Thursday, July 7, 2011

Manifesto Time!

Manifesto for a Left Turn: An Open Letter to US Radicals (note that this is a pdf file) - a useful document explaining how we got here and how we might move forward. On a related note, ladypoverty posts We're talking about practice.

Good question

Why not Marx? Tip o' the hat to BLCKDGRD.

Freedom and solidarity

Jodi Dean sez:
In the US during the Clinton years, those who were pushed out of the paid labor force were told to educate themselves. More education was going to be the key for getting ahead. Now the discussion is whether education is worth it. With one hand, states eliminate teachers, slash education budgets, cut student loans, and raise tuition. With another, pundits ask whether education pays off. Some publish charts and graphs claiming to measure education in terms of salaries and wages in various occupations: does more education mean more money? Education is but a production input, and the humanities don't seem to be worth their cost. The bigger point: the middle class (like the poor and working classes before it) is being told that there is no hope. The so-called American dream is over (and there have been graphs and charts on mobility in Europe that show how much it exceeds social mobility in the US). Education isn't a way to get ahead. The only ways to get ahead are luck, chance--lotteries, prizes, game shows, contests. But hard work--nope, doesn't matter, no jobs. So this is what life under the tyrrany of capital looks like: word hard for your overlords and then die (in the mean time, you can worship celebrities like so many saints or so much royalty in a formation better described as neo-feudalism than neo-liberalism).

So it's not a suprise that the US right uses a rhetoric of freedom. People feel trapped. People are dependent. Our lives are not our own--someone else owns them. Our futures are already tapped, trapped, our work going to pay off our debts to the entities that feed off us. The language of freedom and "taking our country back" expresses a real longing for a world where one could work hard, make a better life, have some kind of security, some kind of promise of rest. The right mobilizes this longing against the state, against taxes, against public sector workers, against teachers, against the unemployed, as if these their dependence were the cause of the dependence of the rest of us. The right deflects anger away from capitalism, away from the coercive force of debt, away from finance as a mechanism of class power.

The language of independence and fear of dependence makes sense. And this means that it can be redirected, set straight. The only possible independence comes from depending on each other. Only this dependence, this solidarity, can emancipate us from capital. We have to be liberated from the tyranny of private interest. Notice: the right urges individualism with every breathe (well, not every breath--they oppose all sorts of sexual and reproductive choices). Anything that hurts an individual choice is a harm. This is the choosing of the market, the consumer approach to freedom (free-ness). It's not even the producer's approach to freedom: producers have to work, have to confront the vagaries of the production process as well as the challenges in realizing the value generated through production. Freedom for the right is the same as dependence on the market, and this is no freedom at all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This really does not surprise me

There is apparently an increase in overt white supremacists seeking elected offices across the US. Here's a quote from the article:
Most aren’t winning—not yet. But they’re drawing levels of support that surprise and alarm groups that keep tabs on the white-power movement (members prefer the terms “racial realist” or “white nationalist”). In May, the National Socialist Movement’s Jeff Hall hit national headlines in a bizarre tragedy: his murder, allegedly at the hands of his 10-year-old son. But before his death, he had campaigned for a low-level water board position in Riverside, California. The swastika-wearing plumber who patrolled the U.S. border paramilitary-style walked away with almost 30 percent of his community’s vote. “That’s a sizable amount of the vote for a person running openly as a Neo Nazi,” says Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. While Hall’s political future—and life—has been cut short, Mayo points out that we should expect more white supremacist hopefuls next year.

Mayo and others date the current spike to 2008, and the election of the country’s first African-American president (an historic marker accompanied by a surge in the percentage of U.S. children born to minorities in 2008—48 percent, compared to 37 percent in 1990). “The immediate reaction after Obama was elected was of rage. They feel if a black man can get elected to office, why can’t someone who represents white interests?” Just a few weeks after Obama’s election, Duke gathered followers in Memphis to expressly strategize what to do next. The solution? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

What followed in 2010, say extremism watchers, was the biggest electoral push by white supremacists in years. “We’ve seen increasing numbers of white supremacists and others on the radical right running for electoral office for several years now and we likely had more in the last election than in any other in recent memory,” says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Although extremely few of these people are elected, especially if their views become known during the campaign, the fact that there are so many openly running for public office reflects the growth of white nationalism over the last 10 years.”
You'll likely note that the article mentions the overlap between the Tea Party and these various white nationalist groups. Let's just say that we're reaping the fruits of years of eliminationist rhetoric.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Break on through to the other side

The end for Jim Morrison occurred 40 years ago yesterday. The Doors was one of those bands I listened to a lot as a teen, and would open my mind to a lot of Beat-era writing, etc.

Here's a performance of "The End".

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Perhaps some change we could really believe in

"We talk of change, What is change? Change is the willingness to look at your system and have the courage to know what is wrong. More is not change. Change is to reorder the values of your life. Change is having a vision of a new hope for society...The system by which we can achieve power for our people and freedom that is a change. The means where people sacrifice now for a great day tomorrow, where we will march together in the name of work, in the name of justice, because the word is LOVE."

~ Michael Manley~
H/t field negro, who reminds me that a discourse on the concept of solidarity is long overdue.