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Is America Ready for Revolution?

by NBBooks Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 07:00:05 AM EST

Sara Robinson posted an excellent article on Campaign for America's Future a few days ago, outlining the seven preconditions for violent revolution discussed by Caltech sociologist James C. Davies in a 1962 article in the American Sociological Review. Davies's work was largely based on the seven "tentative uniformities" identified by another scholar, Crane Brinton, who had studied and correlated the origins of the Puritan, American, French, and Russian revolutions.

"...it struck me," Robinson writes,  "that the same seven stars Brinton named are now precisely lined up at midheaven over America in 2008."

Diary rescue by Migeru


Bloggers are telling stories from the front lines of primaries and caucuses that look like something from the early 60s -- people lining up before dawn to vote in Manoa, Hawaii yesterday;  a thousand black college students in Prairie View, Texas marching 10 miles to cast their early votes in the face of a county that tried to disenfranchise them. In recent months, we've also been gobstopped by the sheer passion of the insurgent campaigns of both Barack Obama and Ron Paul, both of whom brought millions of new voters into the conversation -- and with them, a sharp critique of the status quo and a new energy that's agitating toward deep structural change.

There's something implacable, earnest, and righteously angry in the air. And it raises all kinds of questions for burned-out Boomers and jaded Gen Xers who've been ground down to the stump by the mostly losing battles of the past 30 years. Can it be -- at long last -- that Americans have, simply, had enough?

I believe Robinson is so desperately aching for radical change in America, that she sees more hope than really exists. But this can only be a subjective judgment, and the past four decades of seeing my own hopes and aspirations crushed have left me seriously doubting that much is possible in the U.S. But the argument Robinson presents is by no means weak. And, she is a great wordsmith, who delights in taking conservatives behind the proverbial woodshed for a good metaphorical thrashing. So, I pass along these excerpts, the seven preconditions for a Second American Revolution:


1. Soaring, Then Crashing
Davies notes that revolutions don't happen in traditional societies that are stable and static -- where people have their place, things are as they've always been, and nobody expects any of that to change. Rather, modern revolutions -- particularly the progressive-minded ones in which people emerge from the fray with greater rights and equality -- happen in economically advancing societies, always at the point where a long period of rising living standards and high, hopeful expectations comes to a crashing end, leaving the citizens in an ugly and disgruntled mood.

SNIP

2. They Call It A Class War
. . . Progressive modern democracies run on mutual trust between classes and a shared vision of the common good that binds widely disparate groups together. Now, we're also about to re-learn the historical lesson that liberals like flat hierarchies, racial and religious tolerance, and easy class mobility not because we're soft-headed and soft-hearted -- but because, unlike short-sighted conservatives, we understand that tight social cohesion is our most reliable and powerful bulwark against the kinds of revolutions that bring down great economies, nations and cultures.

In all the historical examples Davies and Brinton cite, the stage for revolution was set when the upper classes broke faith with society's other groups, and began to openly prey on them in ways that threatened their very future.

SNIP

3. Deserted Intellectuals
Mere unrest among the working and middle classes, all by itself, isn't enough. Revolutions require leaders -- and those always come from the professional and intellectual classes. In most times and places, these groups (which also include military officers) usually enjoy comfortable ties to the upper classes, and access to a certain level of power. But if those connections become frayed and weak, and the disaffected intellectuals make common cause with the lower classes, revolution becomes almost inevitable.

SNIP

And yet, when we finally graduated and went to work, we found those institutions being sold out from under us to a newly-emerging group of social and economic conservatives who didn't share our broad vision of common decency and the common good (which we'd inherited from the GI and Silent adults who raised us and taught us); and who were often so corrupted or so sociopathic that the working environments they created were simply unendurable. If wealth, prestige, and power came at the price of our principles, we often chose instead to take lower-paying work, live small, and stay true to ourselves.

SNIP

4. Incompetent Government
As this blog has long argued, conservatives invariably govern badly because they don't really believe that government should exist at all -- except, perhaps, as a way to funnel the peoples' tax money into the pockets of party insiders. This conflicted (if not outright hostile) attitude toward government can't possibly lead to any outcome other than bad management, bad policy, and eventually such horrendously bad social and economic outcomes that people are forced into the streets to hold their leaders to account.

SNIP

5. Gutless Wonders in the Ruling Class
Revolution becomes necessary when the ruling classes fail in their duty to lead. Most of the major modern political revolutions occurred at moments when the world was changing rapidly -- and the country's leaders dealt with it by dropping back into denial and clinging defiantly to the old, profitable, and familiar status quo. New technologies, new ideas, and new economic opportunities were emerging; and there came a time when ignoring them was no longer an option. When the leaders failed to step forward boldly to lead their people through the looming and necessary transformations, the people rebelled.

We're hard up against some huge transformative changes now. Global warming and overwhelming pollution are forcing us to reconsider the way we occupy the world, altering our relationship to food, water, air, soil, energy, and each other. The transition off carbon-based fuels and away from non-recyclable goods is going to re-structure our entire economy.

[Conservatives] will reflexively try to deny that change is occurring at all, and then brutally suppress anyone with evidence to the contrary.

Which is why, every time our current crop of so-called leaders open their mouths to propose a policy or Explain It All To Us, it's embarrassingly obvious that they don't have the vision, the intelligence, or the courage to face the future that everyone can clearly see bearing down on us, whether we're ready or not. Their persistent cluelessness infuriates us -- and terrifies us. It's all too clear that these people are a waste of our tax money: they will never take us where we need to go.

SNIP

6. Fiscal Irresponsibility
As we've seen, revolutions follow in the wake of national economic reversals. Almost always, these reversals occur when inept and corrupt governments mismanage the national economy to the point of indebtedness, bankruptcy, and currency collapse.

SNIP

7. Inept and Inconsistent Use of Force
The final criterion for revolution is this: The government no longer exercises force in a way that people find fair or consistent. And this can happen in all kinds of ways.

Domestically, there's uneven sentencing, where some people get the maximum and others get cut loose without penalty -- and neither outcome has any connection to the actual circumstances of the crime (though it often correlates all too closely with race, class, and the ability to afford a good lawyer). Unchecked police brutality (tasers, for example) that hardens public perception against the constabulary. Unwarranted police surveillance and legal harassment of law-abiding citizens going about their business. Different kinds of law enforcement for different neighborhoods. The use of government force to silence critics. And let's not forget the unconstitutional restriction of free speech and free assembly rights.

Abroad, there's the misuse of military force, which forces the country to pour its blood and treasure into misadventures that offer no clear advantage for the nation. These misadventures not only reduce the country's international prestige and contribute to economic declines; they often create a class of displaced soldiers who return home with both the skills and the motivation to turn political unrest into a full-fledged shooting war.

As I read through Robinson, and lifted out the excerpts I wanted to bring to a wider audience, I thought more and more of what I have been writing recently - that the financial crises are going to force the next President to make basic, historical choices between saving Wall Street, or saving the country. I had supported John Edwards, and now I dispiritedly favor Obama over Clinton. I have looked carefully at their economic advisers, and do not like what I see with either one. But Robinson sees something in Obama that I have thus far failed to see:

And Barack Obama is walking away with the moment because he talks of "hope" -- which, as Davies makes clear, is the very first thing any would-be revolutionary needs. And then he talks of "change," which many of his followers are clearly hearing as a soft word for "revolution."

Perhaps I am more desperate for change than even Robinson is. Perhaps I simply cannot bring myself to believe that someone from an Ivy League law school - and editor of the Harvard Law Review, no less - will actually implement real change. Perhaps I had simply been spoiled for Robinson's article by reading, a few days ago, Juan Santos' brilliant and deeply disturbing essay:

It should be more than clear by now that Barack Obama will not save us. But neither is the point to expose the man as an individual, or even as a hypocrite, betrayer or oppressor. The point is to see him in context, within the limits of the system, the matrix, the cultural and political environment in which he arose and in which he operates. It's not that Barack Obama, per se, is worthless, it's that none of the dreams in us that he speaks to so deeply in us can be fulfilled under the system of oppression he is an expression of and that his candidacy concentrates in visible form.

Is America really ready for revolution in 2008? I don't think so. But another four years without some drastic changes in national direction . . . And in the end, Robinson does not disappoint. She writes in two sentences what I've been fumbling three weeks to express.

When Change Is Not Enough: The Seven Steps To Revolution, by Sara Robinson

Poll
Revolution in America?
. Revolution is too good for Americans 2%
. Preposterous 13%
. Americans have no idea what revolution is all about 28%
. Unlikely 6%
. Unlikely, but welcome 28%
. It will happen, but will be ignored and negated by the news made 0%
. Maybe in 2012 8%
. Definitely in 2012 4%
. Hell, yeahhhh! 8%

Votes: 46
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Well done, great summary.   One of the few pieces I have read which correctly diagnoses whats at play here.  Jerome has correctly predicted an analysed the financial and economic fall-out of the current crisis, but you begin to chronicle the possible political implications.

Change is the only inevitability in life, and the key political question is whether a particular political system can accommodate and enable it, or whether it seeks to block and destroy its momentum.  If the later there is the inevitable dam-burst of dreams when all manner of chaos descends and people lose hope in the midst of revolution.

However the European experience of this is decidedly mixed.  It can just as easily lead to Fascism and ever greater wars as the ruling and middle classes seek to destroy the momentum for revolution within by creating and engaging with enemies abroad who are scapegoated as the cause of the malaise.

So whilst you are correct that the potential and momentum for revolution is gathering, the much greater risk is that it will lead to an even greater upsurge of madness and militarism in response.  "Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad".

America managed to avoid a descent into such madness after the great depression, and the hope must be that it can also do so now.  However that depends on the American political system being a lot more resilient and amenable to change than many now seem to believe possible.

You don't just need Obama to win the election, you need him to deliver on the home he has engendered in so many, and that is a task of a different order of magnitude altogether.  You need a virtual revolution of the middle classes against the ruling classes (the top 0.1%) who have arrogated all growth in wealth to themselves over the past 30 years, and who have impoverished almost everyone else into unsustainable debt.

A default on those debts, combined with an inflation which dramatically devalues the accumulated wealth of the ruling class is part of such a radical re-alignment.  But unless the American Middle Classes stand firm against the temptations of dictatorship, the political consequences of that default and inflation will be far more terrible than anything you have yet contemplated.

Think Germany c. 1928.  I personally believe the US can do a whole lot better than that.  You have the experience of Europe to help guide you, and even we have learned from our mistakes.  The attitude of the next US President to Europe will tell a lot about how he/she proposes to address the USA's internal problems.

The lessons of social democracy have already been learned, and the alternative is probably not revolution, but Fascism.


"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 05:47:53 AM EST
Well-said, the question of whether we can learn without disaster (further) will be answered soon.  I hope that with the example of many of the successes of the Europeans in overcoming the tragedies of the first half of the 20th century we can see what a disaster we have brought on by our militarism and its human and financial costs.  It may well be that we can't learn to see until disaster hits generally-that seems to be mankinds way.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 09:16:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However the European experience of this is decidedly mixed.  It can just as easily lead to Fascism and ever greater wars as the ruling and middle classes seek to destroy the momentum for revolution within by creating and engaging with enemies abroad who are scapegoated as the cause of the malaise.

When I was much younger and would discuss politics, many people of my acquaitance would slag the USA off for its behaviour around the world and its treatment of people in those countries. I always felt it was worth mentioning the awful way that America treated its own people, "it is brutal towards its own, how can it not be brutal to others ?". A comment that brought grudging acknowledgement, although not a toning down of opinion.

Now I look at the way the USA treats its own and it seems worse. It's not just Katrina, it is the casual brutalisation of everyday contact with the police, the beatings and taserings. Not just of black people as of old, but of white people, women, older people. Of people who are demonstrably of no threat whatsoever, suspected criminals or even those reporting crime.

Like I have said of the treatment of Padilla, they don't do it cos they think it's legal, they know it's illegal and they're showing you they can do it and there's nothing you can do to stop them nor any redress you can seek.

The laws that are passed that render life just that little more precarious, less bearable. The ones that increasingly draw a line between the just about getting by and those who have more than they need.

Healthcare that is increasingly denied the moment you seem to need it.

The elite of America has declared war on its own citizens, it is eating its young. This is not so much fascism as the sate that germany was in during the last few months of war with Hitler railing against how the german people failed him and that they should be punished. Citizens being executed for any defiance or even attempted self-preservation.

A society gone mad. That is the USA. So tormented it is eating its own flesh and blood domestically and throwing lives onto an oil-fuelled pyre abroad to satisfy the bloodlusts of ancient gods of greed and domination.

I have terrible fears of where this goes. But as the film says "There will be Blood"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:47:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally agreed, but I'm not so sure it's a case of "a society gone mad" as it is a case of a ruling class gone mad and reckless.  Up until 30 or 40 years ago, the northeastern power elites called the shots in the Republican Party, and the government took its tone from New York.  Now, Texas money calls the shots in the Republican Party, and the government takes its tone from Texas.  So do the corporate media, and Democrats don't get into power often enough to change the tone, even if they would.
by keikekaze on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:43:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There has not been much work done on it that I know of, except for a no more than two pages in Kevin Phillips' American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush (2004) where Phillips provides the briefest of outlines of how George Bush I and other scions of the American Eastern Establishment moved in on Midland, Texas and the Permian Basin in the 1950s. Phillips has much more details on how droves of CIA/Wall Street people worked for George Bush I's campaigns in 1980, 1988, and 1992. (I write "CIA/Wall Street" because my understanding is that the two were interchangeable in the 1950s to 1970s.)

Someone who studies these issues once told me that the U.S. Eastern Establishment transformed into the multinationals / globalization juggernaut in the 1980s.

And I think you will find these fascinating if you want to pull on loose threads:
Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy Presidency, Part 1
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/2/11/124525/795/299/300743
 

by NBBooks on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I said, or implied, that there was a difference in tone.  And moreover, the old establishment, in the olden days (before about 1980), had rather more of a sense of social responsibility--noblesse oblige, if you like--that has atrophied alarmingly since.

I've been meaning to read Phillips' Wealth and Democracy for some time but haven't got around to it.  Thanks for the reference to the other book, and the dKos thread.  I'll bump both the books up higher on my "to do" list!

by keikekaze on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 12:31:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... at least among the economic elite, in large part a necessity, and given the opportunity to walk away from it, there seems to have been a strong determination to git walkin'.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 10:04:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 . . . of there having been laws and regulations governing their corporate activities--laws and regulations that were actually enforced--I completely agree, and that's yet another argument (among many) for bringing back those laws and regulations and enforcing them again.
by keikekaze on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:03:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even more than laws and regulations governing their corporate activities, institutionalized organized labor that focused their attention on trying to grow the pie, given that trying to get a progressively larger share of the pie seemed a more difficult strategy.

Of course, those laws and regulations were part of the structure that supported the strength of organized labor, but social structures neither build nor reproduce themselves.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:13:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NBBooks:
Someone who studies these issues once told me that the U.S. Eastern Establishment transformed into the multinationals / globalization juggernaut in the 1980s.
Which probably explains why they don't seem to care much whether the US remains a strong economy or not. The elite has become transnational.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When declared "Absolute USA Kahoona" for 1 year, I promise:

  1.  Immediate public executions of ALL guilty parties, replacing all reality TV shows.

  2.  Nationalization of ALL critical industries.

  3.  Free beer for ALL bloggers named Helen.

That's a good start.  Did I miss anything?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 09:29:01 AM EST
Another wishy washy liberal comment.....

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 09:21:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did I miss anything?

the last part was fine, the first two suggestions seem entirely discretionary.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:26:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the free beer, evidently... :-)

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:01:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I ahve alwasy been doubtfult hat revolutions can be prediceted.. actualy I can not buy any pshycho historian stuff...e xcept for the fact that empires always fall.

other than that.. what kind of cahnge is produced along hisotry is highly cahotic.. so i doubt youcan predict.

it is true youc an rpedict eocnomic issues.. but absic economic issues..a dn here the constrains are nto enough to guess a future.

I even doubt that mass uneasiness, or cultural norms are the main drivers of changwe...a. ctually i see more and mroe time through hisotry the notion of smooth and udnetectable change..a dn suddenly you leave ina differenc place.. ahving a quick look at the s XI century you realzie how much is so...

or the slow , and uberslow appearanc eof the state...

So, sure there was the French revolution... and still.. nothing like women wearing pants for the first time in the II World War.

Having said that.. i always like people who try to find some order in this mess.
but things never have to be "this way".. they change all the time.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 10:29:42 AM EST
... is not functional, and that confuses issues when some people start talking as if there were mechanical cause and effect relationships ... or even worse, as if all cause and effect relationships are mechanical.

The economic profession is rife with this sort of confusion, which causes a tremendous amount of "well, the real problem is too hard so lets all pretend its this easier problem" kind of work in economic history done within the traditional marginalist school.

The cause and effect relationship here is viability. A Political Revolution is a very uncommon thing, and far more uncommon than the periods where there are some groups of people somewhere in society trying to provoke one.

Therefore, the search for common factors to the Political Revolutions that have occurred in the international Atlantic political economy (which has from its inception expanded to include most nations in the world).

The basic causal argument is that there are factors that increase the viability of Political Revolution. However, conditions that make a Political Revolution viable are certainly no guarantee that it will occur, because these are people we are talking about, rather than charged iron filings.

Indeed, it seems that one thing that makes Political Revolution inviable can be the presence of enough people in the society who have lived through one. As far as I understand it ... which is likely to be vaguely ... the Pan-European Revolutions of 1848 were essentially stillborn as those who the French Revolutionaries counted on as allies within the French body politic recoiled from the prospect.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:17:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The basic causal argument is that there are factors that increase the viability of Political Revolution. However, conditions that make a Political Revolution viable are certainly no guarantee that it will occur, because these are people we are talking about, rather than charged iron filings.

OK, --I quote this mostly because I liked it--

Nicely put.
There is a tendency in the technological world to treat human events in a mechanistic way, which is comforting to gearheads like I used to be, but works badly. The Neocon cartoon reality is a good example.

I think I would put it a bit differently, and this applies to your comments to follow.
There are two fields here- likelihood and viability.

Likelihood---will it happen? and

Viability--- can it live?

The piece is not about viability, but about likelihood. The author does not really address the question of whether what follows will be an improvement over what is discarded.

ATinNM, however, nails it- without a fundamental paradigm shift, it will fail. It will be nonviable. Unfortunately, all those nice CO-words, like cooperation, collective bargaining, community, have been tarred and feathered pretty well. So the revolution might still happen, though, and hence all those very real fears about brutal fascism.

Helen also has her finger on the pulse of it--what currently exists is a fundamentally barbaric transnational corporate oligopoly, whose participants (including Sarko's handlers) have the emotional tone of cockroaches--but who have mastered the "bread and circus" thing pretty well (Thanks, Mig). As long as the toys last, there will be no revolution. But the toys are about to run out.

My view?
Without a miracle, Obama will crash and burn. FDR faced significant challenges-- but they were minor compared to those Barak will face. He's likeable. I pity him.

I think the 0.1% still have a few tricks up their sleeve. Consider a post-2012, post-Obama world, with a second failed, Democratic presidency, and a lot of lost hope. I think at that point they need a new enemy- O.B. Laden is wearing thin even today, as public enemy no.1 and they will likely find one- to  justify another round of violent predation, with universal conscription and national bankruptcy. Which will then REALLY stir the pot.
If I were a member of the Repub. Pioneers club, I'd do my best to sabotage Obama and then pick up the pieces.
Essentially what they tried to do to Clinton.
If I were the opposite number in Europe and/or China, I'd decouple and rearm. Fast.
Bad vibes here.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:27:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Likelihood---will it happen? and

Viability--- can it live?

The piece is not about viability, but about likelihood. The author does not really address the question of whether what follows will be an improvement over what is discarded.

Likelihood---will it happen? and

Viability--- can it happen?

A Political Revolution is a dynamic self-reproducing process. That's one substantial difference between a Political Revolution and a golpe de estado (or what the Frances would call a coup d'etat). A golpe de estado is an event ... a group of people taking power, after which they try to govern.

Or to use an analogy, a golpe de estado is like an ax striking a tree. A Political Revolution is like a Forest Fire.

And like a Forest Fire, a Political Revolution is very hard, and often in any practical sense impossible, to get started, and once started very hard to stop.

The viability refers to that initial condition ... can a Political Revolution get launched and continue long enough to start to catch fire?

I am not referring to the "viability" of declared aims of Revolutionaries that emerge from the process ... precisely because a Revolution is such a rare state of affairs for a polity, many declared aims are going to fall by the wayside as a post-Revolutionary status quo emerges.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 01:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You two have exactly opposite assignments of meaning to "viability" and "likelihood". Which is amusing but not really a problem.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... different readings of viability. "Can it survive long enough to catch on", in my reading ... so viability is a categorical version of likelihood, likelihood effectively zero, the normal case, likelihood not effectively zero, where talking about how likely it is become relevant.

Sure, its possible to think about its long term viability, but violent, that is political, Revolution is not a long-term sustainable process, so the answer to that is, "its not", so I'm not worried about distinguishing between its viability at genesis and its viability long term.

If there is a New American Revolution, then when it burns itself out, that will again answer the long term viability question in the negative.

Green Star, In Morning
Soldier, take warning
That Green Star at Night
Will Guide True Love's Fight

Beyond Freedom and Despair
I can see a land so fair
If we move, we move far
Guiding only by our single Star

Green Star ...


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of what we talk about here on ET relates to the idea of viable (in the usual sense) new political and economic structures, in a post- neoliberal world.

This thread, and the article that is it's base, discusses the likelihood of popular dissension in the U.S. rising to the level of revolt.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 05:44:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "long-term viability" question seems to me a red herring which tends to be used as an argument against "alternative" social/political arrangements. No political system lasts forever. Was the Puritan revolution inviable because after Cromwell died the Monarchy was restored? Was the American revolution inviable because of the the Civil War? French revolution inviable because of the Terror, the Directory, the Empire or the subsequent restoration of the Monarchy? Was the Russian revolution inviable because of Stalin, or because of Gorbachev?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I were a member of the Repub. Pioneers club, I'd do my best to sabotage Obama and then pick up the pieces.

They will. And if I were Obama, I would shoot first. I don't think he will even think about buying a gun. Sigh.

It's too bad. Given the record of the Bush administration and of pretty much every big-shot decision-makers (Wall Street, the Media(TM), etc.) for the past 7 years, there's an embarrassment of riches to pick from and prosecute the Republican Party and US conservatives out of existence. But it would have to be swift and particularly ruthless. Not gonna happen.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:28:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.
In fact, he would have to be preparing now, and there is no evidence that that is even being considered.
One of the many conspicuous absences from the political dialog is the value of rule of law. That issue would be the foundation of prosecutions, and it's just absent.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 05:35:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When a system has gone bad, mass prosecution of individuals is, for many reasons, a poor remedy.

A truth and reconciliation commission would be more appropriate:

A truth commission or truth and reconciliation commission is a commission tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government, in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. They are, under various names, occasionally set up by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil war, or dictatorship.


Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 01:22:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be happy if Obama simply spent his first few months in office undoing the Unitary Executive. Lots os signing statements and executive orders to unwind.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
As far as I understand it ... which is likely to be vaguely ... the Pan-European Revolutions of 1848 were essentially stillborn as those who the French Revolutionaries counted on as allies within the French body politic recoiled from the prospect.
Europe saw revolutions in 1830 as well. I think since the American and French Revolutions the West has had a revolutionary outbreak every generation or two until WWII. The achievement of over 60 years of peace and stability is quite remarkable.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
errr, 1968 ? Even though it didn't have that many effects, it was still eventful and, at least in France, economically quite important.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As fond as we are of May'68, I don't think it compares to the American and French Revolutions, the Napoleonic Wars, the 1830 revolutions, the 1848 revolutions, the wars and revolutions around 1870 and the unification of Germany and Italy, the Anarchist unrest in the first 20 years of the 20th century, WWI, the rise of Fascism or WWII.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:01:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1968 isn't only May, but also Prague spring, Tet offensive and My Lai, the Chicago DNC, protests before the Olympic games in Mexico... Kick started the '70's.

1830 was what, a failed revolution in France (The Orleanist king replacing the Legitimist one...), Belgium independence, and Greek independence ? Not that much more major.

As geezer pointed out, "they" have been getting better at shutting down revolutions.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
linca:
As geezer pointed out, "they" have been getting better at shutting down revolutions.

but as someone in '68 (if I remember right) pointed out "they" have to succeed every time whereas the revolutionaries only have to succeed once.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:42:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"They" are certainly being successful in making the idea of revolution seem absurd.

Paris students now cheer for the cops, and when they demonstrate, it is to get jobs and money.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:45:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How--- American.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most remarkable things about the decades from 1960-1980, seen from today, are the cartoonish revisionism of the aims and ideas of the times, and the fraudulent "history" that has replaced what really happened.
In terms of ideas, the times were fertile and creative, and changed the world--the world outside the beltway and the boardroom--in a big way.
That defines "important" to me. 1968 was hugely important- and reactive.
However, the winners got to do the editing, and "stuff" won.

Anyone here ever read the port huron statement?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:16:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a lot of debating going on this year on the subject in the French press. Painting May '68 as a student revolt which was mainly individualist and anticonformist, paving the way to our neo-liberal world.

Conveniently forgotten are the general strike, the huge salary raises, the PC attempting to stop the strikes, the real political thoughts that were produced and then conveniently forgotten, the very durable changes in the wage hierarchy and the labour-capital divide of the GNP....


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 08:36:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Buncha arrogant individualist students having a tantrum.
Same toxic waste that has been so successfully sold in the US.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:33:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Yes.  And I sat behind literature tables trying to get other people to read it too.

Gawd it's been .... 40 years (!?!)

eek

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 11:48:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... it means Political Revolution as in the Puritan, American, French, Russian Revolutions.

Hmmm, 60 years of peace ... Fordism has much to answer for, shame its so hard to track it down nowadays to make it give an accounting.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revolutionary outbreaks do not necessarily transfer into successful revolutions... I was arguing about the outbreak part. Prague and May were definitely revolutionary...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the work she is referring to is not about conditions are conducive to a revolutionary outbreak, but what conditions permit a revolution to take off ... since the majority of revolutionary outbreaks sputter out.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 11:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both Prague and Hungary were crushed from the outside, not unlike, say, the Paris Commune.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Lasthorseman on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 10:34:03 AM EST
... revolution that she is discussing, its not "hope for change" that is the pre-condition ... it is commonly felt and urgent need for change that is seen to be frustrated.

And while the US is not in that position now, in the terms of Sara's essay, as the financial melt-down proceeds ... and especially if Europe and China reach a joint accommodation on how they are going to decouple from the US financial system as it melts down ... and then when the first serious impacts of Peak Oil strike the US economy over the decade ahead, it could easily be.

The core question is whether there is any signs that get down to regular working stiffs, abused veterans, etc. that the corporatist state presently running things is willing to sacrifice anything at all to contribute to addressing the problems.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 02:49:09 PM EST
BruceMcF:
and especially if Europe and China reach a joint accommodation on how they are going to decouple from the US financial system as it melts down ...

any signs of this happening?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 09:25:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... I have a diary where I ask the Europeans here whether there are.

The Chinese are certainly prepared to be able to move if they feel they should ... a little while back they replaced their dollar peg with a hidden basket peg (that is, the Singapore model), and that gives them flexibility to slide over to the Euro without requiring any single big dramatic move to unsettle financial markets.

Basically, a hidden basket peg is where you peg your currency to a basket of foreign reserve currencies, and do not announce the composition of the basket, the peg, or changes in either. You can change either the composition of the basket or the peg, and in the noise of the fluctuation of the currencies in the basket against each other, its difficult to work out with any precision where the precise peg stands.

If the Chinese were going to make such a move, they certainly would not tip their hand. So if indications appear, it will be on the European side.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No sign of this happening at all. The 0.1% in Europe and the 0.1% in the US are on the same page, and that won't change any time soon - if ever.

China isn't being taken seriously as an economic superpower yet. This seems ridiculous, but until it starts throwing up a rentier class that the CIA/Wall St mob can respect, it'll continue to be seen as a country full of unusually competent peasants who - in economic terms - are useful idiots.

Since the Euro elites take their cue from the mob, they're not going to start looking East until long after it's clear that the US is underwater.

Likewise for Russia. Some of dem Russkies may be rich and ruthless, but compared to the professionals they're still rather nouveau and have yet to prove themselves.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...it'll continue to be seen as a country full of unusually competent peasants who - in economic terms - are useful idiots.

And unfortuntately it will be accurately seen as such.

There is a common mistake people make in thinking that China has integrated itself into the world economy for reasons of the national interest, instead of in the interests of the ruling class in amassing greater wealth.

The whole plan is for China to play second fiddle to the US and for some Chinese people to make a buck out of that. They don't mind being 'useful idiots' as long as there is a buck in it. They will actually be appalled as the US tanks and they have to adjust. And a great many of them will probably not make the imaginative or visionary leap that is required. The US being top dog is what they know. They didn't want it another way, and many will not even be able to conceive of it being another way, even as the whole arrangement falls down around them.

by wing26 on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 04:42:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... when they say in Shanghai, "You are one in a thousand", it means there are a million more out there to replace you.

The Chinese political elite has as one of its priorities to generate enough jobs to avoid political crisis, and if a discounted exchange rate policy against the US$ generates the net capital account inflows to the US that allows the US to continue generating the net current account outflows that provide an external market with actual profit margins that helps keep so many businesses afloat ... well, that's a good thing.

However, they also believe in covering their bases, which would seem to be what they did when "under pressure from the US" they moved to the Singapore model of hidden basket peg.

If China ditches the US$ it will not be as a neo-con fantasy geo-political power play, it will be because they think that mine is tapped out of new export jobs, and are changing their primary focus to a new external market.

Under the Chinese economic system, they've got to keep playing that general game until they've ridden out the demographic bulge, or else face a very high risk of losing power. And under the iron law of oligarchy, as a first priority, a long-entrenched oligarchy will do what it believes to be necessary to hold onto power.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 12:07:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I sometimes think that the US and its allies have an overblown view of how important the Chinese government considers them ... it isn't all about you.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 12:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but when its about China and anybody else, that is not newsworthy for the US Mess Media ...

... after all, how would a yank who had not found an escape hatch from the US Media Bubble ever know that the US was not the be-all and end-all of Chinese foreign policy?

When would someone who thinks that CNN or MSNBC gives the "in depth" news coverage that the networks don't have time for ever hear of the effort of China to build a trade framework for China, South Korea, Japan and ASEAN, or the ongoing "industrial diplomacy" efforts of China to secure natural resource exploitation rights in Africa through easy credit terms to buy city buses or finance road construction?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 03:38:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just the 'US' media bubble though, it's a very much more general Anglosphere bubble, pretty much worldwide. I get entirely and completely US-centric 'world' news where I live ... the HKSAR, technically part of the PRC. I have even read stories about the Chinese nuclear 'threat' to the US, written from an entirely pro-US point of view - in Hong Kong's major English-language daily! The place might as well still be run by the UK in terms of its 'balance'.

And Colman, actually, I do think it is very much about the US ... again, the world's current elites - not just in China but in places like Germany and Japan - grew up in a US-centric world and they don't have the balls to think of the world being any other way. A frequent complaint on ET is about the distorted worldview of places like the FT and so on. Unfortunately that distorted worldview seems to exist even in Paris, Berlin, and, yes, Beijing as well.

by wing26 on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:42:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman needs to write his diary about the world elite...

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 04:56:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Yes there is the bias ... but after living a decade in Australia watching SBS World News and listening to the ABC, and then coming back to the US ... here in the US there is a categorical increased in the opacity of the walls of the bubble.

Lord, the best broadcast coverage I ever came across about the new richest man in the world, the Mexican telecom tycoon, was an ABC Radio National show that I listened to by podcast while cycling to work one day. And that's Mexico!


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 10:00:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to view media as a global system with the center in the US. It is not uniform, for example we have national medias in Europe (national in reporting, not ownership). But when they look at the world, they are mostly looking through the american eyes. As I use to point out, I know more about what is happening in the US then in Denmark.

I suspect that the national medias do spill over a bit, and that might especially be the case if your area lacks a strong national media. But mostly it is the international US-centric media that dominates the world.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 06:54:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference is, outside the US media bubble we get a US-centric view of the world. Inside the US media bubble, we get very little view of the world at all.

There's very little need to distort the view that Americans get of the outside world through our media, because we get so very view of the outside world.

In Oz, I could, of course, check in with what was happening according to the US Mess Media by watching any of the commercial networks news broadcasts (those that were not "current affairs" infotainment) ... but I had the option of watching news on SBS and the ABC, either of which was more journalism in an hour than I can get in 24 hours on any US based broadcast network or narrowcast news channel.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:18:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chinese political elite has as one of its priorities to generate enough jobs to avoid political crisis, and if a discounted exchange rate policy against the US$ generates the net capital account inflows to the US that allows the US to continue generating the net current account outflows that provide an external market with actual profit margins that helps keep so many businesses afloat ... well, that's a good thing.

All of which, I submit, would have been entirely uneccessary had China remained on its original Maoist path.

Deng, and all that came after him - that is, the China you see now - was not inevitable, it was a choice. And it was a choice made by only a few people, and only in their interests.

If the Chinese elite were truly interested in avoiding political crisis, they would never have embarked on this course in the first place.

Although you are generally correct about the difficulty of revolution, let us hope you are wrong in this case (China), and that the people responsible get it in the neck (literally), like they deserve, without being able to bugger off to Hong Kong or New York or wherever (like they did the last time around).

by wing26 on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... population policy ... that is, people are wealth, to encourage a population explosion ... that is responsible for the urgency of the political problem now. And if China had not engineered a boost in agricultural output, the Maoist path would have turned quite ugly for the ruling oligarchy.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 10:06:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though the on child policy started in '79, I thought it was a continuation of existing policies. Do you have some links to the previous population policy?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:03:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... in Africa.

Well, Sino-Japan, actually. My wife tells me of the Chinese in the DRC building highways, while the Japanese are "helpfully" dredging the big hydro dam, and in the process helping themselves to the highest grade of the sand from the dredge.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 11:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The conditions, as Sara Robinson notes, are ripening, but we're not quite there yet, and Barack Obama is certainly not an agent of revolutionary change, no matter how many millions of people would wish him to be.

Give it another few years, with the economy worsening, more people losing their homes (or abandoning homes that are worth less than the owner's debt load), and ineffectual Democrats in power continuing to do nothing and pleading that they need 80-20 Congressional majorities, or Congressional unanimity,  before they can even begin to do anything.  The revolution won't happen in 2008, but the conditions are ripening.

by keikekaze on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 05:09:01 PM EST
Good diary.

A democratic system is more resilient than an autocracy.  The continuation precedes from it's ability for new Bottom/Up entities and entity types to form and then flourish.  By "entity" I mean something that is capable of sensation, perception, action, schema, and goal directed behavior.  By "entity type" I mean a difference in Property -- including form, epistemology, function, & etc -- from those found previously.  

Historically, the superiority of the democratic versus an autocratic form of government can be see in the responses of the US versus the Wiemar Republics under the stress of economic breakdown: the Great Depression.  Similarity between my two examples can be seen in the mechanism by which both countries finally found a way out: gearing their respective country's economies for war.  In Germany this started in 1934, if not before.  In the US it started in 1940.

If the (Republic form of) democracy and the autocracy both had to resort to the same economic stimulus package, as it were, doesn't this bring the economic system under analysis?  I would argue that it does.

Here we find a similarity as well.  Both countries, despite differing political systems had the (roughly) same economic system: predatory capitalism.  In both countries a small plutocratic class controlled the financial systems as well as, or in addition to the "Means of Production," or because they owned the first they owned the latter.  The control is so accepted today that is relative newness, in the 1930s, is overlooked.  

My knowledge is primarily of the US, so that's what I'll talk about.

The Joint Stock Company with limited liability -- the corporation, as we know it today -- came into existence in the US in the 1880s and it was the manipulation of the financial system and the assembly-line mass production of goods in factories created to produce the armaments for WW I (war, again) that combined in an over-stimulated economy that crashed when the consumer finally had to stop accumulating new stuff to pay for the stuff already consumed.

Is this sounding familiar?

Predatory capitalism, in short, is the alliance between the Financier/Rentier and the "owners" -- actually the controllers -- of the major business organizations.  Together they comprise the plutocracy that depends on an ever increasing supply of money to fuel credit purchase of the stuff (goods and services) the business organizations pump out.  Together they give money (salaries) to the producing class but then vacuum every last cent they can grab back from the producing class by putting the producers into ever increasing debt through high rates of compound interest.  Even shorter: predatory capitalism is a system of debt peonage.

It is this system that has to change.  

That's the revolution I'm interested in.  (YMM, of course,V)

That's the revolution Obama and Clinton ... and McCain and Huckabee and Brown and Blair and Merkel and Putin and all the rest of the scum fine upstanding global political figures, have no interest in undertaking.  And why should they?  If you can con persuade people to send you millions of dollars, pounds, euros, rubles, or whatever per month to go around flapping your yap about how you are going to change things ... why change things?  And after you haven't changed things the predators will kindly invite you, at high wages, to come to a fancy resort and tell them how peachy-keen things are and much you didn't change things.

And, after all, for the predators and their lickspittles things are peachy-keen.

In this environment, a "revolution" would mean "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss."  Because nothing has been done about creating new entities and schema.  (Remember them? :-)  UNTIL AND UNLESS these are created the Revolution CANNOT happen.  When these new entities are created in mass the Revolution WILL happen¹.  

These entities and schema are boringly familiar: co-ops, industrial democracy, credit unions, communitarian oriented living, unions, worker owned businesses, and so on yawn.  When these entities, which exist already - I ain't talking nothing new - proliferate such that they are the economy and when the producers garner the economic benefits of the wealth they produce:

THAT'S a revolution.

Is the US ready for such a change?  Nope.  But it is much more ready than it was 40 years ago?  Yup.  Will it be even more ready 40 years from now?  Beats the heck outta me.  

What I do know is: this current crock of a system cannot permanently endure.  It is mathematically and ecologically impossible.  It will change.  

In that, for that, I see a bit of hope with Obama.  Not in him, specifically, but in the organizations and social/political movement he has sparked.  When he fails to deliver, as fail he almost certainly must, some will be ripe for, and move for, real change.

IMO.

¹ Sorry for shouting

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:50:55 AM EST
I think the US - and everyone else - IS ready for a Revolution - and it is coming form the "Telluric" (© Migeru) changes going on as the Internet becomes embedded in our Society.

This Revolution is a "Peer to Peer" revolution.

Governments, Banks, conventional Corporations and all the rest are intermediaries and were therefore redundant in the face of new tools and techniques for linking individuals "peer to peer".

As Gilmore (almost) said: "The Internet interprets Banks as Damage and routes around them".

I call this process "Napsterisation" and believe that alternatives are now emerging - as with all emergent phenomena - because they "out-compete" the existing forms.

ET is actually an example of the way that individuals are capable of linking together and forming a loose collective more powerful that its individual components.

I believe credit internediaries (for instance) are already in their death throes - that is what the current "Credit Crash" is - and that a networked  alternative is already emerging.

The exact form that will take is not clear to me, but its inevitability is clear., and I do not give the current system even four years.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 07:21:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I'll agree that people are "ready" - tired of the current system - for change.  I still maintain they are not "ready" - have viable alternatives widely available.

Note modifying adverbial phrase!

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 12:40:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the connotation that Sara is using is Political Revolution ... a violent replacement of one political system by another.

"Revolutionary change" in the sense of the replacement of our technological system by another, accompanied by some form of dramatic political change ... that's inevitable. Its a matter of when, not if.

Whether that dramatic political change will be something with a family resemblance to the New Deal, or something with a family resemblance to the Puritan Revolution, American Revolution, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, etc. ... I hope and work for the former (and it seems that Sara does as well), while fearing that it may be the latter if we don't get moving in time.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:28:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Won't get fooled again!



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:21:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
The Joint Stock Company with limited liability -- the corporation, as we know it today -- came into existence in the US in the 1880s and it was the manipulation of the financial system and the assembly-line mass production of goods in factories created to produce the armaments for WW I (war, again) that combined in an over-stimulated economy that crashed when the consumer finally had to stop accumulating new stuff to pay for the stuff already consumed.

The format was formalised around then, but the concept of shares and share dealing was around very much earlier in Europe. I haven't checked this but I wouldn't be surprised to find it in classical times.

If there's going to be proper revolution, everything we take for granted financially now is going to have to be put up for grabs.

The origins of the limited company assume that people are a convenient resource and can be farmed for profit. The metaphor is feudal, with capital replacing land. The peasants are lent money - only states truly own money - in return for a tithe called 'labour' which is a claim upon their time.

Very few peasants escape from this system, and even the more inventive and intelligent scribe/overseer caste still have strict limits on their freedoms.

The terms of the loan have become increasingly strict and demanding as the pharoanic class has become more greedy and demanding - to the point where money is now obviously loaned, where previously it was offered in quantities sufficient to produce a convenient illusion of private property.

Any worthwhile revolution is going to have to replace this with an ethic of organic value making - decentralised, spontaneous, participatory, fluid and based on genuine personal freedoms.

We've had a good few centuries of the Church of Capital, and it'll probably never wither away entirely. In the same that many people still think the idiot in Rome with the silly robes is important, a total end to capital may not happen.

What's needed now is a no-holds-barred intellectual humanitarian assault on the Church of Capital. In the same way that Rousseau and Voltaire undermined the rule of the Church before the French revolution, we need to debunk the nonsense and cant of the Church of Capital with a similar combination of lucid ridicule, satire, and sanity.

Blowing shit up doesn't make for an effective revolution. Blowing people's brains wide open does.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:04:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.
As I said above, Ideas are important.

Even if "they" fell asleep at the monitor, and a violent upheaval were to occur, Americans are so sick with Toxic Fox Syndrome that I see no fertile ground for ideas there. Look at the campaigns and the level of discourse.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:32:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's pretty hard to get this sort of criticism accessible to a wider population.

The "center-left" weekly le Nouvel Observateur was intending to publish a special feature on "can capitalism be criticised" with many scholars having written pieces on their version of criticism of the Capitalist world order - the special was cut before publication.

Alter mondialism is constantly misrepresented in the media...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 08:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've just discovered the Italian publishing house e/o has republished - in cheap paperback! -  Victor Serge's Memoirs of a Revolutionary, which I'd heard of but never read.  Having just finished reading the first chapter on the bus and been deeply moved by it - plus had a whole series of thought-trains set in motion -  I'm now planning on going into internet hibernation until I've read my way right through it and come out the other end... while simultaneously chewing over its implications.

After which - hopefully - I may actually produce some kind of diary with a ... could call it an "early 21st cent. rereading" of Serge's direct revolutionary and human experience of such a large slice of the 20th cent.'s many and variously-betrayed revolutions? -  only-naturally also in the light of my own generation's passionate lil' abject-failure pseudo-revolution of the late 1960s-though-1970s???... then somehow tie all that lil' lot in with the content of this diary and relative links plus various other mental loose ends, hangnails and half-digested memories I've been tormenting/tormented by for some time now.  

Yay wouldn't it be great if I - or anybody else, for that matter - could actually write something intelligent along those lines???

...Written knowing all too well I'm more than likely to chicken out/slump back into inertia - not for the first time - as soon as I fully realise exactly how much organised and coherent though that kind of writing endeavour requires...
:-(

Anyway/whatever, to all aspiring US revolutionaries: all the best!

* waving *

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 04:13:12 PM EST
In English?
Link, please?

And do write it up.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a Serge devotee from way back so least-I-can-do-to-pay-my-respects is some google-searching... ;-)

Results:
- Victor Serge's Memoirs of a Revolutionary is on sale at Amazon UK - at £15.15 new - urk! - and at Amazon US, more reasonably priced (at least at current exchange rates( at US$ 18.21 new. Used copies only-naturally cheaper in both cases.

While awaiting delivery, excerpts from various chapters can be read online
here.  Full URL for the excerpt from ch. 1 is http://www.marxists.org/archive/serge/1945/memoirs/ch01a.htm. There's  no "proceed to next chapter" links provided anywhere on the page - the Serge-loving comrades responsible being more romantic than practical-technological??? - but if you change the last digits of the URL - by hand (i.e. rewrite "ch01a.htm" as "ch02a.htm" etc etc)you'll find you  can access chapter after chapter. ;-)  

And here's an excerpt-from-the-excerpt from Ch. 1:

World Without Escape, 1902-1912. Part Two

(on failed revolution in Paris in 1911: the anarchists, Bonnot...)

(...) A positive wave of violence and despair began to grow. The outlaw-anarchists shot at the police and blew out their own brains. Others, overpowered before they could fire the last bullet into their own heads, went off sneering to the guillotine. `One against all!' `Nothing means anything to me!' `Damn the masters, damn the slaves, and damn me!' I recognized, in the various newspaper reports, faces I had met or known; I saw the whole of the movement founded by Libertad dragged into the scum of society by a kind of madness; and nobody could do anything about it, least of all myself. The theoreticians, terrified, headed for cover. It was like a collective suicide. The newspapers put out a special edition to announce a particularly daring outrage, committed by bandits in a car on the Rue Ordener in Montmartre, against a bank cashier carrying half a million francs. Reading the descriptions, I recognized Raymond and Octave Garnier, the lad with piercing black. eyes who distrusted intellectuals. I guessed the logic of their struggle: in order to save Bonnot, now hunted and trapped, they had to find either money, money to get away from it all, or else a speedy death in this battle against the whole of society. Out of solidarity they rushed into this squalid, doomed struggle with their little revolvers and their petty, trigger-happy arguments. And now there were five of them, lost, and once again without money even to attempt flight, and against them Money was ranged -- 100,000 francs' reward for the first informer. They were wandering in the city-without-escape, ready to be killed somewhere, anywhere, in a tram or a café, content to feel utterly cornered, expendable, alone in defiance of a horrible world. Out of solidarity, only to share this bitter joy of trying to be killed, without any illusions about the struggle (as a good many told me when I met them in prison afterwards), others joined the first few, such as red-haired René (he too was a restless spirit) and poor little André Soudy. I had often met Soudy at public meetings in the Latin Quarter. He was a perfect example of the crushed childhood of the back-alleys. He grew up on the pavements: T.B. at thirteen, V.D. at eighteen, convicted at twenty (for stealing a bicycle). I had brought him books and oranges in the Ténon Hospital. Pale, sharp-featured, his accent common, his eyes a gentle grey, he would say, `I'm an unlucky blighter, nothing I can do about it.' He earned his living in grocers' shops in the Rue Mouffetard, where the assistants rose at six, arranged the display at seven, and went upstairs to sleep in a garret after 9 p.m., dog-tired, having seen their bosses defrauding housewives all day by weighing the beans short, watering the milk, wine, and paraffin, and falsifying the labels.

... He was sentimental; the laments of street-singers moved him to the verge of tears, he could not approach a woman without making a fool of himself, and half a day in the open air of the meadows gave him a lasting dose of intoxication. He experienced a new lease of life if he heard someone call him `comrade' or explain that one could, one must, `become a new man'. Back in his shop, he began to give double measures of beans to the housewives, who thought him a little mad. The bitterest joking helped him to live, convinced as he was that. he was not long for this world, `seeing the price of medicine'.

One morning, a group of enormous police officers burst into our lodgings at the press, revolvers in hand. A bare-footed little girl of seven had opened when the bell rang, and was terrified by this irruption of armed giants. Jouin, the deputy Director of the Sûreté, a thin gentleman with a long, gloomy face, polite and almost likeable, came in later, searched the building, and spoke to me amiably, of ideas, of Sébastien Faure[6], whom he admired, of the deplorable way in which the outlaws were discrediting a great ideal.

`Believe me', he sighed, `the world won't change so quickly.' He seemed to me neither malicious nor hypocritical, only a deeply distressed man doing a job conscientiously. In the afternoon he sent for me, called me into his office, leant on his elbows under the green lampshade, and talked to me somewhat after this fashion:

`I know you pretty well; I should be most sorry to cause you any trouble -- which could be very serious. You know these circles, these men, those who are far away from you and those who have a gun in your back, more or less. They are all absolutely finished, I can assure you. Stay here for an hour and we'll discuss them. Nobody will ever know anything of it and I guarantee that there'll be no trouble at all for you.'

I was ashamed, unbelievably ashamed, for him, for myself, for everybody, so ashamed that I felt no shock of indignation, nor any fear. I told him, `I am sure that you must be embarrassed yourself, talking to me like this.'

`But not at all!' All the same, he was doing the dirty job as if he were overwhelmed by it.

(...)

I myself received five years' solitary confinement, but I had managed to get Rirette acquitted; two revolvers discovered on the premises of the paper served to justify my conviction, which was provoked, no doubt, by my calm hostility during the hearings.

I found this justice nauseating; it was fundamentally more criminal than the worst criminals. This was incontestably obvious; it was just that I was an enemy, of a different sort from the guilty ones. As I pondered the judgement, its enormity did not surprise me. I only wondered if I would be able to live that long, for I was very weak -- at any rate physically. I made up my mind to live it out, and was very ashamed to be thinking of myself like this, next to others who ...
(...)

The obviously innocent Dieudonné was reprieved, in other words given forced labour for life. For eighteen years he fought fantastically against his servitude, escaping several times and spending years in solitary confinement. After his final escape he reached Brazil. Through the good offices of Albert Londres,[7] he was able to return to France.

Raymond was so stolid in the death-cell that they did not keep the date of the execution from him. He spent the waiting period in reading. In front of the guillotine he noticed the group of reporters and shouted to them: `A nice sight, isn't it?'

Soudy's last-minute request was for a cup of coffee with cream and some fancy rolls, his last pleasure on earth, appropriate enough for that grey morning when people were happily eating their breakfasts in the little bistros. It must have been too early, for they could only find him a little black coffee. "Out of luck" he remarked, "right to the end." He was fainting with fright and nerves, and had to be supported while he was going down the stairs; but he controlled himself and, when he saw the clearness of the sky over the chestnut trees, hummed a sentimental street-song: `Hail, O last morning of mine'. Monier, usually taciturn, was crazy with anxiety, but mastered himself and became calm. I learned these details only a long time afterwards.

So ended the second explosion of anarchism in France. The first, equally hopeless, was that of 1891-4, signalled by the outrages of Ravachol, Emile Henry, Vaillant, and Caserio.[8] The same psychological features and the same social factors were present in both phases; the same exacting idealism, in the breasts of uncomplicated men whose energy could find no outlet in achieving a higher dignity or sensibility, because any such outlet was physically denied to them. Conscious of their frustration, they battled like madmen and were beaten down. In those times the world was an integrated structure, so stable in appearance that no possibility of substantial change was visible within it. As it progressed up and up, and on and on, masses of people who lay in its path were all the while being crushed. The harsh condition of the workers improved only very slowly, and for the vast majority of the proletariat there was no way out. The declassed elements on the proletarian fringe found all roads barred to them except those which led to squalor and degradation. Above the heads of these masses, wealth accumulated, insolent and proud. The consequences of this situation arose inexorably: crime, class-struggles and their trail of bloody strikes, and frenzied battles of One against All. (...)

Marxists.org also provides a page with links to various short texts by Victor Serge, plus this unforgettable quote:

"It is often said that `the germ of all Stalinism was in Bolshevism at its beginning'. Well, I have no objection. Only, Bolshevism also contained many other germs, a mass of other germs, and those who lived through the enthusiasm of the first years of the first victorious socialist revolution ought not to forget it. To judge the living man by the death germs which the autopsy reveals in the corpse - and which he may have carried in him since his birth - is that very sensible?" - From Lenin to Stalin, 1937.


"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 09:00:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A magnificent closing quote from the same page - could also stand as an obituary for many more recent struggles?

Of this hard childhood, this troubled adolescence, all those terrible years, I regret nothing as far as I am myself concerned. I am sorry for those who grow up in this world without ever experiencing the cruel side of it, without knowing utter frustration and the necessity of fighting, however blindly, for mankind. Any regret I have is only for the energies wasted in struggles which were bound to be fruitless. These struggles have taught me that, in any man, the best and the worst live side by side, and sometimes mingle -- and that what is worst comes through the corruption of what is best.



"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 09:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure America is ready for a revolution. The elites have the bread-and-circus routine down-pat. Remember the Roman plebs never revolted but the slaves did with some regularity. Also, the Eastern Roman Empire never fell (it was simply taken over piecemeal first by the Arans and then by the Turks), and the Western one rather decomposed.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:58:58 AM EST
In the US, the power elites only give us circuses.  The program is circuses and circuses; bread, you're on your own.  Bread now costs $4 a loaf.  In a few years, when no one can afford that, you'll get your revolution.  Or perhaps I should say, I'll get mine!
by keikekaze on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If only Romulus Augustulus had had Britney.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm glad to see Crane Brinton on ET...

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 08:44:36 AM EST
I don't think America is ready for a "revolution" (whatever that means), nor do I think Obama is likely to deliver one by his own effort.  What he might be, however, is a catalyst for larger changes -- the right symbol at the right time that can spark the necessary realignment.  Much of politics is a matter of timing, and, to his credit, Obama clearly has (at least in my view) a phenomenal sense of timing.

Obama the Candidacy (not Obama the Guy) is a product of many different forces at play, both old and new, in both philosophical and practical terms.  The Obama campaign is, for all practical purposes, what the Dean campaign was supposed to look like but never could for a variety of reasons.  Obama and his people, to the surprise of many (myself included), just happen to be a hell of a lot better at organizing than Dean and his people were.  They're better funded, too.  And Obama is much better than Dean was at tying his basic program into a broader theme, and, yes, that's important in a presidential campaign.  Obama's coalition is essentially a more mature version of Dean's coalition, albeit much broader.

I think America is generally angry and depressed, as well as increasingly worried for obvious reasons.  I wouldn't put it at a revolutionary mood, just as I wouldn't have quite called the country anti-war at this point in 2004.  (It was close, but it wasn't quite there yet.)  The mood is changing faster this time, though, and, by the time the election rolls in, we might be there.  I get the sense that the country has had enough of the Republicans and their policies, and is ready to give the Dems full control.  So the degree of change is wholly dependent upon (1) the Democrats selling a program well enough to gain a large majority, and (2) having the guts to implement said program.

The Obama candidacy can do that.  The frustrating thing, for me, about Obama is that he's probably the most talented politician to come along since Roosevelt.  Here's someone who really could deliver massive changes if his skills were properly directed.  But, as of this point in time, they have not been.

Whether they will be eventually, I don't know, but best to not get one's hopes up.  He could be Jimmy Carter, after all.  But, then again, if he governs half as well as he campaigns, he could be FDR.  We'll see.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:01:45 AM EST
Drew, the Dems don't really have a program. They have a marketing strategy. There's a huge difference.
Sure, there are isolated pockets of sentience in the US political universe, but ---how much has John Conyers been able to accomplish, with all the good intentions and skills in the world? Or Feingold?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:14:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but, while they're undoubtedly cowards in general, it's also true that they can't accomplish much without a Democratic president.  I think next year we're likely to see at least a new Senate Majority Leader, because Harry Reid seems to have worn out his welcome.  (I'm hoping for Chris Dodd and dreading the prospect of Hillary Clinton.)  If it's Dodd, it'll be a step in the right direction.  That's not to say that Dodd is some kind of uber-liberal, but I think it's fair to say that he's not gutless.

Getting rid of Reid and Pelosi would be a good start.  I'm less optimistic about ditching Pelosi, since she seems to have a good bit more support among her colleagues, and knowing that she's earned at least some praise from the grassroots on issues like FISA thus far, even if she's been gutless on other issues.

We all know that with a Dem president and larger majority in Congress, health care will be a big issue.  (I'm not optimistic about bills like HR676 passing, but I do think we'll get something at least reasonably good.  Then again, if by some miracle Democrats grew a set and passed it, you can be sure the president would sign it.)  Iraq will be less of an issue, since the president controls the troops, and the Republicans thus can't really do anything but whine on it.  Beyond that, the program they should concentrate on should include the following: An infrastructure initiative, as a means to fixing things that need to be fixed while also coping with the recession and getting the energy plans out and rolling; rebalancing the tax code, and in particular, raising the capital gains tax and wiping out (or at least substantially raising) the cap on payroll taxes; and then perhaps one or two more big issues.

It's typically the case that a president will only accomplish two or three big things.  Doing those things in the first term would, in my view, be reasonable and make for an overall strong success.  More might be done, but I think that's putting the bar up at a decent level.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read the original, liked it a lot, and thought to post something here, but decided against it because I have not read the original work the article was based on, and for the following reasons:

The whole subject of violent revolution is difficult and dangerous to study or discuss. This is not a new thing, either.

In college, I took a graduate level course called "War and conflict in Latin America". It was team taught by two people I respected, Perez and Nesman -- the first a firebrand cuban with revolutionary links, and the other the son of an industrial family who were enriched by their links to the State Department in Cuba under Batista. Great friends, great counterpoint.
The course was actually about the circumstances that led to violent revolution in Bolivia, Mexico and Cuba, but the university let it be known- very directly- that the use of the word "revolution" in the course description would cause the course to be canceled forthwith. That was in a far more tolerant time, in 1979.  
In the Empire of today, such topics carry a high risk of getting anyone who attempts to write about them on multiple "Bad Lists". It is foolish to think that "Well, I have nothing to hide-- they won't mess with me just for talking about it." They will, and they have legal suypport, thanks to Jane Harmon, D-Calif.
As anyone who knows me will attest, I am not shy about such discussions, on-line or in person.
I think in the end real change will be violent, --or it will not happen. I also think the mechanisms for derailing such events are far better planned and applied than ever before. I have said this many times, in many venues. I too am not very hopeful. But I talk, I write, I print shirts and picket, I tell the stories of my heroes, like Erin Watada---
The last time I traveled to the US I was detained, isolated, strip searched, interrogated, threatened---and eventually released. In the end, they said it was a case of mistaken identity-- that there was someone with the same name who had a local warrant out for non-payment of child support.  Right. This after an international flight, a current passport and driver's license for id, etc. etc.
I said as much, and the unidentified officer (?) who "spoke" with me said, "Well, Mr Miller, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here."

I will not be cowed, and I hope we follow this trail of ideas until it peters out, or until we create something good. With awareness.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:09:06 AM EST
geezer in Paris:
"Well, Mr Miller, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here."

And what lesson would that be?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:08:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeez.
I am a lifelong problem. I have been photographed by the spooks so often I can't count them, I know how to deal with tear gas and mace, I have been run out of town in two cities, Columbus, Ohio and Columbia, S. C.  and I'm proud to say I aint done yet, legs or no.

I have crossed the US customs service interface  literally dozens of timers. Yet suddenly, customs runs my passport, and five minutes  later I am in the little room with someone who refuses to identify himself, and billows clouds of incredibly obvious smoke---attempts to intimidate me-- and you ask what is the lesson.
The only thing that changed was that I had recently posted several essays and e-mails on line about the preexisting conditions that might be necessary for violent revolution, the fact that Al Jazeera actually seemed to do a better job of reporting than Fox, (and a number of allied topics).

They were generous. They warned me.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 01:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
geezer in Paris:
I have been run out of town in two cities, Columbus, Ohio and Columbia, S. C.  and I'm proud to say I aint done yet, legs or no.

Not while there's at least one more Place with columbus in the name? ;-)

What I was trying to say (albeit inelegantly) is that if someone is going to try and threaten, then I'd want them to spell the threat out, preferably in writing, although we all know that isn't going to happen.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 03:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would prefer that too, but from the point of the threathener it might very well be the point to keep you guessing and (hopefully) censoring your own behaviour.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:34:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the same treatment. And mine is not a common last name, but I'm sure they'll find all manner of "Wikrent"s who owe child support, or left the lawn watering system on at their home in Atlanta while they were in gay Paree.
by NBBooks on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:26:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That a people as feckless and weak as current Americans could revolt is a pretty ludicrous idea. Most Americans don't even vote. And when they do vote it's for "daddies" who will tell them what to do. Of which Obama is merely the latest iteration.
If Americans wanted change, they would change. It's easy for pols to get young people fired up about change. But that's because young people are always dissatisfied with their positions in a hierarchical culture.
I see many things that people could do every day that would substantially change things, but what I see people doing is continuing down the same path with the changes being only more and easier of the what's already here.
American politicians are a direct reflection of the American people. And if the pols are corrupt, venal, and stupid well so are the people that elected them.
If this seems a harsh judgement all I can say is come and live here for a while. You'll see.
by bil on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:47:34 AM EST
"And if the pols are corrupt, venal, and stupid well so are the people that elected them."

My guess is, you must work as an academic or at a university.

Dialog International

by DowneastDem (david.vickrey (at) post.harvard.edu) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all. I'm just an observer of the passing scene.
by bil on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:24:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well judging by your username, You have to do something to keep busy while your wife is on the campaign trail ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for posting this, it is a very interesting flashback.

But still I don't think that the US is ready (or will ever be ready) for a revolution of the "progressive" kind (as opposed to one like this: http://www.dar.org/). Many great empires/societies of the past (Egypt, Rome, Great Britain etc.) never experienced the kind of revolution that is meant here. In each of these cases, the so-called elite managed to stay on top even past the end of empire. On this, read the interesting book by Patrick J. Geary (Before France and Germany) on the survival of the senatorial aristocracy in Francono lant for centuries after the end of the Roman empire.

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

by LazyEnterprise (lazyenterprise@gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:23:14 AM EST
I remember when I was considered somewhat of a doomsayer -- by our own Jerome -- for stating here that the major challenge of the early 21st century would be for the world to deal with the collapse of the American Empire.

And now, behold, a few years later, we're talking revolution here as if it were a garden party.

I still believe the American Empire will collapse; in fact, the collapse has already begun. But like the Colonial Empires of France and England in the early 1900s, or the Soviet Union in the late 1990s, I don't think a revolution is in the cards, although I'm not entirely ruling out a break-up of the Union by 2020 or 2030.

I think the near future of America will look something like today's Russia crossed with Brazil -- all analogies have limits, of course. No revolutions there.

Besides, when the elites have automated killer robots on their side, the prospect of an armed revolution looks bleak.

by Lupin on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 12:20:12 PM EST
I have been more kindly treated-- instead of the moniker of doomsayer, I've just seen the whole subject of the end of empire ---disappeared.
I'm gonna do a Helen, and have a few good beers, and write a diary called "America--fundamentally unworkable".

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 01:48:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, there was a time when a Revolution in Brazil would have been quite a bit more feasible if it hadn't been for the efforts of the US to ensure that political events took a different turn.

And as the US Empire fractures then falls, there won't be a US standing as a nearby hegemon exercising that influence.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 01:52:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My 'crystal ball' tells me that "the American Empire will collapse" but it refuses to reveal that there will be a "break-up of the Union by 2020 or 2030."

Some will argue that the Roman Empire took 400 years to collapse and others put it to a max of 1600 years... The collapse of the American Emprie might take a lot less time.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 02:21:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Has the Roman empire collapsed yet?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 02:37:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, it has.

In 1917-1922 all of the last 4 roman emperors resigned, was killed or forced to abdicate. So it is over and done with.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:39:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who succeeded them?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They were replaced by Republics.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:41:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What goes around comes around, eh?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:42:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing lasts forever.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:46:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can think of three "Roman emperors":

  1. The Tsar of Russia (the "Third Rome")

  2. The Emperor of Austria (descendent of the Holy Roman Emperors)

  3. The Ottoman emperor (descendent of Mehmet II, who conquered Constantinople and claimed the title of Kayser-i Rûm)

I suppose that the fourth was Kaiser Wilhelm, but did the German Empire claim to be heir to the Romans?
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 05:16:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume so, but now that I check I can not find a good source for it. As the German Empire discussed in Frankfurt did not seem to make a distinction on Roman heritage between the small German and big German solutions, I tend to view it as they (and later the German Empire of 1871) saw emperor as the proper title for the head of the German states, in accordance with the tradition of the Holy Roman Empire. German Empire and Austrain Empire as successor states (albeit with a delay) of Holy Roman Empire (dissolved by Napoleon in 1806 (another roman emperor)).

On small vs. big Germany:
German Confederation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On May 18 the Frankfurt Parliament opened its first session, with delegates from various German states. It was immediately divided between those favoring a kleindeutsche (small German) or grossdeutsche (greater German) solution. The former favored offering the imperial crown to Prussia. The latter favored the Habsburg crown in Vienna, which would integrate Austria proper and Bohemia (but not Hungary) into the new Germany.

An interesting piece on the title of German Emperor:

William I, German Emperor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The title "German Emperor" was carefully chosen by Bismarck after discussion until (and after) the day of the proclamation. William accepted this title grudgingly as he would have preferred "Emperor of Germany" which, however, was unacceptable to the federated monarchs, and would also have signalled a claim to lands outside of his reign (Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg etc.). The title "Emperor of the Germans", as proposed in 1848, was ruled out from the start anyway, as he considered himself chosen "by the grace of God", not by the people as in a democratic republic.

But then William I also had a full title:

William I, German Emperor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William the First, by the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke in Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Krossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Brene, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kassubes, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesse and in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildersheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moess, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensburg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfield, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt, etc.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 12:10:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I sure am going to miss those cheeseburgers!
by NBBooks on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:30:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. And good Cajun food I miss already.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:42:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not as much of a doomer on American society from a social standpoint as most people - mostly because in my experience here the number of people that have truly drank the kool-aid is fairly low - but I'm not optimistic about the world's prospects due to encroaching resource scarcity. All the fabulous institutions Europe put together during the 20th century (the best on the planet, IMO) will be shown to be as ephemeral and tenuous as anything in the face of energy, water, and food shortages. Hopefully we're planting the seeds for something better after the chaos has settled and the elite's networks of power have dissipated, but there is no way to know.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 02:24:41 PM EST
All the fabulous institutions Europe put together during the 20th century (the best on the planet, IMO) will be shown to be as ephemeral and tenuous as anything in the face of energy, water, and food shortages.

Far better to face shortages with functioning social institutions than without them, I'd say?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 02:46:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Functioning for how long, though? That's what I'm getting at. They're all based on the assumption of abundance.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 03:47:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When we moved to Europe 20 years ago, one of th first things we remarked on was that France seemed far more able to operate well on the basis of an economy of scarcity than the US- perhaps because of the lessons learned from the process of recovery from the aftermath of WWII. For example, in Paris, the city of light, the average citizen used one third the amount of electricity as the average US citizen.

I think you are wrong- scarcity will be far better dealt with here than in the US.
In the US, conservation is seen by many as a sign of economic failure, of weakness.
Wealth is waste.
Yuk.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or as Veblen put it, conspicuous waste is THE defining sign of social status.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"
by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except when it isn't.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:25:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I try to impress women with my lack of a car.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:34:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it work?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Within the right subculture, yes. Ultimately it's hard to say, though, because the conspicuous consumption angle is still in play due to my clothes and other items demonstrating my income level.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God love women--almost anything "works" if the setting is correct.  

My angle is that I have a car so old, the status has disappeared--showing that I am "above" such petty things as conspicuous consumption.  It also shows I am thrifty and can maintain things.  

This strategy helped attract a very sensible mate ;-)

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 07:34:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That kind of thing works with me. But, then, I'm in the same social class to some degree: I'm okay with some forms of "consumption" but am impressed by someone who doesn't consume in other areas.
by R343L (reverse qw/ten.cinos@l343r/) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:13:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See also the ever-popular, painfully semi-humorous "Closing the 'Collapse Gap'":

"As you can probably surmise, I am actually rather keen on observing economic collapses. Perhaps when I am really old, all collapses will start looking the same to me, but I am not at that point yet...As things stand, the U.S. economy is poised to perform something like a disappearing act. And so I am eager to put my observations of the Soviet collapse to good use."

Comes with slides.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 01:50:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And also on ET, see Closing the Collapse Gap: the US vs the USSR by Lupin on May 3rd, 2007.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:22:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is very likely where I first saw it.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 04:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the American citizens are ready for a revolution.  But they are VERY pissed off.

But just to demonstrate my take on the matter, let me tell a story.

I was at a meeting of people who are trying to plan demonstrations for the Republican Convention this summer.  It was suggested that we should build a working guillotine and use it as a centerpiece for a torchlight parade on the convention.  Folks would carry real torches and pitchforks while a group would tow the guillotine into place,  The crimes of the Republicans would be read aloud and then one by one, puppets representing the criminals would be executed and their heads hoisted on poles to the cheers of the throngs.

I was asked if could build a working guillotine.  Of course I could.  Would I do it?  I have no idea.  It sounds like a hoot and the message WOULD come across.  Of course, it would also likely provoke a police riot so I am torn.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:17:59 PM EST
We have already decided to let you get away with this stunt.

Until we decide to use it on you "as an example."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a very errr ... unsubtle way of reminding them that there are worse things in this world than loosing elections and power.

I advise against it. Even with DFL mayors in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, I very much doubt that pitchforks, torches and guillotines are within city ordinances for public demonstrations :)

by Francois in Paris on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 10:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be right.

Even so, it has been fun to think about some design improvements on the old-fashioned guillotine--like using compressed air to help accelerate the downward path of the blade and perhaps a hydraulic snubber to control the run-out.  Or maybe just roller bearings ;-)

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 02:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

With a nod to the movie "Fargo", perhaps a wood chipper would be more apropos.

Then you could make up some effigies that were stuffed with monopoly money, and run them through the chipper.

by ericy on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:51:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a bit surprised that under 5 she does not include this marvelous new information technology. On one hand we have a push towards decentralisation of power, the intertubes gives access to information, communication, culture and knowledge. On the other we have a pretty unison movement in the ruling classes to close that down and instead use the technology for ever-present surveilliance.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:46:56 PM EST
by Lasthorseman on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:55:08 PM EST
after all, the deep state is certainly preparing as if it is:

One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation--and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, "Partnership for Protection." On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.

This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.
"The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage," he says. "From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we'd be given specific benefits." These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out.

But that's not all.

"Then they said when--not if--martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn't be prosecuted," he says.

it's going to get very interesting as the economic and energy chickens come home to roost. doubly so as the iraq vets come home to a wrecked economy and no treatment.

by wu ming on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 01:03:27 AM EST
As has been said before, "they" are getting better at derailing collective behavior. The key tactic is to interrupt communication, and convince people that they are just isolated, powerless dingbats, and real power comes from kissing the oligarch's asses--a la Infraguard.

infraguard

The Achilles heel of the consumer society's rulers is the ability of the people to bring the biggest corporation to it's knees by simply withholding their trade. It's necessary to cooperate to do this, however.

See? Those subversive "CO- words" again.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 07:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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