Volatility

August 2, 2010

Net Neutrality: Battle Lines

Filed under: Internet Democracy — Tags: , , — Russ @ 1:52 am

 

We often see the disparagement of the freedom ideology, for example from those who rail only against “the government” but somehow always neglect to mention the corporations. It’s always governmental jack-booted thugs but never corporate jack-booted thugs.  Who do they think runs the government? If pressed, they may say something like “Wall Street”, but they usually mean some vague shadowy black-helicopter cabal whose intentions are vague but malevolent. 
 
But to clearly recognize that the banksters do run the government, the banksters are the core drivers of tyranny, the banksters are doing it all for their personal power and “profit”, the big banks are simply organized crime rackets, and that the same is true across all sectors which are also racketeering oligopolies, that it’s all organized crime, and that the one and only way to defeat tyranny and restore morality, justice and freedom is to smash the rackets, eradicate the corporations in legality and reality, and that fighting the government is to be valued as a strategy for fighting the corporations, not as the goal in itself, to recognize all this seems beyond them.
 
So there’s the problem with the proposition that true citizen activists, who of necessity must be anti-corporate activists, can find real common ground with the tea partiers and so on. At best, they seem inclined to focus only on the puppet and not on the puppet master. Many of them are actually agents of the puppet-master. For example, as soon as Rand Paul won the primary he wasted no time rushing to a podium to declare “I’m in the bag for BP!”
 
One critical theater of the general struggle is the net neutrality fight. The two great policy threats to the Internet are corporate strangleholds and government censorship. Both are threats, but the corporate threat is far worse at this time. If we lose net neutrality, so that smaller, decentralized information providers can’t be heard in the first place because they’ve been definitively economically censored, then what difference would de jure government censorship make after that?
 
So we have the specter of primary censorship, economic, structural, corporate-imposed censorship; and that of secondary censorship, censorship of content imposed by the government (corporations may of course undertake this kind of censorship as well, and have often already done so). This division of the primary corporate socioeconomic tyranny and the secondary governmental “regulatory” tyranny can be performed for most or all other sectors and issues as well.
 
So today the real front line for the battle of freedom vs. tyranny is always the primary anti-racket line. For the preservation of Internet democracy, the real front line is the preservation of net neutrality. And here, as everywhere else, the real enemy, the puppeteer, tries to distract attention from himself to the government puppet. Net neutrality is under assault by a propaganda campaign trying to depict the fight against economic censorship as being a fight for government censorship. This is the standard fraud: “Don’t look at me, the puppet master; look at the puppet, and interpret his motions according to how I tell you to interpret them.” Of course FCC enshrinement of net neutrality would be a pure anti-censorship measure. The only ones seeking any censorship at all here are the rackets. Economic censorship is the truly pervasive, insidious censorship. Government content censorship is a side issue for now. If any tea party type tries to argue otherwise, just respond: Why obsess on the puppet? What about the puppet master?
 
(Here I’m trying to express some conceptual ideas. But I recognize that this use of terminology may be politically fraught. If “censorship” is the astroturf buzz word, trying to redefine it might not work in the political short run but just backfire, since we know that most people are likely to vaguely register terms like “censorship” and “FCC” and continue to associate them even if the argument just proved the opposite.
 
So I’ll continue to think about the political words that work, and welcome any suggestions. Unfortunately we don’t have much time, since the fight is likely to climax this autumn.)
 
So here’s the real deal with net neutrality, the scam being concocted behind closed doors. It looks like we’re in for a replay of the health racket debacle.
 
After all the talk about seeking a “third way” between the existing Title I information service classification and fully reclassifying Internet providers as Title II communications service providers, the FCC has been holding closed door meetings with the telecom rackets and some of the biggest information providers. Big info providers like Google and Yahoo have hitherto advocated net neutrality enshrinement. It looks like the plot here is to buy off the biggest information providers so they drop their opposition, pull up the ladder behind them, and abandon all their smaller brethren. After all, does Google (which would never have achieved success without net neutrality) really want net neutrality to help small potential competitors? A sellout here would be in accord with its increasingly oligopolist behavior.
 
Meanwhile, in that health racket replay I just mentioned, a sham “net neutrality” concept is being fabricated to supercede the real version in all official propaganda. There are two versions of overthrowing the substance of net neutrality while trying to keep the name. The more brazen is “paid prioritization”, letting the telecom rackets like AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast etc. favor their own related conglomerate content, and getting the likes of Google to go along by giving them a rate. This is in fact not even sham net neutrality but the simple destruction of it. That they would even try to call this a version of  “net neutrality” should surely receive an Orwell Prize.
 
Perhaps more insidious, because it may sound quasi-reasonable, is the “managed services” scam. This would purport to leave the existing pipes net neutral, while letting the telecoms construct additional VIP pipes where they could then prioritize transmission based on payment of tolls. So we’d have an Internet version of Plessy vs. Ferguson, “separate but equal”, the neutral net and the discrimination net.
 
In practice, though, this would work as well and embody as much justice as did the original separate-but-equal. This is because we know exactly how it would work:
 
1. Picture people having to line up for an essential service. (And by now Internet access and information transfer has become a social and economic necessity almost as much as driving; and just as with driving the system has aggressively engineered itself this way, from the top down. So no one has any right to tell the individual he must fend completely for himself. If the system conscripts us, it has to do all it can to accomodate us and help us be functional. This is true of the Internet just as it’s true of every other realm of social and/or economic engineering. The Internet is an economic and democratic imperative by now.)
 
2. Picture three lanes where everyone is charged the same and the lines usually move smoothly enough. And if things get congested, they can easily put in a 4th lane (and 5th and 6th etc.), just as they put in the 2nd and 3rd.
 
3. Instead, they put in the 4th lane but call it the “managed service” lane, charge extra for it, and move most of their personnel and resources to providing luxury service for it. Now that lane moves super-fast, while service cuts reduce the original three lanes to hideous congestion and otherwise poor service.
 
4. They could just as easily have put in the 4th lane, increased servicing proportionally and kept service spread equally among all 4 lanes. In that case everything would work well for everyone, except for the parasites who want to extract unproductive rents.
 
5. Instead everything’s being destroyed, for no reason at all other than that the telecom racketeers who did no work, who innovated nothing, who produce nothing, who make everything less productive, less efficient, can extract more tolls from the pipes the people built and paid for.
 
6. It’s anti-public interest, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and most of all anti-American.
 
So that’s what we’re in for if we let either the racketeers and their Congressional prostitutes crush the FCC’s attempt to enshrine net neutrality, or if we let the FCC cave in on its own, as it has from time to time looked ready to do.
 
I don’t like the notion of having to vest expectations of reform in an existing government agency. That’s precisely what we generally consider pointless and counterproductive. But as I’ve written earlier, I don’t see any alternative for this particular fight. The Internet and its democracy are technologically dependent upon the system, and therefore politically dependent. (I have started looking around for possible ways to go “off-grid” with the Internet itself, and I sometimes read stuff like this, but not being a tech guy I’m not sure how possible it is or even if it’s talking about the same thing I’m thinking of.)
 
The reason net neutrality may possibly be an exception to the general rule that Regulation Can’t Work is that the average consumer has become so used to relatively fast service at his whim that the people may refuse to tolerate being ghettoized online the way they’re tolerating their economic liquidation in most other ways. Surely the basic functioning of the economy is so dependent upon efficient online transmission that it would be intolerable for the rackets to set up their tollbooths everywhere? Or maybe that’s being absurdly optimistic.
 
At any rate, we cannot be complacent about the posterity of Internet democracy. It’s extremely vulnerable to both economic and political censorship. So as ridiculous as it may sound to most or all who read this, we should really think about reviving physical printing presses and physical distribution networks for political communication. That should already be on the Peak Oil preparation list (the grid is also physically vulnerable to increasing disruption during energy descent), and should be a priority for any vision of a self-reliant, system-independent political movement.

March 16, 2010

Social Fascists Part 2

Filed under: Corporatism — Tags: , , , , , — Russ @ 7:10 am

 

In an earlier post I discussed Obama and the liberals’ self-imposed mission to rehabilitate all Bush/Cheney policies and enshrine them as the business as usual baseline for this government and economy going forward.
 
This provokes the question of why they’d want to do such a thing. By that I don’t mean questioning the obvious fact that today’s Democrats and liberal leaders are just as much corporatists and warmongers as Cheney and his Republicans. I don’t mean questioning the fact of the infinite chasm between their public interest rhetoric and their gangster actions. These facts are incontrovertible. They are laws of nature, insofar as the currently existing polity is the existing state of nature.
 
But I do want to ask, who, really, are these people? Why are they history’s worst traitors? The term “social fascist” originated with the Comintern in the latter 1920s and received wide currency in the 30s. The premise was that social democracy, because it refused to support the full revolution as the only effective anti-fascist course of action, was therefore a tacit variant of fascism itself. This was exemplified in the recurrent pattern of nominally “leftist” governments making deals with the far right against the real left, most poignantly in the case of the new “socialist” Weimar Republic in 1919. To this day liberals whose preference is to lean right have the blood of Rosa Luxemburg on their hands.
 
Today things are, in a sense, worse. Today’s sellouts can’t make even a quasi-serious argument about the strength of the Right or the alleged destructiveness of the “hard” Left. Today any “right” with a capital R can accomplish nothing the Democrats don’t let them accomplish, while no revolutionary Left exists at all. Today when Obama and his liberal teabaggers behave as overt, aggressive Bailouters, neoliberals, corporatists, strikebreakers, warmongers, and police statists, there can be no doubt whatsoever that they’re following their bliss. This is their true vile nature.
 
(A recent proposed “deal” was Cass Sunstein’s proposal that the government and media should aggressively seek to counteract and even directly censor “conspiracy theories”. Although cloaked in politically ecumenical language, the system’s actions prove clearly enough that we can read, “dissent from the left”. We can be sure the target is blogs like this one, rather than right-wing talk radio. This is borne out in the disproportionate treatment, from governments, police, and the media, doled out to real protestors, as opposed to the teabaggers. The latter consistently get away with much more aggressive behavior while receiving far more respectful treatment. The MSM also consistently overcover teabagger events, and overstate their numbers, while ignoring or downplaying the events and turnouts for progressive protest. Can you imagine what would happen if a “socialist” brought a gun to an Obama event?)
 
Today we know that privatization, looting, and trickle-down is their characteristic economic policy, their truly cherished ideal. Obama truly is their Leader, as he represents the epitome of liberal Reaganism.
 
So why do they identify as Democrats and “liberals”? Why aren’t they Republicans? (To begin with, why do we still have the one-party dictatorship split up into two factions? Most of it must be leftover inertia from the old days when there were some actual differences in the parties’ socioeconomic visions. By now they must also figure that the pattern of inverted totalitarianism better fits a sham two-party pseudo-democracy than an overt one-party state like the old USSR.) There has to be lots of cynical calculating going on (for example, Wall Street’s streetwalker in the House Melissa Bean seems to have chosen being a Democrat over being a Republican out of sheer calculation). I bet a lot of it is also the result of temperament.
 
I’ve always figured that man for man Reps are more likely to be conscious criminals than Dems are. If Dems on the whole are both psychologically weaker and have more book smarts, both of these would lead to their wanting to find ways to square things with their flimsy conscience.
 
Their weakness also manifests in their incapacity for real anger where it comes to what should be questions of principle. If a prominent liberal claims to hold a principle, and then finds that principle under vicious assault, he’s more likely to compromise on the principle than fight hard on its behalf if the fight would require his real hatred for the enemy. (As I’ve personally experienced, liberals don’t even like calling an enemy “the enemy”.)
 
For example, in a recent piece Paul Krugman repeated his frequent sigh for “reasonable conservatives”. That’s for his psychological well-being. He needs to believe in them because to a social fascist like him the real Left is usually the real problem. So whenever things get tough, like for his beloved health racketeering plan, his preferred course of action is to make an alliance with the Right. His stance on health “reform” is a textbook example. He applauds the corrupt secret deals the administration made with all the rackets involved in order to produce this monstrosity. But I guess by nature he’s not cynical enough to do this easily. He really wants to feel like he’s a good guy, on the side of good public policy. So he’s personally just as much as politically invested in thinking there’s such a thing as “reasonable conservatives.” That would give him cover for his own corporate advocacy, that he’s not so obviously in the company of only the most vicious gangsters.  
 
Most liberal nabobs are also cowards. They’re scared of anything, like corporations, which has real power, or even of things which are powerless but can still make noise, like the Republicans in 2009. This cowardice manifests generally in a willingness to live under the thumb of gangsters. Very rarely does a “progressive” actually acknowledge that the beleaguered way of life, the imperiled value, is freedom in itself, prosperity in itself, and the problem is the rackets themselves, and that the great war must be fought out on this line, or lost.
 
One particular symptom of this kind of cowardice is the constant refrain that Obama “inherited” the Bailout and the Permanent War. A free human being would never accept such an “inheritance”. He’d disavow it. He’d fight as hard as he must to redeem the situation and place the full blame and cost on the heads of the criminals responsible. He’d make them pay, politically, financially, in the dock, and on the gallows, for everything they stole and all the pain they forced upon the innocent.
 
We know that Obama and his hacks are in fact consciously among the criminals. But this can’t be the case for the rank and file cultists. Only sheer cowardice and spiritual weakness in general can explain the abyss between the ideals they proclaim and the crimes they support. That’s what makes them liberal teabaggers.
 
(The definition of a teabagger is someone who, regardless of political affiliation, being non-rich lets himself be Astroturfed into fighting for the rich against his own people. So who’s worse?
 
Is it those who claim to want freedom and the Constitution but who support the fascist Sarah Palin, with her fascist wars and “Patriot” Act? Who call the neoliberal Obama a “socialist”?
 
Or is it the Obama hacks and cultists? Those who are either too dumb to understand that Obama has done nothing but continue every Bush/Cheney assault, or who openly demonstrate how they’re just Democrat party hacks who never had a problem with Bush policy but only with the fact that it was Bush doing it.
 
Either way, they’re empowering Wall Street and increasingly overt fascism.
 
So it’s two kinds of Astroturf hacks, while those on both sides who think Obama’s a “progressive” or a socialist, differing only in whether they applaud or attack this lie, are just the same idiot.)
 
And with the hacks we get to the worst of the lot, the sheer cynical traitors. These are Democratic politicians and operatives, as well as many, perhaps most, among the “activist” leadership and in the media. These are the neoliberal cadres who willfully support corporatism, who truly believe America should be a dictatorship of big business and big money, with sham elections for window dressing. Reagan, as channeled through Obama, is their perfect Leader. His sociopathy and perfidy, his supercilious elitism and technocratic wonkery, reflect perfectly those who call themselves the “creative class”. This is the real social fascism.
 
These are the purveyors of the Big Lie of “pragmatism”, which is their Orwellian term for the bloodless tyranny of clinical process. (I’ll have more on “the process” in the next post.) These are the whitewash brigade for all of Obama’s lies: That he never promised “change”, transparency, to purge corruption, to restore the rule of law, to redeem civil liberties, to demand a public option as part of health reform, to withdraw from Iraq (and they lie about the scope of the Afghanistan focus he spoke of, which didn’t remotely foreshadow the massive escalation upon which he’s embarked). They also propagate the pro-Bailout lie that bailing out the insolvent big banks was necessary to “save the economy”. Where this lie doesn’t spring from sheer ignorance, it really means, “without the big banks, there’s no predatory globalization” or “there’s no corporatist economy” or “the elites can’t effectively refeudalize and reduce the people to serfdom.” That’s always what Obama, Geithner, and their lackeys all the way down really mean by, “we had to save the banks.”  These are the Astroturfers who round up the liberal teabaggers for the Democratic party.
 
They epitomize the classic fascist mentality in another way. The most vile type of subhuman filth is the kiss up-kick down type, the type of the cowardly bully. In our corporatist system, this is the most common type, in politics, in big business, in the MSM, in academia. This is the default type among Republicans, and it has become the most common type among establishment Democrats as well. Thus it’s not surprising that the one “fight” Obama and his slimy little thug Emanuel are willing to engage, the one they downright enjoy, is where they get to beat up on the “retarded” progressives, knowing that these as well are cowardly, self-defined weaklings, just on an even lower level, and will cave in under assault even where in theory they have the strength to fight back.
 
That’s why under the slightest, most idiotic pressure from Glenn Beck, Obama threw a real activist like Van Jones overboard, and why Jones meekly slunk away. It’s the same Dem-side cowardice at different levels. And it’s why, on the contrary, no level of pressure from the public interest side could ever get Obama to willingly part with capital criminals like Geithner or Bernanke. Because to side against them would mean to side against entrenched power.
 
The hacks often propagate the lie that this is a “center-right country”. What this really means is that the Democrats, the liberal organizations, and the MSM are to the right of the people, but try to convince the people that each individual one of them is atomized and wrong. It’s demoralization propaganda.
 
Meanwhile, the system is so rigged by now against the people, against any attempt to really engage in democracy, that for now the hard-right status of government policy is a given, but these scum hacks represent that outcome as a natural, democratic one. They try to render the results of their crimes against democracy a self-fulfilling prophecy. They strip you of any meaningful vote, and then if you vote for a stooge candidate or skip voting altogether, they claim your action either validates the system, or in the case of non-voting that you voluntarily removed yourself from it.
 
So what are they really? In the end are they progressives or corporatists? If a corporate environmentalist had to choose between Bush or EarthFirst!, which would he choose? These health “reform” hacks, who apparently want a fully corporatized system but with a human face or some such notion: If they had to choose between Bush and fully socialized medicine, which would they choose? If the Civil War were to start today, with clearly demarcated battle lines, and 50-50 odds, and they had to choose the side for which they had to fight, and the armies were infused with the respective spirits of Cheney and Proudhon, who would they choose?
 
So it was this combination of personal weakness, cowardice, and cynicism, operating over decades of an increasingly corrupt system, which debased whatever public interest spirit that may once have existed among this leadership into social fascism. By now the liberal fascists are almost indistinguishable from the rightist variety.
 
Real citizens, real freedom fighters, those who truly want to save America, must reject the Democratic party and the liberal establishment, including those who masquerade as independent activists but whose actions prove them to be party hacks, corporate shills, Astroturfers.
 
As for them, it’s funny how truly angry these hack apparatchiks are becoming, now that the real people are refusing to listen to their criminal lies anymore. That real progressives will no longer accept being treated as the personal property of the vote-buyers, to vote as the purchase decrees. That freedom-loving Americans see through their corrupt, corporatist agenda. That, whatever comes with the future, one thing which has no future whatsoever is the Democratic hack sellout, as represented by Obama, Emanuel, Krugman, and the sellouts and liars all the way down.
 
Tell the hacks to have fun in 2010. Have fun in 2012.
 
After that history will never see the likes of them again, and good riddance.

February 26, 2010

“The Law” Fought The Law and the Law Lost

 

On Thursday Obama held his health care summit with the Republicans. This is part of his desperate attempt to reinvigorate his zombie health racketeering/bailout bill. It’s also part of the ongoing saga of his demented and creepy fixation on “bipartisanship.”
 
We can hope his vile corporate sellout racket mandate goes down in flames as it deserves. As for bipartisanship, while it’s true that the MSM demands of Democrats that no matter how far to the right they’ve already gone, they must still go further to appease the Reps, since when does anyone obey the MSM? We all know the MSM are cowardly little worms who would cave in and lick your boots if you popped them one in the nose. That’s what the Republicans did with their absurd “liberal media” accusations, and to this day the media are their flunkies. So if the Dems wanted to simply shout back, “you’re Republican waterboys and stenographers!”, I doubt it would take long to force a shift.
 
(The MSM’s corporate whoredom doesn’t make a difference here. Both parties are corporatist. It’s simply a matter of which is the media’s favorite. Who does it always implicitly side with, and of whom does it always demand, “you have to shift to work with the other”?)
 
As for the summit itself, this is all kabuki. It’s really stupid that the Dems even tilted at this windmill at all. If Obama weren’t a moron where it comes to politics he’d have known that the Reps weren’t going to help him or give him any political cover for the mandate whatsoever. Why would they? This is win-win for them. However rapacious the bill gets will simply give the Reps even more space to attack the Dems as corporate sellouts in November. That’s absurd, of course: the Reps love the bill, as long as they can make the Dems take on all the responsibility and blame for it. The Dems seem to be out of their minds on this one, even more idiotic than usual. They’re not going to get any corporate love for it; the rackets are already shifting back to the Reps, as always happens.
 
For some odd reason, the Dems have taken what started out as a simple plan to entrench the status quo while pretending to seek “reform” (as the Congress is doing with Wall Street) and turned it into an invasion of Russia. They’re now fixated on getting one of most monstrous bills in American history passed. No matter how bitter the lonely partisan cold, they’re determined to endure it. However high the snowdrifts of adverse polling, they’re crazily burrowing through them. November looms before them, a more horrific vista than a burning Moscow in the dead of winter, but they stagger on, hypnotized. Any sane person can see how they’ll be left to do nothing but shiver in the blizzard amid the smoldering ashes, sick and hungry as the rags start to fall off their backs.
 
Can anyone think they’ll ever recover? Nobody else ever has. If the Republicans don’t get their “permanent majority” in the end after all, it won’t be for lack of every Democratic effort to hand it to them.
 
Since they never intended to seek real reform in the first place, why did the Dems take this health bill seriously and bring this debacle upon themselves? The Reps understand this is a phony process, how nobody in the power structure or media takes it seriously except as political theater. (In yesterday’s post I spoke of how under imperial corporatism domestic issues are treated frivolously except as plunder opportunities. Now of course the Dems want to use this bill to help the rackets with their extortions. But they had the option of doing a lot less if the Reps really weren’t going to join in the charade. The point is supposed to be one’s own political survival. And perhaps literal survival – many Dems and liberals in general are deluded that if the Reps ever had total power that they would refrain from governing as overt one-party fascists. Keep dreaming. A lot of supercilious “liberals” who started out laughing in 1933 were in for a nasty surprise.)
 
This is an example of how the Republicans bring a knife to a knife fight and the Dems bring a water pistol. The Reps understand that we no longer have the rule of law or any real civic endeavor but just a zero sum brawl. It’s political, and it’s to the death.
 
Anyone who still wants to believe in law or civics should look at examples like the Blackwater acquittal, or the Obama administration’s direct defiance of domestic law, international law, and treaty, in its refusal to bring war criminals to justice. Most recently we had its whitewashing of war crimes laundered through legal briefs. I think of all the times in reading history I see a situation deplored where a country or province was letting fugitives and outlaws walk around in the open, free and brazen. Even in supposedly backward, rotten Serbia, Karadzic had to stay disguised, and Mladic has to lay low. But in today’s America, even admitted war criminals are not only out in the open but still hold positions of respect and lucre. I don’t recall any of those stories form history depicting such temerity of flouting the law.
 
And of course we’ve had no significant Wall Street indictments at all. The entire cadre should be swept clean, for larceny, fraud, control fraud, embezzlement, bribery, extortion, conspiracy, racketeering, and treason.
 
Several times I’ve compared modern America with the 19th century France of the Dreyfus Affair. I first did so in connection with this same health racket issue, the Teabagger protests last summer. There Astrofurfed mobs are clearly redolent of the reactionary shock troops the anti-Dreyfusards sent out to temporarily dominate the streets in the first stages of the Affair. Just as then, so today the criminal system is ready to bolster its lawlessness with shock troops. And just as back then, the media either won’t touch it or is scrupulous in denying we’re in a state of political anarchy, where the only “politics” which exist any longer are the politics dictated by corporate interests.
 
In the broad sense the parallel with that “origin of totalitarianism” (Arendt) and today’s situation is this general top-down anarchy, this general liquidation of the law and of any substantive politics. It’s the abdication of journalism, which was supposed to be a public-interest watchdog. It’s the atmosphere where TPTB set the tone and enforce the notion that everything’s a joke, that everything’s shabby theater, or in its “progressive” version that everything should focus on incremental “process”. The result is the same punchline.
 
What’s left to defend and empower today? We’ve lost our politics and our law. Justice, fairness, democracy, freedom itself no longer exist under this system. We’re on the same path down to the abyss Europe earlier descended. What can we do? What’s left to uphold? What’s left to grasp and cherish?
 
Or to put that question in a less abstract and more concrete way, who will still fight for these things? The measure of their existence is simply the people’s will to be vigilant and fight. That’s the perception and the will which lay at the core of America’s 18th century revolutionary endeavor.
 
I too see no place to make a stand for freedom, morality, and justice within the system. That’s why my endeavor has been to critique the system, to try to figure out what the forces are which assail these great values, how they’re configured, their strategy.
 
And now it’s time to find the space where we can make a stand, and to construct the counter-strategy, and to embark upon the systematic action. 

February 24, 2010

Our Thunderdome

Filed under: Bailouts Only Propped Up Zombies, Corporatism — Tags: — Russ @ 5:00 am

 

The teabagger position of being non-rich, demonizing the government, and yet at least implicitly supporting the big banks (which is implicit, since for all their howling none of them are actually organizing along anti-corporatist lines), is certainly incoherent from the point of view of their own interests. In theory the government could in fact help them, while the banks will never be anything other than their enemy. (The real populists this country used to have in the old days never lost sight of that, however anti-government they may otherwise have been inclined to be.)
 
However, this position is also intellectually incoherent. Looking to this government for help or for reform is in fact pointless. But the reason for this is precisely because the government is the hired arm of Wall Street. It serves as bodyguard, mugger, and bagman. It rigs the laws to legalize the banksters’ crimes (and where necessary ensures that they’re never brought to justice where they do commit de jure crimes). It has embarked upon the Bailout to steal $14 trillion and counting from the people to hand it over to the banks. So to condemn the government but not to do so as part of an attack on the big banks is incoherent, since the servant of the banks is really all the government is. This lies at the core of everything government does, and everything government does it does from the point of view of some benefit to the banks, some extension of or supplement to the Bailout.
 
Conversely, to attack the banks but not the government is also lack of coordination. Wall Street is dependent upon the government. Obviously, it could never have bloated in the first place without the promiscuous Fed pushing decades of easy fiat money. (If anyone wants to quibble over what exactly the Fed is alleged to be, I’ll just say that if it prints the currency, that makes it public and part of the “government”, period. All the definitional and conceptual fog around its hybrid public-private nature is just an arbitrage scam, so that it can play heads-I-win-tails-you-lose vs. anyone demanding accountability of it. It’s a public agency where convenient, and it’s a private bank where convenient. For the public interest, of course, everything is rigged to be very, very inconvenient.)
 
And then of course Wall Street would today be a smoking crater if it weren’t for the Bailout. The Wall Street zombie is insolvent, and will continue to exist only for so long as the Bailout props it up. This is a permanent condition. In fact we know that monopoly finance is not capable of existing for long without destroying itself, and each time it would be gone forever if the government didn’t steal from its own people to preserve it. Citi alone has been bailed out at least four times.
 
And then there’s the fact, as flunkeyboy Obama himself told the banksters a year ago, “I’m the only thing between you and the pitchforks”. By now it may very well be true that they owe their continuing physical existence to their goonish government.
 
So in these ways we can see how Wall Street, while master of government, is also utterly dependent upon it. (Anyone who’s seen “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” may recall Master-Blaster.)
 
Yet for all its dependence Wall Street is surprisingly fickle and scornful. We’ve seen how it happily shifted from Democrats (Clinton) to Republicans (Bush) and back to Obama and his Corprocrats, and now they’re looking again to the Robublicans. This is how the vagrant banksters have always been. Throughout history the moneylenders sat complacent while governments, kings, empires, rose up and were overthrown, revolutions and counterrevolutions convulsed the land, while cities burned, while masses were murdered or fled as refugees, through all of it the filthy banks blandly sat there, open for business to all comers. What’s a government, let alone a country or, spare us, a people? That’s all just noise and nonsense. It doesn’t exist in the eyes of the bankster, except as something that may bleed if squeezed. 
 
This puny little master in fact has no independent existence at all. Like all usurers everywhere throughout history it is an absolute parasite. Parasites like this have no roots in the community, in the people, in the country. Their rootless and stateless and unproductive existence makes them worthless. Their destructiveness and predation make them traitors. The finance sector’s bloat over the last 40 years is the black metric of our sorrow.
 
It’s the loss of our country, it’s the loss of faith with ourselves as a people.
 
Do you dream of anything in life other than servitude to this great villain? If you dream of a political solution, know that the corporate monster has stolen our politics. Do you want America back? Think in terms of your politics. Whatever you want, any ideal, they are standing in the way. All the money they steal to buy the government, and all the (far greater) money the government steals to hand over to them, is money stolen from us. So we must Smash them.
 
We see how the government and the big banks are now so inextricably intertwined as to be one symbiotic ooze. We can’t smash one without smashing the other. So the Astroturf/teabagger anti-government notion won’t do the trick, since it only aims as the non-essential appendages of government, not at the real body. And looking to this government for “reform” of Wall Street is an utter fool’s errand.
 
The only way out is a full frontal attack on the body, and the only way available to do this is the way of ju-jitsu. We’re far too small to fight weight vs. weight, but we can use the monster’s weight against it. Relocalization, reskilling, rediscovering self-reliance, getting out of debt, ceasing to incur debt in the first place, moving our money out of the banks, these are the paths of resistance and victory. This strategy is in the tradition of Gandhi and of Sun-Tzu.

February 1, 2010

Teabaggers

Filed under: Civil Disobedience — Tags: — Russ @ 10:48 am

 

Anybody who follows politics, and especially who’s interested in breaking up the Washington stranglehold, probably wonders about the Teabaggers.
 
The basics seem clear enough. At the outset Dick Armey and others formed an Astroturf group, and the right wing power structure propagated a general top-down meme, of Tea Parties raging against the government. Lots of people, most of whom never seemed to have a problem with big government, Wall Street, and obscene deficit spending while Bush was in office, suddenly discovered that they were enraged by all these things.
 
But since then the movement has perhaps gotten beyond the control of its original handlers, while the more relatively disreputable elements of the Republican party like Palin and Bachmann try to co-opt it.
 
The general theme seems to have played a significant role in the Republican establishment candidate’s upset victory in Massachusetts. He successfully pretended to be an outsider. Meanwhile a “real” teabagger supported by Palin lost a Congressional race in upstate New York. But if that election were held today he might’ve won.
 
The first real test of the movement’s effect on electoral politics will come in November. How many establishment Reps will they primary? Will they run any 3rd party candidates? To what extent will the Reps have to pretend to be populists to appease them?
 
Of course, since the Democrats have incomprehensibly defined themselves as the ultimate party of the big business sell-out, it was already a no-brainer for Reps to run as populists in 2010. This should play well with the ever-gullible “independent” swing voter.
 
But the question is to what extent these teabaggers, someone’s potential base, will actually hold office-holders to populist promises. If they really are all just Astroturfed goons, then the answer is “not much”.
 
That, like all the other questions, goes back to the original question. Is this a real movement or just an Astroturf which is organizing a lot of inchoate frustration, letting them blow off steam while shepherding them to the polls to vote for corporate Republicans?
 
Today the NYT has a forum on the issue. I’ll summarize the takes of the commentators and then conclude with a few impressions.
 
They start with data. Pollster Neil Newhouse summarizes an NBC/WSJ poll his firm ran. He reports that 14% of the overall electorate had a “very positive” view of the Tea Party. Of these, 74% are Republicans, 78% identify themselves as ideological conservatives, 87% are white, 60% are over 50 years old, 46% have a college degree, 64% have faith in Fox News, and 77% consider the upcoming election to be very important (rating it 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10; this is vs. 40% overall who rate it so highly).
 
That sounds grim. The typical teabagger is an angry old right-wing white guy who worships Glenn Beck.
 
On the other hand Andrew Kohut of the Pew Center looks at the same poll and emphasizes how only 49% of respondents have an opinion on the teabaggers at all. The results were 28% positive, 21% negative, 20% neutral, and 31% unsure or never heard of them. He emphasizes how independent voters are generally centrists who aren’t attracted to extremism, though in the same breath he concedes that independents are getting angrier about Wall Street and government spending, the things most likely to drive them in the Teabagger direction.
 
Journalist Bob Moser thinks he has seen a change in the movement. In 2009 he was at a rally where Texas governor (establishment Rep) Rick Perry led the crowd in chanting for “states’ rights”. But this month, he reports, a Perry skipped a similar Texas rally, where the congregants loudly condemned both parties. Gone were the “Obama is Hitler” signs. This time round the signs read things like “Law Makers/Law Breakers/No Difference” and “He Works For the Man”. He calls them “a collective voice simply hollering Hell No!” vs. the establishment across the board.
 
History professor Rick Schenkman reminds readers that in spite of some high-profile examples of stupidity (“Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”; “Nice job, morans”), on the whole Teabaggers are no dumber than any other group of voters. (Which is true.) He emphasizes how “they hold no monopoly on what may be thought of as their distinguishing characteristics – fearfulness, anger, and a lack of knowledge.” Then he goes on to offer advice to the Republican party on how to exploit them.
 
Finally, Micah Sifry, author of a book on 3rd parties in the US, compares the Tea Party to the Perot movement. The demographics are similar – rural and suburb, downwardly mobile, little appeal to the big cities. The big differences are the Perot movement’s “left wing” vs. globalization and the demand for political reform (the Teabaggers seem to have no will toward that), that Perot was never about hate while many Teabaggers are clearly racists, and the movement as a whole looks tolerant of racism, and that it doesn’t have a Leader.
 
He thinks that without a strong leader they’ll probably fail to form a viable 3rd party, but will factionalize and perhaps split the anti-Democrat vote. The real challenge is to the Republicans. The last time they faced such a nativist surge, with the Birchers, Buckley and others led the party past and against such parochialism. But can anyone do that for them now? Sifry doesn’t name names, but I think of the likes of Brooks, Frum, Noonan and others who have gingerly expressed some skepticism regarding Palin and the Teabaggers.
 
Kohut also harped on the criticality of the Leader. I agree that there being one pivotal leader can be a boon to a movement, but it’s not always necessary. But the main deficiency in his (and many others’) view on this is how he rushes right to celebrity culture. That’s typical American thinking. He says he can’t imagine a movement being viable without hiring an already famous person to be its celebrity leader. He cites Perot as an example.
 
But that’s really a counterexample. That’s why the Reform Party accomplished nothing in the long run. It never built itself up from the grass roots, never let itself evolve organically. The measure of a real movement is when you see its own indigenous people rise from obscurity to become leaders and then stay independent. (Of course, the establishment goal is always to find the guy shouting “Hell No!” the most articulately and buy him off. It’s worked so far for both Reps and Dems.)
 
As for independent voters being centrists who are repelled by “extremism” (never mind that “the center” of our politics and economy is at a neoliberal corporatist extreme), that may be true in general, but the decades of the system’s lies about a “great moderation” are over. We’re entering upon extreme times, and these extreme times, the extreme suffering they’ll inflict upon ever greater numbers of people, will render what the system calls “extreme” politics more and more attractive to the masses.
 
(Kohut also cites reports of divisions among the Teabaggers as “not a good sign”. Not a good sign for what? This movement’s not even a year old. If the division is between Astroturf and some real movement force, such a division would be the best sign (for them). We already know the Tea Party started as an Astroturf; the only question is whether it remains that way, just a goon roundup for the Republicans.)
 
I don’t like the looks of the Teabaggers so far. At least some of them are fascists aching for murder. But if the real groundswell among them is a sincere will to overthrow the entire corporate tyranny, and not just gut government to let the rackets run wild (the goal toward which the Republicans are trying to co-opt them), that would be a great human resource. At least they want to fight.
 
God knows there’s almost zero will to fight among “progressives”.
 
What are we here to do? To organize all the anti-system fear and rage. Fear and rage are the right feelings to have. The more penetrating your fear, and the more passionate your rage, the more accurate an assessment you have, and the more righteous your moral and spiritual position is.
 
To shout, Hell No!, is to be on the right side of things. The question is whether people are going to shout the whole No, vs. corporations and government, or let their passion and action be derailed.
 
We’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of this alleged populism of the Right.
 
Now if we could only find the true populism which transcends all zombie political categories….