Berardi on Sensibility: Mass Murder, Autism, and the Digital Age


Franco  “Bifo” Berardi in his new book Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide will make a connection like many media theorists that all our electronic gadgets have begun desensitizing our children and that more and more have become a part of a new age of autism. As he will describe the “fact that human beings learn more vocabulary from a machine than from their mothers is undeniably leading to the development of a new kind of sensibility”.1

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Žižek On Moishe Postone: Marxism Today


Of course Moishe Postone known for his revisioning of Marxian theory in Time, Labor and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory, as well as his staunch thinking on modern anti-Semitism which among other things brings back that oppositional thinking between abstraction and the concrete in that for him the key to capitalist discourse is its reliance on abstraction, invisibility, automation, and impersonal domination.1

Even Slavoj Žižek will tell us that Moishe Postone is among those rare theorists who pursue the “critique of political economy,” with his attempt to rethink the actuality of Marx in the conditions following the disintegration of the Communist regimes in 1990.2 He will go on to say that Postone’s main reproach to “traditional” Marxist theory is that, at its heart, it relies on a transhistorical—and commonsensical—understanding of labor as an activity mediating humans and nature that transforms matter in a goal-directed manner and is a condition of social life. Labor, so understood, is posited as the source of wealth in all societies and as that which underlies processes of social constitution; it constitutes what is universal and truly social. In capitalism, however, labor is hindered by particularistic and fragmenting relations from becoming fully realized. Emancipation, then, is realized in a social form where transhistorical “labor,” freed from the fetters of the market and private property, has openly emerged as the regulating principle of society. (Žižek, pp. 186-187)

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The Economic Blob That Ate the World: Jean-Pierre Dupuy on the “Markets”


Modern societies, entirely dominated by Economy, are in grave and imminent danger of perishing from an evil that they themselves have produced. Politicians, no matter that every last one of them is bewildered and bamboozled, ought at least be able to grasp one key insight of economic thought, which worked out a theory of self-organizing complex systems long before this type of explanation became part of the standard repertoire of the physical and biological sciences during the second half of the twentieth century: self-organizing complex systems are capable of producing what are called emergent phenomena. These phenomena give the impression of being intentional, but in fact they are subjectless processes. It is altogether remarkable that the same expression, “subjectless processes,” should have been used by both the champion of economic neoliberalism, Friedrich Hayek, and the father of structural Marxism, Louis Althusser. At the outset I likened “the markets” to a sluggish, craven, and dumb beast. But they might also be pictured as a gelatinous and porous blob (The Blob was a famous horror film, as it happens), dumb as well, but extremely dangerous, always lying in wait, ready to swallow up individuals and whole peoples— without, however, having the least ill intention toward any of them.1

1. Dupuy, Jean-Pierre (2014-10-01). Economy and the Future: A Crisis of Faith (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture) (Kindle Locations 2718-2727). Michigan State University Press. Kindle Edition.

The Real Greek Tragedy: Ground Zero for the Hopeless


Reading John Henley’s article The Greeks for whom all the talk means nothing – because they have nothing  on the older couple in a suburb of Athens. Henley tells us that Georgios Karvouniaris, and his sister Barbara, both aged sixty-four live in a small caravan they keep spotless behind an orange plastic mesh where they grow peppers, courgettes, lettuces and beans grow in well-tended raised beds of a garden. Yet, behind the quaint façade is the stark truth of their lives. As the brother says, “I do not see how any of it will change our lives. I have no hope, anyway,” speaking of the coming referendum when Greek citizens will decide whether they should go back to the negotiating table or not.

This sense of hopelessness pervading the lives of many makes me both angry and helpless at the same time. Angry at both the political and economic situation not only in Greece but across the globe. Helpless because there truly is no collective effort to do anything about it. Blogging is of no help. Being aware of something isn’t going to change a thing. No. It’s only through collective pressure that institutions change comes about. I can sit here and spout my anger all I want but it will change nothing. Even those who might read this will probably realize the same thing: we’re not on the ground, we’re not there in Greece – “What do we know about it?” Nothing but what is reported both in the capitalist press and in those underground presses around the world that speak the other truth – a truth, “against the grain”; a counter-truth to the official media. Yet, does this change anything? No. Will it help these two, a brother and sister, who we’ll assume are just the face of thousands of other who are as well at ground zero in this economic catastrophe looming over their lives.

Even trying to imagine and put myself in their shoes is a false trick, a lie of sorts… how can I know what they are truly going through? We can spout all the facts and figures of the economic situation, we can blame the socialist government, we can blame Troika, blah blah blah… but that want help these desperate people. These actual real people on the ground who are – “hopeless”.

As Henley discovered it’s not as if the Syriza government was sitting idly by letting it happen, rather “it has scrabbled for every last cent to satisfy its creditors and ward off bankruptcy, Greece’s government has taken cash wherever it could – local authorities, healthcare, pensions, social services have all been tapped. In a country of 11 million people, public spending is now €65bn (£45.6bn) less than it was in 2010.” And as Ioanna Pertsinidou of Praksis, a charity that runs day centres for vulnerable people and offers legal and employment advice, told Henley: “There is no safety net left.”

Instead of trying to help Greece out of this mess Troika and the rest of the EU seem bent on allowing it to fall into chaos. Is this the future of democracy? Is this what it looks like? Is this all of our futures? Is Greece’s situation not the beginning of the end for all of us? Is this some isolated situation that members of the EU think they can ignore, cordon off, allow to be isolated… excluded?

As Henley discovered the people have begun to forget the government, have taken things into their own hands the best they can. Groups of citizens began helping this couple as well as others:

Every month the group holds a raffle, the proceeds of which buy fresh fruit and vegetables – apples, oranges, beans, potatoes – which Moragianis and her friends bring up to the caravan once a week. Fresh meat is once a week. Non-perishables – spaghetti, rice, flour, condensed milk, tomato sauce – come from the food bank. The couple have no money – a friendly town hall official paid their latest €18 water bill out of his own pocket – and no hope of any until Georgios qualifies for his pension at 67. “I’d hoped it might be 65, in four years’ time, but they’ve just recently decided to raise the age limit,” he said.

So what happens next? Does the EU sit idly by and allow this to end in catastrophe for the multitude of people living on the edge of existence in Greece? Will Troika get its way and continue to impose their imperial economic regime upon the Syriza government? Are is it already too late, too little, too hopeless? As one citizen on the edge of this apocalypse, one living it, Georgios, said in his final statement

“I have worked all my life. I’ve paid my taxes all my life. I’m 61 years old and if it wasn’t for the generosity of people who three years ago we had never met, we would be sleeping on a bench. You do what you can. But it doesn’t seem right.”

No, it doesn’t. It isn’t right and whether the vote it “yes” or “no” it want be made right by Troika, the EU or the Economy of the Blob. Capitalism and its economics are not the answer, it has failed for all and will eventually swallow the whole planet in its dark tentacle apocalypse unless we as a people decide to say no, to refuse this economics of plunder for the few at the expense of the many. Maybe amid the hopelessness we might remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr. (my adaption to this situation):

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.

It is obvious today that the EU has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, the EU has given the Greek people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of the Greek nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of economic slavery to the sunlit path of political justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of economic injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of Greek citizens.

From the divided streets in Athens by Niki Seth-Smith:

Those Greeks who are most exposed to the damages wrought by the memorandums – the one-in-four unemployment, the suicides, the untreated health issues, the broken relationships and abandoned dreams – are the ‘self-pitying’ Greeks. They will be more inclined to vote No. Those ‘cosmopolitan conquerors’ already at the top of the food chain, with more at stake in the economy as it stands, will largely go Yes.

Now people fear social unrest. This referendum is not just about a deal which will, in any case, need to be renewed in seven months. It is about who owns Greece. It is, possibly, about regime change. And it is salting wounds that have long divided Greek society.

Already, the words ‘civil war‘ are being whispered on the streets of Athens. The riot police, who disappeared from the street corners of the city in January, are coming back, protecting the peace of a government they feel is against them. We’re having summer storms, raining on the protesters and queues of pensioners at the ATMs. But they don’t lift the weight in the air, the feeling of something suppressed that has been left to ferment and grow.

From (Bloomberg):

Tsipras, for now, remains unfazed and as defiant as ever. “Is it possible for them to drive our banks to asphyxiation, to refuse an extension and for them to then expect us to pay the IMF?” Tsipras said.  Tsipras is counting on voters’ anger after five years of austerity imposed in exchange for aid to strengthen his hand. “The referendum will give us a stronger negotiating position when the talks resume,” he said in the ERT TV interview. “The higher the participation and numbers of people voting ‘no,’ the stronger our position will be.”

From (Wallstreet Journal)

European officials are casting the referendum as a decision whether or not Greek voters want to stay in the currency union. If the majority vote “yes” to the referendum—as some polls indicate they will–analysts say it could force the ouster of the current antibailout government and pave the way for a new government coalition willing to negotiate a bailout deal with Europe and the IMF. If that happens, one of the first orders of business for a new government able to secure more emergency financing would likely be to pay back the IMF. Making whole its obligations to the world’s senior-most creditor would be one of the first steps the country would need to take in a long road to restoring financial health.

Paul Krugman on the situation:

Greece should vote “no,” and the Greek government should be ready, if necessary, to leave the euro.

To understand why I say this, you need to realize that most — not all, but most — of what you’ve heard about Greek profligacy and irresponsibility is false. Yes, the Greek government was spending beyond its means in the late 2000s. But since then it has repeatedly slashed spending and raised taxes. Government employment has fallen more than 25 percent, and pensions (which were indeed much too generous) have been cut sharply. If you add up all the austerity measures, they have been more than enough to eliminate the original deficit and turn it into a large surplus.

So why didn’t this happen? Because the Greek economy collapsed, largely as a result of those very austerity measures, dragging revenues down with it.

And this collapse, in turn, had a lot to do with the euro, which trapped Greece in an economic straitjacket. Cases of successful austerity, in which countries rein in deficits without bringing on a depression, typically involve large currency devaluations that make their exports more competitive. This is what happened, for example, in Canada in the 1990s, and to an important extent it’s what happened in Iceland more recently. But Greece, without its own currency, didn’t have that option.

The Shock of the New: The Political Unconscious and the Future of Hope


What happens if the young are no longer capable of producing surprises?

– Mark Fisher,   Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?

In a world without hope, a world where despair and cynicism are the only thing left between living and dying, when life-in-death has actually and literally become the truth of existence where the absolute zero of sterility spells the end of the future Mark Fisher asks: “how long can a culture exist without the new?”1 Speaking of Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction thriller film directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón, based on P. D. James’s 1992 novel he will tell us that this dystopian parable “connects with the suspicion that the end has already come, the thought that it could well be the case that the future harbors only reiteration and re-permutation” (p. 3). Such political pundits as Francis Fukuyama would with the fall of communism tell us that what “we may be witnessing is … the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”2 Fisher taking his queue from the fascistic impulses in T.S. Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent reminds us that for Eliot the critic of the cultural malaise in modernity claimed “that the exhaustion of the future does not even leave us with the past. Tradition counts for nothing when it is no longer contested and modified. A culture that is merely preserved is no culture at all” (p. 3).

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The Great Refusal: Greece, Marcuse and his Legacy to a Free Society

Syriza party supporters athens

Whether ritualized or not, art contains the rationality of negation. In its advanced positions, it is the Great Refusal— the protest against that which is.

– Herbert  Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society

Herbert Marcuse is the neglected and often misread member of the Frankfurt School of which most philosophers and political scientists associate the work of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer and their turn from Marxian economics to the culture industry. Marcuse himself would adjust to this cultural turn in his own way, promoting a return to art, but not in the usual sense of a positive term, but rather as a vita negativa – a mode of refusal and refutation, breaking, and recreating the conjuncture of the human and its objects:

The modes in which man and things are made to appear, to sing and sound and speak, are modes of refuting, breaking, and recreating their factual existence. But these modes of negation pay tribute to the antagonistic society to which they are linked. Separated from the sphere of labor where society reproduces itself and its misery, the world of art which they create remains, with all its truth, a privilege and an illusion.1

This dialectical process of withdrawal (negation), breaking, and recreation is the political itself: the mode of withdrawal from both democracy and capital, the breaking of the vessels of these outmoded forms, and the recreation of society and political economics based on the very groundless ground of antagonism which is the central core beyond both democracy and capitalism.

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A Legacy of Ruins: Global Capitalism and Plutocracy


Johnathan Israel in his latest work on the Enlightenment and the ideas and people involved in the French Revolution comes to the conclusion that there were three main ideological systems at play during this great revolt: the first, a democratic republican revolution; second, a moderate Enlightenment consisting of constitutional monarchism that invoked Montesquieu and the British model as its criteria of legitimacy; and, last, an authoritarian populism prefiguring modern fascism. As he’ll remind us these “distinct impulses proved entirely incompatible politically and culturally, as well as ideologically, and remained locked in often ferocious conflict throughout” (p. 695).1

This combination of democratic Republicanism, reactionary Monarchism, and authoritarian populist fascism seem to flow through much of the past two hundred years, and have yet to resolve themselves into anything like a peaceful solution. When I look around my own nation, America, I see in its surface mythologies the bid to be a democratic Republic. Yet, when one looks under the hood, seeks in the depths of government and our economic layers of power we discover anything but a democratic Republic. No. Instead what we discover is this sense of a displaced or inverted totalitarianism along with the attendent fundamentalist populism that works as its inner logic of the media to invoke fear in the populace through an economics of war and terror. A dysfunctional society full of racism and sexism that since 9/11 has lived under the sign of ancient fear, war and madness: a nation that has become so normalized and ubiquitous in its acceptance of this ideological construct that most of its citizenry perceive this ‘state of the exception’ as both natural and life itself.

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The Total Surveillance Society: The Endgame of Democracy

Stitched Panorama

I began thinking today differently, against the grain of current illiberal sociological thought. In many ways one must begin to think anti-sociologically, realize that the very tools used by academic and (neo)liberal discourse in sociology is what the capitalist system uses to exclude, repress, and organize the surplus waste of human multiplicity that no longer fits into its global system of security. If the global system is built on total militarization and surveillance, it has also broken down the barriers that defining citizen from barbarian; or rather redefined all humans as barbarians within the system of capital. This supposed Empire of the Data, born of the pure trace of our affective and intellectual lives becomes a part of vast command and control system built upon the principal of inclusion/exclusion.

This sense that we are all traceable, that we have become data – to be marked and inscribed in a system of traces: gleaned, stored, organized, dispersed, sorted, analyzed and massaged; deconstructed and reconstructed into various modalities, pushed through specialized filters and segmented off algorithmically for analytical appraisal, reanalyzed by specialized knowledge-workers in the capitalist military-surveillance empire that then present their findings to higher echelons of this same global system to ultimately be registered and formalized into various linguistic traces and signifiers as adjuncts to the decisional apparatus of global governance as a system of command and control itself.  This is the new world we live in, the merger of the military-industrial and security-surveillance empire of global capital.

And whether it is micromanaged on a local, national, or global scale it is a part of a system of traces that are themselves traceable: verified by those like Edward Snowden and others who have been able to free those traces into the public eye for reappraisal and visibility on a global scale using the only tool of freedom that can still capture the public mind or general intellect: the internet. Such acts of courage bring with them the truth that our world is enmeshed in an invisible layer of technology and technics that seek to trace every aspect of our affective (body) and intellectual (mind) existence, to codify it in the ghost worlds of military-corporate shadow-systems that can be used as inscriptions to control not our actual lives but our inscribed life as situated in the virtual. Our virtual life becomes a potential tool that can then be activated by power as it sees fit: as a military, commercial, or exclusionary tool of law.

Book after book outlines the perimeters of this empire of the total surveillance society:

  • Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World by Tom Engelhardt
  • No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
  • Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier
  • Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance by Heidi Boghosian
  • Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation by Zygmunt Bauman

And many more…

What we learn from most of these is the truth of its existence, the infrastructure that encircles not only America but the global system itself. The tip of an iceberg that seeks to trace and quantify, measure and capitalize on our lives from physical to mental and mark and inscribe it for its own ignoble purposes. But acknowledging that it does indeed exist is just a beginning. An important beginning to be sure, but only a first step in understand what we can do to resist and combat this behemoth that entraps us in its shadow world. Some attack it because it takes away the last thing we supposedly thought we had: privacy, the last sacred cow of individualism, the sacred property of one’s inner being, mind and body. With the installation of this shadow grid of surveillance such privacy has vanished along with our supposed democracies and freedoms. We are all slaves in a total security system that has militarized its enemies and citizens alike.

How did we get here? How did we allow such a world to be constructed around us without our approval or our knowledge? How did democracy itself become an open secret, a shadow world of tyranny rather than freedom? A part of my own ongoing project or (as I keep telling myself) my work-in-progress will seek answers to these questions. Like many these questions will grow into many books rather than one great definitive systematic cow… I know longer believe in the grand narrative traditions as anything more than a heuristic device that helps organize one’s own thoughts… but in some sense this very notion of systematic knowledge is part of the whole world that helped build what we term the global system of capital – neoliberalism, technocapitalism, capitalist realism, hypercapitalism, machinic phylum… blah blah blah… whatever metaphor or abstract term you wish to reduce this strange Leviathan that pervades our earth in its Lovecraftian tentacles… have at it. For me it’s just tyranny, plain and simple. A system of inclusion/exclusion that Slavoj Zizek among others have been documenting for years from various parallax frames or points of view – a perspectivism of the dual eye, mind, and heart.

My greatest struggle is not to describe the whole history of this sordid mess, which is already documented and rehashed from a thousand perspectives in philosophy and sociology, historical and technological/scientific registers, etc. – aesthetic, artistic, musical and socio-cultural in other ways and means. There is no need to continue the great critique of this beast, it’s there, believe it, accept that it exists in plain site and that it travels with you 24/7 in all those electronic gadgets you use and carry and exist in public (does privacy exist? ) spaces: now we must decide how to resist it, invent strategies that will help us to discover exit points from its meshes, its security zones; and construct within its very ruins zones of freedom from surveillance and power. How to exist beyond this human wasteland. We must start at the zero-point of the wastelands that capital has built to exclude what it perceives as human waste: the slum worlds that are situated outside the gates of capital’s paradise.

I’m always reminded at this point of that Star Trek moment when the Borg states that “Resistance is futile!” Is it? Are we powerless against the onslaught of this insidious electronic beast we’ve created? Can we do something about it? Resist? Book after book explores the truth that the beast exists, but offer little or no hope of escape from its surveying eye beyond exposing it through hacking and hacktivist pressure and exposure. But is this only a minimal beginning? Some in the obvious liberal left seek to reform the beast, but is this too little, too late? Isn’t it the very illiberal system itself that put such systems in place under our noses? How can the very system of governance that allowed this to happen be the ones to undo it? We can’t trust them anymore? They’ve failed us miserably.

So what next? That’s the big question isn’t it? Do we as some want to believe exit, secede from the system itself? To me this is both ludicrous and utopian in the sense that there is no outside anymore, no place to escape… too. Unless one is planning on hijacking a space craft to mars or some other planet. Fantasy. There is no escape outside, we’re inside its technical sphere or horizon (think Sloterkik’s metaphor: The World Interior of Capital): an infospehere that permeates every aspect of our lives. One cannot dream of an outside anymore. No. One must discover how to exit inside, vanish into the system itself, become invisible to its traceability technologies. But how would that be possible? How could one escape the very technological systems that hide everywhere in plain site? Even if one were to log off, disband, disconnect from the electronic grid today: it would already have you captured in the traces its captured and analyzed and logged away within its (semi)permanent data storage systems.  Could we erase our data-selves? Could we hack the systems that store out data identities? Construct viral agents that could sweep the hidden zones of surveillance and wipe the slate clean? Is this even feasible? How to do that and not leave a trace back to the source: our self?

I throw out these ideas because there seems to be a need for a strategy of resistance that is not there in visibility. I’m sure the dark lairs of criminal hacktivists that use this sort of knowledge for gain and profit rather than resistance would be and are more versant in these matters. But they would be of little help, or would they? And, the other matter: what of the human waste outside the grid, the slum worlds and non-workers, the people that the system has already excluded from its flows? What of them?

These are the sorts of things that keep me up at night. What about you? Are we playing out the endgame of democracy, or is this only the beginning of revolt and rebellion?


I can see why Zizek’s against the grain statements seem so odd to us: he asks us in his recent video that “Why should we be afraid of surveillance?” His point is that the system that produces this should be treated like non-entities, as inhuman as one’s own pets: dogs, cats, etc. In other words live as if this did not matter, as if these beings were nothing more that degraded, deranged, paranoid and uncivilized creatures…

Another point he makes is that all this massive data will ultimately end in confusion for those supposed experts using it: that let’s say, like our Congress who gets this massive Obama HealthCare book that is ten-thousand pages thick and realizes “Why should we read it? We know we cannot know what’s in the details, it would take years to decipher it. So they vote on what they do not know, not on what they actually know.” This our massive Big Data system: a system with so much data that even a quantum computer could not analyze and decipher, and even if it did: the humans who would benefit from it: our leaders would probably not read it, but would make decisions not on it but on their own ideological fantasies. This is Zizek’s point.

I can see his point, from a communist standpoint: that surveillance is about the final frontier of private property, the sacred cow – that in this new surveillance society even the notion of subjectivity itself, freedom itself, is no longer private or free – Capitalism has begun to implode and destroy the very roots of its own power: private property in the visible and invisible relations of physical and subjective property. In totalizing surveillance capital is destroying the very base of its own social relations: the private individual – the Liberal Subject. With the destruction of the (ill)liberal Subject comes the end of democracy and capitalism. What comes next is either a return to total sovereignty (monarchy of military-surveillance society) or the abandonment of this complete system into something else…. obviously that implies the creative destruction and implementation of freedom beyond democracy and capitalism. Will that come about? That’s anyone’s guess: the open-ended truth of our moment…

As Brad Evans in Liberal Terror will tell us that our Late liberalism has reached its point of political finitude where existence is being increasingly governed by an immanent ordering of life that witnesses the triumph of economy over the political, security over freedom, and a catastrophic imaginary that enslaves us to a system of total surveillance that public leaders and experts alike marshal as democratic systems to safeguard our freedoms, while in fact obliterating those very freedoms we hold so dear: the open-society.  Our total surveillance society emerged out of our fears of terror and fundamentalist imaginaries. The catastrophic imaginary offers a dynamic and non-linear apocalyptic mode for illiberal democracies that seek to instill a normativity and normalization of catastrophe and terror, one that moralizes the governance of life on a planetary scale in lieu of the fact that nothing can be known with absolute certainty.1

It’s like waking up in a nightmare everyday and realizing that hell is not – as Sartre believed, “other people”, but is instead the gaze that follows one around forever. As if the Freud-Lacan and all those who exposed the Eye of God as a lie, have now been coopted by a system of machinic civilization in which God’s Eye is immanent to the system itself. As if we had in our Manichean pride developed the perfect eye of god or … devil in the machine. Funny how religious beliefs permeate even the most sophisticated systems we have created during this (ill)liberal age of secularism. The God in the Machine come home to roost…

1. Evans, Brad (2013-04-03). Liberal Terror (Kindle Locations 814-824). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

The Politics of Hope: Reinventing the American Dream


Richard Hofstadter in his 1955 book The Age of Reform would be one of the first to define the history of progressivism and its mixture of populism and reformism growing out of the anti-monopoly movements of the 1890’s in economics that brought together both provincial and agrarian dissidents, who were rebellious and suspicious of the east coast elites and business men, as well as the politicians in Washington who supported the capitalist system that enslaved them.  These disenfranchised people formed the core of both the Populist and Progressive parties that from 1890 to 1920 would enter what Hofstadter called the Age of Reform. As he’ll tell us the basic theme “was the effort to restore a type of economic individualism and political democracy that was widely believed to have existed earlier in America and to have been destroyed by the great corporation and the corrupt political machine; and with that restoration to bring back a kind of morality and civic purity that was also believed to have been lost”.1

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Remembering the Future? – What about the Past?


Doing a little research again on the notion of Accelerationism which seems to still have a spark of interest on the Left and Right. Some like the notion while others think the whole affair a bit silly.  Back in 2014 Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams and Armen Avanessian published a further essay #Accelerationism: Remembering the Future arguing that in “place of folk political solutions, we should be pushing for full automation of work, reduction of the working week, and a universal basic income for everyone”. Of course their main thrust is that “accelerationism argues that the left must disconnect itself from a defensive and conservative politics of preservation, whether embodied in parliamentary politics seeking to preserve social democracy from the tidal force of neoliberalism or more radical movements proposing a ‘localist’ or organic solution to our current ills.” In this article they lambast both Left and Right for erasure of the past. Neoliberalism under both regimes has brought the future to a standstill leaving people without hope or any sign of relief from the repressive regimes of Austerity that seem to be sucking every last ounce out of their citizens across the global systemic neoliberal order.

This triple play of automation, reduced work hours, and a universal basic income is not new but seems to be something favored on both the Left and Right of the political spectrum. It was none other than that libertarian F.A. Hayek who first endorsed a universal basic income in Volume 3 of his book, “Law, Legislation and Liberty”:

The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be a wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born.

Even that radical Thomas Paine would support of such a proposal. In Paine’s 1797 pamphlet, “Agrarian Justice,” he advocated a social insurance system for young and old, financed by a 10 percent tax on inherited property. Paine would have given everyone 15 pounds at age 21 and 10 pounds per year to everyone at least age 50 for life. So we can see even here the roots of social welfare for all. President Johnson would support such a move through a negative income tax. Even President Richard Nixon in an August 1969 proposal called the family assistance plan that had been developed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan would get a hearing. The New York Times columnist James Reston called it a “remarkably progressive welfare policy.”1

As Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom Kindle Edition by Daniel Raventós will tell us in his own libertarian proposal for this:

Basic Income is simply the idea that everyone in a given society has a right to a minimal income. This is paid by the state out of taxation. Set at a subsistence level, it would take the place of unemployment and other benefits. This would bring profound social changes. Anyone could opt out of employment at any time. Those with few skills would no longer be forced to take up jobs with poor prospects, and employers offering McJobs would be forced to offer better terms. And money wasted by the state in means testing and tracing benefit fraud is saved.

So there is plenty of precedent for such a proposal. The problem revolves around the old Left/Right split over capitalism itself as an organized aspect of this society that will support such an initiative. As we remember from their article Left accelerationists seek to follow the Marxian conclusion of reduction in work and the replacement of most labor intensive sweatshop type jobs with full automation by machines. Most libertarians wouldn’t disagree with this either. Yet, the two would fight over the old dog of “property rights” and their respective stance on the idea of the “State”, as well as the form of surplus capitalism that seeks to suck the life-blood out of its citizens in illiberal democracies. I doubt either side will come to terms over that issue any time soon.

1. Bruce Bartlett. Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All (NY Times, December 10, 2013)

Globalism & Capitalism: The Failure of Utopian Desire and Social Engineering


James C. Scott in his Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed  took a long hard look at the Utopian projects of the 20th Century, the state-initiated social engineering projects that all in one way or another ended in tragedy and failure. What he discovered were four basic elements that in combination led to utter failure in each and every case. The first element is the administrative ordering of nature and society. The second element is what he termed high-modernist ideology. For Scott this was the scientific and technological project of enlightenment progress, the endless expansion and inclusive rationality at the heart of capitalism and socialist projects. The third element is an authoritarian state that is willing and able to use the full weight of its coercive power to bring these high-modernist designs into being. A fourth element is closely linked to the third: a prostrate civil society that lacks the capacity to resist these plans.1

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The Stone Catcher


I do not know if we can build a better society. I do not even know if we will survive as a species. But I do know that these corporate forces have us by the throat. And they have my children by the throat. I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.  And this is a fight that in the face of the overwhelming forces against us requires that we follow those possessed by sublime madness, that we become stone catchers and find in acts of rebellion the sparks of life, an intrinsic meaning that lies outside the possibility of success. We must grasp the harshness of reality at the same time as we refuse to allow this reality to paralyze us. People of all creeds and people of no creeds must make an absurd leap of faith to believe, despite all the empirical evidence around us, that the good draws to it the good.  The fight for life goes somewhere— the Buddhists call it karma—and in these acts we make possible a better world, even if we cannot see one emerging around us.

– Chris Hedges,  Wages of Rebellion

The Predator Class: Social Exclusion and Savage Capitalism


René Lenoir (1974) according to Amartya Sen was the originator of this specific term – at least in France, of ‘Social Exclusion’. It was intended to identify those deemed politically misfit and to be excluded from many of the social welfare systems accommodations and benefits. Lenoir included the mentally and physically handicapped, suicidal people, aged invalids, abused children, substance abusers, delinquents, single parents, multi-problem households, marginal, asocial persons, and other social ‘misfits’. He defined what they’d be excluded from as a livelihood; secure, permanent employment; earnings; property, credit, or land; housing; minimal or prevailing consumption levels; education, skills, and cultural capital; the welfare state; citizenship and legal equality; democratic participation; public goods; the nation or the dominant race; family and sociability; humanity, respect, fulfilment and understanding.1

Saskia Sassen tells us that since the 1980s, there has been a strengthening of dynamics that expel people from the economy and from society, and these dynamics are now hardwired into the normal functioning of these spheres.2 She sees the new predatory capitalism as the perpetrator of a global crime organization masking itself as governance: these expulsions are not simply the result of an individual’s, a firm’s, or a government’s decision or action. European Central Bank and IMF officials have made the decision to insist on government debt reduction via cuts in basic services and the jobs of mostly modest-salaried government employees. There is a kind of systemic logic at work in each of these predatory formations. It is this logic that led her to the notion of a predatory formation rather than simply a collection of powerful individuals and firms that make decisions with major consequences for people and places worldwide. At the heart of this logic is a distortion when compared to the prior period— that of rising welfare states in many market economies as well in many communist countries.(Sassen, KL 1012)

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The Prison Industrial Complex: The American Way of Destruction


Art by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

Matt Tabbi did the math. From 1991 to 2010 the crime rate for major and minor crimes dropped 44%, yet in during this same period poverty rates went from about 8% to 15.5%.1 And, finally, during this same period in which crime went down and poverty went up the Prison Industrial Complex went out of the hands of government and into the private sector, while additional increases in those incarcerated and plunged into this corporate takeover of the prisons went from 1 million to 2.2 million inmates. As he describes it:

Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak. (ibid.)

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Decline of Empire in the Dark Ages of America


With the emergence of agriculture, the world was never again as it had been. Almost everywhere, the pristine economies and their cultures went down to defeat and memory loss.

– Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead

Jacobs will remind us that ours is the age in which the last of the agrarian cultures have begun the slow and narrow fall into defeat and memory loss. With the advent of the age of exploration, industry, capitalism came the slow encompassment of the globe in a post-agrarian form of economics and life. That we are living in the final stages of this globalization process is to see the dying embers of ancient civilizations still holding onto those dark fires and ancient ways. Yet, with this comes something else as well. The great imperial regimes that have one after another grown, peaked, and given way to larger more powerful political and social forces are reaching an end too. The age of empire is at an end, and with it the modes of production and cultural exchange are in themselves changing and will during the coming years give way to a new form of cultural amnesia.

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Chris Hedges on Thomas Paine the American Revolutionary


Let them call me a rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul…
– Thomas Paine

“Thomas Paine is America’s single great revolutionary theorist. We have produced a slew of admirable anarchists (Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Dorothy Day, and Noam Chomsky), and radical leaders have arisen out of oppressed groups (Sitting Bull, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Cornel West, and bell hooks). But we do not have a tradition of revolutionists. This makes Paine unique.

“Paine, as George Orwell and James Baldwin did later, used his pen as a weapon. He detested the flowery and ornate writing of his age, epitomized by academics and philosophers such as Edmund Burke, whose turgid prose he called “Bastilles of the word.”  His lucid, crystallite writing was deeply feared by the monarchies in Europe, as well as the Jacobins in France, who imprisoned Paine and planned to execute him for denouncing the Reign of Terror. He fearlessly spoke undeniable truths. And he did so in a language that was accessible. He called his readers to act upon these truths. “My motive and object in all my political works, beginning with Common Sense,” Paine remembered in 1806, “ . . . have been to rescue man from tyranny and false systems and false principles of government, and enable him to be free.”  Chronically short of money, Paine pressed his publishers to print cheap editions so the poor and working classes could afford them.  And he famously donated the profits of Common Sense and his popular Crisis essays to help fund the revolutionary war effort.

“Paine, unlike Rousseau, wrote in the everyday language of working people. Grounding his writing in their common experiences, he was the first political writer to extend debate beyond university halls, government office buildings, and elite clubs and salons to the streets and the taverns. Paine knew liberty was intimately connected with language. And he knew that those who seek to monopolize power always use inaccessible and specialized jargon to exclude the average citizen. Paine broke these chains.

“Paine never veered from the proposition that liberty means the liberty to speak the truth even if that truth is unpopular. He did not seek anyone’s adulation. And by the end of his life, like most rebels who have held fast to the vision that took hold of them, he was an outcast. He died, largely forgotten, in New York City in June 1809. Six people went to his funeral. Two of them were black.1

Yet, lest we forget there were those who remembered him. Like Andrew Jackson, who said that Rights of Man would be “more enduring than all the piles of marble and granite that man can erect…. Thomas Paine needs no monument by hands; he has erected a monument in the hearts of all who love liberty.” 

Whether we have had revolutionaries in Hedges sense throughout American history or not we have had dissenters, those who lived and thought against the grain of established religion, politics, economics, and culture. As Ralph Young will tell us in his monumental history of Dissent: The History of an American Idea:

There are several levels or stages of dissent. At the beginning individuals might simply disagree with a policy or a law or an issue. Perhaps they are willing to tolerate a wrong or an injustice for a while, but when it becomes less tolerable, the next step is to become active. Individuals might write a letter or an article, give a speech, lead a protest march, or conduct a demonstration. Dissent and protest carried to a higher level entails resistance, civil disobedience, breaking laws, or even participating in a riot or insurrection. At the last extreme, as in the American Revolution or in John Brown’s raid, outright conflict breaks out. At this point dissent has metamorphosed into something much larger and is either crushed or brings about a radical transformation.2

Are we entering that final stage? Is America along with other countries at the stage where conflict may break out? And, if so, will it – as Hedges describes it, be forcefully suppressed through the use of vigilantes and para-military forces of repression and violence from the reactionary Right; those who will be used by the American Corporate machine to obliterate and remove all dissenters, dissidents, and revolutionary forces? Will corporate media be used to instill fear and hate against any who would challenge the power and might of the Empire of Capital? Or will we who firmly believe in our cause prevail against violence and enact a non-violent end to the capitalist empire?  Let us not be ignorant of the truth: they will use every means available to squelch any form of revolutionary movement by whatever means is available to them. They’ve done this in the past (“Wobblies”, McCarthyism, Civil Rights movement…). We must be prepared for the long haul… and, with Paine we must say against the grain of our time: “Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!”

O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe.  … O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.

– Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Read Common Sense online: here…

1. Hedges, Chris (2015-05-12). Wages of Rebellion (pp. 153-160). Nation Books. Kindle Edition.
2. Young, Ralph (2015-04-24). Dissent: The History of an American Idea (Kindle Locations 167-172). NYU Press. Kindle Edition.

Chris Hedges On Muslim Political Prisoners


Syed Fahad Hashmi serving fifteen years for political views…

“I came to this country from Pakistan nearly thirty years ago, in 1982, with my wife and two young boys,” his father said. “Coming from a Third World country, we were full of hope and looked towards America for liberty and opportunity. I had an American dream to work hard and give my sons good educations. I worked as an assistant accountant for the city of New York, six days a week, nine hours a day, including overtime, to support my family and to send both my kids through college. We all became US citizens, and my sons fulfilled my dreams by completing their undergraduate and postgraduate education. I was very proud of them.

“In high school and then as a student at Brooklyn College, Fahad became a political activist, concerned about the plight of Muslims around the world and the civil liberties of Muslims in America,” he went on. “Growing up here in America, Fahad did not fear expressing his views. But I was scared for him and urged him not to speak out. He would remind me that everything he did was under the law. But having grown up in a Third World country, I had seen that it did not always work this way, and so I worried. He was monitored by law enforcement and quoted in Time magazine. But he kept speaking out. And then, with his arrest, my fears came true.”

“These years have brought deep disillusionment for my family in the American justice system,” Syed Anwar Hashmi said.

“For one charge for luggage storing socks, ponchos, and raincoats in his apartment, he is serving a fifteen-year sentence in the harshest federal prison in the country, still in solitary confinement, still under SAMs,” his father said. “The cooperating witness in the case, the one who brought and delivered the luggage, is now free and able to enjoy his life and family.”

The despair and bewilderment of Hashmi’s father are a reflection of the wider despair and bewilderment that have gripped the lives of many Muslims.

– Chris Hedges in conversation with Syed Anwar Hashmi, father of the young man.

1. Hedges, Chris (2015-05-12). Wages of Rebellion (p. 130). Nation Books. Kindle Edition.

Chris Hedges with Bonnie Kerness on Corporate Prisons as the New Slavery


Kerness said that the for-profit prison companies have created an entrepreneurial class like that of the Southern slaveholders, one “dependent on the poor and on bodies of color as a source for income,” and she described federal and state departments of corrections as “a state of mind.” This state of mind, she said in the interview, “led to Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantánamo, and what is going on in US prisons right this moment.” As long as profit remains an incentive to incarcerate human beings and our corporate state abounds in superfluous labor, there is little chance that the prison system will be reformed. Our prisons serve the engine of corporate capitalism, transferring state money to private corporations. These corporations will continue to stymie rational prison reform because the system, however inhumane and unjust, feeds corporate bank accounts. At bottom, the problem is not race, although race plays a huge part in incarceration rates, nor is it ultimately poverty. It is the predatory nature of corporate capitalism itself. And until we slay the beast of corporate capitalism, until we wrest power back from corporations, until we build social institutions and a system of governance designed not to profit the few but to foster the common good, our prison industry and the horror it perpetuates will only expand.

– Chris Hedges in conversation with Bonnie Kerness

1. Chris Hedges,(2015-05-12). Wages of Rebellion (p. 126). Nation Books. Kindle Edition.

Cornel West: Desecration of the American Prophetic Tradition


We see the richest prophetic tradition in America desecrated in the name of a neoliberal worldview, a worldview King would be in direct opposition to. Martin would be against Obama because of his neglect of the poor and the working class and because of the [aerial] drones, because he is a war president, because he draws up kill lists. And Martin King would have nothing to do with that. We are talking about crimes against humanity— Wall Street crimes, war crimes, the crimes of the criminal justice system in the form of Jim Crow, the crimes against our working poor that have their backs pushed against the wall because of stagnant wages and corporate profits going up,” West explained. “Abraham Heschel said that the distinctive feature of any empire in decline is its indifference to criminality. That is a fundamental feature of our time, an indifference to criminality, especially on top, wickedness in high places.

– Cornel West in conversation with Chris Hedge

Mumia Abu-Jamal On the Politics of Betrayal


“The brutality of the empire was exposed under George W. Bush,” he said to me. “The empire desperately needed a new face, a black face, to seduce the public. This is the role of Barack Obama. He is the black face of empire. He was pitched to us during the most recent presidential campaign by Bill Clinton, the same Clinton who gave us NAFTA in 1994 and abolished good-paying manufacturing jobs for millions of workers. The same Clinton who locked us up. Clinton and Obama represent the politics of betrayal at the heart of the corporatist machinery. And they have fooled a lot of people, especially black people. During slavery, and even post-Reconstruction, there were always a few black people who served the system. The role of these black servants to white power was to teach passivity in the face of repression. This is why Obama is president. Nothing has changed.”

– Mumia Abu-Jamal in conversation with Chris Hedges in Prison

Conversion Is Our Goal: On Resistance and Rebellion


History can then no longer be presented as an object of worship. It is only an opportunity that must be rendered fruitful by a vigilant rebellion.

– Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt

Camus would add to rebellion this deep and abiding sense of love and life. “Rebellion proves in this way that it is the very movement of life and that it cannot be denied without renouncing life. Its purest outburst, on each occasion, gives birth to existence. Thus it is love and fecundity or it is nothing at all.”1

Recently in Chris Hedges new book Wages of Rebellion he would affirm that resistance is first about learning to speak differently and abandoning the vocabulary of the “rational” technocrats who rule us. Once we discover new words and ideas through which to perceive and explain reality, we free ourselves from neoliberalism, which functions, as Walter Benjamin knew, like a state religion. This effort will take place outside the boundaries of popular culture and academia, where the deadening weight of the dominant ideology curtails creativity and independent thought.2

He mentions the Zapatistas and their long struggle to attain autonomy in Mexico as an indigenous population. They learned through both bitter and painful struggle that the only way to attain real freedom, independence, and justice is not through violent and aggressive action, but rather by constructing the very thing they wanted: a life they wished to live without the aid of a State or any other authority.

As their long time spokesman and leader Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, would say, recounting the moment when they – as a people, had to decide the path they would take, whether to fight and die, or to fight and live, to build a life for their people or to die in violence against the oppressors that would surely obliterate them. This is what he said:

Should we prepare those who come after us for the path of death? Should we develop more and better soldiers? Invest our efforts in improving our battered war machine? Simulate dialogues and a disposition toward peace while preparing new attacks? Kill or die as the only destiny? Or should we reconstruct the path of life, that which those from above had broken and continue breaking? . . . Should we have adorned with our blood the path that others have charted to Power, or should we have turned our heart and gazed toward who we are, toward those who are what we are— that is, the indigenous people, guardians of the earth and of memory? Nobody listened then, but in the first babblings that were our words we made note that our dilemma was not between negotiating and fighting, but between dying and living. . . . And we chose. And rather than dedicating ourselves to training guerrillas, soldiers, and squadrons, we developed education and health promoters, who went about building the foundations of autonomy that today amaze the world. Instead of constructing barracks, improving our weapons, and building walls and trenches, we built schools, hospitals and health centers; improving our living conditions. Instead of fighting for a place in the Parthenon of individualized deaths of those from below, we chose to construct life. All this in the midst of a war that was no less lethal because it was silent. (pp. 74-75)

We chose to construct life. Haunting words. Words of one who believed it was worth all to create life rather than die for some idealistic sense of honor or spurious freedom that might have ended the lives of all involved. As Hedges would recount it: this transformation by the EZLN is one that is crucial to remember as we search for mechanisms to sever ourselves from the corporate state and build self-governing communities. The goal is not to destroy but to transform. And this is why violence is counterproductive. We too must work to create a radical shift in consciousness. We must, as the Zapatista slogan insisted, “Be a Zapatista wherever you are.” And this will take time, drawing larger and larger numbers of people into acts of civil disobedience. We too must work to make citizens aware of the mechanisms of power. An adherence to nonviolence will not save us from the violence of the state or from the state’s hired goons and vigilantes. But nonviolence makes conversion, even among our oppressors, possible. And it is conversion that is our goal.(p. 76)

1. Camus, Albert (2012-09-19). The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt (Vintage International) (p. 302). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
2. Hedges, Chris (2015-05-12). Wages of Rebellion (p. 70). Nation Books. Kindle Edition.

The Human Zoo: Social Domination, Labor-Power and Cognitive Capitalism


How do general historical conditions affect production and what part does it play at all in the course of history? It is evident that this question can be taken up only in connection with the discussion and analysis of production.

– Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels The German Ideology

Certain economists such as Yann Moulier-Boutang have already begun to realize effectively that the political economy of the future is now based on the Knowledge Society. It is the cognitariat as pollinator that drives this new economy he tells us. And the truth is such Zizekian thinkers as Favio Vighi would not disagree. Vighi himself realizes that the surplus value in this new economy is the knowledge workers surplus-jouissance, the immaterial wealth of the new markets is cognitive; yet, it is coming out of the unconscious rather than the conscious mind:

It is Lacan’s notion of the signifier that discloses the intrinsic limitation of Marx’s discovery: the unpaid labour-power responsible for the creation of surplus-value is ultimately nothing but constitutive, non-symbolizable libidinal surplus that accompanies any intervention into the signifier, that is to say any knowledge. Why? Because knowledge by definition strikes on the wall of its lack (of knowledge), its limit, thereby secreting an entropic addendum, i.e., a measure of the libidinal energy which is not available to perform work. This is surplus-jouissance, whose presence proves that an unconscious knowledge is, literally, at work.1

For Vighi it’s this surplus-jouissance which cognitive capitalism seeks to profit from within is accounting systems. What Boutang adds is a sense that this excess, this surplus-jouissance – which he terms pollination, is being hooked to a new biopolitics and biopower economics in which the advance capitalist systems seek to extend the borders of the living (i.e., a new eugenics that enables cloning, of plants and animals, new hybrids bound to an economics of biochemical manipulation in which production means the production of the living by the living, etc.).2

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Newsflash… Ship of Fools – GlobalCorp Takeover of USA


Today US GlobalCorp opened the doors on a new day! CEO Kendrick Davis IV told Citizen Daily that a shareholder meeting would be called later in the day. GlobalCorp’s takeover of the now depleted national treasuries and the remaining bureaucracy of the old U.S. Federal buildings as of midnight July, 4th, 2020 sparked both riots and cheers among combative demonstrators and supporters of the privatization of the US Federal System.

– Flash News Report CIRCA 2020

“Senator Brandeis,” a reporter yelled. “Senator, would you give us a few parting words now that US GlobalCorp has taken full control of the United States Government.”

The old man looked down and spit into the camera: “This was none of my doing! Do you here me? I’ll have none of it.” He kicked at the reporter and pushed his way toward a waiting vehicle. But as he was entering the limousine he thought better of it and looked back into the camera, saying: “The people of the United States deserve better than this. What do you think a corporation can do that we the elected representatives could not do better?”

At that moment a young executive walked passed, turned back, piercing the old Senator’s enervated gray eyes, saying, “We can run this country like a well-oiled machine, that’s what, old man. The duopoly gridlock of your two-party system is over. Let the young professionals who know about business finally do what you could never do. You’re time is over! Greed! Stupidity! Idiocy! Politics, bah, now is the time of engineers!” The young man turned away in disgust walking up the steps of the Capital, where he like many other software designers and architects of GlobalCorp were working hard to construct a new equitable trade system for the American People. As Kendrick Davis IV CEO of the new Governance Collective told us: “The motto of US GlobalCorp is an always has been: “Efficiency, Creativity, and Exceptionalism of the Cognitariat!””

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What do we really need? – Rebellion and Resistance


Sometimes I look around me and see the pain in peoples eyes, the emptiness and fear; the desperation. Each of us watches the spectacle of the world in our own way, alone or together. Some try to understand it by walking away from it through distraction and forgetting, alcohol or music; others, gaze endlessly into the fantasy worlds of Television trying to numb themselves against the truth of their lives. Others will sit down and play video-games for hours on end: the endless repetition of aggression and death, carnage and dominion that our commercialized systems throw at us as entertainment – in the various MMO’s or First-Person Shooters, etc.. Young and old people acting our fantasies,  trying to become masters of universe in secret realms of make-believe that they could become in reality.

Others will spend years struggling through the archives of literature, philosophy, history, politics, art – all the cultural objects that the human animal has invented for itself to explain the meaningless of existence to itself, to stay the hand against the terrible truth – that there is no answer, none to be found in books, painting, cinema; nor, for that matter in the vein scribbling’s of one’s own hands upon the screen. Yet, we continue, each of us in her own way seeking answers. Academics, writers, journalists… etc. each believing that the cultural worlds will give us what we need…

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John Berryman: Henry’s Understanding


Henry’s Understanding

He was reading late, at Richard’s, down in Maine,
aged 32? Richard & Helen long in bed,
my good wife long in bed.
All I had to do was strip & get into my bed,
putting the marker in the book, & sleep,
& wake to a hot breakfast.

Off the coast was an island, P’tit Manaan,
the bluff from Richard’s lawn was almost sheer. A
chill at four o’clock. 
It only takes a few minutes to make a man.
A concentration upon now & here.
Suddenly, unlike Bach,

& horribly, unlike Bach, it occurred to me
that one night, instead of warm pajamas,
I’d take off all my clothes
& cross the damp cold lawn & down the bluff
into the terrible water & walk forever
under it out toward the island.

JOHN BERRYMAN (1914–1972)  Born in Oklahoma, the poet as a child suffered his father’s suicide, a permanent trauma. Berryman attended Columbia University and Clare College, Cambridge. He taught at Harvard, Prince ton, and finally at the University of Minnesota. Married three times, Berryman was high-strung and difficult, an alcoholic and uneasily Roman Catholic. At fifty-seven, he leaped off a Minneapolis bridge to his death. Berryman’s early poetry curiously blends W. B. Yeats and W. H. Auden, yet his own characteristic voice emerged in his Dream Songs, both very funny and wildly despairing. In 1972, he wrote his last poem, Henry’s Understanding, in the form that makes it the coda to the Dream Songs. Remembering a prophetic moment a quarter century earlier, the poet anticipates his own impending suicide “into the terrible water.”  – from Harold Bloom’s Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems

Books on The New Gilded Age: Power, Wealth, and Capitalism


Sometimes its interesting just to do a little research on current books on American Decline into obsolescence along without about everything else. What’s most amazing for me is to see hundreds of books published on the issues surround wealth, power, corruption, capitalism, etc. month by month by month that get little traction on the great populace itself. Why? Why with such open access of information have do we still accept our enslavement to an economic world-system that has proven its failure on a global systemic basis? Why do people allow the Financier, Banks, etc. to continue to rob their national treasuries, to tax, to impose Austerity world-wide, to bind nations to extreme levels of poverty and the environment to oblivion? Why? The books below explore this from Mark Twain to Russell Banks and scholars, activist, etc.:

The Gilded Age by Mark Twain

Just to remind us that history does repeat itself… and our greatest satirist will guide you through it. Nothing changes… power, wealth, stupidity…

The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age by Alan Trachtenberg

Trachtenberg gives us the beginnings of the corporate system in American culture and values during the three decades following the Civil War. Specifically, he explores how the changing forms and methods of industry affected the average American’s lifestyle and attitudes. He then demonstrates how industrial mechanization and the resulting expansion of the marketplace radically changed labor, education, domestic habits, city life, politics, and mass media.

Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction by Barry C. Lynn

Lynn’s book takes you into the New Gilded age showing us the secret history of how the Oligarchs dismantled the American System their father’s built.  It arises directly from the old antitrust tradition, and it presents us with an amazing catalogue of present-day monopolies, oligopolies and economic combinations. Its subjects are, by definition, some of the largest and most powerful organizations in the world.

John McMurtry’s  The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure

The cancer stage of capitalism is not a metaphor. It is a diagnosis of the global economic disorder as carcinogenic in all the hallmark characteristics of this disease. McMurtry offers a systematic treatment of capitalism as not merely an economic model, but how it works as a modern belief system with many of the characteristics of a religion. This masterpiece of original analysis lays bare the lethal codes that operate beneath consciousness and across academic disciplines — pre-conscious deciders that lurk behind the irrational and death-dealing economic policies that have brought our planet to the brink of world wide system collapse.

The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power by Steve Fraser

Just another narrative history about the Oligarchic nature of the American System…

The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine by Henry Giroux

Reality TV American style: Breaking apart the intellectual meltdown from within the Matrix itself…

 After Progress: Reason and Religion at the End of the Industrial Age by John Michael Greer   

Greer, the Arch-Druid, caught between romancing nature and the dark contours of a mad society whose only religion is Capitalism…

They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy by Robert Sheer     

The trace of a trace of a trace: you have vanished into your data.

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World Forward (Glenn Greenwald) Author Tom Englehardt          

Documenting the global crime of transnational cosmopolitan elites encircling the globe in a paranoiac state of total surveillance.      

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

Once more she takes up the thread of corporate corruption and the great decline of almost everything, including the earth under the global machine.

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

The story of the American Soul shifting among its ghosts, caught between violence and inanity, reason and the darkness of its insanities. If you haven’t read Banks before this is a good place to start: his pessimism or depressive realism comes through as only a master comic can tell it.

 Wages of Rebellion by Chris Hedges

Hedges a journalist has been documenting the fall of neoliberalism in America for a while now. He  educates his readers on the historical prerequisites for revolution and signs of degenerating power structures–shot through with inspiring stories, historical details, and quotes that stir blood and imagination.


Chris Hedges, Wages of Rebellion – Quote of the Day!


Government, in the hands of speculators, is a protection racket for corporations and a small group of oligarchs. And the longer we play by their rules the more impoverished and oppressed we become. Yet, like Ahab and his crew, we rationalize our collective madness. All calls for revolt, for halting the march toward economic, political, and environmental catastrophe, are ignored or ridiculed. Even with the flashing red lights before us, even with huge swaths of the country living in Depression-like conditions, we bow slavishly before the enticing illusion provided to us by our masters of limitless power, wealth, and technological prowess. The system, although it is killing us, is our religion.

The crisis before us is the culmination of a 500-year global rampage of conquering, plundering, exploiting, and polluting the earth— as well as killing by Europeans and Euro-Americans of the indigenous communities that stood in their way. The technical and scientific forces that created unparalleled luxury and unrivaled military and economic power for a small, global elite are the forces that now doom us. Ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a death sentence. But even as our economic and environmental systems unravel— thirteen of the fourteen warmest years since weather record-keeping began over a century ago have occurred in the opening years of the twenty-first century— we lack the emotional and intellectual creativity to shut down the engine of global capitalism.

– Chris Hedges,  Wages of Rebellion

Human Waste: Slums, Exclusion and the End of Capitalism

After Tomorrow

At the threshold of a new century the big question to which we, their descendants, will have to find an answer is whether the only choice open to humans is that between Big Brothers mark one and two: whether the inclusion/exclusion game is the only way in which human life in common may be conducted and the only conceivable form our shared world may take – be given – as a result.

– Zygmunt Bauman,  Wasted Lives: Modernity and Its Outcasts

Capitalism according to the neoliberal consensus is the only game in town, a global game that now pervades every aspect of the planetary socious. There is no place to hide. All one can do is enter the slums of those who have been excluded from this bright City of the Sun of Capital-Markets that seem to follow the horizon like the hounds of some lost hell.

As I said in my last post SLAVES BY CHOICE: Slavoj Žižek On The Jouissance of Servitude for Žižek the only reason for the existence of such a term as ‘communism’ today is simple: “the principle task of the twenty-first century is to politicize – organize and discipline – the ‘destructured masses’ of slum-dwellers’. Only this task today justifies the use of the term communism” (Vighi, p. 21) The marginal, the disaffected, the excluded are the Lacanian lost object in the world today, the link that capital cannot include within its dynamic logic of excess value being recaptured. Instead it merely makes this exclusion invisible within its spectacle, displaces it from the arena of its enslavement to jouissance. It allows it to fester at the margins like a jungle beast biding its time. This sense of the inclusion-exclusion dynamic and dialectic drives  Žižek’s central critique of capitalism as having more priority than the other three combined.1

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Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism

In this one Žižek sees PC as a form of oppression, as a form of self-discipline and self-control fostered by political normativity, a tool to control behavior and discipline society. As he admits the art of obscenity, comedy, breaks down the barriers between people rather than closing them off. We have always laughed at the stand-up comics of the world because of their ability to make the obscene laughable – a way of bringing people to together in solidarity rather than awakening animosity. Only in the past thirty years or so has this form of humor, obscenity, farce, satire, etc. become politically incorrect; and, instead, it now becomes a vehicle for a new form of oppression and control by those who enforce the tyranny of political correctness. In this talk he specifically uses racism as the theme. Listen to Žižek for yourself:

SLAVES BY CHOICE: Slavoj Žižek On The Jouissance of Servitude


A longing common to both the wise and the foolish, to brave men and to cowards, is this longing for all those things which, when acquired, would make them happy and contented. Yet one element appears to be lacking. I do not know how it happens that nature fails to place within the hearts of men a burning desire for liberty, a blessing so great and so desirable that when it is lost all evils follow thereafter, and even the blessings that remain lose taste and savor because of their corruption by servitude. Liberty is the only joy upon which men do not seem to insist; for surely if they really wanted it they would receive it. Apparently they refuse this wonderful privilege because it is so easily acquired.

SLAVES BY CHOICE by Estienne de La Boetie,
Written in French around 1548

Reading Estienne de La Boetie’s treatise today one realizes that even during the early era of the emergence of Capitalism men were surprised at just how easily most humans will put themselves into servitude for pleasure, comfort, and security. He would make a study of both ancient and current forms of tyranny and see the same methods used over and over again. As he would state it: “My sole aim on this occasion is to discover how it can happen that a
vast number of individuals, of towns, cities and nations can allow one
man to tyrannize them, a man who has no power except what they
themselves give him, who could do them no harm were they not willing to
suffer harm, and who could never wrong them were they not more ready to
endure it than to stand in his way.”

Boetie was even more surprised that the tyrants of which he studied were not great and powerful beasts, but for the most part cowardly hen-pecked servants themselves:

And is he a Hercules or a Samson? No, he is a solitary weakling, and usually the
most cowardly and effeminate in the land, who is unaccustomed to the
dust of battle and has hardly even set eyes on the sand of the jousting
arena, and who has no authority to issue orders to men since he is an
abject slave of some pitiful little woman!

Lo and behold, he tells them, that they could end their servitude so easily, deny him what he wants from them. How? The Great Refusal: “Now there is no need to combat this solitary tyrant, no need to defeat  him: he will be automatically defeated, provided only that the nation  refuses to accept slavery. There is no need to take anything from him: simply refuse to give him anything.” And, yet, they continue in servitude. Why? – he asks. This is impossible that men, women, and children so willingly let themselves be bound to this enslavement. Yet, they do, and willingly to boot. It’s this that brings him to his knees: that humans are enjoy their own servitude. Yes, they “enjoy” it. But how, by what method did these cowardly tyrants enslave the people? Simple, he tells us,

No bird more readily succumbs to deception, no fish snatches the bait more rapidly, than entire nations succumb to the blandishments of servitude as soon as the most transparent trick is played upon them. It is incredible how rapidly
they let themselves be taken in, provided only that someone tickles them. Theaters, games, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, tableaux and other such drugs were the bait that lured ancient nations into servitude, they were the price at which freedom was sold, they were the instruments of tyranny: these were the methods, the procedures, the allurements which ancient tyrants could use to put their people to sleep, to place them under the yoke. Thus, these foolish people, finding these pastimes enjoyable, taken in by the idle pleasures which met their gaze, became accustomed to slavery: they were as gullible as little children who are induced to read by the colorful illustrations in books — but their gullibility is culpable.

Look around you my friends, open your eyes, what do you see here in America. Yes, we are those people Estienne de La Boetie’s treatise is describing. But the tyrant is no longer some visible icon, no specific man or group of men, no; but, rather it is the tyranny of the hidden despot of the world: the Capital-Market economy as an expansive and infinite debt-machine and profit-machine, an invisible tyrant who pervades the earth, the fully developed instrument of a hidden power: Capitalism. And the system of entertainment it dangles before the masses is its great instrument of tyranny. We are so mesmerized by this grand spectacle that we willing go to the house of slaughter, give up our liberties, allow ourselves to be plugged into its insidious systems of pleasure like 24/7 masochists seeking the pure jouissance of our own dark laughter through pain and pleasure.

Slavoj Žižek in book after book, from as many angles as one can think it, through the parallax vies of each aspect of high/low cultural frames we are enclosed in has documented the truth revealed in Estienne de La Boetie’s treatise. As Fabio Vighi will tell us in his On Žižek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation:

Žižek claims that the strength and originality of capitalism as an ideological apparatus – what marks it out as a historically unique phenomenon – is that it explicitly endorses its intrinsic imbalance. Its key injunction and substance can be summed up in one word: Enjoy! This means not only that capitalist ideology compels us to enjoy commodities, but also that we want capital to keep enjoying itself through us. Thus the two forms of enjoyment merge into one, making it difficult to distinguish between the two traditional categories of Hegelo-Marxist dialectics, namely “masters” and “slaves”. (Continuum 2012, p. 17)

This sense that both masters and slaves have become indistinguishable, even if the economics of the two classes remain imbalanced, is the sign of capitalism at its most insidious: a system in which the master/slave dichotomy includes both classes in its movement of enslavement by pure jouissance: it keeps the cycle of servitude going. Our fascination with the rich and famous, Hollywood, the elite and their fashions; our immersion in sports – Football, Baseball, Basketball, etc.; our love of boating, fishing BBQ, drinking, partying, alcohol, drugs; our love of travel – the exotic worlds of the other; our immersion in video games: violent MMOs, First-Person shooters, Strategy, etc.; our enjoyment of being plugged into music, news, fashion through the array of devices that keep us connected in an Onlife (Floridi) world 24/7. All these things that keep us entranced, entrained to the rhythms of Capital, to the power of its flows and blockages. All the things that allow us to enjoy our enslavement through a joyful-pain or painful-enjoyment, our jouissance!

To update I’ll only replace a few words in the passage below:

The modern worker in McDonalds, Wal-Mart, or any number of service industry jobs are in a state of servitude, and have to do what they are told, but that is where it ends. But the courtiers of the various mediatainment systems (News anchors, journalists, academics, politicians, policy makers, bureaucracies, etc.), the cognitariat or knowledge workers (economists, engineers, scientists, public intellectuals, researchers, etc.) of a new capitalism that ingratiate themselves to its higher echelons on Wall-Street(Financiers, Bankers, etc.) and beg favors of them, and the great tyrant – the Capital-Market itself, seeing this, requires them not just to do what is asked but to think the way it wants them to and, often, to anticipate its desires. It is not enough that these people obey this thing, they must also please it in every way, they must endure hardship, torment themselves and drive themselves to the grave in carrying out its business; its pleasure must be their pleasure, its taste must be theirs, they must distort and cast off their natural disposition, they must hang on its (the Market’s) every word (flash trades, electronic walls of light, intelligence algorithms in speed-space (Virilio)), its tone of voice, its gestures, its expressions (semiotic capitalism: the signs of the master); their every faculty must be alert to catch its wishes and to discern its thoughts. Is that a happy existence? Can that be called living?

(Original passage: The farm laborer and the artisan are in a state of servitude, and have to do what they are told, but that is where it ends. But the courtiers
of a tyrant ingratiate themselves with him and beg favors of him, and
the tyrant, seeing this, requires them not just to do what he says but
to think the way he wants them to and, often, to anticipate his desires.
It is not enough that these people obey him, they must also please him
in every way, they must endure hardship, torment themselves and drive
themselves to the grave in carrying out his business; his pleasure must
be their pleasure, his taste must be theirs, they must distort and cast
off their natural disposition, they must hang on his every word, his
tone of voice, his gestures, his expression; their every faculty must be
alert to catch his wishes and to discern his thoughts. Is that a happy
existence? Can that be called living?)

One sees how the notion of sovereignty, of tyranny, of Kings, etc, still remains among us; how it has only been formalized, abstracted out of its human element, codified and decoded from its flesh and blood into the abstract machine of the Market itself. We treat the Market as if it were a ‘person’, we treat corporations as if they were persons. We allow ourselves to be enslaved to the old systems of tyranny in the name of democracy. We are not now and have never been in a democracy. The United States is a Republic: a republic is a form of government in which power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law. In modern times, the definition of a republic is commonly limited to a government which excludes a monarch. Yet, even now we must admit that the people, the poor, the destitute, and above all the middle-classes were excluded from the founders meetings that formulated this nation based as it is not on democracy but on Federalism:

In the United States, federalism originally referred to belief in a stronger central government. When the U.S. Constitution was being drafted, the Federalist Party supported a stronger central government, while “Anti-Federalists” wanted a weaker central government. This is very different from the modern usage of “federalism” in Europe and the United States. The distinction stems from the fact that “federalism” is situated in the middle of the political spectrum between a confederacy and a unitary state. The U.S. Constitution was written as a reaction to the Articles of Confederation, under which the United States was a loose confederation with a weak central government.

The Articles were replaced with the United States Constitution but Articles Four, Five and Six entrench concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments and of the states in relationship to the federal government.

One of the secrets of capitalism and its elites has been the effective staging or framing of the spectacle of this Republic Federalism. Allowing the conflicts and tensions of the Left and Right to become entertainment systems, with the actors (politicians, Moghuls, media, Hollywood assemblage, Musicians, etc.) visibly playing out the contradictions in capital as a staged event, a hyperevent of a reality that appears real rather than being real. This appearance of the appearance of reality in media keeps us attuned to the lies that pass us by in the real truth of our lived lives. Even Reality TV and the current craze for Dancing with Stars, Bachelorette, Big Brother series, America Idol etc. all these exposures of supposed real people acting as themselves in the spectacle are so much illusion of the real, pacifying spectacles of the real. All this is old hat to media critics from the Situationists to postmoderns like Buadrillard, Eco, etc. Yet, we still accept it, allow it to go on. Buy into this charade willingly. Continue to subsist in a world that is slowly melting before our eyes as if it will be alright, as if the leaders, the elites will find a way out of this quagmire: if only we agree to their plans of Austerity, ascetic feudalism and taxation, buy into the need to give them more money, more power… they’ll fix it, they’ll bring us happiness and security, jobs and lives filled with joy. Sorry to have to tell you this: no, they will  not. It’s a lie, always has been a lie, and will never not be a lie… we sold ourselves to a system of jouissance that promised us the pursuit of liberty, happiness, justice etc. blah blah blah… that has never, and will never give it to us. Instead it sucks us dry like vampires, and feeds on our sweat and blood like wolves in a bad dream.

But Žižek tells us not to worry, not to fret too much, this is all as it should be, that even Marx in Volume 3 of Das Capital would remind us as much:

This is why we should remain faithful to Marx’s fundamental insight: unbridled capitalist expansion encounters its limit not in an external factor – the available resources, etc. – but in itself: the limit of capitalism is absolutely intrinsic to it – or, as Marx himself puts it: the limit of capitalism is capital itself.  (Vighi, p. 20)

Vighi will tell us this should not be read in some progressive or evolutionary way in the sense that capitalism will move beyond itself and be replaced by other productive forces, etc.; no, this is a misreading of Marx. Instead what is meant is the notion that in our current financial capitalism there are certain contradictions that it can no longer indefinitely reproduce and continue in its present form. As Vighi will remind us the four antagonism of our era are: ecological catastrophes; the problem private property in a digital economy (property rights); biogenetic manipulation (medical, agribusiness, etc.); and, the problem of exclusion (slums, disaffected workers, unemployed, ultra-poor: the excluded…etc.). (p. 20)

For Žižek the only reason for the existence of such a term as ‘communism’ today is simple: “the principle task of the twenty-first century is to politicize – organize and discipline – the ‘destructured masses’ of slum-dwellers’. Only this task today justifies the use of the term communism” (Vighi, p. 21) The marginal, the disaffected, the excluded are the Lacanian lost object in the world today, the link that capital cannot include within its dynamic logic of excess value being recaptured. Instead it merely makes this exclusion invisible within its spectacle, displaces it from the arena of its enslavement to jouissance. It allows it to fester at the margins like a jungle beast biding its time. This sense of the inclusion-exclusion dynamic and dialectic drives  Žižek’s central critique of capitalism as have more priority than the other three combined.

Only issue we have with this is Marx himself. It is never the poor, however, who make revolutions, as understood by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who disdained the revolutionary potential of the Lumpenproletariat. Marx and Engels correctly saw the Lumpenproletariat as providing the primary fodder for the goons, militias, and thugs employed by a discredited regime to hold on to power through violence. “The ‘dangerous class,’ the social scum (Lumpenproletariat), that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”2

James Davies, in his essay “Toward a Theory of Revolution,” names the “intolerable gap between what people want and what they get” as the most important component of revolt. “The rapidly widening gap between expectations and gratifications portends revolution,” writes Davies. “The most common case for this widening gap of individual dissatisfactions is economic or social dislocation that makes the affected individual generally tense, generally frustrated. That is, the greatest portion of people who join a revolution are preoccupied with tensions related to the failure to gratify the physical (economic) needs and the needs of stable interpersonal (social) relationships.”(Hedges, pp. 3-4)

It’s this sense that the jouissance system itself is breaking down, the mediatainment empire is no longer satisfying its consumers, and is working overtime to counter this state of affairs.

However, like Marx, Engels, and Brinton, Davies adds that “socioeconomically deprived poor people are unlikely to make a successful rebellion, a revolution, by themselves.” It is rather a disenfranchised middle class and alienated members of the ruling class who orchestrate and lead a revolt. “Without the support of disaffected bourgeoisie, disaffected nobles, and disaffected intellectuals, the French Revolution might have been some kind of grand, episodic upheaval,” he notes. (Hedges, p. 4)

Will this not be true in the EU, America, or any other place on the real world? Today this key component of revolution— the gap between what people want, and indeed expect, and what they get— is being played out in the United States and many states in Europe during a new age of mounting scarcity, declining wages, joblessness, government-imposed “austerity” measures, and assaults on civil liberties. Let us be rich, the elites say, and you will share in the spoils. All you have to do is work hard, obey the rules, and believe in yourself. This myth is disseminated across the political spectrum. It is the essential message peddled by everyone from Oprah and the entertainment industry to the Christian Right and positive psychologists. But this promise, as the masses of underemployed and unemployed are discovering, is a fiction. (Hedges, p. 6)

It was Louis Auguste Blanqui who first used the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat.” 36 Blanqui’s call for a small, conspiratorial group to seize power in the name of the working class was a tactic that would be successfully employed by Lenin, who then set out to dismantle the autonomous soviets and workers’ committees. Lenin, with a handful of subordinates, carried out what became, in essence, a right-wing counterrevolution that introduced a system of repressive, centralized state capitalism and state terror. Marx never embraced Blanqui’s or Lenin’s call for a small group of disciplined revolutionaries to seize power. Marx hoped that a broad-based mass movement of industrial workers like the Chartists would organize to overthrow the capitalist order and usher in communism. The question of how to carry out a successful revolution, which occupied much of Lenin’s thought, brings with it the question of whether the ruthless tactics and a small, disciplined class of professional revolutionaries that make a revolution possible make an open society impossible. (Hedges, p. 14)

As Jehu recently said in his post Why must the organization of the proletarians be global?

So long as the needs of production consume the greater portion of the time of individuals, society is condemned to poverty and the despotism. This poverty is not simply (or even primarily) the lack of means to satisfy wants, but the lack of opportunity for self-activity and self-development. Only when directly social production appears on the stage, does it become possible for the material needs of production to be so reduced that self-activity and self-development become ends in themselves. The measure of this state of society is the free disposable time enjoyed by all members of society.

A global association of the producers, therefore, sets as its immediate aim the constant expansion of free disposable time away from labor. But the constant expansion of free disposable time is nothing but the abolition of labor, the working class itself and classes generally.

It’s this vision of the global open society beyond the labor of enslavement that lies hidden below the surface of the old totalitarianisms, at the core of their initial investment in Marxian thought that interests us. This sense of what Jehu calls the “abolition of labor, the working class itself and classes generally”. This movement of the world toward a creative joyous existence beyond the serfdom of a capitalist economy. This is not an idealist utopia either. It’s something else altogether. Why was it allowed to be hijacked by power? Why do people continue to allow themselves to be enslaved to tyrannical systems of governance, control, obedience: self-inflicted chains – to the party, market, entertainment … blah blah blah? Is it perhaps desire or death – or the pleasure-pain of their inversion and reduplication within the world we live in? – their jouissance?

And, most of all, do we follow the path of Freud-Lacan-Marx or the Marxian Schzoanalysis of Deleuze-Guattari? Oedipus or Anti-Oedipus? Representation or Non-Representation? Dialectic or Non-Dialectic materialism? Or do we return to Marx himself and look at his work with fresh eyes?

I’ll continue this line of thought in another post…

1. Fabio Vighi. On Žižek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010)
2. Hedges, Chris (2015-05-12). Wages of Rebellion (pp. 2-3). Nation Books. Kindle Edition.

Lenin On Revolution


The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions, and particularly by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: it is not enough for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses should understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes, what is required for revolution is that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. Only when the “lower classes” do not want the old way, and when the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way— only then can revolution win.

-Vladimir Lenin

Paul Virilio: The Great Accelerator – Symbol of a New Illuminati


CERN’s ‘Great Hadron Collider’ in Geneva has become the perfect symbol of a postmodern return to illumination, the illuminism of the cult of light speed for a history operating in a different time-zone from all common reality.

-Paul Virilio

Of late been reading through a back log of Paul Virilio’s books. Started on The Great Accelerator this afternoon. Never ceases to amaze me how convoluted French intellectuals can get in their jargon based writings. What could be compressed and simplified seems to stretch out into endless divigations and nested loops within loops of jargon filled linguistic algorthms all to explain what seem to me simple concepts. Let me provide an example:

Let me summarize: if the employ du tempe, the timetable, behind historical chronologies, the tripartite division past-present-future, were to completely disappear, overtaken by the accident of an overwhelmingly anachronistic instant, then the NANOTECHNOLOGIES of the futurist instantaneity would soon lead to loss of memory and abandonment of History’s credibility to the detriment of all confidence in the future. The contemporary world of the globalized Single-Market would then end in a POLAR INERTIA of unequalled atemporary passivity, an inertia of the real instant. And that inertia would, this time, totally shatter the notion of the duration and sedentary stability of planetary settlement, since the inertia of the interactive instant would soon completely outdo the fixed-property inertia of activity in the real space of humanity’s routine daily life.1

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