Blog Archive

Friday, May 25, 2012



These features aptly characterize key dimensions of today’s operating system—the political economy of today’s American capitalism. It’s important to see these features as a system, linked and mutually reinforcing. Taken together, they have given rise to an economic reality that is both colossal and largely out of control. An unquestioning society-wide commitment to economic growth at any cost; powerful corporate and banking interests whose overriding objective is to grow by generating profit, including profit from avoiding social and environmental costs; a government beholden to corporate interests and thus not strongly inclined to curb corporate abuses; and a rampant consumerism spurred endlessly on by sophisticated advertising—all these combine to deliver an ever-growing economy insensitive to the needs of people, place, and planet.”

FTA2:” The following transformations hold the key to moving to a new political economy. Consider each as a transition from today to tomorrow.

Economic growth: from growth fetish to post-growth society, from mere GDP growth to growth in human welfare and democratically determined priorities.
The market: from near laissez-faire to powerful market governance in the public interest.
The corporation: from shareholder primacy to stakeholder primacy, from one ownership and motivation model to new business models and the democratization of capital.
Money and finance: from Wall Street to Main Street, from money created through bank debt to money created by government.
Social conditions: from economic insecurity to security, from vast inequities to fundamental fairness.
Indicators: from GDP (“grossly distorted picture”) to accurate measures of social and environmental health and quality of life.
Consumerism: from consumerism and affluenza to sufficiency and mindful consumption, from more to enough.
Communities: from runaway enterprise and throwaway communities to vital local economies, from social rootlessness to rootedness and solidarity.
Dominant cultural values: from having to being, from getting to giving, from richer to better, from separate to connected, from apart from nature to part of nature, from transcendent to interdependent, from today to tomorrow.
Politics: from weak democracy to strong, from creeping corporatocracy and plutocracy to true popular sovereignty.
Foreign policy and the military: from American exceptionalism to America as a normal nation, from hard power to soft, from military prowess to real security.


In America the Possible, our dominant culture will have shifted, from today to tomorrow, in the following ways:

• from seeing humanity as something apart from nature, transcending and dominating it, to seeing ourselves as part of nature, offspring of its evolutionary process, close kin to wild things, and wholly dependent on its vitality and the finite services it provides;
• from seeing nature in strictly utilitarian terms—humanity’s resource to exploit as it sees fit for economic and other purposes—to seeing the natural world as having intrinsic value independent of people and having rights that create the duty of ecological stewardship;
• from discounting the future, focusing severely on the near term, to taking the long view and recognizing duties to future generations;
• from today’s hyperindividualism and narcissism, and the resulting social isolation, to a powerful sense of community and social solidarity reaching from the local to the cosmopolitan;
• from the glorification of violence, the acceptance of war, and the spreading of hate and invidious divisions to the total abhorrence of these things;
• from materialism and consumerism to the prioritization of personal and family relationships, learning, experiencing nature, spirituality, service, and living within limits;
• from tolerating gross economic, social, and political inequality to demanding a high measure of equality in all these spheres. “

Why the Hell Not?!
Why is this deemed an impossibility? A Utopian, Hippy-Dippy Fantasy?
As I’ve said…because WE have allowed the Worst among Our number to Dictate the Shape of Reality….to decide what is Real, what is Important, and what is Possible.
The naysayers, who will crap all over this, and other similar Manifestos, are the ones who have benefited most from the current, unsustainable, and iniquitous Paradigm…the Error.
The most vocal defenders of this Error are, when one strips away the rhetoric and posturing, Cowardly Men…bereft of Nobility, or of Honor.
A Hedge Fund, a Corporation, an LLC, a Gated Community….Modern Fortresses, all….and the biggest Fortress of all? The Lie! The Mythology peddled by these same Cowardly Men.
And whom do they Fear?
US. WE. The People.
As things Fall Apart, I expect an increase in Police, especially the Militarised variety, and an increase in surveillance, more draconian laws to further Fence Us in…
As more of US awaken to the Failure of the current Paradigm…and realize that it is NOT set in stone, that it is NOT handed down, from God, that it is , instead, the product of Human Minds…in other words, as more folks stop Believing, implicitly, in the Machine, things will change.
The Question is, what will We believe in, as a Replacement?
Will the Machine foist upon us a New Mythos? Undoubtedly. But WE have the Choice of whether to Believe it, or Not.
It’s high time that Humankind Grew Up!
We have been stuck in Adolescence for 500 years…take an Honest look at the systems and structures and Beliefs operant, today.
Who are the Utopians?!
WE must insist on Adulthood. The Teenage Boys who run the show, must be put into their place.

Arise, Humans!

Occupy Earth.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unfinished Climb, the Ditch of Enlightenment

We’re not done.

We thought we were…we were encouraged to think so, by those who would have an End to such Leveling; Such a Challenge, to unearned Privilege, Wealth and Power.
It’s not only the Fault of the NeoAristocracy…We(capitalised), Abdicated….We left the Field, to pursue more Mundane things…We halted the Climb, of Education(falling into Specialism), towards the Ideal of “Every Man, a King”…

My 10 yr old asks,”what’s the Cold War?”

How does one answer this?
With the saccharin Mythos, of Commie East vs Capitalist West?
With the simplistic story of competing Ideologies, which were, in reality, merely different means to the same end?(Total State)
Or, does one attempt to Define Terms, as Honestly and Realistically, as is possible? To tell the Tale, shorn of it’s Black and White Polemics?

(from Wiki:Anticommunism:”
Many capitalist critics[who?] see a key error in communist economic theory, which predicts that in capitalist societies, the bourgeoisie will accumulate ever-increasing capital and wealth, while the lower classes become more dependent on the ruling class for survival, selling their labor power for the most minimal of salaries, blaming the effect on capitalism. Anti-communists[who?] point to the overall rise in the average standard of living in the non-communist West and claim that both the rich and poor have steadily gotten richer.”)

How does one refute this, when the Language has become meaningless? The assumption, so widespread as to be an Article of Faith, is that We, in the US, are “Capitalist”….as God intended.
….and that our “Capitalism” defeated the evil Commies, by “Winning” the Cold War.
It appears to me, after studying the matter, that We haven’t been Capitalist, in the Adam Smith sense, in 70 years,or more…that , instead, we have been increasingly under some New Thing, wrapped in the trappings of the Popular Conception of “Capitalism”, while building something quite different. And, as for “Winning”…the USSR appears to have collapsed, of it’s own accord, despite the belligerence and posturing of St. Ron.

What happened, after WW2, that could account for this change, from something that at least resembled Smithian Capitalism?
I told my kid, that the Cold War was a Cover, for a War on Us…on We the People…it was a Stealthy War…fought in our minds, and never openly declared(the Cowards!)
What the Aggressors in this War were after was a New Feudalism….an End to the Enlightenment Project… of which both Capitalism and Socialism ,and Communism, were a product. They wanted to Freeze Time, and curb the Brush Fires in the Minds of the People. Unions, Fair Wages, Democratic Government, and the like.

What we have today is something different than what we believe we have.
Ask a person on the street to define, “Capitalism”, “Socialism”, “Communism”, “Fascism”…and ya get a bundle of Bumper Stickers.
No one knows, and worse…no one knows that they Do Not Know…on the contrary, they are quite Certain that they Do have a good grasp of what these words mean. Making Rational Discourse, Dialog, Impossible.
It is like a case study on effective Propaganda.
I assert that both endeavors, the so called “Communist East”(USSR,China, etc), and the so called “Capitalist West” are failures(the latter failure is still in process). Neither of them have any relation, in their actual function, systems and results…with the Names on the Flags, as it were. There was very little of Marx in the Commie East…and there’s very little Smith (or even Keynes,Mises, et al) in the West.

The effect of our version of “Capitalism”, is looking a whole lot like the effects of “Their Version” of “Communism”.
Look around, look at the Panopticon, the Drug War the “War on Terror”…all of it is consistent with the barrage of Propaganda, warning us all about the Evils of Communism.
Look at Captain America, Iron Man, etc…the caricatures of Evil, Incarnate that they fought, on behalf of Freedom and the American Way…

It’s Identical…the imagery, the Rhetoric…about the “Need” for such activity; I’ll go one further, it’s functionally Identical to the Propaganda pushed by everyone from the Nazi’s to the Khmer Rouge.Were these all “Communists”? Or is there some other Facet we should be concentrating on.

(Right/Left, Dominator/Cooperator,Authoritarian/Egalitarian,etc)?
It is almost impossible to have this conversation, in America, today.
Too quickly we fall into predictable tracks, of “Thought” and Rhetoric…
Indeed, for all of my life, and that of my parents, real, two-way, Dialog…in the Socratic Sense…has been all but verboten…
Somehow, Unions, and even Democracy, have been equated to Death Camps, Goose Stepping, Widespread Spying….the whole panoply of Totalitarianism…
This is the Mind Fuck I keep talking about…for all of the Evils, for which We were told to FEAR the East…We have allowed to be visited on Ourselves…under Color of Freedom.
It’ll take time to get all this across, to my Boys…I’m reluctant to talk, Honestly, even about the Drug War(ie Legalize It!)…for fear that tongues will slip, or that they will talk to the Friendly Police Officer, who visits them every year.(Echoes of Stasi)
I’m Reluctant, but I still have that conversation with them. To avoid it out of Fear would be Criminal.
I have seen the “History” Textbooks, that the High School uses.
You’d think that the Republicans have saved Civilisation, numerous times, from people a lot like Me…Dear Old Dad…

I have my work cut out for me.

Consider this, from the Wiki for “Communist Manifesto”: “
This section further explains that the proletarians will eventually rise to power through class struggle: the bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat for its manual labour and cheap wages, ultimately to create profit for the bourgeois; the proletariat rise to power through revolution against the bourgeoisie such as riots or creation of unions.
Wonderful(and it’s consistent with my understanding of the Manifesto, itself…I happen to be well into a Wiki Wander)
So “Communism” is a Threat, a Challenge… to the “Bourgeoisie”…isn’t that the whole Point?

Unless that Perfect World suddenly manifests, where the Rich have a care for the Poor, and restrain their Dictatorial Tendencies…until all Men are Vituous…Until then, it seems to me that the Bourgeoisie should be asked to defend themselves…they require a Rival, so that they may be held back from what appears to be the end of their unmolested trajectory…an amalgam of all conceivable Dystopias.(…that we get closer to every day, Look at the News).

Instead, Considered Opposition to Corporate Monopoly “Capitalism” has been severely circumscribed…often by self-censorship on the part of those who would counter the Ruling Paradigm. There’s a whole world of Thought, which cannot be used, lest one be tagged a “Commie”…and now that they’re all the same thing,lol…a Socialist and Fascist, as well.
”Liberal”, as epithet.
The false equivalencies run deep. “Capitalism”, somehow, is now the same thing as Corporate Monopoly “Capitalism”….even the Libertarian Party has gone this way, starting during the last half of the Bush Darkness. And, if one took a stand against Corporations, one could not be a “Capitalist”, and was, thus, Evil…and the whole list of epithets I stated , above.
As I’ve said before…I don’t consider myself a Marxist. I appreciate his Ideas…and I think his predictions, regarding the progression of “Capitalism” to be remarkably Prescient. His “Cure” for such things…well I have a lot of problems with.
That’s really the Point I’m trying to make in this Meander…we can’t talk about economics, or politics, or anything of substance, because of all the Mythology and the Rush to Label, the Corruption of Language and the overall dumbing down.
So we’re stuck in this Paradigm, because not enough of us can agree on definitions, to conceive of anything But This Paradigm…No Exit from the train.
Is this how Ammianus Marcellinus felt? Or any number of his contemporaries?


I’ve lately included Ivanhoe to the little pile of Books In Progress, that I keep by the bed. Behind the rambling Hanoverian English, and the prejudices Scott was known to harbour…it’s made me think about Feudalism, Manorialism…the System that the Enlightenment Project overcame.
It’s also brought me back to the idea of a continuity of Struggle…between Power and Privilege, and the Little People, the “teeming masses, yearning to be Free…”.
Viewed through a suitable Historical Telescope, from a far enough distance, all of Human History is the story of this Struggle…
The First Farmers led to the First Village, which led to the First City…and somewhere, along in there, was the First Priest, who got together with the First Strongman…and sought Power and Privilege, over the rest.
It is the same struggle, we face today.

The Names of the Combatants have changed, as well as the Names, and Perceptions and Understandings, of what, exactly, was being fought over…
Progress, indeed, has been made, over the last 500 years, or so…towards a more Liberal World…incrementally…
But the Struggle continues, and the Progress is accompanied by Confusion, purposefully expounded by those who wish to undo the Progress.
Or is it Purposeful? Is there a Unified Effort to counter the Enlightenment? Or do those who so counter it believe that what they do is Good and Just? Even, in the height of Irony, to be a Continuation of Enlightenment? Such is the nature of History’s Unfolding…Confusion, not only of Belief, but of Purpose….as in the example of Napoleon, bringing Enlightenment, at the point of the Sword…
(The late Steve Kangas informs me on much of recent history…( )...especially, “On the Origins of the Overclass”,essential reading.)

(From Kangas’ Quote Pages: "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
-- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations)

(See: ( and, especially(!) ( )

(it’s no wonder, at all, that he was “Suicided”.)


The Overclass…the Machine….

It is instructive that to talk about “Class”, along with many other “Marxist” Tropes, is all but Forbidden.We are, it is insisted with Fervor, a “Classless Society”….
In my time as an “EZGO Repairman”, traveling to Golf Courses all over Texas, I heard such sentiments in the Clubhouses, where I would go to call for more parts, and the like….uttered by old white men, with soft hands and baby aspirin-colored shorts, looking askance at the filthy, Working Class Hippie, intruding on their Preserve.(an aside, I was the one who was pressed into this Invasion, because I was 1. White(the Mexicans among my crew were explicitly forbidden entry), and 2. In possession of sufficient Stones.(which the Crewleader was not))

These wealthy Parasites had the nerve, and blindness to assert their Classlessness…Cigar Smoke, and Glennfiddich, neat…notwithstanding!

Rugged, Hyperindividualism! Self-Made-Men, every one of them…Yet, how many were then receiving Social Security, Medicare, and Generous Pensions? How many enjoyed Profits from “Investments”, protected by Law? Who did they call, when the line was busy, and I had to hang around for 15 minutes in their Sacred Enclave? The Police, bought and paid for by Me, no less than Them….(!)

(This really happened, in the Woodlands)

These same Self-Regarding Apes routinely launched barrages of golf balls, into our out of the way work areas…We routinely complained to the Management of the various Courses, to no avail…Boys will be Boys…It’s all in good fun, this rain of small white projectiles…
(This really happened, as well…almost everywhere we went)

Turns out, despite the moratorium on such language, that there is, indeed, Class in America…
At that time, in the early 90’s, there was still a functioning, and sizeable, Middle Class…since 2000, that Middle Class has shrunk, by every objective measure, falling downwards, on the Class Scale, swelling the Lower Class. The Mythos of Lazy, Drug Addicted Po Folks shouldn’t by all rights be effective, any more…since so many of the Nouveau Poor should see it’s falsehood, by now…having so recently experienced, First Hand, such rapid decline.
But 40 years of Propaganda, of Mind Fuck, has been remarkably Effective, in, among other accomplishments, instituting an Habitual Blindness to Objective Reality, in Americans; as well as an Easy Forgetfulness.
When I blame all of this on “The Right”, I am using my own Terminology…and I’m not just talking about Republicans, although they are most Guilty. Plenty…hell! The Majority…of Democrats fall under this Definition, this Taxonomy…I think of Nimrod;”

Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi!

. The Confusion of Tongues! He could be our Patron Saint…
(I’m experiencing a confusion of font size)

What a World we have allowed to be constructed around us, while we were busy with Careers, and Ball Games, and other endeavors(like going into Debt, so as to make up for our lost wages). We let them replace Reality, with Surreality. We , many of us, supported this, believing them when they told us,” you will be fine, it is those Other, Lesser Folks who will , Rightly, Pay”…

My Oldest Son, and I, are watching “Gandhi”, with Ben Kingsley…necessarily over several nights(he’s 10). He now Understands my use of the syllogism, Garden as (Charkha) …as a Stick in the Eye of those who would Rule us, with scarcity.

Hydraulic Despotism, again…one of my very favorite concepts…it, along with Pharaonic System, accurately describes what We endure, today…Various Despotic Tentacles of the Machine, sit astride the Supply Lines.
I ask my son,”When there are so many Folks without Jobs, or without Good Jobs, in Mason…so much Poverty…why does Toilet Paper come from somewhere else? Why is it made by a few Corporations, instead of by our Friends and Neighbors, thereby reducing their penury?”
This is, of course, somewhat allegorical…but I believe it certainly Fits.(see: (

One must dig around to find specifics, like where, exactly, TP is made. The Odious Kochs Brothers enjoy a large “Market Share” )


The Rugged Individual…
Recently, some Liberal Videographer(I first saw this on the Daily Show, I think) made a “commercial”, tongue in cheekily advocating Somalia as a Randian Paradise. In other words, the Tea People’s stated desire for No Government, Social Darwinism, Every Man for Himself, already exists….in the war torn, governmentless Horn of Africa…where Piracy and Warlordism are Upwardly Mobile Career Choices. Sweet Freedom!
I have used this trope, in arguing with “Conservative” Trolls, and even with a few good friends, who have, despite my efforts, fallen for the whole enchilada of Right Wing Myth(Welfare Queens, etc). To a man, they have Scoffed at such assertions…without ever getting around to Refuting them. Being of the habit of mind to challenge assertions, even when I am the asserter(!), I have tried to Refute this, in their stead…unsuccessfully. I cannot think of a single reason why Somalia isn’t the End(of) State to which all the Deregulation, Drowning in a Bathtub is leading. Is that not the Stated Goal?
Isn’t an End to Government what they want?


Confusion of Tongues, again…and Orwell must be referenced, here…( …Cognitive Dissonance, as the Normal State of Affairs…especially on the Right.
Real Liberals(Ha) at least Try to make sense with themselves.

The Right believes all manner of Contradictory, Mutually Negating Nonsense…so much, that it is almost Impossible to have a Reasoned Discussion with them. This Dissonance can be found in almost every Article of Faith held by the Right.

(For an interesting discussion of Rightist Psychology, and Pathology, see” ( )


The Only thing, that We have on our side, is our Number…(h”We are Many, They are Few”))

As I’ve said, the Enlightenment contained it’s own defeat…as it inherited, from what came before, a tendency to bifurcate, into Manichean Black and White…into Opposing Extremities…all of Human Endeavor. This Idea, which also contains an element of Certainty, the Enemy of Thought, is expressed in the Focus on Orthodoxy…that is, “Right Thought”…irregardless of Orthopraxis,or “Right Actions”…
So similar is our current time, in this regard, to all the long Darkness that came before, it is a Testament to Diseducation, that We miss it so completely.
The Orthodoxy of our Age, is “Capitalism”….and to Question it(an Essential part of Enlightenment!), is a Sin.
12th Century Europe could produce no better example….and, as then, the Counterweight to the Triumphant Belief, was Orthopraxis…in that Age, Chivalry, Romance…the Canon of the Troubadour. (see:Joseph Campbell, Jesse Weston,and the Source Material, from Wulfram to Malory)

The Sacred Feminine, asserting Herself, once more…in the face of overwhelming Hypermasculinity, “Believe, or Burn”…She comes, San Graal in hand. Occupy….the People, themselves….are the embodiment of this Counterweight. Caring, subverts Domination.
Love conquers Hatred.
And, growing ever louder, Community outweighs Hyperindividualism.

The last half of the 20th Century saw the Rise to Extreme Height, this Hyperindividualism…glimpses, everywhere…the demise of Front Porch, in favor of “Private” Backyard….Cars, with one Person,;in lieu of Trains. A growing Fear, if not Hatred, of one’s Countrymen…shattered polity, factions, warring Parties.
All of this, to give ethical cover to the self-righteous, self-regarding “Overmen”, at the Top of the Pile….deluding themselves with Fantasies of Self. Dog-Eat-Dog. Wanton Competition, for Competition’s Sake!

“I got mine…Burn the Ladder beneath ME!”

….and the Sacred Feminine, relegated to the Kitchen…or the Whorehouse.

We are left with Emptiness, among Abundance. Individuality rendered Meaningless by lack of Connection. Isolated Kings, Ruling Islands with no one on them…

We are all Amfortas, now….wounded, castrated, powerless…the Land, suffering as a result of our Infirmity. Where is the Holy Fool?
Who shall ask the Healing Question? “Uncle, what ails thee?”

Our Grall, tarnished and bereft of it’s former Luster….who shall ask of it…”How do I Serve Thee?”…whereby the Land is Healed?

Divine Right, as Justification for Authoritarian Rule, is now Transmuted into an insistence that Economics is a Science…just like Biology…
…That there are Laws of Nature at work, keeping our Petty Little Kings atop their “Sad Little Hills.”
What about the Rest of Us?

What about Our promised Kingdoms?...all of the “Knowledge Jobs”, that the “New Economy” promised us, in return for the Pharaohs’ reckless and wholesale export of Our Old Jobs; all the Labour Arbitrage, the Inflationary Meddling, and the Stagnant Wages?
What about the Golden Age of Globalism, still being incessantly preached by our Post Modern Jesuits, flowing out of the Chicago School’s Walnut Paneled corridors?
I want my Limousine! Just like Mr Friedman.
We have tried the Ditch, on the Right Side of our collective highway.
The Drivers, hopped up on Meth, have insisted that this is Necessary, lest we careen all the way across the (perfectly serviceable) Road, into that Other Ditch, where “State Communism” goes to Wallow in it’s own version of Excess. There are Only the Ditches, you see…

The Road, itself, let alone either Shoulder, is left Empty.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

“Come back , into the Cave” Unpacking Coveyism.

Where do I begin?

I’ve been reading Covey’s “Seven Habits…”, which certain elements at he local Public School seem to view as a Panacea….a cure for all of our societal and economic ills.

When you get right to it, there’s hardly any There, there…very little substance to turn one’s critical eye upon. What substance there is, is cloaked…hidden behind Testimonials, from happy CEO’s, Teachers and Parents…(approximately 70% of the book is praise for the “Program”, which the book is purportedly about)…behind this Testimonial Wall, is much Happy Talk…Magical Thinking.

It’s “The Secret”, or “The Power of Positive Thinking”, as a model for Education.

At the foundation, appears to be an Assumption of Limitless Growth.
The New World of Endless Opportunity, brought to you by Globalism, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce(whose dour assessment of the state of education, from the late 80’s, is referenced many times) and various political appointees and Public Figures from the Reagan Administration. Morning in America,2.0.

It Sounds Great!

The Sky’s the Limit….everyone can be successful!

Too bad, that Reality disagrees.

There are no Cornucopias, and to Assume, as a Foundational Belief about the Real World, that there is, is Folly…the same Folly, the same Error in Judgment, that brought us the last 35 years of Dwindling Standards of Living. Nowhere is it acknowledged that “Globalism” is where all the Jobs went…with too few of the Promised “Knowledge”, Service Jobs to replace them. Nowhere is it admitted, that the benefits of Globalism, accrued to the Very Rich…while all of us’n’s were left to eke out a living by doing each other’s laundry…and going into Debt.

We are to continue to Ignore the harsh realities, turn, once again, to the Wall of the Cave, and Dream, Dammit!

….which leads us to another Foundational, Unexamined Assumption, contained in this work: it’s all your fault!
Ignore the Poisoned Water, Little Fish.

Ignore the Pond, in which you swim…if you cannot “make it”, it’s all on you.

We’ve heard this, before…many times.

It’s Blame the Victim…in this case, Blame the victim of Labour Arbitrage, of “Free Trade” Agreements…the Victim of Tax and Regulatory Policies that have Eviscerated the Working Class…

An Anodyne for the Proletariat. Soma.
Drink this Kool Aid, you’ll Feel better.

I realize, that to many, if not most, of my Countrymen, my Critique of such things is dour…Depressing. How utterly Hopeless it seems , next to such Unmitigated HyperOptimism.

I readily admit this.

However, I fail to see how Ignoring Reality, no matter how Dire and Ugly, will help us Rise Up to meet that Reality.

Reality is where Mr Covey, and his Missionaria Protectiva, falls flat.

Instead of Feel Good, “Abundance Mentality”, we must remove the Blinders, look at the World as IT IS…not how we Wish it Could Be.
This Mythos…this Reworked and Repackaged Denial of Reality, is why we are in the Mess we find ourselves in, today.

The One portion of Mr Covey’s work that I agree with, is our failure to “Teach Character”…our utter Lack of Integrity, as a Culture.

What I disagree with is the How.

We enjoy almost 4000 years worth of Philosophy.

In this Information Age, it is all but Free for the Taking.

I note that Philosophy, let alone Ethics, seems to be Missing, from our Public School Curricula.

Indeed, these days, it is difficult to Teach Science, in school…how many “Biology Teachers” do not “Believe” in Natural Selection?

I know of at least One, right here.

Instead of a choice, between my Realism, Depressing and Sad….and Mr Covey’s Sky’s the Limit Fantasy….well…let’s just say I’m Open to Discuss all of this.

Reason dictates that we should Examine the World, not as we Hope it is, but as we Find it….and that we should, once armed with a Rational Framework, endeavor to do what we can, to mitigate the negative aspects of that World.

Our Hope lies in Relocalisation…in Decentralisation…the Democratisation…of Everything…Every aspect of our Lives.
Placed next to Hyperoptimism and Happy Talk, this may seem Depressing…I see it as an Opportunity.

It is an Opportunity to set about rebuilding America, starting at our doorstep.

We must learn to Do For Ourselves, and for Each Other.

Someone must make the Toilet Paper, however Unglamorous that Job is.

Someone must Grow the Food.

Produce the Energy….on and on…

For too long, we have relied on the Corporate Vampires of Monopoly Capitalism…and their Teeming Hordes of Third World Labour, to do for us.

Mr Covey talks a lot about “Integrity”, without defining it.

Integrity lies at the root of what I’m talking about.

Let us take care of ourselves…and each other.

And Step Out of the Cave.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guru Ed.(Hari Krishna, Hari, Hari Krishna)

( a letter, regarding the FranklinCovey, "Leader in Me" sales pitch, from a meeting at the local school)

I attended the first part of the meeting, last night.(my body rebelled, Painfully, at the tiny, uncomfortable chairs). What I saw, and what I heard from folks who stayed till the end, was an emotional appeal…to jump on a wagon, without much thought, or actual substantive information, in order to “Save” what, by many criteria, does not need saving.
The lampshade beside my bed has a little pin that says that Mason ISD is a “Blue Ribbon” school. It would appear that our Teachers and Staff, and Students, do quite well, given our meager resources.

I assert that this Coveyism is part of a larger, Crusading Movement.
It fits onto the end of the whole “No Child Left Behind”, Standarisation, Budget Shenanigans Campaign…to, first, eviscerate the support, both budgetary, as well as functionally, for Public Education. When these stealth measures have their effect, and the schools are in bad shape, in rides the Education Corporations on a white horse of “Reform”, to save us from ourselves.
This has been operant in many areas of Public Life, for some time.
(Think Post Office, where Congress forced impossible rules and budgetary proscriptions, and then marveled at the “failure”, while hammering away at the supposed “answer”: “Privatisation”!)

Mr Osbourne(spelling?), the Corporate Guru’s Missionary, last night…offered slogans and , essentially, Bumperstickers, as a “solution” to a non-existent “Problem”(Failing Schools) .
He said, near the beginning, that “…if you’ve worked at Walmart, you sort of know what I’m talking about…”(I’m paraphrasing, from memory). What he is, apparently, referring to, is the widespread practice, in many large, “Corporate Cultures”, of beginning the day with Pep Rallies…essentially, to make the Cogs feel good about being Cogs.
Fine and well…
This is Corn Syrup, for the Soul.
I note that, in doing a Google Search for “seven steps….Criticism”, aside from ONE link from the Seminary school at the University of Alberta, one has to go on down to the 30th page(!) of Google returns, before you get to any substantial Critique of this “Program”. This gives me pause, being naturally skeptical…Google is manipulatable. Given enough Money/True Believers, one can get just about anything to the top of a search.(see: Santorum’s “Google Problem”)
Since there seems to be a substantial coterie of Support for this, at school, and in the community, at large…I will endeavor to read the book.(In the height of Irony, I won it in the door prize drawing.)
I will then report back my findings.
My first impression, after listening for an hour, and doing a comprehensive search of all available material (there is much behind a “pay-wall”)…is that we, in Mason, can do much better than this. Indeed, we already have done much better than this.
The School Library is getting rid of Plato, who sits at the very Foundations of Western Civilisation…and we are being asked to pay for this Corporate Maharishi’s Program.

(when asked about the Price, Mr. Osbourne said,” we’re not to that stage, yet”.)

Want to “Improve Student Performance”? Treat them with Respect, Give them the Unvarnished Truth, and, above all, endeavor to Teach them How to Think.
Want to “Improve Teacher Morale”? Value their Input, Treat them with Respect, and, for God’s sake, Pay Them Well. Remove the Sword of Possible Pink Slips, now hanging over their heads. When contemplating Raises, Bonuses, and the like…don’t forget the Aides, without whom the school ceases to Function.

Caveat Emptor,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Musings on Mother's Day

My first Son was born 2 months after I closed my Café.
It was the prudent thing to do, stop throwing good money after bad…the country had changed so much, after 9-11. “Foreign Food” was now, somehow, unpatriotic. Especially French Food.(They didn’t support our Imperial Adventures)

I tried to “keep things going”…scaling back, moving back into the Mobile Kitchen…but it just wasn’t working. Not after having a Gourmet Restaurant.
Mom and stepdad tried to watch the baby, after his Momma’s leave ended(one month)…Many times, I had him with me, in the trailer/kitchen…Then a position opened…being the nursing aide for my Great Grandma, who was living with my Mom. I was free to stay home with the kid…and be on call 24/7 for Nanny….and for my Mom….and for the Farm.
When he was 2, a (it turns out) Crazy, Right Wing…former single mom…with oodles of cash, and delusions of management skills…sought me out, and hired me to run her little café.
It was 2 years(almost) of disaster, punctuated by Gourmet Victories…I shone, when I wasn’t fighting with management, over integrity and quality, and the drunk other chef, who for some reason, was not subject to my lead(I was “Kitchen Manager”, which in other parts of the world, translates as “Chef de Cuisine”).

I quit twice, due to Bosslady’s crazy. I saw the inevitable sinking of that ship….and wanted no part of her hard headed,headlong encounter with Iceberg.
I was blamed for the Café’s demise, of course.
This Good Upstanding, Rich Republican Woman had no qualms about lying through her teeth, when it suited her purpose.
Thus began my Retreat.
I held a few more jobs…more than 40 miles away, mostly….
This coincided with my Legs finally disintegrating…and gasoline making it’s rapid climb.
It was harder and harder…and much more Painful…every day…to do the Job I had done for so long, and the pay didn’t cover the gas, let alone make my rime spent worthwhile.(simple cost/benefit analysis)
My wife, and I decided that…well…someone needed to stay home with the kid….and her job, at the school, both made more $$$, and was certainly more stable than foodservice. This was the early middle of the Bush Darkness, after all. The local economy had already entered near Depression.
I entered partial Retirement. I kept a weekend cooking job…until I couldn’t do even those 2 nights per week. Nanny had died(RIP), so that source of income was gone(RIP). I had debts from the Café…creditors calling all the time, who wouldn’t take eggs or green beans…

Not only was I so very Painful all the time, but there were no jobs, any more…out here, in the Wilderness.
I tried the supermarket…Produce manager…for a month…could not do the work(akin to hauling hay)…and my integrity took a blow, as there was Nothing I could do to improve on the shitty fruits and vegetables on offer, there.

At about this time, we were pregnant with my second Son…We decided, screw it! I would be Momma.

I raised those boys. I changed diapers, the whole bit. All the Housewifely Duties were mine.

It was very educational…on many levels.
Gender Roles…the way our civilization treats,1 Mommas,2 Children,3 Husbands who don’t work, but instead take care of the kids. And 4, Cripples.

I applied for Disability, when my Doctor told me to.
( that odyssey is covered elsewhere)

The distrust, the derision…the snickering, and the default opinions of all the hypermasculine drunkards, doing their rooster dance…I was considered Effete…Lazy(do the work, before you pass judgment. Housewifery is woefully underpaid) …this period was, sadly, a low point in my life. My psychology took a major blow, and I receded into Hermithood…agoraphobia, panic attacks, a sense of worthlessness, over my failed business, and my inability to earn bacon…and my increasing immobility, and Pain.
I have learned, first hand, how little our Civilisation cares for the weak, the sick, the Female, the worker, and…most of all… the Children…especially once their Born, and are actually Persons.
On Mother’s Day, this is what I think about…this whole morass of issues, all tied together…whose symbol is Mom….everything Mom stands for.
Nurture. Nature. Caring. Helping.
Our utter Failure in this area of Human Life, I lay at the feet of the Right Wing of American Politics…how heartless they have made us.

The recent War on Women, is just a belated effort by Democrats, to call attention(for self serving electoral reasons) to an actual War that has been going on, quite one sidedly, for a Generation….or more.(like, the whole History of “Civilisation”?)
All of the Mother’s Purview. Health and Welfare, and caring for one another. Compassion. Love.
These have been given No, Zero, “Market Value”….they are Worthless Things. All of the lip flapping doesn’t hide this horrible fact.

The Underlying Hatred of Humanity is ignored…but it is there.
I have seen it. Felt it.

This is the Civilisation we have allowed to be constructed.

Is this, really, the sort of Civilisation we want?

Do the economists, myopically buried in their ledgers, masturbating to hypothetical Randian, Freidmanite Fantasies….do they really deserve such power over our daily lives?
Are Selfishness and Greed our Highest Virtues?

Must Everything have a pricetag?

And the Politicians! On the one side, cowards, refusing to stand up to this onslaught…or, if they’re Blue Dogs, saying they Care, while doing the opposite.
On the other side…Hatred of Life, while carrying a flag, and pretending to be “Pro Life”. Is this posturing for Avarice still fooling so many?

Is this the best we can do?

Go ask your Mom…

Saturday, May 12, 2012


In America, in the late 20th, and early 21st Centuries, one is not supposed to talk about the workings of one’s Mind. I was never told this, outright…it was, rather, Gleaned from reactions of peers and others…and inferred, from the overall Antiintellectualism that defined the educational and political milieu of this period.(Mrs Dorris’ admonition to “sit down and shut up” mentioned elsewhere,
Since it has become my Policy to eschew the opinions of the Mundane, I’ll have a whack.
I have been blessed with a Mind. It seems to work quite well…always has…and I find myself amazed, sometimes, with what it contains…and how these elements present themselves, in the process of Thinking.(Thinking, as an Activity)
In a Facebook discussion, I was made aware of this…and had some insight as to how my own particular Thought Process came about.
I learned to read, by the time I was 3. I don’t remember Not Being Literate. (That it feels uncomfortable to talk about this is evidence of the Antiintellectualism I was referring to,lol)
The subject was the word, “Ratio”, and it’s various meanings.
I knew that it was Latin , for “Reason”….and a mathematical Construct, dealing with Proportion…but I looked it up, anyway.
Wiki…and Cross-References…and my Habitual Weakness to getting Lost in them…”Ratio=>Ratio Decidendi=>Obiter Dicta=> Santa Clara Country vs Southern Pacific Railroad=> Corporate Personhood”, and away, we go…
When I was 7-8, my folks let an Encyclopedia Salesman into the house. Soon, I had the Deluxe Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica(approximately 900#’s of Books!)…consisting of a complete set of “Micro-Paedia”, covering Specifics…and a “Macro-Paedia”, involved in more Broad and Deep Knowledge. There were also a 3 volume Dictionary, with a 7 Language Dictionary, and a whole set of American Experience…all the way up to Jimmy Carter. All of these were Cross Referenced(E.G.) to each other… add in my Mom’s prized Dictionary, and it was like a Pre Internet. I spent hours and days reading this material…wandering around in C.F.’s and E.G.’s…
It became Habit…and a Habit of Mind.
Add another layer to this…I can’t find, with a cursory search, a name for the specific thing…just a cloud, of sorts, around it: Eidetic Memory,”Exceptional Memory”,”Savantism”, etc…It’s similar to these things, containing parts of them, but not enough, to where any of these terms quite Fit.

I remember everything I’ve ever read.

It is not always Conscious, but it is there when I need it.
Some Stimulus…a conversation(meatspace or virtual), a TV program, a book, whatever…and some word or phrase or idea elicits a Hole in the Film of Consciousness, through which Information bubbles up.
Napoleon described his Thought Process as a Bureau, with many Drawers.

Mine is more like a Pond, I guess….of unknown dimensions.

I am Amazed, and Humbled by this.
It is further confirmation…that I feel it necessary to deny that this is an example of some masturbatory “Lording-It-Over”, some self gratifying “Tooting My Own Horn”.
It is not.
…and it says Volumes, that our “culture” is so averse to such rumination.
It’s taken years, and is an ongoing struggle, to get my Wife past this…
To understand that, just because I have this quality, and can’t help but Use it, does not mean that I’m using it as a Weapon, against the whole world; that it is just “how I am”…and should be taken in that light.
Instead, it appears to me that this Aversion, this Dislike of Smart Folks actually deigning to Use their Gifts, is a function of Low Self Esteem, Collectively.It seems to be encouraged, at least tacitly, by our current Political Landscape(Right Wing-ism,lol)
My Wife continually belittles and negates her own Quality of Mind, her own Abilities.
It would seem that most folks do.
Contrary to my Ability, my Pond, being a Weapon , with which to Bludgeon all those with Smaller Ponds, it is , instead, a source of Joy…Bliss, almost.
It Feels Good. I get real excited when I begin a research Frenzy, a Cross-Reference Meander, a Cognitive Tangential Roam.

I think these things are Important to talk about.
Such Habits of Mind can Likely be Taught…and Learned.
Such wide ranging Curiosity about the Universe, can be Encouraged and Promulgated…
…and the World would be Better , for it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Economic Ramble/Rehabilitating Marxist Critique

First, a little quote, from Wiki-Answers:

” Marx felt that capitalism through industrialization had increased the productive capability of the world's economy far beyond that ever witnessed before. Never the less, he also felt that capitalism created two competing classes of people. One, was the bourgeoisie who owned and controlled the means of production and hired wage laborers. The other was the proletariat, who were common workers who owned nothing but the right to sell their own labor. Capitalism's very nature would ensure that eventually, these classes would struggle against one another to the point where the class of workers would get large enough and oppressed enough that it would overthrow the bourgeoisie, seize the means of production from it and end the economic system known as capitalism. The system of socialism would be ushered in and gradually evolve into pure communism.”

So far, so good.
Where I part company with Karl is in his version of that Enlightenment Universalisation…All, or Nothing. Reading, and(hopefully) understanding Marx, does not indicate Total Agreement with All of His Ideas.And reining in Corporate Capitalism does not require an abandonment of Capitalism.
The Value of Marx…and the reason he is Verboten in the US…is in his critique of “Capitalism”….in this, he was prescient…spot on.
He said that Capitalism leads to Monopoly, which is akin to Feudalism, rebooted.
Adam Smith, of course, said much the same thing…but this is conveniently ignored.
Instead of allowing this critique, the PTB all but outlawed any critique.
So Marx’s Vision played out, just the way he said it would.
Giant Conglomerations of Wealth, and therefore Power, sit astride the world, sucking the Life out of it….and all us regular folks get trampled in the process. We have no recourse.
The Myth says that the USA is a Capitalist Country, as God intended.
That Hard Work, Bootstraps and Tenacity will inevitably lead one to the upper echelons of Wealth.
Every Man a CEO.

We have flirted with actually implementing this, many times.
Turns out that Capitalism is more successful in this regard(wide distribution of the Means of Production) when Giant Conglomerations of Wealth are held in check…by who else? Government.

I had my formative years under HyperCapitalism. Reagan Revolution. Trickle Down. Supply-Side. All Government is Evil. Drown Government in a bathtub.
In the late 90’s, being interested in Politics, I came to realize that there was an awful lot of hollering and gnashing of teeth about various economic prescriptions.
I was essentially Clueless about all things Economic.
So, I did what I always have done when I didn’t understand something….I read.
I started with a large, contemporary College Intro Econ Textbook.
Cover to Cover,with Sloan and Zurcher’s “Dictionary of Economics” to hand.
I quickly realized that the authors of the Textbook were almost entirely Utopians. They were describing a Perfect System, that did not exist….especially in regards to High Finance(the so called “FIRE Economy”…finance,Insurance, and real estate).
I then read “the Worldly Philosophers”, compiled and edited by Heilbroner…this contained selected texts, and editorializing commentary, from everyone from Malthus to Ricardo, Marx, Smith, Keynes, Hayek…
At this point, more such information made our current paradigm, and the words we use to describe it, even more nonsensical.
At one of the numerous Library Book sales, I happened on a worn, hardbound edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations…$1!
I read it twice, cover to cover…again, with various dictionaries and textbooks to hand.
What I found is that Smith’s Vision was not Utopian, in the least. It was entirely Rational.
It also had little to do with the Current Paradigm.
As chance would have it, another Library Sale procured me a worn, hardbound copy of Marx’s Das Capital….$2.
Again, cover to cover, twice, with the now usual reference material.
I was amazed, to say the least. Both are quite dense tomes…Marx, more so, due to the translation problems, from German to English(I had long experience with this phenomenon, due to my love of Philosophy).
I soldiered on.
It appeared that Capital was an extension of Wealth…the two were Complimentary to each other….and once one got past the inflammatory language, on both sides, and the esotericism, they were calling for much the same thing.: Widespread Distribution of the Means of Production.
Marx went on, of course, to go crazy…essentially abandoning the Worker Class to perceived Ignorance and Powerlessness…and, therefore, all but insisting that the State would usher in Socialism. He, and the folks that followed him, abandoned the Democratic Parts.(I know I’m playing fast and loose. Shoot me!) Lenin was the worst, in this regard…the upshot was, that the People were regarded as too stupid to take care of the Excesses of Capitalism. Lenin, and the USSR resulted…and the “debate”, as well as the Introspection…devolved into Black and White Hysterics.
Later, a man on Latoc, Jerome, turned me on to another of Smith’s books…”Theory of Moral Sentiments”…which made the same case as I was led to.Smith and Marx went hand in hand…and Unregulated Monoploly Capitalism leads to Feudalism…or, as Jerome called it, “Mercantilism”.
From Wiki:”
Mercantilist policies have included:

  • Building a network of overseas colonies
  • Forbidding colonies to trade with other nations
  • Monopolizing markets with staple ports;
  • Promote accumulation of gold and silver
  • Forbidding trade to be carried in foreign ships;
  • Export subsidies;
  • Maximizing the use of domestic resources;
  • Restricting domestic consumption with non-tariff barriers to trade.”

I think, rather, that we “enjoy” a Hybrid of all of these…Capitalism(the Corporate Monopoly Kind), Socialism(largely for the Corps(e)), and Mercantilism…with a lot of other caveats and inconsistencies thrown in, for good measure.
Reverse-mercantilism[45] is an economic system which strives to increase corporate wealth and monopoly by subsidizing some corporate entities while regulating, taxing and controlling borders (blocking outsourcing and creating tariffs) for all competitors.”
At the base of How We Do Things, is Marx’s Critique…”Capitalism” has evolved almost exactly as he predicted.
Instead of the Current Paradigm, I advocate a Democritisation, of Everything!...including the Means of Production.
Instead of the Monopolisation, Centralisation, of Everything…which is How We Do It, Now…

Corporations are the Parasite that sits on our Collective Neck.
They are a holdover from Monarchical Economics…Feudalism, meet the Modern Era.
While there are reasons, sometimes, to employ such creatures…to get specific things done efficiently…they should never be given the Power they enjoy, today.
The rub, is that these Creatures were Created by….shudder…Government.
This feature is almost totally forgotten, and ignored, by those who Run the Show.
The anti Government rhetoric and policies of the Right, have no problem with this sort of Government Activity.Socialism for the Rich is Fine.
It is only when the Masses get all “Uppity”, that the PTB(which leans Right, at best) trots out the AntiMarx Wagon.