Monday, March 28, 2016

Battle Lines Being Drawn

The title of this post comes from the Stephen Stills song,For what It's Worth, whose next line is "nobody's right if everybody's wrong", reflecting his naive hippie mentality. There is in fact always a friend/ adversary dichotomy in play (see Carl Schmidt)and the task is to understand the positions. Our political moment also brings to mind a Dylan line: "There's something goin on but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?" Then there is Marvin Gaye asking the same question. So what is happening here? As I understand it, there is a widening split, not just here in the US, but everywhere the legitimacy of the neoliberal order is being called into question. The poles are strengthening and "the center cannot hold", which is fine by me. The "non-ideological" Center is where the incoherent linking of Trump and Sanders comes from, where the unwavering defense of "democratic capitalism" comes from, where American "global leadership" comes from. I would propose that the very real, profound difference between Trump and Sanders is symbolic of this globally widening gulf and the millions of pages of ink being spilled on The Phenomenon mostly miss the most salient point. We start with the post-modern global "culture of disavowal", as Naomi Klein put it, "of knowing and not knowing." This abstraction is a difficult frame to accept. We want rational, logical, synthesis. But the very irrational/rational fact of "democratic capitalism" sets the tone for everything that follows, it's impossibility is the "condition of possibility" for Trump's wall, for troops returning to Iraq, for investment in fossil fuels and the resurrected( it IS Easter) appeal of "socialism". Now let's look at Trump/ Sanders and keep in mind the political chasms opening up in Europe and Latin America. Trump is a combo of Jesse Ventura, Berlosconi, and Father Coughlin (or Pat Robertson/ Buchanan) In Brussels an organized regiment of skinheads broke up a memorial for the victims of bomb attacks. In Germany last Sunday the xenophobic Right made large electoral gains having recruited many unionized workers (their Party is anti-union!) In Latin America the capitalist judiciary and Investment/Finance nexus is on the offensive and the welfare state dismantled in favor of raw competitive resource extraction and wealth accumulation. Everywhere the ghost of "liberal capitalist democracy" is caught in this purgatory, dancing on the grave of once solid institutions with the terrorists and soccer hoodlums and celebrity politicians.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Good News and Bad News

So which do you want first? Ok Arch coal, which has already filed for bankruptcy, has suspended its permit application for the Otter Creek coal tract in SE Montana. Apparently the whole insane enterprise of digging up the over-burden, building a railroad spur along the Tongue River, then shipping the filthy coal by rail car 1000 miles to load onto mega barges and float to China lost its "economic viability". Shocker. Downturn in China's GDP growth and perhaps growing awareness of climate costs put the kybosh to the whole deal. But was that the good news or the bad? Though Arch is publicly whining about the "regulatory environment", this is just ideological blather, it was The Sacred Market which killed this project. And while activists are congratulating themselves (and yes, they helped) the fact is the victory is less sweet because climate activists did not in the end expose the true rot and corruption and insane logic which is the Economic System itself. Arch is still digging up coal. Under chapter 11 they will shed debt, cut pensions and benefits of workers, and continue their rampage across the western landscape. For awhile. Our Democrat governor, running for re-election, was set to approve the project. Most labor unions supported it ( a "transition to the clean economy")and most average citizens, but in the end it was the tyrannical God they all worship that stopped it, only reinforcing his power and authority. Investors, shareholders and traders listened to His wisdom, not the puny protesters sitting on the tracks, dancing on the tables or occupying the rotunda. Meanwhile, the same God is instructing investors and developers to keep building in Miami Beach even though sea level will rise six feet, (the most conservative estimate) by the end of the century. Because all those bloated, white retirees need a sunny place to spend their Golden years. So until we can drive home the point that it is the profit system and its mad logic that is slowly drowning us, we will run our asses ragged stopping insane projects. Its not a project here or a project there, its the Whole Project of Private Property.