages. These stages are those of discovery, or when it is first evolving and pioneering; the progressive stage, where it reaches the best combination of healthfulness and utility; the decadent stage, where although its “quantity” may still be increasing, its quality stagnates, its usefulness hits diminishing returns, and it becomes a drag on motion and health; and the malevolent stage where all its effects are actively counterproductive and harmful to the people as a whole. (Throughout I’m of course speaking of the welfare and vibrance of the people, not of racketeers; their “welfare” tends to improve as the life cycle becomes decadent and then malevolent. Indeed their toxic flourishing is inversely proportional to a thing’s existential benevolence.)
Some obvious examples of spent life cycles are those of oil-fueled industrialism, mass capitalism, oil-fueled technology. Even the corporation may have had its brief progressive period, when it was still restrained within the bounds of the Constitution, before it quickly skipped decadence completely and became malevolent. Mass democracy first became corrupted and decadent and now, in its hijacked “inverted totalitarian” form, pseudo-democracy, is actually malevolent because it continues to prop up faith in vain reformism.]
So let’s read some Tocqueville. In several places I find myself substituting “Founding Fathers” for “Men of the Middle Ages” and today’s kleptocracy for sclerotic 18th century European structures.

It is no part of my theme to relate how this former European constitution gradually lost its power and fell into decay. I simply state that in the 18th century it was in partial ruins everywhere. The disintegration was generally less pronounced in the east of the continent and more so in the west but every country manifested this process of aging and disintegration.

This gradual collapse of the institutions peculiar to the Middle Ages can be followed in their archives. We know that each manor owned registers of land ownership called “terriers” in which, through the centuries, they recorded the boundaries of the fiefs, the holdings paying rent, the dues payable, the obligatory feudal services and the local customs. I have seen the terriers of the 14th century which are masterpieces of drafting, clarity, precision and intelligence. They become obscure, ill-formed, incomplete and muddled as they move into more recent times, despite the general progress of knowledge. It would appear that political society drifted down into barbarism at the very time when civil society was finally achieving enlightenment.

(I interject, this sounds similar to the current disposition of mortgage notes, specifically that the MERS regime was set up to systematically hide and lose those notes while the mortgages themselves became discorporated quiddities meant to fictively constitute “securities”, MBS and CDOs.
It’s part of Hernando de Soto’s depiction of the collapse of the rule of law itself through the destruction of the paper files.)

Even in Germany, where the old European Constitution had maintained its original features more effectively than in France, some of the institutions it had created were already everywhere being destroyed. But we can best judge the ravages of time less by observing its losses than by viewing the state of its remaining features.

Those urban institutions, which in the 13th and 14th centuries had transposed the chief German towns into small, prosperous and enlightened republics, still existed in the 18th but offered nothing more than an empty show. Their legal conditions appeared to be as vigorous as ever – the magistrates they appointed had the same names and appeared to perform the same functions – but the activity, energy, shared patriotic feeling, virile and productive virtues which they inspired had vanished. These ancient institutions had inwardly collapsed without losing their original shape.

All the powers of the Middle Ages that still remained were attacked by the same disease and displayed the same disintegration and the same slow decline. Still more, everything which was associated with the old constitution and had retained an almost clear imprint of it, without exactly belonging to it, directly lost its vitality. From that contact the aristocracy became infected with senile decay. Political liberty itself, whose achievements had permeated the whole Middle Ages, appeared to be stricken by barrenness wherever it still bore the particular characteristics it had gained from the medieval period. Wherever provincial assemblies had preserved their ancient constitution in an unchanged state they halted the progress of civilization rather than fostered it. It might be said that they were alien and almost impervious to the new spirit of the time. The antiquity of these institutions had not made them respected. Quite the contrary, they lost any credit even as they grew old and, strange to relate, they inspired all the more hatred as they seemed less capable of causing harm through their increasing decay. “The present state of things”, said a German writer, a contemporary and friend of this old regime, “appears to have become generally painful for everyone and occasionally contemptible. It is strange to see how people now judge unfavorably everything that is old. New impressions come to light at the heart of our families and upset their orderliness. Even our housewives no longer wish to put up with their old furniture.” Yet in Germany, at the same time as in France, society was thriving and enjoyed a growing prosperity. But everything which was alive, active, and creative was recent in origin, not only new but in conflict with the past.

Royalty shared nothing in common with the royalty of the Middle Ages, possessed other powers, occupied another position, had another spirit and inspired other feelings; the administration of the state extended everywhere, settling upon the remnants of local powers; the hierarchy of public officials increasingly replaced the government of the nobility. All these new powers acted according to procedures and followed ideas which men of the Middle Ages had either not known of had condemned. These had their links in fact to a state of society beyond their experience.

Let’s look briefly at a few examples. Again, I’m trying to leave out the main factor, intentional gangsterism and greed, and just mention the underlying structure and process factors, as well as some “innocent” motivations.
We started out with Obama’s energy policy, if one wants to call it that. Really Obama has no energy policy other than continuing the doomed status quo of corporatism, the technology cult, and massive consumption. It’s these very prejudices, ingrained far beyond the imperatives of greed, which help set up such objective psychological barriers to a rational energy policy. There’s also the refusal to accept resource constraints like Peak Oil, this refusal bolstered by all the dogmas and delusions of economic ideology (as well as the delusion that economics is a science). There’s also the tremendous sunk cost of cars and suburbia and the mass-energy infrastructure, entrenched Big Oil and Big Coal (not referring to their greed but their silhouette on the cultural horizon) and the new ethanol racket, trying to become Big Ethanol through the nurturing of its father, Big Ag and its mother, corporate environmentalism.
All of these represent big chunks of existence whose gravity serves as a form of propaganda in itself. People look at the sheer size and media presence of structures and become resigned, even if they wish they could sweep the landscape clean. They end up passively embracing what they consider laws of being.
As for the legal laws, everywhere you look these are set up to put up massive passive resistance to change even where the enemies of change don’t actively attack. Thus the 2005 and 2007 energy bills massively entrenched existing rackets and set what are meant to be “accepted” levels of renewable energy development. Since these were bipartisan bills enacted with great media fanfare, they’re meant to encode the status quo energy regime in our very spiritual and political DNA. Obama’s would-be energy bill is meant to continue this totalitarian process, adding cap and trade to the racketeering mix. (Needless to say, it would do nothing to mitigate greenhouse gases nor is it meant to.)
The same enshrinement exercise played out with the Bailout, with the health racket bailout, and is now continuing with the sham finance bill. The way the bills have been negotiated is also meant to further entrench the new legislative paradigm (there was a time where majorities sometimes really did want to legislate as per their constitutional mandate; no more) where everyone commences in the full understanding  either that nothing in the Status Quo will be changed, or else its assault on the people will be escalated. Maybe nobody even knows which of these it’ll end up being; either way the process is to put on a political show, with various cadres either delegated or self-appointed to play doomed heroes or misdirectional villains, while in the end they try to smear out responsibility for the real villainy among themselves while the flacks call it all “progress”. I stress that although everyone’s intent may be villainous, they’re also enshrining a process whose mechanism is meant to be immutable. Even if you came into Congress sincerely seeking reform, you’re quickly made to understand that that’s not Congress’s business, and you can either fall into line or get out. So far they’ve all fallen into line.
A similar but cross-branch process boondoggle is the net neutrality mess, where nobody in the government can seem to figure out for themselves where the power should be – with the executive (the FCC)? or the Congress? or the lawless courts (as the DC appellate court recently claimed in its own piece of judicial activism)? The result, of course, is that the telecom rackets win. All this squabbling imprints people with the process notion that process is both inscrutable and critically important, thereby fogging their eyes against the fact that either the FCC or Congress can enforce net neutrality at will; who does it doesn’t matter much; the point is for someone to do it.
Those are a few examples of how the existing system, not only on account of the malign intent of the actors, but also on account of its own inertial processes and mindsets, is a pit of stagnation and obstruction where no constructive change can be accomplished. It’s the same existential congealment as that which confronted the rising people of France and Europe in the 18th century.
There’s one big difference between the world Tocqueville described and today. Writing of the days of the ascent of fossil fuels, the ascent of the Industrial Revolution, of mass democracy, of the aspirations of the Enlightenment, he described an ascending new vibrance running into a bottleneck. But today, in the time of Peak Oil, the collapse of exponential debt, the permanent stagnation of capitalism and its calcification into corporatist oligopoly, in our post-democratic, neo-feudal time, we’re more like fugitives who are bottlenecked as we try to escape.
Can we find our own vibrance? Something like the cooperative movement of the 19th century Farmers’ Alliance, and the political self-respect it engendered according to author Lawrence Goodwyn? Relocalization as a movement needs a focusing action which involves cooperative work toward real economic self-reliance and political rediscovery. Such a movement, flowing as water around and under the dead rock of the kleptocracy (in the best Sun-Tzu tradition), is clearly the only possible solution. But we need to find the ideas and actions to render it vibrant.