A War Of Position

A War of Position . . .

*** This post will be changed and updated ***

This website was started in 2001 out of dysphoria and exasperation from the state of political discourse.   It began as a desire for a more developed discourse; something more than slogans and catchphrases.  Though it’s arguable that there never was any depth, there is a desire for it.  Even Gramsci, and those before him, wrote of the problems with demagogy in politics.

There is a lot of demagogy and hyperbole  about political terminology.  We see the misuse of the terms ‘fascism’ and ‘socialism’ and other such terms. We see, today, this claim that infrastructure and social spending are “socialism” from the Left.  On this website, these terms are intended to all be use for their literal meaning.  There’s no emotional appeal to the use of labels.  Merely an attempt to explain complex theories and systems into a few words for brevity.

If we hope to abandon moral relativism and emotional decision making, we must focus on a way to have these discussions based on rational discourse and not demagogy and hyperbole.  Slogans and catch phrases are great agitprop, but they are not great discourse.  Society and societal relationships are complicated things that cannot be summarized into a few characters.

The glossary page with be used to define these terms for this site.  If any term comes into question that is on the glossary page, the definition listed will the be the definition used on this site.  Arguments of pure semantics rarely resolve any issue – unless the issue is semantic itself.

What we see develop is a fundamental lack of understanding of basic systems.  These basic systems get supported or dismissed based on emotional appeal, rather than understanding.  It’s time we stop having these discussions based on preconceived notions and false understanding.

Extreme Individuality

There were two monumental revolutions from the Enlightenment period in Europe. One was in France and the other in the American colonies of Great Britain. There is often debate on why one succeeded better than the other. The debate tends to focus on the more radical revolution of France being directed by the philosophy of Rousseau, whilst the American Revolution was a more conservative revolution directed by the philosophy of Montesquieu.  The idea here is not to argue this point either way, but to show that the philosophy of Montesquieu was the guiding philosophy in the construction of the state in the former British colony of the United States.

waltdesIn the Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu outlines two major concerns for a liberal society:  The Spirit of Extreme Equality and The Spirit of Extreme Inequality. According to Montesquieu, extreme equality is when no one has any respect for earned expertise/authority and extreme inequality is when every member considers themselves more important than society. Although Montesquieu was not a radical in the ways of those that were to follow him, it seems that he had an inkling of radical philosophy in these concepts.

We see today that these extreme qualities have manifested beyond what Montesquieu has cautioned and morphed into an idea of extreme individuality. The individual today is the center of one’s universe. We have adopted this philosophy that the individual is sacrosanct. The problem is that this is a perversion of liberal ideology, exacerbated by capitalism and religion. It has no basis on any real theory (no theory of any substance).

If we look at the most intimate form of the individual, the thought, we see that it does not exist isolated for the individual. No person has thoughts free from external influence. Even everything in this piece is influenced by past events and influences. In this way, there is no such thing as an individual thought.

Capitalism has taken on various forms in modern society. A predominant form has become that of neoliberal capitalism. The neoliberal ideal is one in which advocates the economic ideals of Hayek and Friedman.   Continue reading Extreme Individuality

I Am Not A Liberal

I am not a Liberal.  I am not a Progressive.   This comes up every so often.  It comes up more often lately.  It is no secret that am I far left, politically.  It is true that I oppose the traditional view of society.  Quite often the Liberals and Progressives are allies against the Conservatives.  A bit of “the enemy of my enemy” is at play in this environment.  Because of this opposition of conservative policies, it is often assumed by Liberals that I agree with them.

Part of the issue involved in this is that American politics are so narrowly defined.  The plurality voting system and Duverger’s Law have created an environment of a zero sum game where one can only be a Liberal or Conservative.  I posted a quote from a colleague in the last entry that is still so completely relevant to this issue.

American liberals don’t even know what to do when their policies and politicians are criticized by people farther to the left than themselves. They are so geared toward arguing with republicans that when they finally encounter someone who calls them out for the regressive, wrong-minded, stupid shit they believe in, they behave like a calculator that has been asked to divide by zero.

This is true.  Not long ago, I was inundated with examples of how appalling Republican legislation was when I stated I was not a Liberal.  The problem is that I find Liberals to be quite conservative when their ideology is fully parsed.  It’s not very simple, unfortunately.  And even still, there is this zero sum game involved with being farther left than the Liberal.  It is assumed that if one is farther left then the Liberal, that one is a Stalinist.  That the only thing farther left than the Liberal is the Soviet Union.  The truth could not be more complicated.    Continue reading I Am Not A Liberal

Vote GOP

The GOP is a Marxist wet dream.

I had an online exchange with a prominent anti-racist activist not long ago.  I made an aside, mostly in jest, and was accosted with all sorts of accusations.  To provide more clarity:  I suggested we elect someone like Bobby Jindal as President of the United States and let people such as this control the government, so that we could see capitalism eat itself and the working class turn against the status quo.  I was accused of being “privileged” and ignorant.

I’ve actually been saying this for a bit now.  I’ve also been thinking about it quite a bit.  I’ve decided that I actually agree with it.  I’m going to explain why.

First of all:  There often comes a time when Liberals and Progressives realize that I am not one of them.  That moment of clarity when they realize I am much farther Left than they are politically.  A friend of mine saw a few of my exchanges and made the following comment:

American liberals don’t even know what to do when their policies and politicians are criticized by people farther to the left than themselves. They are so geared toward arguing with republicans that when they finally encounter someone who calls them out for the regressive, wrong-minded, stupid shit they believe in, they behave like a calculator that has been asked to divide by zero.

I have to agree.  I am not a Stalinist.  I’m not even a Trotskyist.  I do not advocate such things.  But let’s slow down for a minute.  What do these labels mean?  This comes up a bit, too.  People claim they dislike labels trying to categorize everything and compartmentalize individuals into tidy categories.  This is not what these labels are for.  They are ways to explain complex ideologies with a term.  There is an ideology behind these labels.  Instead of constantly trying to explain your entire political ideology, you use a term.  It’s convenience.  (And it’s semiotics, but that’s a whole new can of worms.)  I do not use these terms to disparage, but simply to explain complex forms of thought based on similar premises.   Continue reading Vote GOP

American Exceptionalism and Muslim Extremists

A few issues keep popping up for me and are detracting me from my main goal this year.  I feel a need to address them.  They primarily focus on one of two topics.  Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, there’s been this insistence that Islam is some particularly vile and heinous religion.  The second, related issue is that the United States is some sort of privileged, exceptional nation.

tmp5016_thumb_thumbThe problem I am having with the current espousal of Islam hatred is that it’s ahistorical at best.  It is racism at worst.  It tend to also blur the lines between the best and the worst.  (To be fair, this area is slightly outside of my area of focus, so I lack the in depth knowledge to discuss it fully.)

The ahistorical aspect tends to look at the Muslim extremists (for lack of a better term) from places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen, et al. and claim this is causality to condemn Islam.  Hamas is classified as a “Muslim terrorist group” by several nations.  I find that Hamas represents the problem quite well.  Hamas has a dual purpose.  They do represent Sunni Islamism.  But they are also a militaristic group dedicated to Palestinian self-determination and against Zionism.

When we see Hamas commit and act of violence, or see support for Hamas from people in the Palestinian territory, can we be sure it’s an act of political violence?  Is it always an act of religious violence?  That ignores the historical reality of the region.

When we look at the history of these cultures and regions, we see similar patterns.  There was the French in Algeria, the British in Nigeria.  There has also been increased US involvement in the Middle East.  (Re:  Operation Ajax for clarity.)

When President Obama spoke recently and pointed out that Christianity has it’s own history of violence, the conservative outlets went crazy.  A lot of people pointed out that the Holy Wars and Spanish Inquisition were centuries ago.

Obama’s comments were brief and didn’t really get to the heart of the matter.  These things did not end hundreds of years ago.  Some of them were merely decades ago.  Some of them are ongoing.  Christianity was used to justify the Belgian Congo.  There is even a religious undertone to the violence committed by the IRA.  More importantly, Manifest Destiny is Christian in it’s foundation.

American_progressThis idea that as society moved Westward it became more evolved until it went to California is rooted in a religious theme.  (The idea was that past California was the Orient – where we get to the orientalism of Europe and the cultural condemnation of Asian culture, where Islamic hatred has roots.)  The very idea that the US has the right to treat the other world as inferior is Christian in origin.

The point is that one does not have to “defend Islam” to claim that it’s not quite accurate to condemn Islam above all other religious dogma.  The same is true for the United States.  There’s a wide variety of opinions between thinking the United States is the most star-spangled, awesome country in the world, and thinking it is the absolute worst cess-pool of a nation on earth.

I’ve been chastised a few times on internet forums for simply pointing out some of the flaws of the United States today.  Simply pointing out that the US has the largest prison population in the world, or pointing out that the US has ethnic persecution that results in street executions, or pointing out that the US is falling behind in education is deemed as “hatred of the United States.”

What is downright infuriating is that most people that claim it is hatred to point out flaws of the United States have no problems constantly condemning other countries.  Not a day goes by in the United States where someone is not condemning the People’s Republic of China.  But the positives are few and far between.

The truth of the matter is that the PRC has an 81% approval rating of the federal government (according to the Kennedy School of Law) but what is the approval rating of the US Congress?  In 2014 it was 15%.  (Gallop)  Yet, somehow a country that has a high public approval rating of the government is less legitimate than one that has almost no approval from it’s citizenry?  That’s just laughable.

None of this means that the People’s Republic of China does not have problems.  Nor does it mean that the United States is the worst place on earth.  But we don’t have to make either claim to simply say that the People’s Republic of China is not the worst place on earth, or that the United States is not better than the rest of the world.  It’s not a zero sum game.  Why can we not think the people of China have the right to have their own government and the people of the United States have the right to have their government?

The discussion usually devolves where I ask those claiming American exceptionalism what makes the United States superior to every other nation on earth.  It’s never a rational answer.  Sometimes the answer is hot dogs and apple pie.  Other times it’s some poetic nonsense about the US Constitution.  None of them can tell me what rights are in the Constitution that exist nowhere else on earth.  That’s because there are none… and there doesn’t have to be.

You can like the United States and not hate Denmark or Germany or Brazil.  You can think the United States is a nice place and accept that other people think Spain or Kenya are nice places.  Some people like spicy guacamole and others like mild.  It doesn’t mean that spicy guacamole is better than mild for everyone.

1398578889623What is more infuriating in this regard is this claim that the United States is so superior because it allows for such individuality and personal freedom, yet the same people making this claim allow for no dissent.  Disagreeing with them that “The United States is the most fucking fantastic thing to ever happen to the earth,” means you are not deemed fit to stay in the United States.  “If you don’t like it, leave.”  The US has so much freedom of speech, shut the fuck up if you don’t like it.  The US is so morally superior, it can bomb the shit out of anyone that disagrees.

Yes… America!  We have so much freedom that if you don’t like, fuck off and get out.