Rage Into The Machine

An overlooked irony in the 2008 US presidential race was that armed-struggler turned professor, Bill Ayers, was now a cog in the same Chicago political machine that empowered his former arch-nemesis (and friend of his father), Richard M.Daley with goons to chase and beat Ayers and the other dissenters outside of the 1968 DNC. This fact was not relevant to the McCain campaign, and would likely been unhealthy for the red-baiting of Obama which was pretty much all the GOP had to run on, after eight years of sloppy, sloppy power.

I’m writing from Pittsburgh and the Chicago machine is scary to me and that should tell you something. Didn’t the governor try to sell a congressional seat on ebay or something?

I hadn’t considered it at the time but all the criticisms of a “reasonable”, corporate friendly, Chicago power politician as a “socialist”, “radical black-liberation theologian” ,”Marxist”  who wanted to “redistribute wealth” etc. weren’t just amusing, but dangerous, as they caused oppressed people and leftists to rally around him yet, gave Obama many opportunities to prove that he could keep the “rabble in check,” and that his loyalty to power was greater than to the masses.

I’ve never been too impressed with 1960s US student radicals, partly because I saw where many of them ended up, and partly because the shit happening in the rest of the world was so much more awesome. I’m sure it also has something to do with the anti-intellectualism that was so prevalent in working-class neighborhoods and families. Higher education was a “waste of time” when steel jobs paid more than many jobs which required a degree.

It’s often remarked that half of the Weatherman Underground are in prison and the other half are college professors. An exception is another “Days of Rage” participant turned registered lobbyist and Obama fundraiser, Marylin Katz, who is also a flack-catcher for various Chicago agencies, including their storied police department‘s community policing initiative as well as about a dozen other agencies.

I’m not sure what role Ms. Katz had in managing the rest of the irrelevant aging new lefties, who spun Obama’s candidacy to legitimacy amongst those who profess to have radical politics. Long-time sycophant Tom Hayden continues to enrich himself promoting the progressive personality du jour. I guess the Democrats finally noticed the successful GOP strategy of the past 25 years that involves appealing to the ideological base to win the center. What remains to be seen is whether the Dems will continue their policy of screwing their base or will they actually make some concessions? The business unions have continued to unconditionally support the Dems despite their horrible track record on labor issues.

What lesson can modern radicals take from all of this? If you’re selling out, make sure you’re compensated for it and a system that can recuperate (sub)urban guerrillas can find a place for anyone who is interested. Still, I wonder what Shortshanks would think of his former opponents’ places at his table?

An Open Letter to the “Anarchists” Who Voted for Obama

In a future revolutionary period, the most subtle and most dangerous defenders of capitalism will not be the people shouting pro-capitalist and pro-statist slogans, but those who have understood the possible point of a total rupture. Far from eulogizing TV commercials and social submission, they will propose to change life… but, to that end, call for building a true democratic power first. If they succeed in dominating the situation, the creation of this new political form will use up people’s energy, fritter away radical aspirations and, with the means becoming the end, will once again turn revolution into an ideology. Against them, and of course against overtly capitalist reaction, the proletarians’ only path to success will be the multiplication of concrete communist initiatives, which will naturally often be denounced as anti-democratic or even as.. “fascist”. The struggle to establish places and moments for deliberation and decision, making possible the autonomy of the movement, will prove inseparable from practical measures aimed at changing life.
-Gilles Dauvé: When Insurrections Die (Part 2)

Beloved and respected friends and comrades,

I’ve been putting this off for a little while, because it pertains to those who I “know” only digitally, and those of you whom I know and care for, which is little different than my normal motives for procrastinating. I’m also having difficulty coming to any kind of conclusive conclusion. Sometimes I feel like that straight-edge teen I used to be. The one who had to ignore my friend’s personal habits, if I wanted the friends I had. I’ve since exchanged abstinence for abstention, but the moral highlands get lonely. We all have moments, every day, when our words and actions are not explicitly anarchist ones. That’s no real contradiction. Theory’s theory,  and reality is reality. I lack the formal education to decide at what point (or which actions) we rack up enough ‘un-anarchist’ points to get the discount on gas or free coffee or purged from the Movement.

The recent US national election saw many of you anarchists (outside of the title, I’ll refrain from using quotation marks or “self-described” out of respect) publicly endorse and proudly vote for Barack Obama. I was unaware of the existence of modern anarchists in the US in August of 1999, but when I look back, I can find no evidence of any radical fanfare when Franklin Raines became CEO of Fannie Mae.

Looking back, It seems that anarchist involvement in US political conventions seems to be a baby-boomer contribution. I’m unaware of any anarchist actions at the political party conventions before 1968. Other than the tactical lack of Republican mobs in the street, we seem to harbor a soft spot for the Democrats. Maybe later we can figure that one out and we can also discuss why we even protest the political conventions?

This election, many people who identify as anarchists, saw no contradiction in voting. Some of you weren’t even the “hold your nose and vote” types. Some anarchists seem  proud of themselves, their country, and their candidate, for the moment, but that’s a moment too long. The reasons you gave us were pretty much the same reasons that people who vote democratic tend to give, plus some debatable notions that democratic administrations allow room for social movements to flourish (like they’re mountain lions) and murky stuff about solidarity. Which you may remember is the flipside of my past endorsements of “the worse of two evils”, because “an increase in open repression, privation, and alienation would push our beloved homogeneous masses to open mutiny” and that “republican policies can hasten the end of US empire quicker than the democrats can”. But I was less than half-serious and never actually went through with it. I didn’t have much internet access before the election, so I was unaware of this backslide into electoral superstition.

The  memory escapes me, but I am unaware of democrats nurturing radical social movements, I remember many armed right wing, “partiot”  groups, who are in favor of Jesus, if they don’t consider themselves Jesus. This time around, they can protect us from the UN and the Federal Reserve and al Qaeda in Idaho.  Dubya just didn’t deploy the black helicopters like Clinton did. Conspiracy kingpin, Alex Jones, should be able to afford an island soon. This is good news for the State security apparatus, because the similarities in views, structure, goals, and appearance between the FBI and the theocratic militias is much easier than these years of tormenting Muslims.

Anarchist voters also had to be pretty certain that Obama would govern from the center-right, in the manner expected of a modern US president, because if he was the “marxist” that right-wing radio still maintain he his, the repression against anarchists would likely be swift and brutal, if the 20th century is any indicator. The 21st century hasn’t proven to be much better.

Some of us knew that the campus radicals were easy prey for the democrats. The rise in anarchist votes in the last two elections seems to be reflective of the recent increase in youth turnout, overall, but many comrades who should have known better, “signed their social contract” last week. It’s not hard to see where material conditions become more of a concern as the acceptable age for youthful rebellion in the US is left behind. Add a few kids to that mix, and anything that has an outside chance to make material conditions even slightly less miserable must seem like a real good idea. Besides, who doesn’t crave some legitimacy every now and again and the pressure exerted by the people around you can be great? I also have the luxury of not being canvassed all day by co-workers.

I think that many of the anarchists who are concerned with building a mass movement of some sort, may have been more susceptible to voting. It’s likely some anti-authoritarians wanted to be on the winning team for a change, because there was that kind of group energy and momentum swirling around the Obama campaign, if you were willing to ignore the structure and aims. The business unions may have made voters out of some the anarchists who are there to radicalize the union. Which is telling, as far as the notion of changing the system from within is concerned, as if that one needed another debunking.

We tend to run with a pretty iconoclastic bunch, so it’s easy to forget, but hard to discount the effect that endorsements by some of the leading lights of mainstream anti-authoritarian academia must had. Bill Ayers probably gave Obama some radical credibility. Or was it radical chic? The republicans simply couldn’t grasp the political reality that people like Ayers are big-money liberal fund-raising props, like their wounded troops and police widows. Liberals love proxy violence and armed-struggle; so long as it is from another time or place, as sure as conservatives love US military and police violence. Zapatistas and Sandinistas and aging bombers are venerated money magnets, but break a window at a present day demo or hit a nazi with a stick and their American Exceptionalism is triggered. They’re incensed.

Like christmas, it’s not easy to avoid being sucked into the campaign reality grid, considering the resources expended on sucking us in. Avoiding Obama’s gravitational pull wasn’t easy, either. I guess even I’d seem pretty attractive if I spent $650 million of someone elses money to do so. I love politics as a spectator sport, though and this cycle was particularly entertaining, but I still don’t have a favorite team. Having lived through seven presidents, it wasn’t hard to figure out that the pendulum would favor a democrat this time around. McCain’s dementia-influenced health care plan which I sill can’t comprehend, was a far cry from the Wall Street sanctioned Obama proposal. When the reality that capitalism is just a game we all agree to play wounded the markets, there was no way Obama could lose. It was almost shocking to be reminded that the democrats were ever skilled at the game of elections.

US elections have also proven to be of extra dubious legitimacy lately, and electronic touchscreens have done little to make the results seem more valid. The participation of people I care about does nothing validate that process for me either. The fraud, intimidation, disenfranchisement, and other irregularities make the powerball seem like a better idea.

Does anyone really believe that the aircraft carrier of State can make a quick 180 degree turn, no matter how cool the captain seems? That’s why there are so many bizarre laws still left on the books, it’s not easy to put these things back into the box, Pandora. The State ensures its existence by passing laws, not repealing them. The issues that separate the US parties are meant to stay unresolved, or all they have to differ on is semantics and the parties would go out of business. Abortion & firearms seem to be the defining ones, and both are here to stay. The need to be armed and voluntary eugenics will never go out of style, as long as this system exists. The firearms manufacturers love democratic presidents, who become amazing gun salesmen through hysteria generated by lobbyists and pundits. Dubya was quite the Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Issues that unite the parties include; staying in Iraq, also known as supporting the troops, and as much surveillance as is technologically and near-economically feasible, which is pretty much just not mentioned by politicians or the media, at all. Obama, as you may recall is a-ok with domestic suveillance, and the “War on Terror®” is the replacement for the cold war. I don’t know which of the “changes” you “believed in” but they apparently weren’t in white house staffers, since 37 of the 41 appointed so far were ex-Clinton lackies. Can we look forward to more “workfare”, humanitarian airstrikes, and extra cops, fresh back from Iraq? Elected democrats are often called upon to prove how ‘tough’ they are on certain issues, typically these are mostly things like “Crime”, “Communism/Terrorism,most-isms”, “Drugs” and ocassionally “Poverty” or “Illiteracy”. The last two aren’t as much a priority, because they seldom involve explosions.

I can’t pretend to begin to have anything even resembling a clue, as far as how many of us the US consider themselves to be anarchists. I’d prefer to be wrong, but it can’t be too many. There’s probably a bigger Fiero owners club. In fact, I doubt that if every anti-authoritarian moved to a sparsely populated US state; all of us put together would not be enough to change the outcome of a US election. The math is what makes any argument for voting moot. I thought we knew our votes didn’t count? Had former 1960’s bomber John McCain won the election would that have jogged your collective memories? Would so many have admitted to voting? The folks who took a sabbatical from practicing anarchist theory and voted were not even a factor. Had you all remained proper abstentionists, like a big chunk of the population who don’t consider themselves anarchists, I wouldn’t be wasting a week on this one post.

Once again, it made little difference to the election whether anarchists participated or not, so I guess it shouldn’t matter to me?  I don’t know why I feel a little betrayed, though. Maybe it’s just knowledge of the loss of a shared affinity? After the passage of a little time, I have to question the election as a great historical event. Whites in the US have accepted Tiger Woods as the greatest at an activity that brown-skinned people have traditionally had sense enough to avoid, like skydiving. For 35 years I’ve listened to the blue-collar bigots in my family and neighborhood profess their admiration for Muhammad Ali, a physically dangerous black man with legitimately radical views, who practiced Islam.  As long as our celebreties are attractive enough, race can be easily overlooked.

I guess I didn’t campaign too vigorously against this election, out of guilt, which I imagine is what led you to endorse, campaign, and vote for Obama, and why you are still proud of your vote.

Parts of this will be addressed later, but something had to be said.

Love,

yinsurgent

“Joe the Plumber” & The American (Pipe) Dream

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
-Jay Gould, Robber Baron

The 15 minutes of fame awarded to republican mascot, Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber”, confirms what I have long considered to be the single greatest psychological problem afflicting working people in the US. Not the taste for mass-produced,  country “music” that is pumped from Nashville into large motor vehicles and  suburban and rural homes like sewage, but that steady journey to a mirage of an oasis, in this social desert. Mr. Wurzelbacher embodies the economic Stockholm syndrome of working people confusing their desires with those of the elites.

A lesser evil was the form that some of the corporate media/liberal blogger attacks against Mr. Wurzelbacher took. Not having internet access, at the time, I missed out on some of the more entertaining, but sadly untrue rumors such as the ones where his dad was Charles Keating’s (of McCain’s “pre-maverick” days) son-in-law. There’s no way I wouldn’t have bitten on that one. I fully comprehend that he volunteered to be a partisan combatant and should not have been surprised when bureaucrats in Ohio and elsewhere ran his numbers. The media focus on his back taxes and inability to complete a specialized training program and obtain professional licensing, portrayed being working poor as a moral failing, since millions of us have been in those kinds of situations. The liberal strategy of combating phony populism with genuine elitism seems somewhat misguided.

Why such a “great american”  who is connected to an astrofturf pseudo-union would choose to lie and associate himself with something as “marxist” as trade union (on myspace and facebook) is beyond me, especially when said trade union had given the member dues to the opposition candidate. Personally,  I’d no sooner pretend to be a member of plumbers union than a motorcycle “club”.

Like many people in the US, Wurzelbacher suffers from the delusion of cross-class mobility. Some people are willing to suffer any indignity, not just higher taxes in the here-and-now and allow the wealthy to get away with anything, in anticipation of a massive rise in personal income, like lottery winners and Bill Gates and Michael Jordan and Metallica and they can’t bear the thought of their dream wedding, hypothetical fortune being overtaxed. It’s Stockholm syndrome. How many people toil their lives away under the mistaken impression that they will one day buy the business they work for? I have about the same chance of buying that plumbing company as he does. Is it just another version of “being rewarded in heaven” or an economic Rapture? If a corporate entity is large enough, even the working poor who toil for it can buy stock in the company they work for. It is regarded as great privilege to possess a speck of a symbolic representation of the means of production. You become a gambler, although a less than insignificant one, and your low wages and paltry benefits and even your layoff, should it be deemed necessary, are all fixes implemented to benefit and improve the odds, for you, the shareholder. Your 401(k) depends on large groups of other workers and the planet itself being done even worse than you are.

Even in the US, these market fundamentalist, folk traditions often exact an even higher toll than mere degradation and wholesale boredom and they are not without their martyrs. Some people work themselves to death much faster than others in pursuit of the “American (sic) Dream”.

Blind Obedience Can End “The War”?

January 17, 2008 will mark 17 years of open US hostilities against Iraq, although (maybe misreading of Baudrillard?) liberals disregard the Clinton years, since bombings and sanctions are not acts of aggression, unless Cuba is on the receiving end. The left wing of the US war party is as fixated on the Bush dynasty, as the right wing is with Clinton’s reproductive organ. The misguided souls who vote are too hung up on the stylistic differences to notice that US policy doesn’t change from administration to administration, except in very superficial ways, and so all sorts of kooky, hypothetical electoral and moral fantasies to “end The War” are being bandied about, as if “peace” is merely the absence of “war”.

For some unknown reason, perhaps it is the notorious US weakness in geography, many people appear to be delusional enough believe that the US intends to leave Iraq, and a politician or two can accomplish this. Maybe these people have never heard of Germany, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Guam, or any of the other places the US has indefinitely occupied? The hipsters are more likely to withdraw from Brooklyn and the Brits are more likely to leave the North of Ireland (a situation closer to Iraq than the ahistorical Vietnam comparisons) than the US giving up on expanding consumer markets, laundering tax dollars, and controlling energy supplies in the Mid-East.

Some of the political fantasies bouncing around out there are so absurd, that it seems their proponents must be aware of the impossibility of the situation, or getting some really potent weed. One of the most entertaining pieces of fan fiction regarding the 2008 US elections was recently posted on the website of the Lefty newsletter, Counterpunch.

In Welcome to the Revolution, Donna J. Volatile adds another voice to the cyber kool-aid chorus, that much like the religious Right believes that a Saint Paul is the only route to salvation, although they mean the Texas one, not the Tarsus one. Volatile beseeches liberals and progressives to set aside whatever principles they may have, and to ignore Paul’s positions on everything but Iraq, since they are only “wrapping paper” on the “gift” of Ron Paul.

Even Dennis Kucinich seems to think so, there is so much buzz in cyberspace about the possibility of a Dennis Kucinich/Ron Paul ticket, it is stunning. Dennis has even raised the prospect himself as has his wife Elisabeth. Who ever thought we’d see the day?!

There is a larger point to be made here and perhaps the most important one and that is there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the wants, needs and desires of the anti-war traditional conservatives and the anti-war leftists and progressives. We just all need to get over ourselves. If Dennis Kucinich would consider Ron Paul as a running mate isn’t it time for the anti-war movement to dig a little deeper to see what is going on here?…

Sounds like Larouche/Nader, but if Dennis Kucinich (proof that the ‘one good politician’ can’t change policy or politics) says he’s OK…

(I have always supported Dennis Kucinich, whenever possible but after the 2004 Convention and his failure to stand up at the Convention against the war and support the peace activists who were hauled off the convention floor, with their anti-war signs, and given his inability to run a strong campaign, I can no longer back him. I do respect his positions on many issues.)

Volatile can’t overlook Kucinich’s failure to rescue people who wanted to get arrested from being arrested, but Paul’s cryptofacism is A-OK. Here’s a gem from a recent GOP candidate forum, where St. Paul discusses the importance of imaginary lines over human lives:

I see the immigration problem as a consequence of our welfare state. We encourage people not to work here, but the welfare we offer the people who come–they get free medical care. They get free education. They bankrupt our hospitals. Our hospitals are closing. And it shouldn’t be rewarded. That means you don’t give them citizenship. You can’t solve this problem until you get rid of the welfare state, because in a healthy economy, immigrants wouldn’t be a threat to us.

It’s no accident that Paul has the support of neo-nazis.

Volatile wonders:

Are we to forever be held back by issues, such as abortion or even National Health Care, an issue that never gets delivered in the first place (we are no closer now than we were way back when) ? These issues are by design. Abortion keeps us divided. National Health care lends us false hope.

Damn pesky, non-Iraq issues. I like my reformists to seek reforms, not dismantle them.

Some of the masochists who think that getting arrested on purpose (not to be confused with repression of dissent and resistance) is a viable strategy to affect change in a nation with 7 million individuals “in the system”, 2.2 million of them in prison, almost half of them non-violent drug offenders, have released a year-end report on the handful in handcuffs. The willingness to be handcuffed and processed for crossing an imaginary line is eerily reminiscent of the border-fixated crowd’s desire to arrest and/or bring harm to people who cross those imaginary lines. Except the activists call the cops on themselves (and each other).

These Lefties, who consider themselves to be more politically advanced or whatever it’s called, than their beloved working class, who in their eyes “just don’t get it” and need to be guided or saved, alienate their coveted “masses” with voluntary arrest. In my own experience, the average working person seems to recognize that this isn’t MLK or Gandhi’s world anymore, probably a result of day-to-day life. Making reservations to spend a day or two at a county lockup won’t do much to encourage the teeming masses to “join your movement”. To many people, getting arrested on purpose is something homeless people do when winter temperatures become deadly, and need shelter for a few days.

The possession of illegal drugs can also be viewed as a form of civil disobedience, and can sometimes amount to de facto being arrested on purpose, but the drug war isn’t going anywhere, so I’m unsure how a few thousand arrests for summary offenses (glorified traffic tickets) will result in “peace” for the people of Iraq. It’s a mystery how the identity politicians have failed to notice that raising bail in advance, then being taken into State custody on purpose, and then whining about your maltreatment is anything but an obnoxious display of privilege, and correctly seen as a waste of time and money to those with little of either. How can participation in State violence end State violence?

Voting and intentional arrest have a poor track record in ending the bosses’ wars, but even the Franco-Prussian War had to be put on hold for the Paris Commune. Participation in electoral politics and courts of law, serve to legitimize the State’s monopoly on violence and facilitate the internal and external projection of force. Greeting the politicians and police as “liberators” will not make you free.

Rascists Heart Ron Paul

You’re probably familiar with Ron Paul’s glassy-eyed campus stoners and tin-foil helmet conspiracy nuts who make up his core support. Apparently his message also speaks to the meth-cooks, child rapists, and kiddie porn ehthusiasts who like to play dress up funny cub scout uniforms, with cancer patient hairdos. They showed up in full force (which for them is a half-dozen) to show their support for their “Great White Hope” in Philadelphia last week. They seem to be pretty proud of themselves for it too.

Here are some screen shots that were posted on DC indymedia which show the financial and moral support that Ron Paul is receiving from the Daisy David Dukes and stormfront boneheads of the world:

just_a_little_stormfront.png

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Protected: “…Some Pigs Are More Equal than Others”

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When FEMA Questions Your Competence…

I still can’t decide what’s worse; a surveillance vehicle to protect us from the encroaching Saracen hordes or using it to tailgate at a Toby Keith concert. Fortunately I try to avoid setting up these kinds of moral hierarchies.

The City received the bureaucratic equivalent of parenting advice from Britney Spears or dog training tips from Mike Vick,
in the form of FEMA, pretending that it will cut off Fatherland Homeland Security funding.
If Pittsburgh ends up out of the loop that allows military contractors to collect payola from municipal governments, we may as well all just memorize the Shahadah.

Liberal Media Alert: Those pinkos at the New York Times stated that Luke and the Missus used the Yukon, revising the ugly reality of his “tailgating with the boys”. They corrected some other minor factual errors, in the article, but those nattering nabobs of negativism, let it seem as if Our First Couple were spending a quiet evening together, instead of the regionally embarrassing truth.