Wallace Shawn on the function of the Times, power, conservatism, and the human sexuality taboo

“My local newspaper, The New York Times, for example, does not include images of naked people. Many of its readers might enjoy it much more if it did, but those same readers still might not buy it if such images were in it, because it could no longer present the portrait of a normal, stable, adequate world–a world not ideal but still good enough–which it is the function of the Times to present every day. Nudity somehow implies that anything could happen, but the Times is committed to telling its readers that many things will not happen, because the world is under control, benevolent people are looking out for us, the situation is not as bad as we tend to think, and although problems do exist, they can be solved by wise rulers. The contemplation of nudity or sex could tend to bring up the alarming idea that at any moment human passions might rise up and topple the world we know.

But perhaps it would be a good thing if people saw themselves as a part of nature, connected to the environment in which they live. Sex can be a humbling, equalizing force…When the sexuality of the terrifying people we call ‘our leaders’ is for some reason revealed, they lose some of their power–sometimes all of it–because we’re reminded (and, strangely, we need reminding) that they are merely creatures like the ordinary worm or beetle that creeps along at the edge of the pond.”

Excerpted from Shawn, Wallace. 2009. “Is sex interesting?” Harpers, August. Wallace Shawn has recently published a book about sex.


US per capita expenditures

What do Americans spend their money on, besides disposable consumer trinkets, interest, and overblown mortgages?

They are currently involuntarily donating:

$2238/capita/annum to military expenditures,
$39,000/capita in wealth redistributions (recent bailouts) to finance capitalists, and
over $6000/capita/annum to the private insurance-lobbyist-pharma-and gross-inequality-lovin’-physicians-run US medical complex!

Such a lucky slave-peoples.

Business As Usual: Another Mass Transfer of Wealth Upward

The NYTimes is currently charting where US taxpayers’ money is going in the capitalist class mass bailout of ’09. What makes this mass wealth transfer particularly egregious is the low rate of taxation on the rich.

Talk to me all you want about recession “recovery”, but, honey, capitalism cannot work solely on squeezing the working class dry. There’s got to be some material production in there somewhere, and today’s capitalist class has got nothin’. Nothin’. The term is “despotic feudalism.”

What I want to know is how, when the British empire declined, the British working class was supposed to be materially enriched. It’s what the economists’ charts proudly show. Why isn’t that happening in the US? Maybe British material improvement wasn’t due to capitalism per se (and imperialism), but rather to Keynesianism, as was material improvement in the US. Perhaps Argentina is the new (old) capitalist model.

Secession II!: Divvy the US Up

Here is my proposal for dealing with the current US crises: Break up the US.

The confederated states idea is bankrupt. States don’t have enough power to take on problems. They just have enough power to create coordination failures.In fact, states are literally bankrupt.

So they should declare bankruptcy, put their troubles behind them, and politically reorganize according to latent hegemonic political economies and the the distribution of networks accompanying said political economies.

This translates, I think, into reorganizing the US into four countries operating at a scale of efficiency, with more homogenous populations lending to improved trust, better capacity to negotiate with powerful organizations, and reduced opportunities for inter-state dysfunctional competition.

Here is how the US should be divided, taking into consideration political economies and geography (as best as I can):

1. The Plutocracy of New York
Capitol: DC
Distinguishing assets: FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate), population concentration, private education, military contracting, tourism
Language: English, multilingual

Comprising the East-Coast megacities and their consanguine hinterlands, including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, downstate New York, southern New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, mainland Michigan, Illinois, DC, and parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Florida.

Major political and trade partners: the UK, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Southern Europe, Egypt.

2. Texico
Military dictatorship with legalized slavery
Capitol: Houston
Assets: Oil, military contracting, agriculture, mining, and ranching, low-wage/slave labor
Languages: English, Spanish

Comprising southern suburban megalopolises and the Bible Belt, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, South-eastern New Mexico, Northern Florida, and parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Major political and trade partners: Latin America, China, Indonesia, Israel, Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Af-Pak, Africa, and the Plutocracy of New York.

3. The Utah Fatherland
Patriarchal theocracy
Capitol: Salt Lake City
Distinguishing Assets: Mining, ranching, forestry, agriculture, and recreation
Languages: English, Spanish

Consisting of Utah, Nevada, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Southern California, southern Arizona, and parts of North Dakota, Colorado, Montana, Eastern Wyoming, and Idaho.

Major political and trade partners: Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Africa, Texico, and Eastern Europe.

4. Arcadia
Social democracy
Capitol: Portland, OR
Distinguishing assets: Forestry, recreation, high tech industries, educated labor, public services, shipping, agriculture, green industries, low pollution
Languages: English, French (for trade with Canada & Europe), Spanish (in Northern New Mexico), Japanese (Pacific NW), aboriginal

Comprising primarily northern territory including Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, the Idaho panhandle, parts of Montana and Wyoming, Alaska, northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, part of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, The UP of Michigan, northern New Hampshire, upstate New York, Vermont, and Maine, with a transport/Bison & wildlife park corridor through Wyoming and Colorado to connect with northern Arizona and northern New Mexico.

Major political and trade partners: Canada, Japan, Western Europe, Korea, India, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina.

This four-country schema is broadly relevant and sensitive to existing networks of power, cultural differences, and major political economic variations. It establishes territorial blocs with coastal access and, within the framework of political-economic consistency, a diversity of resources, while locating strategic territorial access and wildlife corridors.

Because the land is divided into more political-economically and culturally consistent countries, better capable of conducting state affairs under advanced capitalism, there would be no need for “states’ rights.” Each country will divide itself into political subunits for the delivery of services, as befits its political system. Where existing states are not dissolved, they will no longer be in possession of their current array of independent powers.

There will be a binding non-aggression pact among the four countries.

This map (to the left) roughly depicts the proposed four country boundaries. It is missing Hawaii (Arc.) and Alaska (Arc.).