08 April 2006

Nikki K. bulletined this, through Jenn... This has been going around: Girl, 5, Forced To Apologize For Hugging Classmate...

the scene of the "crime"

This is all happening in suburban Boston. Clearly what you have here is an obsession with rules. From the disciplinary perspective, Savannah Marino broke the rules, so she had to be punished. The Right goes to town, BTW, on this stuff, since it puts a bad face on the public schools and gives them publicity for the idea of privatization.

We can make connections between this sort of news headline and the idea of capitalist discipline. The apparent purpose of public schools under the current system is to inculcate habits of rule-obeying into young people: obey the rules, the teachers effectively tell the next generation over the space of thirteen years, so that when you graduate you can become exploitable/ disposable units of labor-power. This purpose occasionally runs into conflict with the wishes, hopes, and dreams of the units of labor-power themselves. Capitalist discipline in the larger world, by the same token, is today destroying its own seedbed by creating a world filled with ecological/ economic crises.

If we were to raise the community's children intentionally (for this is indeed what elementary school teachers do), we would not prioritize capitalist discipline, nor would we make "obeying the rules" the first and last purpose of schooling, as we do today. (By the same token, if we were to run an economy intentionally, we would not be careening toward ecological/ economic crisis.)

Hugging, indeed, is an expression of love. What would a school system based on love look like? How would it form the center of a community based on love, within a society based on love? There would doubtless be forms of self-discipline to replace obedience to externally-programmed rules, entailing learning of and respect for nature/ labor as an alternative to capitalist discipline.

07 April 2006


The main article is here. Once again, this goes back to the problem (discussed in an earlier blog) of whether or not teachers can say what they want in class. The issue has attracted the attention of The Guardian, too.

Maybe the question would be more focused if I asked the question this way: what aren't teachers allowed to say in class?

Well, they aren't allowed to say dirty words, or to make illegal threats, but those are covered by the laws against obscenity and violent behavior. That's not at issue here. Perhaps individual cases might shed some light on what we're talking about here? Are professors allowed to be marxists in the classroom? Are they allowed to say marxist things? The anti-free-speech people can't seem to bring themselves to say precisely why not, instead generalizing about the evils of marxism. This is a dodge.

John J. Ray, for instance, is "saddened, and then disgusted, at the extent to which McLaren is wasting his students' time." Well, presumably, since McLaren has a public reputation (which Ray well acknowledges), the students enrolling in his classes know well in advance what they're getting. Wasting his students' time? By the very laws of capitalist commodity exchange, they're getting what they paid for!


The link is here, but I don't get the reasoning. If the information that "Valerie Plame is a CIA agent" is deemed by the President to not be "classified information," how is that not a violation of the law that decrees the identity of CIA agents to be classified information? The "experts" appear to be giving Bush legislative powers.


And Common Dreams has given them some coverage -- though they need to say outright that this is a tax on the poor and middle class to support the medical rich.

One of the dangers of supporting ecosocialism is that, if perchance the Powers That Be discovered that ecosocialism became popular, they would create some kind of phony ecosocialism that screwed people over, and enact it into law. This appears to be what's happening with "universal health coverage" in Massachusetts.

06 April 2006


When are the impeachment hearings going to start? I guess you can debate it on the big time blogs...


Just reported by the New York Times and the Associated Press... of course, this is all just capitalist discipline -- people are still supposed to stay in their holding cells, er, national units, er, "countries," whereas capital can go anywhere it pleases, where investment conditions are the best...


See "Lenin's Tomb"... I couldn't have said it better myself... of course, it's all a death orgy out there now...

05 April 2006


(I know this is old humor but I think it's important to reflect upon how this joke actually turned out...)

In one of the more famous postings ever to travel through Native chat lines, the following "letter" to the Iraqi people circulated among the networks:


Formed March 20, 2003

Dear People of Iraq,

Now that you have been liberated from your oppressors, we at the BIA look forward to our future relationship with you. Below you will find a list of what to expect from our good offices:

  1. Henceforth, English will be the spoken language of all government and associated offices. If you do not speak English, a translator fluent in German will be provided.

  2. All Iraqi people will apply to be entered on a citizen (tribal) roll. Citizenship will be open to those people who can prove that they are Iraqi back four generations with documents issued by the United States. Christian church records may also be given in support of proof of your origins.

  3. All hospitals designated to serve you will be issued a standard "medical kit." The kit will contain gauze, band-aids, burn cream, iodine, tweezers, and duct tape.

  4. Your oil is to be held in trust for you. We will appoint an American-approved government lawyer who has a background in the oil industry to represent your interests. Never mind that he may also work for an energy company that he will eventually cut a deal with. However, not to fear - this close relationship will guarantee you more money for your oil.

  5. Each Iraqi citizen will be allotted one hundred acres of prime Iraqi desert. You will be issued a plow, a hoe, seed corn and the King James version of the Christian Bible. Following the distribution of land, any land left over will be open to settlement by Israelis.

  6. Each citizen is entitled to draw a ration of milk, sugar, flour and lard. If, for health or religious reasons, you feel you cannot use the rations, you may file a complaint with your BIA appointed liaison, General Foods Corporation. Those Iraqis showing signs of diabetes, heart disease, or glaucoma will be issued double rations, as, (we are sure you will agree), our own medical system will be too alien for your use.

  7. We will manage your trust monies, stipulating that any five year-old American citizen, demonstrating minimal computer skills, may hack into the system that controls your accounts, and set up their own account. Records of your accounts will be kept, but you must receive express written permission from the head of the BIA in order to examine them.

  8. In keeping with the separation of church and state supported by the US Constitution, Christian missionaries will be sponsored through government funding to provide your local educational and social services. Of course, only Iraqis who convert to Christianity will be allowed to hold jobs within the government.

  9. For the purposes of future treaty making, any single Iraqi will be found competent to sign land-cession treaties on behalf of all other Iraqis.

  10. Welcome to the Free World and have a nice day!

the commonvision bus

Thanks to Grist for noticing this -- Salon.com put out an article by Kevin Sweeney trying to stir up some hope about the climate change situation. The article is noteworthy for its quote of Peter Kropotkin:

Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist, wrote, "It is hope, not despair, which makes successful revolutions." While this is a notion most American generations haven't needed to understand -- ours has been a fortunate history -- it may be time for us to learn it. When we tell stories of potential desperation, we must also find ways of offering hope. Always.
Very nicely done. But let's take a look at Sweeney's solutions:

  • "Our federal government can commit to massive purchases of solar power..."
  • "We can change our tax code to drive people away from fossil fuels..."
  • "We can increase the CAFE standards -- fuel economy standards for auto fleets -- from the current 22 miles per gallon to 40 miles per gallon..."

Problem is, this isn't hope. Making fossil fuels more expensive? That will make life more expensive. Buying lots of solar panels? You'll just get lots of profiteering from the welfare bums of the solar industry. Neither more solar nor increased CAFE standards will in themselves reduce fossil fuel consumption. No, if you want to create hope for a solution to global warming, you'll have to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere rather than fudge around with ineffective proposals for reducing fossil fuel consumption, which will only slow down the climate change effect a bit. And how do we take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere? Plant trees! That's how hope works.

Programs driven by entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurs are interested in profit, and profit is attained by producing and selling commodities. That's how we got into this fix; that's why we have a world economy that consumes 83 million barrels of oil per day. Why not create prosperity without entrepreneurs?

"Prosperity" under capitalism is dependent upon cheap energy -- and when the oil runs out, the next cheapest form of energy will be heavy oil, tar sands, and, ultimately, coal. "Cheap" will, ultimately, be determined by energy return on energy investment (EROEI), and fossil fuels will have the best EROEI. We can predict, too, that governments won't stand in the way of this equation, lest they lose the favor of globally mobile capital. This is the way entrepreneurial thinking transforms the world -- through for-profit businesses, which reduce energy costs through greater EROEI, externalize the costs of waste in the production process by polluting, so that production can continue for its own sake. The greater the production, the more profit on margin. And increasing profit means paying the bills. Higher taxes on fossil fuels? That's not hope for businesses -- it's another bill to be paid.

Now, eventually, and assuming we continue on the capitalist path, the other fossil fuels will run out too. But we can expect a raging greenhouse effect to accompany their further use -- the more global capitalism burns fossel fuels, the hotter the Earth will rage. Eventually, then, the capitalist path will die in a fiery blaze.

Now here's a thought -- how about giving some hope to the working people of the world, that they don't have to produce climate change? We can start by providing exemplars like commonvision.org, to show what can be done when people prioritize the Earth over the profit motive. We move from that to a revolutionary dismemberment of the profit structures, so that people can live in a world where they work locally, eat local food, and generally exist within ecologies that assure their survival without consuming fossil fuels.

We can start by getting rid of the "morning commute," in favor of working at home. We continue by changing the economies of necessity, so that transportation is no longer so necessary to survival.

The next step is to get rid of the professions that Marx called the "circulation sphere," the lawyers and insurance reps and bankers and security forces and bureaucrats and such. The "circulation sphere" is the category of people who don't produce anything but who exist to move money around. Wouldn't Mother Earth be better off if these people were busy planting trees instead?

Now there's hope for you.


According to Democracy Now!, everyone in Massachusetts will be required to purchase health insurance. The idiots in the blogosphere have praised this as "better than socialism," or denounced it as government meddling, but I have a better name for it: subsidy for the insurance industry.

The whole idea of "insurance" is a scam. The idea of a single payer health insurance program receives its positive press due to the fact that you have one agency, the government, covering all health insurance costs, so there's no need to pay for an expensive insurance industry. If you really look at a standard denunciation of the US medical system, it's that
The U.S. spends by far the most money on health care of any country in the world, about 14f gross domestic product. The next closest country spends just over 10 percent. Not only do Americans allocate a larger percentage of GDP to health care, they spend more in absolute dollars. Americans pay $4,637 on average for health coverage while Canadians, the fourth biggest spenders, shell out $2,200 (US).
Why? Why is US health care more expensive?
This is good for segments of the economy. Pharmaceutical companies are making big bucks, U.S. doctors are some of the highest paid, fancy new technologies are being sold that purportedly do miraculous things, the hospitals are getting their cut and the insurance companies keep raising their costs, so surely all is swell.
So that's what you're paying for. Is it worth it?
Not really. According to the N.Y Times there are "60 million uninsured during a year (May 13)"

Don't despair, however, since according to the Financial Times at least "the system is world-class (May 24)" for those with employer paid insurance. But is it?

American life expectancy is only the 17th highest in the world. More importantly a World Health Organization study that counted years of good health showed that the U.S. ranked even lower by that measure. "The United States rated 24th under the system, or an average of 70.0 years of healthy life for babies born in 1999." Christopher Murray, a director from WHO summarized the findings; "Basically, you die earlier and spend more time disabled if you're an American rather than a member of most other advanced countries."
And a lot of this "health insurance" is really only catastrophic health insurance, leaving regular preventative care to the discretionary spending of the "insured."

To sum up: people buy health insurance, making their payments month after month, without seeing anything in return. The healthy thus pay for the sick, and not in accordance with any grand scheme that takes money from them according to their ability to pay, but rather according to insurance formulas. And they're not just paying for the sick; they're paying for the HMO bureaucracy, the pharmaceutical industry, and so on. Don't kid yourselves about Massachusetts; that's still going to happen there. The difference with Massachusetts is that there it's just going to be mandatory for everyone to pay, and so those who wish to avoid paying for the medically-rich will no longer have the option of doing so.

Don't be surprised if they underfund the program, too. Hopefully nobody will be penalized simply because Massachusetts can't afford their health insurance.

04 April 2006


Senior China Official Urges Cut in US Debt Holding

That ought to shut 'em up!


Article about France here, about Venezuela here... would like to hear from the Hubbert Peak people about the claims re Venezuela...a preliminary search finds a Jean Laherrere piece where Venezuela's Orinoco basin is lumped in with Alberta as containing heavy oil that is expensive to develop and requires lots of water to process...

03 April 2006


I suppose that this comes under the heading of extreme weather events...meanwhile, Commondreams.org is asking: is it too late?

02 April 2006


now in the coalition-building stage... meanwhile, Iran tests a missile...