Archive for April, 2007

this land is your land

I stumbled on this video of Anti-flag and friends and wanted to share it. These guys are great.

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April 30, 2007 at 3:16 pm 1 comment

Colbert at Press Association Dinner

If you’ve not yet seen the video, please click here.

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April 29, 2007 at 4:53 pm 4 comments

The Iron Heel

Iron Heel
Current politics in the United States bring out the realism of “fantastic” texts. Jack London‘s Iron Heel fits into a genre one might label socialist science-fiction. Its tale of the Chicago Commune and the struggle of the socialists to attain “The Brotherhood of Man” comes in the form of a found manuscript written by Avis Everhard, spy, revolutionary, and wife of Nietzschean blond-beast super-socialist Ernest Everhard. Yeah, Ernest Everhard. The latter is explicitly likened to Christ, and we learn at the outset that he will be killed by the Iron Heel (a consortium of plutocratic oligarchs) from the socialist editors who provide footnotes from their vantage on events, seven centuries in the future. H.G. Wells is mentioned in one of these footnotes, and indeed, the terrific destruction that takes place in Chicago and elsewhere is indebted to Wells, whom Mike Davis once called in an article on 9/11, a socialist Nostradamus.

In the course of the novel at least two major revolts are crushed by the Iron Heel and yet we know from the footnotes that this is simply part of the evolution of society. London in effect argues that the plutocrats are on the wrong side of evolutionary history. Here’s a footnote from the future:

Out of the ethical incoherency and inconsistency of capitalism, the oligarchs emerged with a new ethics, coherent and definite, sharp and severe as steel, the most absurd and unscientific and at the same time the most potent ever possessed by any tyrant class. The oligarchs believed their ethics, in spite of the fact that biology and evolution gave them the lie; and, because of their faith, for three centuries they were able to hold back the mighty tide of human progress–a spectacle, profound, tremendous, puzzling to the metaphysical moralist, and one that to the materialist is the cause of many doubts and reconsiderations. (519)

And another footnote:

We must accept the capitalistic stage in social evolution as about on a par with the earlier monkey stage. The human had to pass through those stages in its rise from the mire and slime of low organic life. It was inevitable that much of the mire and slime should cling and be not easily shaken off. (486)

Ernest Everhard, London’s Christian-socialist prophet explains how biology and evolution give the lie to the oligarchs plutocracy, and thus to capitalism:

This is the fiat of evolution. It is the word of God. Combination is stronger than competition. Primitive man was a puny creature hiding in the crevices of the rocks. He combined and made war upon his carnivorous enemies. They were competitive beasts. Primitive man was a combinative beast, and because of it he rose to primacy over all the animals. And man has been achieving greater and greater combinations ever since. It is combination versus competition, a thousand centuries long struggle, in which competition has always been worsted. Whoso enlists on the side of competition perishes. (407)

London here brings socialism in line with a Christian God because evolution, on his account, is the word of God, and evolution is ever greater combination. For London the strength of the strong is always in numbers. It is by way of this natural theology that London can predict the supercession of capitalism and its Iron Heel variant. In survival of the fittest, the fittest is she who cooperates.

If you teach The Iron Heel students will sometimes suggest that this cooperation is all fine and good, but human nature prevents its ever taking place. Not so, according to the socialists of the future. Biology and evolution provide for London “material”, rather than what he calls “metaphysical”, proof of the nature of human nature. Part of London’s project, then, is to marry historical materialism with evolutionary biology in order to argue that the category of the economic is subject to nature, and that the laws of nature are the imprint of a God whose word is cooperation. “Love one another” now has a combinative scientific property. And a bit of swashbuckling never hurts, either.

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April 29, 2007 at 3:32 pm Leave a comment

A Little Pressure

I like this new Obama campaign. It’s simple and fast and maybe viral (?) in the good way. Click on the above button and check it out.
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April 28, 2007 at 3:13 pm 4 comments

Give ‘Em Hell, Mike Gravel

The highlight of last night’s debate was Mike Gravel taking an overly cautious field of democrats to task. He suggested that if they had any courage at all they’d cut funding for the war in Iraq immediately. Of his colleagues on the stage he said, “The first six months in the senate you wonder how you got here, the next six months you wonder how they got here.”
Mike Gravel

Dennis Kucinich peppered Barack Obama with questions about his statement that “no options were off the table with Iran.” Obama assured Kucinich that he was “not planning to nuke anyone.” Agitation from Kucinich and Gravel is most welcome. Except by Joe Biden, who appears to find leftists laughable, worthy of a fratboy sneer.

Obama was positively bland. On healthcare he mentioned some arcane plan about people buying into it. A lot of people I know can’t buy into anything. Buying is pharmaceutical industry talk. And it’s not going to fly with voters who want and need free universal healthcare. The frontrunners, and in particular Hillary Clinton, were lauded this morning for “not screwing up” by the associated press. Is that the standard we’re to expect from our candidates?

As a tactic, when it comes to it, I’ll still vote for Obama to block Clinton, but thank God for Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. Give ’em hell!!
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April 27, 2007 at 2:20 pm 2 comments

Democratic Presidential Debate Tonight

In 2004, I was a firm supporter of Dennis Kucinich.
Dennis Kucinich

I still support Kucinich. His unfaltering left credentials, including the courageous call to leave Iraq immediately, a call for universal healthcare for all, his steady support of labor, concern for doing something about the environment, and his commitment to feminist principles, all position him as the best candidate for president. Far and away he’s the best on all of the issues.

But I’ll be voting for Barack Obama.
Barack Obama
Kucinich perfoms a valuable service by staying in the presidential race, ensuring that a firm leftist voice against which the other “progressive” candidates can measure their platforms is heard. Obama can win though. And what would we be getting with Obama? A center-left democrat willing to listen to people. He brands himself as a relative Washington outsider. I’m skeptical about that, but if enough people (all those contributions, and I’m included, here) hold him to staying well left, he can get some decent work done.

Barack has integrity and a healthy concern for internationalism. He understands that the Bush policies have deen catastrophic and that reparations are absolutely necessary. I heard him speak out against the war in a Teamsters hall in 2002, when he was still an Illinois state senator. While his approach to leaving Iraq is more gradualist than I care for, he has consistently recognized the error of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war.

Barack managed to work with a largely republican state senate to get healthcare for every child in Illinois. He can do that for the country. Maybe he can get healthcare for everyone. My father needs it, now. In 2003, I happened to speak on a healthcare panel with him in Chicago. I don’t say this to toot my horn. At the time, as state senator, he was just our progressive Barack.

If you watch the clips on his web site, his height (he is tall) is accentuated. “Linconesque” is the word. This stature will help. And if I may say so, it’s about time we have an African-American president. This should have happened during reconstruction.

I like John Edwards for another go at vice president.
John Edwards
2004 was a debacle, but Edwards has moved well left since his last time out. He’s great, maybe the best, on healthcare and is committed to doing something about poverty. Edwards would be my vote for pres, but I don’t have the stomach to look at any more white men in the white house. Not now, anyway.

And Hillary Clinton, well, she’s an establishment, pro-business, centrist democrat.
Hillary Clinton
I’d love to see a Nancy Pelosi in the White House, a Hillary, not so much. I’m looking forward to the debate this evening (7pm eastern, MSNBC).
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April 26, 2007 at 2:36 pm 2 comments

sympathy with bob


But what then? Sometimes Bob captures the sentiment, perfectly. I realize that given recent posts it may appear that I have an anal fixation, but my memories of 2-3 include exotic beaches and diaper moons. No problems other than a steady diet of dry cereal that my grandmother thought would promote optimal health. One time my parents bought me a guitar for agreeing to use the restroom. Finest moment of my young life.
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April 25, 2007 at 2:48 pm 4 comments

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