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What I learned at the Ayn Rand conference
"Yet just because Objectivism fails to grapple with the conditions of our time, that doesn’t mean it has no use. For those who value individual rights, Rand’s philosophy is helpful precisely to the extent that it reveals how poorly our social systems are set up to grant these rights to the majority of people. By defining an impossible ideal of freedom, it unexpectedly exposes the societal impediments that prevent so many people from realising any such freedom in the first place.

It also, perhaps inadvertently, illuminates a path for progress. The most compelling aspects of the Randian worldview stem from its acknowledgment of the importance of the self. Individuals are encouraged to act in accordance with self-interest, rather than guilting themselves into sacrificing for others – and then guilting themselves further for not sacrificing enough. This isn’t an unreasonable principle; but given a narrow conception of self, it can lead to destructive, isolating ends.

What if we turned that impulse towards different ends? What if we began with a more collective notion of “the self”, beyond just our immediate families, to include our communities and the systems that sustained the things we value? Seen from that perspective, seemingly “altruistic” activities such as voting for higher taxes, volunteering for causes, or refusing to cross a picket line no longer look like sacrifices. They look, instead, like investments – investments in the kind of world you want to live in. And as much as Ayn Rand has to say on the topics of reason or selfishness, she can’t tell you what that world should look like. That part is all up to you."
wendyliu  2020  aynrand  objectivism  self  selfishness  identity  collectivism  socialism  libertarianism  community  taxes  families  altruism  sacrifice  safetynets  policy  politics  philosophy  interdependence  interconnectedness 
yesterday by robertogreco
Let Them Eat Tech | Dissent Magazine
““Tech-for-all” campaigns build on a deep-seated tradition of modern liberals framing the problem of rural poverty in terms of the geographic and technological remoteness of rural areas. The famed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) hydroelectric infrastructure project was one of the more notable accomplishments of New Deal liberalism, in no small part by virtue of its success in more fully integrating struggling rural communities into the national economy. Franklin Roosevelt and his brain trust believed that one of the main problems of “underdeveloped regions” in Appalachia and the broader South was their physical isolation from urban centers of capitalist production. Many New Deal architects, beginning with TVA chairman David Lilienthal, saw the project as a way of spurring economic growth by luring industry to rural places. During the early Cold War, growth-oriented liberals also funneled billions of dollars of research-and-development funds into previously overlooked areas, transforming cities like Atlanta and Charlotte and building the modern Sunbelt in the process.

Nevertheless, by the 1960s, rural areas across the South began experiencing new waves of economic uncertainty. Decades of agricultural modernization resulted in fewer rural workers being supported in farming occupations, which led to an increase in outmigration to cities, where there were more job opportunities. State leaders from both political parties responded by implementing a model of economic development that came to be known as “smokestack chasing”: using public subsidies and the promises of a low-wage and non-unionized workforce to recruit manufacturers to rural communities. This approach produced a surge in one-company towns and cities throughout the rural South—places like Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina—which generated jobs and provided momentary economic stability. But by the late 1970s, those companies were finding even cheaper labor outside the United States, and rural towns began to undergo debilitating rounds of deindustrialization and capital flight.

A new generation of Democratic Party politicians burst onto the national scene at the height of this crisis. These “New Democrats” or “Atari Democrats” went to great lengths to distance themselves from the party’s traditional associations with the industrial manufacturing sector and its powerful labor unions, shifting their focus to relentless high-tech growth instead. Many of them hailed from Southern or Midwestern states with large rural populations that were experiencing the devastating effects of rural disinvestment, including James Blanchard (Michigan), Al Gore (Tennessee), James Hunt (North Carolina), Charles Robb (Virginia)—and, of course, Arkansas’s Bill Clinton. Their vision for how respond to the coordinated crises of deindustrialization and the decline of the agricultural sector offered a clear departure from the recent past; as Clinton boldly announced to Forbes in 1979, his first year as governor, “smokestack chasing doesn’t work.” Instead, Clinton and the other Atari Democrats looked to the success of Silicon Valley and Route 128 outside of Boston, which had recently become bastions of tech-focused industrial activity.

The New Democrats who served as governors pursued strategies that fostered collaboration between government and business, touting public-private partnerships with the high-tech sector (which had already developed a reputation for being anti-union) as the best way to help struggling communities in their states generate economic activity. The Southern New Democratic governors were members of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a state-funded research agency and policy shop focused on creating new development plans for the region. In the early 1980s, the board began laying out plans to incubate tech startups throughout the region—both in already-established local markets, like North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and in previously untapped rural areas. Clinton oversaw the creation of the Board’s Southern Technology Council, which promoted the more efficient transfer of knowledge and research between academia and industry. Tennessee Senator Al Gore, meanwhile, spearheaded the passage of a series of laws that turned the research networks controlled by the National Science Foundation over to the commercial sphere, so that both public and private sources could fund and benefit from its growth.

Clinton and Gore’s shared Southern roots, and their shared commitment to a new technology agenda, became key pillars of their successful bid for the White House in 1992. In stump speeches throughout the country, they discussed the power of technology to connect people and transcend not just partisan but also rural and urban divisions. They pledged to create a “door-to-door information network to link every home, business, lab, classroom, and library by the year 2015.” In a ceremony held in Silicon Valley during the first days of their administration, Clinton and Gore unveiled a new initiative called “Technology for America’s Economic Growth,” which affirmed that “accelerating the introduction of an efficient, high-speed communications system can have the same effect on U.S. economic and social development as public investment in the railroads in the 19th century.” They requested expanded public funding for research and development work and called on the federal agencies and Congress to eliminate regulations that hindered the private sector from investing in such a network.

These efforts culminated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most sweeping overhaul to U.S. communications policy since 1934. The act deregulated all segments of the industry, premised on the idea that a more competitive marketplace would help to make phone, cable, and internet service cheaper and more readily available. Taken together, these policies put into action the Democratic neoliberal faith that fueling the growth of the tech sector offered not only the clearest route to ongoing economic prosperity but also the surest means of providing a key social service.”
newdeal  neoliberalism  billclinton  hillaryclinton  rural  technology  politics  digitaldivide  broadband  broadbandforall  internet  utilities  development  ruraldevelopment  2019  lilygeismer  tennesseevalleyauthroity  algore  ataridemocrats  democrats  ronaldreagan  liberalism  fdr  franklindelanoroosevelt  appalachia  davidlilenthal  south  us  newdemocrats  jamesblanchard  jameshunt  charlesrobb  virginia  tennessee  northcarolina  michigan  arkansas  siliconvalley  technosolutionsism  capitalism  public-privatepartnerships  economics  growth  telecommunications  whiteville  hillbillyelegy  jdnance  amyklobuchar  betoo’rourke  berniesanders  elizabethwarren  california  newyork  centrism  thirdway  antipoverty  poverty  comcast  finland  switzerland  spain  españa  publicoption  publicgood  kentucky  texas  southdakota 
yesterday by robertogreco
Welcome to the Bullshit Economy - The American Prospect
"The Iowa caucus disaster is a function of a broken economic structure that rewards con artistry over competence."
economics  us  conartists  waste  experts  meritocracy  insiders  2020  iowa  money  politics  inequality  bullshitjobs  grifters  daviddayen  elections 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Class Carpetbagger | Corey Pein
“When he speaks about education and opportunity, Pete reminds me of my high school guidance counselor. That guy was a jerk.”



“But my comrades on the “housekeeping” crew did not need more paperwork, or whatever else Pete is selling. They needed free health care, housing subsidies, and a labor union.”



“Like so many bourgeois strivers, Pete takes up space wherever he goes.”



“The most delicious thing about Pete’s campaign is that, possibly for the first time in his life, his privileged class position is a liability, not an asset.”



“can someone explain to me why rich kids feel so gratuitously entitled to tell the working class how to live? Go ahead. I’ll wait. I really want to hear this explanation, especially from Pete, but any rich kid will do.”



“Clinton’s ability to speak authentically about his underclass upbringing is part of why his charisma clicked with so many Americans. And yet “the boy from Hope” was, in the end, a class traitor. I’d like to think Bill might have turned out better without the Rhodes.”



“Pete is no Bill. He has no story to tell; he has studiously collected anecdotes. He is an unapologetic conservative in that he doesn’t think class matters at all, except to the extent that he can exploit it.”



“His pitch is based on a phony heartland appeal. Nobody’s falling for it, except people who are even more out of touch than he is with working-class struggle.”



“When I look at Pete, I see the face of America’s rotten sham meritocracy, and I know I am not alone.”
petebuttigieg  2020  us  capitalism  equality  politics  coreypein  elections  meritocracy  billclinton  class  poverty  entitlement  bourgeoisie  education  elitism  ambition 
6 days ago by robertogreco
(Self-Directed) Education is a Political Act | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
“With that said, I created the following diagram as a visual aid to help understand the many various SDE methods at work, how they generally are similar and different, how their sense of “freedom” is ideologically politicized, and how they are allied as trust based models in contrast with fear based counterparts in the top section of the diagram. This diagram seeks not to pigeonhole any one model into a political ideology but rather to provide a broad understanding of where each model lies on a spectrum of definitions and methodologies of “freedom” and education as a political act.

[image: “A chart showing fear based and trust based models of education"]

Since freedom is rooted and established in trust, the act of stripping away that freedom starts with fear and control. Therefore, I have simply distinguished these two overarching philosophies into “Fear Based” and “Trust Based” categories. The fear based models of education are out of scope for this article (for more on that, start with this excellent article). However, I want to briefly touch upon why “Democratic Schools” are listed under this category. Note that “Free Schools” are listed under the trust based model; while most Free Schools are also democratic, it is possible to have democratic decision-making in fear based schools (e.g. “Vote on whether we’re studying the Nile or the Pyramids first…”) This distinction is not always clear and earlier in my research caused me a lot of confusion, especially in my travels to Europe where I learned that visiting a “democratic” school did not necessarily mean I could expect the school to be self-directed as well. It is also important to note that often (but not always) this did not mean the educators there were not interested in SDE. Rather, they were often working constrained by laws that make SDE illegal in countries like Greece, Turkey and Germany. Meanwhile, in the United States the adoption of democratic education within conventional schools can also be seen in classroom meeting trends and in the work of organizations like the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA).

On the “trust based” side of the diagram, most notable might be that I have placed unschooling under all three political ideologies. Unschooling is certainly the most difficult SDE methodology to pin down, since it is practiced for so many different reasons and in so many different ways. I broke it down into three general sub-groups:

- Self-Governed Unschoolers under the Libertarian label are generally those unschoolers looking for independence from institutionalization. These are families who are focused on the liberation of their learners. While they might be a part of some collective or taking classes in various places, ultimately their focus is their own freedom and learning, not the welfare of any collective or group they may temporarily be a part of.

- Decolonizing Unschoolers is best described by Zakiyya Ismail, who simply wrote, “It is about stepping out of an oppressive system and into a liberatory one.”20 For these unschoolers, this is not just about independence of one’s own learning; it is also about dismantling the oppressive system of conventional schooling in order to create an equitable world, and so, this model fits well under the Anarchism label.

- Communal Unschoolers is admittedly a term I made up for clarification and distinction in this diagram. However, this is a very real type of unschooling, a type that I run across often in my own work with unschoolers. Communal Unschoolers are families who unschool as a collective in order to make it possible to do so for each individual family. There’s a reliance on each other and a buy-in in order for each learner to be able to unschool. Therefore, this model fits best under the label of Socialism.

As for schools and centers, I’ve placed Sudbury Schools and Liberated Learners under the Libertarian umbrella. Liberated Learners are listed here for the same previously mentioned reason that Self-Governed Unschoolers are in this category. And while Sudbury Schools are communities, their standard of no adult offerings and policy of barring parent involvement align with the notion of learning based primarily on the individual’s needs. Their School Meeting and Judicial Committee structures reflect the Libertarian idea that governance is necessary but should be made as small as is necessary to maintain autonomy.

I have listed Free Schools and Summerhill on the other end of the spectrum, under the Socialist label. While individual freedom is certainly valued highly in these schools, Summerhill and Free Schools generally emphasize being a collective reliant on communal equity. In contrast to Sudbury Schools, these schools generally have communal offerings (or classes in the case of Summerhill) and often rely on parent involvement in the community (or the adult “House Parents” and older youth “Beddies” who foster a sense of “family” at Summerhill, which is a boarding school). There is a real sense that a culture needs to be developed for a healthy learning atmosphere to thrive (much like the nineteenth century SDE Swiss educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi’s premise that an “emotionally secure environment” needs to be present for “successful learning” to take place).

Judith Suissa compares Summerhill to the third category listed in the diagram, anarchism, when she writes, “What Neill was really after was an appreciation of freedom for its own sake– a far cry from the social anarchists, who viewed freedom… as an inherent aspect of creating a society based on mutual aid, socio-economic equality and cooperation.”22 From this reasoning, I have placed in the anarchistic category Agile Learning Centers, as well as the more obvious Free Skools and Modern Schools (which directly declare/d themselves anarchistic). Agile Learning Centers were a direct reaction to the Free School model, retooling and reframing Free School practices for meetings, conflict resolution, and so on. These consent driven structures and nonhierarchical systems align with anarchist ideologies. Additionally, the ALC Network’s intentional dedication to social justice and equity separate it from the other SDE models and also fall under the definition of anarchistic values.

With all of this said, it is important to remember that each individual and each center is different, and that such diagrams are only useful as a general guide to understanding the methodologies. At the same time, this comparison of SDE models to political ideologies is also an important reminder that, while one does not need to support radical politics to believe in SDE, a young person practicing Self-Directed Education will experience radical freedom and trust based ideologies, and those experiences will influence the development of their framing of the world. The same is also true of children being raised in conventional fear based environments, different as the politically ideological implications may themselves be.

Articulating these SDE model differences while holding as foundational their trust based alliance is a practice intended to establish a greater bond. With this understanding, all of us in this world of Self-Directed Education can learn more from one another. During this time period where partisanship is dividing humanity so severely, it is important to remember our similarities and to remember that all individuals, regardless of political beliefs or educational beliefs or any other beliefs that diversify humanity, all deserve to be approached with respect and kindness. I am proud to be in alliance with other members of this trust based Self-Directed Education movement, and I celebrate our many flavors and methods.”
alexanderkhost  via:derek  2020  politics  self-directed  self-directedlearning  freeschools  summerhill  sudbury  sudburyschools  education  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  anarchism  anarchy  socialism  individualism  society  radicalism  children  modernschools  autonomy  mutualaid  freedom  liberation  community  communities  progressive  sfsh  lcproject  tcsnmy  libertarianism  doctrine  authority  authoritarianism  conservatism  moderatism  moderation  permissiveness  liberalism  publicschools  conventionalschools  agilelearningcenters  waldorf  waldorfschools  montessori  montessorischools  charterschools  trust  fear  parenting  schooliness  indoctrination  judithsuissa  asneill 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Cynthia Nixon on Twitter: “In 2016 I supported Hillary for President.   But this year, I’m all in for Bernie. His ideas are wildly popular, and he’s our best chance to beat Trump.  We can’t afford to nominate a candidate who will leave voters si
"In 2016 I supported Hillary for President.
 
But this year, I’m all in for Bernie. His ideas are wildly popular, and he’s our best chance to beat Trump. 

We can’t afford to nominate a candidate who will leave voters sitting at home, uninspired.

[video]"
cynthiadixon  berniesanders  2020  elections  politics  hillarytobernie  hillaryclinton  2016  us 
9 days ago by robertogreco
Berniebros and Hillarealists - The Atlantic
"It's Not Just Berniebros: I coined the term—now I’ve come back to fix what I started."
berniesanders  robinsonmeyer  2016  language  politics  internet  web  online  berniebro  words  webspeak  facebook  twitter  socialmedia  discourse 
9 days ago by robertogreco
Against Activism | The Baffler
“Self-Directed Action

In the sixties, Rudd, Dunbar-Ortiz, and their respective cohorts learned about organizing almost by osmosis, absorbing a model “developed and tested over many generations,” as Rudd put it. (Their ambient awareness of organizing, Rudd clarified in his talk, informed the years of preparation that made the celebrated 1968 Columbia occupation possible; ignoring those efforts in a fit of hubris is where the Weather Underground went wrong.) Today’s activists have come of age in a very different milieu. No one has a parent in the Party, trade unions are in terminal decline, and the protracted struggle of the civil rights movement, which has so much to teach us, has been reduced to a series of iconic images and feel-good history highlights.

To be an activist now merely means to advocate for change, and the hows and whys of that advocacy are unclear. The lack of a precise antonym is telling. Who, exactly, are the non-activists? Are they passivists? Spectators? Or just regular people? In its very ambiguity the word upholds a dichotomy that is toxic to democracy, which depends on the participation of an active citizenry, not the zealotry of a small segment of the population, to truly function.

As my friend Jonathan Matthew Smucker, whom I met at Zuccotti Park during the early days of Occupy Wall Street, argues in a forthcoming book, the term activist is suspiciously devoid of content. “Labels are certainly not new to collective political action,” Smucker writes, pointing to classifications like abolitionist, populist, suffragette, unionist, and socialist, which all convey a clear position on an issue. But activist is a generic category associated with oddly specific stereotypes: today, the term signals not so much a certain set of political opinions or behaviors as a certain temperament. In our increasingly sorted and labeled society, activists are analogous to skateboarders or foodies or dead heads, each inhabiting a particular niche in America’s grand and heterogeneous cultural ecosystem—by some quirk of personality, they enjoy long meetings, shouting slogans, and spending a night or two in jail the way others may savor a glass of biodynamic wine. Worse still, Smucker contends, is the fact that many activists seem to relish their marginalization, interpreting their small numbers as evidence of their specialness, their membership in an exclusive and righteous clique, effectiveness be damned.

While there are notable exceptions, many strands of contemporary activism risk emphasizing the self over the collective. By contrast, organizing is cooperative by definition: it aims to bring others into the fold, to build and exercise shared power. Organizing, as Smucker smartly defines it, involves turning “a social bloc into a political force.” Today, anyone can be an activist, even someone who operates alone, accountable to no one—for example, relentlessly trying to raise awareness about an important issue. Raising awareness—one of contemporary activism’s preferred aims—can be extremely valuable (at least I hope so, since I have spent so much time trying to do it), but education is not organizing, which involves not just enlightening whoever happens to encounter your message, but also aggregating people around common interests so that they can strategically wield their combined strength. Organizing is long-term and often tedious work that entails creating infrastructure and institutions, finding points of vulnerability and leverage in the situation you want to transform, and convincing atomized individuals to recognize that they are on the same team (and to behave like it).

Globally, we’ve seen an explosion of social movements since 2011, yet many of us involved in them remain trapped in the basic bind Rudd described. “Activism, the expression of our deeply held feelings, used to be only one part of building a movement. It’s a tactic which has been elevated to the level of strategy, in the absence of strategy,” he lamented. “Most young activists think organizing means making the physical arrangements for a rally or benefit concert.” Add to this list creating a social media hashtag, circulating an online petition, and debating people on the Internet, and the sentiment basically holds. The work of organizing has fallen out of esteem within many movement circles, where a faith in spontaneous rebellion and a deep suspicion of institutions, leadership, and taking power are entrenched.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t times when rallies, concerts, hashtags, petitions, and online debates are useful—they sometimes are. The problem is that these events or tactics too often represent the horizon of political engagement. “I think it’s generally a good thing that large numbers of people have been inspired in recent decades to take action, and that developments in technology have made it easier for them to do so,” said L. A. Kauffman, who is putting the finishing touches on a history of direct action. “Divorced from a deliberate organizing strategy, all of this can just be a flurry of activity without much impact, of course, so we return to the need for our movements to recognize and cultivate organizing talent, and to support this work by treating it as work—e.g., by finding ways to pay people a living wage to do it.” To state what should be self-evident, people taking small concrete actions—signing a petition or showing up at a rally—are more likely to have a real influence when guided by a clear game plan, ideally one with the objective of inconveniencing elites and impeding their profits.”



“All things considered, the word activist isn’t that bad. It is, at the very least, certainly preferable to social entrepreneur, change agent, or—god forbid—social justice warrior. Unlike activist, with its hazy etymology, the history of social justice warrior, or SJW, can be traced in remarkable detail thanks to the website Know Your Meme. It first appeared in a blog post on November 6, 2009, and by April 21, 2011, merited its own entry on Urban Dictionary: “A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.””
2016  astrataylor  organizating  activism  politics  markrudd  socialism  sjw  socialjusticewarriors  coalition  marginalization  ows  occupywallstreet  tactics  socialmovements  roxannedunbar-ortiz  engagement  institutions 
16 days ago by robertogreco
The Right to Listen | The New Yorker
“n 2016, during one of the first shoots for “What Is Democracy?,” I stood near Miami Beach, asking people to share their political opinions on camera. Three middle-aged men on vacation from New Jersey sat down on a park bench to chat. They sang the praises of a Republican candidate for President named Donald Trump, and offered their thoughts about immigration (bad), taxes (too high), and police violence against black people (not a problem). It was only a few minutes before one of them mentioned free speech. “Here, we have freedom to express,” he said, of the United States. “Like when Joe was just explaining about his racism, six large black men walked by. I thought there might be a problem. Not in this country! They heard it, it’s democracy. Joe can say whatever he wants.” What made America great, they suggested, was every individual’s right to say anything, without reserve and without inviting a response. This was a conception of democratic life that centered on self-expression, with listening left out. In its version of democracy, speech need only go one way.

The men on the bench were hardly unique in overlooking listening as an important component of democracy. As an activist on the left, I long assumed that my role consisted entirely of raising awareness, sounding alarms, and deploying arguments; it took me years to realize that I needed to help build and defend spaces in which listening could happen, too. As citizens, we understand that the right to speak has to be facilitated, bolstered by institutions and protected by laws. But we’ve been slow to see that, if democracy is to function well, listening must also be supported and defended—especially at a moment when technological developments are making meaningful listening harder.

By definition, democracy implies collectivity; it depends on an inclusive and vibrant public sphere in which we can all listen to one another. We ignore that listening at our peril. Watching “What Is Democracy?” today, I find that the answer lies not just in the voices of the people I interviewed. It’s also in the shots of people listening, receptively, as others speak.”
astrataylor  2020  listening  democracy  freedomofspeech  organizing  activism  power  speech  whatisdemocracy?  filmmaking  documentary  voices  gender  marginalization  politics  collectivism  collectivity  inclusivity  technology  facebook  forums  speaking  institutions  law  legal  constitution  us  facilitation  awareness 
16 days ago by robertogreco
Down-Ballot Fights with Jessica Cisneros, Stephen Smith, and Heidi Sloan - The Dig
"We need Bernie but a lot more too. Dan does three interviews with down-ballot left insurgent candidates: Jessica Cisneros, a Justice Democrat running against incumbent conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar in Texas’s 28th congressional district; Stephen Smith, who is running a populist campaign for West Virginia governor; and Heidi Sloan, a DSA candidate in the Democratic primary for Texas’s 25th Republican-held 25th congressional district."
justicedemocrats  organizing  notmeus  berniesanders  jessicacisneros  texas  westvirginia  2020  electronics  stephensmith  heidisloan  left  populism  dsa  socialism  democrats  politics  policy  campaigning  congress  us  henrycuellar  power  republicans  inequality  organizers  grassroots  listening 
17 days ago by robertogreco
Ep. 20: The Half Baked Politics of Half Measures (feat. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor) by RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE • A podcast on Anchor
[also here:
https://player.fm/series/rumble-with-michael-moore/ep-20-the-half-baked-politics-of-half-measures-feat-keeanga-yamahtta-taylor
https://open.spotify.com/episode/6YcwDWPeMrcZ9DfBN3cMFX ]

“The failures of liberal half measures, compromise and “third way” politics has opened the door for right-wing demagogues to take power. It has also re-awakened a militant and energized left to combat both the wackadoodle right and the tepid center. We’re seeing this play out in American politics and the 2020 Democratic primary. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a scholar, author and activist. Her writing and speaking has incisively and ferociously exposed the failures of capitalism and the necessity of a fierce struggle to overcome it. She joins Michael to discuss how the hell we got here and how we liberate ourselves.

**********

“Five Years Later, Do Black Lives Matter?” https://jacobinmag.com/2019/09/black-lives-matter-laquan-mcdonald-mike-brown-eric-garner

“How Real Estate Segregated America” https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/how-real-estate-segregated-america-fair-housing-act-race

Read about and order Keeanga’s books here: http://www.keeangataylor.com/books.html

Follow Keeanga on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KeeangaYamahtta
keeanga-yamahttataylor  politics  us  berniesanders  2020  statusquo  power  organizing  barackobama  notmeus  hope  change  revolution  socialmovements  interdependence  interconnectedness  michaelmoore  elections  thirdway  blacklivesmatter  housing  healthcare  medicareforall  capitalism  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  socialism  flint  michigan  segregation  democrats  congress  corruption  centrism  moderates  moreofthesame  struggle  policy  inequality  joebiden  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  cynicism  troydavis  poverty  elitism  rulingclass 
23 days ago by robertogreco
The Kingdom of This World | Work in Progress
“In January 2004 Haiti observed the two-hundred­-year anniversary of its independence from France in the midst of a national revolt. In the capital, as well as other cities throughout the country, pro- and antigovernment demonstrators clashed. Members of a disbanded army declared war on a young and inex­perienced police force. Mobs of angry young men, some called chimè (chimeras) by their countrymen and others calling themselves cannibals, battled one another to assure that then Haitian president Jean­ Bertrand Aristide—worshipped by chimeras and re­viled by cannibals—either remained in office or left.

A few weeks later Aristide departed in the early hours of a Sunday morning. By his account, he was kidnapped from his residence in Port-au-Prince and put on a U.S. jet, which took him to the Central African Republic, where he was held prisoner for several weeks. By other accounts, he went willingly; even signing a letter of resignation in Haitian Cre­ole. As Aristide began his life in exile, he echoed in his statements to the international press nearly the same words that Toussaint L’Ouverture—one of the principal leaders of the first successful slave uprising in history—uttered when he was forced to board a ship headed for a prison in France: “In overthrowing me, you have cut . . . only the trunk of the tree of liberty. It will spring up again from the roots, for they are nu­merous and deep.”

Haitians were not surprised that Aristide chose to link his exit with such a powerful reverberation of the past. After all, there has been no more evocative moment in Haiti’s history than the triumphant out­come of the revolution that L’Ouverture had lived and died for. Though Haiti’s transition from slavery to free state was far from seamless, many Haitians, myself included, would rather forget the schisms that followed independence, the color and class divisions that split the country into sections ruled by self-declared monarchs who governed exactly as they had been governed, with little regard for parity or autonomy.

In The Kingdom of This World, Alejo Carpentier al­lows us to consider the possibility—something which his own Cuba would later grapple with—that a revolution that some consider visionary might ap­pear to others to have failed. Through the eyes of Ti Noël—neither king nor ruler but an ordinary man­—we get an intimate view of the key players in an epic story that merges myth and lore with meticulously detailed facts and astonishing lyricism. That this book is so short seems almost miraculous, for even with leaps in time and place, one feels neither short­handed nor cheated, because the words and sen­tences are as carefully mounted as the walls of the massive citadel that the ambitious King Henri Christophe commands and Ti Noël and his country­men build. What might take a more long-winded writer an entire book, Carpentier covers in one chapter. Yet we still encounter some of the most memorable architects of the Haitian revolution, along with some fictional comrades they pick up along the way. We meet the one-armed Mackandal, who is said to have turned into an insect in order to escape his fiery execution; Bouckman—most com­monly spelled Boukman—who held the stirring Vodou ceremony that helped transform Toussaint L’Ouverture from mild-mannered herbalist to heroic warrior. And of course we come to know King Christophe, a former restaurateur who shoots him­self with a silver bullet but not before forcing his countrymen to experience the “rebirth of shackles, this proliferation of miseries, which the least hopeful accepted as proof of the uselessness of any sort of revolt.”

Though Ti Noel does not remain among the re­signed for too long, he is certainly tested through his disheartening encounters with those who have shaped (and misshaped) his country’s destiny. What we ultimately must accept is that he is neither phan­tom observer nor ubiquitous witness. Like Haiti it­self, he cannot be easily defined At most, one might see Ti Noël as a stand-in for Carpentier.

Born of a Russian mother and French father, Car­pentier shows with his skillful handling of this narra­tive that the essence of a revolution lies not only in its instantaneous burst of glory but in its arduous ripples across borders and time, its ability to shame the conquerors and fortify the oppressed, and, in some cases, to achieve the opposite. For if history is recounted by victors, it’s not easy to tell here who the rightful narrators should be, unless we keep re­-defining with each page what it means to conquer and be conquered.

Carpentier once disclosed that during a trip to Haiti in the 1940s he found himself in daily contact with something he called the real maravilloso, or the “marvelous real.”

“I was stepping on ground whereon thousands of people eager for freedom believed,” he wrote in the preface to the 1949 edition. “I had visited the Citadelle of La Ferrière, a building without architectural precedent . . . I had breathed the atmosphere created by Henri Christophe, a monarch of remarkable endeavors . . . Every step I took, I came across the marvelous real.”

The marvelous real, which we have come to know as magical realism, lives and thrives in past and pres­ent Haiti, just as it does in this novel. It is in the ex­traordinary and the mundane, the beautiful and the repulsive, the spoken and the unspoken. It is in the enslaved African princes who knew the paths of the clouds and the language of the forests of their homelands but could no longer recognize them­selves in the so-called New World. It is in Dambal­lah, the snake god; in Ogun, the god of war. It is in the elaborate cornmeal drawings sketched in the soil at Vodou ceremonies to seek help from these loas or spirits. From Haiti’s fertile communal imagination sprang a fantastic sense of possibility, which certainly contributed to bondmen and -women defeating the most powerful armies of the time.

Whenever possible, Haitians cite their cosmic connection to this heroic heritage by invoking the names of one or all of the founders of our country: Toussaint L’Ouverture, Henri Christophe, and Jean­-Jacques Dessalines. (The latter’s fighting creed dur­ing the Haitian war of independence was Koupe tèt, boule kay [“Cut heads, burn houses”].)

“They can’t do this to us,” we say today when feel­ing subjugated. “We are the children of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Henri Christophe, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines.”

As President Aristide’s opportune evocation of L’Ouverture shows, for many of us, it is as though the Haitian revolution were fought two hundred days, rather than two centuries, ago. This book re­minds us why this remains so. For is there anything more timely and timeless than a public battle to control one’s destiny, a communal crusade for self-determination? The outcome, when it’s finally achieved, can be nearly impossible to describe. It certainly was for one Haitian poet: who was given the task of drafting Haiti’s Act of Independence. To do it appropriately, Boisrond-Tonnerre declared, he would need the skin of a former master—a white man—for parchment, his skull for an inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for a pen. Though not inscribed with the same intention, Carpentier’s words have no less sting or power.”
alejocarpentier  2017  edwidgedanticat  elreinodeestemundo  haiti  cuba  jean-bertrandaristide  literature  magicrealism  politics  revolution  2004  history  revolt 
23 days ago by robertogreco
Barbara Smith: Why I Left the Mainstream Queer Rights Movement - The New York Times
"A black feminist describes her disillusionment, saying many people are still marginalized, even in progressive circles.

I have not been active in the organized L.G.B.T.Q. movement for a long time.

I enthusiastically participated in the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. About 100,000 of us were there from around the country, a good turnout but much smaller than subsequent marches — when being out and proud was less dangerous.

At the second national march, in 1987, I was invited to be one of eight major speakers. It was exhilarating to speak before a crowd of nearly one million people.

At the same time, it was devastating to see the vast AIDS quilt on display in one place for the first time, symbolizing so much human loss.

I felt ambivalent about the 1993 march. For me it was overly focused on gays in the military and in presenting our community as an affluent consumer group to win favor from the corporate mainstream. This supposed affluence was not even real except for a privileged sector of largely white gay men.

In 1999 the tight circle of organizers of the Millennium March in Washington reflected how narrow and hierarchical the movement had become.

A group of us established the multiracial Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process. Ted Beck, Mandy Carter, Chandra L. Ford, Kara Keeling and I wrote an open letter to the march organizers titled “Will People of Color Pay the Price?”

Our efforts at opening up the organizational process were not successful. I did not attend the 1999 march or any subsequent ones. For me the Millennium March was the last straw.

I prefer to put my energy into multi-issue organizing. In the 1970s and 1980s, I co-founded the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist group, and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press to give women of color, lesbians of color and even gay men of color a voice.

Three decades later, despite some genuine efforts to increase diversity, especially in progressive movement circles, exclusivity and elitism still divide us. We have won rights and achieved recognition that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago, but many of us continue to be marginalized, both in the larger society and within the movement itself.

One in four people in the L.G.B.T.Q. community experienced food insecurity in 2017. Twenty-four percent of lesbians and bisexual women earn less than the federal poverty line. L.G.B.T.Q. youth have a 120 percent higher risk of experiencing homelessness than heterosexual, cisgender youth.

Black men who have sex with men have the highest rates of new H.I.V. diagnoses. People who are transgender, particularly transgender women of color, experience appalling levels of violence, and this violence is exacerbated by poverty and racism.

These statistics show it is not possible to achieve justice in a vacuum. Marriage equality and celebrity culture will not solve it. Neither will political agendas focused on unquestioned assimilation. Gaining rights for some while ignoring the violation and suffering of others does not lead to justice. At best it results in privilege.

Unless we eradicate the systemic oppressions that undermine the lives of the majority of L.G.B.T.Q. people, we will never achieve queer liberation."
2019  barbarasmith  progressives  activism  oppression  inclusivity  elitism  liberation  combaheerivercollective  collectivism  gayrights  lgbtq  queer  feminism  queerrights  disillusionment  marriage  hierarchy  tedbeck  mandycarter  chandraford  karakeeling  race  poc  blackness  rights  society  us  politics  policy  homelessness  homeless  violence  marriageequality  celebrityculture  justice  socialjustice 
23 days ago by robertogreco
#WeAreThePoliticalRevolution - YouTube
“In 2015,
@BernieSanders
asked us all for a political revolution.
So we went out, and we became political revolutionaries, young people demanding better. Will you join the political revolution with us?

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-political-revolution-2

#WeAreThePoliticalRevolution #Sunrise4Bernie #NotMeUs

[video this bookmark is for

"We Are the Political Revolution
Last election, @BernieSanders asked us all for a political revolution. So we went out, and we became a political revolution of young people. Will you join the political revolution with us?"]

Many looked at the IPCC report on the climate crisis with despair.

We knew that despair was not an option. We knew that we had to bring ordinary people into the political process, to muster all of our energy and fight, not lie down and give up.

[video: Sen. Bernie Sanders - “Despair is not an option”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS57zcLcLRQ

One question asked of Senator Sanders how he was able to bounce back in the wake of Trump’s unexpected win.

“It is appropriate when you lose to take a day off,” Sanders said to laughter. “But in all seriousness, when you deal with bigotry and the incredible hurt that it does to people. And when you deal with climate change and understand if we don’t act aggressively that the planet that we leave those kids will be a much less happy planet, you don’t have the option of living in remorse or sadness.”

For the full story, visit: https://news.berkeley.edu/2016/12/02/berniesanders-our-revolution/ ]

We are those ordinary people. You are those ordinary people. You are more powerful than you know. We knew that if we could mobilize our generation, that we could fight to avert the climate crisis. To fight for a better today and a better tomorrow.

“Join the Political Revolution”
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-political-revolution-2/

What does it mean to have a political revolution? It means we all understand that we are so much more powerful when we fight for our collective liberation, when we join that fight.

Only then can we ensure that the world rests in the hands of humanity, not billionaires.

What does it mean to have a political revolution? It means we put our society in the hands of working class people, of people of color, of homeless and poor people, of the children of refugees and immigrants. It means none of us are free until all of us are free.

What does it mean to have a political revolution? It means we no longer stand by while millions are homeless, while tens of millions are uninsured, while children go hungry, while our generation’s future is sold to fossil fuel companies and student loan collectors.

We can create a better world
First, we must believe that we will win
We believe that we will win. That’s why Sunrise exists
We believe that we will win. That’s why we’ll be voting for @BernieSanders
We believe that we will win. That’s why we’ve committed to a decade of activism.

We all need to believe in ourselves and in each other. We need to believe in a fundamental truth: that this is not all that we are or that we can be. That we can be so much more. That the world can be so much better. And we need you as well.
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-political-revolution-2/

As these new leaders step up, the politicians of the era before us, who have failed us? They may need to step down. Some of them, bold leaders of courage and wisdom, will continue to fight for us. @BernieSanders is one of those bold leaders. That’s why…

In 2020, @SunriseMvmt is going to turn out the youth vote to elect @BernieSanders president, and to make the #GreenNewDeal a reality. But Bernie isn’t just looking to be a leader: he’s looking to create a movement of leaders. We are ready to be that movement.

They may say “oh that’s naive, that’s impossible”. Well we’re done hearing what’s impossible. We’re going to make the status quo impossible, make a better world inevitable. We’re going to be the leaders we want to see in our world. We are Sunrise. Join us.”
sunrisemovement  2020  video  activism  organizing  berniesanders  climatechange  politics  elections  socialjustice  climatejustice  revolution  change  equality  inequality  greennewdeal 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019) — Monoskop Log
"“A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, continually emphasized the possibility of progress while it tries to destroy what came before, and voraciously seeks out the new by sealing the past away in dusty archival boxes and the glass vitrines of museums.

By practicing what she calls potential history, Azoulay argues that we can still refuse the original imperial violence that shattered communities, lives, and worlds, from native peoples in the Americas at the moment of conquest to the Congo ruled by Belgium’s brutal King Léopold II, from dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 to displaced refugees in our own day. In Potential History, Azoulay travels alongside historical companions—an old Palestinian man who refused to leave his village in 1948, an anonymous woman in war-ravaged Berlin, looted objects and documents torn from their worlds and now housed in archives and museums—to chart the ways imperialism has sought to order time, space, and politics.

Rather than looking for a new future, Azoulay calls upon us to rewind history and unlearn our imperial rights, to continue to refuse imperial violence by making present what was invented as ‘past’ and making the repair of torn worlds the substance of politics.”

Publisher Verso Books, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735711, 1788735714
656 pages"
ariellaaïshaazoulay  imperialism  decolonization  books  unlearning  history  2019  via:todrobbins  politics  space  time  palestine  congo  archives  museums  libraries  knowledge  violence  srg  institutions  sovereignty  humanrights  howwethink  progress  destruction  erasure  belgium  kingléopoldii  1948  refugees  unschooling  deschooling 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ryan Grim on Twitter: "This is true and also very sad. Actual pundits have no idea what they’re talking about (including this one). Amateur ones don’t either. What a mess. https://t.co/V4NI4oidYd" / Twitter
“This is true and also very sad. Actual pundits have no idea what they’re talking about (including this one). Amateur ones don’t either. What a mess. [quoting Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp): https://twitter.com/AlxThomp/status/1215444325066211328 ]
.@jaredleopold, a consultant who worked for Inslee’s bid, says that in 2020 candidates need to win the “process primary”

“Cable news has warped voters’ brains and turned everyone into mini-pundits. That means candidates need to win not just on policy but on process.”
elections  politics  us  pundits  experts  cynicism  2020  ryangrim  jaredleopold  jayinslee  alexthompson  policy  democrats  process  primaries 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Democrats must become a real anti-war party | Hamilton Nolan | Opinion | The Guardian
"For decades, voters have not had a real alternative to militarism. The Republicans were all about it, and the Democrats were determined to show that they were too, like an undersized kid starting fights in a schoolyard. Those few Democrats brave enough to call for peace as a real policy goal have long been marginalized and mocked."
militarism  us  policy  peace  republicans  democrats  2020  hamiltonnolan  politics  war  military  warmongering 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Collapse of Neoliberalism | The New Republic
"We should not be surprised by these dynamics. The arc of neoliberalism followed a pattern common in history. In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus’s head like the goddess Athena. But it is worth remembering that Thatcher occasionally pulled her punches. Rhetorically, she would champion the causes of the right wing. But practically, her policies would often fall short of the grand vision. For example, she refused to allow any attempt to privatize the Royal Mail and the railways. She even preferred to use the word denationalization to privatization, thinking the latter unpatriotic and far too radical. The central problem, as she noted in her memoirs, was that “there was a revolution still to be made, but too few revolutionaries.”

A similar story can be told of Ronald Reagan. Partly because he faced a Democratic House of Representatives, conservative radicals were occasionally disappointed with the extent to which the Reagan administration pushed its goals. Under Ronald Reagan, William Niskanen writes, “no major federal programs … and no agencies were abolished.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created during the Reagan administration, and President Reagan signed a variety of environmental laws. Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think.

In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities—and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. Thus, when the Tories ousted Thatcher and replaced her with John Major, they unwittingly made Thatcherism possible. Major wanted to offer Britain “Thatcherism with a human face,” and he set himself to smoothing out the rough edges. The result was to consolidate and advance the neoliberal project in Britain. When Major was elected in his own right, in 1992, he got more votes than Thatcher ever had—and more than Tony Blair received in 1997. As Major himself noted, “1992 killed socialism in Britain.… Our win meant that between 1992 and 1997 Labour had to change.”

The American story is similar. Reagan passed the torch to George H.W. Bush. Although Bush was not from Reagan’s political camp within the Republican Party (he had challenged Reagan for the presidency in 1980 and was viewed with skepticism by the true believers), Bush moved to embrace Reaganism in his campaign commitments. At the same time, with the losses of Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, and Michael Dukakis in 1988, Democrats began to think they had to embrace neoliberalism as a path out of the political wilderness.

Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East.

The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today’s problems. As an answer to the problems of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity, it offers more of the same or, at best, incremental and technocratic “nudges.” The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to confront the collapse of the middle class and the spread of widespread economic insecurity. The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to address the corruption of politics and the influence of moneyed interests in every aspect of civic life—from news media to education to politics and regulation. The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community. And the solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to confront the fusion of oligarchic capitalism and nationalist authoritarianism that has now captured major governments around the world—and that seeks to invade and undermine democracy from within.

In 1982, as the neoliberal curtain was rising, Colorado Governor Richard Lamm remarked that “the cutting edge of the Democratic Party is to recognize that the world of the 1930s has changed and that a new set of public policy responses is appropriate.” Today, people around the world have recognized that the world of the 1980s has changed and that it is time for a new approach to politics. The central question of our time is what comes next."
neoliberalism  economics  government  policy  failure  politics  2019  ganeshsitaraman  greatrecession  finance  alangreenspan  barackobama  josephstiglitz  capitalism  latecapitalism  imf  coldwar  monetarypolicy  banking  competition  inequality  monopolies  us  margaretthatcher  society  class  privatization  ronaldreagan  ideology  technocrats  reaganism  thatcherism  denationalization  georgehwbush  jimmycarter  waltermondale  michaeldikakis  2008  crisis  richardlamm  1982 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Obama legacy is not what many liberals think
“Obama’s illegal refusal to prosecute Bush-era torturers is not mentioned either in Audacity, nor his illegal justification for their crimes. Neither is his decision to back the CIA to the hilt in its bureaucratic trench fight with the Senate Intelligence Committee over suppressing the Senate torture report — recently dramatized in the film The Report.

Centrists like Chait have long pushed the idea that Obama’s style of finance-friendly moderation, which dominated the Democratic Party from the 1970s through 2016, is the best possible political stance. The idea that Obama might have been handed a golden opportunity to restore American institutions and bungled it in a doomed attempt to preserve the status quo is not an attractive one for them. So perhaps easier to just not mention the above parade of gruesome failure when boosting up such a “legacy.””
barackobama  legacy  2019  ryancooper  jonathanchait  centrism  democrats  greatrecession  billdupor  recoveryact  michaelgrunwald  fdr  ryangrim  georgewbush  larrysummers  christinaromer  economics  economy  policy  politics  2008  2009  2016  donaldtrump  carolynsissoko  timothygeithner 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Sunrise Movement 🌅 on Twitter: "Why Bernie? Here are just a few of the reasons our voter members cited in their support of @BernieSanders..." / Twitter
“Why Bernie?

Here are just a few of the reasons our voter members cited in their support of @BernieSanders

1⃣ His consistency.

Bernie has been calling the climate crisis “the most important issue facing civilization” since the 1980s, and he’s stood alongside movements fighting it since then, too.

2⃣ His responsiveness to social movements and new information.

Bernie has always prioritized climate. But in response to increased scientific warnings & pressure from social movements, Bernie leaned fully into the biggest, boldest Green New Deal platform that we’ve seen.

3⃣ His political courage.

More than any other candidate, the positions Bernie’s taken draw from deep moral convictions promoted over decades of his career. From his days as a civil rights activist to standing with the Standing Rock Sioux, Bernie shows up time and time again.

4⃣ His holistic vision of the future.

Through his stances on immigration, healthcare, racial justice, inequality, environmental justice, democracy, and more, Bernie has shown that he understands the interconnectedness of climate solutions with addressing other social issues.

5⃣ His commitment to building a cross-class, multi-racial movement.

The transformative change we seek requires taking on the world’s most powerful, moneyed interests. Bernie calls himself “organizer-in-chief” b/c he knows we need nothing short of a political revolution to win.”

[https://twitter.com/SJBSchu/status/1215283007629606912

I would add 6️⃣The international character of his Green New Deal.
Bernie understands we need to cooperate with the rest of the world, not treat them paternalistically or only as customers for US-made tech. He’ll reduce military & aid the Global South thru the Green Climate Fund.”]
sunrisemovement  berniesanders  2020  politics  policy  greennewdeal  interconnectedness  climatecrisis  climatejustice  elections  transformation  socialmovements  activism  organizing 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Maria Thereza Alves – research back, decolonizing knowledge, strategies of survivance
"*1961
São Paulo, Brazil

Alves has worked and exhibited internationally since the 1980s, creating a body of work investigating the histories and circumstances of particular localities to give witness to silenced histories. Her projects are researched-based and develop out of her interactions with the physical and social environments of the places she lives, or visits for exhibitions and residencies. These projects begin in response to local needs and proceed through a process of dialogue that is often facilitated between material and environmental realities and social circumstances. While aware of Western binaries between nature and culture, art and politics, or art and daily life, she deliberately refuses to acknowledge them in her practice. She chooses instead to create spaces of agency and visibility for oppressed cultures through relational practices of collaboration that require constant movement across all of these boundaries."
mariatherezaalves  art  artists  brasil  brazil  history  borders  morethanhuman  multispecies  land  plants  animals  culture  politics  decolonization  landscape 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anab Jain | Imagining What the Future Looks Like | SkollWF 2019 - YouTube
"Anab Jain, Co-Founder and Director of Superflux, presented an imagined future as both a cautionary tale and a provocation for the possible. “Bring the future close enough to feel,” she urged the gathering. “Together we can find the tools to transform our greatest challenges into our greatest triumphs.”

Anab Jain is a filmmaker, designer and futurist. She creates worlds, stories and tools that provoke and inspire us to engage with the precarity of our rapidly changing world. Following an extensive career in the design and foresight industry, working for some of the world’s biggest organisations such as Microsoft and Nokia, she co-founded Superflux, an experimental design, foresight and technology studio in London, UK. Alongside her practice, Anab is Professor and Programme Leader for Design Investigations at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Over the last 15 years,

Anab has gained international recognition for her work and commentary on design, innovation, emerging technologies and complex futures. She is the recipient of the Award of Excellence ICSID, UNESCO Digital Arts Award, and Grand Prix Geneva Human Rights Festival, as well as awards from Apple and the UK Government’s Innovation Department. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA New York, V&A Museum, Science Gallery Dublin, National Museum of China, Vitra Design Museum, and Tate Modern. Anab has delivered talks and keynotes at several conferences including TED, MIT Media Lab and MOMA’s first design summit ‘Knotty Objects’, PICNIC, NEXT, WCIT2010, LIFT, SIGGRAPH, Global Design Forum, EPIC, Design Engaged and FuturEverything.

About the Skoll World Forum:
Each year, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders, and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions, and information. The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is the premier international platform for advancing entrepreneurial approaches and solutions to the world’s most pressing problems."
anabjain  2019  superflux  future  futurism  designfiction  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  design  futures  fiction  1984  georgeorwell  fakenews  politics  donaldtrump  storytelling  reality  perception  narrative  sensemaking  weaksignals  emotions  memory  memories  antiicipation  nearfuture  experience  simulation  simulations  emergingtechnologies  ethnography  anthropology  complexity 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Can Bernie Sanders Alter the Course of the Democratic Party?
“At stake in the campaign is not just the fate of this year’s nomination, but the future of the Democratic Party’s coalition. The party is not the multiracial, working-class one Sanders and many of his backers want it to be. Sanders is famously not a member of it.”



“in order for a democratic socialist to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to the White House, Sanders believes he will have to do more than merely persuade a majority of the primary electorate to come out and vote for him. He’ll have to create a new electorate.”



“When Republicans represent the rich and Democrats represent the well-educated but not quite as rich, Piketty says, there’s no obvious party home for the working class, and no motivation for the government to do much of anything for that working class.

It’s a global trend, and it’s one that the Sanders campaign is trying to stop and reverse. Instead of crafting a platform to fit a coalition, the campaign is trying to create a coalition to fit his platform.”



“As Piketty observed, when both major parties are catering to the elites, the system can’t deliver material gains for the broad base of people, so the parties fight over the one thing a nation can control: its borders, and correspondingly the definition of citizenship. Without a party advocating for universal programs of uplift, for a collective effort to confront the seismic challenges facing the planet, the dialogue in the U.S. will dissolve, the way it has already begun to do in Europe, solely into battles over immigration and nationalism, battles that the right is well-positioned to win by exploiting fear, xenophobia, and anti-elite sentiment.”



“But, she knew, going state by state and company by company wouldn’t be enough, and believed something had to change at the top to enable grassroots groups to make progress at a scale that could match the extent of the crisis. She didn’t know anybody on the Sanders campaign, but she was in luck: Nobody who wanted a future career in Democratic politics was willing to work for Sanders, lest they wind up on the business end of the revenge-prone Clintons. Sandberg didn’t want a career in Washington, so that wasn’t an obstacle, and the campaign brought her, Zack Exley, and eventually Becky Bond on to run the digital organizing program.”



“On a car ride with staff earlier in 2019, Sanders opened up about one of his frustrations with Democratic Party leaders, bemoaning the way that they consider party activists and voters to be two utterly distinct entities, “who never the twain shall meet.” It’s OK for the activists to get riled up, but the voters never should. They have one job: Get into the booth, pull the lever, and go home.

“It’s a scarcity mindset that the party has,” Rast said. “It believes that voters don’t want to participate in democracy, which isn’t fundamentally true in this political moment. People want to participate — now! We have to give them the invitation to do it.”

That angling of the lens, that faith in people, is central to the organizing strategy. “We’re working collaboratively to actually build a movement for Bernie that’s legitimately integrated from Claire all the way down to FO’s” — field organizers — “in Iowa, which is pretty unprecedented for a presidential campaign,” Rast said.”



“Once a campaign sees its supporters through a broader lens than people to tap for small donations, more becomes possible. “It was important to us to not just engage voters as numbers in the voter file, but as people who exist in relationship to one another and also exist in communities that have specific concerns that are distinct,” she added.

The campaign began looking at the voter file in a different way. For this, they had the help of Emily Isaac, who ran one of the most unique field programs in the 2018 cycle, that of Sri Kulkarni in Texas. (Arguably, the four most innovative field campaigns that cycle were Kulkarni’s, Jess King’s in Pennsylvania, Ocasio-Cortez’s in New York, and Beto O’Rourke’s statewide race for Senate. Three of those four lost anyway, of course, but the Sanders campaign has absorbed organizers and tactics from all of them.)”



“Typically, a canvasser is given a list of names and addresses and told to knock on those doors, ask people how they’re voting, leave some literature, and perhaps attempt a little persuasion. The goal is to identify supporters so they can be turned out on Election Day. It’s grueling work: Most people aren’t home or aren’t interested in talking.

In the Kulkarni race, Isaac gave volunteers lists of people who lived in their local precinct and asked them to go through it and fill in information about their neighbors. It turned out that people knew an awful lot about their neighbors and their political preferences, and the campaign was able to amass intelligence at a scale impossible otherwise. The volunteers mapped roughly 14,000 of their neighbors with this method, and the campaign then leaned on friend-to-friend relationships to push those people out to vote. (According to the Sanders campaign, the Analyst Institute, which does private research for Democratic campaigns, has found that peers are twice as effective at persuading someone to vote than strangers on the phone or at the door.) In 2016, Democrats had lost the seat by 19 percentage points; Kulkarni fell just 5 short (and is running again, after the Republican incumbent Pete Olson, reading the writing on the Texas wall, retired).”



“There are currently more than 115,000 people who’ve created a Bern account, the campaign claims, and it has generated more than 300,000 IDs. The Elizabeth Warren campaign uses an app called Reach that was developed for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, which itself was a game-changer. Under the old programs, a volunteer would get a list of voters and then go out and try to find them at their doors or over the phone. But it’s much easier to make contact with voters in the wild: at farmer’s markets, on street corners, at concerts, or just out at the bar with friends. Reach allows a volunteer to easily enter information they collect on the street, but it falls short of what Bern is capable of.

What the Bern app enables is called relational, or friend-to-friend organizing, which has become a buzzword among progressive organizers, something many groups say they do, but don’t actually do with any rigor or scale.

“It’s very new overall and I don’t think that it’s ever been tried at this scale,” Sandberg said. “It doesn’t work to just say, ‘Bring five friends and then we’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger and win.’ It only works if you can systematize it and have ways of following up with every single volunteer and also finding out who they’re talking about and matching them back to the voter file. You can’t turn them out unless you have their precinct location.”

“The only other campaign that is doing relational organizing on a scale close to what we are doing actually is the Trump campaign,” she added.

“It’s one of the most innovative parts of our program, but it only works when you build something big around it,” Rast added. “If you have a couple of volunteers and they do relational [organizing], fine, but the reason why relational is really powerful on our campaign is because of everything else that we’re doing, and because it’s slotted into a bigger strategy that’s all driving towards the same point.”

Inside the Sanders campaign, relational organizing is linked up with the constituency program. In most campaigns, that means assigning staffers to reach out to various constituencies — labor unions, Chinese Americans, veterans, etc. — and meeting them where they are. For a standard campaign, the goal is simply to win the endorsement of an association linked to the constituency, perhaps extract some campaign cash, hold an event, and move on, hoping that the endorsement will win votes in the community. Traditionally, constituent groups are lobbied for their endorsement by the political directors or their staff, but the Sanders campaign has significantly underfunded that department, aware that Sanders won’t win many endorsements with one-to-one meetings. Instead, the task is seen as one of organizing: build support among a group’s base, and force its leadership into line.”
ryangrim  berniesanders  2020  2019  2016  2015  organizing  elections  petebuttigieg  elizabethsanders  hillaryclinton  billclinton  democracy  democrats  politics  socialism  nationalism  thomaspiketty  clairesandberg  beccarast  scarcity  relationships  campaigning 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Twitter Made Us Better - The New York Times
"These days, everyone thinks it’s a cesspit. But it’s changed whose voices we hear. That’s a good thing.

It’s impossible to avoid news about how harmful social media can be. The Cambridge Analytica scandal. The ubiquitous Russian bots. The lackadaisical response of tech industry leaders to privacy violations, election meddling and harassment.

All the optimism about social media as a vehicle for social change that followed the Arab Spring in 2011 has largely dissipated. Twitter — which once prompted users with the innocuous question “What are you doing?” — is now better known as a home for unforgiving criticism, stripped of the politeness that can soften real-life interactions. Many have become social media cynics.

Despite it all, the way we use Twitter made this decade better.

Rightful critiques of social media, and Twitter in particular, shouldn’t obscure the significance of the conversations that have happened there over the past 10 years. As we enter 2020, powerful individuals and societal problems can no longer avoid public scrutiny. That’s thanks in part to those who have demanded attention through the website. The online activism and commentary that take place on Twitter are often dismissed as expressions of “cancel culture” or “woke culture.” But a closer look reveals what’s really happening: Many people who lacked public platforms 10 years ago — the young and members of marginalized groups in particular — are speaking up, insisting on being heard.

For our forthcoming book, “#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice,” my colleagues and I studied how groups including African-Americans, survivors of gendered violence and transgender women have used Twitter to build vibrant communities and to influence news and politics. We found that movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, while they had pre-Twitter origins, were pushed into mainstream consciousness by networks of ordinary people sharing firsthand stories, making demands and developing shared political narratives on the site. Without Twitter, these campaigns for race and gender justice would still exist, but they wouldn’t have nearly the same momentum.

It’s well known that African-Americans’ influence on Twitter — where they are overrepresented both compared with their numbers in the United States population and compared with other demographic groups who use the internet — shapes meme culture, fashion trends, slang and humor. But it also fuels cultural criticism and political demands.


ILLUSTRATION BY THE NEW YORK TIMES. PHOTOGRAPH BY MAX WHITTAKER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
Just look at the record: With #OscarsSoWhite, users drew attention to the 2015 and 2016 nominations that featured no people of color in any of the lead or supporting actor categories. That hasn’t happened since, and in 2019 the hashtag’s creator, April Reign, was invited by the academy to attend the award ceremony. When a CNN headline about a black man found hanging from a tree in Mississippi inexplicably focused on his criminal record, #CNNBeLike inspired parodies of the network’s framing and the prevalence of racist media stereotypes. That was undoubtedly noticed by journalists responsible for deciding how to present reporting to their audiences. #CosbyMeme, a hashtag that originated with the actor’s own account and asked fans to create memes about him, was hijacked to redirect focus to his assaults on women. #IfSlaveryWasAChoice captured the absurdity of Kanye West’s bizarre analysis of American history, using stinging sarcasm to make clear that the rapper was not to be taken seriously.

Without Twitter, far fewer Americans would have heard the names Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland — black people whose deaths have become synonymous with #BlackLivesMatter activism. When users deployed the hashtag #TamirRice — the name of the 12-year-old black boy who was holding a toy gun when he was killed by a police officer — alongside #EmmettTill, the platform was being used to link current events to the long history of anti-black violence once documented by accounts like Ida B. Wells’s 1895 book “The Red Record.” These digital campaigns pushed many major news outlets to report more thoroughly on police shootings. The ways in which local and federal agencies collect and track use-of-force data have changed.

Long before #MeToo, hashtags like #YesAllWomen (used to note the pervasiveness of misogynistic violence), #GirlsLikeUs (used to discuss issues facing transgender women) and #YouOkSis (used to draw attention to black women’s experiences with street harassment) were deployed by diverse groups of women to illustrate how, to borrow the old feminist refrain, the personal is political.

Twitter users have disrupted a media landscape where gatekeepers — in an industry that has always fallen short when it comes to race and gender diversity — were for too long solely responsible for setting the agenda of what we talked about as a country. While most Americans do not have Twitter accounts, journalists and politicians often do, and they have turned heavily in the past decade to the activists, scholars and people of color on Twitter to inform their coverage and policies. When they haven’t done so, these communities have responded resoundingly online. And America has listened.

Twitter has fundamentally altered the ways many communities interact with the media, as users feel empowered to challenge harmful framing. “I think the presence of Asian-Americans on Twitter has actually really showed journalists, editors and people in general in the newsroom how it is important to cover Asian-American issues,” one user told my colleagues and me in an interview for a report published by the Knight Foundation. “With Twitter, you can call out a publication if they mess up, or if they don’t cover certain topics. Now there’s accountability.”

Film producers, television writers and advertisers have changed the way they create content to respond to fans who express their views online. Showrunners from USA Network and the CW have acknowledged the influence of Twitter fans on the content of their programs. Hashtags like #NotBuyingIt have called brands from Huggies to BMW to account for sexist ads. After a boycott promoted on Twitter, the Hallmark Channel reversed a decision to exclude advertisements featuring a lesbian couple. Gone are the days when a piece of art could promote stereotypes, demean women or ignore the existence of people of color without a backlash. Professional critics might identify these problems. Twitter users definitely will. They’ll demand better. And many times, they receive it.

It’s not surprising when powerful people resent Twitter, calling the critiques that come from it too negative, too intolerant, too sensitive. Twitter didn’t invent knee-jerk reactions, conflict or polarization, but it did expand the set of voices all of us have to hear.

Like all technological tools, Twitter can be exploited for evil and harnessed for good. Just as the printing press was used to publish content that argued fervently for slavery, it was also used by abolitionists to make the case for manumission. Just as radio and television were used to stir up the fervor of McCarthyism, they were also used to undermine it.

Twitter has fallen short in many ways. But this decade, it helped ordinary people change our world."
sarahjackson  activism  twitter  web  online  2010s  2019  hashtags  blacklivesmatter  metoo  consciousness  voice  politics  policy  organizing  oscarssowhite  communities  community  amplification  attention  socialmedia  race  gender  transgender 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolutionary Left Radio: Nina Simone: The Revolutionary High Priestess of Soul
"On this episode of Rev Left Radio, Zoe Samudzi returns to the show to reflect on the life, art, politics, and legacy of the one and only Nina Simone.

Check out Zoe and her work here: http://www.zoesamudzi.com/

Follow Zoe on Twitter @ztsamudzi

Listen to Zoe's other appearances on Rev Left here:

- https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/critical-race-theory-and-black-liberation-w-zo-samudzi

- https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/black-feminism-and-queer-theory-w-zoe-samudzi "
zoésamudzi  ninasimone  music  history  2019  politics  aesthetics  art  blackness  srg 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anand Giridharadas on Twitter: "My theory of beating Trump. Run a true progressive. And sell their policies in a way too few progressives do — in the languages of patriotism and personal transformation. Show people your way is the American way. And your
"The languages of justice and corruption are powerful. They’re the ones I speak in much of the time.

But I think we sometimes forget that America will be more fun, more thrilling, more joyous, full of better marriages and better holidays and better youths if these ideas succeed.

Progressive candidates can do better at helping people picture their lives on the other side of the mountain of change.

What will your marriage be like when you’re not stressed by debt and healthcare?

What books will you read to your kids when you’re not working three jobs?

Personal transformation is a powerful American vernacular. Except it’s about what you can do alone, as a self.

What I’m suggesting is that progressives co-opt this language but for grand public policy.

Sell health and education and tax policy as the real enablers of a new you.

And patriotism.

Don’t let the incrementalists and the defenders of ruthless corporations own the flag.

Taking care of each other is the American thing. Learning is the American thing. Paying your fair share is the American thing.

Root this fight in the language of country.

I don’t hear enough of these things.

I was born in Ohio. I went to college in Michigan. I now live in New York.

I believe these policies would benefit people in all these places. But some languages work better than others in the heartland.

Languages that are true to the facts.

At the end of the day, the country progressives want to build will be a more fun country to live in. That truth gets lost in the very worthy talk of oligarchy, corruption, and billionaires. I’m guilty of this, too.

We have to help people visualize the new America — and new them.

So that’s one guy’s take on how to defeat Trump while defeating what enabled Trump, while being mindful that doing so requires speaking to people who are non-native speakers of the language of social justice.

Check out the rest of my chat with @MMFlint: https://anchor.fm/rumble-with-michael-moore "
justice  corruption  anandgiridharadas  politics  progressive  progressivism  elections  2020  2019  patriotism  society  solidarity  personaltransformation  healthcare  inequality  medicine  change  debt  education  highered  highereducation  taxes  policy  centrism  incrementalism  corporatism  care  caring  us  economics  relationships  language  messaging  oligarchy  socialjustice  transformation  elizabethwarren  berniesanders  michaelmoore 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ep. 9: Please Let Me Rob You, I'm Woke (feat. Anand Giridharadas) from RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE on RadioPublic
[also available here:

https://anchor.fm/rumble-with-michael-moore/episodes/Ep–9-Please-Let-Me-Rob-You–Im-Woke-feat–Anand-Giridharadas-e9s5iu/a-a182c6l
https://open.spotify.com/episode/3j3jewq1yxOQ5eQpE5GdtJ
https://overcast.fm/+V18Uxlflk ]

“While the majority of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and one emergency away from financial peril, a new study shows that the 500 richest people in the world gained a combined $1.2 trillion in wealth in 2019. In the U.S., the richest 0.1% now control a bigger share of the pie than at any time since the beginning of the Great Depression.

But what happens when the very people hoarding this wealth at the expense of democracy, the environment and an equitable society, re-brand themselves as the people who will fix society’s problems? What happens when the arsonists pose as the firefighters?

Anand Giridharadas has been studying these questions and he joins Michael Moore to name names and discuss what to do about it.

Rumble Reads:

Anand’s book, “Winners Take All” is here:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539747/winners-take-all-by-anand-giridharadas/9780451493248

Follow Anand here:

https://twitter.com/AnandWrites

The Jamie Dimon “60 Minutes” episode that Michael and Anand ridicule is here:

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/jamie-dimon-jp-morgan-chase-ceo-the-60-minutes-interview-2019-11-10/

The new survey about the wealthiest people in the world is here :

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-27/world-s-richest-gain-1-2-trillion-as-kylie-baby-sharks-prosper
anandgiridharadas  michaelmoore  inequality  winnerstakeall  winwin  2019  us  wealth  power  economics  society  war  polarization  internet  work  labor  democracy  capitalism  abuse  proximity  barackobama  lloydblankfein  democrats  markzuckerberg  jeffbezos  billgates  politics  policy  wapo  washingtonpost  class  republicans  corporations  taxes  profits  mikepence  elections  corruption  finance  financialization  profiteering  banks  banking  investment  stockmarket  michaelbloomberg  liberals  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  oligarchy  plutocracy  kleptocracy  healthcare  cities  problemsolving  culture  elitism  climatechange  reputationlaundering  reputation  business  neoliberalism  wokemanickypercapitalism  latecapitalism  poverty  walmart  healthinsurance  pharmaceuticals  wendellpotter  change  profiteers  berniesanders  2020  fun  debt  education  highered  highereducation 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
You're not helping, Obama – just reinforcing myths about men v women | Arwa Mahdawi | Opinion | The Guardian
“Obama’s remark that women are ‘indisputably’ better than men points to the trope that women and men are innately different

Women are “indisputably” better than men, according to renowned male feminist Barack Obama.

“I’m absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything,” the former president recently opined at a private leadership event in Singapore.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Obama, but that’s complete nonsense. If every nation on earth was run by a woman like Jacinda Ardern it might be true. If the world were run by the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi, however, it would be quite another story. Women, you’ll be amazed to know, are not a monolithic group.

Obama’s sweeping statements about women aren’t just facile, they’re supremely unhelpful. They reinforce the myth that women and men are innately different; that women are biologically programmed to be more cooperative and compassionate than men. We’re not. We’re just socially conditioned to be people-pleasers. And, from day one, we’re held to higher standards than men; “boys will be boys” but girls are expected to be angels.

Having more female leaders is also completely meaningless if those women simply “lean in” to exploitative systems of power. It’s not old white men that are the problem, it’s patriarchal capitalism. It’s an economic system in which power and resources are hoarded by the few. It’s the conflation of “leadership” with stereotypically “male” traits like aggression. And it’s the idea that one sex is “indisputably” better than another.“
arwamahdawi  barackobama  feminism  patriarchy  politics  capitalism  gender  2019  sherylsandberg  power  leadership  exploitation 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism
"The problem is that the causal channels identified by Desmond don’t really explain the low road on which American capitalism undoubtedly runs. What do the monetary flows between the antebellum North and South, or the technologies developed on slave plantations, have to do with America’s low levels of social protection today? In the end Desmond’s argument comes down to the diffusion and persistence of what he calls (quoting Joshua Rothman) a “culture of speculation unique in its abandon.”

Leaving aside the question of how unique that culture actually was (the 1929 and 2007 financial crises that Desmond attributes to it were after all global crises), it remains a mystery how this culture persisted so long after the abolition of the institution which supposedly gave rise to it. Desmond’s language reflects the murky, even ghostly, character of that persistence: he points to “eerie” analogies between past and present; slavery is described in religious terms as a “national sin” that is “visited upon” later generations; and of course we get that most modern, and most American, of all metaphors for mysterious lineage: “slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism.”

But in truth there need be no mystery. For there are straightforward ways that slavery clearly influenced the development of American capitalism — ways that don’t require us to pad the numbers or believe in ghosts. The first and most obvious one is the legacy of anti-black racism that is powerfully described in other contributors to the 1619 Project. That legacy undoubtedly divided the American labor movement, weakened progressive political alliances, and undermined the provision of public goods (see for instance the excellent pieces by Kevin Kruse and Jeneen Interlandi in the same issue of the New York Times Magazine).

There is also a lesser-known but equally clear and durable influence of slavery evidenced in the work of legal and institutional historians that Desmond neglects, such as David Waldstreicher and Robin Einhorn. These historians point out that a major effect of slavery on US economic development came through its foundational influence on America’s legal and political institutions.

One of the central problems faced by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was how to create a common legal and political framework that would unite the slave states of the South with Northern states that were then in the process of abolishing slavery. The slave states were concerned that a strong federal government dominated by Northerners might tax their slaves or even abolish slavery.

The solution the delegates found was two-fold. On the one hand they ensured that the South was disproportionately represented at the federal level through the three-fifths clause. On the other hand, they reserved the bulk of fiscal and economic policymaking to the states themselves. Thus the constitution effectively restricted federal taxing and regulatory power to international and interstate commerce.

But even here slavery shaped the way that power would be used. Slave states were concerned about federal power to tax slave imports and slave-produced exports, but they also wanted the federal government to enforce their property claims when it came to fugitive slaves who might flee to the free states. The result was a restriction on the federal government’s taxing power (banning export taxes and limiting taxes on slave imports) and a strengthening of its power (vis a vis the states) to enforce property claims in the “fugitive slave clause.”

This division of federal and state power over slave property is not just manifest in now-dormant articles of the constitution dealing with slavery. It imbues all parts of the constitution and arguably lent to the American state system its distinctive form, which combines strong property protections with weak regulatory and fiscal powers (the introduction of a federal income tax in 1913 required a constitutional amendment).

Apologists for this system call it “competitive federalism.” The fugitive slave act and the commerce clause restricted the domestic power of the federal government — the most powerful entity in the state system — to protecting large merchants and enforcing property claims across state lines, i.e., ensuring the mobility of capital. Its powers to tax, spend, and interfere with the interests of the wealthy (e.g., through regulating banks or providing debt relief) were explicitly curtailed. Even the legal scholar Richard Epstein, a libertarian champion of competitive federalism, acknowledges that “it’s quite clear that the cause of limited government was advanced by the institution of slavery.”

In principle the states were left to regulate and tax as they liked, but their practical ability to do so was constrained by federally mandated capital mobility. This created a fiscal and regulatory race to the bottom, as the wealthy could force relatively weak state legislatures to compete for their investments — just as city and state governments prostrate themselves before Amazon and Boeing today. The infamous Dred Scott case was itself a matter of the federal judiciary protecting capital mobility (in that case the right of slave-owners to move through the territories with their slaves) and Robin Einhorn points out that the same principle was at work in later judicial interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment that allowed federal courts to strike down state-level labor regulations.

Einhorn’s point is not that the framers were all proslavery (they were not) nor that they intended to produce a capitalist paradise of unfettered accumulation. Her point is that in making certain concessions to the slave-owners the framers unintentionally generated those conditions. Slave-owners were particularly afraid of allowing democratic control over property because they were literally afraid of their property. They were haunted by the threat of slave insurrections, as well as foreign armies turning their slaves into enemy soldiers through offers of freedom (as the British had recently done). Einhorn concludes that “if property rights have enjoyed unusual sanctity in the United States, it may be because this nation was founded in a political situation in which the owners of one very significant form of property thought their holdings were insecure.”

The resulting balance of strong property protections and weak regulatory and taxing power may or may not have been conducive to economic growth (that’s for economic historians to figure out). But there is no doubt that it helped shift American capitalism onto the low road. In addition to the profound effect of slavery on America’s enduring racial inequality, slavery’s legacy for American capitalism may thus be found more in the structural constraints on US politics than in its direct contributions to the nineteenth-century American economy."
capitalism  history  slavery  us  2019  1619project  johnclegg  nytimes  matthewdesmond  civilwar  constitution  law  economics  race  racism  labor  work  unions  organizing  division  kevinkruse  jeneeninterlandi  davidwaldstricher  robineinhorn  politics  policy  commerce  taxes  taxation  fugitiveslaveact  capitalmobility  fourteenthamendment  abolition  propertyrights  property 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
David Klion🔥 on Twitter: “@DanLehner1 Less that centrism is cool and more that it’s aloof and unconcerned with human affairs, and thus willing to passively align itself with various conflicting ideological projects out of apathy” / Twitter
“Less that centrism is cool and more that it’s aloof and unconcerned with human affairs, and thus willing to passively align itself with various conflicting ideological projects out of apathy”
politics  davidkion  centrism  apathy  distance  2019  policy  via:lukeneff 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
The “Bernie Blackout” Could Help Sanders Win
"SEN. BERNIE SANDERS faced a media blackout that helped sink his 2016 run for president. Ahead of 2020, the trend continues: Sanders gets less media coverage and a higher rate of negative coverage than his top rivals for the Democratic nomination. But this time, says The Intercept’s D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim, the blackout could actually help Bernie win."
berniesanders  media  2019  2020  ryangrim  politics 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Candidates: Bernie Sanders - The New York Times
“We spoke with the Vermont senator about his journey from the fringes of American politics to the forefront — and the ideas that shaped him along the way.”



“In Part 2 of our series on pivotal moments in the lives of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, we spoke with Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and democratic socialist. Mr. Sanders reflected on his education in politics and how he galvanized grass-roots support to evolve from outraged outsider to mainstream candidate with little shift in his message.

Four key moments from our interview with the senator

His arrival in Vermont and early involvement with the Liberty Union

Although Mr. Sanders is best-known for his association with Vermont, the schoolhouse for his early career in politics, he spent his childhood in a rent-controlled apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. “Sensitivity to class was embedded in me then quite deeply,” Mr. Sanders has said of this time.

The factors that took him from Brooklyn to Vermont reflect an insistence on revolution that has colored his career.

Born to Polish immigrants and raised in precarious financial circumstances, Mr. Sanders had early inclinations toward socialism that were cemented with the death of his mother. Caring for her during his college years exposed him intimately to gaps in the American health care system.

Mr. Sanders went in search of a place that could nurture his nascent political ideology, visiting a socialist kibbutz in Israel and ultimately landing with the peaceniks of rural Vermont.

“I was doing some writing. I was banging nails, doing a little bit of carpentry work,” Mr. Sanders said of this time. He freelanced for an alternative newspaper, The Vermont Freeman, writing articles like “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death” while making film strips about a socialist he admired: Eugene Debs. Mr. Debs was the “Socialist Party candidate for president six times,” Mr. Sanders noted. “You know, somebody I admired a whole lot.”

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Debs have something in common: resilience in the face of political failure. In Vermont, Mr. Sanders became involved with a fringe political party, the Liberty Union, that sought to champion industrial nationalization and opposition to the Vietnam War. Mr. Sanders ran as a Liberty Union candidate in four state elections, receiving less than 5 percent of the vote each time.

His promise to address wealth inequality and his condemnation of billionaires began to resonate with working-class people upstate. Soon, he had his eyes fixed on the 1981 race for mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city.

Winning his first election — by 10 votes

“You would literally not believe if I told you how little we knew about politics,” Mr. Sanders said of his first race for mayor.

“I mean real politics,” he said. “It’s one thing to run for statewide office knowing you’re not going to win and get on a radio show and talk about issues, which I could do. But the nitty-gritty of politics, you know.”

Mr. Sanders’s strategy was to mobilize grass-roots support in the working-class districts of Burlington — specifically people in “low-income housing projects where people were getting a raw deal from the city,” he said.

In doing so, Mr. Sanders generated a higher turnout than most mayoral races commanded. After a recount, Mr. Sanders won by 10 votes, beating a 10-year incumbent and roiling establishment politicians in the city.

“Lessons of this moment is that winning politics is grass-roots politics.” Mr. Sanders said “that winning politics is developing coalitions of working people, of low-income people, of women, of environmentalists.”

A parallel city government

Mr. Sanders faced the limits of his political outrage during his first term as mayor, which became an education in coalition building. He was viewed by the Board of Aldermen, Burlington’s version of a city council, as “an accident that should never have happened,” he said.

“Bernie Sanders is a fluke,” he said. “That was the word they used.”

Mr. Sanders had to figure out how to accomplish his agenda despite opposition from Democrats and Republicans. After the board fired his secretary, Mr. Sanders got the message that his appointees would not be welcome in the city government. “It was a brutal year,” he said. “So what we had to do was literally form a parallel city government.”

He gathered volunteers to staff his informal team of unpaid appointees. They started “neighborhood planning associations,” allocating city funds to neighborhood councils to spend at their discretion. In doing so, they cultivated a widespread sense of antagonism toward the board.

By knocking doors in a freezing Burlington winter, Mr. Sanders nearly doubled voter turnout in the board election the coming year. Turnout “was just off the charts,” he said.

Unseating board members in working-class districts gave him the support his agenda needed, enabling his rise as a major political figure in the state.

Going national

Mr. Sanders began to connect his structural grievances with national politics to his constituency — working to convince local voters that the actions of far-off politicians in far-off places should matter to them.

In doing so, he managed to fix Burlington’s pot holes and plow the streets while also establishing relations with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. His rejection of American intervention in Latin America resulted in his controversial support for the Nicaraguan leftist leader Daniel Ortega.

Asked about this stance, Mr. Sanders said he believed at the time that the United States should not be involved with “overthrowing small governments.”

“We were aware that this was a very controversial moment,” he added. “We were also aware that the United States at that time was supporting many governments in Latin America who were much more brutal than Ortega was.”

Mr. Sanders says that his campaign against intervention was relevant to Burlington. “If we were spending a whole lot of money in Washington under Reagan — investing in military spending or we’re giving tax breaks to the rich — that impacted the city of Burlington,” he said.

Today, his insistence that the global affects the local still forms the bedrock of his presidential platform — one that is built on overhauling health care, tax policy and the national budget. He says that if Washington is “spending this money on the military or they’re busy invading another country or whatever they’re doing, we should be speaking up on those issues.”

“All of this,” he said, “has to do with empowering people to understand that in a democracy, they can determine the future.””
berniesanders  history  burlington  vermont  politics  grassroots  coalitions  2020  2019  us  organizing  sandinistas  danielortega  nicaragua  sovietunion  sistercities  integrity  local  national  economics  democracy 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Young Left Is a Third Party - The Atlantic
“The United States is a fortress of gerontocracy besieged by a youth rebellion. America’s leaders are old—very old. The average age in Congress has never been higher, and our national leaders are all approaching 80. Nancy Pelosi was born in 1940, Mitch McConnell came along in 1942, and Donald Trump, the baby of this power trio, followed in 1946, making him several weeks older than his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are 77 and 78 years old, respectively. Every individual in this paragraph came into the world before the International Monetary Fund and the CIA; before the invention of the transistor and the Polaroid camera; before the Roswell UFO incident and the independence of India.

The nation’s finances are almost as skewed toward the elderly as its politics are. Americans 55 and up account for less than one-third of the population, but they own two-thirds of the nation’s wealth, according to the Federal Reserve. That’s the highest level of elderly wealth concentration on record. The reason is simple: To an unprecedented degree, older Americans own the most valuable real estate and investment portfolios. They’ve captured more than 80 percent of stock-market growth since the end of the Great Recession.

Americans under the age of 40, for their part, are historically well educated, historically peaceful, and historically law-abiding. But this impressive résumé of conscientiousness hasn’t translated into much economic or political power.

Instead, young Americans beset with high student debt ran into the buzz saw of a painful recession and slow recovery. Today they are poorer, in income and in wealth, than similarly young groups of previous decades. “In the U.S, as in the U.K. and in much of Europe, 2008 was the end of the end of history,” says Keir Milburn, the author of Generation Left, a book on young left-wing movements. “The last decade in the U.K. has been the worst decade for wage growth for 220 years. In the U.S., this generation is the first in a century that expects to have lower lifetime earnings than their parents. It has created an epochal shift.”

Young Americans demanding more power, control, and justice have veered sharply to the left. This lurch was first evident in the two elections of Barack Obama, when he won the youth vote by huge margins. And young Americans didn’t edge back to the political center under Obama; they just kept moving left. Obama won about 60 percent of voters younger than 30 in the 2008 primary. Bernie Sanders won more than 70 percent of under-30 voters in the 2016 primary, which pushed Hillary Clinton to the left and dragged issues like Medicare for All and free college from the fringe to the mainstream of political debate.

To many observers, it might seem like young voters have remade the Democratic Party in their image—as a claque of “woke” socialists. In May, the historian Niall Ferguson and Eyck Freymann, a research analyst, wrote in The Atlantic that the U.S. was at the brink of a great generation war, in which older conservative Republicans would do battle with Democrats, who were “rapidly becoming the party of the young.”

But upon closer examination, the Democrats aren’t really the party of the young—or, for that matter, of social-justice leftists. In the most sophisticated poll of the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden polled at 2 percent among voters under 30, within the margin of error of zero. Nationally, he is in single digits among Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996. Yet Biden is the Democratic front-runner for the 2020 presidential nomination, thanks to his huge advantage among older voters—especially older black voters—who are considerably more moderate than younger Democrats.

Bernie Sanders, by contrast, leads all candidates among voters under 30 and polls just 5 percent among voters over 65. In a national Quinnipiac poll asking voters which candidate has the best ideas, Sanders crushes Biden 27 percent to 4 percent among those under 35 and receives an equal and opposite crushing at the hands of Biden among voters over 65: 28 percent to 4 percent.

Age ‬doesn’t just divide Republicans and Democrats from each other, in other words; age divides young leftists from both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats under 30 have almost no measurable interest in the party’s front-runner. Democrats over 65 have almost no measurable interest in the favored candidate of the younger generation. ‬This is not a picture of Democrats smoothly transforming into the “party of the young.” It’s evidence that age—perhaps even more than class or race—is now the most important fault line within the Democratic Party.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

It might be most useful to think about ‬young progressives as a third party trapped in a two-party system. Radicalized by America’s political sclerosis and economic and social inequality, they are a powerful movement politically domiciled within a larger coalition of moderate older minorities and educated suburbanites, who don’t always know what to do with their rambunctious bunkmates.

What would this progressive third party’s platform look like? In one word, justice: Social justice, sought through a reappraisal of power relationships in social and corporate life, and economic justice, sought through the redistribution of income from the rich to the less fortunate.

One can make out the contours of this agenda in “Hidden Tribes,” a 2018 study of the political views of 8,000 Americans, which sorted the country’s voting-age population into seven political groups. The study called the youngest and most left-wing group in the survey Progressive Activists. They accounted for 8 percent of the population and as much as one-third of likely voters in the Democratic Party, due to their higher-than-average engagement in politics. (I don’t want to imply that Sanders voters and the Progressive Activist tribe are synonymous: The demographics of Elizabeth Warren’s support suggest that she attracts a large number of Progressive Activists too.)

Compared with the average American, Progressive Activists—“young, secular, cosmopolitan, and angry”—were more likely to be under 30, college-educated, and white; twice as likely to say they never pray; and three times as likely to say they’re “ashamed” of the country. They are motivated by the existential threat of climate change, strongly pro-immigration, and more concerned about police brutality than about crime or terrorism. Perhaps most distinctive, they are attuned to structural challenges in society and skeptical of the individualist strain of the American dream. In response to a question about whether personal responsibility or broader socioeconomic factors are more important for determining success, 95 percent of Progressive Activists said that “some people’s situations are so challenging that no amount of work will allow them to find success.” Most Americans, including 69 percent of moderates, preferred this statement: “People who work hard can find success no matter what situation they were born into.”

This group’s support for Medicare for All, free college, and student-debt relief is sometimes likened to a “give me free stuff” movement. But every movement wants free stuff, if by free stuff one means “stuff given preferential treatment in the tax code.” By this definition, Medicare is free stuff, and investment income is free stuff, and suburban home values propped up by the mortgage-interest deduction are free stuff. The free stuff in the tax code today benefits Americans with income and wealth—a population that is disproportionately old. Medicare for All might be politically infeasible, but it is, taken literally, a request that the federal government extend to the entire population the insurance benefits now exclusively reserved for the elderly. That’s not hatred or resentment; it sounds more like justice.

Ben Judah: The Millennial left is tired of waiting

Most Americans over 40 support several measures of both social justice and economic justice. But across ethnicities, many Americans have a deep aversion to anything that can be characterized as “political correctness” or “socialism.” And this might be the biggest challenge for the young progressive agenda.

For example, the Democratic presidential candidates who focused most explicitly on sexism and racial injustice have flamed out. In its premortem for Kamala Harris’s presidential run, The New York Times quoted one anonymous adviser who blamed the candidate’s struggles on the misguided idealism of her younger staffers, who took their cues from an unrepresentative sample of Twitter activists. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign, too, was widely derided as a shallow attempt to create viral moments for his woke online followers. ‬Notably, these candidates failed to win much support among the very demographic groups for which they were advocating. ‬‬

Second, the progressive economic agenda might be suffused with the egalitarian ethic, but its landmark policies aren’t that popular. While Medicare for All often polls well, its public support is exquisitely sensitive to framing. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the net favorability of eliminating private insurance or requiring most Americans to pay more in taxes—both part of the Sanders plan—is negative-23 points.

The Medicare for All debate is a microcosm of a larger divide. The young left’s deep skepticism toward capitalism simply isn’t shared by previous generations. According to Gallup polling, Gen X is firmly pro-capitalist and Baby Boomers, who came of age during the Cold War, prefer capitalism over socialism by a two-to-one margin. (You can point out to your parents that Social Security and Medicare are, essentially, socialism for the old, but that’s not the same as converting them into Berniecrats.)

“This is only the … [more]
politics  us  2019  derekthompson  progressive  berniesanders  boomers  generations  geny  millennials  government  medicareforall  highered  highereducation  justice  socialjustice  economics  priorities  democrats  democracy  socialism  medicare  socialsecurity  wealth  inequality  babyboomers  generationy 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Don’t Think Sanders Can Win? You Don’t Understand His Campaign - The New York Times
“Mr. Sanders has not diluted his message since then, but has instead recommitted to his promises of “big government” socialist reforms — all the while pulling other candidates to his side. Although Mr. Sanders grows in popularity, neither the Democratic Party establishment nor the mainstream media really understand his campaign. That’s because it disregards conventional wisdom in politics today — tax cuts for the elite and corporations and public-private partnerships to finance health care, education, housing and other public services.

After months of predictions of its premature end, Bernie Sanders’s improbable run continues its forward movement. In October, pundits and other election experts suggested that perhaps Mr. Sanders should leave the race and throw his support to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in the wake of her rising poll numbers and his heart attack. But doubts quickly gave way to excitement when Mr. Sanders captured the coveted endorsement of Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. She was soon joined by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

The spirited endorsements of three-quarters of the so-called squad illustrates how Mr. Sanders’s campaign has grown from 2016 when it was criticized for being too white, too male and for underestimating the salience of race and gender oppression. Some of that criticism was overstated. Indeed Mr. Sanders won 52 percent of the black millennial vote in 2016 and was supported by Black Lives Matter activists like Erica Garner, who passed away in 2017. But Mr. Sanders took the criticisms seriously anyway.

Much of the media, though, has been stuck in 2016 and has missed the ways that the Sanders campaign has transformed into a tribune of the oppressed and marginalized. We can also measure this change in the endorsement of Philip Agnew, the former head of the Florida-based Dream Defenders and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement who has become a campaign surrogate. As well as the endorsement of the Center for Popular Democracy Action on Tuesday, a powerful coalition of more than 40 progressive community groups which will now rally their 600,000 members across the country to organize voters in support of Mr. Sanders. These developments defy the caricature of his campaign as impossibly sexist and implicitly racist.

Instead, Mr. Sanders has reached the typically invisible, downwardly mobile working class with his language of “class warfare.” He has tapped into the anger and bitterness coursing through the lives of regular people who have found it increasingly impossible to make ends meet in this grossly unequal society. Without cynicism or the typical racist explanations that blame African-Americans and Latino immigrants for their own financial hardship, Mr. Sanders blames capitalism. His demands for a redistribution of wealth from the top to the rest of society and universal, government-backed programs have resonated with the forgotten residents of the country.

Since Mr. Trump’s election, “class,” when it’s discussed at all, has been invoked for its hazy power to chart Mr. Trump’s rise and potential fall. Recall the endless analyses of poor and working-class white voters shortly after his election and the few examinations of poor and working-class people of color. But the Sanders campaign has become a powerful platform to amplify the experiences of this multiracial contingent.

Under normal circumstances, the multiracial working class is invisible. This has meant its support for Mr. Sanders’s candidacy has been hard to register in the mainstream coverage of the Democratic race. But these voters are crucial to understanding the resilience of the Sanders campaign, which has been fueled by small dollar donations from more than one million people, a feat none of his opponents has matched. Remarkably, he also has at least 130,000 recurring donors, some of whom make monthly contributions.

Adding to that, Mr. Sanders is the top recipient for donations by teachers, farmers, servers, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, truckers, nurses and drivers as of September. He claims that his donors’ most common employers are Starbucks, Amazon and Walmart, and the most common profession is teaching. Mr. Sanders is also the leading recipient of donations from Latinos as well as the most popular Democrat among registered Latinos who plan to vote in the Nevada and California primaries. According to Essence magazine, Mr. Sanders is the favorite candidate among black women aged 18 to 34. Only 49 percent of his supporters are white, compared with 71 percent of Warren supporters. Perhaps most surprising, more women under 45 support him than men under 45.

Mr. Sanders’s popularity among these voters may be what alienates him within the political establishment and mainstream media. The leadership of the Democratic Party regularly preaches that moderation and pragmatism can appeal to “centrist” Democrats as well as Republicans skeptical of Mr. Trump. It is remarkable that this strategy still has legs after its spectacular failure for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton’s rejoinder to Mr. Trump that “America never stopped being great” was tone deaf to millions of ordinary Americans struggling with debt, police brutality and pervasive inequality. Simply focusing on the boorishness of Mr. Trump or offering watered-down versions of what has made Mr. Sanders a household name will not motivate those who do not typically vote or angry voters who recoil at the cynicism of calculating politicians.

In many respects, Bernie Sanders’s standing in the Democratic Party field is shocking. After all, the United States government spent more than half of the 20th century locked in a Cold War against Soviet Communism. That an open and proud socialist is tied with Ms. Warren for second place in the race speaks to the mounting failures of free market capitalism to produce a decent life for a growing number of people. There was a time in America when being called a socialist could end a political career, but Bernie Sanders may ride that label all the way to the White House.”
2019  2020  berniesanders  democrats  elections  keeanga-yamahttataylor  socialism  class  race  campaigning  politics  policy  age  youth  2016  cynicism  media  inequality  labor  marginalization  policebrutality 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anthony Breznican on Twitter: "This is the Nativity display outside the Claremont United Methodist Church in California. It's making some people very upset. And it should. 1/ https://t.co/PN0XmS4Ora" / Twitter
“This is the Nativity display outside the Claremont United Methodist Church in California.

It’s making some people very upset. And it should.

1/

Karen Clark Ristine, a senior minister at the church, shared the image on Facebook with this message.

I wish everyone in the United States would read it this Christmas: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10162927707980314&set=a.10150545085870314&type=3&theater
Stirred to tears by the Claremont UMC nativity. Inside the church, the Holy Family is reunited.

The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death.

What if this family sought refuge in our country today?

Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years.

Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.
He said: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35

In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders.

Inside the church, you will see this same family reunited, the Holy Family together, in a nativity that joins the angels in singing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to all.” Luke 2:14

#holyfamilyseparated #endfamilyseparation

The comments are filling up with MAGA rage. I am sorry for the souls of these people

I love the Nativity story. I love it not because it is warm and fuzzy, but because it is about perseverance against cruelty.

No one saves them. The child is born in squalor, hiding among animals. He rests in a manger — which is not a hay-stuffed crib but a feeding trough.

The monster of the Nativity story is not King Herod, the bloodthirsty tyrant. He is just the backdrop.

The villain is the innkeeper, a common everyday person, who sees their dire situation and chooses not to help.

No room. Sorry.

America is full of innkeepers these days.

The stable is not the pristine, rustic structure we see in displays. It is the equivalent of being born in an alley beside a dumpster.

Who shows them kindness? The shepherds. Other poor, dirty, desperate people. They have nothing, but help anyway, even though they’re afraid.

Then the wise men come from afar. Others call them “three kings.”

I always thought of them not as professors or prophets, but simply people who saw the situation with clear eyes, with wisdom, who had empathy, who wanted to help even though they were from elsewhere.

It’s a beautiful story, rendered more beautiful by Claremont United Methodist Church for making us see it clearly today.

Who will help? Who will turn away?

How do we open the eyes of the innkeepers, especially when seeing something like this only infuriates them?

/”
nativity  christianity  refugees  poverty  2019  us  politics  compassion  kindness  religion  anthonybreznican  donaltrump  migration  immigration  border  borders  borderpatrol  mercy  karenclarkristine 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Current Affairs - UNLOCKED! Ryan Grim on following Sanders and Warren since the 2000s | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts
"We've unlocked a bonus episode from the Patreon feed! In this episode, Current Affairs host Pete Davis sits down with Ryan Grim, author and DC bureau chief for The Intercept. Ryan shares his experiences as one of the few progressive reporters in Capitol Hill in the 2000s, and gives the inside scoop on Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi, among others. Ryan's book We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement is available here: https://strongarmpress.com/catalog/weve-got-people/ This episode was edited by Dan Thorn of Pink Noise Studios in Somerville, MA."
berniesanders  elizabethwarren  chuckschumer  harryreid  nancypelosi  democrats  politics  us  2019  ryangrim  sanfrancisco  fundraising  journalism  media  newgildedage  power  chrisdodd  stevebannon  leftism  left  finance  healthcare  medicareforall  diannefeinstein  facts  news  theory  politicalreporting  jessejackson  hottakes  elections  2016  2020  1988  1984  rainbowcoalition  influence  petedavis 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
"The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate" thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples' today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin--which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota--or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, etc.--and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary, European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the of the European intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they "secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say--and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment--that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one--is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology--and that is put in his own terms--he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx'--and his followers'--links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open--in the European view--to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood--a replenishable, natural item--as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate which they can show a good profit. That's their ethic, and maybe they will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's … [more]
russellmeans  1980  writing  oraltradition  lakota  thinking  abstraction  indigeneity  genocide  resistance  marxism  culture  outsiders  education  unschooling  deschooling  leftism  anarchism  johnlocke  adamsmith  descartes  physics  politics  economics  christianity  religion  efficiency  spirituality  complexity  hegel  karlmarx  materialism  isaacnewton  dehumanization  despiritualization  progress  development  victory  freedom  loss  indoctrination  schools  schooling  scientism  rationalism  capitalism  redistribution  truth  revolution  society  industrialization  sovietunion  china  vietnam  order  indigenous  alternative  values  traditions  theory  practice  praxis  westernism  europe  posthumanism  morethanhuman  rationality  belief  ideology  nature  survival  extermination  whiteness  whitesupremacy  community  caucasians  deathculture  isms  revolt  leaders  idols  leadership  activism  words  language  canon  environment  sustainability 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Joe Biden’s Frantic Defense of the Status Quo | The New Republic
"There is a third, less discussed possibility. Yes, Joe Biden may well know better than to expect change from the Republican Party. Moreover, he may indeed see political advantages in implying he does in spite of this. But Biden may also have a larger goal in mind: He wants to preserve the American people’s belief in the Republican Party because he wants the American people to retain their faith in the American political system. If the Republican Party is beyond redemption, that system—having evolved into a duopoly whose norms and institutions depend on the responsible stewardship of each party—is no longer workable. And if the people most disadvantaged by the state of the system come to realize that it’s no longer workable, they are bound to start making demands as radically disruptive as the system is radically out of whack—demands not only for political reforms, such as the abolition of the Electoral College or packing the Supreme Court, but for a new class of leaders, or perhaps no class at all. The entire political infrastructure built around the status quo—the foundations and think tanks, the strategists and consultants, the respected donors and esteemed thought leaders—would then begin to collapse. Figures like Biden and Obama would find themselves helpless and irrelevant."
joebiden  2019  politics  democrats  republicans  elections  2020  statusquo  duopoly  barackoabama  electoralcollege  supremecourt  elitism  ositanwanevu 
november 2019 by robertogreco
The progressive case against Obama | Salon.com
"So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he's a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he's a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it's just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it's important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered? And the chart below answers the question. This chart reflects the progressive case against Obama.

The above is a chart of corporate profits against the main store of savings for most Americans who have savings -- home equity. Notice that after the crisis, after the Obama inflection point, corporate profits recovered dramatically and surpassed previous highs, whereas home equity levels have remained static. That $5-7 trillion of lost savings did not come back, whereas financial assets and corporate profits did. Also notice that this is unprecedented in postwar history. Home equity levels and corporate profits have simply never diverged in this way; what was good for GM had always, until recently, been good, if not for America, for the balance sheet of homeowners. Obama's policies severed this link, completely.

This split represents more than money. It represents a new kind of politics, one where Obama, and yes, he did this, officially enshrined rights for the elite in our constitutional order and removed rights from everyone else (see "The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship" in the Fordham Urban Law Journal for a more complete discussion of the problem). The bailouts and the associated Federal Reserve actions were not primarily shifts of funds to bankers; they were a guarantee that property rights for a certain class of creditors were immune from challenge or market forces. The foreclosure crisis, with its rampant criminality, predatory lending, and document forgeries, represents the flip side. Property rights for debtors simply increasingly exist solely at the pleasure of the powerful. The lack of prosecution of Wall Street executives, the ability of banks to borrow at 0 percent from the Federal Reserve while most of us face credit card rates of 15-30 percent, and the bailouts are all part of the re-creation of the American system of law around Obama's oligarchy.

The policy continuity with Bush is a stark contrast to what Obama offered as a candidate. Look at the broken promises from the 2008 Democratic platform: a higher minimum wage, a ban on the replacement of striking workers, seven days of paid sick leave, a more diverse media ownership structure, renegotiation of NAFTA, letting bankruptcy judges write down mortgage debt, a ban on illegal wiretaps, an end to national security letters, stopping the war on whistle-blowers, passing the Employee Free Choice Act, restoring habeas corpus, and labor protections in the FAA bill. Each of these pledges would have tilted bargaining leverage to debtors, to labor, or to political dissidents. So Obama promised them to distinguish himself from Bush, and then went back on his word because these promises didn't fit with the larger policy arc of shifting American society toward his vision. For sure, Obama believes he is doing the right thing, that his policies are what's best for society. He is a conservative technocrat, running a policy architecture to ensure that conservative technocrats like him run the complex machinery of the state and reap private rewards from doing so. Radical political and economic inequality is the result. None of these policy shifts, with the exception of TARP, is that important in and of themselves, but together they add up to declining living standards.

While life has never been fair, the chart above shows that, since World War II, this level of official legal, political and economic inequity for the broad mass of the public is new (though obviously for subgroups, like African-Americans, it was not new). It is as if America's traditional racial segregationist tendencies have been reorganized, and the tools and tactics of that system have been repurposed for a multicultural elite colonizing a multicultural population. The data bears this out: Under Bush, economic inequality was bad, as 65 cents of every dollar of income growth went to the top 1 percent. Under Obama, however, that number is 93 cents out of every dollar. That's right, under Barack Obama there is more economic inequality than under George W. Bush. And if you look at the chart above, most of this shift happened in 2009-2010, when Democrats controlled Congress. This was not, in other words, the doing of the mean Republican Congress. And it's not strictly a result of the financial crisis; after all, corporate profits did crash, like housing values did, but they also recovered, while housing values have not.

This is the shape of the system Obama has designed. It is intentional, it is the modern American order, and it has a certain equilibrium, the kind we identify in Middle Eastern resource extraction based economies. We are even seeing, as I showed in an earlier post, a transition of the American economic order toward a petro-state. By some accounts, America will be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world, bigger than Saudi Arabia. This is just not an America that any of us should want to live in. It is a country whose economic basis is oligarchy, whose political system is authoritarianism, and whose political culture is murderous toward the rest of the world and suicidal in our aggressive lack of attention to climate change.

Many will claim that Obama was stymied by a Republican Congress. But the primary policy framework Obama put in place - the bailouts, took place during the transition and the immediate months after the election, when Obama had enormous leverage over the Bush administration and then a dominant Democratic Party in Congress. In fact, during the transition itself, Bush's Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right -- the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis. And with Neil Barofsky's book "Bailout," we see why. Tim Geithner said, in private meetings, that the foreclosure mitigation programs were not meant to mitigate foreclosures, but to spread out pain for the banks, the famous "foam the runway" comment. This central lie is key to the entire Obama economic strategy. It is not that Obama was stymied by Congress, or was up against a system, or faced a massive crisis, which led to the shape of the economy we see today. Rather, Obama had a handshake deal to help the middle class offered to him by Paulson, and Obama said no. He was not constrained by anything but his own policy instincts. And the reflation of corporate profits and financial assets and death of the middle class were the predictable results.

The rest of Obama's policy framework looks very different when you wake up from the dream state pushed by cable news. Obama's history of personal use of illegal narcotics, combined with his escalation of the war on medical marijuana (despite declining support for the drug war in the Democratic caucus), shows both a personal hypocrisy and destructive cynicism that we should decry in anyone, let alone an important policymaker who helps keep a half a million people in jail for participating in a legitimate economy outlawed by the drug warrior industry. But it makes sense once you realize that his policy architecture coheres with a Romney-like philosophy that there is one set of rules for the little people, and another for the important people. It's why the administration quietly pushed Chinese investment in American infrastructure, seeks to privatize public education, removed labor protections from the FAA authorization bill, and inserted a provision into the stimulus bill ensuring AIG bonuses would be paid, and then lied about it to avoid blame. Wall Street speculator who rigged markets are simply smart and savvy businessmen, as Obama called Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, whereas the millions who fell prey to their predatory lending schemes are irresponsible borrowers. And it's why Obama is explicitly targeting entitlements, insurance programs for which Americans paid. Obama wants to preserve these programs for the "most vulnerable," but that's still a taking. Did not every American pay into Social Security and Medicare? They did, but as with the foreclosure crisis, property rights (which are essential legal rights) of the rest of us are irrelevant. While Romney is explicit about 47 percent of the country being worthless, Obama just acts as if they are charity cases. In neither case does either candidate treat the mass of the public as fellow citizens."
2012  mattstoller  barackobama  policiy  inequality  economics  elitism  larrysummers  mittromney  flagunisheth  governance  democrats  corporatism  wealth  financialcrisis  finance  greatrecession  equity  inequity  rights  housingbubble  housingcrash  bailouts  oligarchy  georgewbush  nafta  labor  work  us  politics  barneyfrank  hankpaulson  middleclass  hypocrisy  socialsecurity  medicare  propertyrights 
november 2019 by robertogreco
paying for civilization
"The other day I was walking the dogs along a favorite trail, turned a corner, and realized there’d been a significant re-routing. They’d closed a section of the old trail, which was rocky and treacherous and steep in winter, and rerouted a new, evenly graded trail to the side. A few yards down, they’d planted a new row of saplings, protecting them from the hungry deer with chicken wire. A bit farther down the trail, they’d opened up a once-fenced and densely wooded section of the trail to create a small sitting area overlooking a small, usually hidden reservoir. I actually gasped when I saw it. I was so surprised, happy, grateful. What a gift!

I use the word ‘they’ as if it were people, and of course people did the work. But in a way, I gave that gift to myself. Or everyone in Missoula gave that gift to me. A whole host of trail maintenance programs are funded by the Missoula Open Space Bond, which funds the conservation and maintenance of trails, rivers, and open spaces in the county. It helps restore busted habitats, and continues work on a project making it so that there’s a trailhead within ten minutes of everyone in the county — not just people who live in the more desirable areas. It’s regrading hills to make trails more accessible. It’s making civilization better, more livable. And I fucking love paying for it. That’s what I say every time I pay my taxes: I love paying for civilization.

I don’t know where the American attitude towards taxes came from. I do know that growing up, through some combination of pop culture and adult figures, I somehow internalized the idea that taxes are bad, and smart people spend a lot of money figuring out how not to pay them. It’s not tax evasion, it’s good business sense. Or something like that. Weirdly, that began to change when I actually started working. I didn’t make enough in my 20s to pay hardly any taxes. In fact, I was making so little for much of my grad school career that I became accustomed to large refunds at the end of every year, which felt like bonanzas, but made me feel sheepish: you don’t even make enough for us to really tax you.

After grad school, those refunds began to disappear. I moved to New York, where everyone bitches about the city taxes. But I also looked around me and saw marvels of the city everywhere. Every time I walked along the Brooklyn piers, or used a public drinking fountain, or watched the streets being cleaned of New York filth, or even riding the broken subway. Did I want the subway to be fixed? Of course! Was I nonetheless grateful for a marvel that transports 4.3 million people in the city every damn day? Yes. Again: I love paying for civilization.

I had to find a financial advisor earlier this year, mostly because I had a book advance and needed to come up with a strategy to pay down my still massive student loans. He’s a nice guy, very smart, but when we sat down, he immediately started telling me about the complex ways I could shelter my earnings from taxes. When I told him I was down with paying taxes, it was difficult to tell if he was just surprised or just thought I was stupid — which presupposes the idea that smart people pay less taxes. I’m not dumb, and I take deductions like everyone else. But I’ve also made a conscious decision to think of paying taxes not as a burden to get out of, but as a willingly performed obligation, a way of being a citizen in my community.

My property tax statement came in the mail last month. In Montana, it lists the specific allocation of every tax dollar, down to the penny. We’re spending $50.66 on the county library. $3.84 on “relationship violence services.” $14.08 on “aging services.” $519.98 on elementary schools, and $168.90 for “elementary equalization,” which goes towards school districts that don’t get the same $$$ in property taxes. $14.48 in weed control. $35.99 towards the beloved neighborhood park, where there’s a natural iceskating rink and hoards of children and so much room for the dogs to run. $7.68 in substance abuse prevention. And $56.70 towards the Open Space bond, which includes that regraded path and sitting area.

I don’t have kids, so I don’t personally “use” the public school system. I don’t have friends or family members in substance abuse programs, or in need of assistance fleeing domestic abuse. I don’t (yet) need aging services. But the idea that I should only pay for things that benefit me directly is anathema to me. Every single thing on that list benefits me in some way, because it benefits the community around me. Kids’ education matters not because they’re my kids, but because education matters, in general. I might not need rescue services in the woods out in the corner of the county, but some day, maybe I would. Maybe I would need help in some way that’s currently unimaginable to me. Paying taxes means caring for other people, even if their circumstances aren’t identical to your own. And for all of our best intentions, sometimes we need incentive to care about other people.

I’ve spent a lot of time reporting on and talking to libertarians and conservatives who object to nearly all forms of taxation and government spending, apart from roads. They believe that individuals should be able to decide which programs are important to them, and fund them accordingly — personally, through non-profits, through churches. I get the impulse; we work hard for our money and we’ve internalized a “right” to agency over where it’s directed. Within that model, there are all sorts of services that would fall through the cracks — and not just weed control. Just look at the GoFundMe model: if you have a cute kid, an incredibly tragic or melodramatic story, and a good marketing sense, your plea for assistance might go viral and be filled. But the vast majority go unfunded and unfound. Leaving services up to subjective giving means allowing so many people, and projects, to fall through the cracks. Taxes create a remove — and foils our very human, but very uneven, impulses.

Which isn’t to say that I like everything my taxes fund — military spending in particular. I don’t like bloat or waste; who does? But I also don’t think that entire programs and services should be cut, or cut to the bone, in the name of giving me $14.07 more a year. I support and vote for candidates who advocate for responsible spending — but spending nonetheless. I get annoyed at the hand-wringing over whether or not something like Elizabeth Warren’s health care plan will raise taxes on the middle class, because I’d much rather pay more taxes and far less in personal health care costs and premiums — while also reveling in the ways universal health care would liberate myself and others from “job lock,” and the constant fear of medical debt, and fear in general. How much is too much to pay to make life substantively better for so many people around you?

This all comes back to an idea I touched on a few weeks ago, thinking about how you can decrease burnout in others. One way is by not practicing burnout behaviors that affect everyone you encounter. Another is working to create and normalize social safety nets that take away even one massive burden and fear — for yourself, for your neighbors, for your coworkers, for people you’ll never meet but whose mental and physical contributions to society nevertheless matter.

I love that a huge truck comes by the first week of November and sucks up all the leaves from the street. I love my trails. I love that the roads get plowed, even when it takes a bit. I love that the bus is free, even though I’m going to keep voting for people who want more buses, more routes. I love the library — it doesn’t matter that I hardly use it; I love that it’s there for others, and that it’s always full. I love the weed control that prevents the forests from being overtaken by noxious invasive species. And I love all the projects that seemingly benefit me not at all, because they make life better and livable for someone else.

Think about all the things in your life and community that you help pay for every day. You create and maintain civilization, every day. Taxes! What a blessing, to be able to care for others in this way."
taxes  society  civilization  collectivism  education  healthcare  parks  socialsafetynet  annehelenpetersen  2019  well-being  politics  libertarianism  communities  community  government  missoula  aging  retirement  socialsecurity  publicschools  care  caring  taxation  roads  infrastructure  services 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | What Quakers Can Teach Us About the Politics of Pronouns - The New York Times
"In the 17th century, they also suspected that the rules of grammar stood between them and a society of equals.

Pronouns are the most political parts of speech. In English, defaulting to the feminine “she/her” when referring to a person of unspecified gender, instead of the masculine “he/him,” has long been a way of thumbing one’s nose at the patriarchy. (“When a politician votes, she must consider the public mood.”)

More recently, trans, nonbinary and genderqueer activists have promoted the use of gender-inclusive pronouns such as the singular “they/their” and “ze/zir” (instead of “he/him” or “she/her”). The logic here is no less political: If individuals — not grammarians or society at large — have the right to determine their own gender, shouldn’t they get to choose their own pronouns, too?

As with everything political, the use of gender-inclusive pronouns has been subject to controversy. One side argues that not to respect an individual’s choice of pronoun can threaten a vulnerable person’s basic equality. The other side dismisses this position as an excess of sensitivity, even a demand for Orwellian “newspeak.”

Both sides have dug in. To move the conversation forward, I suggest we look backward for an illuminating, if unexpected, perspective on the politics of pronouns. Consider the 17th-century Quakers, who also suspected that the rules of grammar stood between them and a society of equals.

Today the Quakers are remembered mainly for their pacifism and support for abolition. Yet neither of these commitments defined the Quaker movement as it emerged in the 1650s from the chaos of the English Civil War. What set the Quakers apart from other evangelical sects was their rejection of conventional modes of address — above all, their peculiar use of pronouns.

In early modern England, the rules of civility dictated that an individual of higher authority or social rank was entitled to refer to himself — and to be referred to by others — with plural, not singular, pronouns. (A trace of this practice survives today in the “royal ‘we.’”) The ubiquitous “you” that English speakers now use as the second-person singular pronoun was back then the plural, while “thee” and “thou” were the second-person singulars.

When Quakerism emerged, proper behavior still required this status-based differentiation. As one early Quaker explained, if a man of lower status came to speak to a wealthy man, “he must you the rich man, but the rich man will thou him.”

Quakers refused to follow this practice. They also refused to doff their hats to those of higher social standing. The Quakers’ founder, George Fox, explained that when God sent him forth, “he forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low; and I was required to thee and thou all men and women, without any respect to rich or poor, great or small.”

The Quakers thus declared themselves to be, like God, “no respecter of persons.” So they thee-ed and thou-ed their fellow human beings without distinction as a form of egalitarian social protest. And like today’s proponents of gender-inclusive pronouns, they faced ridicule and persecution as a result.

But there is also an important difference between the Quakers and today’s pronoun protesters. While modern activists argue that equality demands displays of equal respect toward others, the Quakers demonstrated conscientious disrespect toward everyone. Theirs was an equality of extreme humility and universally low status. Even the famously tolerant founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, couldn’t stand the Quakers and complained of the “familiarity, anger, scorn and contempt” inherent in their use of “thee” and “thou.”

Indeed, the trend in pronouns at that time was toward a leveling up, not a leveling down. By the middle of the 17th century, in response to increasing geographic and social mobility, the plural “you” had begun to crowd out the singular “thee” as the standard second-person pronoun, even for those of a lower social station. This meant that everyone would soon become, effectively, entitled — at least to the honorific second-person plural.

One might expect principled egalitarians like the Quakers to celebrate a linguistic process whereby all social ranks experienced an increase in dignity. But Fox and his followers looked on the universal “you” with horror, as a sign of the sin of pride. Long before he founded Pennsylvania, the Quaker William Penn would argue that when applied to individuals, the plural “you” was a form of idolatry. Other Quakers produced pamphlets citing examples from more than 30 dead and living languages to argue that their use of “thee” and “thou” was grammatically — as well as theologically and politically — correct.

The Quaker use of “thee” and “thou” continued as a protest against the sinfulness of English grammar for more than 200 years. (In 1851, in “Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville could still marvel at “the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker idiom.”) But eventually, in the 20th century, even the Quakers had to admit that their grammatical ship had sailed.

Modern practitioners of pronoun politics can learn a thing or two from the early Quakers. Like today’s egalitarians, the Quakers understood that what we say, as well as how we say it, can play a crucial part in creating a more just and equal society. They, too, were sensitive to the humble pronoun’s ability to reinforce hierarchies by encoding invidious distinctions into language itself.

Yet unlike the early Quakers, these modern egalitarians want to embrace, rather than resist, pronouns’ honorific aspect, and thus to see trans-, nonbinary and genderqueer people as equally entitled to the “title” of their choosing.

To their critics, however, allowing some people to designate their own pronouns and expecting everyone else to oblige feels like a demand for distinction. Yes, some of these critics may be motivated by “transphobic” bigotry. But others genuinely see such demands as special treatment and a violation of equality. They themselves experience “he” and “she” as unchosen designations. Shouldn’t everyone, they ask, be equally subject to the laws of grammatical gender?

According to the Quakers, both sides are right: Language reflects, as well as transforms, social realities. But the dual demands of equality and respect aren’t always in perfect harmony. Sometimes they are even in conflict. Respect can require treating people unequally, and equality can mean treating everyone with disrespect.

At present, the battle over the third-person singular subject in English seems to be resolving itself in the direction of the singular “they” — at least when referring to a person of unspecified gender. (“When a politician votes, they must consider the public mood.”) Pedants naturally complain. They argue that applying a plural pronoun to a singular subject is simply bad English. But as linguists note, spoken English has been tending that way for many years, long before the issue became politicized.

If the rules of grammar are indeed an obstacle to social justice, then the singular “they” represents a path of least resistance for activists and opponents alike. It may not be the victory that activists want. Still, it goes with the flow of the increasing indifference with which modern English distinguishes subjects on the basis of their social position. More fittingly, if applied to everyone, “they” would complete the leveling-up progress of equal dignity that “you” started centuries ago.

Of course, a 17th-century Quaker would be likely to dismiss the singular “they” as diabolically bad grammar. But hey, who asked them?"
quakers  language  english  teresabejan  pronouns  they  equality  inclusivity  patriarchy  gender  nonbinary  genderqueer  grammar  politics  newspeak  society  status  resistance  refusal  georgefox  class  inclusion  hierarchy  egalitarianism  titles  rules 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Against Economics | by David Graeber | The New York Review of Books
“There is a growing feeling, among those who have the responsibility of managing large economies, that the discipline of economics is no longer fit for purpose. It is beginning to look like a science designed to solve problems that no longer exist.

A good example is the obsession with inflation. Economists still teach their students that the primary economic role of government—many would insist, its only really proper economic role—is to guarantee price stability. We must be constantly vigilant over the dangers of inflation. For governments to simply print money is therefore inherently sinful. If, however, inflation is kept at bay through the coordinated action of government and central bankers, the market should find its “natural rate of unemployment,” and investors, taking advantage of clear price signals, should be able to ensure healthy growth. These assumptions came with the monetarism of the 1980s, the idea that government should restrict itself to managing the money supply, and by the 1990s had come to be accepted as such elementary common sense that pretty much all political debate had to set out from a ritual acknowledgment of the perils of government spending. This continues to be the case, despite the fact that, since the 2008 recession, central banks have been printing money frantically in an attempt to create inflation and compel the rich to do something useful with their money, and have been largely unsuccessful in both endeavors.

We now live in a different economic universe than we did before the crash. Falling unemployment no longer drives up wages. Printing money does not cause inflation. Yet the language of public debate, and the wisdom conveyed in economic textbooks, remain almost entirely unchanged.

One expects a certain institutional lag. Mainstream economists nowadays might not be particularly good at predicting financial crashes, facilitating general prosperity, or coming up with models for preventing climate change, but when it comes to establishing themselves in positions of intellectual authority, unaffected by such failings, their success is unparalleled. One would have to look at the history of religions to find anything like it. To this day, economics continues to be taught not as a story of arguments—not, like any other social science, as a welter of often warring theoretical perspectives—but rather as something more like physics, the gradual realization of universal, unimpeachable mathematical truths. “Heterodox” theories of economics do, of course, exist (institutionalist, Marxist, feminist, “Austrian,” post-Keynesian…), but their exponents have been almost completely locked out of what are considered “serious” departments, and even outright rebellions by economics students (from the post-autistic economics movement in France to post-crash economics in Britain) have largely failed to force them into the core curriculum.

As a result, heterodox economists continue to be treated as just a step or two away from crackpots, despite the fact that they often have a much better record of predicting real-world economic events. What’s more, the basic psychological assumptions on which mainstream (neoclassical) economics is based—though they have long since been disproved by actual psychologists—have colonized the rest of the academy, and have had a profound impact on popular understandings of the world.”



“Economic theory as it exists increasingly resembles a shed full of broken tools. This is not to say there are no useful insights here, but fundamentally the existing discipline is designed to solve another century’s problems. The problem of how to determine the optimal distribution of work and resources to create high levels of economic growth is simply not the same problem we are now facing: i.e., how to deal with increasing technological productivity, decreasing real demand for labor, and the effective management of care work, without also destroying the Earth. This demands a different science. The “microfoundations” of current economics are precisely what is standing in the way of this. Any new, viable science will either have to draw on the accumulated knowledge of feminism, behavioral economics, psychology, and even anthropology to come up with theories based on how people actually behave, or once again embrace the notion of emergent levels of complexity—or, most likely, both.

Intellectually, this won’t be easy. Politically, it will be even more difficult. Breaking through neoclassical economics’ lock on major institutions, and its near-theological hold over the media—not to mention all the subtle ways it has come to define our conceptions of human motivations and the horizons of human possibility—is a daunting prospect. Presumably, some kind of shock would be required. What might it take? Another 2008-style collapse? Some radical political shift in a major world government? A global youth rebellion? However it will come about, books like this—and quite possibly this book—will play a crucial part.”
davidgraeber  2019  robertskidelsky  economics  economists  criticism  finances  policy  psychology  socialsciences  feminism  science  growth  productivity  change  theory  praxis  microfoundations  anthropology  behavior  humanism  complexity  simplicity  modeling  understanding  marxism  mainstream  politics  wisdom  knowledge  failure  government  governance  monetarypolicy  inflation 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Inhumanism Rising - Benjamin H Bratton - YouTube
[See also:
https://trust.support/watch/inhumanism-rising

“Benjamin H. Bratton considers the role ideologies play in technical systems that operate at scales beyond human perception. Deep time, deep learning, deep ecology and deep states force a redrawing of political divisions. What previously may have been called left and right comes to reflect various positions on what it means to be, and want to be, human. Bratton is a design theorist as much as he is a philosopher. In his work remodelling our operating system, he shows how humans might be the medium, rather than the message, in planetary-scale ways of knowing.

Benjamin H. Bratton's work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture)

In The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016. 503 pages) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. He proposes that different genres of planetary-scale computation – smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation – can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure that is both a computational infrastructure and a new governing architecture. The book plots an expansive interdisciplinary design brief for The Stack-to-Come.

His current research project, Theory and Design in the Age of Machine Intelligence, is on the unexpected and uncomfortable design challenges posed by A.I in various guises: from machine vision to synthetic cognition and sensation, and the macroeconomics of robotics to everyday geoengineering.”]
benjaminbratton  libertarianism  technology  botcoin  blockchain  peterthiel  society  technodeterminism  organization  anarchism  anarchy  jamesbridle  2019  power  powerlessness  control  inhumanism  ecology  capitalism  fascism  interdependence  surveillance  economics  data  computation  ai  artificialintelligence  californianideology  ideology  philosophy  occult  deeplearning  deepecology  magic  deepstate  politics  agency  theory  conspiracytheories  jordanpeterson  johnmichaelgreer  anxiety  software  automation  science  psychology  meaning  meaningfulness  apophenia  posthumanism  robotics  privilege  revelation  cities  canon  tools  beatrizcolomina  markwigley  markfisher  design  transhumanism  multispecies  cybotgs  syntheticbiology  intelligence  biology  matter  machines  industry  morethanhuman  literacy  metaphysics  carlschmitt  chantalmouffe  human-centereddesign  human-centered  experience  systems  access  intuition  abstraction  expedience  ideals  users  systemsthinking  aesthetics  accessibility  singularity  primitivism  communism  duty  sovietunion  ussr  luxury  ianhacking 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Reconstruction’s Failure Has Lessons for Today - The Atlantic
"Civility Is Overrated

The gravest danger to American democracy isn’t an excess of vitriol—it’s the false promise of civility.

Joe Biden has fond memories of negotiating with James Eastland, the senator from Mississippi who once declared, “I am of the opinion that we should have segregation in all the States of the United States by law. What the people of this country must realize is that the white race is a superior race, and the Negro race is an inferior race.”


Recalling in June his debates with segregationists like Eastland, Biden lamented, “At least there was some civility,” compared with today. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition; the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

Biden later apologized for his wistfulness. But yearning for an ostensibly more genteel era of American politics wasn’t a gaffe. Such nostalgia is central to Biden’s appeal as an antidote to the vitriol that has marked the presidency of Donald Trump.

Nor is Biden alone in selling the idea that rancor threatens the American republic. This September, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who owes his seat to Senate Republicans depriving a Democratic president of his authority to fill a vacancy on the high court, published a book that argued, “In a very real way, self-governance turns on our treating each other as equals—as persons, with the courtesy and respect each person deserves—even when we vigorously disagree.”

Trump himself, a man whose rallies regularly descend into ritual denunciations of his enemies, declared in October 2018, as Americans were preparing to vote in the midterm elections, that “everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction.” The president helpfully explained exactly what he meant: “Constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks … only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.” Civility, in other words, is treating Trump how Trump wants to be treated, while he treats you however he pleases. It was a more honest description of how the concept of civility is applied today than either Biden or Gorsuch offered.

There are two definitions of civility. The first is not being an asshole. The second is “I can do what I want and you can shut up.” The latter definition currently dominates American political discourse.

The country is indeed divided today, and there is nothing wrong with wishing that Americans could all get along. But while nonviolence is essential to democracy, civility is optional, and today’s preoccupation with politesse both exaggerates the country’s divisions and papers over the fundamental issues that are causing the divisions in the first place. The idea that we’re currently experiencing something like the nadir of American civility ignores the turmoil that has traditionally characterized the nation’s politics, and the comparatively low level of political violence today despite the animosity of the moment.

Americans should not fear tension. They should fear its absence.
Paeans to a more civil past also ignore the price of that civility. It’s not an unfortunate coincidence that the men Joe Biden worked with so amicably were segregationists. The civility he longs for was the result of excluding historically marginalized groups from the polity, which allowed men like James Eastland to wield tremendous power in Congress without regard for the rights or dignity of their disenfranchised constituents.

The true cause of American political discord is the lingering resistance of those who have traditionally held power to sharing it with those who until recently have only experienced its serrated edge. And the resistance does linger. Just this fall, a current Democratic senator from Delaware, Chris Coons, told a panel at the University of Notre Dame Law School that he hoped “a more diverse Senate that includes women’s voices, and voices of people of color, and voices of people who were not professionals but, you know, who grew up working-class” would not produce “irreconcilable discord.”

In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. famously lamented the “white moderate” who “prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” He also acknowledged the importance of tension to achieving justice. “I have earnestly opposed violent tension,” King wrote, “but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” Americans should not fear that form of tension. They should fear its absence."
2019  adamsewer  civility  violence  tension  politics  debate  governance  government  power  inequality  race  racism  democrats  gop  republicans  joebiden  donaldtrump  jameseastland  martinlutherkingjr  neilgorsuch  chriscoons  michaelwallace  richardhofstadter  tuckercarlson  foxnews  us  reconstruction  segregation  civilwar  partisanship  williamhowardtaft  abrahamlincoln  webdubois  davidleveringlewis  fdr  franklindroosevelt  nancyweissmalkiel  emmetttill  selma  jamesjacksonkilpatrick  votingrightsact  disenfranchisement  williamfbuckley  polarization  discord  antoinebanks  trumpism  culture  economics  ideology  acrimony  lillianamason  disagreement  manishasinha  jimcrow  johnburgess  rutherfordbhayes  gildedage  fugitiveslaveact 
november 2019 by robertogreco
The National Cake: to Bake or to Share?: A Handbook on Challenges in Managing Public Resources and the Road Ahead for a Sustainable, Emerging and Democratic Cameroon United in Diversity, by Akwalefo Bernadette Djeudo - Google Books
"In this book the reader is told that the unjust gap between the rich and the poor leading to social injustice in Cameroon and the world results from elite globalization and the reliance on the concept of sharing the National cake. The idea of baking the cake collectively and sharing it in an equitable manner so that everyone has a fair share is not known by the political and administrative culture. Consequently, Cameroonians spend more time talking about their share of the national cake instead of how to make the cake. The underlying principle of governance in Cameroon is best captured in the clause national cake. Call it public resources. Should the cake owned by everybody be baked or shared? Many politicians and administrators get lost amidst the intricacies of power and the grandeur that comes with it and feel that the national cake is only to be shared. They forget that they had made promises prior to their appointments and regard the civil service as an end rather than a means to an end. Money to them is the defining value and the primary mediator of relationships among persons and institutions. Ideals of equity are out the window and at the national and local levels, governments and citizens alike have become economic beggars and a consumer-nation has been created. Beggars dont create jobs; they take from those who have. Nothing paralyses a nation like citizens who lack a sense of mission for their country. In my opinion, Cameroonians should spend less time on politicking and more on constructive endeavors. They should be challenged, activated, motivated and transformed into nation buildings or bakers of the national cake that will be equitably shared. They should be builders of a sustainable, emerging and democratic Cameroon united in diversity. An emerging and sustainable nation refers to a nation that is embarked on a holistic development that can continue indefinitely into the future by properly addressing human, political, social, cultural, economic, ecological and spiritual dimensions of development. This author envisions a better quality of life for all Cameroonians through the development of a just, moral, creative, spiritual, economically vibrant, caring, diverse yet cohesive society characterized by appropriate productivity, participatory and democratic processes, and living in harmony within the limits of the carrying capacity of nature and the integrity of creation. In Part one of this book therefore, this author describes the problems affecting the process of baking and sharing the national cake in Cameroon as reflected in neopatrimonialistic and clientelistic ties. In Part two, the author carries out an assessment of the material, capital and human resources of the country, including technical personnel, and investigate the possibilities of augmenting these resources if found to be deficient in relation to the nation's requirements. This part also indicate the factors which are tending to retard economic and sustainable development, and determine the conditions which, in view of the current social and political situation, should be established for the successful execution of President Biyas major ambitions and accomplishment programme. The discussion framework in this part follows the seven dimensions of development: spiritual, human, social, cultura, political, economic and ecological. In Part three of the book, a complementary Plan to the Cameroon Vision 2035 that will lead to the most effective and balanced utilisation of the country's resources in making the national cake is formulated and the nature of the machinery which will be necessary for securing the successful implementation and financing of the plan is determined."
bookscameroon  akwalefobernadettedjeudo  sharing  socialjustice  inequality  globalization  cake  politics  policy  socialism  finance  economics  2013  citizenship  mutualaid 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters - CounterPunch.org
“The American obsession with electoral politics is odd in that ‘the people’ have so little say in electoral outcomes and that the outcomes only dance around the edges of most people’s lives. It isn’t so much that the actions of elected leaders are inconsequential as that other factors— economic, historical, structural and institutional, do more to determine ‘politics.’ To use an agrarian metaphor, it’s as if the miller was put forward as determining the harvest.

The American left has had an outsider role in this politics from the inception of the nation as a capitalist oligarchy to the improbable cobbling together of the idea that popular democracy can exist alongside concentrated wealth. If the powers that be wanted popular democracy, they could stop impeding its creation. The ‘first mover’ advantage, that once gained, power is used to close the door behind it, has be understood for centuries in the realms of commerce and politics.

As was probably the intent, the 2016 presidential outcome was used by the more persistent powers to divide the American left. The neoliberal left moved to a reflexive nationalism tied through class interests to state-corporatism in defense of the realm. Carnival barker Trump, an American political archetype for at least two centuries, was portrayed as a traitor to capitalist democracy— from the left. Emptied of analytical content, left affiliation was made a ‘brand.’

In more constructive terms, Bernie Sanders reached into red state territory to facilitate a class-based left political response to the failures of capitalism by promoting social welfare programs with historical precedent in the New Deal. Tied to an analytically sophisticated effort to shift power down and across political and economic hierarchies, something akin to popular democracy is in the process of confronting its long-mythologized ghost.

[image]

Graph: It is hardly incidental that as wealth has been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, its power to affect political outcomes has been codified through official determinations like Citizens United. While the domination of politics by concentrated wealth may seem new, it ties to the conception of the U.S. as a capitalist oligarchy where rich, white, slavers determined political outcomes. The Senate, the U.S. ‘House of Lords,’ wasn’t popularly elected until the twentieth century. Source: inequality.org.

Part of the challenge of addressing this politics comes through dubious parsing of ‘the political’ from its objects. If an agent of the government tells people when to wake, what to wear, what they can and can’t say and what to spend their time doing, that is authoritarian. When an employer determines these, it is considered ‘free choice.’ In the neoliberal frame, economics is only political to the extent that elected leaders promote specific economic policies.

Even with the realization of late that money determines political outcomes, the distribution of income and wealth is considered economics while the use that these are put to in the political arena is considered politics. The unvirtuous circle of capitalism, where concentrated income and wealth are used to affect political outcomes so as to increase concentrated income and wealth, ties economics to politics through the incompatibility of capitalism with democracy.

Modern electoral politics replaces this relationship of economics to politics with color-coded branding— red or blue, where ‘our guy’ is what is good and true about America. The other party exists to pin ‘our guy’ into a corner that prevents him / her from acting on this goodness. Barack Obama was prevented from enacting his ‘true’ progressive agenda by Republican obstructionists. Donald Trump is being persecuted by deep-state, snowflake, socialists.

Left unaddressed and largely unconsidered has been the persistence of class relations. The rich continue to get richer, the rest of us, not so much. For all of the claims of political dysfunction, when it comes to bailouts and tax cuts, wars and weaponry and policing and surveillance, these opposition parties can be counted on to come together to overcome their differences. Likewise, when it comes to the public interest, partisan differences are put forward to explain why nothing is possible.

[image]

Graph: as illustrated above, in recent decades the greatest gains in the relative wealth of the rich came during the terms of liberal Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Lest this seem— or be framed as, incidental, the liberal Democrat’s support for the mechanism of this enrichment, Wall Street, explains the relationship. In economic terms, Democrats have been the party of the radical right— financialized, neoliberal capitalism, since the inception of neoliberalism in the 1970s. Source: inequality.org.

The unitary direction of this government response in favor of the rich may seem accidental, a byproduct of ‘our system’ of governance. In fact, the defining political ideology of the last half-century has been neoliberalism, defined here as imperialist, state-corporatism, controlled by oligarchs. And contrary to assertions that neoliberalism is a figment of the imagination of the left, its basic tenets were codified in the late 1980s under the term ‘Washington Consensus.’

What the Washington Consensus lays out is the support role that government plays for capitalism. Its tenets are short and highly readable. They provide a blueprint that ties Democratic to Republican political programs since the 1980s. They also tie neoliberalism to the Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state as existing to promote the interests of connected capitalists. Left out, no doubt by accident (not), was / is a theory of class struggle.

When Donald Trump passed tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich and corporations, this was the Washington Consensus. When Barack Obama put ‘market mechanisms’ into Obamacare and promoted the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), this was the Washington Consensus. When Bill Clinton tried to privatize Social Security, this was the Washington Consensus. The alleged ‘opposition parties’ have been working together from a single blueprint for governance for four decades.

The intended beneficiary of this unified effort is ‘capitalism,’ conceived as multinational corporations operating with state support to promote a narrowly conceived national interest. An ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) clause was included in NAFTA when Bill Clinton promoted and signed it. An even more intrusive ISDS clause was included in the TPP when Barack Obama promoted it. The intent of these ISDS clauses is to give the prerogative of governance (sovereign power) to corporations.

It is no secret in Washington and outside of it that multinational corporations pay few, if any, taxes. The logic of this is two sided. On the one side, the neoliberal / Washington Consensus premise is that corporations can put the money to better use than government. The other is that the role of government is to support capitalism, not to constrain it. Barack Obama’s consequence-free bailouts of Wall Street, often at the expense of ordinary citizens, possessed an internal logic when considered through this frame.

An historical analog can be found in the relationship of the East India Company to the British empire. The East India Company drew financial, tactical and military support from the British monarchy as its global reach made it a key institution of imperial expansion. Its economic ties gave it a depth and breadth of reach that military occupation alone couldn’t achieve. Centuries later, Mr. Obama made this point when he argued that the TPP was crucial to ‘countering China.’

The rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s was intended to address the alleged failures of the New Deal. By the late 1980s, this new-old ideology had been codified as the Washington Consensus. Its proponents amongst national Democrats morphed into the New Democrats / DLC just as the Soviet Union was coming unwound. The twin ‘failures’ of the New Deal and communism led to the revival of dogmatic capitalism that saw the state as an appendage of capitalist institutions. Bill Clinton was more likely than not sincere when he declared that ‘the era of big government is over.’

The conflation of Democrats with ‘the left’ that first emerged to counter the New Deal in the 1930s, persisted through the 1990s and the 2000s because it was useful to both political parties. Republicans were the party of business while Democrats claimed to be the party of the people. While the New Deal was in place and from a liberal perspective, the Democrats did support a limited conception of the public interest domestically. However, by the time that Bill Clinton entered office, the public interest had been redefined to mean corporate interests.

This tension can be seen more clearly in the fight over NAFTA, which Republicans had been unable to pass before Mr. Clinton entered office. Mr. Clinton was able to use his liberal bona fides— and the fact that he wasn’t a Republican, to bring over just enough Democrats in congress to get NAFTA passed. He went on to divide bourgeois Democrats from the broader Democratic constituency through the use of race and class dog whistles. In this sense, he presaged Donald Trump. The net effect was to successfully divide the Democrat’s constituency by class.

Before Bill Clinton, the anti-NAFTA fight had a clear class component. Organized labor had lined up against the free-trade agenda that was being promoted by Reaganite Republicans. Through his rhetoric of ‘fair’ capitalism and a ‘level playing field,’ Mr. Clinton gave a liberal patina to an utterly retrograde, pre-Great Depression, form of capitalism. With no apparent irony, the Washington Consensus applied a Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state without any pretense of it mitigating capitalist excess.

The clutter of party politics creates … [more]
us  politics  democrats  republicans  marxism  karlmarx  class  capitalism  neoliberalism  2019  roburie  billclinton  barackobama  donaldtrump  oligarchy  ideology  ronaldreagan  canon  labor  organizing  left  nafta  freetrade  inequality  freedom  liberty  washingtonconsensus  1980  1970s  1908s  leninism  excess  recessions  markets  government  tpp 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Meditations in an Emergency
"In short, climate change presents—among other things—a spiritual problem concerning what we often casually refer to as the end of the world. In another era, one might have expected to find the Jewish community embroiled in theological disputes about the nature and timing of the messiah. Indeed, as leftist Jews living in a period of planetary devastation, we’ve often thought of Walter Benjamin; the best-known Jewish sage to dwell on such questions in the modern era, he imagined history from the perspective of an angel caught in a storm called progress, flying with his back to the future as trash piles up endlessly in his line of sight.

But this association just as soon leads us elsewhere. In 1940, shortly after he wrote his “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Benjamin died while attempting to escape Nazi-occupied Europe; Spanish border guards informed the group of refugees he was traveling with that they would not be permitted to enter Spain, and Benjamin overdosed on morphine rather than risk being sent back to Vichy France. He was obsessed with the ending of worlds—the world of 19th-century Paris, the world of his Berlin childhood—but it is impossible to read him now without thinking in particular of the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry; he is as bound to that catastrophe as Noah was to his flood.

This is often the way it goes, today, when we seek out Jewish ideas about end times: we immediately come upon an actual world that ended just a human lifespan ago. As the angel of history could tell you, Jews have this experience of total loss in common with a great many people and other creatures. Capitalist imperialism has been a particularly effective machine for the destruction of worlds, accompanied by the denial that they were ever there in the first place. Yet at the same time, the Holocaust is never merely an example; it has taken on a uniquely metonymic relationship to apocalyptic catastrophe as the result of both its actual singularity and reactionary attempts to isolate it from history altogether. As new endings approach, we’ve seen a spike in struggles over its memory."

...

"Climate apocalypse will be messy—but what religion imagines the end of the world unfolding neatly? In Benjamin’s Marxist recasting of Jewish messianism as the struggle for a classless society, the persistent salience of meditations on end times emerges from the fact that we’re in them already, and always have been. In the Jewish messianic tradition, as in the Lakota version, history continually threatens to burst into the present. In the course of such explosions, Benjamin’s follower Agamben explains in his book The Time That Remains, olam hazeh (this world) collides with olam habah (the world to come), creating a temporal rupture in which “the present is able to recognize the meaning of the past and the past therein finds its meaning and fulfillment.” In religious terms, this might look like the realization of a prophecy: a moment when ominous signs from the past become newly legible, revealing—as Benjamin puts it in his “Theses”—“a secret protocol between the generations of the past and that of our own.”

But Benjamin represents this claim in en­vironmental terms as well. At the close of the same text, he quotes a “recent biologist” who observes that “[i]n relation to the history of organic life on earth, the miserable fifty millennia of homo sapiens represents something like the last two seconds of a twenty-four hour day.” The biologist’s view is like the angel’s: he pictures time on earth at a radically defamiliarized planetary scale, contracting the “entire history of humanity” into a “monstrous abbreviation.” From a contemporary perspective, we might say that we cease being climate change denialists only when we stop waiting for a sign that the world has begun to end and recognize that the million sites of crisis are the single overarching catastrophe.

Messianic time, here, describes not a particular epoch but the ongoing potential that we will come to see the world in a condition of perpetual crisis, as the angel (or, today, the biologist) does. For Benjamin, the task before us is to transform this de facto state of emergency—he uses the same term as Schmitt, Ausnahmezustand—into a real state of emergency: a revolution. From this perspective, the Ausnahmezustand that Hitler sought to establish was already latent in the experience of everyday life under capitalism. What were the camps, after all, but a vision of the status quo militarized beyond recognition, transformed into the Nazis’ own hideous utopia? And what would it look like to usher in a real state of emergency as the seas rise?"
walterbenjamin  judaism  climatechange  alexandriaocasio-cortez  astrataylor  politics  capialism  religion  mashagessen  nickestes  dakotaacesspipeline  activism  jonathanfranzen  marxism  class  society  socialism  environment  marissabrostoff  zuzecasapa  giorgioagamben  carlschmitt  bretstephens 
november 2019 by robertogreco
A Giant Bumptious Litter: Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction
"Socialists aren’t the only ones who have been techno-utopian, of course. A far more prominent and more influential strand of techno-utopianism has come from the figures around the Bay Area counterculture associated with the Whole Earth Catalog, in particular Stewart Brand, who went on to play important intellectual and cultural roles in Silicon Valley.

They are not friends. They are not allies. I’m avoiding calling them enemies because I’m leaving open the possibility of their being able to learn or change, though I’m not optimistic. I think they occupy the position of the “god trick.” [Eds.: The “god trick” is an idea introduced by Haraway that refers to the traditional view of objectivity as a transcendent “gaze from nowhere.”] I think they are blissed out by their own privileged positions and have no idea what their own positionality in the world really is. And I think they cause a lot of harm, both ideologically and technically.

How so?

They get a lot of publicity. They take up a lot of the air in the room.

It’s not that I think they’re horrible people. There should be space for people pushing new technologies. But I don’t see nearly enough attention given to what kinds of technological innovation are really needed to produce viable local and regional energy systems that don’t depend on species-destroying solar farms and wind farms that require giant land grabs in the desert.

The kinds of conversations around technology that I think we need are those among folks who know how to write law and policy, folks who know how to do material science, folks who are interested in architecture and park design, and folks who are involved in land struggles and solidarity movements. I want to see us do much savvier scientific, technological, and political thinking with each other, and I want to see it get press. The Stewart Brand types are never going there.

Do you see clear limitations in their worldviews and their politics?

They remain remarkably humanist in their orientation, in their cognitive apparatus, and in their vision of the world. They also have an almost Peter Pan quality. They never quite grew up. They say, “If it’s broken, fix it.”

This comes from an incapacity to mourn and an incapacity to be finite. I mean that psychoanalytically: an incapacity to understand that there is no status quo ante, to understand that death and loss are real. Only within that understanding is it possible to open up to a kind of vitality that isn’t double death, that isn’t extermination, and which doesn’t yearn for transcendence, yearn for the fix.

There’s not much mourning with the Stewart Brand types. There’s not much felt loss of the already disappeared, the already dead — the disappeared of Argentina, the disappeared of the caravans, the disappeared of the species that will not come back. You can try to do as much resurrection biology as you want to. But any of the biologists who are actually involved in the work are very clear that there is no resurrection.

You have also been critical of the Anthropocene, as a proposed new geological epoch defined by human influence on the earth. Do you see the idea of the Anthropocene as having similar limitations?

I think the Anthropocene framework has been a fertile container for quite a lot, actually. The Anthropocene has turned out to be a rather capacious territory for incorporating people in struggle. There are a lot of interesting collaborations with artists and scientists and activists going on.

The main thing that’s too bad about the term is that it perpetuates the misunderstanding that what has happened is a human species act, as if human beings as a species necessarily exterminate every planet we dare to live on. As if we can’t stop our productive and reproductive excesses.

Extractivism and exterminationism are not human species acts. They come from a situated historical conjuncture of about five hundred years in duration that begins with the invention of the plantation and the subsequent modeling of industrial capitalism. It is a situated historical conjuncture that has had devastating effects even while it has created astonishing wealth.

To define this as a human species act affects the way a lot of scientists think about the Anthropocene. My scientist colleagues and friends really do continue to think of it as something human beings can’t stop doing, even while they understand my historical critique and agree with a lot of it.

It’s a little bit like the relativism versus objectivity problem. The old languages have a deep grip. The situated historical way of thinking is not instinctual for Western science, whose offspring are numerous.

Are there alternatives that you think could work better than the Anthropocene?

There are plenty of other ways of thinking. Take climate change. Now, climate change is a necessary and essential category. But if you go to the circumpolar North as a Southern scientist wanting to collaborate with Indigenous people on climate change — on questions of changes in the sea ice, for example, or changes in the hunting and subsistence base — the limitations of that category will be profound. That’s because it fails to engage with the Indigenous categories that are actually active on the ground.

There is an Inuktitut word, “sila.” In an Anglophone lexicon, “sila” will be translated as “weather.” But in fact, it’s much more complicated. In the circumpolar North, climate change is a concept that collects a lot of stuff that the Southern scientist won’t understand. So the Southern scientist who wants to collaborate on climate change finds it almost impossible to build a contact zone.

Anyway, there are plenty of other ways of thinking about shared contemporary problems. But they require building contact zones between cognitive apparatuses, out of which neither will leave the same as they were before. These are the kinds of encounters that need to be happening more.

A final question. Have you been following the revival of socialism, and socialist feminism, over the past few years?

Yes.

What do you make of it? I mean, socialist feminism is becoming so mainstream that even Harper’s Bazaar is running essays on “emotional labor.”

I’m really pleased! The old lady is happy. I like the resurgence of socialism. For all the horror of Trump, it has released us. A whole lot of things are now being seriously considered, including mass nonviolent social resistance. So I am not in a state of cynicism or despair."
donnaharaway  2019  californianideology  interviews  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  technosolutionism  technology  climatechange  extinction  deminism  ontology  cynicism  resistance  siliconvalley  objectivity  ideology  science  politics  policy  loss  mourning  biology  resurrection  activism  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman  extractivism  exterminationism  plantations  capitalism  industrialism  history  indigenous  socialism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Barack Obama thinks 'woke' kids want purity. They don't: they want progress | Malaika Jabali | Opinion | The Guardian
“On Tuesday, in Chicago, former president Barack Obama joined actress Yara Shahidi in a conversation with activists from his Obama Foundation program. Over the nearly 1.5-hour Obama Foundation summit event, the beloved political figure deployed his trademark charm and humor while discussing the challenges of movement politics.

Media attention has focused on a particular part of the conversation – Obama’s criticism of call-out culture and what he perceived as an excessively strident activist left. “We can’t completely remake society in a minute,” Obama said, “so we have to make some accommodations to the existing structures.”

He added, “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids and share certain things with you.”

He then made a separate point about social media activism:

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself. ‘Man you see how woke I was, I called you out.’” But “that’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change.”

On its face, these are fair remarks. During the session, both Obama and Shahidi drew from examples of the nonviolent civil rights movement of the early 1960s, which required enormous faith, patience and compromise from its activists in the face of threats to their lives and livelihood. Today, as social justice activists’ material conditions have relatively improved, they will encounter people in positions of power with wealth and access, and they have to learn to work with them on some level, Obama implied. And no, tweeting about a verb probably won’t bring about change.

However, we can’t look at Obama’s remarks in a vacuum. From 2016 – as he prepared to exert his influence over who would be the next Democratic nominee – to the present, Obama has often aimed his political critiques at youth-led, black and progressive movements. While upholding the necessity of nuance, Obama himself seems to force these movements into a box, cherry-picking anecdotes for a strawman: that these movements expect purity and demand perfection.

In an early instance of this ideological pattern, at a 2016 youth town hall in London, Obama spoke generally of Black Lives Matter while referring to the handful of activists who confronted the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her role in criminalizing black youth:

“Once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention … then you can’t just keep on yelling at them. And you can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position. The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room.”

A few months later in a Howard commencement address, with Chicago protests of the police killing of Laquan McDonald not far in the distance, he told the audience of mostly black students about his criminal justice reform as a state senator:

“I can say this unequivocally: without at least the acceptance of the police organizations in Illinois, I could never have gotten those [criminal justice reform] bills passed … If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want.”

And earlier this year, Obama again raised the amorphous specter of purity politics as people have embraced a leftward policy shift:

“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States … is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be’ and then we start … a ‘circular firing squad’, where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues.”

Obama has offered these platitudes without much evidence that progressives, Black Lives Matter activists or young voters expect purity. Impatience with the status quo is not purity. A consistent political project is not purity. And being patient has its limits.

You can gather from the general direction of Obama’s career, from turning down a route in corporate law to his community organizing, that he has some commitment to social justice. However, his remarks indicate discomfort with more radical tactics in achieving it, reducing them to petulant zeal and not a legitimate strategy among the broad scope of tools needed to dismantle oppressive systems.

While discussing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King as examples of patient progress, he freezes them in time. He failed to note either King’s or Parks’s evolutions. Over time King became more radicalized and questioned integration. When Parks was forced to Detroit to retreat from the backlash against her bus boycott activism, she became a proponent of the Panthers’ self-defense demands and identified Malcolm X as her personal hero.

Obama also failed to discuss how, despite King’s strategies negotiating with Lyndon Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress waffled in passing further civil rights measures until the 1968 riots after King’s assassination, when Congress was forced to swiftly pass the Fair Housing Act.

Or go back further: despite the negotiations and patience of abolitionists in the 1800s, it was a steady stream of black uprisings, and an entire civil war, that gave abolition laws and the Emancipation Proclamation any teeth.

Obama’s fundamental problem is in confusing a strategy of pragmatism with the strategy. Pragmatic approaches can coexist with more radical politics. But Obama’s pattern of dismissing radical demands altogether shows a serious unwillingness to appreciate the times. Obama is committed to a notion of reaching across the aisle that may have seemed necessary in 2012, but not so much in 2019.

Americans in the throes of economic struggle and social oppression have been advised to hold their nose for so long that they’re suffocating. The labor movement is experiencing more worker strikes now than in the past 40 years. We’re in a 1968 moment, not 1963. But Obama has not accepted this evolution.

As people demand universal policies for basic needs of shelter, food, freedom from police terror, and economic security, and when wealth inequality is the worst in a century, Obama has to reckon with his own questions. How is his form of calling out – scolding black, young and progressive movements – bringing about change? Is he part of the solution or part of the problem?

For many Americans, the normalization of genuinely leftwing policies is providing the hope and change Obama campaigned on. This is the time for him to finally help achieve it.”
barackobama  elitism  democrats  2019  politics  us  purity  wokeness  call-outculture  dismissal  outoftouch  policy  malaikajabali  leftism  society  oppression  radicalism  radicalization  progressivism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
This wave of global protest is being led by the children of the financial crash | Jack Shenker | Opinion | The Guardian
““I’m 22 years old, and this is my last letter,” the young man begins. Most of his face is masked with black fabric; only his eyes, tired and steely, are visible below a messy fringe. “I’m worried that I will die and won’t see you any more,” he continues, his hands trembling. “But I can’t not take to the streets.”

The nameless demonstrator – one of many in Hong Kong who have been writing to their loved ones before heading out to confront rising police violence in the city – was filmed by the New York Times last week in an anonymous stairwell. But he could be almost anywhere, and not only because the walls behind him are white and characterless, left blank to protect his identity.

From east Asia to Latin America, northern Europe to the Middle East, there are young people gathering in stairwells, back alleys and basements whose faces display a similar blend of exhilaration and exhaustion. “The disaster of ‘chaos in Hong Kong’ has already hit the western world,” the former Chinese diplomat Wang Zhen declared in an official Communist party paper, following reports that protesters in Catalonia were being inspired by their counterparts in Hong Kong. “We can expect that other countries and cities may be struck by this deluge.”

Wang is right about the deluge. In the same week that those seeking independence from Spain occupied Barcelona airport and brought motorways to a standstill, Extinction Rebellion activists seized major bridges and squares across London, prompting nearly 2,000 arrests. Both mobilisations adopted tactics from Hong Kong, including fluid targets – inspired by Bruce Lee’s famous “be water“ mantra – and a repertoire of hand signals to outwit security forces.

Meanwhile Lebanon has been convulsed by its largest demonstrations in two decades, dozens have been killed during anti-government marches in Iraq, and in Egypt a blanket ban on dissent by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s brutal dictatorship failed to prevent sporadic anti-regime protests breaking out across the country late last month. In the Americas, where Wang once served as a Chinese government envoy, Ecuador, Chile and Haiti are all experiencing citizen uprisings that are virtually unprecedented in recent history, ushering vast numbers of people into the streets – as well as soldiers tasked with containing them.

Each of these upheavals has its own spark – a hike in transport fares in Santiago, or a proposed tax on users of messaging apps like WhatsApp in Beirut – and each involves different patterns of governance and resistance. The class composition of the indigenous demonstrators in Ecuador can’t be compared with most of those marching against the imprisonment of separatist leaders in Catalonia; nor is the state’s prohibition of protest in London on a par with the repression in Hong Kong, where officers shot live ammunition into a teenager’s chest.

And yet it’s clear that we are witnessing the biggest surge in global protest activity since the early 2010s, when a “movement of the squares” saw mass rallies in capital cities across the Arab world, followed by Occupy demonstrations in the global north. Historically speaking, the past decade has seen more protests than at any time since the 1960s. Despite their disparate grievances, some common threads do bind today’s rebellions together. Tracing them may help clarify the nature of our present political volatility.

One obvious link is also the most superficial: the role played by social media, which has been widely noted in the press. While it’s true that digital technologies have enabled more agile and horizontal forms of organising, the ubiquity of these tools in 2019 tells us almost nothing about what is driving people to take to the streets in the first place. Indeed, in many states, social media is now an instrument of state repression as much as it is a tool of revolt.

The most significant connection is generational. The majority of those protesting now are the children of the financial crisis – a generation that has come of age during the strange and febrile years after the collapse of a broken economic and political orthodoxy, and before its replacement has emerged.

One direct impact of the crash has been a rapid diminishment of opportunity for millions of young people in rich countries – who now regard precarious work and rising inequality as the norm. At the same time, the aftermath of the crash has cracked the entrenched structures that had evolved to detach citizens from active participation in politics – be that through authoritarian systems or via an institutional consensus on the inevitability of market logic and technocratic management. Amid widespread economic and social failure, it has become harder than ever for elites to justify power, even on their own terms.

All this has produced a generation charged with hopelessness and hope. Afflicted by what the anthropologist David Graeber calls “despair fatigue”, protesters are putting their bodies on the line because it feels as if they have no other choice – and because those who rule over them have rarely seemed more vulnerable. Most have spent their lives under the maxim “there is no alternative” – and now circumstances have forced them to widen their political imaginations in search of something new. As one poster proclaims in Chile: “It’s not about 30 pesos, it’s about 30 years.”

Facing them down are states determined to put citizens back in their box and reseal the borders of political participation. The problem for governments is that there is no longer an established centre ground to snap back to, and their opponents know it – which is why so many of those involved in the current mobilisations will not settle for token concessions from the authorities.

“We need a whole new system, from scratch,” declared one demonstrator in Lebanon. The crackdown on Catalan separatists by the Spanish government has brought back dark memories of the state’s dirty war in the Basque country in the 1980s and the Franco era that preceded it; troops are marching through city centres in Chile for the first time since Pinochet.

In China, Xi Jinping has claimed that any attempt to divide the nation will result in “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder”. In many places, grassroots victory – and radical political transformation – feels to many like the only possible resolution, lending clashes an “all or nothing” antagonism and urgency that is hard to roll back.

What has intensified this urgency is the backdrop of looming ecological catastrophe. Even where protests are not explicitly about environmental concerns, the prospect of planetary catastrophe in our lifetimes raises the stakes for all political action. “The kids who are walking out of school have a hugely radical understanding of the way that politics works, and they recognise that our democratic processes and structures as they stand are designed to uphold the status quo,” Jake Woodier, one of the organisers behind the UK climate strike movement, told me this year. “They know that they will be worse off than their parents, know that they’ll never own a home, and know that on current trends they could live to see the end of humanity. So for them, for us, politics is not a game, it’s reality, and that’s reflected in the way we organise – relentlessly, radically, as if our lives depend on it.”

The Cambridge political scientist Helen Thompson once argued: “The post-2008 world is, in some fundamental sense, a world waiting for its reckoning.” That reckoning is beginning to unfold globally. They may come from different backgrounds and fight for different causes, but the kids being handcuffed, building barricades, and fighting their way through teargas in 2019 all entered adulthood after the end of the end of history. They know that we are living through one of what the American historian Robert Darnton has called “moments of suspended disbelief”: those rare, fragile conjunctures in which anything seems conceivable, and – far from being immutable – the old rules are ready to be rewritten. As long as it feels like their lives depend on winning, the deluge will continue.”
protest  protests  yout  greatrecession  crisis  economics  2008  2019  catastrophe  chile  china  catalonia  barcelona  hongkong  latinamerica  asia  spain  españa  lebanon  egypt  ecuador  haiti  london  extinctionrebellion  climatechange  policy  inequality  youth  activism  ows  occupywallstreet  repression  future  pinochet  franco  separatists  statusquo  elitism  uk  us  robertdarnton  jackshenker  government  governance  military  globalwarming  capitalism  socialism  democracy  technocracy  disenfranchisement  politics  democrats 
november 2019 by robertogreco
how I drew my mental map of politics – Snakes and Ladders
The Reagan years were for me an education in political cynicism. In the 1980s I came to believe what I still believe: That almost no elected politicians have principles that they’re willing to stake their careers on, and those who have such principles typically last a single term in office; that the rare politician who has integrity almost certainly lacks courage, while those who have courage lack integrity; that the extremely rare politician who has both courage and integrity will surely lack judgment; that the members of both major parties care primarily about getting and keeping power, secondarily about exerting that power over the powerless, and beyond that about nothing else whatsoever; that both parties are parties of death, differing only on their preferred targets (though they are equally fond, it seems, of military action in Asia); that the only meaningful criterion by which to judge who to vote for is encapsulated in the question Who will do less damage to our social fabric?

And because they’re all going to do damage, just of different kinds, for the last thirty years I have voted for third-party or write-in candidates. For much of that time I knew that I couldn’t vote for Democrats and debated whether I could vote for Republicans. The answer to that question was always No. But recently I have come to be absolutely certain that I can’t vote for Republicans, and have debated whether I can vote for Democrats. The answer to that question is, so far, also No, and I cannot envision that changing.

I oppose false equivalences as forcefully as anyone. But there are also true equivalences. And so I say, as I have said for three decades now: A plague on both their houses.
alanjacobs  politics  2019  democrats  republicans  thirdparties  us  elections  cynicism  history  ronaldreagan  jimmycarter  integrity  courage  policy  consistency  reliability  falseequivalences  death  destruction  war  harm  society 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Chile protests against President Pinera and deep inequality.
“But symbols get scrambled when they’re reused. If a spectacle resurfaces, its meaning rarely remains exactly the same. That’s happened with the Joker, and it’s happening with other old reference points too. Take the loud pot-beating protests that have been taking place all over Chile, called cacerolazos. People leaning out of windows or marching on the streets, loudly expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo and their support for the protests. (If you don’t know what that sounds like, here’s a video a relative sent me from Oct. 19, taken in the middle-class neighborhood of Ñuñoa.) If you were around and right-wing in 1971, the cacerolazos ringing out all across the country the past week—in rich neighborhoods and poor ones, in cities big and small—might remind you of the March of the Empty Pots, which many forget was actually undertaken by conservative Chilean women to register their opposition to Allende’s socialist government. Those protests were largely and functionally right-wing, but—like the cacerolazos against the government today, which have a very different politics—they also managed to transcend class differences.

Today, the cacerolazo seems to be transcending categories again. Because they seem to be coming from every sector, it’s not clear that Chile’s current situation is reducible to the usual right–left axes. On Friday night, the largest protest in the country’s history gathered, with approximately 1.2 million in Santiago and protests in solidarity all over the country. The sheer size also doesn’t lend itself easily to factionalist descriptions. That’s what sets this moment apart—and makes it seem just very faintly possible that a country that’s been rehashing the same triumphalist and traumatic stories about itself for decades might be able to pivot for a new chapter. While over 120 allegations of human rights violations are being investigated, including possible homicides by law enforcement and allegations of torture and sexual abuse—as well as hundreds of people injured by birdshot—the massive gatherings have not yet resulted in the kind of brutal military crackdown that happened in 1973.

I started here by referring, as for years one had to, to the country’s two protagonists: Pinochet and Allende. They were symbols of two very different Chiles. But when I said that these sights in Chile the past week would be traumatic if you were alive in 1973, I meant it. Many Chileans weren’t alive then. This contingent—young, buckling under increasing costs of living and enormous debt—seems tired of relitigating the past. They’re objecting, at least in part, to the long shadow Pinochet and Allende have cast: to the way Pinochet has been used endlessly as an excuse by the left while they preserved many or most aspects of his economic model; to the way Allende has remained a boogeyman for the right, used to scare children with stories of financial ruin and leftist terrorism. It even makes a certain horribly Freudian kind of sense that breaking the country out of these unproductive narrative recursions would require a strange and terribly dangerous semi-reenactment. With tanks on the streets. Lines in the stores. Fires. Fights.

I don’t want to downplay the intensity of what’s happened the past week. The chaos has many Chileans exhausted and on edge. What began with a student protest over a subway fare hike has exploded into nationwide marches against much more: an unsustainably high cost of living, poverty-level retirements, bad and expensive health care, poor education, and crushing debt, to name a few. President Sebastián Piñera called a state of emergency in the early hours of Oct. 19, deploying the military. Much of the country is now under curfew. As of this writing, 18 people have died. There is footage of soldiers beating civilians; one video captures Carabineros (militarized police) bludgeoning people as they walk by. A TV network aired live footage of soldiers shooting as they drove through a neighborhood in Recoleta. On Tuesday morning, an Argentine TV news team was broadcasting when a soldier lifted his rifle and shot at them with a rubber bullet. By Tuesday night, there was footage of soldiers shooting into a building in Las Condes. Chile’s infrastructure has been heavily damaged in the protests too: After Oct. 18, most of the subway system was severely damaged and temporarily shut down. Dozens of stations were burned. While some lines are partly operational, full function won’t be restored for months. Buses and police precincts and stores were set on fire. Hundreds of small and medium-size businesses throughout the country have had to close due to looting or other damage. Things are loud and frightening and wild.”



“On Friday, the Congress was evacuated due to protests outside, a peaceful (if loud) protest that by evening surpassed a million people in Plaza Baquedano alone. Though truckers have denied going on strike for fear of creating food shortages, they joined taxi drivers to bring the highways outside Santiago to gridlock, protesting against high road tolls. Efforts to create enough change are ongoing too: Evelyn Matthei, who served as Piñera’s former minister of labor during his first term, ran for president, and is currently mayor of Santiago’s Providencia district, said in an interview on Friday that the kind of profound change the country needed would require replacing “at least” eight of Piñera’s 24 ministers with people from the middle class with more diverse backgrounds that included (for example) public education experience. In the lower chamber of Congress, the House passed a proposed reduction in the work-week to 40 hours, and the opposition proposed a plebiscite for a new Constitution. To the extent that the demands are legible, the protests seem to be calling, first, for an end to the state of emergency and the military presence, and, more broadly, for a Constituent Assembly—for a new Constitution and a new social contract that sees people more as citizens than as a captive market for corporations seeking government concessions. Many are calling for the resignation of Interior Minister Chadwick, who spearheaded the initial escalation against the fare-dodgers. Others call for Piñera’s ouster. After the extraordinary, nation-wide outpouring Friday evening—Santiago’s protests were made up of almost 7 percent of the country’s population—Piñera tweeted, “The massive, joyous and peaceful protest today, where Chileans ask for a Chile with greater justice and solidarity, opens big roads to future and hope. We all have heard the message. We all have changed. With unity and help from God, we will travel this road to a better Chile for everyone.” Many of the chants had directly insulted him. On Saturday, he announced that he’d asked all his ministers to resign and said he would lift the state of emergency on Sunday if circumstances permitted. The curfew in Santiago is over. No one knows what will happen next.

***

I’ve noticed fewer Joker references over the last few days. And it feels like the potency of certain old spectacles—men in uniform confronting civilians, long grocery store lines—might be diminishing too. After a week of this state of emergency, things are not better in Chile. Things do not get easier when the “happy face” gets replaced by honest feeling. Tourism has plummeted, there are still fires, and people are anxious and angry and tired. But circumstances are not as bad as they could be. It could all go south at any time, but for now—for now—there is not desabastecimiento. The lines are not bread lines. (Yet.) Disturbing though the images of military attacking civilians are, things have not escalated to the familiar point of no return. I don’t know if that’s progress for a country both saturated by and sick of witnessed and inherited traumas. But it is something.

“Do you think Joker inspired any of this?” I asked my cousin Bernardita. “Of course,” she said, “or actually, the reverse: the social discontent inspired this interpretation of the Joker. Without a doubt.”

Whatever use the protesters have made of the Joker, there are obvious limits to his explanatory power. The protesters’ interpretation of the nihilistic clown has also taken some extratextual—and unifying—turns, such as the refusal of some politicians (and even a general) to adopt the rhetoric of war. The Joker snapped and turned on society. Chile is angry, and parts of it did snap. But by and large, the public still cares and has not devolved into nihilism. On Oct. 21, NO ESTAMOS EN GUERRA—WE ARE NOT AT WAR—was projected on the side of the Telefónica building near Plaza Italia, where huge crowds had gathered to reject the military’s enforcement of the curfew and test this version of Chile to see if it has changed. And if it can.”
lililoofbourow  chile  2019  protests  history  salvadorallende  pinochet  inequality  precarity  change  corruption  government  governance  democracy  neoliberlalism  chicagoboys  policy  politics  protest  sebastiánpiñera  michelebachelet  ricardolagos  dictatorship  symbols  symbolism  thejoker  batman  military  mobility  wellbeing  qualityoflife  labor  work  debt  violence  coup  trauma  injustice  justice  reform  constitution  eduardofrei  revolution  resistance  neoliberalism  capitalism  miltonfriedman  victorjara 
october 2019 by robertogreco
If Piñera wants to wage war in Chile he should fight the real enemy: inequality | Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser | Opinion | The Guardian
“If Piñera wants to wage war in Chile he should fight the real enemy: inequality

The president declared ‘Chile is at war’ but the crisis is, at heart, a message to the Chilean elite: profound changes are needed to rebuild the social contract

As with the yellow vest movement in France, it was impossible to foresee that an increase in the price of the Santiago metro would trigger demonstrations throughout Chile. When you think about it, however, it is unsurprising. Inequality in Chile is scandalous and most middle-class Chileans live in precarity. Now Chile is roiled by mass protests and looting; the government has declared a state of emergency and imposed curfews in many cities across the country.

The scale of the looting shows that the country has a structural problem with a clear name: inequality. The per capita income of the bottom quintile of Chileans is less than $140 a month. Half the population earns about $550. Tax evasion has cost the treasury approximately $1.5bn. Two-thirds of Chileans believe that it is unfair that those who can pay more have access to better health and education. They’re right.

The images of discontent and anger around the country are shocking to watch. Yet the current Chilean administration and much of the political class simply do not seem to understand the magnitude of the problem or what is at stake. On Friday night, as the situation spiraled out of control, the president, Sebastián Piñera, dined in Vitacura, the richest neighborhood in Santiago. A few days earlier, the minister of economy suggested that since the price of the Santiago metro is cheaper in the morning, people should get up early to save money. Attitudes like these only reinforce the existing malaise.

How have Chilean authorities responded so far? On the one hand, they have kept an inexplicable silence and their actions have been late and incompetent. On the other hand, the government has begun advancing an increasingly authoritarian message implying that the conflict must be solved with repression.

“Chile is at war,” Piñera declared on Sunday night. He argued that the country is facing a powerful and violent foe and that the government should respond in kind. Those who lived through the Pinochet dictatorship heard those words with dismay. While it is true that the looting is serious and security is needed, it is alarming that the government does not have the slightest interest in understanding the social discontent in Chilean society.

The Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz famously argued that “war is the continuation of politics by other means”. When the president of Chile asserts that the country is at war and implies that the armed forces must solve the problem, he has effectively abdicated his job: to govern. (Luckily, Gen Javier Iturriaga, who is in charge of the emergency situation, later declared that he is not at war with anyone.) Piñera and his advisers do not seem to understand that the problem facing the country is not a military one but a political one. This crisis is, at heart, an urgent message to the Chilean elite: profound changes are needed to rebuild the social contract.

The longer it takes the government to understand this, the harder it will be to get out of this catastrophe. Real political reforms will take time, but there are symbolic measures that the government could take as a first step, like firing the cabinet ministers who have shown themselves to be most out of touch with their own people.

It is also worth remembering that increasing economic inequality is not a Chilean phenomenon but a global phenomenon. Hopefully other governments see the lesson here: rampant economic inequality is dangerous to social stability.

If the Chilean government chooses a repressive path, it will not only generate more violence, but also give greater voice to radical and autocratic rightwing forces. Democracy itself is at stake. If Piñera wants to wage war, he should wage war on the real enemy: inequality. This war can be won only through politics and not by other means.”
chile  2019  sebastiánpiñera  protests  economics  protest  neoliberalism  inequality  capitalism  politics  policy  cristóbalrovirakaltwasser  autocracy  democracy  carlvonclausewitz  javieriturriaga  violence  precarity  elitism 
october 2019 by robertogreco
The ‘risk to democracy’ in Chile isn’t from protesters. It’s from Piñera and the 1% | Oscar Guardiola-Rivera | Opinion | The Guardian
“The ‘risk to democracy’ in Chile isn’t from protesters. It’s from Piñera and the 1%

Protest criminalised, direct action equated with terrorism: it’s starting to feel like the bad old days of Pinochet

“We’re at war against a powerful enemy,” declared President Sebastián Piñera live on Sunday night TV from the Chilean army headquarters. “Democracy not only has the right but the duty to defend itself using all instruments … and the rule of law to fight those who would destroy it.” You may be forgiven for thinking Chilean democracy is besieged by some terrifying force: a foreign army, or even an invader from outer space. Nothing could be further from the truth. Piñera’s statement is doublethink: a lie travelling the world while truth is still putting on its boots.

But who is the enemy Piñera has gone to war with? One of his government’s own making – namely, the poorer people of Chile. This is the country that is the ground-zero for the neoliberal economic model now in crisis all over the world. From Canada and the United States to Chile and Argentina, the fire this time in the Americas and elsewhere is being fanned by the few. They’ve benefited the most from an economic model that consists of squeezing the many. And now, having nothing else to lose but their bullshit jobs and half-lives, the dispossessed are rising up like an army.

The Chilean people have been robbed of everything. Health, education, water, transport, all basic services have been privatised. Hope has been privatised. What else is there to do? Protest peacefully? Done that.

I witnessed a dance-in a few years back in Santiago. Dressed up like zombies in a 1980s Michael Jackson video, the student movement demanded free public education. They’ve been doing so since 2006. The protests intensified in 2011, during the first Piñera administration: 70% of the population supported their demands, widely seen as part of a general desire to transform the economic and political model established by the military dictatorship that governed the country from 1973 to 1990, after the violent coup against democratic socialist Salvador Allende.

Consider Chile’s privatised education system. It emerged during the Pinochet years in the 1980s, resulting in the 1990 education constitutional framework, signed by the general himself. After the first wave of student mobilisations, Pinochet’s framework was replaced by the 2009 General Education Law, which introduced no significant changes.

Like the rest of Chile’s neoliberal model, it was set in constitutional stone so that its reform or repeal would be nearly impossible. Such provisions became part of a constitutional framework designed by Pinochet’s intellectual collaborators like Jaime Guzmán, who was responsible for drafting most of the constitution that still governs Chile.

Guzmán was inspired by Francoist falangism and Third Reich constitutionalism, revised for a late 20th-century landscape. According to this ethos, respect for the constitution and the rule of law only goes as far “as the situation permits”, as the junta members put it on 11 September 1973, the day of the coup. This qualification has been accepted by all post-dictatorship rulers of Chile, if not in principle at least in practice.

In the dictatorship, meaningful protest and direct action were forbidden. Engaging in such acts meant risking summary execution, torture or disappearance. In the democracy, nominal rights to protest exist but remain severely limited. Social protest is frequently criminalised and direct action often equated with terrorism.

Judging from the videos and testimonies circulated this week by concerned citizens and protesters, engaging in such acts still risks violent reprisals from the authorities.

The Pinochet regime offers us a lesson: a neoliberal model can only be established by a campaign of scapegoating and lies, underpinned by the promise to “take back control”, “restore order and the constitution” and deliver “the will of the people”, plus a modicum of force. It can only be maintained if such force is normalised, shielding the model from the protests of the left-behind, which are inevitable when the dispossessed realise the game was rigged from the very outset. These were the tactics of Chile’s military junta. Clearly, its actions have echoes in the present.

This time, the spark that blew the powder keg came on 13 October, when the transport ministry announced the Santiago underground fare would rise by 30 pesos. Thereafter, school students began organising fare-dodging acts of protest all over the city. Thirty pesos might not sound much. And if you squint, Chile’s economy isn’t doing that badly: it has a GDP of $15,902 (£14,155) per capita, one of the highest in Latin America.

But for the many, Chile’s workers and precariat, the average salary is low: only £350 per month. Commuters coming from the peripheries to work in the capital may have to spend between £50 to £70 a month on transport alone. Try to feed a family with what’s left in a country without universal healthcare or free education. It is the same across the continent – in Quito, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Rio. No wonder the hemisphere is exploding.

After the adults started joining students in fare-dodging protests, economics minister Juan Fontaine, very much of the free-market Chicago school, advised them to get up earlier to avoid the more expensive fares. His colleague, transport minister Gloria Hutt, later implied fare-dodgers were criminals. As protests raged across the city, a video of Piñera partying at an upscale restaurant during his grandson’s birthday went viral. People took to the streets.

Piñera then did what they all do – the Trumps, the Bolsonaros, the Johnsons of this world. He stamped his authority in the name of democracy, law, and the will of the people. In the country of Pinochet, Piñera resorted to the behaviour of a dictator.

The state is now behaving like security for the country’s privatised industries. The crackdown is not about protecting the people. It’s not about 30 pesos. It’s about 30 years of an economic model elevated to the level of constitutional principle for the benefit of those who got richer during the Pinochet years, and continue to get even richer during Piñera’s – while the many suffer. They’re not taking it any more.”
oscarguardiola-rivera  2019  chile  sebastiánpiñera  protest  protests  democracy  inequality  plutocracy  oligarchy  capitalism  neoliberalism  dictatorship  pinochet  precarity  economics  politics  policy  violence  society  jaimeguzmán  constitution 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Chile: arenas movedizas en los cimientos del alumno ejemplar
"La violencia evidencia el agrietamiento del modelo de crecimiento económico más exitoso de la región.

Las estimaciones de crecimiento de la economía de Chile para 2019 realizadas el Ministerio de Hacienda de aquel país prevén un aumento del 2,6 por ciento del Producto Interno Bruto. El dato, sin ser fulgurante (la economía mundial crecería algo más del 3% en el mismo período), contrasta con el crecimiento anémico de la economía brasileña, la contracción argentina, con crisis de deuda, o la crisis presupuestaria que motivó a Ecuador a recurrir al Fondo Monetario Internacional, desatando una rebelión en las calles. La pobreza sigue descendiendo, y la medición que, según su propia canasta, alcanzaba a casi el 40% de la población al regreso de la democracia, hoy es menor al 8%. El salario mínimo es uno de los más altos de Sudamérica y el salario real se mantiene en alza.

Si los números parecieran dar la razón al presidente Piñera en aquello de que "Chile es una isla de estabilidad en una región convulsionada", ¿qué pasó entonces en Chile? ¿cómo es que estos números correlacionan con las protestas masivas y las imágenes de violencia urbana que llegan desde Santiago?

Como dirigente político, Piñera recuerda a Zelig, aquel personaje de Woody Allen capaz de mimetizarse completamente con su entorno. No fue extraño que, rodeado de gobernantes progresistas en toda la región, con Obama al frente de los Estados Unidos, su primera presidencia casi pudiera asimilarse a un quinto gobierno de la Concertación. Quizá, el que hubiera sido si la Democracia Cristiana no se hubiera debilitado tanto en la correlación de fuerzas interna de la coalición de centroizquierda que hegemonizó la primera etapa democrática. Entonces, no parecía extraño verlo pasear sonriente durante los festejos del bicentenario argentino, entre retratos del Salvador Allende y Ernesto Guevara, al lado de Lula, Cristina Fernández y Rafael Correa. Para su segundo gobierno, las cosas habían cambiado.

Del Chile exitoso, que había crecido, en promedio, al 5% anual desde 1990, aparecía otro que pasaba dificultades. El segundo gobierno de Michelle Bachelet pasaba sin pena ni gloria, con la foto de un crecimiento magro y una gestión deslucida, y una agenda de reformas que había descendido en ambición al chocar con los límites de la clase dirigente, política y empresaria, chilena, incluyendo a parte de su propio espacio. Reformas que, aún tímidas, despertaron en el empresariado nacional una reacción feroz en los niveles de inversión, cuyo carácter eminentemente político resalta aún más en la comparación con las empresas multinacionales, acostumbradas a pagar muchos más impuestos que los que exige el Estado chileno. En un contexto de baja de los precios de las materias primas, la combinación resultó irreversible.

Para Zelig, rodeado ahora de gobiernos de derecha y enfrentado a una centro izquierda debilitada y plagada de disconformes en ambos flancos, la promesa era el regreso a "tiempos mejores", que no serían otra cosa que la reversión del "populismo" de la administración anterior, que habría quitado al país de la senda del crecimiento. El regreso de Piñera trajo una contrarreforma tributaria, regresiva, que benefició sobre todo al sector empresario más concentrado, con la esperanza de un boom inversor. En lo discursivo, de las sonrisas intercambiadas con Lula Da Silva, pasó a intentar apadrinar a Jair Bolsonaro, desde el día de su llegada al gobierno.

El modelo chileno contiene tensiones evidentes. La excesiva mercantilización heredada de la dictadura, y solo revertida muy parcialmente por la democracia, de sectores esenciales como la salud, la educación y el sistema previsional dio como resultado un sistema enormemente estratificado, donde la correlación entre clases sociales y calidad de las prestaciones es enormemente elevada, acentuando, en vez de mitigar, las diferencias sociales. El vigoroso crecimiento económico y las urgencias post dictadura ocultaron estas carencias que afloraron nuevamente cuando las carencias cedieron. Las demandas de la población ya no se vinculan con salir de la pobreza, sino con la calidad de vida, el progreso y las expectativas a la altura de los discursos sobre un Chile que prevé, en pocos años más, alcanzar el ingreso por habitante de los países desarrollados más rezagados, como Portugal o Hungría, pero que carece de un Estado Benefactor como el de cualquiera de esos países.

El contrato social del Chile de la recuperación democrática suponía una sociedad civil amansada y una dirigencia política endogámica y estable, percibida como eficiente y honesta, encargada de aportar crecimiento y bienestar. El modelo nunca fue del todo cierto, y las tradiciones de acción directa de la izquierda chilena mantuvieron una presencia relativamente marginal pero notoria, con escenas de enfrentamientos épicos los días de conmemoración del golpe militar del 73.

Durante el primer gobierno de Michelle Bachelet, el esquema comenzó a colapsar. El primer gran conflicto de transporte, con la caótica puesta en marcha del Transantiago (un sistema parecido al Metrobús), dio paso a otros movimientos sociales, contra las Administradoras de Fondos Previsionales privadas, y las magras jubilaciones que percibe la mayoría de los chilenos y, el más significativo, la "rebelión de los pingüinos", el movimiento de estudiantes por la gratuidad educativa, contra el enorme peso de la deuda estudiantil, percibida como una verdadera hipoteca sobre la vida post universitaria.

La red de transporte subterráneo de Santiago es un logro del Estado chileno. Con 140 kilómetros de extensión y 136 estaciones, y una expansión exponencial en las últimas décadas, conecta toda la ciudad de forma rápida y eficiente. Las tarifas, sin embargo, son elevadas. Con un salario mínimo de alrededor de cuatrocientos veinte dólares, el costo del pasaje se ubicaba alrededor de un dólar y, con el aumento de la tarifa técnica, la medida buscaba un aumento de poco más del quince por ciento, en un país donde la inflación interanual se ubica por debajo del 2,5%.

Las protestas sorprendieron a los funcionarios gubernamentales, que reaccionaron con desdén y soberbia. El ministro de transporte sugirió que, para evitar el aumento, las personas salieran a sus trabajos a las siete de la mañana, cuando el costo del pasaje es menor, el Ministro del Interior limitó el problema a una cuestión de seguridad, mientras el presidente calificó a los manifestantes que eludían el pago del boleto como "hordas de delincuentes". La aproximación, entonces, fue puramente policial. Sólo el pésimo manejo político de una crisis que fue escalando a diario durante más de una semana explica las escenas luctuosas del viernes, cuando ardieron edificios y estaciones en Santiago, ante la inexplicable ausencia de los Carabineros, omnipresentes antes para golpear y detener a estudiantes secundarios que se colaban masivamente entre molinetes.

El tardío reconocimiento de la gravedad de la situación y la legitimidad de los reclamos por parte del presidente, con su marcha atrás y llamado al diálogo, contrastaron con medidas que devolvieron la memoria de los tiempos más oscuros de la historia del país. La declaración del Estado de Emergencia, la primera vez que sucede por una causa no natural desde el retorno de la Democracia, y el Toque de Queda en la Región Metropolitana, trajeron a la memoria a un Chile que vivió, en forma ininterrumpida, noches de calles vacías y despliegues militares entre el golpe de 1973 y enero de 1987.

Si los pasos en falso del gobierno de Piñera explican la dimensión coyuntural de la crisis, sus fundamentos más profundos amenazan la solidez del alumno aventajado de la región. Las últimas elecciones mostraron un agrietamiento del sistema político, con expresiones electorales potentes a la izquierda y a la derecha de los representantes tradicionales. Las candidaturas de Beatriz Sánchez, por el Frente Amplio, y el pinochetista José Antonio Kast evidenciaron el cuestionamiento de los consensos post dictatoriales. En las instituciones, escándalos de corrupción inéditos en las cúpulas militares y de carabineros mancharon la confianza de la ciudadanía, y los casos de evasión y perdones impositivos para los más ricos afectaron la confianza en la igualdad ante la ley. Una realidad que la reforma impositiva de Piñera podría agravar, acentuando una desigualdad alta, que venía cayendo en forma lenta pero sostenida.

El "milagro económico chileno", que permitió que el PBI per cápita pase de ser 35% menor al de Argentina a 25% mayor en 25 años, consistió en abrir mercados mientras el Estado mejoraba la infraestructura para favorecer la actividad económica y las exportaciones. Sin embargo, la canasta exportadora de Chile no cambió demasiado en los últimos cincuenta años. La economía sigue bailando al ritmo del precio del cobre y su amplia dotación de recursos naturales.

La buena administración de esos recursos permitió a Chile crecer por encima de una región a la que percibe que dejó atrás, un discurso repetido hasta el hartazgo por su dirigencia. Si se tomaran en serio el espejo en el que dicen mirarse, Chile sigue siendo un país pobre y desigual, y su modelo de crecimiento empieza a mostrar signos de fatiga, justo en el momento en que sus ciudadanos demandan desarrollo."
chile  2019  politics  protest  protests  economics  inequality  organizing  activism  history  neoliberalism  policy  martínschapiro  precarity 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Eleanor Saitta on Twitter: "As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics." / Twitter
“As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics.

There are no large technology companies, only non-state actors currently only partially hostile to the goals of the population whose lives they have captured.

This is not a singular accident of the companies we have, but rather a necessary consequence of the programmability of infrastructure enabling scale to convert into social control and a doctrine of continual growth.

The scale of capital involved has bent the entire industry around it. Working at a small company may let you avoid contributing to the problem directly, but programmable infrastructure gains power and scale via interoperability.

As an engineer, a designer, a recruiter, a management coach, a consultant, the geopolitical goals of singular entities will define your work and its meaning.

When infrastructure metastisizes and becomes malignant toward the societies that host it, even maintenance work on functions critical for social continuity becomes in part capitulation and collaboration.

This problem will continue to accelerate until a new model for programmable infrastructure manages to constrain or fight off this current one, or society is unable to sustain programmability.

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned over the past decade is the degree to which the political intent imbued into infrastrucutral systems maintains its meaning and function over time, even if added layers change the meaning of the conjoined system.

As a worker within these systems, your efforts at work must pay the maintenance penalty for the infrastructural system you sit within; this is balanced by the natural force multiplication of infrastructures of control. Outside work, you don’t have the same tools.

However, even if you work to resist the structural damage of the system you sit inside of, you’re still very likely to see the world from inside the same mental frame — of growth, of control, of “technology” as an end rather than a means.

Even if you can shift your thinking from the mindset of “technology at scale as power over” to “technology as formless servant of a community” — or whatever model you choose — you’ll be stuck with tools that want to create parasitic empires.

I don’t know what the mental model we want is. Some properties seem obvious, though — conviviality, power-to instead of power-over, an inherent orientation toward community, governance blended throughout the stack, a bias toward balance not growth, maintenance-centricity.

The challenges of reimagining our world, our professions, and our systems will consume the rest of our lives on earth; we sit at the culmination of generations of power grabs, and this is only the newest.

On the bright side, there is no larger challenge available, no more interesting and rewarding problem one could work on. This is a future as rich, complex, varied, and broad as any other one you’ve been offered.

And if it fails, well, there will always be another billionaire happy to pay you to help him more efficiently dismantle the society you used to call home.

There are other things we can do even without a new model, though — making the current model of exponential growth and metastic control nonviable is also useful. We need a new vision and a new world, but we also need resistance now.

Refuse to work on dangerous products. Unionize and fight for more control over your own work. Work for regulation that makes user data financially poisonous, that enshrines rights to privacy, self-determination, adversarial interoperability, and repair.

Over the next few decades, we will either learn to collectively manage global systems for the common good, learn to weaponize them for the good of a very small elite, or cease to have a globally-organized civilization.

There is only one fully-connected struggle here, and if we succeed, we will do so in the way we always have — piecemeal, half-assed, squeaking by, more bricolage than grand planning, but profoundly human.

Learn your history, and practice hope. History will teach you how little is novel about our position now, and training the muscle of hope will keep you going through all the dark nights we have to come.“
eleanorsaitta  technology  infrastructure  systems  systemsthinking  systemschange  conviviality  2019  society  power  civilization  governance  unions  organizing  labor  capital  utopia  history  vision  canon  interoperability  time  generations  maintenance  community  control  layering  layers  scale  growth  socialcontrol  deschooling  unschooling  capitulation  geopolitics  politics  policy  local  programmability 
october 2019 by robertogreco
'Global Trumpism': Bailouts, Brexit and battling climate change | CBC Radio
[Also here:
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/global-trumpism-how-rogue-code-writers-became-the-authors-of-our-politics-1.5321199
https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-23-ideas/clip/15741291-global-trumpism-bailouts-brexit-and-battling-climate-change ]

“How did the middle class end up in perpetual debt? Why is there ‘no money’ for infrastructure or social programs, but there is for waging war? And what does all this have to do with Donald Trump, or Brexit, or climate change?

If you’re mystified about any of the above, then author and Brown University professor Mark Blyth can clarify things for you. He says it’s helpful to use a computer metaphor to describe the economy.

In his lecture at McMaster University as part of their Socrates Project, Blyth compared capitalist economies to laptops: different makes, but similar in appearance. He argues these computers run just fine for a while — say, about 30 years . But all the while, there are bugs in the software that eventually causes the system to crash. Then you rebuild the hardware, fix the software, and reboot.

System breakdown
That’s what happened in the 1970s and 1980s, when labour costs and inflation became a problem. The ‘system rebuild’ included less powerful unions, more global trade, and central bankers who were put in charge of setting interest rates.

But this new system generated bugs of its own, among them, a runaway culture of lending, and a lack of wage growth among the middle classes, who did a lot more borrowing than they could afford.

Mark Blyth says this borrowing wasn’t just driven by rampant consumerism.

“How do you get by when … everybody tells you there’s no inflation, yet the cost of everything that matters is actually going up? Education, health care, all that sort of stuff,” Blyth said in his lecture.

“And the only way you can fill in the gap is to borrow more money.”

Cue the 2008 financial crisis
However this time, Blyth says there was no rebuild. Instead, the United States Federal Reserve led a bailout of the big banks, domestically and internationally. The rich got much richer, the middle class got perpetual low interest rates to keep carrying their debts, and the poor had their social programs cut in the name of austerity.

Blyth contends this dynamic is what lit the fuse of global populism: the rise of leaders who appeal to public outrage, alienation, and lack of trust toward career politicians and traditional political parties.

“Your debts are too high…you can’t pay them off, but you can roll them over. They’re not going to be eaten away by inflation, and the people who brought you here have zero credibility,” said Blyth.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGuaoARJYU0 ]

Blyth compares populist leaders to ‘rogue code-writers’, hacking into the software of a system that was never properly rebuilt after the crisis of 2008. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it strengthens democracies.

“[Populism] is now part of the furniture … It’s already changed, so just get used to it. And let’s remember historically that 100 years ago, the people who were the populists then, the people that everyone was afraid of, became the established parties in many cases,” Blyth told IDEAS host Nahlah Ayed.

“So every now and again you have to have a little revolution, and that’s what’s happening now.”

Populism is springing up on the right and the left, said Blyth. The difficult choices that need to be made about climate change could come from a left-wing populist movement, not unlike the so-called ‘Green New Deal’ proposed by younger American Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Looking at how things may unfold in the not-too-distant future, Blyth speculates “right populism wins round one.”

“But ultimately, left populism wins round two, because left populism is the only one that takes climate change seriously,” he concludes.”
2019  markblyth  economics  inequality  brexit  donaldtrump  trumpism  fragility  greatrecession  2007  2008  policy  democracy  personaldebt  debt  taxes  wealth  income  climatechange  bailouts  finance  recessions  recession  oligarchy  popularism  berniesanders  banking  global  financialcrisis  inflation  productivity  consumerism  stockmarket  ipos  wages  middleclass  capitalism  us  uk  canada  caymanislands  delaware  arizona  isleofman  austerity  nahlahayed  latecapitalism  federalreserve  priorities  centralbanks  monetarypolicy  politics  alangreenspan  economists  loans  creditcards  spending 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Why Ilhan Omar Is the Optimist in the Room | The Nation
“Instead of drawing the attention toward herself and her agenda, she expands the spotlight to those around her. At her core, she’s still a community organizer, building networks across the microcommunities that make up Minneapolis.”



“She likes to listen. She asks questions. She spends more time passing the microphone than speaking into it. She cares about the details of policy, especially the ways they might affect vulnerable communities. She is a product of inclusive Midwestern politics, not the result of a localized identity politics.”



“Her model of politics as an extension of community organizing helps make people feel empowered to seek transformative change themselves.”



“There was no hierarchy in my home, there was no one really smarter than the next person. We could just interject as kids, and whatever adult was in that space would pause and say, ‘You have something to say? Finish your sentence.’ I think it allowed us to grow and feel internal liberation. And it allowed whoever was the leader, the adult in that room, to feel more secure in whatever decision or thought process they were going through, because it wasn’t solely their own.”



““I have a complete disdain for gatekeepers, and I try to keep them at a distance,” she said, adding that she has developed “a complete disregard” for “talking to the subcommunities as a voting bloc.””



“While she acknowledged that different groups encounter distinct barriers and threats, she insisted that “our core needs as humans” are universal and that universality should govern our politics.”



“She said she’s handling the pressure easily enough. Being Somali, she explained, has given her a thick skin because of her community’s habit of good-natured mockery. “I also grew up in a Somali culture, where we are extremely direct and are trained to not take much offense. I mean, 90 percent of our nicknames are based on our abilities or defects that we might have as humans. Somalis call me ‘half-life’ because I’m so tiny. The natural thing for a Somali person when they see me [is] to say, ‘What is happening to you? Why are you dying?’”

What does worry her, though, is that people who identify with her will feel the blow. “I know that if they say something about Muslims or immigrants or refugees, that there is a refugee or an immigrant or a Muslim person who sees themselves in me and who will take it personally.”

Meanwhile, Omar and her team keep working to find new audiences to educate and experts to elevate. She’s always the “optimist in the room,” she said. “I am the kind of person that really isn’t challenged by any circumstances. I will see an opportunity.””
ilhanomar  politics  organizing  2019  listening  hierarchy  gatekeepers  community  subcommunities  identitypolitics  identity  optimism  change  empowerment  minnesota  midwest  microcommunities  universality  parenting  horizontality  feminism 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Renata Ávila: "The Internet of creation disappeared. Now we have the Internet of surveillance and control” | CCCB LAB
““At the start of the 21st century, one of the questions that excited me most about access to the Internet was the possibility of producing infinite copies of books and sharing knowledge. That idea of an Internet that was going to be a tool for integration and access to knowledge has shattered into smithereens. It was a booby trap. We are working as the unpaid slaves of the new digital world. I feel that it’s like when the Spanish colonisers reached Latin America. We believed the story of ‘a new world’. And we were in a box, controlled by the most powerful country in the world. We should have regulated a long time before. And we should have said: ‘I will share my photo, but how are you benefitting and how am I?’ Because what we are doing today is work for free; with our time, creativity and energy we are paying these empires. We are giving them everything”.”



“We move into the field of ethics and ask Renata Ávila about three concepts that have modified their meaning in the last decade, precisely due to the acceleration with which we have adopted technology. They are trust, privacy and transparency and how these influence the new generations. We cannot divorce these three questions from the concepts of austerity, precarity and the institutional corruption crisis”, she argues. “Letting strangers into your home to spend the night, is that an excess of trust or the need to seek resources?”.”



“After all that has been discussed, some might think that this Guatemalan activist is so realistic that she leaves no room for optimism. But Renata Ávila does not like being negative and she is convinced that the human race is capable of finding resources to emerge from any “mess”, even at the most critical moments. “We have a perfect cocktail” – she says with a half-smile of worry. “A democratic crisis caused by some terrible leaders in power, with a climate-change and technological crisis. This can only lead to a collective reflection and make us reconsider on what planet we want to live in the future”.”
renataávila  2019  internet  history  surveillance  latinamerica  knowledge  labor  work  colonization  regulation  creativity  capitalism  web  online  activism  democracy  crisis  power  politics  technology  reflection  climatechange  transparency  privacy  corruption  precarity  austerity  trust  influence 
october 2019 by robertogreco
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