Thursday, February 08, 2018

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The North Korea Crisis Is Made in USA


Pyongyang, North Korea, after firebombing by the United States in the early 1950s


Those memes equating Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un might make people feel better, but this crisis is strictly Made In USA.

Sure, I have misgivings about the nature of the regime in North Korea, but it must be said that most of what passes for news about the DPRK in the US is transparent and frankly racist nonsense. My general policy is, to quote somebody famous, no investigation no right to speak, which means when confronted by dubious propaganda about North Korea meant to desensitize Americans to the genocidal and aggressive foreign policy of our own government, I choose my words carefully. What most of us need to know about the DPRK is that it is a tiny and relatively poor country that has been deliberately isolated from the world economy for over sixty years. It spent forty years as a brutally enslaved colony of Japan, and half the country has been occupied by American troops ever since. The US and its allies murdered millions of people as they flattened it in a war, actually a thinly disguised war against China, that they couldn't actually win, which is testimony to the resilience of the Korean people. Whether the government in North Korea is something North Koreans like is frankly beside the point. The bottom line must be that Americans don't get to choose how other countries are governed. Now is not really the time to be debating the nature of a society under Washington's lethal sights: now is the time to understand where the real enemies of peace and humanity lie.

The truth is that the US government doesn't care about what kind of government exists in North Korea (and tbh, though Trump's rhetoric is raw and frightening, it's not substantively different than threats made by every single US president since Truman). They don't care about the people in North Korea. Certainly a government that constantly renews blank checks to Saudi Arabia and apartheid Israel, and was the last major international ally of racist white minority ruled South Africa, couldn't be too worried about the people of North Korea. A country that threatens to incinerate an entire population is actually concerned about that population? You BELIEVE that?

This is the thing we must all be clear on: there is no equation between Trump and Kim; there is no equation of "threat" between the tiny DPRK and the massively armed USA. I read a statistic that said DPRK's military budget was less than that of the NYPD. The only actual threat is the one made by the United States. What has actually happened is that the DPRK has "threatened" to defend itself from aggression. The DPRK's posture is entirely provoked by the existential threat that the US's military machine, right on its borders, poses to its right of self-determination. I don't like nukes, but I will not condemn a nation for choosing a desperate option to stop a global bully.

Remember what happened to "crazy" Saddam Hussein, or more importantly, his country after US invasion. To "crazy" Gaddafi or more importantly, his country after US bombing. When you call Kim Jong Un "crazy," you're participating in a racist charade. Tell me the name of another North Korean person why don't you?

There is a country where people are in prison camps, even slave labor camps. There is a country where people are forced to eat garbage, where unemployment is chronic. There is a country where people are killed with total impunity by law enforcement. There is a country where dissent is demonized by the political castes, where dissenters are blacklisted from employment. There is a country which threatens its neighbors, that attacks sovereign nations unprovoked, that sends its armies across the world in blood-orgies of murder. There is a country that steals from others. There is a country whose elections are farces. There is a country where family and financial connections ensure political and social influence. There is a country where warlike mobs can be pushed to bloodlust through chants and manipulation. There is a country whose residents routinely fantasize about how they should "take out" anybody they choose on the world stage. That country is not North Korea, it's the USA.

Let's recognize the real threat and deal with it. We're running out of time. No, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump are not equal in any way, and your oh-so-funny Kim Jong Un memes are the equivalent of making ching-chong faces; to call them racist is to be making an understatement.
It is without contest. The main threat to humanity is the one in Washington.

---

(Crossposted from my personal Facebook. I have had plenty to say in the months since the election, none of which involves me changing my mind about my abstention, but for various reasons have decided to cut back on blogging here. But this seemed like a good milestone to add here for the record. I'm not abandoning this blog, I actually refer to it myself a lot, but especially until I finish my book project I can't commit here to return to a regular schedule. Comments always welcome. See you next time!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day



I am deeply aware that people fought and died for their right to vote. Democracy is, or rather, would be, a good thing, and surely it is righteous for people to demand not to be excluded from what passes for political process. Democracy is theoretically a mechanism whereby collectivity resolves into taking action in an act of shared commitment and responsibility. Problem is, I don't think that's what's actually happening right now.

My head has spent the last year split in two places, one watching this extended dumpster fire of an election, and two immersed in doing research on the probably esoteric (outside Ethiopia that is) subject of the Ethiopian revolution. There in 1974, a group of dedicated communist revolutionaries started an underground newsletter called "Democracy," that became one of the most well-read political papers in the country. The "Democracy" these folks argued for (and died for, by the thousands) was first demanded of the emperor Haile Selassie, and later, after the military snatched power from a popular uprising, became a rallying cry for pushing aside the military in favor of a popular people's government. So I've had quite a few occasions to think about what democracy might mean.

Listen, this, this USA, this is not a real democracy. This is a parody of democracy: it is not those abstaining from voting today who are spitting in the face of the freedom riders of the 1960s, it is the entire political system that is doing so. An elaborate and deeply embarrassing spectacle that wasted millions of dollars (ie, made a bunch of entertainment companies rich) just left people with the "choice" between a bloated fascist businessman, a deeply unprincipled and dishonest career politician responsible for the deaths of untold thousands who happens to be a woman, and a handful of quixotic alternatives who, with the one notable exception of Mimi Soltysik of the Socialist Party — who isn't even on most printed ballots — specialize in peddling low-frequency bullshit. (And to be clear I include there everyone from the problematic Greens and PSL, to the reprehensible SEP, SWP, libertarians and WWP).

It should be obvious, and yet strangely is not, to most, that this is in fact a dictatorship, the dictatorship of rich property owners we Marxists like to call the bourgeoisie. A government by and for rich people that has diabolically convinced millions that every few years being forced to rubberstamp choices presented to you from column A or column B, when mostly people want and need something else entirely, is actually what "democracy" looks like. It's not. And if you think dictatorship is a harsh word, take off your blinders and look at the role of police in this country and the role of the American military in the world, and see that "they" don't really give a shit what you think. Ruling though repression, fear and circuses, the class that owns this country needs us a lot more than we need them.

It's like a sickness what this country does to people. Like you, I have been indoctrinated for most of my almost 58 years that voting is a sacred responsibility. I have previously voted for Democrats, previously voted third parties, and occasionally abstained. The one thing I have learned is that I will never again close my ears to the evil promises of politicians in favor of the few morsels I want to actually hear. And yet with everything I know and I have studied, I still find myself wracked with guilty obligation. And so I have tried to figure out what I would do today.

Watching the intense fear that has been whipped up by both Democrats and Republicans fills me with both disgust and sadness. I can't blame or condemn most people for exercising what feels like the only thing they can do to stave off the obvious dangers ahead, though I urge folks to hit the books for the truth how that "I voted" sticker is zero defense against an actual fascist onslaught. I am, it must be said, pretty disappointed not in regular people with good hearts taking a stand against the vile and noxious Trump, but in leftists willing to overlook the vile and noxious Clinton, but that's a more complicated story.

I wish that the left was strong enough to run what I believe is actually correct, a campaign of revolutionary abstentionism. I think it would be an excellent step along the way to presenting a transcendent vision of liberation that revolutionaries need to find a way to re-popularize if we are ever to move out of the realm of symbolism. Symbolism is right now the only thing a micro-movement for revolutionary abstention can offer. One day the withholding of our participation in this game will be a weapon; it's not that yet.

It seems to be a beautiful day outside. I'm ever so privileged to be unemployed today and not quite at the bottom of my bank account. That same beautiful blue sky extends west to the Dakotas, and east across oceans and seas to Syria; distances far beyond sight and hearing yet not beyond knowledge.
I know where my polling place is. But I'm going to walk the other way.

Friday, November 04, 2016

I’m Not With Her

“I’m With Him”?

A little history lesson, for those who think voting for the "lesser evil" is a successful strategy. A lesson for those who are terrified of Trump. The SPD noted here were the German social democrats, sort of the left liberals of their time:

"[In 1932] The SPD regarded Hindenburg as the only man who could defeat Hitler and keep the Nazi Party from winning the elections (and they said so throughout the campaign)..... In the runoff election of April 1932, Hindenburg defeated Hitler for the presidency....Finally, the 85-year-old Hindenburg agreed to make Hitler chancellor, and on the morning of 30 January 1933, Hindenburg swore him in as chancellor at the presidential palace."

Sure, history never repeats itself.


#LessVotingMoreRevolution #RevoltDontVote

Monday, September 05, 2016

Echoes of a past life: New Moon



New Moon New York was an open Pagan circle in New York City in the early 1990s. This footage has surfaced, bringing back some memories, a surprising memory hole, and a bit of personal embarassment. This video includes footage of several events, only one of which I attended, the probable “Lughnassadh” ritual that begins about at the 11 min. mark, held in either NYC's Central Park or Inwood Park. Yours truly may be seen at heard about 16:35, bearing that fuzzy red wheel. Yeah, we took ourselves pretty seriously, but we also had lots of fun. As silly as this looks to me 20+ years later, I learned a lot about myself and the world in that period. I'm pretty glad I graduated from this sort of Cosplay/LARP scene, now in my mid-50s I'm sort of mortified by the trappings of that chapter of my spirituality. That said, that moment of spirituality healed me of some fundamental life hurt and I wouldn't want to erase that chapter of my life even if it seems so curiously foreign to me now.

But these were good people. I note with sadness several faces no longer among the living, not least the legendary Alexei Kondratiev and his partner Len. I see my dear magical partner C, and my incredibly handsome but deeply conflicted and closeted boyfriend W, nicknamed by C “Mr. Outdoors.” It's good to remember my friends from New Moon. I'm surprised at how little of this event I remember, it all seems just out of reach. Which is okay, it was a really long time ago and I have moved far far away from that moment in my life.

And now, back to life as a 21st-century communist.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Apartheid Love Triangle




Hillary Clinton + Elizabeth Warren + Benyamin Netanyahu: Apartheid Love Triangle. God, I can't wait for the US elections to be over.


#LessVotingMoreRevolution


Friday, May 27, 2016

Best Election Graphic of 2016


I can't claim any credit for it, source unknown. But I love everything about this, right down to the "I Voted" sticker on the dumpster. Children are the future, indeed.

Meanwhile, if you really wanna vote in 2016, check out #REV16, the campaign of Mimi Soltysik and Angela Walker, on the Socialist Party USA ticket, but running far to the left of SPUSA's usual politics.





Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Parable of the Buffet

I wrote this a year ago for my friends on Facebook as the election season started. I didn’t anticipate how the election season would actually unfold, and I certainly didn’t anticipate the Bernie Sanders phenomenon. But now that the primaries are within sight of an end, with the contest of Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump (!) a near certainty leaving the Sanders episode as an apparent blip at best (or an apparently successful episode of sheepdogging as many of us have been saying), it seems completely relevant once again. It may be that one day elections are a vehicle for the left: Right now, they’re a resistance-crushing, soul-deadening curse, a societal prophylactic against actual social change. Bon appetit!

A parable; trigger warning, obscenity:

You’re very hungry. You find a lovely buffet.

At the buffet are three tureens. To your horror, as you lift the lid off the first, you discover a miasma of small pieces of broken glass and animal feces. A little perturbed, you slam the lid back down. You move on to the second tureen. When you lift the lid, the stench is remarkable, and a melange of unmistakably human turds and jaggedly sharp glass shards reveals itself. You're a little freaked out but you move to the third tureen. There, you find a gourmet preparation of your most favorite dish, and while you realize you will have to move away from the buffet to enjoy it, you devour it with relish.

The next time you are hungry you return to this buffet. However, you notice there are only two tureens. You remove the first lid, and once again find the vile stew of animal shit and broken glass. You remove the second lid, and once again your senses are assaulted by the display of jagged glass and human waste. You're very upset and disappointed. A person's gotta eat!

What do you do? You might complain to the chef. You might call the health department. You might overturn the buffet and its filthy tureens in outrage. You might even try specially ordering that delicious third dish, but you are now quite concerned about the state of the buffet's kitchen. You will probably go home and cook your own dinner. But I'm pretty sure the absolute last thing you would ever consider doing is eating from the tureen of human turds while explaining that at least it wasn't cat shit. And you certainly wouldn't listen to anyone who tried to convince you that eating shit wasn't really that bad.

‪#‎LessVotingMoreRevolution‬ ‪#‎ReadyForHillary‬ ‪#‎ChuyGarciaBillDeBlasioBarackObamaJeanQuan‬

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

“It it’s red, white & blue, it’s not real socialism”


Bernie took a drubbing in the NY state primary yesterday, despite the mobilization of much of the NYC left. I am in the strange position of thinking it's great that so many regular folks are open to some of the things Sanders is saying, while actually horrified that so many leftists have set aside their principles and historical legacy to dive in to the Democratic Party. I think long term that nothing good can come of Sanders’ redefining of socialism and revolution to mean something akin to the right wing’s corrupted definition. Anyway, hopefully this meme gets at the difference between Bernie Sanders’ professed socialism and the real socialism of someone like Eugene Debs, who was unequivocal in his opposition to capitalism itself. Nobody on the left should be waving those stars and stripes. Point that fucking bloodsoaked imperialist banner somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mao Badges


I bought my first Mao badge when I was a teenager in the early 1970s. Since then I have accumulated a collection of several hundred. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. I'll post up more in a few days. These badges were produced for decades, starting in the 1940s before the whole of China was liberated. The heyday of Mao badges was the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976, when millions of varieties were manufactured for mass consumption: most of these were the red and silver "bicycle reflector" type made of aluminum, none of which I'm actually showing today.

The first two photos here show photos from badges of the early period, stamped out of steel and enameled. I'm told that these early pins have been heavily counterfeited, which surprises me not one bit, so who knows if this are legit originals, I don't. Notable here is the pin above with the silhouettes of Mao and Stalin, the one below dated 1948, and the one below showing a Chinese volunteer bayonetting a red blob labelled "America," issued in solidarity with the DPRK, clearly a composition like the "take that" stamps I have featured here The Cahokian.


This final batch of badges are all plastic: the heart and two of the white pins are soft, squishy, puffy vinyl.