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Wall Street is FAKE

October 3, 2011

Image illustrating the marriage of financial and state power
Image: jamie nyc

HERE’S TO the Occupy Wall Street folks. Interested to see what comes out of all of this. Interested to see how real powers deal with the movement. Will they strike a deal, or deal a strike?

As a gesture toward solidarity, I’ll refrain from posting my inane philosophical musings, which seem kinda out of place against the background of OWS. Instead, I reckon what what Crispy has to say is worth considering. And anyone interested can read about my own economic disestablishmentarianism right here.

Inequality is FAKE

September 22, 2011

I’M SO FAR TO THE LEFT my liberal friends think I’m a reactionary small-government conservative. Which is true in a way because you can’t get much more small-government than evaluating all exercises of state force through an anarchist framework, and refusing to acknowledge any as justified or legitimate.

The Abonilox recently sketched out Left and Right positions on equality (while noting that most people’s views “fall somewhere in the middle”):

The person on the left embraces a radical view of equality that presumes and rationalizes all inequities to some form of environmental phenomenon that can be ameliorated by willful intervention (presumably by members of an educated class trained to identify such problems).

The person on the right tends more to a fatalist perspective and is more accepting of inequality insomuch as it is obvious that there are inferior specimens everywhere he or she looks. That they are less successful is not an environmental deficiency so much as a congenital one. [Abonilox]

Like the stance on government mentioned above, I find myself holding a somewhat more radical view than the Left, while sharing some aspects of the Right position. Deterministic rather than fatalistic, I recognize a certain kind of inequality: that people will differ in their aptitudes and appetites, and differ in their capacity to produce intended effects. This is the acknowledgement of the unequal distribution of power, the evidence of which is painfully plain to see. I diverge from the Right position in denying that a value judgment should be drawn from these differences. How is it that someone bound by necessity (or fate!) can be found inferior, or somehow less human, for simply persevering in their situation?

My sense of equality is an ideal. It’s FAKE. It does not obtain. Here it is nonetheless: No matter how powerful — regardless, even, of an individual’s utility to society — every person’s time is of equal value. That entrepreneurial ability, or test taking ability, or influence peddling ability are rewarded so much more richly than a strong back and a willingness to get dirty, is demented. The system of rewards is indeed a function of a demented religion of financial power. It is a system by which circumstance dictates whose potential will be fulfilled, and whose will lie dormant for lack of training or education or simply the lack of official sanction. Under such a system, circumstance always favors established power, and gatekeepers and nepotists reign.


September 18, 2011

JUST ADDED a third element to the self-description of my political leanings. Will henceforward claim the title Anti-Imperialist, Economic Disestablishmentarian, Cultural Nihilist.

I Hate Any Kind of Mob

September 16, 2011

IT’S KIND OF A PARADOX, this flavor of misanthropy Your Host suffers from. It kind of weird, right, to genuinely like nearly every individual one has had the fortune to get into a conversation with, yet despise Us All for our incurable, often irrational fear of uncertainty, desperate greed, and self-destructive tribalism?

Let’s trot this quote out once more:

As I ran, I thought how I hate any kind of mob–I hate mobs of sports fans, mobs of environmental demonstrators, I even hate mobs of supermodels, that’s how much I hate mobs. I tell you mankind is only bearable when you get him on his own. [Toltz]

Most of the people waiting outside Wal-mart at midnight on Black Friday, or outside the gates before a rock concert, don’t want to trample another human being to death. Given the choice they wouldn’t do so, even if it cost them the opportunity to get hold of a $150 widescreen tv, or prime floor space up near the stage. (This much faith I have in our humanity.) Of course, once that crowd rushes the door, who knows exactly what induces the rush, but once that moment of hysteria begins, it’s a dangerous game to stop, or try to stop, or hesitate at all. You risk being trampled yourself. Going with the flow becomes a matter of self preservation.

Upon finding out later that the older guy who fell down in front of the entrance during the rush fucking died, you may feel a twinge of regret, but it wasn’t your feet that trod on him as he lay defenseless. Despite the possibility that the person you leaned against when you got jostled in turn pressed against someone else propelling them into yet another, actions and reactions rippling through the crowd of humanity to the heavy set woman who wanted to stop to help the man up from the ground but got bumped from behind and instead dropped to one knee right on the guy’s ribcage then was only barely able to scramble over his crumpled form to reach her own safety, you can ultimately rest easy knowing that it wasn’t your fault. Someone else started the push. You couldn’t help but go along with it.

Now apply this principle to a certain idea of Nation which arises out of a sense of having done great things together and wishing to do more. Where many of the things that have been done can’t rightly be considered “great,” but where the individual whose belief buttresses the notional Nation isn’t culpable in any of its evils. Because going with the flow is simply a matter of self preservation. A nation is a mob.

Dis-Arming The Children for The Future

September 13, 2011

Mickey Mouse Operation
Image via: After The Smoke

YOU WOULDN’T BE entirely off-base to accuse me, Dear Reader, of some form of child abuse, when I confess that, yes, the youngest person in the Montag household watches a fair bit of television. A significant part of that fair bit being programming on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

As if this kids programming wasn’t already dePLORable enough without giving it much thought, I’ve actually put enough study to it to notice that there is a trend on these channels of making light of the increasingly intrusive and violent security measures taking root in Western society. Mad lulz regarding security checks, surveillance, and a sickeningly jokey treatment of Tasers. People getting Tased is HIGH-larious!

Here’s a clip of a recent episode of the Disney Channel show A.N.T. Farm. In this episode we see two people Tased hilariously. Not in this clip though. This clip is an ode to simple old fashion police brutality. To set it up: the young woman main character’s father, a cop, suspects that she may be guilty of shoplifting, so he sends his diminutive partner undercover to her school to spy on his own daughter investigate. (Start at 1:03 or so.)

Functions as propaganda to get young people used to the idea of living in a police state, no? Makes it seem normal, more accessible. You’ll prolly tell me it’s a case of “art” (HA!) imitating life or some such — the writers of these shows making comedy out of the normal experience of everyday life in America. But I have to wonder if orders have been given.

Additional fun fact: the other pervasive theme of almost all of these programs: the characters are famous, or aspiring to some sort of fame. Pop stars, clothing designers, hosts of popular webcasts, students at Performing Arts schools, aspiring reality tv stars, Solid Gold/American Bandstand-type television dancers… Peculiar little facet of the current empire in decline.

Cannon Fodder

September 4, 2011

Meat Grinder

HERE’S Retired Vice Adm. J.D. Williams, speaking on behalf of Mission: Readiness:

…an estimated 75 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 cannot join the military. There are several major disqualifying factors, such as being overweight or having a criminal record. But Williams says another major problem is lack of proper education.

“In Maine, 21 percent of high school students do not graduate on time, and without a high school diploma, it is virtually impossible to enlist,” he said. “Even among our state’s high school graduates, 19 percent seeking to enlist, cannot join for the low scores on the military’s basic exam for math, literacy and problem solving.”

Williams joined retired Maj. Gen. Thomas D. Kinley of Cape Elizabeth in calling for state, local and federal policy makers to support an expansion of early childhood education programs, such as Head Start. Kinley cited a Michigan study that found that students who attended preschool programs were three times as likely to be at a basic level of achievement or higher at age 14, and were 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school. [MPBN]

Your Montag is parent to two precious Test Scores himself. And, especially at this time of year, I have to wonder if we’re doing right by them sending them back into the prison system most people like to call “school” or “education.” OK, okay, I’m sorry! It’s more of a disciplinary sorting machine to get the little slabs of Test Scores flowing down the appropriate tubes.

But this. THIS. The Portland, Maine school superintendent wants to implement universal preschool for national security purposes.

Reducing young people to numbers and percentages — BMI ratios, graduation rates and AFQT scores — like we’re tracking Six Sigma process outputs, isn’t just humiliation towards conformity with societal norms, it’s a means of dehumanization. Just as the enemy must be dehumanized in war so that soldiers can dispassionately destroy them and the public at home can commend them for doing so, so must our own fighters be thought of as something other than breathing human beings.

Between the sheer turpitude of “education” as the manufacture of inhuman killing machines [added for emphasis: from the age of 4! –ed] and the perverse rationalizing of the R2P crowd (see George Jones and IOZ) it’s kind of amazing people aren’t just constantly fucking puking in the streets from the stress of coping with the violence and depravity of US culture.

The Debt Ceiling Crisis Is FAKE

July 29, 2011

That’s all.