Sunday 23rd of January 2022

the two ingredients of a generalised revolution? won't happen...


The Western model, based on capitalism and democracy, no longer manages to defend the general interest or guarantee popular sovereignty. By accumulating these two failures, it brings together the two ingredients of a generalized revolution.


Well, one can speculate on the fall of the empire and the crash of the Western world. And dream of the incoming revolution. Sure, the Western model is full of flaws, yet, while being full of dinosaurs, it is ADAPTABLE. The economies are tanking… So what? Print money. The farms over-produce food stuff and exports are going down the gurgler? Sell the products cheaper on the domestic market and make jams, marmalade, compote, bread, biscuits, white-goods and sherry. China disrupts your wine exports? Drink more at home! China does not want your copper, coal or iron ore? make your own steel and subsidise your cannons. Build some submarines! In your Covid affected lockdowns, do count the dead, not the cases, and abandon your mink-coats to the moths of destiny. In short: go with the flow while you build some dikes, lockdowns and levies. 

No major ills, not even wars, will upset this apple cart. Revolution? Do you mean I have to abandon my little homely comforts to go and protest on the street about an issue that does not concern me for an ideal of sharing my loot — and come back home to find it has been looted by idealists who detest comforts — in general and mine in particular? Do you mean I have to replace my gas-guzzler with a push-bike? You’re kidding me… No. I’ll trade in my motorcar for a new electric Tesla with all the gizmos making sure it drives itself on vacation (sorry I mean “holidays”) and plug it into the renewable grid if I must. 

Defending the general interest? You simply lie — a bit more than usual if you need to — in the same manner as you’ve lied since the beginning of democracy, using props like media, mirrors, smoke, academia and hope…  Make sure people are fed in all the aspects of living: food, entertainment, housing, happiness, health with the idea that not everything will be perfect, but as best as possible under "circumstances that will improve in the future”. 

And make sure people think they’re in charge, or somewhat in charge of the situation. If you need to blame something domestically blame the workers who demand too much entitlements, and destroy unions. Socialism has no place in the Western model. Give people just enough money for being miserably alive under whatever social security scheme, because obviously there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, otherwise inflation would go through the roof — and we’d be back in the bad days of chasing our tail (which we’re doing anyway now and forever) but it’s a question of “at what speed?". This is the role of marketing. And this is why ScoMo is the best in bullshit-selling. This is bullshit, and you’re getting it at the best price. 

But you cannot overdo it, like Donald Trump with his silly tweets that tell you tomorrow is going to be great again. There’s a limit. "You know the truth". As well, you need to study statistics to make sure you appear to have a plan when you’re only fiddling with the price of money. This is the role of economists. Philosophy and arts of the social group have to be tamed down from their possible subversive platforms and be included in the entertainment policies regarding brush-strokes allocation. 

In regard to the present Covid-19 situation, the balance between bullshit and bullshit has become a bit more delicate to maintain. In the USA, they don’t care much about it. Sacrifice and decay are EASY. The alternative is draconian lockdowns: the Victorian way. One needs a level of adaptation, despair management and resilience to sustain four months absence of doing something (like work for money), especially if you're a gastronomic restauranteur. But with restrictions lifted, you now fully know what it’s been like to live in a socialist/dictatorship/communistic/despotic outfit. Forget it. It was okay for a little while to beat a disease, BUT as the hospitals have regurgitated/harboured a few sick people, please let’s go to the beach and see the sunshine… 

Despite being wonky like a three-legged spider (I saw one this morning, it goes round and round but begs for mercy), the Western system is still worth the juice. Imagine having to live like people in India, say being a street sub-vendor, being of the low caste or begging for life amongst a sea of beggars who cannot find a job — even at the garbage tip.

Or think having to live like a Russian who drinks Vodka to death to forget he’s voted for Putin once more again forever? You poor sod. The Western system is a bit dirty but you enjoy the debauchery and tolerate the graffiti-painters on your walls, who should be in prison.

Guarantee popular sovereignty? Piece of cake. Blame China, the Muslims, Iran, the terrorists and Russia. Leave the Saudis alone — their country is perfect. No dissent there, thus they must be living in paradise. The only dissenters are OUTSIDE, like Khashoggi and these have to be shipped back home in little bits… Maintain pride of country through the national interest, press conference indicating you’re looking after everything for the best, military parades, medals, honour lists and the invention of WiFi amongst other things. And don’t forget to tell the people once more that they are in charge by letting them vote for a leader (and a media baron) from time to time. A bit more fairy dust and they will gasp it like fish food. 

Be adaptable. Now that Joe Biden has become the dragon-slayer, we can breathe that the return to normal isn’t going to be normal but a bit more tranquil than with the fire-breathing Donald. Deception will become more deceptive, with globalisation going back on track to reduce your choices which anyway were (are) illusive and delusive so far. Multinationals have the right to tell you what to do and to sell you what they want. The bombing of this or that other backward socialist nation will become more reasonable, not at the whim and fancy of a mad man, but at the advantageous democratic-spreading risk calculated by the Pentagon, under order of a reasonable president. Keep the Ruskies and the Chinese on edge. Sabre-rattle in front of the big guys is good for the soul. It’s always a crowd-pleaser. Use the media: Bad ruskies. Bad China. Us? Good!… Not only good. Great!

Are things going to improve? They have to. Hope is the only thing of value left in the Pandora Jar, and we know hope has a big range between zero and itself. The adaptability of the Western model is legendary in its own mind, so make sure everyone has a piece of the cake, as long as they’re not too black nor workers, nor too idealistic. Be lenient on the banks. They feed the system in a loop of cash. The system has to be. It has to survive, flaws and all… Embrace it with your own caveats...

So let's dream of equality and freedom, but these ideals don’t sleep too well together, and the cocoon is under attack from outside. The butterfly will take a long time to emerge but we can cope, even if it’s an ugly one.


the other side of the coin...



racism is the foundation of capitalism and imperialism...

Dr. Franklin was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War, and his radical politics led to his firing by Stanford in 1971, a move that was seen as a blow to academic freedom on US college campuses. He has published writing on topics as diverse as the Vietnam War, prison literature, environmentalism, and science fiction. He is currently a professor emeritus at Rutgers University, where he retired from in 2016 at the age of 82, after teaching there since 1975. Eddie Conway spoke with him again leading up to the 2020 election for TRNN’s Rattling the Bars, and he reflected back on his speech in 1980, and also discussed the current political situation.

“Racism is the foundation of capitalism, racism is the foundation of imperialism.”


In 1980, when Franklin spoke at Maryland Penitentiary, it was just prior to the ‘Reagan Revolution,’ and he warned of the rise of fascism in American politics. He related this rise back to the works of Malcolm X and George Jackson, both writers who spoke about fascism from the perspective of Black prisoners in the United States. He drew on the works of those writers to give the prescient warning that “Fascism in its most terroristic phase may not look like fascism to those who benefit from it.”

Speaking to TRNN now, Franklin  reflected on how the fascism that he spoke about in 1980 has expanded and been normalized throughout American society:“Now, when you look in the 40 years since we talked, a lot of the hallmarks of fascism have become true in the United States. The surveillance, the unleashing of the police, mass incarceration, and so forth,” he said.

Franklin’s speech to the Maryland prisoners also highlighted Malcolm X’s view that for Black people, America has always been a prison. He spoke about how racism was the foundation for capitalism and imperialism, and how capitalism and imperialism are the starting point for fascism. He believes that the point is even more salient today where voter suppression and disenfranchisement of Black people, the mass incarceration of Black people, and the ties between the Republican Party and right-wing militias have all  taken hold. 

Fascism is being pushed along by the growing inequities in our society between the rich and the poor, Franklin explained. 

“The fact is fascism is a system that is imposed when capitalism is in real serious trouble. And it is, capitalism is in trouble. We saw that in 2008, and we haven’t escaped from that. [It isn’t about just] ownership and production, [capitalism] is making the existence of our species on the planet questionable,” he said. “We’ve only been around a short time, and we have already … created two threats to the existence of our own species. Nuclear weapons … and now climate change.”

However, Franklin is hopeful that young people in America are prepared to fight back: “I’m 86 years old. I’ve been [doing activism] for over six decades, but I’ve never seen a movement as wide and deep as the present movement. This is hopeful. It’s very exciting to see all the young people out there,” he said. 

Similar to the views he expressed in 1980, Franklin sees hope in solidarity and internationalism by young people as a way to dismantle fascism and, ultimately, capitalism. 

“Many, many young people in this country and other places around the world realize that what we’re facing is a collapsing system. The cold capitalist system is collapsing, and it’s taking down the planet and us with it,” Franklin said. “So people are recognizing that we need to have an alternative to that. We need to think of a future where the great productive capacities that we have, that capitalism has built, are used for the betterment of people.



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sciences to the rescue...

Racism, climate denial, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are major crises standing in the way of a prosperous future for the United States, and resolution of all three could be enabled by science that is persistently ignored. In Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises, a character named Mike is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he answers. “Gradually, then suddenly.” The resistance of U.S. policy to science has followed a similar path: It gradually built up over 40 years, beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan, but suddenly reached a tipping point in the chaos of 2020. Will the path to resolution also be gradual and then sudden, and if so, at what cost?

A saying incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill holds that Americans always do the right thing but only after all other possibilities have been exhausted. Whatever the source, the idea lives on because it resonates and is no more apparent than in the failure of the United States to aggressively deal with 400 years of racial injustice. Slavery ended, but only after a civil war and decades of delay. The civil rights movement created important positive change, but only after civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis boxed in President Lyndon Johnson so that he had little choice but to champion legislation or be associated by history with staunch segregationist George Wallace. Will people of color in the United States have to endure yet more violence from white supremacists before the next inflection toward racial justice?


As for confronting climate change, the prospects seem distant. Support for climate science has been steadily undermined by politicians catering to businesses dependent on fossil fuels and by religious conservatives suspicious of science because it argues for evolution. When California's Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot challenged President Donald Trump on climate change, the president laughed and said, “I don't think science knows, actually.” Perhaps Trump knew he was saying something untrue but that many Americans agree with. Will wholesale environmental destruction have to occur before the United States does something about climate change?


When it comes to COVID-19, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows admitted, “We're not going to control the pandemic,” making clear that Trump's only strategy is to wait for therapeutics and vaccines to soften the blow. Although prospects for both look promising, we are months, if not a year, away from reasonable supplies of either. In the same interview, Meadows said that we would defeat the virus “because we're Americans.” Such nationalistic exceptionalism is embarrassing. The virus doesn't “know” who is an American. Must hundreds of thousands more people die before the United States recognizes that humility in the face of challenge is the way to save lives?


Now that so many possibilities have been tried and exhausted, can science help push the country toward resolving these issues? Science must deal with the systemic racism that persists in our enterprise. There are scientifically sound measures that could promote greater racial justice in America, but the scientific community is in no position to advocate for racial justice if its own house is not in order, and that requires difficult soul-searching about the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic groups as well as norms and practices of science that are not inclusive. Scientists must continue to speak out. Skepticism of the peril of COVID-19 has brought forth the response of science in ways never before seen. Scientists must hold on to that voice once the world gets past the pandemic. The old ideal of keeping politics out of science has not served the United States well. And scientists must continue to do the best science. Eventually, society will ask for help. Let's make sure science has the goods when they do.



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Gusnote  (GUS VIEWS): Politics and economics AREN'T SCIENCES, though mathematics can be used to make some economic calculations. Politics and economics are ART FORMS (often devious and manipulative) in which the parameters are chosen rather than OBSERVED.



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from chris floyd, empire burlesque...

You’d think that if you woke up after an election to find one candidate leading by two million votes, with the millions of votes yet to be counted almost certainly going heavily in his favor, that would be it: “Well, the result seems clear: you had a race and the voters chose one guy over another. That’s democracy in action!” But we are dealing with the United States and its Electoral College: the 18th-century contraption of slave-owning elites who had already restricted the right to a vote to limited categories of white men. Yet even with this truncated electorate, they were frantically worried that challenges to the domination of the rich elite (the only people worthy and wise enough to rule!) might arise, and so they rigged up the Electoral College to ensure that the popular vote of the filthy rabble would never be the sole determining factor in obtaining the presidency. Now here we are. Once again, the will of the people has been expressed, narrowly but decisively, at the ballot box; and once again, this means nothing. All that matters is how well one side or another has gamed the slave-owners’ democracy-suppressing system.

Yes, it should never have been this close, with an incumbency that has literally destroyed the economy and wilfully condemned tens of thousands of Americans to needless death. And yes, the Democrats ran a candidate who was as close to an empty suit of clothes hanging on a rack as he could possibly be, inspiring no one, offering nothing but vague bromides (“Nothing will change,” he told our present-day wealthy elites) while adamantly rejecting policies and programs that addressed the urgent needs of ordinary Americans. Yes, he was the worst possible opposition candidate at the worst possible time. But even with his manifold shortcomings, the American people have once again rejected Trump at the ballot box. And once again, the slave-owning oligarchs of yore have stretched out their dead hands and are threatening to strangle the will of the people


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