09 May 2003


Apparently the dream of Argentino revolution is fading...Naomi Klein explains it admirably, with lessons on what not to do...

08 May 2003


There is only one theory behind this -- tell me if you think I'm wrong.

1) Wealth, power, and tradition are the three pillars of Republican ideology. First, wealth. One of my sister's former boyfriends once powerfully suggested a reason for voting Republican: "The good money is behind it." People feel that they are more likely to grow rich under a Republican administration. The Republicans adhere to a Calvinist ideology that has, for all practical purposes, transmuted the Christian God into a likeness of Mammon. Mammon is, of course, the god of wealth, and even though the Republicans may deny their Calvinism and the Calvinists may deny their Mammonism on a spiritual level, their actual business behavior says otherwise, and the enormous disparities in wealth throughout global society reveal the hidden hand of Mammon within the Republican ideology that says who's powerful in today's economy (the "Washington Consensus," "free trade," etc.).

The Calvinists, as one might recall, believed in a theology favoring "God's Elect" -- there is supposedly a rich elite who have God's favor, and this elite has earned God's favor by pursuing a wildly-successful "calling" as well as through thrift, hard work, and perseverance. God, being all-knowing, ostensibly has granted the rich not just their wonderfully-rich lives, but passage to Heaven as well. "Accumulate, accumulate: that is Moses and the Prophets," as Karl Marx once said.

And then, there is the "dark side" of the Republican belief system -- this peculiar malady called "compulsive gambling." Sin City, Las Vegas, blah blah blah. One can reflect, then, that the Republican Party's in-house moralist Bill Bennett has revealed that he is in fact a compulsive gambler. What is gambling, anyway, besides the sacrifice of money in order to garner Mammon's favor?

Besides wealth, then, the Republican Party's Mammonism, it has in its favor the imprimaturs of tradition and power -- the duct-tape securing the cult of wealth. Second, power. America's breast-beating victory over its defenseless foe in Iraq has made power-for-power's sake a hot item these days -- Leo Strauss has become a big Republican patron saint, standing alongside von Mises and von Hayek in the academic pantheon. Of course, the primary purpose of conquering Iraq (besides W.'s infantile revenge motivation, and besides the maintenance of an enormous and growing US military, by far the world's largest consumer, resource exploiter, polluter, and arms dealer) was and is its profit-potential for the Federal Government's owning corporations, so even with power-worship (and the whole flap about "American empire" that the pundits have recently endorsed), we're back to money.

And then, on top of all of that, you have, thirdly, tradition -- people lead religious lives in the Republican mode because age-old doctrines have decreed that they do so. This third value is where Republicans are labeled "conservative." Richard Kahn of the Vegan Blog has pointed to an article by Glenn Scherer that suggests that ecocide -- for instance, all of the various measures taken by the Bush Administration to destroy the Federal Government's ability to regulate the environment -- is driven by a millenarian ideology:

"Many fundamentalists see dying coral reefs, melting ice caps and other environmental destruction not as an urgent call to action, but as God's will. In the religious right worldview, the wreck of the Earth can be seen as Good News!

Some true believers, interpreting biblical prophecy, are sure they will be saved from the horrific destruction brought by ecosystem collapse. They'll be raptured: rescued from Earth by God, who will then rain down seven ghastly years of misery on unbelieving humanity. Jesus' return will mark the Millennium, when the Lord restores the Earth to its green pristine condition, and the faithful enjoy a thousand years of peace and prosperity."

Of course, this theology attempts to reinterpret a human-caused disaster, the disaster caused by pollution, a disaster we choose as people possessed of free will, as God's will. So our will to pollute the air has become "God's will," and in "playing God," we are apparently playing the same God the Republican endorsers of ecocide know and love. And then this ecocidal theology assumes, falsely, that the greenhouse effect (the most onerous effect of human pollution, the effect discussed by Scherer above) is a signal of the "end of the world," whereas in reality the greenhouse effect will just make life a lot worse without ending the world in any way. But being wrong never stopped Republicans, especially fundamentalist Christian ones, because an effective untruth is self-serving. (Wasn't that Strauss' doctrine of good government?)

Cementing these fantasies, as well as the fantasies of "Creationism," religion-based cornucopianism, etc. is tradition, which is the motive force behind Biblical literalism, the "crusade" against Osama and Saddam, and the Christian Coalition's support for Israel's attempt to re-establish the boundaries of the 3000-year-old Kingdom of David and Solomon. The rank-and-file of the Christian Coalition are, of course, the "shock troops" of the Republican Party, and in Bush they have their "born-again" President. Thus their unquestioned success. Given the lack of serious opposition, the Republicans should dominate American politics until the limits to Earth's capacity to tolerate state capitalism (or mere economic collapse) threaten the Republican god Mammon.

I've already explained in previous columns why the Democrats do not represent a serious challenge, because they do not offer a contending ideology. The most the Democrats have to offer is a wistful vision of a Keynesian populism that its own elites no longer endorse. My guess is that the elites fear that the American economy will become too much like the economies of Europe, which they would declaim as "stagnant" even though Europeans generally enjoy a higher standard of living. At any rate, Democrat proposals are still sifted through the ideological rhetoric of "private enterprise," which has mostly deserted the Democratic Party and put its stake in Republicanism for the reasons I've mentioned above: wealth, power, tradition.

What's needed, then, is a powerful popular ideology which can contest both Democrat and Republican ideological visions while at the same time presenting a definitive case against Mammon-worship. Socialism suggests a tradition of sufficiency for all. But socialism will not offer such a challenge (even if it were to regain its popularity of old), because today it is easier to satisfy one's needs through "private enterprise" than through solidarity. The Green Party offers an ideological alternative to Mammon-worship without, unfortunately, being popular -- because only the wealthier classes can afford environmental concern when it is difficult to participate in a capitalist economy. But together...

07 May 2003


MSNBC is apparently willing to risk extremely low ratings in order to promote a right-wing agenda. I've watched some of their stuff, and I have to wonder how infantile they feel they can be and still keep a viewer base. I imagine the next terror alert: "America Beseiged By Cooties -- President Fingers Syria as Source." A list of nations can be drawn up as belonging to the Axis of Cooties, whilst national representatives angrily declaim at the UN headquarters that their countries do not have cooties. Tom Ridge can post Cooties Inspectors at every airport, as Colin Powell proclaims the next war will be about so-and-so's possession of Cooties of Mass Destruction. NBC Nightly News can play their militaristic theme song, followed by their slogan: "America Has Cooties: Day 63."

Now, the events of 9/11/01 were and are no joke, but if the Bush Administration can't be bothered to come clean about its role in allowing that tragedy to happen, then their handling of the whole to-do about "terrorism," and the behaviors of the mass media that sponsor them, deserve all the ridicule they can get.

Heck, I'm not all that sure what this all has to do with ecosocialism, but I guess I imagined ecosocialism as a manifestation of the maturity of the human race, of humanity growing out of old institutions of war and exploitation and competition, and TV news all looks and sounds like it was written and presented by little boys for little boys for the sake of infantilism.

Turn off, tune out, drop out.

06 May 2003


Once again, George Monbiot debunks the World Bank's assertion that the world is moving out of poverty. It is essential that we keep track of the world economy's actual movements, in a mode as close to ethnographic study as possible. I am, for instance, still trying to find verification for Mark Weisbrot's claim that the Latin American economy grew by only 7% between 1980 and 2000. A mainstream website claims a 7% growthrate for the Latin American economy in the 1990s alone. Where do these people get these figures? e-mail me and tell me what you think.

The substance of all of this is much more important to ecosocialism than it seems at first glance. The legitimacy of the current system is based in part upon official pronouncements that the economies, both local and global, of the world can support "development." Latin America has been classified as part of the "developing world," yet of course it can post a claim to being already "developed" in an important sense, and is merely being soaked to support the profit rate of elite multinationals.

The voice that uses statistics to argue that something is "broken" with the system is still marginalized, but there were press releases coming out of the WEF at Davos (for instance) to indicate that the voice that says the system is "broken" is becoming the secret whisper of the mainstream. There will have to be another capitalist crisis, another 1940s or 1970s, before ecosocalism can be a possibility yet. Stay tuned.

05 May 2003


There are two theories:

1) The Democrat anger at Bush, much famed at sites such as Smirking Chimp and Daily Kos, is motivated mainly by the overt nature of Bush's strategies of class warfare and imperialism. The Demos are angry because GW Bush is doing things that previous presidents (incl. Clinton) would have done anyway, yet with Bush there is so much in-your-face style to it, so much crass "my way or the highway" posturing, when compared with previous Presidents, including Bush Senior and Reagan. So the Democrat criticism of Bush is an inflammation brought on by his style, without regard to his actual substance. And he's a winner, which makes them jealous.

What adds insult to injury in this regard is that the Demo politicians have been caught without any backbone, as the conversation at Daily Kos seems to have revealed. The elites in DC appear to have conceded any shred of Federal Government leadership they might have had even despite 2002's election having established Repub control of both Houses of Congress, and this leaves the rank and file in a rather undignified position, having been caught believing in political positions (like "oppose Bush") that few people in DC support anymore. So, the reasoning goes, they blame Bush, Nader, any target ready-to-hand.

2) Some of the Demos may have begun to "recognize," or claim to recognize, the US as an imperialist nation run by rich advocates of class warfare, that the government is merely a subsidiary of owning corporations, and that world society is threatened a collapse that is aided and abetted by the course of action proposed daily by the elites. How much of this reality they recognize will vary from Democrat to Democrat. At any rate, Democrat understanding of the global realities of life will be difficult to measure, mostly because they cling to an association with a political party that has left them, partly because they've decided to censor themselves out of fear that they will be lumped in with the Dixie Chicks as "unpatriotic."

Which theory is a better description of the Democrats? What do you think? Respond by Emailing me or contributing to the Ecosocialism blog.