Category Archives: reblogs

Andrew Cuomo: The Donald Rumsfeld of his Generation

It looks like I got the whole “Cuomosexual” phenomenon right last Spring. I wonder if the Democrats will end up throwing him under the bus.

https://twitter.com/MeghanMcCain/status/1366580562673209347

Writers Without Money

rumsfeld I suppose I should have put a “trigger warning” in the title for this one. I apologize if anybody was traumatized.

One of the biggest mistakes the left made during the George W. Bush era was to cede the debate on 9/11 to the far right. Not only did respectable far left intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn dismiss the 9/11 Truth movement out of hand, we failed to understand that 9/11 was the central historical event of the early 2000s. One traumatic event put the American people to sleep, at least until Hurricane Katrina rang out like a loud alarm clock alerting us to the incompetence of the Bush Administration. One traumatic event allowed George W. Bush and the American the ruling class to lock political and economic institutions (like the Patriot Act and ICE) into place that we still haven’t abolished, and probably won’t within my lifetime…

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Are Declassed Professionals in the United States like Surplus Song Dynasty Civil Servants?

An interesting examination of the “woke” ideology (also called “political correctness”) as the product of the overproduction of elites in American society.

Benjamin Studebaker

I’ve been reading Youngmin Kim’s A History of Chinese Political Thought. In one of his chapters, he argues that during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), a peculiar kind of “metaphysical republicanism” took root. As the Chinese population increased, the Song state struggled to create enough jobs in the state bureaucracy to accommodate larger and larger numbers of educated young men. Unable to pursue political power through the conventional pathways, these young men invented a new kind of political theory to make sense of their positions (or lack thereof). Kim’s description of this theory is eerily reminiscent of the kind of thinking that has become increasingly popular among what I like to call the “fallen” professionals–people with university degrees who have been unable to secure stable, prestigious positions within the power structure.


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Nine months in the long limbo of long covid

A description of what it’s like to suffer from “long Covid” by Ed Rooksby, a college lecturer and writer who died recently at the age of 45. I sincerely hope I do not get this horrible disease.

ed rooksby

Nearly 70,000 cases of covid infection were reported yesterday, 8th January. Of course that’s officially confirmed cases and the real number of infections will be much higher. A small but significant proportion of those people will go on to be hospitalised and a small but significant proportion of them will die in the next few days. As we are often reminded, as if to reassure us, most of these victims will be over 60 and/or have various ‘underlying medical conditions’, but there are at least a couple of important ways in which this narrative of reassurance is both troubling and misleading. First, this narrative, intentionally or not (and I think it often is intentional when seized upon by various covid deniers and ‘lockdown sceptics’) effectively relegates people over 60 and those with ‘underlying conditions’ (and the list of these conditions is much more extensive than people normally realise) to…

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The (New Normal) War on Domestic Terror

I’m ambivalent about this writer. I disagree with his argument that Covid is a hoax or that the danger is exaggerated. I think he’s spot on about how the ruling class is using Covid to institute more repression. So I guess I’ll just say that if Covid didn’t exist the ruling class would have to invent it.

Consent Factory, Inc.

If you enjoyed the Global War on Terror, you’re going to love the new War on Domestic Terror! It’s just like the original Global War on Terror, except that this time the “Terrorists” are all “Domestic Violent Extremists” (“DVEs”), “Homegrown Violent Extremists” (“HVEs”), “Violent Conspiracy-Theorist Extremists” (“VCTEs”), “Violent Reality Denialist Extremists” (VRDEs”), “Insurrectionary Micro-Aggressionist Extremists” (“IMAEs”), “People Who Make Liberals Feel Uncomfortable” (“PWMLFUs”), and anyone else the Department of Homeland Security wants to label an “extremist” and slap a ridiculous acronym on.

According to a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” issued by the DHS on January 27, these DCEs, HVEs, VCTEs, VRDEs, IMAEs, and PWMLFUs are “ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority” and other “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.” They are believed to be “motivated by a range of issues, including anger over Covid-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, police use of…

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Tik Tok Teens Have Managers?

I really doubt there’s much of a connection to this story but India has completely banned TikTok. Trump is considering doing the same. Not to promote any “conspiracy theories” but if you need proof that American social media is all about propaganda, political control and social manipulation this isn’t a bad place to start.

Either the American (and Indian) ruling class is projecting their own dark agenda onto China, or they simply don’t like the competition. Too bad I’m too old for TikTok. My contrarian impulses give me the urge to start making videos.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53225720

I wonder if this means American tech companies will decide to forgo the use of cheap Chinese labor and start making computers in Seattle and Austin again. Nah. That would be going a bit too far. Besides, there are cheaper places to make computers than China. Maybe I should start investing in Bangladeshi startups.

Writers Without Money

In addition to being unbelievably sad, there’s something quite revealing about the story of Siya Kakkar, a 16-year-old New Delhi girl who had over a million followers on the Chinese streaming media service. She not only committed suicide. She had a manager.

In the social media post, Viral wrote: “Arjun Sarin who just spoke to her last night for a song collaboration, and he says she was in a good mood and perfectly alright. Even he has no clue what went wrong that she had to go this way.”

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/delhi/16-year-old-tiktok-star-siya-kakkar-commits-suicide-in-delhi-104335

I have no idea if Arjun Sarin is a big time entertainment executive or just a family friend, but it’s clear that Tik Tok, which has recently been declared the authentic voice of Generation Z, is also a marketing platform. Does a 16-year-old girl just become an overnight media sensation? Or is Tik Tok promoting children as viral stars…

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Steven Salaita on “Free Speech”

The pro-Palestinian college professor (now bus driver) who lost his academic career because he took the idea of “free speech” a little too seriously is probably better qualified to write about the issue than I am.

In short, free speech isn’t merely an ideal that allows everyone to have a say, commie and Nazi alike.  It is a politic, a sensibility, a custom, a rhetorical device outfitted to the reproduction of bourgeois common sense.  It elides the relationship of access with subservience.  It pretends to be a universal liberty while maintaining a slick ability to rationalize fine-tuned mechanisms of blacklisting and persecution.  It unconsciously facilitates the status quo.  The Nazi always comes out ahead in this arrangement.

https://stevesalaita.com/should-we-cancel-cancel-culture/

p.s. Unlike Salaita, I like Ulysses Grant, Max Blumenthal and Matt Taibbi but the central argument of his essay is pretty sound. The idea of “free speech” is pretty meaningless outside of a political and economic context. So I guess we’ll just have to disagree on the 18th President of the United States.

Gustave Courbet and the Vendome Column

More on tearing down monuments.

The French Revolution of 1793 ended in the military dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. Later, in the 19th Century, the French government, first under Louis Phillipe and then under Napoleon III, built the Vendome Column, a gaudy monument to France’s imperial glory.

What happened to the Vendome Column illustrates how the French left views the Great Revolution of 1789, as part of a larger struggle for radical democracy, not as an event ordained by God that instituted an eternal republic that can never be changed. Americans would do well to heed this advice. The slave owning aristocrats who broke away from King George III were flawed ruling class men, not supermen. The Constitution was designed to protect the wealthy from the threat of too much democracy. It needs to be scrapped and replaced with a new socialist constitution, one that encourages democracy, not suppresses it.

In The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, his classic account of the Revolution of 1848, Karl Marx predicted that the election of the little Napoleon, the great Napoleon’s nephew, as dictator would inevitably mean that the revolutionary working class would eventually destroy Bonapartism for good.

But when the imperial mantle finally falls on the shoulders of Louis Bonaparte, the bronze statue of Napoleon will come crashing down from the top of the Vendôme Column.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch07.htm

 

Twenty two years later, it happened pretty much the way Marx predicted it. Foolishly going to war with the rising state of Prussia, Napoleon III condemned France to a humiliating defeat. That’s pretty much all they teach you in the history books in the United States. But the Franco Prussian War was followed by a far more important event, the Paris Commune, the first revolutionary communist state in Europe.

The painter Gustav Courbet had once argued that the Vendome Column should be disassembled and put into a museum. But in 1871, the leaders of the Commune had a far more radical idea. Just tear it down. Purge France of its authoritarian legacy, of Napoleon I himself. And so they did.

Sadly, after the suppression of the Paris Commune, the new bourgeois French government did exactly what bourgeois governments always do to revolutionaries. They persecuted Courbet, jailed him, and upon his release tried to ruin his life with fines. He died at the relatively young age of 53. One wonders what more he could have produced had he not spent the last few years of his life in poverty.

While the Vendome Column eventually did go back up, France never again put another dictator into power (unless you count Hitler, and that’s a debate for another day).

1870 to 1918

Vendome Column, c. 1890-1900. Vendome Column, c. 1890-1900.

The Paris Commune of 1871 ended mangled and defeated. Its demise was both tragic and predictable. Terrible things happen when impractical idealists stake their lives against the great monolithic institutions of society.

Regular troops man a barricade against the Paris Commune.Regular troops man a barricade against the Paris Commune.

Ever since, leftist activists and revolutionaries have looked on the Communards as heroes for establishing a socialist government that faced the regular army at blood-washed barricades. Some of these later thinkers were Marxists. Some were anarchists, following the ideas of Proudhon: “Property is theft.”

I can’t help but see the bravery of the Communards as intensely pathetic. I’m not inspired by their deeds as much as horrified by their fate. But I dwell for a while on the story of one of this band of radicals, the artist Gustave Courbet, who survived the “Bloody Week” that ended the Commune’s brief rule of Paris, only to…

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Brave New Normal (Part 2)

I personally disagree with the idea that the threat of Covid-19 is inflated. It’s already killed almost 100 people in my town (admittedly most over 80 and in nursing homes). But there’s no question that the ruling class is going to use the crisis as an excuse to institute a new form of authoritarianism. I’m also a little skeptical of the media’s demonization of right wight protesters. It wasn’t the gun toting hillbillies in Michigan who spread the virus. It was wealthy New Yorkers going to their Summer homes. If you want a vision of the future, it’s not a boot stamping on a human face forever. It’s a man wearing a mask driving alone in a giant SUV opening his iPhone to use the “Stay Safe App” to report his “necessary grocery shopping” to the local police.

Consent Factory, Inc.

My columns haven’t been very funny recently. This one isn’t going to be any funnier. Sorry. Fascism makes me cranky.

I don’t mean the kind of fascism the corporate media and the fake Resistance have been desperately hyping for the last four years. God help me, but I’m not terribly worried about a few hundred white-supremacist morons marching around with tiki torches hollering Nazi slogans at each other, or Jewish-Mexican-American law clerks flashing “OK” signs on TV, or smirking schoolkids in MAGA hats.

I’m talking about actual, bona fide fascism, or totalitarianism, if you want to get technical. The kind where governments declare a global “state of emergency” on account of a virus with a 0.2% to 1% lethality (and that causes mild, flu-like symptoms, or absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, in over 97% of those infected), locks everyone down inside their homes, suspends their constitutional rights, terrorizes them with…

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A Public Call For the Immediate Resignation and Prosecution of All Senators Who Knew About COVID-19 And Gaslit the Public

It looks like there’s finally some movement on this issue. The FBI just seized Richard Burr’s phones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT3U8H025yc

Writers Without Money

An NPR report today revealed that GOP top brass knew about the seriousness of COVID-19 AKA Coronavirus for weeks/months and chose to only tell the truth to business leaders while telling dangerous lies to the public and refusing free testing kits from China.

I am making a public call for all those Senators and House members who did know to resign immediately and face the strictest possible criminal charges that can be brought up. These could include but wouldn’t be limited to: mass homicide by negligence, crimes against humanity, insider trading, and treason.

They took active steps to endanger and kill thousands (possibly millions) of US citizens.

I don’t care about the “realism” of this demand, I don’t care about the logistics. I only care that if you agree, you share this.

They need to know that there’s a massive number of angry people out there who know that…

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On “strasserism” and the decay of the left.

I disagree with the central premise of this blog post, that it’s in the economic interests of the American working class to shut down the borders to immigration. I think the idea that the working-class can use the bourgeois state (and its militarized borders) in its interests is fundamentally mistaken.

Nevertheless, I do think that in the wake of the utter defeat of the left in the English speaking world over the past year, it asks some of the right questions. Corbyn, Sanders and the movements behind them have failed. There is a class contradiction between the middle-class professionals who make up most of DSA’s membership and the working class. The more closely you look at the Sanders campaign the more you realize how it was sabotaged by careerists brought on after 2016.

So where do we go from here? Honestly I don’t think the left in North America and Western Europe is going to be the driving force behind any revolution. Western Europeans and North Americans are far too dependent on our “imperial privilege,” on military spending and transfers of wealth from the periphery to the imperial core to genuinely want to bring the whole system down. The yellow vests movement in France was an interesting explosion of middle and working class rage, but in the end I think it’s going to be the workers of the global south who will bring down neoliberalism.

Fuck Denmark. Long live Venezuela.

Malcom Kyeyune - Power & Politics

The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.

— Karl Marx

Long haired preachers come out every night

Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right

But when asked about something to eat

They will answer with voices so sweet

You…

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