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.

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.

Meh

johnny-cash-finger-2

Fuck Mike Rowe

I had done a series about a year ago on Mike Rowe and didn’t publish most of it.  I simply released the Sighed Effects’ No SWEAT Pledge to counter Rowe’s SWEAT Pledge.  I decided not to waste my time or energy with the rest of it.  Today I ran across a post on Facebook where the topic was Mike Rowe.  He made a statement in support of agricultural technology.  I agreed with the sentiment but pointed out that Mike Rowe is nothing but a shill and an apologist and propagandist for the elites.  This created a lot of ire amongst those who consider him a “blue collar hero.”

mike-rowe-665x385But he really is not a blue collar hero.  He’s nothing more than a propagandist for the elites.  This isn’t some accusation I use lightly.  The thing is… I liked Mike Rowe.  I enjoyed his shows.  I felt he did a pretty good job showing how the working class were invaluable and that “dirty jobs” were really under-appreciated.  He was a sort of champion for the blue collar worker.  I really wish he kept his mouth shut outside of his television programs now.  I’ve been reading and hearing what he has to say for the past few years now and it disheartens me.  (Mostly because I will no longer be able to enjoy any show he is a part of or anything that he is involved.)

If anyone doesn’t know who Mike Rowe is… just look him up.  He has a Wikipedia page.  The Blaze and other neo-conservative sites tout him around like their poster child.  What concerns me is not that he promotes blue collar jobs as valuable and demands that people have a level of respect for manual labor.  That is a noble endeavor.  Rowe has gone from respect for manual labour beyond rugged individualism and straight into classism.

In 2008, Mike Rowe launched “Mike Rowe Works.”  This was meant to be a resource for trade skills and skilled blue collar jobs. Seems helpful enough.  He’s also worked with Association of Equipment Manufacturers in a campaign called “I Make America.” He’s done quite a few of these things.  It’s great that he does this.  Just like he showed on Dirty Jobs, these are the people that keep the country functioning.  These are the jobs that keep society functioning. I don’t take exception with any of that.  I applaud these efforts.  I don’t even believe it’s wrong that he states “a four year degree isn’t for everyone.”  I often say that myself.  I had a friend that went to a trade school immediately after graduating high school.  He went into sound engineering.  He knew a young age he wanted to be a producer.  His education in sound engineering was all he needed to start producing.  If someone finds a trade that they want to pursue and it’s a labor of love, they should pursue it.  There’s nothing better in life than being able to flourish doing what you love to do.  There was really one statement that made me step back from Mike Rowe:  

To be clear, I’m not anti-college; I’m anti-debt. If you can afford it, by all means go for it. But I reject the idea that a four-year school is the best path for the most people. I went on Piers Morgan Live because I have a scholarship fund that trains people for jobs that actually exist, while rewarding the kind of work ethic I think we need to encourage. I want to spread the word.

fc1473aaTo be clear:  I’m not anti-manual labor; I’m anti-elitism.  Maybe Rowe doesn’t realize what he is saying here (but he says it often enough), but it doesn’t take a PhD to see that Rowe is claiming that knowledge and higher education are the domain for the wealthy and privileged.  Rowe has gone from defending the working class, to claiming that the working class should “know their place.”  Claiming that education should only be available to those whom can afford it isn’t defending the working class… it’s limiting them.  That is just the fundamental problem with this claim.

The real ire for Mike Rowe began for me when he started spouting off about university debt.  He has said numerous times that a college education is fine –– for those whom can afford it.  This is really just classism couched in “real talk.”  There’s no attempt to subsidize higher education and actually lower the costs for a university education.  There’s no attempt to point out that some people actually have the ability to become accomplished academics but do not have the financial resources.

Part of the problem is this issue of a zero sum game on every issue.  Rowe is right that college isn’t for everyone.  If someone wants to become a plumber, they can learn that trade without having to go to college and take on the debt required to obtain a university education.  Why should someone who wants to become a plumber have to go into debt to learn English literature?  Conversely, why should someone who wants to be an English professor have to be a plumber?  It goes both ways.  And what this really comes down to is the Protest Work Ethic (at best) and anti-academic sentiments (at worst).

yyeS3xDIt’s true that no everyone wants to spend their hours deliberating the concepts of Gramscian hegemony or Lacanian structures.  They shouldn’t be forced to do that.  But why should someone who wants to focus on these concepts be forced to do something they don’t want to do because they have been “priced out” of that area?  Even in academia there are subsets of knowledge.  And there are subsets within those subsets.  A history professor does not have the same scope of knowledge as a technical engineer or a physics professor.  A medical doctor and a lawyer have different areas of focus.  Not everyone wants to follow academic pursuits, but some people do.  The problem is that many cannot afford it.

The solution to college debt for Rowe lies in making everyone trade labor.   Continue reading Fuck Mike Rowe

Happy New Year

As 2014 ends and 2015 begins, Sighed Effects is undergoing a serious change.

I still haven’t decided if I’m going to just archive the old posts or what.  There will be an entirely new site layout, products, and a new tone.

2015 marks the break with Liberals, Progressives, Democrats, and any supporters of traditional society and neoliberal capitalism.  Capitalism exploits the workers.  It creates inequality and all that other shit I constantly go on and on about every day.

“It gets a whole lot Blacker and a whole lot bigger . . . “

300x300There’s also the issue of the lack of support from Liberal voices in the unrest that is coming.  It compounds the previous issue.  The conditions are ripe to seize this moment and really open the door for discourse and action to invoke real change.  Instead we get more placating platitudes asking Black people to sing We Shall Overcome and telling college students to work at Starbucks whilst being buried in a life of debt.

The Democrats in United States subscribe to the same neoliberal capitalist principles that the Republicans support.  The only difference is the verbiage given to wedge issues.  The Democrats don’t want poor people to die of a lack of medical care.  Instead, they want to provide them with basic medical care and give them a low wage job so they can sell their labor and produce more for the wealthy (and consume more).  Their answer to Black people being brutalized and discriminated is to open more cake shops.

“Don’t burn down your own communities.”  – In other words, first of all… somehow the Walgreens in the Black neighborhood is the Black Walgreens.  Second, why does it have to be “their community”?  The statement itself smacks of de facto segregation.  It’s not their own communities… the idea is that it’s all our own communities.  The fact is that the Liberals are not anti-racist, they are just anti-racism.  Meaning, they want to hide racism.  “Go out and open cake shops, and contribute to the capitalist, economic monster that is the foundation of your oppression.”  That’s the message.  Basically, don’t burn their shit down… because that’s where their stuff is located.

They are too invested in the system to change it.  They want to change things, but only to increase production.  Only to make their conscience clean.  Only to make this exploitive system more palatable.  As this year ends, it’s time to say “no more.”

No more exploitation.

No more racism.

No more nationalism.

No more sexism.

No more classism.

And how do we achieve this?  The only answer I can conclude is actually counter-intuitive:  Support the Republicans.

1-15--guillotineThe Republicans don’t pretend.  They do not want to help the poor.  They want the poor to be near death or dead.  They don’t want to help the working class.  They want the working class to produce more and receive less.  They don’t want to expand the economy if it helps these groups.  Keynesian economic levers will only make capitalism more tolerable and increase profits for the wealthy.  It’s the policies of the Conservatives that will cause poverty to grow and the working class to be increasingly desperate.  Republican policies are policies that will create an enormous chasm between the wealthy and the rest of the population.  And how does that work out in antiquity?  Let’s ask Marie Antoinette.

Aside from that… I must admit that there’s a concerning increase in fascism in the United States.  The attitude being put forward that “Black people that do not act respectably deserve to be shot and killed by police” is terrifying and strikingly similar to historical conditions that did not end well.   Between that and the lack of support that will be generated by breaking all ties with Democrats, there’s an issue of viability.  For that reason, I will likely be largely avoiding any party politics and focusing solely on the exploitative issues of capitalism.

2015 is almost here.  Hang on.  Sighed Effects is about to release a heavy sigh.