Monday, February 20, 2012

Blogwatch: All Secure

I thought this article, "Fist-Swinging Photographers Miss the Point" is an interesting addition to our recent discussion around OWS and security. It makes me uneasy to see journalists being broad-brushed and The Police unequivocally supported. I don't know that general classifications of people should be handed our theoretical trust - it seems like that honor should be reserved for individuals.

Furthermore, compromising photos are going to get out. It's just a fact of the 21st century. Maybe you should be more concerned with reducing our dependence on such potentially lethal and vulnerable edifices and monuments to vertical power.

Instead of being ostentatious with our power and technology, it would be much less of a headache to simplify and ... I dunno, "deconventionalize"? Make less formal? Stop playing such high stakes games at home and around the world? Maybe then it would be easier to have a transparent society.

Or maybe not. But it's worth a try ...getting beat out of shape to maintain a poisonous status quo doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.

"I can haz full comuninizm?"

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Quick Update on Hedges

“But there is a hostility towards civilization as it’s currently configured and it must be taken down. Their problem with those of us on the organized left is that we, in essence, are attempting to reform it rather than destroy it.” -Chris Hedges from his Truth-Out Interview

Despite Hedges obvious ignorance of Black Bloc tactics, as written about by David Graeber in a paternalistic way– Hedges understands the polarity of opinion regarding how we must change the present system.

In addition, Hedges said something that may help anti-capitalists to understand the thoughts of American reformists. It was something that I’ve heard before from other pseudo anti-capitalists.

Hedges states essentially that the internal national repression brought by capitalism is somehow disconnected from the external repression in other nations brought by capitalism. He basically argues that Americans are different from Egyptians and Greeks; that our struggle is disconnected. He is a proponent of the idea that their struggle is at a more advanced stage than our (American) struggle.This nationalist “not in my backyard” attitude destroys international solidarity between revolutionaries, and creates a false sense of safety through the artificial boundary drawn on a map.

Peter Gelderloos seems to agree that we as activists must overcome the nationalism that pollutes our movement: ”Around the world, people are fighting for their freedom and resisting the depredations of the rich and powerful. In the United States, there is plenty of cause to join this fight, but as long as people continue enact a fear-driven, Not-In-My-Backyard pacifism, and to pander to the corporate media as though they would ever show us in a positive light, the rich and the powerful will have nothing to worry about.”

Hedges, like many Americans, lives in a comfortable position, and I think that is why he is afraid. Rather than seeking to overthrow the horrific, unjust, disgusting system that we have, Hedges seeks its survival to maintain his present level of comfort. He believes that the transition would be “always tragic,” ignoring the tragedy that is presently occurring under the system of capitalism. “I don’t want to go there…I don’t want us to descent into that,” admits Hedges. This fear of confronting the terrifying system we live under is the same fear that the reformists have with regard to the media. The liberal collaborators would prefer to pander to the capitalist media out of fear that the capitalist media will show the movement in a negative light. This is irrational, as the media will always negatively portray the movement so long as the movement threatens the status-quo. That is the reason why the Tea Party despite all of its flaws was depicted by the capitalist media as a legitimate, patriotic, grassroots, american movement. The fears of change, the fear of transition and revolution, of venturing into the unknown must be overcome. We will never advance the struggle until we can overcome our fear, and help others to overcome their fears. We must be more afraid of ignorantly fighting for a perpetual continuation of oppression.

This article was originally posted on 2/19/2012

[2]Open Letter to Hedges regarding “The Cancer in Occupy” written by Anarchist David Graeber
[3]A Response by Anarchist Peter Gelderloos:
[4]Part 1 of Ben’s responses to the Liberal counter-offensive
[5]Part 2 of Ben’s responses to the Liberal counter-offensive

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Russ Feingold is right about Obama's SuperPAC surrender

Why is Obama now supporting SuperPACs?
From the very beginning, Mr. Obama castigated the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United (read the court’s opinion, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) less than a week after it was handed down. In his January 2010 State of the Union message, Obama said thus:
"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."

So fast-forward to late Monday night, when news broke that Obama, in the words of POLITICO, offered a “reluctant blessing” for his campaign to raise money for the main – but flagging – Democratic super PAC, "Priorities USA."

The Obama campaign retort to this is a statement on Obama's website saying We will not play by two sets of rules, which would have been an insufficient argument in WW2 and Vietnam, and is an insufficient argument now. To quote,
In 2010, the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case opened the door to a new wave of so-called Super PACs—non-candidate political committees that can receive and spend unlimited money from special interests. For the first time, these committees could accept money from corporations, not just wealthy individuals.

The decision has accelerated a dangerous trend toward a political system increasingly dominated by big-money interests with disproportionate power to spend freely to influence our elections and our government.

Buuuut then we decided we like money also
But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.

Over the last few months, Super PACs affiliated with Republican presidential candidates have spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads.

Last week, filings showed that the Super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney's campaign raised $30 million in 2011 from fewer than 200 contributors, most of them from the financial sector. Governor Romney personally helped raise money for this group, which is run by some of his closest allies.

That last paragraph there would be a great platform from which to launch attacks on Romney. It would be excellent moral high ground from which to highlight that Romney is the candidate of the wealthy and the 1%, and that he doesn't care about the working class. This would be especially powerful if the Obama campaign was to point out that, over 2008, Obama raised $778 million dollars, an unprecedented amount, overwhelmingly from individual donors making donations in the $5-$250 range.

Instead, that high ground was surrendered to the enemy, as the Obama Administration leapt down to try to fight Republicans at their own level. Many Democrat activists have lauded this, but one Progressive has dared to criticize, and that person is Russ Feingold:
The President Is Wrong -by Russ Feingold
The President is wrong to embrace the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of Super PACs – organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and the richest individuals, sometimes in total secrecy. It’s not just bad policy; it’s also dumb strategy.
Democrats have tried this strategy before, when enormous amounts of soft money were raised by Democratic Leadership in the 1990s. The result was the enactment, with active Democratic support, of a corporate-dominated policy agenda that included trade policies that shipped millions of family-supporting jobs overseas, fiscally reckless tax laws that greatly increased our long-term debt, and the disastrous banking and financial deregulation that paved the way for the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Just as importantly, this corrupting tactic will gut a winning, progressive strategy. When Democrats play by Republican rules, people see our party as weak, and a false alternative to the power of rich individual and corporate interests that are increasingly dominating our government.

This is dancing with the devil. I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don’t agree, and I understand the desire to do everything possible to win. But this decision will push Democrats to become corporate-lite, and will send us head-on into a battle we know we will lose, because Republicans like Mitt Romney and his friends have and will spend more money.

Two years ago, the President was right to chastise the Supreme Court for its lawless ruling in Citizens United. Now, he and his campaign need to live up to those principles and reject the support of any Super PACs.

"Politics" as practiced in America have become not about the issues, not about any objective sense of right or wrong, but about the Teams. When the Red Team uses lobbyists, it's wrong and an outrage. When the Blue Team uses lobbyists, it is an essential and expected part of the operation of government, and any pragmatist would tell you that it can't be changed. When the Red Team uses SuperPACs, it's the End of Democracy. When the Blue Team uses SuperPACs, it's essential and necessary; any pragmatist will tell you that we have to use the weapons of the enemy if we are to defeat that enemy. If we don't become the enemy, the enemy wins. You don't want that to happen, do you?

I remember in 2008 when I supported and donated to Obama, donating a paltry $250 (half of that was during the primary season), but I was among countless others who did so. Our small individual contributions helped Barack Obama break fundraising records. The Koch Brothers have committed $60 million (1/783rd of their combined fortune) to defeating Obama? Obama raised $778 million from individual contributions, and that was before he had the bully pulpit of the presidency from which to make his points. He could publicize the Koch Brothers donations to Romney. He could make a campaign ad highlighting it and further strengthen the existing media narrative that Romney is a wealthy elitist with the backing of the 1%. He did not, he abandoned this opportunity in order to do what Democrats always do: Try to be Republican Lite and then wonder why there are many people who don't see a difference.

As a supporter of Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, and one of his volunteers working in Ohio to get him on the 2012 presidential ballot, this would be a great time for me to point out that Rocky Anderson refuses PAC money. And SuperPAC money. And any individual donation in excess of $100. Period.

Cross-posted to Liberally Geeky

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Setting the Record Straight

From my blog It's a Socialist Life

There's a lot of talk about what Socialism is and is not, a lot of Socialists can't even really explain it or don't really know what exactly it is. Socialism by itself isn't bad, in fact it's something that everyone should be striving for, but unfortunately it makes certain people obsolete and that scares them. They will thus argue against it tooth and nail until they die and it no longer concerns them. It flips the Free Market currency based Capitalist economy on its head, eliminating the need for investors and the ability to accumulate wealth without having actually produced anything. Likewise the people who currently profit from the necessities of people by claiming ownership of natural resources would also become obsolete ending their tyranny over said resources.
So what is Socialism and why do certain people fear it? Socialism is the elimination of currency based capitalism through advancement in technology. Specifically it seeks to put research and development into machines which handle production of the necessities of life for people to survive making a fully automated system which negates the need to work to survive. This is what Communists and Capitalists fail to understand when Marx said Socialism is the death of Capitalism. It's not a sudden shock to the system, it's a gradual evolution between Capitalism and Communism, the latter of which can not happen without the success of Socialism as the several forced attempts in the Eastern World can attest to. The best example of the ultimate Socialist technology would be a replicator from Star Trek, a device which uses the most basic building blocks around it to create something of value, like food and water.

The Communists will say this isn't true, but it is, the problem for them is that they co-opted Socialism so long ago that they've forgotten the difference between Socialism and Communism which has only made it easier for the Capitalists to resist the evolution of our economy and society further blurring the line between the two and improperly defining what Socialism is. This ill conceived definition is then adopted by “Socialists” who really aren't, but are rather “Economic Tyrants” deciding what can and can't be done economically. Granted, their form of tyranny tends to be beneficial because it doesn't allow productive entities to conduct themselves in ways which harm the overall economy or the people. It basically takes Communist ideals and applies them to the Capitalist system with varying success. Generally this hybrid system ensures competition by not allowing monopolies to form and assisting the lower classes to elevate their station in life by artificially leveling the playing field.

Socialism is the actual leveling of the playing field eliminating the need to do so artificially. Socialism is a process, nothing more, it allows for the existence of Communism. Here are some examples of Socialism:

  • Nano bots which perform micro surgery eliminating the need for doctors providing free healthcare.
  • Fully automated hydroponic farms eliminating the need for farmers and providing free food.
  • Fully automated water processing plants providing free water.
  • Fully automated mines and pumps providing free resources to continue building as needed.
  • Fully automated systems of renewable sources of energy.
  • And of course the maintenance bots necessary to keep the system together.

Sounds like science fiction, but much of it is becoming science fact which is why many industries are fighting against the intrinsic evolution of technology. The oil industry for instance bought all of the patents for electric and solar based cars back in the 1970s and 1980s and sat on the technology to continue our dependence on their product. Also much like how the film studios and record labels are attempting to fight the digital evolution of media which eliminates the need for them to produce and distribute artists' creativity. Take a look at any business entity which profits from the labor of someone else and I guarantee they are chaired by those who fund the mouth pieces which scream about the evils of “Socialism” and a trail of litigation attempting to stop the systems which would provide their service for free or allowing individuals to by pass them entirely and distribute their production themselves.

That is Socialism, it is the Arbiter between Freedom and Tyranny, allowing the productive to reap wholly the rewards of their labor, and the unproductive and untalented to simply survive. If you don't like welfare, corporate or individual, then Socialism is for you.

A response to Chris Hedges

A response to Chris Hedges:

Today it was brought to my attention that Chris Hedges, a notable figure within the Occupy Movement, and celebrity liberal published an article in Truthdig titled “The Cancer in Occupy.” The article is essentially a hit-piece against “Black Block anarchists.” Don’t be fooled, as the black bloc does not only include anarchists, as it is simply a blob of black wearing anti-capitalists. This is an attack against the entire militant anti-capitalist left.

Some analysis of the article

Hedges opens his piece declaring these activists as “the cancer of the Occupy movement,” and continues, “The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state.”

Quite a strong accusation, can Hedges back this up?

“The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas”

Hedges here exposes his awareness that there are currently two opposing forces within the Occupy Movement: Capitalist “collaborators” and those who are fighting those collaborators. Hedges mention of worker’s movements, environmental activists, and the Zapatistas are nothing more than fluff to add weight to his claim that collaborators are not our enemies and therefore should be ignored. Hedges uses the immense credibility of the Zapatistas in his article to discredit those who take part in militant activity—essentially he uses the logic: If Anarchists would attack a movement as cool as the Zapatistas, then the anarchists are undeserving of any credibility. Here’s the flaw, Hedges quotes from an article written by an author named, “Venomous Butterfly” published in an anarcho-primitivist magazine called “Green Anarchy”. Hedges himself admits that the magazine is defunct, so is it really a representation of the various tendencies that make up any particular bloc?

“Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness.”

The black bloc in itself is a visual demonstration of organization. Is the ignorance in this quote even worth replying to? While there is a thread of anti-organizational thought within the Anarchist movement, it is clearly not demonstrated by the black bloc. Furthermore, of the tendencies that make up the black bloc, or the militant left for that matter, anti-organizational thought remains a tiny minority. Perhaps Hedges was attempting to touch on something other than organization in general, but rather centralized organization. If this were the case, by this logic Hedges would be arguing that those in the militant left are against centralized organization and are thus powerless—while those who are for centralized organization (capitalist collaborators, unions, progressives etc) are powerful. Is it a false sense of power that Hedges seeks? Does he seek the power that comes with collaboration with the ruling class?

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale defined power together after much discourse as, “the ability to define phenomenon then in turn make it act in a desired manner." By that very definition, neither the black bloc, nor the forces that Hedges represents wield power. While some anti-capitalists may be well on their way to defining the phenomenon, no one has been able to make it act in a desired manner.

Hedges does make an important point about the rigidity and dogmatism of sects here:

The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clich├ęs. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.

The problem with this point is that it is directed at those who participate in a tactic, a temporal gathering of anti-capitalists and recreational rioters. This quote about absolutism can be applied to nearly all sects within Occupy including the pacifist and progressive sects.

While I think that there is a worthy critique to be made of silly actions that have been used by participants of black blocs, to suggest that the blocs are self-aware in any collective sense would be to imply organization--and while yes, there is some rudimentary organization, the blocs have not been in my experience, "self-aware."

It is important to understand that Hedges did not have to openly attack the black bloc. There wasn’t any reason for an attack or condemnation on this level. Rather than write a comradely critique with suggestions, Hedges wrote that “The Black Bloc Anarchists are a cancer of the Occupy movement.” He states in those words that they are an enemy that cannot be compromised with.

Why did Hedges pick now to attack militants?

I found the article to be a very weak analysis from Hedges which was surprising to me. Hedges while on the pseudo left, generally writes with a little more depth. Recently in Seattle, the militant anti-capitalists of the Marxist tendency found themselves on the receiving end of a hit piece written by Socialist Worker titled, “The Solidarity We Need for Longview”. I've written several activists about this.

To me, the piece by Hedges is an extension of that attack by the pseudo leftists against the militant anti-capitalists. The tip off was not that the Black Bloc was criticized, but rather in the way it was criticized--through well publicized libel and smear. There was an effort by Hedges to drive a wedge between militant anti-capitalists and “unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas” In a sense, Hedges like the Socialist Worker, joined the capitalist media’s campaign against militant anti-capitalists.

By publicly breaking with the black bloc; the tendency of reformism and capitalist collaboration that Hedges represents hopes to usurp the “undecided” proletariat within the occupy movement—that is, those persons who have not firmly sided with either the anti-capitalists or the reformists. The capitalist collaborators hope to take advantage of any weakness in theoretical understanding by the militant anti-capitalists, arrogantly pushing for a premature split. Unless anti-capitalists can learn to work together, create trust, open lines of discussion, comradely critique, and forge a unified alliance and network—we will be divided and conquered.

For more information on the ISO attack against the militant anti-capitalists please read the Black Orchid Collective’s response to the ISO’s SW article:

The quality of comments are well worth the time reading.

This repost was originally published at 2/7/2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Red Networking

One of the New Year's goals me and Dresden decided on was to get more writers to participate on this blog. We feel it is important to give people who lean towards the Left a voice outside of the official party newspapers and websites. We want a diversity of opinion ( within reason- hate speech and physical threats will not be tolerated )- a diversity that is too often squelched by rampant political correctness and the party line in " official" socialist media.
 Therefore, as part of the expansion of Rude Reds we are networking with other Reds who have their own individual websites. We are actively encouraging everybody to post their articles on this blog and we hope to return the compliment.
Do our comrades a solid- check out their sites. Read their posts. And feel free to leave a comment, especially if you disagree with them.