01 April 2006


None of these so-called "communist parties" or groups will ever get the revolution they want. They're too obsessed with ideological control, with making sure the five or six people they can find who have "true" beliefs will stay that way. Such entities make more sense as reading groups than as political groups.

Nobody will get very far searching for ideological conformity by trolling the crowd of freethinkers.

Look, I may be interested in all the ideologies of these various groups, but in an intellectual, not a political sense. Politics is about power, not belief.

Let me turn this debate around by casting it in another, more revolutionary, mold.

There will be a revolution. Didn't Marx say somewhere that capitalism can only maintain itself by continually revolutionizing the mode of production? The question at hand is not about whether there will be a revolution, but about what it will be like. The idea of a "worker's revolution" is empty. It could be anything.

So what will the revolution entail? Well, the working class will make the revolution, but working-class revolt is not a sufficient condition for an anticapitalist revolution. The evidence for this is littered throughout the history of the various Internationals.

Capitalism is doomed, not because some dramatic revolt will put an end to it, but because its continual operation will run up against the carrying capacity of the planet. The natural world, which Marx claimed as the origin of all values, can only stand so much capitalist revolutionizing before it starts to belch up natural disasters of an increasing magnitude. The '03 heatwave in Europe and Hurricane Katrina were only the beginning. Give the Hubbert peak and the accumulating greenhouse effect a few more years and something really radical will happen.

The form of the revolution itself is not entirely clear from this distance. It probably won't be accompanied by a massive trade union strike. It will definitely be accompanied by the demand of a global sustainable society. It will not result in an increase in human productive power. Intellectual rumination upon the form of the revolution had now best be preoccupied with how to create a global sustainable society, a society that can achieve stability without massive dieoff, because everything else is disaster. The intelligentsia's best slogan would be: ecosocialism or barbarism. Their optimal starting point is John Bellamy Foster's article Organizing Ecological Revolution.

The revolution will probably be accomplished by believers in direct action, rather than those who wait upon the votes of a majority before doing anything real. Today, debate is unfortunately entangled in making action conform to belief, a process which depoliticizes action. What makes action effective is not belief, but rather the way in which the various actors are co-ordinated to produce an end-result. All labor is social labor. Sure, the Greens could win election to bourgeois democracy and achieve little, but that's because Green electoral victory hasn't (yet) been accompanied by Green revolution, not because there's something inherently "social-democratic" about being Green. The Green Party is the only party I know of that recognizes (or once recognized) the need for both movement and party.

The fact that action is made effective by the proper co-ordination of actors means that people with imperfect ideologies can be effective in subverting the status quo, like for instance Ralph Nader or the Green Party. The US Greens, unfortunately, are not effectively co-ordinated to resist the bum's rush of the "Two-Party System." But I don't think of this as insuperable. The Greens are the most efficacious third party because their (de facto) demand for a global sustainable society addresses the current situation better than any other party.

The various communist and socialist parties, on the other hand, appear to have an understanding of the trajectory of history that is stuck in the past. It's not that Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky are irrelevant to a discussion of theory -- they indeed are relevant -- rather, it's that political parties that believe in said figures insist upon repeating the history of 1848 or 1917. Why should we expect these parties to do anything of value? My eggs are in the Green Party basket, and they're probably staying there until a genuine ecosocialist party can be formed that can attract a mass base.

Sheer hubris? Check out Peter Schiff's article here... thanks to Loren Goldner of Meltdown for pointing this out...

Reading this interview reminded me of that portion of Marx's Capital where it is argued:
We have seen how money is changed into capital; how through capital surplus-value is made, and from surplus-value more capital. But the accumulation of capital pre-supposes surplus-value; surplus-value pre-supposes capitalistic production; capitalistic production presupposes the pre-existence of considerable masses of capital and of labour-power in the hands of producers of commodities. The whole movement, therefore, seems to turn in a vicious circle, out of which we can only get by supposing a primitive accumulation (previous accumulation of Adam Smith) preceding capitalistic accumulation; an accumulation not the result of the capitalistic mode of production, but its starting point.

This primitive accumulation plays in Political Economy about the same part as original sin in theology. Adam bit the apple, and thereupon sin fell on the human race. Its origin is supposed to be explained when it is told as an anecdote of the past. In times long gone-by there were two sorts of people; one, the diligent, intelligent, and, above all, frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living. The legend of theological original sin tells us certainly how man came to be condemned to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow; but the history of economic original sin reveals to us that there are people to whom this is by no means essential. Never mind! Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth, and the latter sort had at last nothing to sell except their own skins. And from this original sin dates the poverty of the great majority that, despite all its labour, has up to now nothing to sell but itself, and the wealth of the few that increases constantly although they have long ceased to work. Such insipid childishness is every day preached to us in the defence of property. M. Thiers, e.g., had the assurance to repeat it with all the solemnity of a statesman to the French people, once so spirituel. But as soon as the question of property crops up, it becomes a sacred duty to proclaim the intellectual food of the infant as the one thing fit for all ages and for all stages of development. In actual history it is notorious that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, briefly force, play the great part. In the tender annals of Political Economy, the idyllic reigns from time immemorial. Right and "labour" were from all time the sole means of enrichment, the present year of course always excepted. As a matter of fact, the methods of primitive accumulation are anything but idyllic.
So perhaps in Iraq humankind is reverting to that earlier phase of capitalist development when the robbers set themselves up as the rich. Has the rate of profit plunged so low that capitalism is ever-increasingly dependent upon great acts of theft?

30 March 2006


issue truancy fines!

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Los Angeles Times

Kudos to the Long Beach teachers who discovered a teachable moment in all this...


the new issue of Capitalism Nature Socialism came in the mail yesterday. I guess you can read the articles here if you have access. John Clark's piece on the post-hurricane denouement in New Orleans is in it. One can read this piece elsewhere on the net. Clark is an anarchist, and hopefully he will be at the anarchist conference at Pitzer college (see yesterday's entry). Clark relates his own story to the story of Elisee Reclus, a mid-19th-century anarchist who visited New Orleans for a couple of years. Clark's discussion has a lot of very specific details in it -- he spent some time taking with Mama D, an important New Orleans community activist.

Maria Mies has a very articulate and concise explanation of the "subsistence economy" in it, complete with a set of principles. The center of Mies' "subsistence economy" is that life is the only purpose of the subsistence economy, as opposed to money, which is what capitalism is about.

Chaone Mallory has a piece on treesitting in the "Biscuit" area of the Siskiyou National Forest of southern Oregon. Mallory relates something of the ecofeminism shared by the treesitters. I found another of her pieces here.

A cluster of works in the middle of this issue deal with biopower and (Hardt and Negri's) "Empire." Ahmed Allahwala discusses "biopolitics" in a review of an issue of the Austrian journal Kurswechsel. This is a very abstract piece. Thomas Atzert has a short piece on "biopower" as it relates to Hardt and Negri's Empire. Christoph Hermann discusses private enterprise "networks" as a relatively new form of capitalist organization. Susanne Schultz discusses the feminist critique of Hardt and Negri's Empire.

Jasmin Sydee and Sharon Beder discuss a private corporation called "Earth Sanctuaries Limited" which buys up parcels of Australian land, keeps feral animals off of them so that native Australian species can thrive, and opens up said parcels to ecotourism. Sydee and Beder conclude that "Earth Sanctuaries Limited" is not sustainable nor necessarily public-friendly. Timothy W. Luke has a piece called "The System of Sustainable Degradation" which tries to recast "sustainable development" as sustainable degradation. A set of book reviews graces the end.

Academic journals are a petit-bourgeois thing. To pay for publication costs, they go whoring after library funds, charging the libraries lots of money to carry them. CNS is in an even more difficult situation because it is not available in as many libraries as many of the other journals. The problem, for those of us who know better, is in getting access to this stuff. If you have the money, I suppose you should consider subscribing to CNS -- it's $51/ year or something. Ecosocialist discussion and theory are extremely hard to come by, and this is one of the few journals I know of that publishes such discussion in English.

Also, a new Baghdad Burning came out. It should dispel the illusion that there is a real "Iraq government" out there.

29 March 2006


Armed Forces deserters are going to Canada again, as Cynthia Tucker recognizes that this is really about class warfare...

Is it any surprise? The capitalist system will never make it into the "post-carbon age." Its elites do not recognize this because they have been selected by the system itself for their egocentricity and foolish hubris.

28 March 2006


Student protests in LA persist in the rain -- Top headline in world news on Google.news is Cuba's treatment of the upheaval in France...
Iraq to the US: Back Off; Congress to Immigrants: Get Out

Pointed out by The Fall of Humanity: If they want your confession badly enough, you will deliver it while wearing a stun belt... Suddenly, the Iraqis who liked US security don't like it anymore, confirmed by Patrick Cockburn... meanwhile, a good portion of Congress plans to piss off Mexico and criminalize those of us who help the poor... and the Senate attempts to water down HR 4437... NBC News has a slideshow of the protests on the 101 freeway... check it out...

27 March 2006


Kudos to them...also, check out the protests on the 101 freeway...


A general strike is coming soon; please come visit Claremont for the anarchists' thing...

John Robb suggests a hasty defeat as Global Research maps a possible path to war with Iran as American troops walk into a mosque and kill 22 people... on the other hand, the NY Times speculates that support for the war may be at a tipping point as many Republicans sour on the war... Here you can read a fun piece about injured folks, as another mini-My Lai is unmasked in the Independent...

Juan Cole has a summary...meanwhile, Rahul Mahajan reports that "Daniel Pipes, in an op-ed in early March, almost seems to lick his lips as he contemplates Iraq's possible descent into civil war, pointing out that "when Sunni terrorists target Shiites and vice versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt," adding that, from his point of view, "Civil war in Iraq would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one." The elites seem to love this kind of conflict -- first Iran-Iraq in the '80s, then this, although according to Jeff Leys, the war isn't getting any cheaper...