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I live on an island in the Salish Sea close to the Canadian border. I love human beings but am horrified by the way we are treating our environment. Society is in crisis I hope we can give up on greed and avaricious and create a more sustainable and equitable culture..

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“A Punishing American Zeitgeist”​ | An Interview with Nikhil Pal Singh

1 min read

 

Link to a reprise of the Trumpian phenomenon and a caution to us all against apathy and under estamating the peril we are still in.

Another figure who rises in that moment, and who remains central within Trump’s orbit, is Rudy Giuliani, who became mayor of New York in the 1990s after, interestingly enough, leading a riot of mostly off-duty New York policemen on the steps of City Hall to protest the Dinkins administration’s plans for an all-civilian police review board. Talk about an echo. The police riot at City Hall launched Giuliani into the NYC Mayor’s office. There he was again before the riot at the Capitol on stage with Trump calling for a “trial by combat.”

 

Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation and the Counter Movement to Capitalism

1 min read

From:  Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation and the Countermovement to Capitalism

The outright abolition of democracy was the fascist project. In Polanyi’s view, it aimed to overcome society’s division into economic and political spheres by subordinating politics (democracy) to the unconstrained rule of capital. 

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Polanyi argued that democracy was not a political regime of capitalist society. Rather, democracy and capitalism were separate systems, pulling in opposite directions.

Research on Insurrection

1 min read

Mike Davis Riot on the Hill:

https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/riot-on-the-hill

. What was essentially a big biker gang dressed as circus performers and war-surplus barbarians – including the guy with a painted face posing as horned bison in a fur coat – stormed the ultimate country club, squatted on Pence’s throne, chased Senators into the sewers, casually picked their noses and rifled files and, above all, shot endless selfies to send to the dudes back home. Otherwise they didn’t have a clue. 

Rebecca Solnit in Lithub:

"Rebecca Solnit: When the President of Mediocrity Incites an Insurrection"    January 7, 2021

The last four years have been dominated by Trump and Trumpists throwing tantrum after tantrum about the possibility that their entitlement might eventually run into limits. 

There are no identity politics more passionate (and sulky) than straight white Christian-identified male politics

 

Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction

1 min read

From Logic Magazine

 

It seems to me that our politics these days require us to give each other the heart to do just that. To figure out how, with each other, we can open up possibilities for what can still be. And we can’t do that in in a negative mood. We can’t do that if we do nothing but critique. We need critique; we absolutely need it. But it’s not going to open up the sense of what might yet be. It’s not going to open up the sense of that which is not yet possible but profoundly needed.

Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction

1 min read

From Logic Magazine

 

It seems to me that our politics these days require us to give each other the heart to do just that. To figure out how, with each other, we can open up possibilities for what can still be. And we can’t do that in in a negative mood. We can’t do that if we do nothing but critique. We need critique; we absolutely need it. But it’s not going to open up the sense of what might yet be. It’s not going to open up the sense of that which is not yet possible but profoundly needed.

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

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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

 

Liberalism Unmasked

1 min read

Taken from   the review   The Sound of Cracking by Pankaj Mishra

Homo economicus, who seeks to replace all other human values and interests with cost-benefit calculations, rampages across the globe: in personal relations as well as the workplace, higher education and political institutions. Pulverising the welfarist state, and even a sense of community, and contemptuous of history and tradition, he sentences hundreds of millions to economic and psychological insecurity and isolation in an opaque and hostile world. This scorched-earth universalism incites, as Santayana warned, ‘a lava-wave of primitive blindness and violence’. Many putative Augie Marches, whether in India, Russia, Japan or Israel, seem keen to surrender their onerous individuality to demagogues and to be used by them. Elsewhere, those excluded from a degraded world of man, or condemned to join its burgeoning precariat, are prone to embrace the god of destruction rather than of inner peace. The thin sound of cracking is heard from many more parts of the world as exhausted authority surrenders to nihilism.

Trees By Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

1 min read

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Trees By Warren Ellis is a story of an alien invasion, where the aliens show zero interest in  humans or life on Earth. The aliens have come to earth in huge towering columns, humans call them trees. The humans of earth find this disinterest disturbing.  The aliens do not interact with the inhabitants of earth and people cannot see any effect or impact from the towering columns, it is like we are being ignored. 

There are four or five different stories being told, each at a different spot on earth were the Trees have landed. Sub text cover gender politics, sexuality, politics, global warming and urban crime. Each of these sub plots tie into the appearance of the Trees in some way.  This is a serial so there is still an aura of mystery about the columns, there will not be a resolution of the story till much later when the series has concluded. Recommended reading.