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[Excerpt from Book One ~An Epiphany On Wall Street~ in the Nine Inch Bride series.]
“The word socialist is wrecked in the American psyche,” she replied. “Two centuries of questioning and thought have been rendered taboo and blanked out of mainstream consciousness. But no, the making of new parties must await proportional representation and the demise of winner-take-all. The task before us is to unwind these undemocratic, race and class biased electoral structures. That is prerequisite to successful third parties.”
She stepped away from the candle and caught a glimmer of light along one side, her cheek bone visible now, the rest of her face in shadow. The curve along her neck and shoulders was distractingly delicious to the eye.
“You are alienated from both sides, Ken, because you are middle class,” she said, grabbing back my attention. “Not to be one of the elite honeycombs your soul, and yet you can no longer sit down to dinner with the unwashed common man you consider yourself superior to and more deserving than. I offer you a chance to mature in your human potential to its fullest. All else is waste of time.”
I squirmed at that.
“Democracy is a learning machine. No ism is complete, or sufficient in all times. There can be no forbidden party, even the most noxious side of ourselves we must hear. All barriers must come down. Folly will learn better and fade. True democracy is immune to utopias and final solutions by other name. This discourse between twin capitalist parties, keep-all and tweak-some, is a black tie affair in a museum for democracy.”
[Re: "Oil Giants Could Feel Major Pain If World Gets Serious About Reducing Global Temperatures" http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/21/oil-climate-change-producers/ (The title of this article and its POV are laughable.)]
There is no question that "a carbon bubble is in the works." It's intrinsic to growth and 'recovery.' Science tells us the carbon apocalypse is well underway and the status quo shows us there is no will, no motivation, whether fear or hope, that the carbon economy and culture is capable of generating to stop itself.
There is no "putting its money where its mouth is" short of reversing population growth, economic growth, productivism itself, and the carbon-derived consumption addiction--putting the genie of industrialization back in the bottle. Hardly a prescription for greater 'freedom.'
The economic culture which produced our plight, capitalism and its productivist derivatives, including industrial socialism, cannot be expected to find such a will, if indeed it even has the capacity to perceive and fully admit the extreme of the problem for which it is responsible. [read more...]
Jeffrey Sachs Calls Out Wall Street Criminality and Pathological Greed
"I regard the moral environment [on Wall St.] as pathological. I’m talking about the human interactions that I have." ~Jeffrey Sachs [View video...]
Video together with transcript is available at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/04/jeffrey-sachs-calls-out-wall-street-criminality-and-pathological-greed.html
[Originally posted on Google+]
Today the marathon bombing in Boston brought back scarred memories of 9/11 that are painful for me still. It is no accident Ken confronts the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial in the opening scene of the novel. In a way, these are symbolic characters drawing and repelling him again and again.
"We are none of us innocent." Sa says to Ken atop Freedom Tower in a chilling later scene.
But as a New Yorker who witnessed the first air strike through the apartment window, and the second from the building's roof through the lens of a camera, 9/11 is always there waiting to come vividly alive again in memory, with its long lingering aftermath of smoke and smell and terrible awe that cannot be erased.
I have to believe that attack was not knowingly exploited by our government. To believe otherwise, would not every sane and just person have to recognize they are in a state of war with their own government? At whatever stage of activism one stood, short of war--the blood sacrifice, all for cause, could it ever be enough if our elected government were abusing power to game our very lives for partisan advantage?
It may be all bombers are madmen. Does that mean we do not examine what has made them so brutally mad? Is this how we let them win? We blithely dismiss a flaky ex-CIA whistle-blower and our own eyes for that matter, watching controlled demolition. Do the most successful liars know their lies are too big to ever be successfully exposed?
The sensible cast the glare elsewhere, on the gore, the grieving, the grim fact of terror, on any consensus but our part in the hate visited upon us, or the way we would have to understand our culture, the warrior we would surely have to become within it, if we believed our lives were gamed in murderous theater.
[Originally posted on Google+]
[From Nine Inch Bride Book One]
“Debt is the gateway drug to capitalism and its culture. The question for the young is whether to bind oneself heart and mind to this culture of the loan and never look back for fear of jinxing the investment, or to question the contract at every turn. Should they wrangle to join the ruling class, or save the world from a dictatorship of vanity and privilege,” she said, showing one palm up to one side, then the other, as if she were a scale. “Guess which wins.”
“You have to wrangle just to stay alive,” I affirmed.
“Even so. In the bordello of free markets, the young mind is bound to debt, and put in training to become its whore. Genius is tasked with inventing armaments and advertising. Technology is devised to produce a poisoned diet. From banking and Wall Street, the crown jewels of capitalism, we have feudal indenture, fraud in ever more ingenious forms, usury, war mongering...”
She spoke in her low voice, standing with assurance, level headed and calm.
“We have a culture of fraudulent dualities, an either-or infirmity of the brain, understanding pinged and ponged between two paddles. Take your pick between them: Republican-Democrat, private-public, big or small. Whatever comes to mind will have its bully twin in a prison of either/or. It is a fallacy of thinking so common it is in the Advertiser’s Handbook—clean or dirty, new or old, cool or square. What can one hope from such a culture?”
[Originally posted on Google+]
I read with dismay about some hecklers at a rally calling Michael Moore out as a hypocrite as he passed, and general hostility toward celebrity entertainment figures as 1%-ers espousing 'socialism' from great mansions and unimaginable wealth. I think these hecklers are overlooking the nature of capitalism, which knows no moderation. Success in capitalist media necessarily involves 'stardom,' whether deserved or not, and obscene profits, because that is the return such venture capitalization requires. Being a capitalist structure, those at the top are rewarded irrationally and redundantly.
In the case of MM the radical documentary filmmaker, unlike those in commercial media, 'We the People' made him a 'star,' not some Hollywood studio, and it is a paradox of living in capitalist culture, not hypocrisy, to be catapulted to wealth and stardom even when your message is contrary to both.
In the case of movie star 1%-ers made by Hollywood, they cannot claim a particularly noble origin for their success, but when they get there, some few have the wisdom and conscience to know their wealth is an absurd condition of capitalist culture and use their position and their money to advance the progressive agenda, to their great credit.
As MM is fond of saying, "I can walk and chew gum at the same time." That is not hypocrisy. It is wisdom and balance in the conflict of culture within culture.
But the individual celebrity has far more tenuous a bond to perform as desired and no real obligation to do so compared to celebrities of an institutional nature. And yet, whether for-profit business institutions with a progressive intent, or every other institution of the non-profit kind, the bourgeois form is the form the progressive institution takes, like it or not. And some do like it, apparently very much. [read more...]
I would argue that the existing sense of balance between storytelling and 'axe-grinding,' a pejorative term to be sure, is entirely a construct of centuries of capital dominance in the publishing industry. As gatekeeper and censor of literature over centuries, from feudal lord to feudal capitalist, the standard of what axe may be ground in fiction and to what extent has been set by publishers and cultivated in top down media with a vested interest in escapist literature which not only does not upset, but actively affirms the status quo. Any discussion of this standard is lame without recognizing the cultural dominance of the owner-publisher class.
Now that digital publishing has largely broken the owner-publisher's stranglehold on what may be said, only the stranglehold of market expectations fostered over centuries remains. It seems to me regressive in the extreme to deliberately perpetuate that standard of expectation as if it were some kind of universal principle of literature, instead of a deliberate smothering of dissent within the dominant culture.
If a writer creates a character who is a thinking person, the writer has an obligation to have that character speak their thinking. If the character is political, that would be political thinking. If the character is an activist with a cause, a/k/a 'axe to grind,' and this involvement is central to the story, that character must be developed and allowed to incense and proselytize. The point is not to conform to the market expectations of 'storytelling,' subspeak for 'escapism,' where challenging the reader to think is a cardinal sin. In fairness such conformity could also be called 'axe-blunting,' 'opiate poisoning,' and a list of like epithets.
Better to break down those expectations, even if it means those critics and readers utterly conditioned by feudal cultural precepts may reject it. As it stands, the only traditionally published grinding is that which grinds directly or indirectly on behalf of the status quo, e.g., Ayn Rand, whose nefarious influence far and away exceeds that of any writer with an opposing point of view, and does so by dint of fierce allegiance to that status quo alone.
To be a writer in the age of digital independent publishing is to break down and challenge owner-publisher / market gate-keeping / normative expectations.
[Originally posted on efemurl.com]
To learn the particulars of Chris Hedges, et al. v. NDAA, there is no better source than the panel discussion led by the plaintiffs and lawyers in the #stopNDAA action themselves: Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention, First Panel.
Part 2 continues with the broader political context: Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention, Second Panel. Both discussions are rich in detail on the NDAA dispute at hand and eloquent in the wider political and cultural dimensions of the lawsuit-as-campaign, and as a tactic in search of a larger strategy.
The widely supported lawsuit was launched by plaintiff-activists whose investigative journalism, political books and other consciousness raising activities are directly threatened by the vague provisions of the NDAA seeking to further encroach on liberties of speech and association for all Americans, while casting a definitive chill on dissenting journalism and the future of civil liberty itself. The panel discussion occasioned an ardent outburst from Chris Hedges and penetrating rhetoric from each and every speaker.
There were no small players on the Culture Project stage, and more, it had by the end of the second panel become a 'working meeting,' grappling passionately with unanswered questions about the future of the lawsuit as campaign in the repertoire of activism, the convergence of conservative and libertarian views with the plaintiffs' own in the Stop NDAA action, and the exploration of other possibilities for mounting a broader, more fundamental challenge to the law by law degradation of civil liberties in American corporate poltical culture. [read more...]
[Sahar from Nine Inch Bride book one]
“You are not the sum of your bank account,” she went on, countering the thought I had not spoken. Was there a way to keep my face from being a billboard in the sky? I wondered.
“It is moral midgets and conniving brutes who best succeed in the jungle of social Darwinism,” she continued. “Ethics do not evolve there, but are quelled to near-extinction. Genius is culled to serve reckless appetites and short-sighted bottom lines, hardly the evolutionary impetus of well-reasoned merit and reward. Neither social nor Darwinian, it would be kind to call the notion confused self-serving hogwash.”
[Originally posted on Google+]
[Sahar from book one in the Nine Inch Bride series]
"There is no essence to issue politics when all issues are framed in capitalism. There is no inspired socialism in counterweight, and no basis for hope from an exclusive democracy, one privately owned by the capitalized few, with a vicious market as its god. Long ago gone, an itch alone remains. Democracy in America is a phantom limb.”
She had made my point in spades I thought.
“But no, it does not follow that electoral politics are a waste of time,” she corrected, “or that voting and parties must remain as they are..."
[Originally published on Google+]
This evening I attended a memorial service for Aaron Swartz. http://www.rememberaaronsw.com/.
This young man had a truly beautiful mind and the heart of renegade Prometheus, too rare a combination in the history of man to lose...to a justice system proved criminal in his case. I am reminded of the Soviet Union under Stalin, were the most gifted among the opposition were singled out for persecution and driven to suicide, facing a Siberian labor camp, if not killed outright. Absurd laws and vicious, politically motivated prosecution of one of America's finest talents, the equal of any, gave rise to anger among the tears in the great hall.
He was a wordsmith too, among a 'shameful wealth of talents.' Given his questioning nature and imaginative bent, I could see him evolving into a powerful and popular writer by the time he reached old age. Anger-tears and anger.
I think of all the self-serving, ego-centric, narcissistic counterparts to someone like Aaron, indulging their fantasies of wealth, superiority, and privilege, the shrugging Atlas bourgewannabe's making their way in business, technology and the arts, the blunt instrument of ego at once the means and the end of their life work. Intelligence without wisdom, looking down its nose. Schweinerei.
The bell for Aaron Swartz tolls for the heart and soul of me.
[Originally posted on Google+]
Bear with me, I have to put this out there.
Not long ago a book caught my attention, odd and uninviting as it was. It was called Embracing Obscurity and in it a Catholic priest extolls the godliness of anonymity. It is signed "anonymous."
Here, at length, is an excerpt.
"A lot of us are caught up in this religious version of the American dream, even in the church. For example, a friend of mine wanted to be a career youth pastor. But that aspiration didn't jive with his "higher ups." In fact, he was looked down on because of his lack of ambition! To be a success in the local church, apparently, you need to go to school to get your bachelors, M.Div., and possibly doctorate. Then you work your way up the ranks of the church, from youth pastor to assistant pastor, and eventually to lead pastor. Once you're on top, your job is to grow your church to a successful number. One hundred will never turn heads, so you're encouraged to "think big" and implement a "growth strategy." You're going to need at least four-digit Sunday attendance to be taken seriously at pastor's conferences. then, once you have a few thousand in attendance and blog, Facebook, and twitter platforms, you can go on to write books. Once you have a book or two on your resume, you can speak on invitation outside your flock. If you work hard enough, you can eventually retire and enjoy all the luxuries you've accumulated through your had work and revel in your five-star reputation.
Are the similarities between the world's and the church's "business models" as startling to you as they are to me?"
As one who checks the "spiritual but not religious" box, with no illusions what the church is in capitalist culture, my answer is no, not startled at all, but thank you indeed for making the observation and asking the question. Embracing Obscurity is not a book I could recommend to any but proud, ambitious priests, but it does throw a welcome light on the subject of anonymity in general and anonymous authorship in particular, and touches my own reasons for signing anonym. [read more...]
Nameless is not voiceless, or invisible. And it is itself an identity: "the anonymous author of the book." But I have been puzzling how to approach a "blog" for "anonym." This is anything but an easy matter. First, I am reluctant. I am not a journalist, or a consultant, and I have no desire to keep a personal diary, much less a public one. All advice hurled my way insists this is something I as an author must do, and my trumping argument has always been that since I do not really want to, I will not do it well. In addition, I expect I will make casual observations and express offhand opinions which are flippancies of the moment that I will later regret upon considered or better view. Then on top of those reasons, there are notions of tone and expectation setting, which makes these very words precarious.
Finally, there is the question of ego and time. These come to mind together, as the temptations of sounding off are also time consuming, not just in their instigation, but likely more so in their consequences and follow-up. I have read many fine writers in their blog voices, and have some inkling of what it takes out of them to put good work up often enough to keep an audience. I admire the better side of the blogosphere, except for the time and work involved that steals from every other thing.
I confess, were it not for the delightful helplessness of being without power, internet or phone in the wake of the recent storm Sandy, which left me unable to work on old files, only pen and paper on new ones, this fitful start might have been pushed off indefinitely. [read more...]
"Again today a lovers strike left undeclared..."
Is it unfair to feel how ill our work-a-day lives compare with the bed of love we leave for it? Surely, lovers cannot say, 'No, today we declare a lovers' strike, and will not go.' What would the world come to! Or—What could the world come to ?!
Excerpt from An Epiphany On Wall Street, Chapter 4
Wee Hours, Day 11.
I lean my hatted head out the window of the control booth and look back to find her standing on the train platform waiting to board. Why had we left our bed of love? We had peeled our skins apart scarcely more than an hour ago, severed our one beating heart to put on clothes and go to work. In a flurry of habit, we trotted ourselves off to the wail of the rushhour siren, clopet-ty clop to jobbidy-job, to action without heart, complicit in the murder of time. Again today a lovers strike left undeclared, that soul entwined in mine so short a time ago now food for great machines. The doors bit her aboard. I lurched the beast forward on its tracks.