Archive for November, 2011

Here is a poster that I found particularly excruciating to find hanging up in a public school classroom:

An excruciating poster to find in a public school classroom.

For most of my life, as I’ll bet for the most of yours, we’ve had this canard drilled into our skulls that if you can’t change the material circumstances in which you find yourself, you should just smile, simply change the way you think about it, and unquestioningly accept the status quo and everything will be all better. Don’t view the glass as half empty, view it as half full and be thankful for it. Despite its creepy Orwellian suggestiveness, this way of thinking can actually be very useful in order to help someone keep a resilient mindset in the correct contexts in which when obsequiousness is not the ultimate expectation. Just to take myself as an example, though I’m educated and a state certified professional, I have next to nothing; I have little more than a 15 year-old car, a bed, a cot and an un-hinged door to serve as a dining table, but it’s also 36 degrees at night and I have a warm place to sleep, an internet connection, any one of my collection of firearms within an arm’s reach and food in my fridge; I’m cozy enough. Call me an ascetic, but I think of myself as a fan of simple pleasures. Times are hard, but there is simply no point in moping about it to the point of indolence; I see entirely too many people on the street corners and under bus benches at night with far, far less. What I, or anyone else does about our respective or collective situations is what matters, and I’ll come to that very soon.

There is a far more insidious undertone to the message of this poster, especially when I see the contrasts between the two faces on this poster. When I hear defenders of the neoliberal capitalist economic order respond sneeringly to the meekest protest of economic inequality with the assertion that millions of people on Earth would kill for a minimum wage job in the US, I can’t help but think of such a mindset in implicitly threatening terms. I cannot help but take that as a sign of how deeply the most ardent and interested defenders of capitalism eternally strive to immiserate the whole of the human species save for themselves. I cannot help but think of it as anything but a mindset that is to be beaten, shot, gassed, or pepper-sprayed into the faces of those who do fight back against such a concerted, coordinated and highly organized effort to scour into the face of humanity a permanent economic order by which a scant few enjoy tiny islands of exquisite luxury at the expense of a vast, unending, unchallenging, unalterable ocean of the impoverished. I cannot help but hear the implication that, if the working class demands any better than what the Earth’s greater proportion of the world’s immiserated would allegedly kill them for, that the capitalist class would have their state agents kill them instead for such ungratefulness.

With the brutal police crackdowns on the Occupation movement, many of which, it should not be ignored, have been orchestrated by mayors elected on a Democratic Party ticket, I now can’t help but view this poster as an implicit threat of what will happen if you don’t shut the fuck up, move your tents to the doors of Wal-Mart the night before Black Friday, and smile cheerfully as people brawl and degrade themselves over $2 waffle-makers, or watch in horror as a bunch of cops bash a grandfather’s face into the floor for allegedly shoplifting.

It infuriates me that we are engineering a generation of schoolchildren to embrace hyperindividualism and to rejoice as their last collective act is to immolate the social halves of their respective human selves in a mutual suicide-pact in order to play the grand capitalist lottery of mega-success and fall upon each other as predators in that hopeless game, the rules of which are written and rewritten by a ruling class that can only stand to benefit from a working class that has self-atomized upon lines of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, or any other subset of the identity politics which I so passionately hate as they are irredeemably crippling to our collective working-class interests.

In a small act of protest, I propose a radically different alternative ethos by which the generations of human beings damaged by decades of neoliberal capitalist indoctrination can purge the mode of thinking that has made a virtue of selfishness in order to nullify our ability to recognize our common interests as working-class people who comprise the vast majority of human beings in existence.

In short, I propose that we think upon these lines:

“If you can’t change it, we all can change it.”

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For anyone who insists that American metropolitan police forces aren’t being militarized, do not look at this picture of a Tampa Police M577 armored command post car. . .sponsored by BAE Systems.

Thanks to Maddow Blog for pointing this one out.

26 Problems

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

And the war on reproductive rights continues with Mississippi poised to pass Proposition 26, a ballot initiative that would declare that a fertilized egg is a legal person under the state Constitution, criminalizing most forms of birth control and fertility treatments. I’m just old enough to remember how ten years ago, an abortion ban that did not include exceptions for health and life of the mother, rape, or incest, was a bridge too far; today such omissions are standard fare in the perpetual and savage attack on reproductive rights by religious and social conservatives and reactionaries.

Shall a woman be made to provide monthly samples of her menstrual blood to test for the presence of un-implanted and fertilized eggs? What would the consequences be should such a test come back positive? Shall a woman who sees her OB/GYN because of a miscarriage be shackled to a gurney and probed to see if it’s a cover for an abortion such as is currently the practice in some South American countries? How would the state catalogue each detected case of an unfertilized egg not coming to term? Shall they each be named?

I’m not simply being inflammatory here, nor am I setting up a straw man argument. In 1965, the state of Connecticut had on its books, a statute that prohibited married couples from possessing contraceptives or any information thereof. The Supreme Court held, in a 7-2 decision, that this statute violated the right to marital privacy, and established that there is in fact a fundamental and substantive right to privacy protected by the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice William O. Douglas wrote “Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts  of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repugnant to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.”

The specifics differ between the case of Griswold v. Connecticut and Proposition 26, but the question that presents itself here is still the same: how far is the state willing to go to enforce such statutes? Which methods of enforcement are too revoltingly invasive?

How far is Mississippi willing to go?

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I’m not sure there is a point to this, much less a valid one. The first order of business for any ruling class power facing a popular insurgency is to deny that the wretched of the Earth have any legitimate grievance; the immiserated, the homeless Veteran, the recent graduate with no employment prospects and mortgage-level student debt loads, the laid-off; dismiss them as communists, terrorists, ingrates, malcontents, mobs, and traitors that just need to go get a job even when there are none to be had. Tell people without shoes to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. If that doesn’t stick, send in the police-spies and provocateurs to fabricate an excuse for the Oakland PD to shoot, beat and gas people.

Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years and the racking up of wealth has the US literally at third-world levels of wealth and income inequality; when it ranks near the Ivory Coast in wealth and income inequity, it’s no longer hyperbole to say that the US is now the wealthiest third world nation on Earth. People are rightfully pissed that the capitalist class played speculative games with the economy and got bailed out after they burned it to the ground while the working-class got booted out of their jobs and their homes in droves because of it.

If the only response to this is to tell them that they’re worthless because they didn’t fight in World War II, the cartoonist and anyone who agrees with it aren’t paying attention. Today’s grand struggle is the class struggle and the struggle against reactionary forces that are trying to roll back every working-class victory of the 20th century in the daybreak of the 21st. Those who have nothing left to lose have realized that they now have a world to win.