Monday, January 15, 2018

(Finished) Book Review: "Radical Transformation"


 Kevin MacKay is a friend of mine, so I was very happy when his book Radical Transformations: Oligarchy, Collapse, and the Crisis of Civilization was published by "Between the Lines" press. Also, as a favour to Kevin, I've decided to post a review of the book here at the blog for my [officially] eleven "followers" and the half-dozen or so casual readers who might pop-in every month or so if there's nothing else going on in the increasingly moribund Canadian blog-o-sphere.

The quick and dirty summary is that humanity (and, obviously, civilization) is well and truly fucked. And we're going to take a lot of life-forms down with us. Also, my own pessimistic take on MacKay's efforts to chart our way out of the crisis of collapse, is that it is far too little, and I don't know if "late" does justice to the total irrelevance and disarray of the forces he pins his slim hopes on.

The villain of MacKay's book is "Oligarchy." Which is to say; any excessive agglomeration of power by any one group of people. It is oligarchy that renders the strategy of enlightening society to the dangers and counseling change (a-la David Suzuki, Jared Diamond and Thomas Homer-Dixon) as insufficient. It doesn't matter if 80% of the population is aware of the problem and fired-up to do something about it. If the political system is dominated by an oligarchy that bases its power on the status-quo, then the status-quo will prevail. What is needed, if humanity is to survive, is "Radical Transformation."

Radical Transformation is divided into two parts with Part One having chapters on "Collapse," "Dissociation," "Complexity," "Stratification," "Overshoot," and "Oligarchy." Part Two has two chapters: "The Death System," and "Toward a System of Life." There is also an Introduction that nicely foreshadows everything you're going to read in the book.

"Collapse" looks at how to define what "civilization" means (so as to better grasp what is all going to go to shit). Basically, a "system of civilization" is an interconnected web of relationships (ecological/economic/political/socio-cultural).

"Dissociation" and "Complexity" talk about how we are so disconnected from the impacts of our actions as individuals, and as civilizations, to be able to easily make sense of the extent of the coming crises. We don't see the endless fields of drugged-up, sick animals being fed a straight diet of cheap corn, dragged to the killing-floors of the abattoirs (when they're too weak to stumble there on their own two feet [or four hooves really]) to be dispatched and dismembered by overworked, undocumented immigrants, and the chunks placed on styrofoam trays and shrink-wrapped in plastic. We don't see how the farmland used to fatten distressed animals takes food away from other humans. We don't see the clouds of methane produced by these factory farms. We're too distanced by space and time to empathize with either the suffering beasts or the hungry fellow humans. We don't understand the networks of power that formed and perpetuate this system or the other deadly systems that most of us accept as "just the way things are."

"Stratification" deals with the creation of social inequality and its intensification under late-capitalism. These present levels of inequality already threaten the viability of our civilization. How can a vast population of paupers provide a real economy for the tens of trillions already being hoarded by the super-rich to "invest" in? One day, when the latest incarnation of the Ponzi-scheme that is the world's financial markets collapses, there won't be enough of the "little people's" tax dollars to bail them out. And there won't be a social system with any reserves to plunder via austerity policies to finance the deficit-spending needed to bail them out.

"Overshoot" is, I think, one of the more depressing sections of a depressing book. We're running out of the fossil fuels that power our road to nowhere. Which is sort of a good thing because on our journey we're destroying the ecological system via global warming, mass-extinctions and ever more pervasive toxification.

"Oligarchy" describes that term and, also, how the present system of oligarchy is committed to this destructive system. They can't imagine a different world. They see no need (inside their bubbles of super-privilege) to even see the need for a different world. And they have a vice-like grip on the decision-making process. (This includes their grip on the media system that serves to portray everything as reasonable and manageable.)

In Part Two's "The Death System" MacKay explains how much of the time, oligarchs arose from out of more egalitarian social systems due to psycopathology. To whit; people obsessed with getting power tend to get it. While people not obsessed with getting power (and thereby being able to rob and abuse others) tend not to even try and thereby end up living under the authority of those who do. It isn't just the capitalists in our present system. Capitalism is the name of the oligarchic system that we are presently suffering under, but the desire to dominate others can come in many forms and from many different sources. We have to be on our guard against the desires of psychopaths no matter what form of civilization we strive to create.

It is in "Toward a System of Life" that I intend to focus this review. MacKay is to be commended for spending about 15% of his book discussing the subject of solutions to the crises he identifies, rather than the typical 5% that most left-wing books such as this tend to give to the topic. As I prepare to write this section though, I recall that reading it at the time there was still an inordinate amount of negativity considering what the task at hand was. Regardless; here we go ...

The chapter starts off with the quote from Frederick Douglas "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Then MacKay reminds us of the story that opened his book: That of the local activists and environmentalists who were defeated when they tried to preserve Hamilton Ontario's Red Hill Valley, a large green space in the city's east-end that had been set aside specifically as a park and wilderness preserve. Because of erosion caused by the Red Hill Creek, the valley provided a gradient slope that local real-estate developers and their political cat's-paws believed was designed by God Himself to build an expressway that could link new housing built on Hamilton's "Mountain" (324 meters) with the QEW highway. The activists had the facts and the law and (for a long time) public opinion, on their side, but the developers had the money, the media sided with the developers and the "forces of order" and corrupt politicians abused process for decades until finally, despite last-minute occupations of the construction site (met with massive police and private security force thuggery) the bad guys won.

Basically, says MacKay, this incident, and countless others, give the lie to the claims of oligarchs that they have been a force for progress in human societies. They are, instead, corrupt, selfish, and destructive. Left unchallenged, oligarchs will exploit and plunder everything before them, for their own selfish and insane levels of gratification.

Mackay says "For all of these reasons, I identify oligarchy as the final and ultimate cause of civilization's crisis."

Oligarchs are not the force of stability preserving us from a Hobbesian "War of All Against All." These psychopathic individuals are themselves the root-cause of crisis and devastation. Our problems are not technical in nature, they are caused by the distortion of human creativity and community by rapacious oligarchs.

... I meant to write this over the Christmas holiday, but I got sick. So I went to finish it on my two days off but I got even more sick. So I'm posting  it now and will finish it when I can.

 
Well, I'm back. On with the show ...

Two other things MacKay mentions are the dangers of "totalizing categories" such as "the people" or "the working class." Yes, there is such a thing as "the people" or "the ninety percent" or "the working class." But, obviously, the people AREN'T united. People are divided by gender, by "race" and by religion and by any number of factors.  Some of these other identities can make their memberships even more natural allies for those pursuing social justice, but not if we ignore them and the issues that affect them. Revolutionaries mustn't run roughshod over the lived experiences of others and attempt to force them into our own narratives.

The other issue is "Insurrection." MacKay says that revolutionaries who dream of a violent toppling of the system are dreaming in technicolour. In North America, Europe and Japan (and Australasia) there are too many people invested in the present system to imagine destroying it. This is true. Furthermore, it is my belief that while revolutions are possible in the "less developed countries" the sad reality is that our elites and our state-systems (of violence) can destroy whatever revolutionaries in those countries attempt to create. Therefore, however much contempt more thorough-going radicals have for the coddled, privileged, selfish nature of the masses in the core countries, we are nonetheless going to have to get them onside for the radical transformations that are needed. And this means abandoning insurrectionism.

On the way towards the topic of "non-reformist reform" that MacKay will posit as an alternative to insurrection, he wastes an inordinate amount of time debating with the positions of a group of intellectual non-entities called the "Deep Green Resistance." The DGR, building upon the plausible idea that humanity (let alone present-day modern civilization) is unsustainable, advocate destroying it. Obviously, the majority of people will not agree to this and will reject it. The DGR therefore advocate an underground movement of saboteurs who will, presumably, destroy energy, water, transportation and food networks. For some reason or other an above-ground movement of supporters will arise who will "support" this destruction. (Why this is at all worth mentioning isn't stated in MacKay's summary of their ideas.)

Here's the thing DGR: If that's what you want to do, go nuts. However, they're NOT doing that. Instead they're writing books saying that other people [presumably] should do this. (As well as splitting-up over disagreements about transgendered policies, as if that's important in the face of the destruction of the biosphere.) Which kind of undercuts their legitimacy. Because while they're waiting for the campaign of sabotage to start, in the meantime they're consuming resources and belching out greenhouse gases and just contributing to the problem.

If they really want to live up to their stirringly radical revolutionary writings, the best thing they could do would be to kill themselves, have their bodies encased in honey, or amber, or some other sealant, and then have them thrown down an abandoned mineshaft and covered up with gravel, in order to contain the further amounts of greenhouse gases and toxins that would ordinarily be emitted.

Another thinker along these lines is the Anarcho-Primitivist, John Zerzan who says that technological society was a mistake and that we should revert back to hunter-gatherer technology. If you look for a picture of Mr. Zerzan you will probably see a photo of him wearing spectacles. I guess he foraged those spectacles from a wild Spectacle Bush growing in the forest outside his cave or lean-to.  Either that or he's a hypocrite who makes use of the products of technological society to divert himself from what he (and the DGR) say is the primary necessity for moral human beings today.

MacKay doesn't agree with the DGR. Though he does make an important point while debating with them. The bizarre notion of above-ground supporters of the saboteurs (I can only see these supporters as being figures of universal hatred and government repression should they ever speak out as people's power and other basic necessities get cut-off) gets things backwards. Violent radicals don't appear and generate a mass of non-violent supporters. MacKay says that what tends to happen is that a critical mass of people find a situation intolerable, coalesce to for a peaceful resistance/protest/reform movement, and then, when the powers-that-be reveal themselves as unwilling to concede to the barest of concessions, this radicalizes many among the membership. When the forces of the state resort to violent suppression of the movement, even more people become radicalized and some eventually decide that only force can have any impact.

The last thing that should be said about the DGR is that while they might very well be right about our unavoidable collapse, this will come with or without the campaign of revolutionary sabotage that these writers say that somebody (not them) should undertake. So why even bother writing fantasies of a movement of left-green revolutionaries? Just let it happen and make your own carbon footprint as small as possible while you're waiting for that to happen.

What we should be pursuing, says MacKay, is "non-reformist reforms." Here's a quote he uses from Michael Albert's The Trajectory of Change:

How do we win new gains along the road? We raise the social cost of not granting the gains we seek until we reach the point where those who don't want to give in to our demands have no choice but to do so. Change is a combination of a sequence of reforms or limited victories that string together into a pattern in which we continually change the contours of the world we live in, making ourselves stronger and making those who oppose us weaker until, ultimately, we win basic alterations.

While insurrectionists say that reforms that can be given will just strengthen the system and fool people into putting off genuine change, MacKay argues that some reforms will do more to strengthen the majority and create space for the development of centers of resistance.

This is something that I wholeheartedly believe in. My only difficulty thus far is that at present I see no indication of any forces for radical transformation capable of raising the social cost for non-compliance for the elites.

In the long run, MacKay says, oligarchy has engaged in a see-saw exchange with the Life System. Sometimes they crush the movement. Sometimes they are forced to concede reforms. Over the centuries, the Life System has won many victories against slavery, gender oppression, caste systems, etc., and institutions such as public education, public health care and representative democracy, have been won.

MacKay uses the examples of stephen harper in Canada and Donald Trump in the USA as signs of the continued resilience of the Death System but points to the Occupy Movement, Idle No More, the Quebec Student Movement, and the energy behind the Bernie Sanders campaign as signs of the continued push-back of the Life System. Personally, being a pessimist, I only see Occupy as an ineffectual blip that brought a couple of new terms ("the 1%") but which most people have forgotten. Idle No More I have spoken of before. It had no impact on stephen harper's blatantly racist policies and, perhaps, it has compelled the Trudeau Liberals to make more nice noises than they would have, but they did not raise the social cost of internal colonialism enough to reverse things. (That is on us. Idle No More is peaceful and they ought to be. They're oppressed and brutalized by the police enough as it is. It is up to those of us in the settler society who claim to be their allies to put OUR bodies on the line to raise the social cost for the system. What did the Quebec Student Movement accomplish? The Bernie Sanders movement is (I hope) bigger than the sell-out Sanders. It's existence is evidence of something big, but it needs to be developed apart from the Pied Piper it's named after.

MacKay uses the term "movement of movements" (borrowed from elsewhere) to talk about the way forward for the Life System. He uses the example of the anti-pipeline indigenous Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Again, being a pessimist, I think the Left should refrain from using examples wherein an oppressed group of people, in return for getting attacked by dogs, pepper-sprayed, kettled, arrested, brutalized, abused, traumatized; etc., etc., manage to stop (often only temporarily) some new Death System assault on their basic living conditions. Nothing I say detracts from their courage or their nobility. But insofar as they are only fighting tooth and nail to stop some NEW outrage, they are, by definition (one would think) NOT fighting to win a VICTORY.

On pages 201-04 MacKay provides a wish-list of reforms that constitutes the basics for the world most social justice activists would like to see happen. He is to be commended for this. It is concise and comprehensive. The question remains: How to achieve this?

The Left has to define their terms. How do we "raise the social costs" of not conceding our demands? What do we mean by "pressure" when we say we'll "keep the pressure on" elites who are defying us? We have to stop labeling as "victories" something as simple as a mere movement against something. Just because we "organize" to defend against something, it doesn't mean that we've won. We have to learn that stirring rhetoric alone does not win a victory. Is Donald Trump conceding anything to the people against the Banksters? Or is the Republican Party not just doubling down on their service to the ultra-rich; their harassment of people of colour; their support for brutal, racist policing? Has the Democratic Party learned that it needs its base if it is to win victories? Or are they not focusing on imaginary Russian interference in the last election; maintaining their allegiance to the surveillance state and endless war; continued service to silicon valley robber barons?

One valuable thing that MacKay mentions is the power of the media system to co-opt the debate and divert discussion to safer (for them) topics. Is "Black Lives Matter" anti-cop? To be debating such a ridiculous question is testimony to the power of the corporate media to divert and diffuse. And I know from personal experience that when if comes to issues of importance to the Left, that you will generally find that 10% of any given population knows the issues and agrees with us. 20% have heard of the issue and have bought into the insane right-wing version of things. And 70% have no clue whatsoever.

One thing that I thought at the time I first read MacKay's book was that when we advocate for something it MUST be something that directly impacts the lives of the people we want onside. It does so positively. And it must be simple to understand. Rallying for a Tobin Tax or against Islamophobia is good. But the vast majority simply don't know and don't care. Find out how to directly help people. Including the majority in the industrialized world who leftist activists tend to dismiss as fat, coddled "sheeple." Because dismissing 60% of the population as overstuffed greed dumb-fucks is not going to help us in our battle against the Death System. So, instead, we should advocate for something like, oh, I don't know "WORKERS AS CITIZENS" which gives them human and political rights within their workplaces, to exercise HOWEVER THEY SEE FIT. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.

That's my review basically. I'm a much more pessimistic person these days since watching so many "progressive" brains turn to shit as they sang the praises of Wall-Street War-Criminal Hillary Clinton and who are now "mobilizing" to bring on nuclear Armageddon over the ridiculous "Russia-gate." I read MacKay's book in such a state and he writes about the multiple crises our shit-head species is facing and I think that we are well and truly fucked. But maybe you're not as sick as I am. Maybe you'll see the last chapter and take hope. Regardless; it's an important work and I'm glad to do what I can to spread the word about it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Black Holes

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/1/8/16822272/black-hole-looks-like-what

That is all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Random Thoughts on Canadian Political Scene

 
Rabble's Karl Nerenberg has a fair and balanced piece on why Trudeau needed to apologize for an all-expenses paid vacation at the Aga Khan's island:
The Aga Khan himself does not do business with Canada. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) does. It functions, in the Canadian context, as a non- governmental organization (NGO), receiving Government of Canada funding to provide services in the developing world.
...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

On Turning "Conservatives" Into "Liberals"

 
Montreal Simon recently posted about some study that claims there are physical differences between the brains of "conservatives" and "progressives":
Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety.
It also claims that the way to tone down those "conservative" political instincts (defensively shutting themselves inside echo-chambers of ethnic nationalism/xenophobia/homophobia/religious fundamentalism) is to make their environments less stressful and fear-inducing:
Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later.

And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course). But no one had ever turned conservatives into liberals.
Which is sort of what I've been trying to say for a long time to liberals who think that all you have to do is vote for a Liberal or a Democrat to be on the side of the angels. The neo-liberal austerity politics practised by the Liberal Party of Canada and the Democratic Party USA have hurt the majority of the population. So do the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Republican Party USA. Both of these right-wing parties have the advantages of 1.) Having a grassroots political base that is more easily manipulated than do liberal parties, 2.) Having access to dog-whistle arguments as to the actual causes of white, working-class woes [ethnic minorities/immigrants/refugees/GLBT people/unions/socialists] that allow them to manipulate their easily-manipulated membership away from elites and towards these convenient scapegoats.

Liberals and Democrats do not have a similar narrative. They can't convincingly rail about lazy Blacks, Musloid rape-fugees, Hollywood degenerates, and etc., because they claim to embrace and support the aspirations of Blacks, immigrants, Muslims, refugees, Hollywood liberals and etc. And they can't rail against the white working class either. And they can't betray their financiers on Wall Street or across corporate America obviously. So what they have to do is lie about caring about ordinary people while enacting policies that hurt them. One of their only "outs" to avoid wholesale condemnation for their fakery and betrayal is that the Republicans/Conservatives are worse.

It remains the case however, that more and more people are turning against mainstream politics. Even the Republicans have been discomfited by Tea-Bagger revolts against their insiders. Eric Cantor's loss to a Tea-Party nominee, and the whole line-up of 2016 leadership hopefuls being destroyed by the buffoonish Donald Trump who spoke out loud and proud [and ultimately falsely] about his opposition to free trade deals; pharmaceutical and health insurance industry gouging; imperialist war; and Wall Street domination of Washington. Trump's rivals couldn't say such things because (strangely) they're not as shameless when it comes to lying as Trump is; they were terrified of alienating their sugar-daddies, and, they're simply cognitively incapable of acting independently.

In 2016, after 8 years of Barack Obama continuing with the imperialist wars in the Middle East, shoveling 90% of the wealth created during his presidency to the wealthiest 1%; arrogating to his office the power to assassinate US citizens without due process of law; bailing-out Wall Street, protecting them from prosecution and using them to staff his cabinet; attacking social security; abandoning single-payer health insurance; pursuing corporate free trade deals; ... well, after all that, many traditional Democrat voters stayed home rather than vote for a candidate who promised more of the same. Helping the nauseating embarrassment Trump to squeeze out an Electoral College victory.


But my main point is that embracing policies that hurt ordinary people (even if they are "less bad" or "lesser evil" than what another party is advocating) is going to make most people angry. Among those who are made angry are the fearful, big amygdala -having "conservatives." And they will NOT welcome refugees, they will protest against them and hate them. They will NOT accept immigrants, they will accuse them of stealing their jobs (while simultaneously blaming them for enlarging the welfare rolls). They will NOT support employment equity or affirmative action. They will instead lash-out on favouritism for minorities and feminists and scream about discrimination against white males. In short: Neo-liberal policies will make the deplorables angry.

Another commentor in another Montreal Simon post made reference to a recent New York Times profile of a Nazi couple. There's a brouhahaha about how the newspaper "normalized" fascism. I think we have to accept that fascists are "normal." If you look at the opinions of Adolph Hitler you will find that for the most part they are just a more built-up sampler of the toxic slurry of idiotic prejudices and delusions (racism, homophobia, "tough on crime", anti-welfare state, anti-unions, militarism, confused morals) of your average Toronto Sun reader. The danger was never to "humanize" Hitler. The danger was to pretend that he wasn't human and so convince ourselves that the distance between ourselves and abominations such as The Holocaust is bigger than it is.

If we want to neutralize fascism we must first reject neo-liberal, imperialist scum-bags like Hillary Clinton and Justin Trudeau. To do otherwise is to subject ourselves to greater horrors in the future.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"At The Sharp End" by Tim Cook


 Recently finished reading Tim Cook's At The Sharp End: Canadians Fighting The Great War 1914-1916. Some observations:

The Western Front was a case of institutional insanity and mass psychoses. Someone from a particular social class in Britain or France or Germany or Canada might have thought being a military officer was a noble profession in the 19th Century. Furthermore, once a war had started, they would be determined to fight it to win. They'd be determined to figure out how to win with the least sacrifice in human lives possible. But then they'd come to the realities of 1914 and beyond, which is that technology had progressed to the point where you could put hundreds of thousands of men into uniforms, give them rifles, and march them directly into the path of machine guns, barbed-wire and artillery barrages, where they could be uselessly slaughtered.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Trump Tedium Revisited

 
So, what the fuck. I'll finish off my critique about this neo-con's (or whatever) of Donald Trump. My point being that while Trump is undeniably disgusting, the US-imperialist world order that Michael Cohen celebrates is also undeniably disgusting. That Cohen displays brazen hypocrisy throughout his essay and that focusing on Trump is actually really convenient for liars and hypocrites such as himself. By pointing to Trump's putrid and boorish corruption, Cohen hopes to distract from a Repugnican and Democratic tradition of murder and theft.
Recently, the president tweeted: "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!"
This is Putin territory. This is Erdogan territory. 
Putin is a thug. But I am sick and tired of his being trotted out as the Great Satan. On foreign policy, Putin is a calm, rational actor, reacting with tact and circumspection to repeated US provocations and crimes. He does this not because he is a nice guy, but because Russia is far weaker than the USA, but not so weak as to suffer multiple attacks and humiliations in silence. Domestically, Putin has allied himself with the most reactionary elements of Russian society and he is no democrat. But he is no worse, and in many cases, better, than some of the tyrants and killers that the USA has supported and continues to support.
We don't know yet how far the president is prepared to go in silencing critics who do not meet his test of patriotism, while inviting his supporters to give free rein to their inner bigot. But Mueller and, eventually, a reelection campaign will tempt Trump to go a long way.
As opposed to Obama who gave himself the right to assassinate US citizens without due process of law.  A power that Trump now has because right-wingers were chasing phantoms about gun seizures and FEMA camps and most "progressives" decided that a Democrat in the White House meant they could all safely shove their heads up their asses for four to eight years.
I lived in Berlin a couple of decades ago and saw the capital return after the Rhineland sojourn in bland Bonn. The city was a construction site. Cranes hoisted the new but the past - a constant admonition to a united Germany - was not erased. This was the consummation of the miracle: Germany unified, within NATO, its borders no longer contested. The German problem that over decades had caused sleepless nights to thousands of American diplomats and agents had been resolved.
I would cross the Polish border sometimes. Poland is close to Berlin, as Poles know well. I had to pinch myself, with the border near invisible, to recall that these were "Bloodlands," in Timothy Snyder's phrase, the last resting place of millions. Yet here, only decades later, there stretched before me the tranquility that NATO, the European Union and statesmanship had brought. 
I thought this guy wasn't a liberal. Now he's talking about international cooperation? Anyhoo, ... neo-liberalism is tearing Europe apart. NATO has oozed its way to the Russian border. The "tranquility" that Cohen is rhapsodizing about might soon be blasted to smithereens because of US hubris.
None of this would have happened without the trans-Atlantic alliance, without the Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan, without America as a European power - without everything Trump appears to hold in contempt. Constancy and strength in pursuit of strategy are wearing on their opponents. Chaos, on the other hand, gives foes a sense of opportunity.
I beg to differ. Because I believe that the world system that Cohen praises is actually a vile, stupid thing. Needless confrontation. Putin doesn't want to conquer Europe. Russia is too weak and poor to even consider it. More of Cohen's self-deluded stupidity.
Cannot Be Fixed in Stone
It was not only Germans who enjoyed what Helmut Kohl once called "the blessing of late birth." In some way, every post-war European did. We succumb at our peril to amnesia. It is for the young to forge the 21st century. That is right and natural. The precepts of the last century, and its power structure, cannot be forever fixed in stone.
Yet we should not forget from what horror Pax Americana emerged. As Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron flesh out a distinct European destiny - as they should in this era of Trump - they must be mindful of preserving the American bond, in the hope of better days. They must also speak out strongly for the values Trump's America has forsaken.
It's already been established that the "values" Cohen speaks of refer to the right of a US-dominated corporate system to exploit and brutalize anyone who opposes it.

It is lunatics such as Cohen, who cheer on the encirclement and provocation of military powers like Russia and China, who are threatening to bring new horrors down upon humanity. If he genuinely believes this drivel he's written then I pity him.
Perhaps Senator John McCain, a great friend of Europe now battling brain cancer, has offered the best rebuke to Trump:
"To refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to."
Amen.
John McCain is a disgusting, hypocritical, war-mongering asshole. These pompous, deluded ravings make me sick. The United States is not a "Shining city upon a hill"for the world. It is a racist oligarchy run by and for the selfish interests of a predatory capitalist class. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Tedium of Anti-Trumpism


I started reading this malediction against Donald Trump by Roger Cohen in Der Spiegel and I soon became overwhelmed with the nauseating hypocrisy.  Don't get me wrong; I really do despise Donald Trump. But too many people think that by opposing and condemning Trump, that they're doing a great service to humanity and that their own support for vile, murderous psychopaths like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is all part and parcel of their innate goodness. If your only reason for opposing Trump is because his misogyny, racism, boorishness, stupidity and corruption, ... well, that might make you polite company at a Washington D.C. dinner party, but you have to do more than that to be invited to toke and drink with me.

Let me go through this and I'll try to explain:
Ten months into the Trump presidency, the world has not gone over a cliff. Nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea has not produced Armageddon. That this must be considered an achievement is testimony to how alarming Donald Trump's erratic belligerence has been. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has concluded that Europeans must now take "our destiny into our own hands." Dismay is widespread. The post-war order, stripped of its American point of reference, is frayed to the breaking point.


This is no surprise. Trump's election, like Britain's perverse flight from the European Union, reflected a blow-up-the-system mood. The tens of millions of Americans who elected Trump had few illusions about his irascibility but were ready to roll the dice in the name of disruption at any cost.
The president, who continues to act principally as the rabble-rousing leader of a mass movement, is the ultimate provocateur. He jolts the facile assumptions of a globalized liberal elite. Rising inequality and rampant impunity for the powerful certainly demanded such a jolt. But the question remains: How dangerous is Trump to the world and the American Republic?

Okay, first of all, who are these "globalized liberal elites"? What are their "facile assumptions"? Who has presided over "rising inequality and rampant impunity for the powerful"? Look at all that is unstated in these two paragraphs: "Nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea" ... Yes, that was scary and dangerous and stupid. But it is well within the confines of standard US-American practice. And I will never tire of reminding people of the far crazier nuclear brinkmanship carried out by Obama in Syria and as NATO policy in Europe and which Hillary Clinton wanted to intensify. Trump would not have this opportunity for bellicose ranting if there was not already a predisposition for threatening and engaging in illegal wars throughout and across the narrow spectrum of Washington D.C.'s foreign policy establishment.