Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Antifascism and Tea Parties

I agree with this article and I encourage you to read it and share it.

Today on the same topic I was shown this article. I have a problem with the article for two reasons. Number one, I think it greatly confuses authoritarianism in governments with fascist political movements. And number two, I think it is very irresponsible to encourage "the Tea Party" as an "ally" in protecting "the constitution"... when I feel they themselves represent the closest thing we currently have to an indigenous fascist movement.

Given the stakes involved, and how much this later article is in drastic need of correction, I will use the following words to clarify a few things...

My problem with the Naomi Wolf article is that I think she confuses "fascism" with governments that happen to be authoritarian in the way they rule. The United States certainly got more "authoritarian" under George Bush... yet I simultaneously have attended public meetings of socialists, anarchists, and other leftists, as well as some labor rallies and some immigrant workers' rallies throughout the last decade and in spite of the USA-PATRIOT Act I have experienced a great deal of operative political freedom in doing so. In a "fascist" country I would probably have been imprisoned or killed for such doings....

Czarist Russia, England under the rule of Mary I, the current ruling "junta" of Burma , Nazi Germany, Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy, and the Belgian Congo in the 1800's all were or are generally repressive governments. What is different about Nazi Germany (and Franco's Spain, and Mussolini's Italy), is that the level of violence that came to characterize these states were not hereditarily present. Medieval Europe, various Colonial governments of Africa and Asia, and a few contemporary military dictatorships (Idi Amin's Uganda?) were throughout their existences based on pretty clearly established patterns and organizations of violence, religious persecution, etc...

Fascism in the 20th century as it has historically existed was very different in this respect- very different from how casually the word is thrown around today in a generally juvenile / irresponsible fashion! Mussolini came to power after Italy's Biennio Rosso (two years of unprecedentedly militant working class upsurge, factory occupations, etc...) that were ultimately unable to consolidate themselves and resolve that country's economic crisis. Germany's Weimar Republic in the 1920s and 1930s was a liberal multiparty democracy... before its political stability collapsed through its' parties' inability to resolve the financial crisis. Franco as well came to power after the traditional conservative parties were electorally defeated by the left...

Fascism is different from any state's authoritarianism because it always appears as an organic mass movement; a political mobilization of people whose lives have been greatly disrupted by a political/economic crisis, and who find themselves in the process of attempting to wrestle political power away from the establishment in order for their competing agenda to be implemented. Generally, the rank and file of fascist movements consists of people who find themselves in between capital and labor. They aspire to believe in capitalism but despite their labors find themselves unable to reap the benefits of it- benefits that especially tend to dry up in a recession. At the same time they are generally strangers to the tradition of struggle from below, as generally "leftist" notions of class struggle and solidarity are often non-existent to people whose life ambition is to become "independent" small-businessmen! The result is an increased disposition to feeling isolated, paranoid, victimized, and the political spasms which tend to follow generally maintain the self-interested "man in the middle"'s preference for securing his own stability indifferently to the effect it as on society as a whole, the environment, minorities, etc...

This is important because the demands all political movements make are shaped by certain values. It is easier, for example, to value personal responsibility, thrift, hard work, etc... when you are the owner of a store, or a well paid highly skilled worker, than if you are one of the 1 million- plus $6.15/ hour stiffs at walmart where the managers force you to do extra work off the clock, the health care plan sucks, and you know that where workers have tried to get a better deal before the whole store has been shut down and then re-opened on the other side of town but with different workers...

The fetishization of "The Founding Fathers" and "The Constitution" that so many "tea party" types have is more often than not NOT a stable foundation upon which to build a Left- Libertarian alliance for anything other than the shortest term most minute issues (ex legalizing pot?)- and even then it's likely to be extremely problematic for all involved, as you may discover should you happen to be called a "nigger" or a "faggot" by your supposed "ally". It is useful to recall the founding fathers were making decisions about 240 years ago. They did not live in a world of antibiotics, corporate agri-business, mass media, coronary bypass surgery, suburbs, interstate highway systems, or internal combustion engines- let alone FEMALE or BLACK voters! If Bill and Ted's time machine was available today and we brought back several of them to the present in order to guide us out of the catastrophe we're living in I'm willing to bed they'd be rather ill equipped to make appropriate decisions. How do you expect someone who has never turned on or SEEN a lightbulb to know what to do about "Derivatives?"

The point is that it never really is about the founding fathers... or the constitution. It's about the IDEA of this mythical, stable, wonderful past. The mythology of gloried Aryanism that so infatuated Hitler sprung from the same root: an inability to deal with the present leads one to idealize a better past... Today, it is increasingly indisputable that Capitalism in its highest stage of development and its lowest stage of regulation is managing to destroy the environment, throw people out of work, and kill other people in wars at an alarming rate. If, like good Americans we believe in Freedom and The Individual and Capitalism and want to bring the standards of living we imagine prevailed for (some white) people back the 1950s any sort of real serious structural analysis is probably not going to be too attractive- particularly if our life's ambition is to BE a successful capitalist!

Our own historical myth-making and romanticizing really isn't that different from the Gernmans'. "Germany was a great and proud and free nation of culture, ability, intelligence and accomplishment- before the filthy Jew and the thieving gypsy and their friends the Communists came in to get a free living off our backs! 6 million Jews is 6 million Germans out of work! Really, is this so different from what we hear today? "Lazy blacks on welfare with big TVs, and immigrants from Mexico taking "our" jobs, and those goddamned sand-niggers in Afghanistan jealous of our freedoms and wanting to hurt us for them- are the real problems!"

These patterns of thinking were developed long ago and are consciously propagated by the media apparatus of which Beck and Limbaugh are but the darkest, most extreme (and honest!) manifestations of. For is no coincidence that every "Golden Age" of Young, Free America's progress tended to only be possible because it came at the expense of various darker skinned people... The Frontier gave us homesteads at the affordable cost of just a few million murdered "Indians"... Our charming and historic Southern Cities (and capital building) were built by black slaves. When the frontier ran out we went to war with Mexico to make it bigger. The first interventions against Latin America were by white supremacist "Filibusters" attempting to carve out chunks of Nicaragua for themselves. Latter attempts differed little in motivation. Even the entire Post War boom we're so thankful for wasn't so much the product of Americans' hard work and ingenuity in entrepreneurship as it was many Europeans' and Asians' hard work in killing 50 million people and incinerating much of their industrial capacity in World War Two... So the budget looks a little tight today? What could possibly be more historically instinctive than sending the Mexican's home, taking away TV's and apartments from the blacks, getting women back in the home, and perhaps creating jobs by hiring more soldiers to kill the dirty Arab? etc... etc...

The characters of Beck and Limbaugh I mention again because they are so colorful and prominent and PURE examples of the pettiness, the selfishness, the greed, the hate, the self righteous bigoted hypocrisy, the war love and infernal misogyny that many are capable, under the right conditions, of embracing. Like the Nazis- who for years before the great depression were a tiny, marginalized sect generally ignored or made fun of by the great bulk of people- the stuff these two are made out of might in "normal times" be safely enough segregated away from mainstream consideration in one of history's darker sewers...

What a crisis of political legitimacy does is that it exposes the established structure and the ideas upon which the established structure operates as incapable of continuing to run society. What HUNGER does to any living being is to drastically broaden what one might consider palatable. Before the French Revolution peasants were EATING GRASS. We are not today eating grass... though most processed and preservatized foods we're able to still afford at walmart have about the same nutritional value. The thing about the hungry man though is that as long as he is a man at all, he will find a way to eat... however previously innocuous the rubbish bins of this morning's breakfast once appeared.

The Tea Party is not an ally. It is not a way forward. Just because it is "standing up to the establishment" does not mean we should merge with it or applaud it. Eric Roudolph and Timothy McVeigh stood up to the reprehensible, "elite" establishment, too. So did "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman, Eugene "Bull" Connor, Father Coughlin, David Koresh, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and, in fact... Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini!

The Republican and Democratic parties have made clear what they have to offer us. Endless war, budget cuts for things people need, unemployment and outsourcing, Healthcare as a money maker for corporations and as a luxury for a dwindling pool of "consumers", and yes... civil rights and liberties for most people put on hold, tabled, avoided, or quietly relocated. It is probable the American people despite all their handicaps will increasingly realize such an agenda is not in their best interests.

As that happens, new political ideas and organizations will be formed to step into the vacuum. It's too early to see what shape this will take. But the polarization we can already see. On one hand human dust beats the racist deathbed with its bloody axe, encouraging the working class to cut off a limb or two of its own so the rest might not starve for the time being... This is not hyperbole. Think Rwanda. And Machetes. This stuff can happen.

On the other hand, there is a tradition of militant organizing and antifascism. There are the old, half or more forgotten ideas that An Injury To One Is An Injury To All. There's the knowledge that the people we work next to every day, who might not look like us, who might talk different than us or have been born somewhere different than us, are none the less as deserving as ourselves to prenatal care or an education. There's a gut instinct that tells us people without money shouldn't have to pay for a crisis that people with LOTS of money created. There are "socialist" and "radical" notions that "private property" in the form of Planet Earth's 793 Billionaires' bank accounts are less important than the 16,000 children who die every day of hunger.

The Tea Party of Sarah Palin's vengeful, indoctrinated idiots is probably the closest thing to a nascent fascist movement the United States has seen in a long time. The American Left has been hiding, scattered, disorganized, and confused for far too long. It is time for it to get its act together and show us what a real alternative to the same old politics of war, racism and poverty could look like. The long term costs of this not happening are ghastly.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Road to Hell is Paved

Looks like another exciting Saturday night of getting woken up at 1:34 am by my drunk upstairs neighbor yelling at his girlfriend. In the disoriented, sleepy, and chilly atmosphere of me not having turned the heater back on the dialectics of facebook have once again inspired me to develop a political perspective for your viewing pleasure...

If I wasn't about to move to Utah to spend my summer being a river guide I'd probably be pissed off about all of this to do something about it.

Okay so that's kinda hyperbolic and sarcastic. But seriously... the problems are so vast... I think for a lot of people the flight or fight complex kicks in and if AT ALL POSSIBLE you can try to avoid dealing with *that trainwreck of an economy/ political insanity* well, generally you do. Hell. I tell you what though... I work for a managerial class of overweight republicans who eat too much fast food and coca cola and who drive shiny expensive cars and listen to talk radio and print out "humorous" cartoons on color printers at work to show each other that denounce the president, Arabs, non-English speakers, and "Hippies" as the reason the world is fucked up. It seems to me the people at the controls are firmly convinced it's fine for them to be ignorant, reckless, selfish and destructive as possible. Even worse they support FOX "News" and Beck and Limbaugh to spread their hate-mongering. These people are like from another planet. You feel like you're talking to a pod-person talking to some of them... or maybe the aliens from "V" who *looked* like humans but were really scaly gross monsters here to harvest our flesh.

You've got the economic structure of omnipotent greed, corruption, pollution, exploitation, etc... out there. It accumulates money at the expense of the majority of humans and the environment. It has proven itself time and again that it is willing to kill large amounts of people and large sections of the environment to continue accumulating money... ultimately for the purchase of such necessities as diamonds, yachts, shiny cars, golf courses in the desert, fancy wine flavors, cocaine, "Private Property: No Tresspasing!" signs, hookers, man-servants, and eventually their own progeny's delinquency. This "They" uses its money to build up a lot of fluffy, well dressed crap like politicians, media pundits, distraction machines, and other control / deception mechanisms in order to keep everyone so fearful and stupid and angry at each other that there'll always be enough idiots willing to sign up for the next war while the low wage slaves at home stagger home safely muttering curses about one another rather than the people who get rich off making them low wage slaves... etc... etc... ad nauseum etc... But at any rate... I think you can make the case that "enlightened" and "liberal" capitalism is in great decline around the world right now... If the first two years of the Obama presidency have proven anything it is that the Democratic Party is thoroughly incapable of (disinterested in?) actually reining in the excesses of the system to the point where the it can be prevented from killing us all. Think Haiti and the failure of the Copenhagen summit. Think people who are paid more than you will ever be paid and who have better (government-provided) healthcare that you will ever have controlling the presidency and the congress and using that power to turn a mandate to fix our wasteful and prohibitively expensive healthcare system into TWO YEARS OF HYPE whose ultimate result is the proposal of a massive tax-payer subsidized giveaway to the very same vampiric insurance industry sons of bitches said president and said congress were originally elected on the basis of opposing?

The day the Democratic Party starts listening to David Sirorta before it listens to the Coal Lobby or the Bank Lobby or the Insurance Lobby or the Israel Lobby is not a day I think any of us are going to live long enough to see. Till then Barak Obama talking about "Green Jobs" is going to be about as meaningful as Democrats in 1970 deciding to back "Earth Day" at the same time they were voting to drop Agent Orange on the jungles of Vietnam.

There is no reason to suspect things will ever get any better as long as people with GOOD ideas, GOOD intentions, and POSITIVE contributions are content to sit back and let the "establishment" media/political/entertainment complex go on telling people what to think. Sure you might know global warming is bad and that Sarah Palin is an idiot but as long as you're not really doing anything about opposing them / building up an alternate political opposition that has teeth and is capable of FIGHTING and WINING a progressive agenda... IT DON'T FUCKING MATTER because intelligence and good intentions aren't perquisites for getting registered to vote. When the Tea party finally gets its head around the joy of pogroms and the demagogues are able to convince enough upstanding graduates of our educational system that segregation is a lot more of a good idea than measuring ice cores in Antarctica for correlations between carbon levels and global temperature... it'll be TOO FUCKING LATE.

Friday, March 19, 2010

100 Little Curses

Woah... I gave boots a ride in my car once. He is pretty cool. Check out his new project:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Support HB 1188!

Commercial river running contributed $142 million to Colorado’s economy last year and more than 500,000 people enjoyed our scenic rivers. Yet, the ability to provide commercial river running is under threat because out-of-state developers want to prohibit licensed river outfitters from providing trips on historically rafted rivers. The 2010 River Outfitters Viability Act protects Colorado’s tourism industry by clarifying the rights of commercial guides to operate on Colorado’s historically run rivers. The name of this act is "HB 1188" and it is currently at a critical point in its journey through the Colorado State Legislature.

The crux of this case is that some landowners think if they own both sides of a historically floated / rafted / canoed / kayaked, etc... river bank, that anyone passing through on the river is "trespassing". The dispute that started this bill is that a developer on the Taylor River is trying to create a luxury fly fishing- oriented housing complex along the river and he doesn't want people to paddle it anymore, even though people have been paddling said river since long before said developer came to town.

Two "red herrings" have been put out their by the opposition. Language in the bill states that boaters will have the right to make incidental contact with the river bank to portage around obstacles, rapids, etc... Though this right has been enjoyed for centuries by river travelers, the opposition is trying to use it to scare landowners into thinking that under this language commercial rafters will be able to hang out, eat lunch and sunbathe on private property. This is not the case. The law does not support such behavior. River guides are paid to know where they are going and as such make sure via maps that where they stop for lunch is on public land. Commercial outfitters are licensed to operate by the Bureau of Land Management and would have their permits yanked if they did not do this. In addition, portaging with loaded boats is a pain in the neck. People sign up for river trips to float down rivers, not to carry heavy rafts and gear across land. It is in the interest of everyone to make portages as seldom as possible. The only reason this language is even in the bill (and should stay there) would be to protect boaters from unpredictable hazards and obstacles as may appear from time to time due to high water, erosion, fallen trees, and the like accumulation of debris.

The other distracting bit of propaganda being put out there to cut away support for this bill is that this bill only applies to commercial boating outfits, and thus private boaters would not be effected. An article arguing this point was printed in today's Denver Post. Well... if commercial outfitting is banned from floating through private property, do you think a welcome mat will be put out for "Joe Public?" Hell no! This is an shallow attempt to drive a wedge between private and commercial river runners. Commercial outfits teach skills that private boaters later use. Many people can't afford or don't have the interest in assembling their own boats and gear and find commercial trips more attractive, but might at some later point in time go on a private trip. And at countless points in time on the river commercial and private boaters have helped each other out of various sticky situations... for example many a private boater in trouble over the years has benefited from commercial guides' experience and medical training. This is no time to draw imaginary lines between different groups of boaters' interests. We need to come together to protect the right to float from those who want to sell it off to the highest bidder. An injury to one is an injury to all.

This Denver Post article gives you a little more background information. Go and read it: http://www.denverpost.com/newsheadlines/ci_14303397.

Here is a list of people you need to call with your support to help get it passed:



YES ON HB 1188 the 2010 River Outfitters Viability Act. Let’s keep Colorado rivers open for business and fun.

Please take a moment and contact Colorado State Senator/s and ask them to support House Bill 1188. Let's pack those voicemail machines and email accounts ... for the future of floating Colorado rivers.

---------------------TAKE ACTION ---------

Colorado State Senators to contact (updated 3/3/10):

( They need to hear from everyone who loves, plays and works on Colorado’s rivers!)

*** Senator Linda Newell 303-866-4846
E-mail: linda.newell.senate@gmail.com (South Jeffco, Western Araphoe county) Judiciary Comm. member

*** Senator Evie Hudak 303-866-4840
E-mail: senatorhudak@gmail.com (Jefferson county) Judiciary comm. member

*** Senator Morgan Carroll 303-866-4879
E-mail: morgan.carroll.senate@state.co.us ( Aurora) Chair of Judiciary Comm.

*** Senator Scott Renfroe 303-866-4451
E-mail: senatorrenfroe@gmail.com (Weld county)Judiciary comm. member

*** Senator Keith King, 303-866-4880
E-mail: keith@keithking.org (el paso) Judiciary comm. member

More senators whose votes are also important who also need to hear your voice:

Senator Bruce Whitehead 303-866-4884 E-mail: bruce.whitehead.senate@state.co.us (Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel counties)

Senator Rollie Heath 303-866-4872 E-mail: rollie.heath.senate@state.co.us Boulder County

Senator Abel Tapia 303-866-2581 E-mail: abel.tapia.senate@state.co.us Pueblo

Senator Gail Schwartz 303-866-4871 E-mail: gail.schwartz.senate@gmail.com (Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Mineral, Pitkin, Rio Grande, Saguache counties)

Senator Paula Sandoval, 303-866-4862
E-mail: nwden34@yahoo.com ( Denver)

Senator Mark Scheffel 303-866-4869 E-mail: mark.scheffel.senate@state.co.us (Douglas, El Paso, Lake, Park, Teller counties)

Senator Shawn Mitchell 303-866-4876 E-mail: shawnmitch@aol.com (Adams,Broomfield, Weld counties)

Senator Suzanne Williams 303-866-3432 E-mail: suzanne.williams.senate@state.co.us Arapahoe County

Senator Ken Kester 303-866-4877 E-mail: electkenkester@hotmail.com (Baca, Bent, Crowley, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Pueblo counties)

Sample Letter to Senator and phone script:

Dear Senator _______:

(identify yourself, Coloradan and river enthusiast, Out of state visitor who loves to raft in Colorado with your family and friends)

Please Vote Yes on HB 1188, the Colorado River Outfitters Viability Act, we need your help to keep Colorado’s Rivers open for business and fun! I hope I can count on your vote for the future of river recreation in Colorado. River running is an important sector of the tourism and outdoor recreation industry.

(Add a personal note: why do you and your family enjoy river rafting? and if river rafting is shut down in Colorado you’ll take your vacations and weekend trips and money elsewhere)

Sincerely, ____name


For more information and background on the Colorado River Outfitters' Association please visit: http://www.croa.org

Additional action info at: