Archive for the 'liberalism' Category

Just when you think capitalism can’t sink any lower…

“The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.”

Despite the fact that Marx first wrote about the concept of “commodification” one and a half centuries ago, it is only in the last 25 years or so that the term has come into popularity (leave it to liberals to ‘borrow’ one of Marx’s ideas 125 years after the fact and then call it their own and praise themselves for their magnificent brilliance).

But, given that new items are being commodified at alarming rates, maybe liberals can be forgiven for coming slightly late to the party.

There are countless examples of items which have become, as of late, owned and thus commodified by corporations.  Two examples include: Human and animal genomes which are now owned by corporations every time a new discovery is made; Fox News successfully countered a court case challenging their right to own the phrase “Fair and Balanced”; and the song ‘happy birthday’, to which every sung performance must be met with royalties to the song’s owners, as Girl Scouts of America learned the hard way.

There is nothing particularly new or secretive about this development.  However, when I learned of this new development in commodification, I was at a loss for words:

believe-in-god.png

Marketing a product that claims to connect one to God is nothing new.  The Catholic Church practiced something more or less similar to this for hundreds of years under their practice of the ‘buying of indulgences‘.

But actually copyrighting the phrase “Believe in God”?  Chutzpah, pure chutzpah.

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”   -Orwell, 1984


I know I’ve been bringing up Orwell a lot more frequently as of late (see here, here, here and here), but when I came across this comment on reddit.com yesterday, my mind just screamed to me: “NEWSPEAK!  NEWSPEAK!  NEWSPEAK!”

The comment is:

“Progressives like to blame the greed of corporations. Libertarians like to blame the coercion of government. Progressives want democratic action to solve corporations, and end up giving a ton of power to the government.  Libertarians want the market to solve problems, and give a ton of power to corporations.

We need to get together and realize that elite power sucks regardless of where it originates. Progressives need to stop looking at the government as a benevolent solver of problems. Substitute libertarians for progressives and the market for the government.

What we need is a third way. I don’t even mean a third party, but a political consensus that acknowledges we need to be ever vigilant against elite power.  I think this consensus can be forged and maintained on the internet. I hope that the campaign of Ron Paul is only the start.” (source)

It isn’t that this particular writer is attempting to manipulate somebody.  Indeed, on the contrary,  think it is obvious that this writer is genuinely interested in progressing beyond the existing state of politics.  The reason why this comment is indicative of Newspeak, though, is that this person is writing as if he has just discovered for himself a ‘new’ idea for a political viewpoint when in fact, the idea for what he is talking about has existed for hundreds of years since at least the time of the so-called ‘Diggers’ in mid-17th Century England. The only problem is that, because of ‘Newspeak’ (for lack of a better word), the very essence and meaning of the word he seeks has been removed from political discourse and to the extent that it can be found in political discourse it is, just as Orwell predicted, taken to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means.

Orwell writes:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

So let’s see here: this writer is looking for some new ‘third way’ forward away from Conservatism and authoritarianism other than libertarianism and what the U.S. laughably considers to be ‘progressivism’.

Here is a graphical view of a standard 2-axis political orientation chart with the left-right economic spectrum horizontally and a vertical axis demarcating statism and state control versus anti-statism.  This is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is in a way, precisely its simplicity and commonality that illustrates the point I am trying to make better than anything else.

As you can see, there is a huge gaping hole in one quadrant.

For ease of reference and clarity, I’ve superimposed the position of various people onto this grid according to politicalcompass.org and other sources.

new-left-right-spectrum-people-2.png

While it is clear that every other ideology in the political compass grid is easily labeled (i.e., I could have easily gone into more detail and labeled the bottom right corner ‘Anarcho-Capitalism” and the top edge from roughly the centre to the far right as “fascism” and so on and so forth), it is true that, unlike all other quadrants on this grid, there is no one agreed upon word describing the bottom left quadrant (where Chomsky and I reside).

Chomsky himself alternates between calling it broadly “libertarian socialist” and “anarcho-syndicalist” (yes, I’m aware those are technically two different things, but I’m just talking insofar as a broad name for the quadrant goes).  I call it “True Marxism” or “True Progressivism”.  But there are also any number of other names for it:

-Anti-statist Communism (a redundant phrase as far as I’m concerned)
-Anarchist-Communism
-Trotskyism
-Post-Marxism (a term popularized by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe)

So, in essence, Orwell’s fear of the ‘destruction of words’ has been realized.  Not only does the general populace not have a universally agreed-upon word to describe our ideas, but we ourselves can’t agree on a word for ourselves.  We are, quite literally, they who are without name.  We can no longer use the word Marxism — although it would quite technically be an accurate label for the quadrant broadly understood — because, just as Orwell predicted, it’s meaning in modern parlance has been inverted into its exact opposite.

In a world without a nomial label attached to these ideas, the consequences of which are illustrated beautifully by the comment above, it has become nearly impossible for people to even think revolutionary thoughts because the person has to derive them from scratch themselves without the advantage of their long and rich history.  And, even if they do derive these ideas from scratch, the problem remains about how to express these ideas to others without further cluttering up the nomenclature for such ideas.  Thus, I would argue that it has come to the point where our very existence, our very presence as individuals holding these ideas, has itself become a revolutionary act.

While I am crushed by capitalism,
I continue to breathe.  And so long as
I breathe, I continue to hope.  And it
is this hope that animates my struggle.

See Also:

War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

Our entire existence summed up in one cartoon

All that glitters is not golden

When does it start?

U.S. Presidential Candidates compared to Canadian political parties

War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

My god, Orwell was prophetic.

Here’s the latest capitalist Orwellian doublethink, this time via Saskboy.

“Get your vote out Ontario. Mixed Member Proportional is on the ballot today, so even if you don’t like any of the parties (which would bewilder me, since Green is an option ;-) you can still vote in the referendum for MMP. Who doesn’t want a more representative democracy? (Amusing answer: Fascists, Authoritarians, Dictators, Communists, Jason Cherniak, James WDIKGrit, Saskatchewan NDP, most Americans, and political hacks.) “

I understand that not everybody is going to be a communist or a Marxist.  Heck, I even appreciate that probably a significant portion of this blog’s readership don’t actively identify as either communist or Marxist.  But c’mon, let’s at least have an ounce of honesty here!

This is my response to Saskboy via his blog.

“Communists don’t want more democracy? Wow, that’s news to me! I was under the impression that we advocated radically expanding democracy both within the current spheres of politics, but also into economic spheres (i.e. to ensure democratic control of the economy as opposed to elite control).

Silly me, all this time I’ve actually been opposing democracy when I’ve been meaning to expand it.

I also thought that I voted FOR MMP less than 1 hour ago in the Ontario election, but I guess since you say that we’re opposed to it, then I must be wrong.

Oops, wrong again. The Communist Party’s candidates say they support MMP and encouraged others to vote for it.  see here

Also, if you’re interested, you can also see here, here and here (votecommunist.ca) for more proof that the Communist Party not only supports MMP, but actually supports a MORE vigorously proportional version of proportional representation.

But kudos to Saskboy for not letting those pesky and inconvenient “facts” get in the way of his red-baiting.

I guess that supporting MMP actually means opposing MMP.

I guess that supporting a radical expansion of democratic rights means opposing democracy.

And, I guess that War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.

Why capitalism can’t continue forever and why socialism will prevail

From Bolivian President Evo Morales’ recent speech to the United Nations (the text of which has never been seen in the mainstream media).

It is important that we learn lessons from some sectors, from some regions. Let me avail myself of this opportunity: I come from a culture based on peace, from a lifestyle based on equality, of living not only in solidarity with all people, but also living in harmony with Mother Earth. For the indigenous movement, land cannot be a commodity; it is a mother that gives us life, so how could we convert it into a commodity as the western model does?

This is a profound lesson which we must learn in order to resolve the problems of humanity that are being discussed here, climate change and pollution. Where does this pollution come from? It comes from, and is generated by, the unsustainable development of a system which destroys the planet: in other words, capitalism.

I want to use this opportunity to call on sectors, groups and nations to abandon luxury, to abandon over-consumption, to think not only about money but about life, to not only think about accumulating capital but to think in wider terms about humanity. Only then can we begin to solve the root causes of these problems facing humanity. “

Hat tip to our good comrade Ian Angus who runs the fantastic ecosocialist blog “Climate and Capitalism“. He published the full text of Morales’ speech.

~

See also:

All that glitters is not golden

An apology is owed…

Support for capitalist parties in Canada

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?: Dispelling the myths of socialism – PART I

Is Capitalism Justified?: Dispelling the myths of socialism – PART II

Peace is overrated

I just came back from a talk given by a fairly standard, run-of-the-mill civil servant who’s specialization is the new, over-hyped field of ‘conflict management’.  In the two hours I spend there, I think I must have heard the word ‘peace’ used so much that it lost all meaning.  This got me thinking about how obsessed liberals are with ‘peace’ as some sort of idealized pancea that ought to be sought above all else.

Surely, if we think about it critically, we can realize that, while nobody obviously wants conflict, peace, in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing if it serves to merely solidify other exisiting horrific social conditions.

For instance, one could easily take this current liberal obsession with ‘peace’ and do something radical which liberals are not wont to do: place the subject back 150 years, look at it dialectically, and see what we get.

Well, we get this:

white-mans-burden.png

So the problem of the liberal obsession with peace is that, to borrow a quote:

“Peace is over rated. Any slave can have peace. Just pick the cotton.”

So, just as with most liberal thinking, its true absurdity only becomes obvious when you take the time to look at it dialectically and place it within an historical context.

See also:

“Civil Liberty”
The myth of humanity as naturally violent
Propaganda In Action: Canada as a force for peace in the world

Who ever thought the French Revolution was funny?

There are comic geniuses such as Robin Williams — masters of time and rhythm — and then there are geniuses who also just happen to be comedians such as British comedian/political commentator/author Mark Steel.

Never in my life have I ever had as much fun listening to a talk about the French Revolution.  The best part, in my opinion, was his routine near the end on the teacher in the classroom schooling all the idiots who thought that there actually were WMDs in Iraq.

I wish every university professor was like this guy.

Mark Steel: Vive la Revolution! Socialism2007 conference. (Part I)

Mark Steel: Vive la Revolution! Socialism2007 conference. (Part II)

Mark Steel: Vive la Revolution! Socialism2007 conference. (Part III)

(note: even though this last clip says “part 2” at the start, it’s actually part 3)

Thanks to Doug from If There’s Hope… for these great Mark Steel clips.  I found some clips from Steel’s talk on Marx a few days ago, but Doug’s site made me want to post these first.   Stay tuned for Steel’s routine on Marx.

Conspiracy theories, a North American Union, and other B.S.

My mother enjoys torturing me by e-mailing me the incoherent rants of right-wing malcontents from time to time.  I suppose it’s part of a game she plays with me which I claim to hate but actually in reality secretly don’t mind.  But I guess, on the other hand it could also be because maybe she believes that angering up the blood and having your face turn red with frustration periodically is somehow therapeutic.

Either way, she stumbled across this gem of a video and decided that I should have to share in her pain and so she passed it along to me today. (And I’m in an apparently sadistic mood today and thus feel that you, my reader, should also suffer along with me as well… it’s a vicious cycle, it really is.)


(The original link to the video was here on this 9/11 truth blog)

Now, at first, I was beguiled by the “Impeach Bush” banner at the top of the blog she linked to and thought that this would actually be a reputable video on media distortion.  Perhaps, I thought, it might be a joint interview with Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman discussing new data on their Propaganda Model?  Perhaps an interview with Robert McChesney, author of Rich Media: Poor Democracy?  Perhaps an interview with Chomsky, Herman AND McChesney, I foolishly thought as I got comfortable and settled into my chair to enjoy the show.

“Oh, goodie,” I found myself thinking “59 minutes and 49 seconds.  This is going to be a full length feature.”

… And then the conspiracies came a-comin’.

For instance, did you know that everything which is reported in the media is controlled by the Freemasons and other secret, shadowy organizations who are all either associated with communism or who are at least sympathetic to it?  

I know, I was surprised too. 

Peter Jennings was a communist sympathizer.  Dan Rather was a communist sympathizer.  In fact the video even goes so far as to claim that William Buckley Jr. was a communist sympathizer.  Seriously?  William Buckley Jr.! The same conservative pompous right-winger who was fond of arguing that the U.S. engages in benign imperialism?

Or, did you know that everybody in a position of authority in the U.S. Government is actually working secretively to abolish the U.S. Government itself and to destroy U.S. Sovereignty so that it can — depending on who you talk to — establish either a North American Union or a New World Order where the U.S. will be emasculated?

Continue reading ‘Conspiracy theories, a North American Union, and other B.S.’

All that glitters is not golden

Manitoba’s “Golden Boy”:  The unintentional symbol for what’s wrong with Canada.

First, before going on from that incendiary statement, I should begin with the obligatory statements to prevent too much hate mail:   I’ve spent several summers in Manitoba and have visited the province many times throughout my childhood and I really do like most of the Manitobans I have encountered.

So, now that that’s out of the way, it is truly remarkable how Manitoba’s “Golden Boy” — their beloved statue and unofficial symbol of the province — can have so much symbolism for Canada which exists at multiple levels without having been intentionally designed.  Regardless, much of this symbolism is, shall we say, not something to be admired or celebrated as many are wont to do and, as such, is worth a critical look at.  The unintentional and profoundly unflattering symbolism of “Golden Boy” exists at three different levels.

Symbolic item #1: “Golden Boy” isn’t gold at all.

Yes, that’s right, “Golden Boy” is only gilded gold made using much the same technique ancient counterfeiters used to pass bronze or lead or non-gold coins off as gold ones.

When you think about it, it’s a fitting symbolic equivalent to the country which considers itself so superior to the United States; which claims itself to be ‘golden’ and as pristine as the untouched snow when, in actuality, we generally actively support the U.S. in their emperial adventures…. so long as we get to preserve our illusions of golden purity.

In Iraq, the Chretien Liberals helped out by sending a fleet into the Persian Gulf to assist the overtaxed American fleets with patrols.  But the list goes on.  Afghanistan.  The U.S.’s illegal war in Kosovo.  Haiti (historically and currently).  Yep, we’re just about as ‘golden’ as “Golden Boy”.

Symbolic item #2: “Golden Boy” represents Mercury — the Roman god of trade, profit and commerce.

Yes, “Golden Boy” is in the end merely a statue designed to glorify and pay tribute to our society’s new gods: trade, profit, commerce and — since the root word of ‘Mercury’ is related to the root word of ‘merchandise’ — consumerism.

But, while we glorify trade, profit and commerce, there were even segments of ancient Roman society who were not so easily fooled.  In the ruins of ancient Pompeii, on the other hand, we see murals such as the one depicted left, which show the god Mercury depicted with an unusually large phallus which, contrary to in our culture, had a profoundly undesirable quality.  Under this particular mural there was profanity written which was directed towards the god of trade and commerce.  I won’t relay what the profanity said, but it doesn’t take much to imagine what the jist of it is.

Also of note is that this particular depiction of Mercury, by employing the large phallus, might have also been a reference to prostitution as paintings of phalluses often pointed (literally) the way towards the prostitution sectors of the city for tourists.  Interestingly, since Poet Langston Hughes famously called America a prostitute in his poem Columbia (“Columbia, my dear girl, / You really haven’t been a virgin for so long / It’s ludicrous to keep up the pretext”), it does not take a huge leap of reason to see that so too can Canada be considered to have prostituted herself towards the ends of capitalism, trade, profit and commerce.

Symbolic item #3: “Golden Boy” is rotting from the inside

For those of you who were in Manitoba around 2002, you’ll remember that “Golden Boy” had to be taken down because he was literally rotting from the inside out.  What is more, if you followed the much-reported (at least in the province of Manitoba) story of his ‘repair’, an interesting fact was revealed after he was returned to his perch atop the legislature building:  the ‘repair’ is only going to last for about 20 years before he’s completely rotted out again.

This is especially prophetic when one considers that, as economic analysts have recently noted, since the American economy — the engine which fuels North American capitalism — is anemic, but the stock markets are on the rise artificially through increased money flow, we are perhaps heading towards a 1929, Great Depression-style collapse sooner rather than later.  Add to that the fact that credit card debts are increasing at alarming rates and we can see that our deficit-financed consumerist lifestyle truly is rotting from the inside out.

But here’s where the ironic symbolism of “Golden Boy’s” rot jumps to another level:  It was discovered in 2002, when “Golden Boy” was taken down, that much of the rotting experienced by the statue was caused by the electrical wiring leading to his torch.  Since the torch represents the torch/flame of knowledge and the quest for learning, this discovery reminded me of Voltaire’s Bastards by John Ralston Saul.   In this work, Saul argues that the kind of knowledge which has come to be rewarded in modern Western capitalist civilization is an exploitative, power-seeking and ultimately corrupting knowledge. 

Saul writes “Knowledge became the currency of power… The most common characteristics of our elites are cynicism, rhetoric and the worship of both ambition and power.”

In short, the only kind of ‘knowledge’ “Golden Boy” — the god of trade, profit and commerce — is capable of giving, is a corruptive knowledge which, ultimately, is mercinary since it is not coupled with other human virtues such as Rousseauian pity or Socratic civic duty.

An apology is owed…

This is an absolutely fantastic quote and a great quote for any progressive person who wants to throw something back at liberals when they turn their noses up at us.

“When capital and the ruling classes apologise for: Colonialism, the 14 hour day, class privilege, the 7 day working week, children in coalmines, the opium wars, the massacre of the Paris Commune, slavery, the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, starvation, apartheid, anti-union laws, the First World War, Flanders, trench warfare, mustard gas, aerial bombing, the Soviet Intervention, the Armenian Genocide, chemical weapons, fascism, the Great Depression, hunger marches, Nazism, the Spanish Civil War, militarism, Asbestosis, radiation death, the Massacre of Nanking, the Second World War, Belsen, Dresden, Hiroshima, Racism, The Mafia, nuclear weapons, the Korean War, DDT, McCarthyism, production lines, blacklists, Thalidomide, the rape of the Third World, poverty, the arms race, plastic surgery, the electric chair, environmental degradation, the Vietnam War, the military suppression of Greece, India, Malaya, Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Turkey, the Gulf War, trade in human body parts, malnutrition, Exxon Valdez, deforestation, organized crime, the Heroin and Cocain trade, tuberculosis, the destruction of the Ozone Layer, cancer, exploitation of labour and the deaths of 50,000,000 Communists and trade unionists in this century alone, then — and only then — will I consider apologising for the errors of socialism.” (from: the Communist Party of Australia)

There’s a great pic to go with this quote that I’ve just added to the Paulitics Political Images resource (along with a bunch of other additions).


Resources:

home page polling resource

Click below to download the

Paulitics Blog Search

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the comments section beneath each post on this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the blog's author and creator. Individual commentators on this blog accept full responsibility for any and all utterances.

Reddit

Progressive Bloggers

Blogging Canadians

Blogging Change

LeftNews.org

Paulitics Blog Stats

  • 863,959 hits since 20 November, 2006