25 February 2006


America: Utopia Lost. What happened to optimism? It was handcuffed to capitalism, which jumped off a neoliberal bridge. If we want optimism back, we will have to take off the handcuffs.

I presume Yarrow's book is a history of the loss of optimism between the fifties and now. In that regard, I hope that, at least in a footnote, readers will see mention of Samuel Huntington's 1975 essay "Chapter III: The United States" in the anthology The Crisis of Democracy, written for the Trilateral Commission, as being a pivotal work in ending the optimism inherent in American democracy.

In this essential work, Huntington proclaims the United States as suffering from too much democracy, and so America must be cooled out. The summary suggests, among other things, that "Discouragement and apathy are, for Huntington, desirable, since they facilitate smoother system management," and that for Huntington the "danger posed by democratic renewal" is "a legitimation and governability crisis stemming from a loss of trust in government and in major nongovernmental institutions." Of course, Huntington got his wish, and we now have a government which functions smoothly because, even though there's a fairly severe legitimation crisis, discouragement and apathy keep the people from getting in the way of their illegitimate government.

You can see the logic at work here. If government is functioning poorly, blame the people for being too democratic.

Now, it's hard to say how much say-so Huntington's essay had in deciding the elite consensus, and it's hard to say to what extent the Trilateral Commission is a group of elites that decides how the world should go. But the history books will record a "revolt of the elites" as occurring around the time the Trilateral Commission was created in the early 1970s, and marking the beginning of the era of neoliberalism. We are all much less optimistic about the future of capitalism for it.

24 February 2006

I'm trying to put together all of the opinions, one way or another, that comprise the blogosphere... check out, for instance, Peak Oil Debunked and Peak Oil Optimist... the most cogent criticism so far seems to be coming from Jim Jarrell's criticisms of the Matthew Simmons book... the Wikipedia page on "Hubbert Peak" has a list of blogs too, tho' most of them are by the Peak Oil advocates... more on this later...
Today's Democracy Now mentioned an NRDC report that shows New Orleans to be toxic... more evidence that the band-aid approach to capitalism's ecological crisis doesn't work...

23 February 2006


Patrick Cockburn, one of my favorite Iraq journalists, has this to say about the bombing of a mosque in Samarra: Iraq is on the "brink of civil war." It's not surprising -- after all, US efforts to create an Iraqi Army have mainly succeeded in thrusting large quantities of arms into the hands of people with other agendas.

Amusingly enough, in checking the blogosphere on this one I noted this blog -- a prescient notion -- since the US economy is based on home equities these days it's only fitting that someone should blog its downfall. After all, before a new regime can be made possible, the old regime must be brought to its knees. A "new thread to talk about the bubble" garnered 109 comments, so someone is reading it. Definitely worth bookmarking. And kudos to Desert Rat Democrat for providing pictures.

22 February 2006


See this MSN article...

Bruce Taylor pointed this article out: it's here. One especially cogent point:
In a free market economy, can we really expect industry to adopt sustainable manufacturing processes?

No, we can’t. The way that a free market economy works is that it must have unfettered access to natural resources and also to labor. But if it doesn’t have unfettered access to natural resources, it can’t compete.

Now, there is this rise of green capitalism. Aspects of it are positive and very agreeable. We need to be able to reuse the commodities that we make and sell over and over again. And we need to re-design the production process. All of that is right on track. But green capitalists say that all these things can happen voluntarily, that when companies become aware of the damage they’re doing, eventually they’ll start making the right choice.

In my assessment, what happens when companies do this is one of two things. If you’ve got a company and you’ve decided to go green, it’s going to cost more. You’re going to be competing with companies that aren’t doing that, and aren’t incurring the greater cost. Either that’s going to drive you out of business, or into the realm of manufacturing luxury items to sell to people who have now embraced this whole new level of consumption that’s connected to organic living, organic lifestyles. But those goods aren’t available to working class families or to people who live in public housing. Those are high-end consumer items. So, that kind of change is not going to affect a greater change across the board.
Hurray for Heather Rogers.

Here is a sample, continued here...Democracy Cell Project noticed it,Unbossed.com noticed it, Ken Duncan noticed it, Brad deLong noticed it, ninathedog noticed it... good job, blogosphere!

21 February 2006

1) Common Vision has arrived. They have planted many trees at Vista Elementary School in Claremont and will plant many more tomorrow at Sycamore School in Claremont. You should invite them to your school as well. 2) A friend has showed me new ways of discussing the "peak oil" situation, including the Daily Kos... the main publicity route through the Daily Kos appears to be the diaries of Jerome a Paris, also here...I've only begun to digest this stuff...

Cursor found this one -- good ol' depleted uranium... An article in Counterpunch -- whose authors are well-intentioned though they sometimes play fast and loose with their sources -- suggests that the Democrat notion of Strategic Redeployment" will be on the table in this year's elections. The article Gagnon refers to can be found here, though the ideas have of course been on the table since last year.  I tend to agree with Gagnon's thesis. It's important to recognize at this point that politics-as-usual is a shell game, and that the pain will end when we reject the shell game.

Perahps the attainment of revolutionary consciousness in this regard comes about in three steps:

  • 1) we stop hoping and praying for the Democratic Party to rescue our hopes,
  • 2) we mobilize a real organization for our interests that doesn't cop out to the old paradigms of patriarchy, nationalism, and capitalist economy
  • 3) we stop imagining that discussion of ecosocialism is not "just talk," just as a plan to do something is not "just a plan."

20 February 2006

The most recent issue of In These Times sports an article by Lakshmi Chaudhry titled Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics?.  In the article, Chaudhry is rather pessimistic about the ability of blogs to generate grassroots organizing.  His article has several points:

  • Limited participation: "An effective netroots strategy in 2006 will also have to master the shortcomings of the Dean's campaign, which stalled mainly becaause it failed to grow his support beyond his online constituency -- antiwar, white, and high-income voters.
  • A hierarchy of blogs: "The 'elite blogs"' serve as a filtering mechanism, deciding which information offered up by smaller blogs is useful or noteworthy.  In, effect A-list blogs get to decide what issues deserve the attention of journalists and politicians, i.e. the establishment.
  • The internet slant toward "urban professionals": "'For me, the greatest problem is low-income people,' (Pew scholar Michael) Cornfield says.  The irony is that it's not because they don't have the money to get a laptop -- especially with the $100 laptop now.  It's that people who are poor don't have the civic skill stets and motivation to go online and do these sorts of things.  That will take a concerted effort.'"

I suppose a moment of self-clarification would be useful to my readers here.  I don't really think the Web is a good place to organize an ecosocialist revolution or anything like that.  But I do want to nurture a small group of people who have an inkling that some sort of radical ecological and social change will necessary to preserve civilization against the destructiveness of the capitalist system.  I envision this blog as part of a "ground floor" effort.  The tasks at hand are:

  • 1) proving that small changes to the existing system will not in themselves make the system sustainable,
  • 2) organizing the professional stratum whose job it is to pursue "sustainabiltity" around the necessity of radical social change,
  • 3) documenting the disaster purveyed by the existing system upon the world,
  • 4) helping educators to empower students to a radical understanding of the existing system and its relation to the environment,
  • 5) spreading the word about means of "hacking" the existing system for socially-beneficial goals.

In short, this blog conceives of itself as a seed effort, a beginning to a much larger ecosocialist movement.

Oh yeah: and the article suggested a link, which you ought to investigate:

Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
Common Vision should be in town, sez rite cheer on their calendar... now I just gotta find them...

meanwhile an article in the Guardian argues the mainstream just don't work no mo' for workin' folk...