Wednesday, April 18, 2012


More Than Just Discussion

In a piece found here: by Richard Wolff Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and also a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York. His book “Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It” offers a cogent critique of the crisis ridden Capitalist system we now suffer under. Below are my thoughts on what I feel is not stressed enough by Wolff.

Wolff is correct in his conclusion that it is up to the 99% to force the necessary changes. However, especially in some of his lectures, he focuses on the lack of discussion of Capitalism and alternatives to it which is, no doubt, a part of the problem. But beyond that, after everything has been discussed, it is going to boil down to a matter of power. Ending the rule of the 1%, or better put, gangsters will mean revolution. That, in turn, will mean blood; lots of it. Of course, a prerequisite to any challenge to the status quo is a strong, disciplined and organized movement of the people or 99%. That being said it is clear that at some point, as those in Tahrir Square know very well; a confrontation with the State’s fist, the ultimate backer of the 1%, will not be avoided.

Considering the converging problems of climate change, peak oil, the ongoing financial unraveling, and not to be left out, the danger of WW III, it seems to me that at some point we'll have to be willing to to die in the thousands now in an effort to remove those in power or die in the millions, or likely billions, later when all these converging crisis mentioned before come to a singular head. What is not going to happen is that business as usual will continue too much longer. I guess whether in Egypt, Greece, Spain or wherever, we better hope there is a breakthrough and the back of Capitalism is broken somewhere. With some luck and vision, this will provide the blueprint for the rest of humanity to throw off the shackles of this brutal and way past its prime socio-economic system.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


The Violence of OWS

To begin, I am no a pacifist. Revolutions seldom reach their climax without plenty of blood being spilled. However, systemic change of the kind we desperately need will not come simply from random violence or guerrilla tactics. The state very much has the upper hand in terms of the means of violence. Any movement needs to consider a variety of approaches but always based on objective conditions at the time with an eye on the future.

At present OWS is still a young movement that still needs to develop clear strategies and leadership, if not specific leaders, before even considering taking on the State on its preferred terrain. Its best option right now is non-violence so as to unequivocally expose the brutishness of the state and also not alienate many people who sympathize with the young movement but have not yet reached that level of consciousness and commitment necessary to join the fray. This is why I look at these so called Black Bloc'ers that sometimes accompany protests and go around ripping stuff up with very much jaundiced eyes. In most cases, they are probably police provocateurs used to discredit a movement and provide a pretext for a police crackdown.

Whatever Occupy as movement may believe about its means and ways, civil disobedience, boycotts, sit downs, occupations strikes and alternate ways of governance (meaning independent expressions of power)are in some senses forms of violence. Just like the ways and means (i.e. attacks on wages, mass layoffs, artificially inflated prices for goods, rollback of the social safety net) are forms of violence against us, the 99%. We all know that the ongoing social counter revolution waged most intensely in the past thirty years has cost many people their lives. Not to even mention the lives that now lay in ruins. Because the 99% is now fighting back using tactics designed to inflict discomfort and some level of pain on the system, the 1% thus reacts with the naked force that is their strong suite and ultimate guarantor of their power. From their point of view Occupy represents a violent threat in the same way they know that their own tactics, as described above, are violent. No direct mano-a-mano fighting just a steady attack on the opposition by indirect, impersonal and institutional, though no less effective or even, at times, deadly, means. Not coincidentally, it is the way that both racism and sexism is largely now experienced by people of color or women respectively. It is insidious, pernicious and, most importantly for the 1%, stealthy. In response, Occupy is resuscitating the indirect tactics, means and ways movements in the past have all employed to counter the 1% while trying to add in some new wrinkles. But again, is it really non-violent if we take non-violent to mean no harm done either directly or indirectly to people or institutions?

From my point of view, violence can take different forms. Their is the violence of the type that has befallen Occupy. But there is also the violence of the type used against Cuba and the ongoing economic embargo of that country by the US or the burgeoning economic strangulation of Iran by Western countries led also by the US. The key, as explained earlier, is not so much violence versus non-violence, but which way for a movement to move forward given certain conditions at any one moment in time. In the end, any violence of the naked type that may issue forth from the movement will be a reaction to the heavy-handedness of the State and should be both largely defensive and tactical in nature. It'll also occur within the context of a solid mass movement that has absolutely discredited the state and has greatly weakened it with the body blows of mass civil disobedience, general strikes, boycotts, desertions by the parts of the military or security apparatus and, of course, protests. Like any good boxer knows, you attack the body before going for the head. One punch knockouts are rare and hard to come by. Moreover, the fighter looking for that one punch is usually desperate, reckless and ripe for being on the receiving end of a one punch KO.


The stupidity of the blessed or just blessed stupidity

This story caught my eye (see here: and I just had to comment on it. As a long-time boxing enthusiast, it just makes me sick. This boxing match between two, I would not even call them amateurs, novices is exhibit A in what can happen when you combine the fervor of religion with that of sports with a little dose of militarism thrown in. Staged as a supposed charity event, it instead turned out to be the tragic end for one young man. The Pastor behind this tragic fiasco is your typical garden variety demagogue/snake oil salesman that often heads churches across the US. Especially, when it is the charismatic/born-again variety places of worship that are popular with the downtrodden, but hoping to be hip, masses looking for a life-line out of the social moonscape this society has devolved into . I mean really: "going to war for god." Do those listening to this drivel have a clue or what? I do not think I ever have come across a sports themed church. Reality TV turned real I suppose. Or better yet, church and sports meet Disney.

There is a charlatan of the same stripe of that Tulsa Pastor in my neighborhood who sets up shop on the corner every Saturday and harangues the largely indifferent masses. Makes me want to puke every time I walk by the whole setup on my way from the gym. Where at least, as a temple of the body, one can work up a sweat with no faith required. But like they say, buyer beware.

A pity that young man died so that the show could go on. He is not blameless however. Many times we have a have a hand in our own demise. Still, what sticks out about this tragedy, other than this young man's death, is just the mindlessness and blindness of most of those involved. From the opportunistic pastor all the way down to his lamb-like followers that just went with the program. Indeed, is it the stupidity of the blessed or just blessed stupidity?

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