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Waiting for the One

1 min read

I have been voting in Presidential elections since 1972. Occasionally I have been able to vote for someone I felt good about, but rarely have I been enthusiastic about my choice,  till now. Now I have a candidate that shares similar beliefs. 

My beliefs have been consistent  over the years. I believe that human rights supersede property  rights. I believe in a communal society not in a "zero sum winner take all " world. I believe that health care and housing are basic rights that all democratic  societies should offer its inhabitants. I believe that government and public ownership of utilities, transportation systems and critical parts of our national infrastructure is important.

Capitalism with a small c is an important part of our society, but it is not the foundation of our culture. Major reforms are needed to the "corporate sector". Government is not the handmaiden of corporations , corporations   operate at the pleasure of the people and the government. The wellbeing of our society comes before shareholder profits. 

If you want to talk with me about this, I would appreciate the opportunity to help me sharpen these ideas .... tom@tsparks.info

 

Neoliberal & Liberalism some definitions

4 min read

From a paper by Petar Kurecic and Goran Kozina link

1. Neoliberalism is a project primarily aimed at freeing capital from the constraints imposed by these “embedded liberalisms”, and more directly as a process ultimately focused on restoring the class power of economic elites. (Harvey, 2005: 11);

2. Neoliberalism names an approach to governing capitalism that emphasizes liberalizing markets and making market competition the basis of economic coordination, social distribution, and personal motivation. It recalls and reworks the 18th and 19th century liberal market ideals of economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo. And yet it is new – hence the ‘neo’ – insofar as it comes after and actively repudiates the interventionist state and redistributive ideals of welfare-state liberalism in the 20th century. (Sparke, 2013: 1);

3. Neoliberalism is a simple withdrawal of the state from markets and society via trade liberalization, privatization, reduced entitlements, and government deregulation. (Hess, 2011: 1056);

4. Neoliberalism is an ideological hegemonic project, selectively rooted in the free market and non-interventionist state philosophy of classical liberalism, and internationally propagated by think tanks and intellectuals like Hayek and Friedman in their assault on “egalitarian liberalism”. (Peck and Tickell, 2007);

5. Neoliberalism is a specific policy and program—a process of “creative destruction” that aims to replace the national institutional arrangements and political compromises of Keynesian-Fordism with a “new infrastructure for market-oriented economic growth” set within a globalizing and financializing economy. (Brenner and Theodore, 2002: 362);

6. Neoliberalism is as a form of governmentality, which follows Foucauldian ideas in emphasizing how neoliberal governmental power operates in multiple sites and scales from the state down to the personal level “not through imposition or repression but rather through cultivating the conditions in which non-sovereign subjects are constituted” as entrepreneurial, self-reliant, rational-economic actors (Hart, 2004: 92).

7. “Neoliberalism defines a certain existential norm…. This norm enjoins everyone to live in a world of generalized competition; it calls upon wage-earning classes and populations to engage in economic struggle against one another; it aligns social relations with the model of the market; it promotes the justification of ever greater inequalities; it even transforms the individual, now called on to conceive and conduct him- or herself as an enterprise. For more than a third of a century, this existential norm has presided over public policy, governed global economic relations, transformed society, and reshaped subjectivity.” (Dardot and Laval, 2013: 3);

8. Neoliberalism seeks to disaggregate communities into discrete units, each with an economic value. (Narsiah, 2010: 390).

9. Amid widespread privatization, cuts to public expenditure, and reduced social transfer programs, violence has become both a conduit of societal bigotry and an attempt by beleaguered states to regain their footing (Goldberg, 2009). Violence from above comes attendant to both “roll-back” neoliberalism, where regulatory transformation sees the state narrowly concerned with expanding markets to the peril of social provisions, and “roll-out” neoliberalism which concentrates on disciplining and containment of those marginalized by earlier stages of neoliberalization (Peck and Tickell, 2002). (Springer, 2011: 549).

 

Some usefull defintions: 

Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning 'equal'), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or moral status.

Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Liberalism is a political and economic doctrine that emphasizes individual autonomyequality of opportunity, and the protection of individual rights (primarily to life, liberty, and property), originally against the state and later against both the state and private economic actors, including businesses.

Culture Hegemony

1 min read

 

From Wikipedia:

In Marxist philosophycultural hegemony is the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class who manipulate the culture of that society — the beliefs and explanationsperceptionsvalues, and mores — so that the imposed, ruling-class worldview becomes the accepted cultural norm;[1] the universally valid dominant ideology, which justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural and inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for every social class, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class.[2] 

Allan Moore on Super Hero Culture ala Twenty First Century

2 min read

Source: Allan Moore World Nov.19,2019

 I think the impact of superheroes on popular culture is both tremendously embarrassing and not a little worrying.   While these characters were originally perfectly suited to stimulating the imaginations of their twelve or thirteen year-old audience, today’s franchised übermenschen, aimed at a supposedly adult audience, seem to be serving some kind of different function, and fulfilling different needs. Primarily, mass-market superhero movies seem to be abetting an audience who do not wish to relinquish their grip on (a) their relatively reassuring childhoods, or (b) the relatively reassuring 20th century. The continuing popularity of these movies to me suggests some kind of deliberate, self-imposed state of emotional arrest, combined with an numbing condition of cultural stasis that can be witnessed in comics, movies, popular music and, indeed, right across the cultural spectrum. The superheroes themselves – largely written and drawn by creators who have never stood up for their own rights against the companies that employ them, much less the rights of a Jack Kirby or Jerry Siegel or Joe Schuster – would seem to be largely employed as cowardice compensators, perhaps a bit like the handgun on the nightstand. I would also remark that save for a smattering of non-white characters (and non-white creators) these books and these iconic characters are still very much white supremacist dreams of the master race. In fact, I think that a good argument can be made for D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation as the first American superhero movie, and the point of origin for all those capes and masks.

 Emphasis Mine

Neo Liberalism Definitions

4 min read

From a paper by Petar Kurecic and Goran Kozina link

1. Neoliberalism is a project primarily aimed at freeing capital from the constraints imposed by these “embedded liberalisms”, and more directly as a process ultimately focused on restoring the class power of economic elites. (Harvey, 2005: 11);

2. Neoliberalism names an approach to governing capitalism that emphasizes liberalizing markets and making market competition the basis of economic coordination, social distribution, and personal motivation. It recalls and reworks the 18th and 19th century liberal market ideals of economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo. And yet it is new – hence the ‘neo’ – insofar as it comes after and actively repudiates the interventionist state and redistributive ideals of welfare-state liberalism in the 20th century. (Sparke, 2013: 1);

3. Neoliberalism is a simple withdrawal of the state from markets and society via trade liberalization, privatization, reduced entitlements, and government deregulation. (Hess, 2011: 1056);

4. Neoliberalism is an ideological hegemonic project, selectively rooted in the free market and non-interventionist state philosophy of classical liberalism, and internationally propagated by think tanks and intellectuals like Hayek and Friedman in their assault on “egalitarian liberalism”. (Peck and Tickell, 2007);

5. Neoliberalism is a specific policy and program—a process of “creative destruction” that aims to replace the national institutional arrangements and political compromises of Keynesian-Fordism with a “new infrastructure for market-oriented economic growth” set within a globalizing and financializing economy. (Brenner and Theodore, 2002: 362);

6. Neoliberalism is as a form of governmentality, which follows Foucauldian ideas in emphasizing how neoliberal governmental power operates in multiple sites and scales from the state down to the personal level “not through imposition or repression but rather through cultivating the conditions in which non-sovereign subjects are constituted” as entrepreneurial, self-reliant, rational-economic actors (Hart, 2004: 92).

7. “Neoliberalism defines a certain existential norm…. This norm enjoins everyone to live in a world of generalized competition; it calls upon wage-earning classes and populations to engage in economic struggle against one another; it aligns social relations with the model of the market; it promotes the justification of ever greater inequalities; it even transforms the individual, now called on to conceive and conduct him- or herself as an enterprise. For more than a third of a century, this existential norm has presided over public policy, governed global economic relations, transformed society, and reshaped subjectivity.” (Dardot and Laval, 2013: 3);

8. Neoliberalism seeks to disaggregate communities into discrete units, each with an economic value. (Narsiah, 2010: 390).

9. Amid widespread privatization, cuts to public expenditure, and reduced social transfer programs, violence has become both a conduit of societal bigotry and an attempt by beleaguered states to regain their footing (Goldberg, 2009). Violence from above comes attendant to both “roll-back” neoliberalism, where regulatory transformation sees the state narrowly concerned with expanding markets to the peril of social provisions, and “roll-out” neoliberalism which concentrates on disciplining and containment of those marginalized by earlier stages of neoliberalization (Peck and Tickell, 2002). (Springer, 2011: 549).

 

Some usefull defintions: 

Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning 'equal'), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that prioritizes equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or moral status.

Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Liberalism is a political and economic doctrine that emphasizes individual autonomyequality of opportunity, and the protection of individual rights (primarily to life, liberty, and property), originally against the state and later against both the state and private economic actors, including businesses.

N MID-DENSITY ZONES, PORTLAND HAS A CHOICE: GARAGES OR LOW PRICES

1 min read

According to calculations from the city’s own contracted analysts, if off-street parking spaces are required in the city’s new “RM2” zone, then the most profitable thing for a landowner to build on one of these properties in inner Portland is 10 townhomes, each valued at $733,000, with an on-site garage.

But if off-street parking isn’t required, then the most profitable thing to build is a 32-unit mixed-income building, including 28 market-rate condos selling for an average of $280,000 and four below-market condos—potentially created in partnership with a community land trust like Portland’s Proud Ground—sold to households making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Constructive ambiguity

1 min read

Constructive ambiguity is a term generally credited to Henry Kissinger, said to be the foremost exponent of the negotiating tactic it designates.[1] It refers to the deliberate use of ambiguous language on a sensitive issue in order to advance some political purpose. Constructive ambiguity is often disparaged as fudging. It might be employed in a negotiation, both to disguise an inability to resolve a contentious issue on which the parties remain far apart and to do so in a manner that enables each to claim obtaining some concession on it.

Neoliberalism in Europe

1 min read

From: The Origins of European Neo-liberalism by Nicholas Mulder

The real source of neoliberalism in Europe is neither technocracy nor hegemony but a problem specific to the continent: intergovernmentalism........

While the name Lisbon connotes the triumph of the neoliberal model in Europe, it may also foreshadow a possible way out of that model’s clutches. Since November 2015, Portugal has been the only Eurozone and EU member state which has been able to combine left-wing economic and social policies with material recovery while remaining committed to European institutions. The Portuguese progressive experiment under Lisbon’s former mayor, the Socialist prime minister António Costa, illustrates one possible path for the European left: capturing power in national elections and rolling back budget cuts and privatizations, thereby boosting growth and reducing debt.

Portugal as a Path to Follow

1 min read

From: The Origins of European Neo-liberalism by Nicholas Mulder

The real source of neoliberalism in Europe is neither technocracy nor hegemony but a problem specific to the continent: intergovernmentalism........

While the name Lisbon connotes the triumph of the neoliberal model in Europe, it may also foreshadow a possible way out of that model’s clutches. Since November 2015, Portugal has been the only Eurozone and EU member state which has been able to combine left-wing economic and social policies with material recovery while remaining committed to European institutions. The Portuguese progressive experiment under Lisbon’s former mayor, the Socialist prime minister António Costa, illustrates one possible path for the European left: capturing power in national elections and rolling back budget cuts and privatizations, thereby boosting growth and reducing debt.

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

1 min read

“As workers, most men in our culture (like working women) are controlled, dominated. Unlike working women, working men are fed daily a fantasy diet of male supremacy and power. In actuality, they have very little power, and they know it. Yet they do not rebel against the economic order or make revolution. They are socialized by ruling powers to accept their dehumanization and exploitation in the public world of work, and they are taught to expect that the private world, the world of home and intimate relationships, will restore to them their sense of power, which they equate with masculinity. They are taught that they will be able to rule in the home, to control and dominate, that this is the big payoff for their acceptance of an exploitative economic social order. By condoning and perpetuating male domination of women to prevent rebellion on the job, ruling male capitalists ensure that male violence will be expressed in the home and not in the work force.”

— bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (via heavyweightheart)

 

neoLiberalism and The rise of Populist Nationalism

5 min read

 

Hipster Demigods

Two Good looking men discuss their sexual exploits

Photo credit: Ralph Alswang, Office of the President – Clinton Presidential Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53790424

People today are feeling very "dis-empowered". On the local level popular will is overturned behind closed doors by politicians and capitalist oligarchs. Be it in Seattle  Washington Athens Greece or Brixton England. In response to these feelings of inadequacy and lack of agency, people turn to politicians that promise to turn the tables, making america great or by bargaining with corporate overlords.

Understanding the current political / economic environment helps bring clarity to our situation. Neoliberalism is the water we swim in it is the air we breath. We are so accustomed to it we do not notice.

 

Points of Reference:

TINA or there is no alternative

Rules and democracy therefore don’t mix well. Rules are used to back up the insistence that there is no alternative (TINA). There is no value in even discussing alternatives because we have rules to follow. Tumlir also explained that international rules could help save national politicians from internal pressures: ‘The international economic order [could act] as an additional means of entrenchment protecting national sovereignty against internal erosion.’ In this Orwellian formulation ‘protecting national sovereignty’ implies its opposite. It instead means protecting the national political establishment from the wishes of a nation’s people....... From The Truth About Neoliberalism

Who is neoliberal?

I would invert the question to ask who is not a neoliberal today. A governing rationality like neoliberalism organizes and constructs a great deal of conduct and a great many values without appearing to do so. It produces “reality principles” by which we live without thinking about them. Thus, almost everyone in workplaces, social media presentations, educational institutions, non-profits, the arts, and more is governed by neoliberal norms. It’s quite hard to escape neoliberal rationality, including for those who imagine that they are radically critical of it. Consider, for example, how many left intellectuals use their social media profiles—Twitter, Facebook, etc.—not to build the Revolution, but to promote their books, speaking gigs, and ideas in order to boost their market value. This has become so ubiquitous that we hardly notice it.

Of course you are right that very few people acting in neoliberal fashion—that is, constantly attending to their human capital portfolio—call themselves neoliberals. Nor do economists and behavioral social scientists and policy makers, almost all of whom are working in a neoliberal framework today, use the appellation very often. It’s a loose and adaptable term, but I don’t think this means we should abandon it, any more than we should abandon the terms “capitalism,” “socialism,” or “liberalism” just because they are open and contestable in meaning. Neoliberalism is semiotically loose, but designates something very specific. It represents a distinctive kind of valorization and liberation of capital. It makes economics the model of everything, which is why in Undoing the Demos I spoke of its economization of democracy in particular and politics more generally. It has brought a libertarian inflection of freedom to every sphere, even, strangely, the sphere of morality.   ... From Who is not Neoliberal

---------------------------

On the one hand, I would argue that only when democracies have already been devalued, weakened, and diminished in meaning—as they have been under neoliberalism—could a full-scale assault on democracy from the right take place as we see today. So this authoritarian—I’m wary of using the term “populist”—contempt for liberal democratic institutions and values we see sweeping across the Euro-Atlantic world has a lot to do with three decades of devaluing and diminishing democracy. But on the other hand, many of these assaults on democracy take place in democracy’s name. Their claims are made in the name of freedom and patriotism, which in turn are equated with democracy. These claims are continuous with the neoliberal notion of democracy. They come from the insistence that markets and morals are what ought to be governing us, and that statism ought to be used to promote that.

 

So this is not a radical break from neoliberalism. You’re right that it’s no longer the “hollowed-out” neoliberal democracy we saw under Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, but it was made possible by it and extends important aspects of it. Trump was certainly not able to mobilize conservatives and Evangelicals to vote for him because we’ve suddenly become “overrun” with immigrants from the South. The ground for Trump’s rise was tilled not just by neoliberalism’s destruction of viable lives and futures for working and middle-class populations through the global outsourcing of jobs, the race to the bottom in wages and taxes, and the destruction of public goods, including education. This ground was also tilled by neoliberalism’s valorization of markets and morals and its devaluation of democracy and politics, Constitutionalism and social justice.  ....... From Who is not Neoliberal

 

Alice and Mike's House

1 min read

A year in the making the little house on Rua 4  is finished .

Alice and Mikes House.

Woke Up To Snow

1 min read

snow dayIt is winter in New York, this morning looking out my window I saw snow on the roof tops. Snow flakes were falling it, was cold and dry. As the day moved on I went outdoors and the snow was turning to slush. Everyone but me was wearing a hat or a cap. My head was cold. People on the street were all busniess. This was not a play day, work needs to get done. This is New York,