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July 12, 2008

Post Industry?

Let me take a minute to deconstruct deconstruction. I've heard the term post-industrial thrown around. This is where our problem lies in our postmodern society. There is no such thing as post industry because to say a society is "postindustrial" is to say that a society no longer relies on manufacturing, building, and other industrial pursuits. Engineers are still among the most employable and stable occupations. Public sector industrial work never goes out of style (particularly in PA with the way the weather works the infrastructure. Service industry requires a stable base of industrial development. If I want to open a restaurant, I have to have people come and build a place to host it. Then I need tables, chairs, ovens, kitchen tools, and of course, uniforms, tableware. And after that is done, I will need food products, wines, coffees, etc. Service directly depends on industry. It's just like the transition from agrarian life to mass industry. Believe it or not, there are still farmers in this world. Trees, plants and animals that aren't cats, dogs or ferrets exist. In order to make those crystal glasses, you need a carbon source. Raw materials are still being harvested. What is oil? Post industrial would suggest that we no longer rely on raw materials which would be a complete lie being as our recycling system is, I would argue, inadequate.

What marks the post-industrial age is not the reality, but the focus of society's gaze on reality. Cyber studies, media studies, media ecology, sensation and perception being psychology's next fad. We've merely directed the attention of the culture at large to a growing facet of our society. Industry has not shrunken, but with global capital is indeed, growing. So what seems like a diminishing demand of manufacturing jobs in America is actually a shift in the sectors where the jobs are placed (the outsourcing crisis ring a bell?). So, we should make clear that service depends on industry (every industry needs tools), that demand for industrial jobs has not diminished and that economic growth really does start with industry. What happens is a series of shifts in demand. Specialists are always hired because of the principles of competition that capitalism employs. We want the best candlestick maker, right? But let's say next year, there is an incident with fire that makes buying candles unfavorable and people see a new electric candle that the competitor is selling. Candlestick makers are now out of business and all the time invested in perfecting that trade is thrown out. What if a blight hits the beehives in that area and wax can no longer be collected for that plant? Those are all factors that affect people employed at that plant. Deregulation cannot address those crises and in fact, makes it easier for companies to shift around. The argument that taxes has so much to do with the state of the economy is such a fallacious argument. Yet many people buy this notion and I nearly vomit when I see how many NeoReaganists are out there. The economy is not driven by profits. It is driven by labor, and in particular, industrial labor. The goal of the economy is profit, but profit cannot be achieved without something to generate it.

So take the whole "greed is good" idea for example and let's be completely agnostic to moral, political, and philosophical convictions and ideology. If we loosen the grip on the stock market, banks, and corporate organizations, this creates a surge of money in the upper sectors of money holders and allows for these groups to invest in industry in order to generate more wealth for themselves. The trickle-down effect would be the kind and benevolent rich people bending down to the working class Americans and handing... or more accurately, that letting powerful capitalists off the leash for a while would resurrect industry and open a mass industrial job market to generate more wealth for the rich and rekindle the vague promise of the "American dream." It, even in my very cynical interpretation, sounds very glittering. Here's the catch: you only get half of the story: the macroeconomic perspective. What you get is glittering generalizations to which our culture has, in recent history, been built on. It sounds good. But more jobs does not mean better situation for working class families, does not mean more wealth for the ambiguous benefits of economic growth across the board.

This relies on the assumption that capital drives economic improvement. But, as any economist would know, bigger is not necessarily better. May we say "broken window fallacy?" The problem with these thoughts are they don't change anything really. Raising the standard of living across the board does not eliminate poverty. Poverty is a social condition marked by a disparity between one class of people and another. Being poor is not lacking the things necessary to live, but being of a social status so low one could not be lower. The trouble is the poverty line is very ambiguous and extremely subjective. Where do you draw the line of poverty? People were sent to labor camps in 18th century Europe for stealing food and stealing is socializing in the base classes. What stopped the people in the 18th century from going into the woods and killing animals with their bare hands and eating them? It was more possible then than now. Humans are social creatures and the presence of people is enough to keep people in a unfair situation. So food was not a need, but a desire in 18th century Europe. And a loaf of bread is no different than stealing a television set. Where did this come from? Greed. And from the lower classes to the upper, we are socialized to believe this wad of horse shit. And the greed trickles down. Poverty is the social frustration of desire. Poor people want to be able to have access to the things of rich people because the rich have it easy. And being part of society and all it's assumptions of wants and needs runs deep into the soul of every human being. We want to flaunt our talents and uniqueness and we want to feel special. Willy Loman was certainly special once. But when folks came back from the war and the GI bill put more college grads out there, a salesman became just a salesman. Bernards started replacing Willies and by Christ, look at what something as simple as an image does. Post industry is what happened to Willy Loman. How often do you see a show like Rosanne on TV? Working class people have been eliminated from our social awareness. They exist. It's funny how media, pop culture hype and marketing all play a role in shifting what we believe is reality. Postindustry, cyberculture, social networking are all glittery terms like greed is good, that call us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It's sad. And we all want to be the man, too. Which is more sad.

I have to repeat the words of my Mexican buddy who comes to America and is taken aback by how little we really stop and look at classism. "How much is enough? Is there ever a time when these people [wealthy Americans] say 'I'm satisfied'?" Luxury is disappointing. Just ask kids in the 1950s. Home life may be more tranquil in the suburbs, but building so-called solutions doesn't really solve the fundamental problem that has driven contemporary culture: the problem of society. We should learn from our Latino and Native brothers: how we mingle with others is a part of achieving happiness. And as business continues to grow and deregulation allows business to shift work around to suit the creation of profit and people are constantly competing and searching aimlessly for that "American Dream," we will still feel anxiety and unfulfillment. Free markets can't bring that fulfillment. We learned that in the 1950s as Jack Kerouac watched people wander around at night in their cars. Until we can start building small, stable, localized economies that only function to fill needs and not create them, until we can build actual communities where people help each other through real problems that are now reserved for disinterested professionals, until we can all view each other as a friend, we will all be lost travelers on these long and winding roads, whether in a car or on the roadside hitching for a ride. Please buy local produce, chat a while with people in your neighborhood deli, volunteer at a community arts festival or nursing home, take a look at all the hidden gems your community has to offer. You cannot change the world, or stop large corporations, or completely restructure the economy. But with 4 dollar gas, it might be wise to start the movement. Think locally, act locally. You might be surprised at just how many of the answers are hiding under your nose.

-EvanReynolds Filed under: BloggingMarxist MusingsMedia TheoryPhilosophyPostmodern PonderingsSocial Values | | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

March 28, 2008

VOTE

I don't care who you vote for, go out and register. I don't care what you think about voting... VOTE.

To make it easy, I will give some resources:

Voting records (by party)

Republican

John McCain

Democratic

Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama

Campaign Platform

Hillary Clinton

John McCain (directly from official campaign site)

Barack Obama

Ralph Nader

Voter registration in PA:

http://www.dos.state.pa.us/voting/cwp/view.asp?a=1192&Q=442984


Absentee ballots:

Go to the United States' state government page, go to the state in which you are registered to vote, click on state government and then voting. Here, there should be a link about absentee ballots. Go there and follow your states instructions for acquiring one.

-EvanReynolds Filed under: Blogging | | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0)

March 15, 2008

Bigger Ain't Better - A Manifesto for American Liberals

So how can any good liberal person sit there and support globalization? The new wave of non-profit industry that appears to be sweeping the nation, encompassing anything from global water quality to poverty-stricken villages in Africa and Haiti to international ethnic conflicts, is doing a disservice to the world and to Americans in particular. George Orwell made clear his position about socialism: that bureaucratic socialism further alienated the worker from a sense of purpose and dignity and contributed even more to class antagonisms ("all pigs are created equal, but some pigs are created more equal than others"). This is a point in the venture of our culture where a huge divergence is met and liberals as a group, again can be thrown to the blame. It is the social and economic liberals who must face the harsh indictment of responsibility for times like these. The free market ideology of contemporary Western liberalism allowed for corruption due to the over-inflation of industry. Somewhere along the way, someone had the brilliant idea that larger, more centalized industry could drive down the cost of goods and allow for more employment opportunities (iow: inflation from and out-of-balance and unmanagable supply and demand and lower wages for workers with increased remedial factory work). Did it work? Yes and no. It did what it was designed to do and that is, increase the wealth of nations and elevate the GDP of each nation that adopts such a model. What it didn't do was alter the rates of unemployment. Conservatives who stand against increases in minimum wage are correct in their assumption that wage inceases cut jobs. However, this is a catch-22. Wages are increased based on the cost of living. Minimum wage, in theory, was put in place so that a worker could have the security of a job that allowed that person the base pay for supporting their life. The problem is not with the wage increase, the problem is with the system that will not yield to low-end worker's rights and cut profits to support its employees. Being that there is a lockbox on the profits set aside for investors, who gets shafted? The people that have the money? Or the people that need the money?

So with this heavily-guarded interest, the "risk-taking" investors (hardly a risk when the profits are made, whether legally and ethically or not) are the ones who have the first dibs on the booty 'cause they just put so much on the line for it. This is the context for the next transition in American culture circa 1980 when regionalism started to really die and globalization started kicking in. As Americans became displeased with the disproportion of remedial jobs to skilled labor jobs, large national corporations started making deals with other "developing nations" (note the use of language suggesting that if you don't have capitalism in your area, you are lacking something. areas of the world aren't bad because of war, genocide, pollution and diseases arising from death, decay, and pollution, these areas are bad because they don't have capitalism (you cannot refute that this is not cultural hegemony, because it is). Compare surveys of the state of pre-colonial Africa with similar types of documents highlighting post-colonial Africa and tell me what the great benefit of giving a western structure to Africa was. Jobs that had involved little to no skill were given off to people in other nations with less restrictions on human rights violations. Did this open up jobs here? No. It took away jobs and created a huge push to make a lucrative business out of the technologies that were developed originally for war and corporate communication. Now you have the machines that drove industry through the 70s and 80s sitting on your desk.

There were pros and cons to this. Pros: business machines are cheaper, more opportunity to create local and regional business. Cons: the dot-com boom and bust and the revision of computer marketing strategies. Perhaps regionalism would have had an uprising and grassroots community development would have succeeded if it weren't for Wal-Mart and the rise of shopping malls. If you had the choice of going one place for everything with lower prices or several places for things with the prices of yesterday when a dollar meant something what would you pick? Don't even lie to me, you stupid, rebellious, Lasn-reading hipsters. Your dollar suddenly means less because there is more of it (see the context I established above), you will go and you will be drawn in to the sights, the smells and the sounds and you will have grown up only knowing shopping malls, image, competition, taste, cool, trendy. You will have become the consumer culture. People are cruel with this shit. It may look like a series of arbitrary images, but like money, it becomes a passionate and competitive game to outcool, out-trend and out-spend your opponent. And as companies like Apple computers started making graphical desktop options, the market shifted for computers and consumers want the computers for games and fun and novelty mostly. Again, we have a computer at our house and you don't. And even more, we have an Apple and you don't. Image + competition = brand loyalty.

And about the new wave of regionalism? Down town city spaces became ghost towns because of the dubbed "Wal-Mart effect." Small business is something virtually impossible to keep and would not last long without the intervention of town and state government grants. The very thing conservatives protest (socialism) is the very thing that supports "conservative" values (ie; home, family, community, etc). So as large business ventures go out of hand and the older generation, who had been under the foolish impression that capitalism is virtue because it creates opportunities, moves to make non-profit ventures (or repentent sinners such as Bill Gates move to prove that their wave of capitalism isn't all bad and there are good things it has... is... will do). This is our current crisis. Our culture is caught in the age of ideas, the age of solutions. Businesses start of the premise that they offer "solutions for... [insert clever-sounding piece of bullshit]." Corporations tout in the advertisements "we've created solutions for... [another clever-sounding piece of bullshit]." Global climate change has been an irrefutable problem... ask any PA resident about the weather. And now non-profit ventures see themselves as virtuous and valliant crusaders, giving [insert class, gender, race or nationality of people] [insert virtuous-sounding sollution]." Notice how all these ventures are pure abstractions. There is no specific pitch as to what exactly these entreprises do to what specific, measurable phenomenon of the world.

We are moving from an age of disciplinarianism to an age of interdisciplinarianism and innovation. We just now see how much the inflated economic entreprise affects us and we are trying to find something to work for to fix the problems that were caused by this vehicle which we are using to fix the problems. It's a chaotic viscious cycle. The world is pure abstraction. Poor people don't exist save the ones we see in print, on TV or on the internet. I have seen yuppies all but run over bums begging for a job in Shadyside, the same ones who feel like they are doing a service to society. What is society? Society is chaos. It is mass society. Mass society is people swarming around arbitrarily without the coherance of a movement looking for opportunity. Is there opportunity? Why is there the largest disparity between rich and poor with a quickly-vanishing middle class? Why? Because regionlism is dead. Because we have all lost a sense of place. Community does not exist in a geographical sense. Community is now ideological and ideologies clash. Call me anti-intellectual, I don't care. Intellect is dead. The American culture war is a product of this ideological grouping. More and more people have been forced into unemployment offices, on the phone, on job hunt web pages, onto online social networks. This has altered the social consious of people. Who does this hurt? The poor who are stuck in run-down communities, in the boondocks, in the ghettos. If the jobs go wherever they want, governed only by the arbitrary whims of a mass global society and the demands of the mass global economy, people are forced to constantly move. I will argue that always we are only responsible for what we see. That doesn't mean that we can help the people of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, but what it does mean is that if we want to help them, we should move there and help them without mediation. Funneling money is counterproductive. Non-profit business is not virtuous. It is still business and must be met with every grain of distrust. Teach the people how to build homes, how to live from the land. How to defend the land that is rightfully theirs and form trade unions to secure just trading with buyers.

And for Godsakes, lets also work on America and her problems because the brooding, heartless conservative ideologies that are rising into dominance now are speaking to an oppressed people in America and promising many good things for lower-class Americans. LIBERALS: we know what we base our beliefs on and that is the liberation of humanity. We were opposed to slavery, we were there in the factories with the workers demanding fair treatment, we spoke up about the lynchings in Birmingham, the hate crimes against gays, lesbians and transgendered people, we demanded assylum inmates be treated with dignity and we saw that the death of the regimes of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini would be a reality. A liberal is always with the oppressed even in a physical sense, and the liberal must always guard the underdog from the teeth of his/her oppressor. America must not allow the shallow words of conservative power elites enter the possiblity of popularity.

While there are still communities standing, support your community. Volunteer. Clean up the place. Take pride in your town. Get to know the youth and the elderly and build up regional and community activity. Globalization is not a word in the liberal vocabulary. The chaos can only stop with you - stand firm, be active in local politics. Speak up at church about the real words of Christ and not some decontextualized interpretation. Help solve the problems at home, not with empty, glorious-sounding words but with real action. Bigger ain't better. It is only the small, base and wretched that can save the world.

-EvanReynolds Filed under: Feminist PerspectivesMarxist MusingsMedia TheoryPostmodern PonderingsSocial Values | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

January 30, 2008

Disinterest, intervention, and "democratic liberation"

Watch this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9Samvw6Z08&NR=1

Foucalt had taken a very radical and critical look at the history of interventionist institutions of Europe, in Discipline and Punish. Think about the very negative argument that he makes in this book. Modern prisons were not produced by a structural change of the aristocratic system of jails. Prisons were built on the pretext of "reform" and "discipline." The penal courts of Europe were another arbitrary institution, merely carrying out the laws created and defined by the values of the new ruling bourgeois class, without regard to an objective, central definition of civility and just behavior. Within the foundations of the prison system, Foucault points out, there was a strikingly large assumption that the codes of behavior instituted by "common laws" were based on just and ordered behavior. This rings true of the emergence of the American bourgeoisie in the post Reconstruction era with national prohibition declared in the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, supported by the Women's Temperance movement, ironically before women's suffrage. "Civilized" America passed a law to restrict the freedoms of the populace. What does prohibition have to do with temperance? Moderation? Justice? With such narrow, concrete and specific definitions of law, we can see the fundamental alienation of truth from arbitrary law. No. Alcohol consumption has nothing to do with any of those. A national amendment could be seen as the red flag of the nonobjective opinions of the ruling class (consumed with fear, apparently, from the undeveloped and "uncivilized" state of America) being instituted within the administrative structures.

This is widely applicable to much of American law: abortion is a separate term from murder, even though the pretext of making abortion illegal is defining this term with the established definition of murder (trouble is, it is also established as a medical practice, making culpability almost impossible in a courtroom, or at bare minimum, a greater waste of public funds than prosecuting a murder case with the intent of capital punishment); marijuana is a plant that produces high levels of the chemical THC, illegal by the statutes of the US Code, a plant which is part of an existing ecosystem cannot be considered illegal (it would be like saying your dog's fur is illegal for citizens to touch and that Fido can exist, but you cannot touch your doggy) but making a part of the plant with no pretense other than the profound effects on the body (which include the alluring ability to synthesize treatments for Alzheimer's, Dementia, etc, etc); a contrary example would be the household cleaning supplies used to manufacture methamphetamines are legal despite the high concentration of poisonous chemicals and questionable value of their usage, but in synthesis, rather than analysis, they are illegal.

If we wanted to stop drug usage or sexual activity, we would need to change the culture (the age-old evil socialism). Instead, to stop the drug culture from exchanging chemicals, we brand certain specific substances as dangerous (even with the questionable content of cigarettes, colas, and fast food) and declare their usage, possession (which this legal term is justified with preemptive rhetoric of "with intent to ___"), and exchange. Is this disinterest? I would argue it is class indoctrination. Laws of substances have circumstantial connection with justice and order. It's not the profundity of the chemical effects on the body, society, etc, it is the culture that is looked down upon with fear and ignorance, so the due process of law and order is circumvented and preemptive interventionism is carried out. Drug usage has nothing to do with order. People use conscious-altering drugs everyday. If drugs had a causal promotion of crime, chocoholics would all be in prison. Faulty assumptions, again. The leaders of the ruling class call it an "intervention," claiming it is based in disinterest. But how can drugs be defined as a crime if they are a promotion of crime? Money is exchanged so freely that IBM has concretely been linked to economic support of the South African Apartheid regime. But it's more than money here in America. It's fear and ignorance. That is why I can sit here and deconstruct American Law. If a teenage pothead can be held accountable for a little escape from the harsh oppressive world in his/her freetime, then all parties tied to the large corporate exchange of resources to oppressive dictatorships should be held accountable without any extenuating pretense or exception. How is the Law able to permit illegal actions like Enron, yet crack down on a group of reckless teenagers that have indisputably less impact on society? Why target the small, decentralized actions of certain people. That is your answer. Certain people. Antidepressants are distributed like candy. Psychiatry does not know enough nor do the "professionals" invest the time for clearly and accurately diagnosing such problems. You come in feeling the blues, they give you pills you feel happy.

This is a problem because the same antidepressants can increase thoughts of suicide and not just ideations, but plans as well. Here is clear culpability because of the lack of scientific rigor in large-market drugs. But drugs that impair or enhance certain processes of the endocrine and nervous systems to produce the "high" are all lumped into the same category: detrimental to social order. However, if such drugs are against such order, why must there be a "war on drugs" which relies on leads and arrests of recreational users to catch distributors? If drugs promote social disarray, it should be easy to end "the drug problem." But the assumption that certain drugs promote crime in all people is a faulty assumption. Dosage, interaction with other substances, and individual differences in the way each person processes chemicals all come into play with the effects of a drug on behavior. Go back to physiology or neuropsychology. And the issue is social disorder and the promotion of crime, which is a choice. Right-winged political movements can say they promote individual integrity and personal responsibility, but the rhetoric of the drug laws out of the heyday of American conservatism prove otherwise. You will not be held accountable to cause social disorder because we won't even give you the chance is the message. The assumptions lead one to see the oligarchical class interests present in the policies of our institutions. Guns have also been scientifically verified to promote violent thoughts and behaviors instinctively, that is, across cultures, genders, and age groups. If you want to stop social disarray, the best place to start would be the total prohibition of the production of weaponry. Just a thought.

I think people brand Foucault as a skeptic unfairly. Yes, this is skepticism, but also a call to re-evaluate the way we approach topics of justice, to be aware of the difference between justice and rationalization.

Now, what does this all have to do with Chomsky? Simple. Here, with two very contrasting philosophies (Chomsky is a very traditional, "old-skool" rationalist who places a large emphasis on free and objective inquiry), you can see an overlap. Chomsky addresses the same issues as Foucault with careful examination of the policies and going directly to the contradictions, not the gaps. There are both in the oligarchical, indoctrinational policies of American Law and also foreign policy. Prescription drugs are often released before real stability is achieved, and side effects that promote violent, antisocial actions can be observed. What a contradiction! You would think in a world of "free entreprise" that someone could create a meth lab and make a tightly-controlled factory of narcotics. You just have to scratch your head at such "disinterest." Can there be order? If there can be contradiction, I whole-heartedly believe there can be order. Laws, taxes, and other elements of American government privilege the privileged. America, the public institution does not support economic democracy. In fact, the favor is not on the person with a new idea or a better way to organize society. The favor is on the people with money and power to gain more money and power. Our "economic democracy" slipped away like the free citizens of Athens to a state of oligarchy. The top 10% of the economic class spectrum increased salaries by twice as much as the bottom 20% in the last decade. This is not real freedom. This is arbitrary "every man for himself" with hardly any accountability for actions. The social contract has expired. Bigger is the new better. And Reaganomics and deregulation has expanded into corporate welfare. As we can note in the application of social order and substance, it is easy to catch someone down below. Expand police deployment in an area and the amount of criminals caught and persecuted increases, that is the most certain statistic. People can be caught in a regional placement. Can a person with a private jet be caught? Do we deploy police to hospitals rampant with faulty medical practices? To pharmaceutical companies that release drugs before the recommended date by the scientists that make the drugs? Do we listen to the factory worker about whether an increase in production is feasible?

Regional economies work much more effectively because they rely on the presumption that people are capable of doing bad things. In fact, social psychology holds that people are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior if they know they are not being watched. The destructive effects of selfishness and antisocial views of people are easier to address in a smaller, decentralized, and organized grouping of people. The bystander effect increases in magnitude with an increase in bystanders and after a certain point, where there is a mass of people, a crowd, there becomes no noticeable change in this effect and a crowd simply becomes an impersonal crowd. We all don't like much of the Bush administration's actions, left and right alike, but what can we do? The President is so far removed from the people that direct arrest of this person is impossible. And conversely, the president is so far removed, the effects of the agenda set by his network of power elite leaders cannot be seen and comprehended. A CEO cannot ask his workers directly about the conditions, nor does he care. The social structures we cling to objectify the people who work who are the foundation of order and create all the stuff. You are just a number in the grid. War is a video game and soldiers no longer have to carry the burden of a bayonet and kill the enemy directly. Lower class society is placed in a depersonalized machine to produce for the people with the drive and agenda to do whatever they want. Criticize the ruling class and the only thing they can produce is insults, interruptions and rationalizations, as seen in the video where this "American" talks with a pompous, unnecessary, and fake British accent to assert some intelligence that he lacks, while interrupting Chomsky, who remains composed, rational and attentive to each question. Chomsky responds with careful, nuanced analysis to irrelevant metaphor, historical revisionism, and just outright snobbery.

Who can watch the watchmen when they are held in the safety of their penthouse and mansions? If the people below can be held accountable in the eyes of the law, so can the ruling class.

Freedom is the ability to make choices. Liberty is the freedom from being forced to make choices. In America, there are few who have both freedom and liberty. The social contract is not a computer algorithm, it cannot be expanded into infinity. I agree with Chomsky. The American fixation of imposing "democracy" upon the world goes against America's roots in Libertarianism (Classic libertarian. Emphasis is always on liberty and absence of coercion, not right to property. "pursuit of happiness" not "pursuit of financial gain." Conservatism is revisionism). Indoctrination, and policies that border on cultural hegemony are what we are dealing with. I salute Richard Rodriguez for rejecting the myths of both "melting pot" ideology and "multiculturalism." I am incredulous of such metanarratives of American culture. And yes, I am a skeptic. There is no term or image to replace these with. Such issues are frivolous and waste intellectual energy defining a culture that formed out of the Founding Fathers project to end the bullshit of Europe and allow pure liberation to evolve. We have a common history, that is the most important part of American identity. Any indoctrination about who we are, the food(s) we eat, the language(s) we speak are all detractions from the real issues: the promise of liberty and the institutions that corrupted that promise.

-EvanReynolds Filed under: Marxist MusingsPhilosophyPostmodern PonderingsSocial Values | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

January 21, 2008

The Making of America

Read the news - the stock market is wobbling and of course, investors are crying to Uncle Sam for intervention. And being that the government is filled by the same power elites with the similar investments, the government will comply to the requests whole-heartedly. Anticipate tax breaks for large corporations and upper-middle class consumers that buy most of the useless status goods that make our economy go. Do small businesses ever get tax relief in times of economic crisis? Why is this? The majority of jobs (jobs, not occupations or careers) are filled by large corporations. Numbers speak without context in capitalism. Relief happens at the highest level because our paradigm is set to globalization. Regional economies will be extinct after this epoch.

Here's an assignment: research a way to build a co-op or local organic farm with your knowledge and a recent-college-grad budget.

Development happens with a large-scale privilege. Anyone can call paradigms like regionalism, syndicalism and anarchy idealistic. But is it? What is the great benefit of large-scale economic expansionism? Europe exceeded the US economic strength with high productivity and innovative technologies. And Europe is built on regionalized, socialist economies. If there are people that want the laissez-faire capitalism that Rand envisioned, here it is. Consumerism is the most permissive form of laissez-faire possible without chaos and collapse into dictatorship, oligarchy, and fascism.

There is no one in the ruling class that has the intelligence and drive to create a function that can govern international trade. And if such a person existed anywhere, that person would not put forth the effort to create such a system because reason would tell anyone that has even read news articles about scientific research into global climate, global society and global mass development, that globalization is something that cannot happen and should not be attempted. We can play God, but there is no human above another. Charity is not relief, relief is going to the oppressed and exploited people of the world and fixing the collapsing houses, cleaning the water, teaching the people culturally non-invasive practices of farming, house building, cooking, medicine, etc. And while fixing the structural problems of deteriorating areas, lock up the real criminals of the world, the ones that pretend to be the solutions to all the "problems" of the natural order.

The people that rule are not gods. They are not even more intelligent. They are simply powerful. In Greek mythology, gods were not divine and omnibenevolent beings. Gods were simply humans with exaggerated human abilities. What does competition produce? Refined skills. Period. You can produce a large set of great items and become adept at selling them (or simply the latter, in most cases). We got good at creating chemicals from the Earth. Good at building and refining chemicals that can kill with a drop. But wait... we suck at contextualizing. We look at things in a fragmented, blinder-eyed way. Sure, we can perfect killing someone, but...

We should spend more time in fixing our society - a society jaded with over-crowded cities, which are the only place to find a good job anymore. We see problems everywhere but here. Children are starving in Africa, of course. But you cannot help Africa without relocating. I suggest if you feel bad for African children, pay a visit to your local charity organization and demand to create programs for helping the children in Wilkinsburg or East Liberty. Me, I would love to be nostalgic and subscribe to the way it was in the 50s. You go to work and get paid enough to live. But you can't go back. People call me idealistic? We're all scrambling to "advance," to "climb the ladder." Where? Where are you all going? Y'all look like your going insane, to me. We all are. We look at this social organization and don't so much as bat an eyelash. It is more reminiscent of a bunch of people thrown into a tank and scrambling to get above the other one to prevent themselves from drowning.

This is not order with random acts of chaos (a society envisioned by Rousseau). This is chaos with random acts of order (what simply allowing people to do whatever they desire without governance by greater principle). The social contract is not something that cannot be achieved. If you can put all you energies in supporting a global economy, you certainly can make a change in "the way things are" (tm). Thomas Paine held the idea that America could exist without the governance of English nobility and that every generation would be a new opportunity to push for liberty and equality. After the failed Articles of Confederation, do you think the founders of our country were expecting a document that would last this long without extensive revision? (Whatever happened to the idea of reviewing the Constitution every decade?) Democracy cannot statically exist. Ask the ancient Greeks. Paine was right that it is something that should get deeper and richer. Did it?

I am libertarian-socialist in outlook, but I wish more people would stop relying on the large structures to create America. America is not up there, out there, over yonder... America is here. And we still don't have a unified society or a coherent culture. The oligarchies of Europe at least had a sense of collective identity. Now, I shall slip into an acid-dropping Lewis Carrol state and ask:

"WHO ARE YOU???"

I'm not out to rationalize a particular view of American identity. I disagree with both the idea of the "Melting Pot" and "Multiculturalism." "Brown" is a better idea and Richard Rodriguez should be crowned with sprigs of olive branches for that book. But we seriously need to consider what is America because we now have not only transgressed the natural order with pollution and genocide of Native peoples (yes, full genocide. There are only a handful of surviving Native tongues. Native Americans are a culture, not a race. That is the way Native people identify themselves and we killed them more when we forbid their language.), we have transgressed the foundation of American government (right, Mr. Bush?).

The question is not a trick question. We all know what America is, but we can't put it into words. But you don't have to. In fact, it cannot be put into words. It cannot be put into symbols. "These are the times..." right? Keep your eyes open for propaganda. It worked in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, 9/11. I think everyone that's lived in America for most of their life knows what it means to be American. The issue is not identity, the issue is organization and right now, I think we should pay more attention to our social order.

Just a thought...

-EvanReynolds Filed under: Marxist MusingsMedia TheoryPhilosophyPostmodern PonderingsSocial Values | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

January 11, 2008

Where all the so-called "opportunities"?

Being that so many conservatives still clinging to the ideology of "self-interest creates opportunities for all," I just want to know where all the opportunities are for our crowding population. Life expectancy is high, abortion is a difficult option for many people caught up in this crumbling society, and adoption is impossible, even for the well-to-do gay couples that raise their privileged voice for every person that does not identify as straight. Where are all these opportunities? If they are there, where can you find them? The job market shifts so drastically that die-hard conservatives have become hip and almost completely disconnected from the working classes that last year they were so eager to identify with. This is such a new spin in the culture war. If you step back for a few seconds, you can see just how removed the ruling class is from the people. There is so much hype surrounding each candidate... "oh we could have the first black president!" "our president can be a woman for once!" "we have a Mormon running!"

What about the real issues? Pollution? Foreign policy specifically relating to third-world development? Unemployment? Job security (especially for writing-related jobs)? But with a highly-hyped culture of cool within the middle class being fed with propaganda about professional identity and networking. It is now cool to be a yuppie. We can find solutions to everything - all our environmental problems, all the urban decay - with capitalism. But we forget that we are relying on the cause of these problems to find solutions.

That is why I disagree so passionately with all these so-called "anarchists": the system will never collapse. Everything feeds on fear. As long as we recognize problems and create "solutions", bureaucracy will always exist and capitalism will be here tomorrow. As long as we think our neighbor will rob us at night, that strange men deal drugs to our kids in school, that the person in the trailer next door to us "robs from welfare," that somebody has it in for us somewhere and somehow, capitalism will exist and pat us on the back and say: "it's okay, work your life away in our factory with a constant uncertainty about whether we will keep you, and we will solve all these problems, all your fears will go away and you can be wealthy."

The clergy of the Medieval period told their suffering peasants their reward was in heaven. What is the reward of the people that work over 90 hours a week on minimum-wage jobs? The fact is, this structure created by the bourgeoisie in revolt against the aristocracy, in favor of a world of "charity," "wealth," and "freedom" was even more against the natural order. With it came an obscene emphasis on refinement, cleanliness, and conduct. You can refine oppression to look less and less nasty. Put nice words in people's mouths, make them speak a certain way, make them take a bath and comb and style their hair, make them act certain ways, get them to appreciate finely-crafted products of culture, but in the end, the pursuit of these has led to brutality, exploitation, public health crises, race, class and gender antagonisms, and pollution.

To remind the world of Derrida's main thesis about the canon, the bourgeois project of modernity was simply to use canonical texts, fictional and non-fictional, from Western history to justify the interests of their class. To extend this understanding, most writers without polished and refined writing styles -in the codified languages of Europe- were not granted the privilege to be published and exalted. It wasn't until the age of critical theory that we discovered the novelty of "refined texts" would wear off with nothing new that the publishing world printed anything novel. Now, being that the literate world is jaded and novelty is not even novel, we have a post-literate culture. But, right when art was ending in the industrial world, science came with promise.

Polio vaccines, household cleaning supplies, ultra-sterile medical equipment, efficient transportation, bridges, highways, military equipment... the atom bomb. Technology allowed the appropriation of the culture of scientific inquiry into the business-dominated world of industry. We still view the ground God set before us as "dirty," deriving our perception of something uninvited into the space of our lives with something that was here, that was part of the natural order. We fear the germs that we can't even see more than we fear the greedy, selfishly-motivated leaders of our world. We accuse the weak of being weak. That personality is a choice. That you can have control over yourself. Did we forget that there is a social order that people cannot control. How can you control unemployment when hiring or firing has no real objective grounds other than the already-established company's functioning? Everything needed for survival and happiness was already here before human intervention. Now that we've caught ourselves in the age of global ecology that few understand, we feel a need to fix that as well. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The world wasn't broke, but we sure tried to fix it.

Did we succeed? Depleted ozone-layer gases? A quickly diminishing drinkable water supply? International political conflicts? A flimsy international market? People governed only by what will make them wealthy?

These are the dirty things of our planet. These did not exist until we made them. Money didn't grow on trees for a reason. Contradicting the natural order, we made a mess of things. That little bit of dust in your clean and sparkling house is a reminder that your privilege that your ancestors seized for themselves contradicted the flat, communistic, anti-hierarchical, and yes, boring order that had existed before these transgressions.

Seeing people holding signs in front of grocery stores, fathers of 4 kids that will work for food. So easy and convenient, right? Easy for the few. Women on street corners in Pittsburgh that have been standing idle in the cold for long enough to hint that they aren't waiting for a cab. Yuppies driving BMWs in Shadyside nearly running over poor black mothers with their kids looking for a job somewhere, women that these privileged "hard-working, driven individuals" don't recognize the existence of.

The sad thing is, George Orwell was being too generous with the date 1984. Now, we don't even consider class. We are blind to the caste that people are born into. Who their friends were in high school, their college of choice. And the middle-class, more than ever, avoids the Orwellian admonition to not lose connection with the lower class. We've abandoned that for a long time. The bottom class is socially illegal as they "refuse to tow the weight" with us "hard-working" middle classers. Where are the opportunities? If there are college graduates that can barely get a full-time job, what gives people the indication that a job for high-school dropouts that have worked since they were 14 is easy?

We have refined oppression. Refinement does not eliminate oppression. That's why I say "FUCK CAPITALISM." It's not about sounding pleasant, looking nice, feeling all warm and fuzzy. The surface of the human being has become oh-so aesthetically-pleasing. We've perfected the look and refined the cultural processes, even found ways to manipulate them. But deep inside, humans are still the vile, shit-flinging vermin that Darwin always loomed over, reminding us of our "lowly origin." We still compete on an individual level and loosely network with people of similar status, of similar tastes, of similar interest to sustain our disgusting way of life. The people holding paper cups on the street are us. As long as we hold to our ideology of "advancement," we will continue to dehumanize ourselves and others. And our shameless pursuit of refining the already perfect resources of the planet will exhaust the limited supply and fill the Earth with things that we may yet find later to be dangerous to local and global ecology.

Congratulations to all the oh-so clever modernist movers-and-shakers from the anxiety of this senseless postmodern age... you've managed to change the exterior of our problems. You've sprayed down the facade of your ivory tower, while inside the books are dusty, worn, and have been locked away from use. I hope there are people that are concerned about the truth, with a curiosity about the natural order and how to reverse our attack on it.

"And now it is once more the tidal wave/ That when it has swept by leaves summits stained./ Oh, blood will out. It cannot be contained."
-Robert Frost

Damn, I think he would have made one helluva commie! :) Every day is the judgment day, and everyday we cast our vote for the state of the world... vote wisely!

-EvanReynolds Filed under: | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

December 9, 2007

Merry Christmas

You can throw the animals in a cage, but in the end that accomplishes nothing... They are still animals.

The only real difference between the millionaire in the penthouse and the whore he exploits is the whore will go to bed hungry tonight. Always guard your open eyes make sure you thank God this holiday for being privileged with food and a place to sleep. When the semester starts, I pray you all will consider all the maniacal acts of the rich and powerful in the name of liberty and justice. I will believe in a great leader when I see one... We're all just a bunch of monkeys that all support a wildly pathological breach of the natural order.

-EvanReynolds Filed under: | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

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