I think I will stick with this name. Sort of a hybrid of my old blog site name and this new one. ‘Gary Rumor’s Anti-Entropic Continuum’.
I am listening to the fundraiser on KPFK my local Pacifica station. Ian Masters is doing his fundraising bit. I am a big fan of community radio. I used to be a DJ on KGNU in Boulder, CO. They are always on the edge of being broke and struggle along with the aid of dedicated lefties. I gave my bit today. Second time this year. Incredibly they claim that the listener-ship is way down from where it was 10 years ago.
I was thinking about what is the matter with the left. The left has good ideas. It has solutions that are sensible and better than capitalism. So why don’t people trust them? It is probably because most lefties are perceived as being children of privilege. They are not working class people and if they are they are the smarter ones that got picked on as kids. In this day and age where being a nerd is the ideal, the less than genius level masses feel condescended to and living in a democracy, people are free to vote their resentments. So you find a smart operator like George Bush playing the everyman card, claiming I am one of you, just a regular guy who partied too much and then got religion and found his calling in the Presidency.
Lots of white males are able to identify with him. The script writers who did Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo got it just right. They played on peoples fear of homosexual rape, they played on peoples love of partying and sex and they played up George Bush as an every man who had issues with his father and a scary vice president Dick Cheney.
My Jewish and Gay friends might be wondering what happened to me. Did I turn into a proto fascist? No, but I have been of late wondering why the left is so weak in America. I don’t care if you are a libertarian anarchist or a Stalinist workers world type. You are all marginal and I am out here on the margins with you. So why are we marginal? We like to think it is because of some conspiracy on the right to keep us down but when you think about it, even in the cultural milieus where we have dominated like the punk scene in the 80’s or the hippie scene in the 60’s, there has been no long term change brought about through anarchist communist thinking. People who are smart move on. People who are livestylers simply cocoon themselves around the symbols that make them feel comfortable and create a religious cult of the left.
We are left with the option of growing up and moving on or becoming cultists. I don’t like either option. I think we need to find a way to communicate to people on the level where they are. This means realizing people like to party when they are young. When they are older most people get tired of that or they become addicts like I did and then get sick of it much later. Older adults either keep trying to relive their youths or they accept adulthood and find the complexity of running the real world interesting. Or like me they are marginalized and frustrated by the pittance of control over my own life that I have and desire for an entry into the control room of this cosmic ship and my turn at the wheel. Now I do have a choice on certain levels. I could go into business as a capitalist and join the game on the terms that have been most optimally construed for participation. But I don’t prefer the capitalist mode of participation. I am not a good capitalist, not because I don’t understand how it works, my job is in estimating cost and assigning value. In the company I work that is exactly what I do and I am pretty good at it. But I find the capitalist system to be a wasteful use of human potential. I spend 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week doing this work. There are millions of people who are doing almost nothing at all. I would prefer to work 2 to 4 hours a day and then pass the baton on to someone else so I could spend another part of the day working on policy issues and another part of the day working on research. I do that now, but I have to spend much too much time doing the estimating job and my blog time is more an exercise and my policy time is virtually a waste of time because it is not taken seriously.
But it is this sort of thinking that upsets many people. They work hard to have a piece of the pie, They may not like this system, but they have adjusted to it and are now functioning, if not as well as I can imagine people functioning, as well as can be expected under this system. So why rock the boat? Why does this guy talk about himself like he is somebody special? I am not any more special than anyone else. But I do believe that we are all functioning at a fraction of our natural capabilities. This is not new age nonsense. And there is almost nothing more irritating to me than some child of privilege playing at being a guru-vy enlightened being with their crystals and talk with space people and all cotton fabric clothes and veggie diets. I could go on but anybody who has been to the Bodhi Tree bookstore knows of what I speak.
I know of those types, and I know the pierced and tattooed alt lifestylers who wear their identities on their sleeves. This is not the way that working people with rents or mortgages and car payments and jobs will find their way to a transformed world. We can each of us drop out and live our version of the alt lifestyle. America is very generous in that way, allowing people to go crazy and get a minimal subsidy to get by on. Or be an alt capitalist and make a million bucks selling products to these alt types. Toilet paper with a green label sells for double the price. I buy all organic food at Trader Joe’s, stuff I used to buy at the Coop before private industry drove the coops out of business.
This is something to think about. If the private industrial model can produce the shopping experience that upscale conscious alt people want, with non union labor, who am I to complain that I no longer can spend 4 hours a month doing my part at the coop to get my organic peanut butter. I go to Ralph’s around the corner to relieve my guilt at shopping at a non union Trader Joe’s. But Ralph’s doesn’t have all the organics that TJ’s has. So I vote against my class interest in favor of my cultural taste for organic foods. This is something I would like to change and I encourage Trader Joe employees to unionize. It will mean higher prices, but then perhaps Ralph’s will start carrying more of these organics and that will make them more competative. This is the rubber meeting the road where people vote with their wallets or purses.
Under capitalism many people vote for fast food. This is where we need more regulation. It should be against the law to sell junk food that aids to obesity and health problems. Under a public health plan with our taxes paying for our health care the connection would be blatant. But that goes for cigarettes and unsafe workplaces and unsafe transportation. It all is connected to the health issue just as the gas guzzlers are connected to the green house gases that are connected to the environment and all of this is connected to heath care and we are faced with a one world that is all interdependent with factory farms polluting and feeding us toxic food products that make us obese that give us diabetes that causes our health bills to go up.
No matter which way you turn it is all connected up. When you pick up one part of the stick, you get the whole stick. Either the government decides it is not its job and backs off, like the libertarians would prefer, or we get in there and develop a new system that works based on the model of the latest understanding of how the world works. If we don’t and leave it all to private industry then we are basicly saying that a model that states profit making and the drive to make a profit is the supreme value in the land. If we decide that profit is not the value we prefer to determine how we run the world, then we have to make a good argument as to why it is not the best way to do things.
Self interest has been the main driver of capitalism. It is based on a philosophical model that states greed is good. It certainly is not the only model. Most religions except perhaps Satanism do not follow that model. The others follow a model that incorporates either a belief in compassion, detachment and renouncing worldly pleasure like Buddhism, or compassion, union and salvation as with Christianity. There is the model of much of the ancient world where ones status was not determined by wealth accumulation but by agrarianism and ones skills as a fighter in defense of ones community. The simple farmer with his family at his side and perhaps a few trusty slaves who could buy their freedom was the model for Rome. Even when they were reveling in decadence at the height of the empire, that was what Romans looked to as their model. Family and country.
Business was not a primary value in the ancient world. It was not really a value that was given predominance until the hold of agrarianism with its collective values of a village working together to bring the crops in, defend themselves from invaders and trade on market day. The main alternative value system was pastoralism or nomadism. These were herding people who rode horses and had cattle, goats, sheep and other animals as their primary source of sustenance. Cooperation among nomads was a more limited event, mostly for raiding other nomads or the agrarians.
The last great conflict between nomads and agrarians was in the American west of the 19th century and the wars in southern Africa between the white settlers and the African pastoralists. This was when the technology of capitalist industrialization was transforming the centers of population in western Europe and the east coast of the United States.
There is another social system, that of the hunter gatherers. This is a state that is possible in a situation when there is a very small population or a very abundant natural resource base. When there is no capability to support agriculture or pastoralism as in the arctic or certain desert environments then hunter gatherer society are able to exist. But in the face of capitalism even hunter gatherers are incorporated. This is something new in the world a system that demands universal acquiescence. The imperative of utility demanded by capitalist development, its incessant need for cheaper sources of raw materials and markets to sell these products created by the value extracted from the labor of the workers drives it to become universal. It will soon have absorbed the entire planet. As each territory is forced to take on the nation state structure and develop legal systems that respect corporate law and allow for international trade agreements, there remains only the Antarctic as a scientific reserve without a nation state base. The rest of the surface of the planet has been colonized by capital and its dependent legal structures.
It could be argued that democracy is a development of capitalism. The Chinese are attempting to develop a social model of capitalism without democracy but that is pretty tough. The democratic form with its emphasis on the autonomy of the individual is essential for a market based system that places importance on contractual arrangements between individual entities. That is one reason why coops and families don’t do well under the capitalist mode. Mafias are a form of family and they are persecuted under the capitalist system as a hold over from the feudal period when loyalty was to ones liege lord not to ones contractor. Mafias contrary to popular opinion are like gangs not primarily economic units of wealth generation. They are mutual aid organizations with a peculiarly hierarchical structure. They create conflicting values with capitalism, promoting the loyalty to the mafia family over loyalty to the marketplace and the contract.
Communism in China promotes a state that is theoretically engaged in the project of sharing the wealth of the people on the basis of from each according to their abilities and to each according to their needs. That these social planers have determined the quickest way to get to that goal is not through enforced social equality but through the market mechanism of capitalism is an interesting concept. They are attempting to push China through the capitalist development phase to generate enough wealth to then transform into a truly socialist society. They are attempting to ride the dragon of capitalist development without the legal structures of capitalism, or with the minimal portion of them that are required. The problem is that leaves no balance. The state planers cannot be in every place putting out every fire when there is a conflict between the needs of the people and the needs of capital. Without the legal frame work of the law suit and the redress mechanism of the vote to change leadership to make it somewhat responsive, the party has to run around playing cop and settling every dispute itself. This has led to an unbalanced system.
People are expected to live as entrepreneurs in one sphere but as good socialists in another. It causes contradictions that lead to a whole new series of social problems. I don’t see how the party will be able to come through this with its reputation intact as a legitimate body for the development of socialism. All I can see is it eventually becoming the party of the oligarchs that rule in every other capitalist country and it will either adapt democratic reforms or become some semi totalitarian hybrid. Communism in its germinal state cannot be kept like a precious child swaddled in the rags of capitalism in my mind.
The structure of government reflects the society and that means capitalist societies have capitalist governments. Semi socialist societies have semi socialist governments. That is why the right wingers are correct in the analysis that says Obama is bringing socialism. He is. But he is not doing it fast enough or consciously enough. He is trying to save capitalism by regulating it into being nice. Sort of like teaching a lion to not bite off your head when you stick your head into it. Eventually that lion is going to say fuck it and bit your head off or it is not really a lion any more but some sort of circus show hybrid. Capitalism breeds greed. That is how it functions. When you regulate it you are changing to another system. Some kind of hybrid. If you regulate it enough you will end up with socialism. That is a laudable and intelligent goal and we should be calming peoples fears by extolling the benefits of socialism not by pretending a lion is a pussy cat and a system set up to benefit all as socialism is, is something that is made to benefit capital which it is not. Trying to use socialist methods to salvage capitalism is irrational and ultimately will fail. You either revert to capitalism as we had under Regan, the Bushes and Clinton or you progress to the next step, socialism.
We really must boldly go where no man has never gone before and stop acting like a bunch of wimps who are afraid of being laughed at by the other kids. If we have a path that is a solution to the problems of the day we should be honestly presenting it and not pretending we are really trying to prop up capitalism and return it to its owners all shined up and good as new. It is a wreck we need to dump it and get the new model out and working. If we act with confidence and test this thing out to make sure it works properly then people will accept it like they accept everything else.
If aliens landed on the white house lawn and said that they are taking over on prime time TV, within a week or two people would act as if it has always been that way. We need to be confident in what we want to give people. Either we believe that socialism is the answer or we might as well shut up and go back to work. Go Green, go labor, go green socialist labor with a splash of liberty thrown in the pot to make it taste good.
There are a couple of contradictions in my argument that I am not sure how to clean up. One is the difference between essence and mutability. How much can capitalism be reformed before it becomes something else? How much variation is there is a type before it becomes other than what it is defined to be? When is it smart to play the wolf in sheep’s clothing and when do we stand boldly and announce that we have the solution? How do we know we are right? When do we give up on an idea that simply is out of sync with reality or be patient and wait for our time to come? These are all dilemmas and quandaries.
We live in a world where we have a population bombarded with information, so much so that many of us would rather just grab a cold one and zone out. After all how much is enough? When do we know we are simply hitting our head against the wall and when do we determine that one more try and we break on through? One never really knows. We can use educated guesses and inform ourselves to the best of our ability and then make our move.
I have waited until I was in my fifties before I felt that I knew as much as I thought I knew when I was a twenty. Now I know I know something, not much but it is something and I will do my damn best to do my part in keeping this world safe and livable for the next seven generations or so as the old tale of native american wisdom went, in that book Seven Arrows.
Oh back to my Jewish and Gay friends, I simply think you guys scare ths shit out of Joe Normal. Not that he thinks you are going to give him AIDS, but that he might be more like you than he would like to admit. I try to be aware of all sides of myself, the gay fairy side and the redneck proto fascist side. I am attempting to merge those 26 personalities into one as the Gurdjieff followers would put it, or at least to be able to appreciate the papal pageant as my various selves move on and off the stage of my personal existence. We are all much more than we pretend, but to take that lamp shade off might be dangerous. We don’t want to blind anyone with the brilliance and besides all that light will show off our defects. And I am a real Scarface when it comes to those.
Gary Rumor done for the day. This is another of my crusty love letters to the world.
Posts Tagged ‘Communism’
I think I will stick with this name. Sort of a hybrid of my old blog site name and this new one. ‘Gary Rumor’s Anti-Entropic Continuum’.
This weekend I saw some Anarchist Buddies from the 90’s. Not my old style heroes’ from the 80’s, not the wrecks from the 70’s or the relics from the 60’s. We told some stories, I got to see that they are each of them well ensconced in their lives and I am happy for them. None of them are at a point in their lives where any of them want advice. Besides what could I offer these young leaders of the current generation of the thirty something radicals? One is an anarchist primitivist living in the Tucson, A scene, one is an anarchist DJ and ruckus style street protestor living in Austin and the third is a social worker and homemaker, a Valley girl. And I am back in Long Beach where I started when I met the three of them back in 1991.
The primitivist is certain civilization is about to collapse, I could have said, I thought so too back in the 70’s but it didn’t happen. He is prepared to survive in a post punk semi rugged individualist manner, but I can see he has a good heart and I trust that his sense of justice will prevail over his sense of paranoia. I did point out that the world he wants will entail the loss of about 95% of the planets human population. That did not bother him because he sees that as inevitable. A result I am sure from living in a virtually uninhabited area, the southern Arizona dessert. But at least he is not a racist or a survivalist and that part of our Rock Against Racism project was a success, today’s primitivist is a believer in racial equality, is against the government, and even if he has slipped from a strong vegetarian stance, to one of eating off the land in the spirit of the native Americans, which means eating venison, at least he is not eating dead cows. He teaches self defense at an anarchist community center and has his own garden and manages to live without having to hold a straight job. He is no pacifist and I did not bother to explain that sometimes making your enemy feel safe, is half way to disarming them. Psychology is almost always better than violence. But he has a good heart and I would trust him in a tight spot.
The second old anarchist friend recently took a bike trip across central Asia; this is a fairly heroic trip, across Turkey, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, into Pakistan, and India before returning to the US. This took something like 6 months and great physical endurance. He plans on going to the Demonstrations at the RNC where he fully expects to get beaten by the cops and arrested. This man has great physical courage, endurance and perseverance. He also has a radio show and is a DJ, something else I have done before. When I did it was as part of a conscious attempt to keep the punk rock movement from becoming a nazi movement. It was also an effort to bring the races together on the basis of mutual respect and a celebration of our commonalities. I took a quick look at the music he had picked up at Amoeba; it was classic stuff, Selector, Joe Jackson, funk, all good solid progressive music. The project continues in a new generation. The music at the college and community stations continues to reflect the same positive aspirations we sought when I was a DJ back in the early seventies and eighties. He is also one of us, if not interested in protesting at the Democratic Convention where I think the protests will do more good, at least he knows who the enemy is and is not afraid of them. As much as he likes this ultra violence, he also has the same sensitivity is tolerant of gays and sensitive to women and is non violent with his friends, another good hearted person I would trust
The third of the threesome I met is a daughter of privilege, who in her childhood in the Philippines had a servant wipe her butt for her. In America she became one of the leaders of the peace punk anarchist scene in Southern California. She started a Food Not Bombs chapter and with these other friends fed the homeless, put on peace punk shows, protested the Nazi punks and led her community with intelligence and courage. She became a social worker, dealing with abused children. Interesting because I have been on the receiving end of social workers who were examining my life and my relations with my children where I was subjected to humiliations. I have also worked briefly for social services and found my experience to be one where I felt I was participating in an attempt to control and divert disadvantaged youth, not because the social workers were expected to show compassion or care, but because they were expected to follow a set of procedures and achieve a certain result. I found this to be inhuman and refused after a short time to participate. My friend is not that sort of social worker, she is one of us. She is one who cares for those who cannot take care of themselves. Even though she has married a member of the Rock industry elite, she is still our friend and respects our views, even though she is really now returned to the class from which she came where she was raised in the Philippines. But those of us who still have aspirations to change the world can hope that we still have allies among the upper classes. She still refuses to vote, a good anarchist tradition, although I did make the point to her that I am a member of the Green Party and even though the example the Greens have set in Germany where they supported certain militaristic policies, such as the occupation of Afghanistan, they at least have turned Germany away from the French path of nuclear power and in the direction of wind energy where they are currently the largest generators of energy from the wind in the world. She is a person I would trust despite her class affiliations. She has taught me that not all social workers are merely pliant tools of the state. And she is my friend.
These two men are sensitive, I would call them feminist, even as they are radical activists who are certainly not pacifists, and I would call them gentle men. And she is a caring woman who has used her intelligence and talents to care for the less fortunate rather than simply going for the money that one would expect from someone in such a position of privilege. Friends like these give me hope, although why they would like “Sex In The City” is beyond me.
We shall see in the coming times as these persons are entering positions of more mature responsibility if they maintain their ideals. So far, they are still on the side of the people. As pompous as this whole thing sounds, especially as I am admittedly barely functional as a radical in this time, I have maintained my consciousness and I appreciate those who are my allies and in their own ways have done the same. It is good to know that we are not alone. Otherwise why would any of us bother? There is revolutionary continuity from one generation to the next. I can shift back to communism to balance out the extremes of individualism without feeling like I am betraying anything. They are solid persons of integrity and I don’t have to worry about them slipping into inanity. Oh and 3 out of 4 are still vegetarian, not bad.
Are we living in a universe where linear logic and historical truth can have meaning or are we in a chaotic quantum apocalyptic place where time can run backwards as well as forwards and logic and proportion has as much relevance as the abacus does to today’s computing technology? We act as if the sun rises when we very well know that the earth rotates on its axis. We act as if we are the center of the universe when we very well know that humanity is a small spec in the vastness of the cosmos.
Anyway I wrote this bit earlier today for a debate on whether or not Christians can be Anarchists and Anarchists Christians.
We can see that there is in the life of Jesus a model for rebels that do not take the tact of state seizure. He specifically stated that his kingdom was not of this world. But what was he preparing humanity for then if not a political liberation of the Jews from the domination of the Romans? It seems he was almost indifferent to the Romans and had a much stronger antipathy to the local Jewish hierarchy. These immediate dictators of the strictures that a good Jew lived by were more concerned with keeping the populace docile and in line, partially to prevent further Roman intrusion into their affairs and to keep the more radical elements among the populace from aggravating the situation and provoking a confrontation with Rome. Some may have been advocating a return to the rule of a member of Herod’s family. Others simply desired to keep things as they were with the priests left in charge of the day to day lives of the Jewish populace. At least this is my reading of Josephus, the pro roman Jewish writer of the later part of the 1st century AD. There were also Hellenic elements of the Jewish population who appreciated the Greco-Roman rule and the expanded view of the world it gave them outside the more restricted view of the Jewish priesthood. But these were more to be found among those with an economic tie to the capitalist economy that existed at that time. Capitalism, one must remember has at times been seen as a force for liberation from limiting agrarianism, although most of what we are familiar with in terms of capitalist developments have been in the last three centuries. There was a primitive capitalism in the Greco-Roman world also as well as state socialism if you accept some of Rostovtzeff’s writings about Hellenistic Egypt in particular.
But to place Jesus, if he did exist, in a historical context, is to place him in a land that had recently been taken over by direct Roman rule and had gone back and forth between rule by a Herodian descendant and that of the Roman State. The Jews had a surprising level of influence in the Roman Imperial circles considering what an insignificant area of the empire it represented.
Here was this guy advocating a general renouncing of all the rules of conduct that were being imposed on the Jewish people by a frustrated leadership caught between a rock and a hard place. This guy was not advocating fighting the Romans, but revolutionizing the Jewish religion. He was a threat to their authority, and who knew if he would become a threat to the Romans. The Romans certainly didn’t see him as a threat. He was a local problem for the priests and they were the ones who insisted on his being taken care of, especially after the episode in the temple where he kicked out the money changers. He must have seemed like some one possessed by devils or even more threatening, some one who might have been a prophet of god. In any case he was too dangerous to be allowed to go around spouting his communistic nonsense.
As it turned out the priests were not able to keep a lid on the situation and there was a revolt in the 60’s AD and the temple was destroyed, the money taken by the Romans and the enslaved resistance fighters built the Coliseum an edifice that has stood as a symbol of Roman grandeur through the centuries. Unless you believe with certain Gnostics like Philip K. Dick that we are really living in about 96 AD and the history we have lived for some 2000 years is an illusion. But then that is irrational, but based on quantum physics a possibility as the old Donavan song about electrons goes “First there is a mountain, then there is not”…
As to whether there is any reason for anarchists to be Christians, well that is for each person to decide for themselves, nobody, certainly not an anarchist could tell someone what they can or cannot believe and still call themselves an anarchist.
That may be a problem for those who romanticize the revolutionary execution of priests as was done in Spain during the revolution. But not everything anarchists have done in the past was perfect. Priest killing may have been excessive, or it may have been justified, but we cannot use past prejudices as a guide for current realities, some of the most fervent opponents to the state are Christians and they cannot be discounted by so called anarchist purists who want to relive the last six months of 1936 over and over again. We certainly do not any more than we want to relive the punk rock era with its incredibly bad music and rude posturing. I was one of its most fervent proponents at the time. We are living in a time when anarchists have taken up the mantle of leading the way into the Promised Land that the communists dropped. Like it or not Anarchists are the new Moses’ and they have got to get over certain childish attitudes if they are to take on the serious business of destroying mammon.”
Personally I believe that there is a separation taking place, those who insist upon maintaining the old order are getting their way in spades. The rich are getting so impossibly rich that it will soon become evident to even the most simplistic believer in getting material wealth, that money does not buy happiness, it only brings a certain level of comfort that can rapidly turn to discomfort, as the cartoon about the pig forced to eat pies until he exploded was a graphic reminder of the evils of consumerism gone wild. Stewardship is the key; we must take our place among the elders before they all die out from our consciousness. They do not live on the same plane in three dimensions, they are perceived in another level of reality, and life only makes sense on that higher plane or alternate reality. It certainly doesn’t make dollars and sense. Leaders like Jesus understood that, but how many of his followers did? Certainly it is not those believers in prosperity Christianity. Praying for material wealth is a child’s game, not something for an adult, unless he or she has been deprived all their lives, or forced to live in fear. An adult who has any self respect understands that they are here to provide purpose, that is what a real anarchist does, provides a focus of purpose in a world where purpose and focus has disappeared in the noise of consumerism. Let us take some time out to listen to the sound of the voice that nature has been calling to us, and go on our own vision quests and ask for meaning and truth and purpose in a world on the brink of going mad with materialism.
Let us take care of those less fortunate, give every human the basics for life, a shelter, food, clothing and medicine, and then let the values in our society change, so that it is meaning and purpose we seek, not wealth and position. Simple enough, Lol.
The US as the only world super power, leaves anyone who is opposed to the United States with limited options. The US has inherited the Roman Imperial Power, directly since handed over by the British and the French after the Second World War, willingly by the British who felt they were incapable of sustaining a series of wars in their colonies while the home populace was exhausted by 6 years of war. The French on the other hand had to be convinced and after a series of debilitating wars in Vietnam and Algeria, De Gaulle was the one who reluctantly admitted that the US was the power.
Communists in Russia, China and smaller countries around the world were willing to give the US a run for the money in world domination. But the Soviet Union had been exhausted by the battle with the Germans more than any other power in the world.
At first getting a boost from the technology captured from the Germans they were able to gain the great equalizer, the atomic bomb. That and being half way decent poker players, they were able to bluff the US into not attacking them outright as generals like Patton and Le May wanted to do right after victory over the Germans and Japanese.
But having a point with which to make their case, in the colonial exploitation of the third world by the British and the French, the Soviets were able to ally themselves with national liberation fronts around the world. Ho Chi Min for example asked for American support back in 1944. When the Roosevelt did not follow up and the Soviets did, the Vietnamese decided that the Communists were more reliable allies. Castro went through a similar process in Cuba; Eisenhower decided he had more interest in a few multi national corporations being nationalized by the Cubans, instead of the new idealists in charge. Greed on the part of the US in Cuba, and an alliance with De Gaulle in the case of Vietnam, tied the US to policies that harmed the ability of the United States to become allied with these successful nationalist leaders. They became Communists because there was no other world power to turn to.
With the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, there was no place to turn to for insurgents who were serious about regime change in their countries but to illicit funding. The FARC became involved with the drug trade and kidnappings. The IRA had their rich relatives in the US to hit up for support, and when that failed there was the combination of drugs, kidnapping and bank robberies. In the middle east, particularly in Afghanistan the mujahedin were supported by the rich Saudis and the US while the Soviets still provided a target, once they were gone, there was no reason for the US to use these Guerrilla fighters, except in Bosnia where they were allowed to aid the government against the Serbians. But the rest of them were left to their own devices and before long they were in a war with their former allies, the United States.
How did this come about? How did a force of our own creation go from freedom fighters to international terrorists? Some would say that they were hijacked by radical fundamentalist Moslems like Osama Bin Laden and the Egyptian theoreticians of the modern day Jihad. Some of it could also be a result of the US bias in supporting Israel against the interests of the Palestinians. Another is the Saudi ruling family’s insecurity in their own country, which have depended on United States for military support made most evident when Saddam Hussein attempted to recover the province of Kuwait but was thwarted by the invasion by Bush Senior a close friend of the Saudi royal family. That became the excuse for serious US intervention in the Oil bread basket of the world. Now there were troops stationed in the land that houses the heart of the Moslem religion. This gave Moslems the world over a reason to suspect that the US and Israel were working out some international plan to take the greatest source of wealth the Arab and Moslem peoples had, their oil.
This is something that the peoples of the United States do not appreciate. We blithely send out military around the world to protect our interests without considering what this would do to the peoples in these lands. The US has never been occupied once the British left due to the expense of fighting the French and their allies around the world in the 18th century. A period of over two centuries has left the US with no experience of occupation. Citizens of most of Europe have in recent historical times experienced the occupations of the Germans, and the Russians. Much of the rest of the world had been occupied but the Europeans and used as sources of cheap labor and raw materials on the one hand and as the dumping grounds of excess agricultural and industrial production. The citizenry of the US had only the experience of dominating others. Only the black descendents of slaves, the descendents of the conquered indigenous peoples and the recent Spanish immigrants from economically depressed neocolonial states would be in a position to comprehend the states of alienation and resistance that would be natural to conquered or occupied peoples.
The Jews of Israel would have strong reminders in their own experience with the German attempts at extermination. That would explain why they overreact to the Palestinian resistance. To them any resistance is a threat to their survival. For a people so recently driven to the brink of extinction, there would be little psychic tolerance for nuanced dealings with other peoples, especially when they are being told that they want to drive you into the sea.
On the other hand the US, not having any such experience, its memory would react to any attack as something akin to Armageddon. The British and the Spanish saw the terrorist assaults as a police problem. They had subways and trains blown up in their capital cities. They did not panic and declare war.
The United States, after 911 did not respond rationally, treating the small band of terrorists as a police problem as they should have been. One can say that a cynical President and his buddies in the Oil business and the Military Industrial Complex saw this as an opportunity to revitalize the military that had become somewhat moribund with the so called peace dividend brought about by the demise of the Soviets, largely a result of their recognition that their system was inefficient, unpopular and corrupt. Gorbachev tried to revitalize and reform it but too many people had lost faith in the system and even though communism is morally superior to capitalism as a system, because of the centralization of power, it corrupted the men in control and the corrupt do not believe in their own system. The result was a leadership emulating their enemies in the west and in recognition of their hypocrisy they threw out their own baby with the bath water, leaving all the poor peoples of the world with no place to turn.
This surrender and collapse of the will left all the peoples of the world who needed an organized opposition to the ruling classes of capitalists, ultimately up the creek with out a paddle. Anarchists, long the poor relations to the communists, seen as being too idealistic and infantile picked up the revolutionary momentum and attracted the disaffected intelligentsia. But as anarchists had been in the minority for so long, they had not developed the cadre capable of taking up the struggle. In fact most of them became even more deeply enamored with intellectual obscurantism and instead of stepping up the challenge; they found themselves identified with Ted Kaczynski and other radical anti human intellectuals who took up the cause of other species. This might have been fine for the animals, but it was not something that the vast majority of humans could identify with. If that were so than the most vegetarian nation on earth India should have become Anarchists, they had Veganism, pacifism and direct action, a radical critique of human technology that would be inspirational to the home of Gandhi. But that was not the case.
India is like China in the throes of a radical modernization that is affecting approximately one fifth of the populace. That is about the same as the entire population of the United States. These are the intelligentsia and they are not interested in returning to the village, or to hunter gatherer lifestyles. For one, there is no open land without humans left in India, for another if they wanted to live like pre-industrial villagers all they had to do was to change places with their relatives. India wants modernization, without the violence and alienation that is rampant in the west. But they know what it is like to live in a pre-industrial world. It is all around them. Communism, with its emphasis on social organization is attractive to intelligent Indians. But they are not attracted to anarchy.
So what has happened in the US, we see at anarchist conferences a disputation over technology, akin to the Man of La Manta and his attempts to restore the values of Chivalry in modernizing Europe? Tilting at windmills is not the answer, it wasn’t then and it isn’t now.
But back the other problem being faced by the dominant power in the world. While it’s radical community dithers over whether or not to eat parts of cows or parts of corn, the ruling class has been able to take the marginal elements of the working class and turn them into the new centurions. The modern army of the US is more like that of the Roman Empire than of the Roman Republic. These are not citizen soldiers taking up the gun when needed and then returning to the plow. Instead they have a professional force, isolated from the rest of the citizenry, paid and trained as a mercenary force. In fact now there are private corporate armies being formed that would be able to replace the state run institutions that have to obey pesky international codes of conduct. A private army would be able to operate much as private security guards. As we have seen in Iraq where they now comprise half of the occupying force, they are above their law and a force that is beyond the Geneva Convention, outside of the rules set down in the Treaty of Westphalia, a force that can be utilized in the most barbaric manner, a force adapted to a post national world, where the ideals of a United Nations has faded to that of a world of Multi national corporations, where profit is the sole concern and a soldier is trained to fight more as a gladiator, than as a soldier.They are more like the medieval knighthood and their bands of serfs than the legionaries, with their state structure providing a systematic methodology of war. But this is an emerging possibility, not a dominant reality.
We still have the nation state, we have the United States attacked by a band of terrorists overreacting and invading two countries, one Afghanistan, a land of tribal warriors who have ground up the armies of Russia, Britain and the Moguls. Only a military commander as brilliant as Alexander was capable of realizing that intermarriage was the only way to gain the loyalty of these determined defenders of their kith and kin. The other is Iraq, the cradle of civilization, the land of Babylon and the home of Abraham and Noah. This is a place where every family not only has a gun, but a machine gun, something that even the American gun Lobby only dreams of. This is a land that is old, and yet sophisticated. Where blood feuds and extreme national pride have led the people to follow the plan of resistance developed by a dead dictator, someone the people were supposedly happy to be rid of. But as we can see they have simply maneuvered the US into a position where they have essentially picked the next president of the United States at the same time they work hand in glove with one of the members of Bushes Axis of Evil.
The people of the United States are not prepared for this level of sophistication. We declared war at the equivalent of a slap in the face, like a Cavalier might have when faced for the first time by the imposing will of an intelligently ruled state, the first in generations when Louis the 14th managed to turn these primitives living in their isolated castles into the dilettantes who fought over the privilege to spend their wealth on finery in the social struggle for eminence at Versailles.
The United States is in a similar situation. It can move into the next level of civilized conduct as the French nobility did in the 17th century, or they can move further in this self destructive path in which a great country devolves into a feudal state of multinational corporations. Do we fall into a Polish like state of regionalism, or do we emerge as the beacon of light on the hill, with our own Sun King, like ruler. Certainly it isn’t McCain, could it be Obama? If he insists upon this war in Afghanistan he had better be ready to have his troops intermarry with the locals. Otherwise he can only look for frustration in that land.
Legalization and decriminalization is the path for drugs that will turn the FARC to a peaceful party similar to what happened in El Salvador or Nicaragua. The Taliban will no longer find the drug lords as such easy allies and will have to become a popular force, or disappear from the scene. But we cannot win militarily in Afghanistan, not unless we are willing to make peace with Iran and occupy Pakistan. We shall see what happens in the next few months if Obama has truly new ideas, or if he simply repeats the same line as has been mouthed at least since Carter gave up on reform in the middle of his presidency.
Will the radicals in the US take a more intelligent path and drop the primitivist, punk rock youth rebellion and become serious as an alternative? Or will there be a resurgence of a more chastened Marxist left? We shall see. Now let us turn to another story about drugs. The ridiculous war on drugs being conducted by the DEA and other portions of the militarized civilian agencies, have made William Boroughs into a prophet for our times.
“Cocaine Sustains War Despite Rebel Losses in Colombia
Scott Dalton for The New York Times
Eradication efforts elsewhere have pushed coca cultivation into rural El Rosario, where workers processed coca leaves recently.
By SIMON ROMERO
Published: July 27, 2008
PASTO, Colombia — Along with Colombia’s successes in fighting leftist rebels this year, cities like Medellín have staged remarkable recoveries. And in the upscale districts of Bogotá, the capital, it is almost possible to forget that the country remains mired in a devilishly complex four-decade-old war.
But it is a different story in the mountains of the Nariño department. Here, and elsewhere in large parts of the countryside, the violence and fear remain unrelenting, underscoring the difficulty of ending a war fueled by a drug trade that is proving immune to American-financed efforts to stop it.
Soaring coca cultivation, forced disappearances, assassinations, the displacement of families and the planting of land mines stubbornly persist, the hallmarks of a backlands conflict that threatens to drag on for years, even without the once spectacular actions of guerrillas in Colombia’s large cities.
“The armed groups are like malaria, evolving to resist eradication and killing with efficiency,” Antonio Navarro Wolff, governor of Nariño and a former guerrilla from the defunct M-19 group, said in an interview. “If anything, Nariño shows the guerrillas may have lost their chance for victory but not their ability to cause suffering.”
Today, a dizzying array of armed groups lord over the farmlands of Nariño. These include not only leftist guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but also right-wing militias operating under names like the Black Eagles or the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Nariño.
Their presence reflects the symbiotic nature of the armed groups and the drug trade, each drawing strength from the other.
In Nariño, flanked by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Ecuador on the south, coca growers have nimbly sidestepped almost a decade of fumigation efforts by reorganizing industrial-size farms into smaller plots that are much harder to find and spray from the air. They are taxed and protected by forces on the various sides of the conflict.
The United Nations reported in June that coca cultivation in Colombia surged 27 percent in 2007 to 244,634 acres, the first significant increase in four years. Nariño had the largest increase of any Colombian department, an administrative district, up 30 percent to 50,061 acres.
The expansion has allowed Colombia to remain by far the world’s largest coca producer and the supplier of 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States.
It has also made the drug-fueled conflict a resilient virus in large pockets of the country, with double-digit increases in coca cultivation in at least three other departments, Putumayo, Meta and Antioquia. In Nariño, almost every week, government officials, Roman Catholic leaders or aid workers report actions by the rebels or paramilitary groups.
Nationwide, the FARC still collects $200 million to $300 million a year by taxing coca farmers and coordinating cocaine smuggling networks, according to Bruce Bagley, a specialist on the Andean drug war who teaches at the University of Miami.
That is down from $500 million earlier this decade, Mr. Bagley said, but it is still enough to finance the FARC after recent desertions and killings that have thinned its ranks to about 9,000 from 17,000.
Similarly, while the FARC’s share of the cocaine trade has declined, Colombia’s share of the world cocaine production has remained stable at about 60 percent. That means opportunities for new players like Colombia’s resurgent right-wing militias and small-scale armed gangs taking the place of disassembled cartels.”
The article goes on and you can find it at the NY Times site. But again what we see is that drug production has continued and will do so for as long as it is illegal and there is demand in the industrialized and alienated north. With no rational alternative system of beliefs, people fall into despair. Anarchists and other radicals should be offering intelligent alternatives, not a return to the Neanderthal world. It is more a sign of deepening despair than one of the victory of the libertarian communists.
It is a popular theme among religious people and sci-fi buffs. The people who think these are the last days take the problems of the day and twist them into scenarios for doom. I just read one called “Listening” by Dave McKay, It started out good enough, and a Jewish Quaker Professor becomes a prophet of the end times and gets killed by a United Nations Sniper. Along the way he develops the ability to throw fireballs at people that oppose him. It starts out like some kind of universal communist return to Christian roots thing, but then the US gets nuked and pretty quickly we get a traditional Revelation like story with the believers going up into the heavens in a rapture like experience in the end. Ho hum stuff.
I did like the twists the author took, giving some time for Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, but not much. He seemed to know a bit more about Quakers. There is a whole lot about dropping out, tuning in and turning on to god, a real 60’s Jesus freak flash back thing, It reminds me of the early 70’s when a lot of people joined religious communes. Except these people are more anarchic, they just sort of listen to their inner voices and work as teams to tell people to listen to the inner voice, one that ends up being Jesus. Pagans get short shrift; the one leader who is one listens to the wrong voices and gets her zapped with a lightening bolt. She is also the only strong female and you get a distinctly anti woman bias in this book. Or at least they are seen as being possessed by the devil, another cute Christian trait. I am being facetious It started with an interesting premise, what would happen if we all stopped working for money and worked for free and trusted the spirit to take care of us. I had an acid trip as a kid where I wanted to do that once. It was when I first joined the spiritual commune I was part of for 7 years in the 70’s. I wanted to just stick out my thumb and see where the rides took me. I had about $20 to my name and the clothes on my back. Luckily my friends took me to the mountains where they were renting a cabin. It was beautiful up in the high Rockies, a great place to be poor.
Now, back to the end of the world, where the forces of good and evil are in a Manichean struggle for our souls. The book ends up in traditional a Christian tribulation that has an antichrist who reminds me an awful lot of the movie versions of the emperor Caligula. The United Nations is the traditional bad guy, but at least in this version making money is not made into the god that modern fundamentalists have turned it into. That part I liked, in fact that is what drew me in, the anarchist/communist idea of living by giving and not the capitalist greed machine. That was a welcome change, and take away the end of days nonsense and you have a pretty good beginning of what an anarchist communist society might look like in a transitional period. If you can ignore the Christian bias, it is an easy entertaining read, and the author is Australian, “don’t want to kill no kangaroos” to quote one of my favorite song writers Randy Newman.
Someday maybe I will go into the Sci-Fi doomsday machine, but for now that is all I have to say, lets build the world we want, and the end of the world we don’t want to get there. It doesn’t take a Jesus with a mighty sword to do it, just people of good will.