Governance in the Days of Capitalist Absolutism

(“There are known unknonws…But there are also unknown unkowns.”–Donald Rumsfeld)

“The preoccupation with derivatives forecloses debate about the worth of the underlying investment–the value or non-value of the war as a thing in itself–and shifts the discussion to the positioning of the political risk. Process, not product. Not why or to what end do we continue to kill our own soldiers (the known unknowns) as well as Iraqi civilians (the unknown unknowns), but which artful dodge stands the best chance of beguiling the voters in next year’s elections while at the same time preserving the bubble floated on the belief that America’s invincible military power serves as collateral for the $2.5 trillion debt to foreign central banks that America has neither the means nor the intention to repay.”

–Lapham, Lewis H. 2007. “Blowing Bubbles.” Harpers, November: 10.


Modern Primitives

In the context of high inequality, all the money and technology in the world can’t buy you rationality. We have never been modern.

On how the Southern religio-fascist right (along with rightwing Zionists and Mormons) steers politics in the US):

Silverstein, Ken. 2007. “Making Mitt Romney: How to Fabricate a Conservative.” Harpers, November: 33-40.

If there were more than 8 or 9 progressives in all of the US, they would look at history and realize the crucial importance and effectiveness of going out into the countryside (and now suburbs) and organizing rural people into a Red-Green coalition. But since there are not more than a handful of progressives in the US, the country has instead fashioned rural idiocy (in its Greek sense):

From P. Mancus:

“I call to your attention that the commander in chief believes armageddon to be inevitable and believes himself to be appointed by god to lead the united states to protect israel against the antichrist, which evangelical christian ministries have, ‘interpreting the bible’ –a supposed non-possibility amongst fundies–singled out as coming somewhere from the arab/persian middle east; ahem, iran. global warming is just more self-fulfilling prophecy to the likes of schmucks who get their counseling from billy graham.

so, under such an expectation of god’s judgement as an inevitability, is it any wonder that news stories like the one below are taken as good signs(?): the world is in climate meltdown and jesus is coming back to rapture the faithful, woo hoo! after all, why do anything about life, or the planet, the natural wild, or scarce resources, when it all belongs to the ‘prince and power of the air’, mr. satan himself. if you truly believe that nature is fallen, then its not worth saving, is it? think about that one for a moment.

and if you think that this is some fringe element mentality, consider the following: between cottage grove, oregon and coalinga, california, on a trip i just took, i found the dominant ‘left’ of the fm dial radio broadcast to be evangelical, bible-thumping, armageddonish, zionist, christian programming. SRN, for example, which stands for ‘salvation radio network’ gives news broadcasts that sound eerily like CNN until the part about jesus as lord and savior comes simmering into your eardrums. only one section of I-5 did i find absence of religious ideology passing as ‘public radio.’ more often than not, i found more than one (at one point, 3) stations pumping out the same crap at the same time, between 87.9 and 91.1 on your fm dial. i’m talking about shit that would have been laughed out of the room back in the 1970s and 80s and has now come to be one of the multiple, necessary to respect perspectives on cultural and political discourse. at least among sociologists. do i need to say these developments reflect the current means by which the dominant power structure maintains its hegemony?

remember when lebanon was being bombed by israel and the fundies were celebrating, hoping that armageddon was coming and the rapture was nigh? with people like this deciding foreign policy, global warming and the increasingly rapid and violent firestorms we are seeing (not only southern california now, but recall what greece went through this summer) will be cause to jump for joy. the only two historical agents in their melodrama are god and satan, and of course the self-appointed faith-based ‘leaders’ with their militarism, patriarchy, nationalism, and religion…a boiling cauldron of self-righteousness and destruction.

so, the big question: what makes religion any different than religious fundamentalism, if it tells you that someone else is in charge (i.e., you are not the historical agent) and the events that unfold are part of a divine plan (whether that plan be love or vengeance)?

and why, oh why, must we tolerate fascists whose cosmology personifies existence with a deity who has the worst traits of a spoiled 2 year old brat (‘worship me, i demand it, or i’ll punish you’) and whose ‘faith’ tells them that there’s someone up there (in the corporate boardroom or the heavenly towers?) who must be appeased? what kind of god-the-parent would abandon its children, or desire that they stay in servitude their entire lives? the kind whom you must fear or else, and the kind whom is acceptable, standard american fare, from bill o’reilly to the mighty dollar bill.

so, you think your immune? trying turning on your public airwaves tv, using your antenna and not your cyborg cable cable company, and conduct a simple exercise of content analysis: how many stations have religious fundamentalism affiliation out of the ones you can get in eugene? count them: 3 out of 9, or ONE-THIRD! you too, if you are a grad student or someone whose too poor to afford cable can watch the following claptrap:

channel 23: the one-and-only pat robertson selling his latest product along side his religious ministry, on a station that uses covert dramatic programming about good girls and boys against bad boys and girls.
channel 36: some dude from white horse media telling us about israel in prophecy who cautions us to “be ready for armageddon.”
channel 59: “bible prophecy revealed with grant jeffery” … just ask grant what the bible means and he’ll tell you!

oh yeah, that and 5 stations other with cop/crime scene/detective shows ‘reminding’ us how corrupt, dangerous and dastardly the world is (arousal) paired with commercial programming (tension reduction): won’t that all new gooey cookie dough make you feel better? how many guns, karate fights and antagonist one-liners do i have to endure?

and then there is opb, increasing colonized by the right wing, but still there…

meanwhile, the really, really, really concerned news anchor on abc is telling us about that great refuge for the evacuees down south. its name: QUALCOMM stadium. disaster capitalism in full force–chalk one up for the not-so-stealthy advertisers: cha-ching!

you will be assimilated… unless, of course, you resist.”

–P. Mancus. November 25, 2007.

capitalism and the destruction of life

Published on Thursday, October 25, 2007 by Times Online/UK
Earth Is Reaching The Point of No Return, Says Major UN Environment Report
by Lewis Smith

The speed at which mankind is using and abusing the Earth’s resources is putting humanity’s survival at risk, scientists have said.

The bleak assessment of the state of the environment globally was issued as an “urgent call for action” amid growing concerns of worldwide waste, neglect and governmental inertia.

Fundamental changes in political policy and individual lifestyles were demanded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as it gave warning that the “point of no return” for the environment is fast being approached.

The damage being done was regarded by the UN programme as so serious that it said the time had come for the environment to be a central theme of policy-making instead of just a fringe issue, even though it would damage the vested interests of powerful industries.

Marion Cheatle, of the environment programme, said that damage sustained by the environment was of fundamental economic concern and, if left unchecked, would affect growth.

“The report provides incontrovertible evidence of unprecedented environmental change over the last 20 years that, unless checked, will fundamentally undermine economic development for current and future generations,” she said as the report was released in London.

The report, the fourth Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4), assessed the impact on the environment since 1987.

It was drafted on the basis of reports by almost 400 scientists, all experts in their fields, whose findings were subjected to review by another 1,000 scientists.

Climate change was identified as one of the most pressing problems but the condition of freshwater supplies, agricultural land and biodiversity were considered to be of equal concern.

It came 20 years after the publication Our Common Future by the Brundtland Commission, the first attempt by the UN to provide a comprehensive review of Man’s impact on the environment.

The authors of the latest report said there had been progress on some environmental problems in the past two decades, most notably the international agreement to protect the ozone layer. But while maintaining that they wanted to avoid presenting a “dark and gloomy scneario”, they concluded: “There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”

They said the scale of the challenge was huge and highlighted a series of problems that need to be faced and tackled by people and governments around the world before damage to the environment becomes irreversible.

Increases in the world population, which has risen almost 34 per cent from 5 billion in 1987 to 6.7 billion today, have caused many of the challenges because of the demands on the Earth’s natural resources.

Demand, heightened by a three-fold increase in trade since 1987, means that more is now being produced than can be sustained in the long term. On average, each person needs 21.9 hectares of the Earth’s surface to supply their needs whereas, it was calculated, the Earth’s biological capacity is 15.7 hectares per person.

The report was critical of the lack of action by governments in protecting the environment. The response to climate change was described as “woefully inadequate” but it was regarded as one of several significant problems that need to be addressed effectively.

“We appear to be living in an era in which the severity of environmental problems is increasing faster than our policy responses,” it said. “To avoid the threat of catastrophic consequences in the future, we need new policy approaches to change the direction and magnitude of drivers of environmental change.

“The need couldn’t be more urgent and the time couldn’t be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations.”

Overfishing was singled out as an issue that needed to be tackled as a priority. Measures to protect biodiversity, with species being forced into extinction at a rate 100 times faster than any in fossil records, were regarded as equally urgent.

Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said that the international community’s response to environmental issues was at times “courageous and inspiring”, but all too often was inadequate.

“The systematic destruction of the Earth’s natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged – and where the bill we hand to our children may prove impossible to pay,” he said.

Mike Childs, of the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, said: “The steady degradation of the world’s environment threatens the well-being of everybody on the planet.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the report illustrated the importance of living sustainably: “It is the only way to improve global life expectancy and income inequality, beat climate change, reduce deforestation and protect biodiversity.”

it’s the tree wot did it

In Gena, Alabama, the high school administration cut down a courtyard shade tree.
The tree’s crime?
Racist white kids used it as Whites-Only public space.

Elaine Scarry (if memory serves me) relates an interesting story of how the US army in Vietnam mutilated and destroyed a tree in retribution–not strategically, but in retribution–as well. Opposition soldiers had used it as a shield in an offensive.

One wonders why the school administration could not have established a rule that desegregated public space.
I suppose because the fascist US Supreme Court made such sensible options illegal.

So the conservatives have sent us more marching orders: It’s off to destroy the roots of biological and public life again!

O Great Men, you rule us with such blinding sagacity. No wonder your royal court comes up with these Social Darwinian and Neoclassical Econ theories. How else could we fathom your indisputable fitness to rule?

fucking iran over

The Holocaust happened, and was as goddamn awful as all the other genocides have been. Women should have full human, civic, political, and social rights. People who are homosexual deserve respect, and forcing people to all play heterosexual *causes* perversion (witness Idaho’s Senator Craig).

Beyond that, there’s little that Ahmadinejad says that is as bad as the long list of crap than our own fearless imperial-capitalist leadership spews out. Bitch on O Zionist thought herders.

I am not worried about Iran. Iranians are as good as Americans or Israelis.
And I sure as hell don’t want to have more working class blood sprayed all over Iran so some East Coast/Texan oil robber barons, military contractor robber barons, and Israel can suck the entrails out of more of the Middle East while pocketing more U.S. public money.

they don’t call it the boorgeoisie for nothing

On September 25, 2007, comedian Louis Black expressed outrage that a couple of the millions of Americans without health care would try to sneak into the Vets hospitals to get a little socialized medicine.

Ha! Ha! Comedy.

I wanted to see Black’s act last year and I couldn’t. Because tickets cost $150 a pop. So it’s established La Black is completely out of touch with any reality outside of the investment banker class. I can’t wait to hear his rants about the maid who stole a glass of orange juice out of his fridge, or the homeless guy who tried to sleep in a dark corner of a church.

I saw the movie “12 Monkeys” again last night (I hadn’t seen it for years), and I realized that either Brad Pitt’s character was based on Louis Black’s schtick, or Louis Black’s schtick is based on Brad Pitt’s “12 Monkeys” character, Jeffrey Goines.


“Scientists announced that conservatives and liberals have different patterns of neuronal impulses when confronted with unexpected circumstances. Self-described conservatives pressed the wrong button in response to a new stimulus 47 percent of the time, whereas avowed liberals had a 37 percent error rate; liberals had double the activity of conservatives in the anterior cingulate cortex, a deep region of the brain that helps people recognize ‘no-go’ situations, but the study’s authors emphasized that the results do not mean that liberals are smarter or better than conservatives.”

Harper’s. 2007. “Findings”. November: 96.