Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Surly Slave Master

Well it looks like the gloves are coming off and I am hearing a lot of people say they are pissed. Now. Really pissed. Yeah. For instance, Roe v Wade got folks ( mostly gestators) really pissed. Really. Yes, capitalist "democracy" has been devolving into a dysfunctional, homicidal farce for some time now but hey, at least we still had some "rights". Right? The invasions and inequality and ecological destruction shit was bad but women could get abortions, the slave master at least was kind enough to let people experience a certain degree of autonomy over their body. More or less depending on your resources. And for a long time politicians and courts maintained the illusion of propriety and rational deliberation. It served everyones interests to let us feel like we had a government "of, for and by the people" with all the fancy constitutional decorum, the well-staged theatrical movements and drama. But maintaining the illusion has obviously become more trouble that it was worth and now we can just watch the sausage being made and if we don't like it, too fucking bad. My liberal friends are up in arms of course, ready to go out and turn that anger into action. To vote harder, knock on doors, sign petitions, long for the day Hillary or Mayor Pete can take over and steer the ship of state back to that comforting illusion of rationality and reason. Give us back our rights, please, Master, we'll promise to behave. To work harder. To keep buying. To shut up about fossil fuels. To send weapons wherever they are needed (schools, churches, Ukraine, etc..) Whatever it takes. Just as conservatives long for that mythical time when things made sense, liberals long for the time when black robes made jurors "supreme" and beyond politics.

Monday, June 27, 2022


Thom Hartman is terrified the conservative Supreme Court is preparing to overturn environmental law as we know it. I say, good riddance. He writes: "they want to turn regulatory agency rule-making upside down" and then proceeds to explain how good capitalist state regulation is SUPPOSED to work. The true believers in a kinder, more sustainable capitalism (the kind slave master) never lose their faith, even when the EPA and all the regulations and all the well-meaning bureaucrats have not prevented environmental breakdown on a planet-threatening level. If the SCOTUS wants to puncture the illusion, like Trump punctured the illusion of "democracy", Please, let them lift the veil. Here isThom describing the great way things currently work: "The experts’ suggestions are then run past a panel of rule-making bureaucrats and hired-gun rule-making experts for the EPA to decide what the standards should be. They take into consideration the current abilities of industry and the costs versus the benefits of various rules, among other things." In each part of that description you can see exactly why we still have lead pipes for drinking water, still have pesticides and hebicides, are rapidly approaching 425 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. What could possibly go wrong as we weigh "costs and benefits"? Costs as seen through the lens of the capitalist market. Costs externalized away. Thom has never recognized this? He goes on to say: "Congress passes laws that empower regulatory agencies to solve problems, the agencies figure out how and put the rules into place, and the solutions get enforced by the agencies." Just like the Magnificent Framers of the Constitution imagined it! It must be nice to live in such a fantasy world. I recall being taught all this pablum in civics class in jr.High, the reverence in the teachers voice for the Divinely inspired wisdom of OUR Fathers. This is a painful period for liberals, learning how the Supremes are actually just a bunch of ideological hacks, how politicians don't actually do politics, how capitalist democracy is just one big "cost- benefit analysis." And the EPA doesn't actually protect the environment. Bummer.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

"A People"

Are the Balkans an extreme expression of "identity politics"? Should we be trying to foster "class belonging " among the Serbs, Bosniaks, Croats, transcending their identification as an ethnicity, a religious sect, a nation or a people? Good luck with that project. That was Tito's communist Yugoslavia, a time and space no one seems to want to revitalize. Now we have Bosnians, Russians, the Republic Sripska, Americans, Ukranians all with their insane myths and flags and greivances. The workers in these nations do not feel exploited by their bosses, they feel threatened by The Other. The other worker who is their ancient enemy. Or who is trying to cross THEIR border to take THEIR job. We The People.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Bad Moon Rising

The combination of looming recession, international conflict and a hollowed out politics does not bode well for positive climate action. Instead of consensus around a radical re-ordering of energy and investment in new infrastructure, we will see the forces of reaction cling ever more desperately to an imaginary "way of life" and chauvinist economic nationalism. Post-modernism and socialism will be the perfect scapegoats, thinly veiled references to "the Jew". The combination of inflation and cuts to social services will throw increasing numbers out on to the already teeming streets, make-shift camps and over-whelmed shelters. Still they will wave their flags, support the police, fear the government, flock to churches. The reverbations from the war in Ukraine will multiply. The infatuation with Zelinski and his tight t shirts will wear off as bread lines grow and yet another US failure will embolden China to push buttons. The US electoral freak show will give us the same worn out slogans and rent will consume more and more of the average paycheck. Still the free market will retain its sacred status for the average worker, even as the fires rage and hurricanes swamp cities. As the repo man comes for that brand new eightcylindar pickup truck, you can wave your Gadsen flag. Stop the steal. Harvard trained economists will recognize all this misery as the "business cycle", the thing capitalism does every so often to self correct. These people in their tents are "creative destruction", the necessary destruction of over-capacity, those being foreclosed and evicted are the re-set, and government can't interfere in the perfect mechanism of The Market. So sorry. This too shall pass. The ruling elite know this destruction only lasts so long and so they will hunker down, hang on to their portfolio, maybe buy the dip and come out better than before. History tells us so. Except for this one annoying little glitch around climate pricing. For some wacky reason the perfect market isn't factoring in the ecological destruction of the very basis for all the value, all the surplus, all the wealth waiting at the end of the rainbow. That's a qualitatively different kind of bubble.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Because Capital Doesn't Care

The June 14 NY Times is awash in information about climate chaos but they make the assumption that those with power actually care how many people die. Columnist Paul Krugman took a break from telling us inflation is no biggie, to start worrying about the lack of response to climate chaos. He cites the drying up of Salt Lake and wonders why no one is doing anything about it. Listen Paul: Capital doesn't care. While individual and mostly local capitalists are nervous about the impacts of poisonous dust clouds, decimated bird populations, diminished snowpack etc.., they also realize that putting more water in the lake hurts development and economic growth, that is, affects the essential circuits of Capital. A wicked problem indeed. A little late to feign surprise Paul. Krugman points to the Aral Sea as an example of what is to be avoided but why stop there? There are millions of examples of purposefully destroyed ecosystems and they all have the same root cause. Paul thinks it is up to "policy makers to act." Where is rationality, he wonders? Then there is the report from Southeast Asia on the "fresh urgency" of climate change "worries", that is, farmers dying of heat stroke or committing suicide over personal economic ruin. They all need to understand, Capital doesn't care if they all die. Readers of the Times will care, will fret, will "worry", but will do nothing to stop emissions. Like the Salt Lake "policy makers", they all know the reality. “This is everyday climate change at work: a slow-onset shift in environmental conditions that is destroying lives and livelihoods before our eyes,” write the activists about conditions in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. In his novel Ministry of the Future, author Kim Stanley Robinson imagines a day when wet-bulb temperatures kill tens of millions and THEN "policy makers" snap to attention. A day, an Event, a rupture. Anything but The Long Now we currently endure. Then the Times has pictures of roads in Yellowstone Park washed out by flooding and a piece wondering if "carbon capture can be part of the climate solution". Some gal from the "office of fossil energy and carbon management" says yes. Office of Carbon Management? Really? Do they know that Capital doesn't care? They will do something, "Yes, but not now, not yet" to quote Stuart Hall. We live in what he called "The Great Moving Nowhere Show" because it is all frantic enrgy but never actual movement. Not the Long Arc of History bending toward Justice or anything else. Just "The Long Slow Cancellation of the Future" as Mark Fisher (RIP) put it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

In a capitalist "democracy" (although strong arguments are being put forward as to why we should call it "neofuedal 'democracy'") short-term profit accumulation takes precedence over any kind of "general welfare" or public good. In fact, there is no distinction between them. More profit is always good and no law shall be passed that restricts this axiom. Because it would look bad if corporations had their own police and army, they created the state and a veneer of "democratic" goverance, supposedly of, by and for the people. Some rubes actually buy into this farce but most people simply accept it as "better than fascism". No matter how bad their lives get at least they don't live in Ethiopia. Of course "government" and "the state" come in many shapes and sizes, and often at a very local level people try to put environmental or social justice concerns ahead of profit. But power flows from the top so a higher level of capitalist government can be enlisted to "pre-empt" these brave attempts at local autonomy. Rubes who identify as "conservative" can be enlisted to support these restrictions on their own freedom by framing the issue as socialism vs the free market. Because they can't understand the way the tyranny of the capitalist state is exactly the same as the tyranny of the market, the state simply enforcing market dictates, they consume more shit and wave flags. They pass laws enforcing their own slavery. When you are that stupid, you deserve to be in chains. Meanwhile, as the social fabric continues to unravel, we naturally see law and order becoming the simplistic go to for the forces of reaction. The George Floyd Rebellion backlash melds perfectly into growing disgust over massive homeless camps. The answer? more cops. More guns. Bigger fences. Destroy antifa. Who knew?

Saturday, June 11, 2022

What If Both Are True?

Conservatives say "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Of course both are true but such a complex thought can't be processed by the American mind. One or the other. Give us two choices, Yay or nay. They also like to say "you can't legislate the evil that lurks in the heart." Which is true enough, but also forces you to accept the insane amount of evil in American hearts compared to the rest of the world. ( but only if logic is part of your thought process). The obvious answer then is to both pray and get a gun. Green Capitlism in action, from the WaPo: NextEra Energy, which operates one of the world’s largest renewable-energy businesses, has played an outsize role in Florida. Its campaign contributions and lobbying prowess have made it a juggernaut in state politics and regulatory matters. “We have 120 years of crazy regulatory practice in electricity and natural gas,” Mr. McCullough said. “There will be a day when someone will ask why they have just an extension cord there instead of the appropriate transmission line, because none of this makes good economics or engineering sense.” Mr. Mc Cullough doesn't understand capitalist economics, where this makes perfect "sense". The company profits rise, end of discussion. Wealth is generated, GDP goes up. Doesn't matter if your product is renewable or dirty energy, you still have to work the system with deals, greasing the wheels. Florida is also on the bleeding edge of what is known as "preemption legislation", that is, if state legislators get wind that a local municipality is considering policy that might hurt corporate profits, they step in with a bill that prevents locals from protecting themselves. As a Florida state rep put it "any socialist policies meant to harm the free market" must be preempted.