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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.

Posted by EvanReynolds at 4:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 24, 2007

My position on the whole "gay rights" thing

After having been approached by a couple of Seton Hill professors and discussing the issue of "gay rights" and being rebuked at having "too conservative" viewpoints on queer issues, I feel like taking five minutes of my free time to explain my very leftist, libertarian and radical position on these issues. I will be specific and list one-by-one:

  1. Gays in the military: in the words of Bill Hicks, "anyone dumb enough to want to be in the military should be allowed in... End of fucking story. That should be the only requirement. I don't care how many push-ups you can do - put on a helmet, go wait in that fox hole. We'll tell you when we need you to kill somebody."
  2. Gay adoption: I think adoption is great. Why don't we cut taxes on that and compensate by raising taxes on unnecessary drugs (like Viagra). Oh wait, silly me. This is America and we support family values, that's right. Even better, why don't we start encouraging people to adopt gay kids. Who cares about a gay couple that has cash to blow on a baby. What about the kids kicked out of their house for telling their parents a dirty three-letter word?
  3. Homophobia: Why don't all you gay people who happen to be "oh so afraid to go out at night" do yourselves a favor (ask some of my friends that grew up in the ghetto) go to your county courthouse, get a form called the Application for Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon. It only takes five minutes. Then you can set aside some money you would normally buy on clothes (what a loss! Cause I know you are all just so poor, right?) and buy a 9mm, maybe a Glock. They fit nicely in a purse. Do this before they stop awarding those permits.
  4. Gay marriage: Why would you want to get married anyway? Really. C'mon! Marriage is a failing institution and we've already fucked up the US budget and given 83% of all the revenues to fight a useless war to stimulate economic growth so that we wouldn't need Social Security and retirement funds could be privatized. It's the most disgusting thing to see people promoting gay rights lionize such a disgusting and oppressive institution. In a perfect world, life partnership would be about love and not economics. But in this world, America would do well to follow suit with France and make all government marriages civil unions and keep the marriage vows and sentimental crap in the churches where it belongs.
  5. Gay pride/coming out/the LBGT "community": Look... Quit separating and fracturing sexual orientation. If you want to let the world know there are gay people in the world, tell your friends. Tell your co-workers. Tell your high school crush you think he/she is hot as hell. Waving a rainbow flag, purposefully talking with a lisp, perpetuating the drama, acting psychotic/depressed all have nothing at all to do with being attracted to someone of the same sex. Putting the moves on someone really fine, however...

I'm sick of the yuppies, the white-skinned, middle class, suburban kids, the socialites, the sociopathic gay rights "activists," and all the other insecure gays that complain about "how bad they have it." Someone always has it worse than you. Quit being selfish and asserting your situation as "the worst." It's not. Most of these people are in college, are huge business leaders, are famous, and are oppressing other people. Class oppression is the only kind of social oppression that is very clear. Class doesn't discriminate. The luck of the draw gives your fortunes. Quit the useless bickering about only the surface issues of queer oppression. Homonormativity is just as oppressive as heteronormativity. Yet even with this type of oppression, the socialite well-to-dos who never talk to the gay people who really are oppressed and really are silenced, get to make all the changes, dictate all the dogma for everyone.

Posted by EvanReynolds at 9:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 27, 2007

The Misnomer of the "Politically Correct"

I would be hard-pressed to find any highly-informed liberal thinker who would say that he/she fully supports the concept of "political correctness." The term was not readily adopted by the movement of cultural progressivism. In fact, I would venture to stand in support of the British columnist Will Hutton's claim that PC was in all actuality a pejoritive term created by conservative factions to be applied to and discredit a movement in liberalism taking shape in the 1980s. With a second wave of feminism, increased emphasis on race issues, and the gay liberation movement, it makes sense that the dominant political ideology would be shitting its pants. When people begin to question, it produces mass protest. The movement of cultural progressivism could be thought of as forming on two grounds: linguistic and political. The grounds of the linguistic created the concept of "inclusive language." This is derived from the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (biased language promotes biases). Often, when I hear conservatives say "damn PC run amok..." I often think they only consider the linguistic grounds. Political grounds for cultural progressivism are harder to pinpoint to one source. If I had to take a stab, I'd say that cultural progressivism was a challenge to the "gentleman's club" mindset of capitalists. But even more, cultural progressivism was seeking to do something that the term PC claims it goes against: creating an open discourse.

A good example of the value of this movement and why PC is a misnomer for it can be seen in the movie Philadelphia. The corporate culture can be seen as the inciter of this riot. Because corporations were ruling the show under the economic conditions of the time and because most of the corporate culture was disparagingly white, male heterosexuals, there was an extreme injustice not just in the policy, but also in the birth of future policy. The idea is that no one person or group of people should dominate the political discourse. Because our society is based in self-interest, in order to get the interest of every person met, you need to have every voice represented. The whole unifying concept is that some groups have dominated the discourse with a language based in bullying, and thus, without the ability to use harsh and hurtful language to dominate and exploit minority voices, every voice gets a better chance of being heard. And if every voice gets heard, the problem of the tyranny of the majority can be to some degree solved.

Political correctness is an empty word. It is a self-contradicting value judgment. Restraint must be practiced in holding the conversation so that the dynamic of democracy in our representative system would not succumb to the mobocracy of conservative interests alone. The idea of PC gives the impression that there should be no restraint; that people should be able to speak their minds when they want and the loudest voice is the most right and deserving of power; that anything against this idea stifles progress. But really, discourse without order accomplishes nothing besides one dominating voice and an ochlocracy (mobocracy). The somewhat-anarchic ideals of extreme conservatism are held for a reason. Anarchy not only allows, but promotes exploitation and mob mentality. If the American population thought citically about what these ends achieve, they would see just how fascist and "anti-American" the progression into extreme conservatism and anarchy is. If we look at an inventory of extreme conservative ideas and actions, we see why the current admistration can be seen as subverting the Constitution (ie: wiretap monitoring of American citizens, convictions without trials, the way in which we entered the war with Iraq... the list can go on forever). If we are to uphold the Constitution, we need more than cultural progressivism, we must keep the spirit of democratic discourse alive. If I could suggest anything, get active in politics. Political apathy allows fascism to creep in, even if little by little.

Get up, go out and do a Thomas Payne! The fate of America is riding on your shoulders!!!

Posted by EvanReynolds at 5:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)