Open menu; contribute as you will….

whale shark
I’m working on something else, so I thought I’d stick up a new open menu.  Please talk to one another if you wish; I’ll pop in as I can. If you bring a title or link, you might want to include some of the salient points within; rants are also encouraged.  ;-)  My meager contributions:

Jeffrey St. Clair featured this passage from Good as Gold in his Roaming Charges today; it was written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Joseph Heller:

(In this scene, Gold is being interviewed for a post in the new presidential Administration…)

“What would I have to do?”

“Anything you want, as long as it’s everything we tell you to say and do in support of our policies, whether you agree with them or not. You’ll have complete freedom.”

Gold was confused. He said delicately, “I can’t be bought, Ralph.”

“We wouldn’t want you if you could be, Bruce,” Ralph responded. “This President doesn’t want yes-men. What we want are independent men of integrity who will agree with all our decisions after we make them.”

“Wouldn’t I have to know anything?”

“Absolutely not,” Ralph answered, and appeared astounded that Gold even should ask. “In government, Bruce, experience doesn’t count and knowledge isn’t important. If there’s one lesson of value to be learned from the past, Bruce, it’s to grab what you want when the chance comes to get it.”

Gold asked with distress, “Is that good for the world?”

“Nothing’s good for the world, Bruce. I thought you knew that.”

12 responses to “Open menu; contribute as you will….

  1. Reports from the hermitage, offer information of international importance; Bangkok street food is not doomed.
    After an international outcry, the Junta has reconsidered its position and softened its stance.
    There will be some adjustments, but hark, the street food venders will prevail…mostly…

    • hooray! power to the people! but ‘international outcry’, that’s big.

      i’ll add my own personal report: our daughter-in-law reports that our son, her husband, is back in communication after a week or ten days of none…in first kuwait, then qatar after being sent from his ‘base’ in the uae. the other good news is that he flunked out of air attack training, which was hard for him, but was ♫music to my ears♪.

  2. Hi wd, glad to hear your son is less likely to be put in harm’s way. Your post is somewhat synchronicitous (is that a word?) because last week I was going through my mountains of books hoping to clear space by donating to the library (alas, I could only bear to part with three) and Heller’s Good as Gold was one of them…. Hadn’t read it yet but the excerpt you quoted makes me want to.

    I’m posting this here because I can’t find the thread where we were discussing Tulsi Gabbard. Yes, I think we are misunderstanding each other, so I want to clarify: I am not laboring under the illusion that a savior is going to rise from the ranks of electoral politics, nor am I advocating lesser-evilism or God forbid, Clinton style “triangulation”….But everything I say past this point reveals where my thinking becomes muddled, and that’s why I posed the question on your other open thread as to what are your and your commentariat’s overarching political philosophy, if you have one.

    Because I don’t have one. Commenter j, I believe answered that he didn’t believe mild reforms would work, but guns weren’t the answer either…..Which is basically all I can come up with. I can identify much more easily the things I oppose than the things I am in favor of. Ghandian non-violent revolution for sure, but our population in it’s ignorance kinda kills that one in the cradle, amirite?

    The only reason I find myself defending Tulsi in the extremely circumscribed instances in which she speaks truth to power is that electoral politics, however useless they may be at this juncture, are a reality we have to live with and I view elected officials as kind of a soil in which were stuck with in which to try to grow a true revolution and I’d rather have that soil comprised of politicians who have some semblance of a conscience, or common sense, or sanity, than to try to grow that revolution in a soil of Trump’s and Clintons and Obama’s and Schumer’s. Muddled thinking? Admittedly….Yes! That’s why I would like to hear other people’s perspectives. I was reading Michael Parenting, and his defense of the concept of “dictatorship of the Proletariat” , a concept I’ve always had a knee-jerk reaction against, but his defense (if I’m even reading him correctly) was eloquent and convincing.(but I still hate and reject it). Localism, anarchism, are much more my cuppa (nice expression btw) but don’t take into account realities of hard power I’m, again I turn back to Gandhi but impossible with no mass consciousness. What a vicious circle. I guess all I can do is proceed with the Cynicalseeker revolution, one convert at a time and hope the US doesn’t blow up the planet….

    • thank you, c seeker. may he stay out of harm’s way, but for now… synchronous, maybe? but heller’s mastery of amerikan satire is mind-boggling. who will ever forget milo minderbender’s financializing the war, for instance? ‘all of you own stock shares, that’s why i traded your parachutes for eggs!’

      i dunno where that thread was either, but as i’m only popping in for now, i’d seen your comment via site email, and not having read parenti’s book, nor knowing almost zip about socialist/communist dialectics, i googled and found this rebuttal. and no, i haven’t taken the time to read it. i’ve spent most of the day working on a new diary.
      http://www.isreview.org/issues/36/rev-caesar.shtml

      also, i thought you might like to take a look at today’s popular resistance newsletter reports of coming resistance actions and whatnot. i’m zeroing in on finishing said diary, and if i get a second wind tonight, i may come back. but i admit, i’m bloody tired of words for now.

      https://popularresistance.org/newsletter-the-peoples-plan/

  3. There is major political realignment going on in the world, not just the US, and it has to do with the reaction to the highjacking of the 1970s longing for interdependency as a basis for ending war by economic imperial globalism and purer capitalism. The UK, France, and probably Germany as well are undergoing their own realignments.

    In the US, there are currently five pretty hard-nosed faction (maybe six) in the US Congress. Reagan Republicans, Tea Party Republicans, Freedom Caucus Republicans, Progressive Democrats (a shifting bunch of policies), New Democrats (Clinton Democrats minus Clinton), and the last rump of Blue Dog Democrats. The fragmentation in the the GOP is sufficient for them to shut down the government by themselves. And soon. The only question is whether the Democrats will be fragmented enough to bail out the GOP at the last minute. And the GOP escape the lesson of how dangerous their tactics actually are for governance.

    Democratic unity could result in government collapse. That’s the positive outcome, if you think about it. The GOP has placed itself in absolute power; it’s time for them to govern, however they decide to do it. At least the public will know clearly that the screwer has changed even if the screwee hasn’t.

    By the 4th of July we will know whether this is an abrupt or a rolling crisis. All of which makes Tulsi Gabbard more or less salient a concern for 2020.

    If you want to use electoral politics, you have to remember that there are 218 Congressional districts that make up the majority of the House of Representatives, and each Congressional District requires 175,000 voters actually going to the polls, casting their votes, and having the votes count to win just one house in Congress. That means mobilizing 38,150,000 voters. If you’ve got a personal network, the 218 candidates in geographically strategic positions, and a way of ensuring that those 38,150,000 voters turn out, you can claim a popular majority in the polls in 2018. Then those 218 freshmen House members will have to work with each other to get the people’s work done without allowing the corrupt DC environment to lead them to the usual post-political advancement concerns. For those with the clarity on insight and youth to do this–you only need to be 25 to run for Congress–more power to them. I would suggest primarying everyone of every party with a bunch of young whippersnappers. No more safe districts, no more quiet gerrymanders. It’ll at least give the media a new angle on a midterm and might get more people to turn out to the important elections.

    Tulsi Gabbard is 36 this year and will be 39 in 2020. Her best move is to win the Hawaii governorship or beat Mazie Hirono for the Senate in 2018. Few people have reached the Presidency from the House of Representatives. It rings of experience. Both Richard Nixon and JFK were around 37 when they were elected to the Senate. The key point to remember is that the candidacy must not be a marketing campaign that is chained to the mass media and isolates the candidate from the voters. With a population of 330 million in the US, I don’t know how one deals with those numbers and actually have an actual sense of where voters are and what their most perceived interests are. Democracy depends on some means of actual political conversation that is in fact two-way. And a continuing process that can be transferred to office that is in fact two-way. This is what politicians somewhat had in the 1950s with a lot of ordinary people that they no longer bother to cultivate. The fate of the “Town Hall” meeting format is symptomatic of that sort of arrogance and grassroots anger. It will take a different process even from Sanders’s experiments last year.

    Revolutions occur when the ancien regime collapses its opposition and is captured or flees and all or the “business as usual” functions of society get suspended with workers wanting to know “what do I do now” that the boss who told me what to do is gone.

    The “dictatorship of the proletariat” is a principle, not a proposal. What it actually means has to be worked out in practice like the Occupy general assemblies. There are some sticky practical issues: Who exactly is a proletarian? What form of polity should the dictatorship take–autocratic, aristocratic, or democratic? How do actions scale up from local areas to the entire society, or does fragmentation as a process occur deliberately? How does food get grown, products get manufactured, transportation services delivered, utility services delivered while the proletariat figures out how to use their power to run the society preserving liberty, equality, and fraternity? How do they deal with the original sin of economy – commodification?

    I’ve had some mental spinning going on about some of this. What, for example, would be the consequences of the political taking of the Nevada legislature and the Delaware legislature in an election and in the first hundred days repealing the entire section of Corporation Law and the reciprocal agreements the state enforces with other states? And totally redoing employment law to eliminate the category of “employer” and employer privileges under the law? I pick those states because they are less populous and because they make a lot of their income from manipulating their corporation laws. Delaware was the original loose corporation state, but Nevada competes, and now all the states have loose corporation laws. Repeal them. There is no limit on liability or corporate identity that can sue from behind the veil of the corporation.

    The second biggest issue beyond breaking power of bosses is how to generate the revenue to create a public infrastructure and what the legal status of that infrastructure is, because “owned” is a bad conceptual base for a dictatorship of the proletariat.

    I hope you see the groups of practical problems that soon appear as this is rolled out and how a certain type of non-authoritarian leadership is needed to prevent the new strongest from re-establishing the old ways of doing things.

    This is a problem that the remaining “communist” countries still grapple with but not at a political theoretical level. New boss looks a lot like the old after a while.

    • Thank you, Tarheel Dem, for one of the most comprehensive and cogent analyses I’ve ever read. I will have to read it more than once to fully digest it.

      And thank you wd, for the links. I hate authoritarianism of any kind which is why I’m reluctant to give up completely on electoral politics, even though its value as one of many tools seems to have weakened to the point of uselessness.

    • A very interesting comment you write, td (if I may call you that. For me, you touch on a critical point. You write:
      The second biggest issue beyond breaking (the) power of bosses is how to generate the revenue to create a public infrastructure is because “owned” is a bad conceptual base for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
      I certainly don’t have an answer at my fingertips, but i’m glad you’ve posed the question.

      • I’ve been called worse. :) Thanks for grappling with it. What I think most folks miss is that so far the social relations were not transformed when elite or professional class revolutionaries led the revolution, which fundamentally was because they felt internationally marginalized as being from a backward country. And Marx’s successful “experiment” in the Paris Commune had internal weaknesses (in part, because Marx, Engels, and other enthusiasts were not in fact themselves proletarians).

        So, at this point, we haven’t seen anything other than replacing many bosses with a guy who has the illusion that he’s the only boss, even if on a rotating or temporary basis.

        What polity would workers design for themselves? Just look and see what happens in a crisis when the work depends on workers continuing to do it while the bosses are preoccupied elsewhere or have disappeared altogether. Imagine a hurricane in which the consequences are all of the ATMs are shut down and there is no law enforcement on the street. What tends to happen spontaneously? How long does it tend to last? What are the issues that disrupt it?

  4. The whale shark reminded me; did your perhaps paleolithically-modified megalodon shark’s tooth ever prove of any value, beyond sentimental?

    • no value except to me.bruce. i strung it on some gold thread w/ a great blue heron feather, and hung it on the wall next to ‘my half’ of the dining room table that serves as my desk. but yes, the whale shark reminded me of it, as well. it’s a fine tooth, it is, and imagining the size and power of the megaladon is thrilling. ;-)

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