Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Short Primer on Dialectics

I thought this might come in handy as a brief and easily readable introduction.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Quotable: William Blum

Whatever we do on a purely personal level to try and curtail greenhouse gas emissions cannot of course compare to what corporations could do; but it’s inevitable that the process will impinge upon the bottom line of one corporation or another, who can be relied upon to put optimization of profit before societal good; corporate “personhood” before human personhood. This is a barrier faced by any environmentalist or social movement, and is the reason why I don’t subscribe to the frequently-voiced idea that “Left vs. Right” is an obsolete concept; that we’re all together in a common movement against corporate and government abuse regardless of where we fall on the ideological spectrum.

It’s only the Left that maintains as a bedrock principle: People before Profit, which can serve as a very concise definition of socialism, an ideology anathema to the Right and libertarians, who fervently believe, against all evidence, in the rationality of a free market. I personally favor the idea of a centralized, planned economy.

Holy Lenin, Batman! This guy’s a Damn Commie!

Is it the terminology that bothers you? Because Americans are raised to be dedicated anti-communists and anti-socialists, and to equate a “planned economy” with the worst excesses of Stalinism? Okay, forget the scary labels; let’s describe it as people sitting down and discussing what the most serious problems facing society are; and which institutions and forces in the society have the best access, experience, and resources to offer a solution to those problems. So, the idea is to enable these institutions and forces to deal with the problems in a highly organized and efficient manner. All this is usually called “planning”, and if the organization of it all generally stems from the government it can be called “centralized”. The alternative to this is called either anarchy or free enterprise.

I don’t place much weight on the idea of “libertarian socialism”. That to me is an oxymoron. The key questions to be considered are: Who will make the decisions on a daily basis to run the society? For whose benefit will those decisions be made. It’s easy to speak of “economic democracy” that comes from “the people”, and is “locally controlled”, not by the government. But is every town and village going to manufacture automobiles, trains and airplanes? Will every city of any size have an airport? Will each one oversee its own food and drug inspections? Maintain all the roads passing through? Protect the environment within the city boundary only? Such questions are obviously without limit. I’m just suggesting that we shouldn’t have stars in our eyes about local control or be paranoid about central planning.
From Blum's most recent Anti-Empire Report. It reads like something I might write. Ultimately, it comes down to how do we maintain a complex civilization, the fruits of which are ones most of us deeply appreciate (e.g., electricity, running water, subway systems, etc.)? I'm not too keen on what the primitivists have to offer (among the only logically consistent anarchists I've tended to encounter) or what the various libertarians have tried to push. Like any other form of economic and social organization, centrally planned economies are not perfect, but they can work, and can be reformed as needed. Given the way various forms of capitalism have decimated our planet, I'd just as soon give some form of central planning another shot or two.

RIP Yusef Lateef

Was just checking my newsfeed on Blogger, and read that another great musician has passed away.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blegalazing

I think that's the term. In any case, I am certainly in the mood to do so, or at least share the posts of those who do.

Fuck Yeah Marxism-Leninism now has 11,000 followers.

I'm in the process of updating links as time permits. I've been adding a few new ones while removing a lot of old links that either don't work or are to blogs that are no longer active. Don't read too much into it - just one of those chores which must be taken care of periodically.I still honor reciprocal links. That won't change. But I am trying the blogroll more manageable. I'll probably switch to a simpler template eventually, as well. That probably won't happen for a while though.

I'm currently reading The Red Army Faction, A Documented History: Volume 2: Dancing With Imperialism. Like the other volume in the series, it culls together any available documents created by the organization, as well as provides a concise alternative history. As a leftist activist who grew up, for better or worse, in the shadow of a number of First World urban guerrilla organizations, it is helpful to have the rest of the story, rather than merely the portrayals made available in both conservative and liberal capitalist media, as well as from the speculation that would often appear in zines or idle conversation back in the day. Smith and Moncourt should have the final volume published by the end of the decade, I'm guessing.