Tag Archives: values

Capitalism and Its Discontents: What Are We Living For?

Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about fascism.

— Max Horkheimer, from the essay “The Jews and Europe”, December 1939

Aren’t we all tired of capitalism? Haven’t most of us gotten sick of the drudgery, the monotony, the exploitation, sucking up to our bosses and management who pretend to care about the average worker? The drive to consume more and more has degraded all art, values, and sense of community in the US.

Capitalists literally are holding the people of the Earth in bondage. As liberal democracy crumbles in the West, the risk of neo-fascism continues to rise in North America and Europe.

It’s worth examining why the US has TV shows like “Hoarders”, where truly sick people have problems collecting useless crap, and where viewers publicly shame and judge the afflicted. Yet, where is the outrage at the real hoarders, the billionaires, the banks, and the military industrial complex? This is serious hypocrisy, a cultural blind spot: a double standard that is not being addressed by our society.

Capitalists are Addicts

Why does society not ask arch-capitalists the obvious questions: when is enough, enough? Who needs a billion dollars? Once you can provide a comfortable life for your family, children, and grandchildren, what is the point of hoarding your money in bank accounts and lording over a monopolizing mega-corporation? Where does this endless desire for more come from?

It’s fairly obvious that a failure to confront death is closely linked to the bottomless appetite exhibited by capitalists. The perceived need to construct towers, monuments, mansions, and manufactured narratives of their own greatness is proof. Not to mention how many of the super-rich have chosen to become cryogenically frozen post-mortem: this is in outright denial of their own mortality, and the necessity of death so that future generations may live.

In failing to confront death, any object can be used as a crutch, an addiction. Addiction is linked to social isolation and lack of community, which the capitalist class creates by artificially creating specialized divisions of labor, alienation, and class differences.

Addiction leads to a disconnection from what some would call a “reality principle”, leading to further and deeper indulgences and lack of restraint. There are further similarities between capitalists and drug addicts: the impatience, the disconnection from others, the neediness, as well as a general childlike need to be validated and pampered.

Methodology and Treatment in an Age of Insanity

We see where capitalism leads: to a permanent crisis, a never-ending state of emergency. Since the 1970s, workers have increased productivity mightily with little to zero increases in wages considering inflation and other factors. Americans are also working longer hours; young adults are even having less sex partly because of this. There is a huge problem with prescription drug abuse (not just opioids), teen suicide is rising (sadly, at a 40 year high for teen girls in 2017), and child poverty isn’t being addressed properly, if at all, by our own government.

All of these absolutely tragic issues are connected to capitalism. When we are forced to compete against each other, in grades at school, for that raise or promotion in the workplace, this breeds a mindset of dehumanization.

I would also posit that the separation of young children from their parents when they begin schooling, either day care or pre-school or kindergarten or afterwards, is one of the first steps in life where the feelings of individual atomization starts, and collective social disintegration begins. Being ripped from your parent’s arms because they have to work just to survive, and the state/private/charter school substituting for the role of a parent, is one of the first deep tragedies inflicted on many of us by the “needs” of the modern world. I believe this suffering is lodged deep in our unconscious selves, and this is not being addressed publicly at all, and barely acknowledged in our private lives.

Treatment starts when we want to become free of the Great Beast of capitalism, the “Babylon system” as some like to call it. We must ground ourselves, and return to a deeper relationship with our mother Earth. Self-reliance is true freedom, and families and communities should begin to grow as much of their own food as possible. I understand the limitations for those in urban areas, or those stuck in jobs where time and effort cannot be adequately put towards farming, of course. Collectively, as a city block, a suburban neighborhood, a rural township, we are all going to have to learn to get together, share food and technology, and become independent of this beast. We must begin to develop a gift economy, an indigenous-based economy, based on reciprocity and trust, not exploitation and coercion, as Charles Eisenstein explains.

Other than that, a mass protest movement must be created so the resources that our federal government receives in taxes can be shifted from weapons of destruction to schools, health care, community projects, and renewable energy.

Analyzing a Popular Alternative

I believe it’s important to discuss some of the budding alternatives to capitalism that are developing around the globe. In the US, support for socialism has risen immensely, especially among the younger crowd, thanks to the work of Bernie Sanders (notwithstanding him not really being a socialist) and others. Yet how serious are most American socialists?

One of the most popular groups in the US is called Socialist Alternative (SA), led by the charismatic Seattle councilwoman Kshama Sawant. SA has some great ideas, and yet, some of their proposals make it seem as if they’re just going through the motions. Let me explain.

On their about page, a few things stand out. They write: “We see the global capitalist system as the root cause of the economic crisis, poverty, discrimination, war, and environmental destruction.” Very well put. Yet then, this is followed by the line below:

“As capitalism moves deeper into crisis, a new generation of workers and youth must join together to take the top 500 corporations into public ownership under democratic control to end the ruling elites’ global competition for profits and power.”

This sounds nice, but I wonder how much time was really spent thinking through the implications of this policy. What if democratic control only leads to redistribution of the companies’ wealth, and not fundamental transformation of the products, resource usage, and dangerous working conditions?  Where is the sense of urgency, the fact that deadlines are being approached regarding global warming, regarding the ecological damage being done by these companies?

One wonders, has SA bothered to take a look at the list of the 500 top companies? For some, perhaps they can be repurposed to make sustainable products. For others, maybe the factories and warehouses can be dismantled and recycled for public use. For a few, it might be feasible that they could be broken up into smaller entities and non-profit co-operatives.

Yet, we must realize that these companies have only been able to thrive due to government tax breaks, insider trading, off-shoring hidden wealth, and other financial chicanery. Further, these mega corporations rely on specialized division of labor, fueling worker alienation.

Also, the biggest companies choose not to compete against each other in entire sectors, allowing for large profit margins. What happens when “public ownership” leads to stricter competition and price wars, forcing many employees to be laid off? How will these companies be able to compete against Europe and China? Is SA committed to local and bio-regional approaches to agricultural and socially responsible industrial practices?

For many of these companies, though, the only democratic thing I can think of to do is to vote on who gets to throw the first brick or Molotov through the empty building. These corporations have done irreparable harm to the planet. Some of them are simply not going to be able to be reformed.

The only way to transform these entities (the ones that can be saved) properly, with the proper protections, would be to rewrite the constitution to include environmental and social rights, as well as the rights of mother Earth, as Bolivia has done. Without a legal framework based on ecology, there is no way to make sure “democratic control” of a transnational corporation would actually lead to environmentally-safe production.

SA is notable for fighting for a $15 an hour wage. First, I want to say that I support this policy. It is a laudable goal, and may work soon in some of the nations wealthy, tech-savvy, coastal metro enclaves.

Yet we need to ask what would happen if this were enacted nationally, and what we should do to prepare if it ever does. The elites would pull their money out of the system, if only to spite the Left and the socialists who enacted the policy, and give them a taste of pain for disobeying capitalism. The neoliberal economy is designed around low-wage service work, and is so tightly interwoven, not to mention extremely monopolized, that a sudden wage rise would lead to high levels of inflation, and possibly to a severe economic recession or depression. Are groups like SA ready to organize outside the political structure, to make space for a civic society, domestically and abroad, which will need massive influxes of resources, food, and housing when shit hits the fan?

SA also wants to “slash the military budget”, which is great. SA does not clarify where that new money should go. SA also proclaims that they support internationalism. Allow me to make a proposal: money from the military budget should be given away freely to developing countries, with transnational groups, either under UN auspices or some new framework, helping distribute and allocate resources so they are not wasted by corrupt dictators and governments. Poorer nations will need massive influxes of revenue to help them develop and avoid using fossil fuels and habitat-destroying industry, in the realm of trillions of dollars over decades. The West has accumulated ill-gotten wealth from centuries of colonialism, chattel slavery, and genocidal policies towards the “Global South”, and now may be the last chance to give back, before it becomes too late.

Are US socialists committed to these sorts of radical proposals? Are SA and others ready to admit to its followers that real socialism will involve hard sacrifices, and almost certainly (in the short term, at least) lead to less material goods and privileges that Westerners have enjoyed for centuries? Are socialists as ready to support a living wage in China as they are in the USA? Finally, are American socialists committed to transforming the nation, or just promoting an ideology that is centered too much on human needs, and not enough on the needs of non-humans and future human generations?

Ecocentrism, not Anthropocentrism

The Left has been fragmented for decades. Liberals, socialists, communists, greens, and anarchists have all endlessly debated future models for society. One wonders how many are just talking, and how many are willing to listen? There already are models for society to live sustainably and to prosper, very, very old ways: by following the paths set by the indigenous.

For instance: by living in the moment, and observing things as they really are, it becomes quite clear that humanity is facing huge challenges unlike at any other time in history. Just one hundred companies have pumped out 70% of worldwide greenhouse gases since 1988. Is the answer, as SA has posited, really just to democratize these corporations and hope for the best, or to shut them down completely?

Westerners are going to have to realize very quickly that despite our space technology, skyscrapers, and instant media, we are the children in the room when it comes to ecological knowledge, and the indigenous around the world are the adults. Native American tribes and various indigenous peoples worldwide have catalogued thousands if not tens of thousands of local plants in their local ecosystems, often with hundreds of different uses for each individual plant. Indigenous accept their own mortality and have constructed elaborate rituals, ceremonies, and initiations to help each other confront death. Also, and this is critical, indigenous tribes understand their carrying capacity in their local habitat, so are able to regulate and rationally plan for their population levels. Overpopulation now threatens the world with ecosystem degradation, habitat destruction, global warming, resource wars, ocean acidification, plastics proliferation, pandemics, and mass starvation and drought.

The indigenous are plant people, and we can follow just a few basic ideas to help us escape capitalism: conserve what remains of the South American, African, and Southeast Asian rainforests, as many future cures from disease and chronic conditions will be found there. In the Americas, the milpa, a planting of corn, beans, squash, and various nutrient rich veggies allows for huge crop productivity in a small area. We can use hemp and legalize cannabis to make biofuels, produce paper, make innovate building materials like Hempcrete, and provide the masses with a safe, relaxing herb for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual use. Advanced technology in most scenarios will only make things worse. What is the best thing one can do to stop global warming? Not a solar array, but planting a tree. Slow down soil erosion? Plant a tree. What is resistance? Planting a community garden is a more socialist, a more significant thing to do now than attending another symposium on Marxism.

The indigenous are freer and happier than Westerners not by some innate abilities, but because they have chosen to work for their freedom: by co-producing food, tools, clothes, pottery, by hunting, fishing, and foraging together. Westerners have refused to resist thus far, because deep down, many know they are dependent on the system for survival, and don’t want to pull that plug, to bite the hand that feeds. It’s the only way, though. We are going to have to walk away from all this, and activists, protestors, and concerned citizens are going to have to metaphorically step into our own Lacandon jungle, and organize around ecology, democracy, and social justice.

Yet, we must realize that it is too late in the game to rely simply on voting. Citizens will respond to a mass movement to the degree that it represents the will of the people: to the degree it can articulate a political truth on a deeply visceral level. Most mainstream socialists (important exceptions being Ian Angus, Paul Burkett, and John Bellamy Foster) have so far been too committed to a flailing, abstract ideology; specifically, wrongly committed to a Eurocentric, technocratic, anthropocentric worldview; to capture people’s imaginations. Developing an ecological worldview, one that acknowledges our interdependence and interconnectedness with all species, is crucial.

Thus, as the 21st century progresses, Standing Rock will eventually be seen as having more influence than Occupy Wall Street. We are connected to our planet and the web of life more than we can ever know or attempt to explain. For instance, we won’t end warfare until we abolish factory farming: the two are intimately linked, as exploitation of man over animal allows fascists the ideological justification for exploitation and the killing of man by man. Ecology is the keystone science: it allows us to see the linkages between species, food webs, and provides the science needed to develop scale-appropriate, sustainable technology. Ecologists understand that an injury to one is an injury to all, and under capitalism, we’ve all been wounded, plant, animal, and human alike, even the rich, who’ve suffered spiritual decay and moral disintegration.

The only democracy possible is an ecological democracy, with a long-term planning, and rational, sustainably-oriented national constitutions, a 90-95% reduction in fossil fuel use within a few decades at most, and an international consensus which will guarantee safeguards against habitat destruction, even in the face of democratic majority opposition. If we don’t face up to these facts, and collectively and courageously organize, we may, in fact, be due for the Kali Yuga, as the Hindus prophesied.

Thus, perhaps we can update and re-phrase Horkheimer’s famous quote for the 21st century:

“Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about the 6th mass extinction.”

By William Hawes/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Iowa Voters In Correctionville Think The U.S. Needs Correcting

 

Image: Des Moines Register

The Iowa caucuses are 3 days away. Some voters in the rural and largely conservative part of western Iowa are struggling between the pull of their choice candidate and who they think is likely to win.

And they are also struggling with stupidity and ignorance….theirs….Libergirl*

*Please give the audio a listen…your mouth will fall open.

Story and audio from NPR

Posted by Libergirl

After Snow/Valentine’s Day Edition…Men We Love: The NON-Conformist and Chris Paul

WHEW…I’ve had it up to here with snow…please go away! It’s fine if you’re sipping cocoa at a swank resort and don’t have to drive in it but if you have to drive in it..arghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

As we dive back into blogging, I wanted to give love to my love: my blog partner and husband The NON-Conformist ♥♥. He was stuck in traffic for two hours on his way to pick me up from work…the Southeast does not do snow well.

As I was scanning the news I came across this really cool story about Chris Paul which just made me smile….

Image: Ben Gibbs

 As we head into All-Star weekend, we celebrate LA Clippers point guard Chris Paul, the seven-time NBA All-Star whose myriad achievements include Rookie of the Year, two-time Olympic Gold medalist, and All-Star game MVP. His skills as a player, and his devotion to the game, come with a passion for community and a commitment to family. Why else do we love Chris Paul? Here, we count the ways:

Because for him philanthropy is personal; He established his CP3 foundation in honor of his grandfather “Papa Chili,” who was attacked and killed in 2002. The Nathaniel Jones Scholarship Fund sends two students a year from Chris’ home town to his alma mater.

Because of his commitment to kids; With CP3 AfterSchool Zone and CP3K Walk for Kids, Paul is focused on enriching the lives of the younger generation and encouraging them to step away from their video games.

Because of his humility; When his 10-year high school reunion rolled around, Paul not only attended it, he helped plan it, because that was his duty as Senior Class President.

More from Maria Shriver @NBC News

Posted by Libergirl

Fox News host: new Miss America, Nina Davuluri, doesn’t ‘represent American values’

The crowning of Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, as Miss America should have been, to paraphrase her platform, a celebration of diversity through cultural competency. But in the hours after her victory, Twitter became a frank demonstration of American incompetence in matters relating to both ethnicity and geography.

Image: AP

“Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote,” said one user.

“I am literally soo mad right now a ARAB won. #MissAmerica” wrote another.

It should go without saying that Davuluri, a Syracuse native of Indian descent, is neither Muslim nor an Arab. But according to Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes, the American-born Davuluri doesn’t “represent American values,” unlike the blonde-haired, blue-eyed contestant from Kansas, Theresa Vail.

This is not to say that Vail isn’t an unprecedented contestant in her own right: she’s spent five years in the Kansas Army National Guard and is double-majoring in chemistry and Chinese at Kansas State University. But, according to Starnes on Facebook, she lost because “the liberal Miss America judges were not interested in a gun-toting, deer-hunting, military veteran.”

But at least, from Starnes’s perspective, she was a lady, “although I’m sure the gender-neutral crowd is plotting.”

From the Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

So called true Americans on display…racist to the core…Libergirl

WTF!

Image:gab.wi.gov/

As we all know this is the last weekend before the General Election where candidates can impact or influence voters as to why they are the better choice. Truth be told, does it really matter who wins with only a slight few differences? This election borders on two things for me: 1. NO more wars and 2. The Affordable Health Care Act( while not perfect, better than what we currently have). The kinks will have to be worked out later by both parties. For those who early voted, use this time to take others to the polls.

An issue that has plagued me has to do with core values. Mitt Romney comes off like a credible candidate but what about his core values as a person? He may be a beautiful husband and father but you can’t get far in the business world by being nice and always playing by the rules. My point has to do with his often double speak. Also I have to look at how he does business. He’s running on being a job creator, I doubt that; he’s looking out for the investors. Romney is a conflicted man, when he looks in the mirror I wonder what he sees in those soulless eyes of his. News comes out daily about his business misadventures. Re: look at the Rolling Stone piece I posted as well as his investments in the auto industry. America is not a business, hell when was the last businessman to run the country well? Don’t think too hard on that one.

Alas, let me talk about the black church. The black church is trying hard to find relevance and acceptability within the political climate. I agree with the moral aspects of the church, I do however disagree with the walking of the middle of the road. If you disagree with stances of political figures simply express that. But when you tell your followers to NOT vote or when you give them a four-part platform to not vote for one candidate in particular, you’ve over-stepped your boundaries. This is pure ignorance on their part! Look at it this way, you should have a special interest within the political scope: college grants, health care and a slew of other issues. If it’s only moral issues that you are voting on, maybe it’s best you tell your people not to vote. We live in a big world that isn’t monolithic. I was going to show the four-part platform of why to not vote for Obama as well as the seven points of why he isn’t a Christian but it’s a waste of time. They both speak for themselves especially the seven reasons why he’s not a Christian. How can you tell if anyone is anything, that’s irresponsible and wrong on so many levels. It’s time the black church to wake up and realize that we are a free society without church dogma, thank your Founding Fathers. They did have some foresight.

Written by the NON-Conformist

Ryan’s Budget: Right in Your Face, America!

The cruel impoverishment of the debate among the presidential and congressional candidates took a gigantic leap into the pits with Mitt Romney’s selection of 42-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan from the deindustrialized town of Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan is invariably described by reporters as “an intellectual leader of the conservative movement” and by fellow Republicans as a person “who tells the hard truths” to the American people.

The truth is that what has distinguished this fast-talking, glib, Ayn Rand-smitten, congenial young man is that he has a plan for the federal budget. On Capitol Hill that fact alone makes one a “stand-out” in the field of political narcissists whose mental tank harbors gaseous one-liners and kneejerk slogans.

The Ryan budget plan is a Koch brothers’ dream and the American peoples’ nightmare. It leads with a lie – namely to control deficit spending by continuing it for at least 30 more years before his concoction of big tax cuts for the rich, further increases in the already bloated defense budget, and savage cuts in public services for the people, somehow balance the budget around mid-century.

Ryan’s brain is chock-full of such cognitive dissonance that it would blow a normal person’s mind. He is a practicing Catholic, but since his youth has been a disciple of the militant atheist Ayn Rand who despised altruism and “love thy neighbor” values while edifying extreme selfishness and greed.

His plan for social security is social insecurity. Make people work longer before receiving curtailed benefits, invest trillions of dollars of these funds in the volatile stock market and make sure that rich people only have to pay social security taxes on a fraction of their earned income.

He would open the floodgates on future Medicare to the rapacious health insurance companies through a voucher system whereby the elderly are fed to these sharks with ever-higher co-pays. His “block grant plan alone would lead states to drop between 14 and 27 million people (the poor and those with disabilities) from Medicaid by 2021,” according to the Urban Institute.

More from nader.org

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Tennessee Tea Partiers To GOP Gov: Stop Employing Muslims, Gays, Democrats!

Conservatives and Tea Party activists in Tennessee have recently pushed several Republican Party county organizations to pass resolutions(see resolution below) criticizing the state’s Republican governor for, among other things, employing Muslims, gay people, and Democrats.

“The action or actions of the Republican elected Governor of the Great State of Tennessee and his administration have demonstrated a consistent lack of conservative values,” a resolution passed by the Stewart County Republican Party reads in part, according to a copy obtained by The Tennessean.

Three county party chairman — from Stewart County, Williamson County, and Humphreys County — confirmed to TPM that the resolutions had passed. Kyle Mallory, chairman of the Stewart County GOP, said that, all together, nine counties have passed related, though not identical, resolutions. (One county chairman is apparently holding the resolution for revision.) The resolutions, according to Mallory, address concerns ranging from the governor’s appointment process to “other conservative issues within the executive branch here in Tennessee.”

“Each county has done their own thing,” Mallory said.

The state party, meanwhile, considers the resolutions distractions involving only a minority of the state’s 95 counties.

“We stand behind our governor, Gov. Bill Haslam, 100 percent,” state Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney told TPM. “We do think, while the county parties are certainly free to pass such resolutions, that they’re distracting during an election year.”

More from Eric Lach @ Talking Points Memo

Posted by Libergirl

Stewart County

 Republican Party RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION to request the State Executive Committee to take appropriate action against the administration of Governor Bill Haslam,

Whereas, the actions that The Tennessee Republican Executive Committee against Kent Williams needs to be commended,

WHEREAS, the action or actions of the Republican elected Governor of the Great State of Tennessee and his administration have demonstrated a consistent lack of conservative values and his administration’s policies are worse than the actions of Kent Williams,

WHEREAS, these actions or inactions have forced this GOP organization to lose the confidence in our Governor during an election year, these actions include but not limited to:

  • According to the Tennessean on January 15, 2012, Governor Haslam admitted to retaining 85% of the Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen’s Executive Service Employees.
  • One of the latest Executive Service Employees has included Samar Ali, an expert in Shariah Compliant Finance which is one of the many ways Islamic terrorism is funded. She is also a one-time Obama appointee and her family has a long history of supporting the Democrat Party.
  • Retained/hired a majority of democrat legislative liaisons from the Bredesen Administration that should have prevented the Planned Parenthood funding issue in the first legislative cycle.
  • Allowed and retained openly homosexuals to make policy decisions in the Department of Children’s Services.
  • Non-support/lack of leadership with regards to handgun carry permits holders in last legislative session.
  • Manipulated state law in the hire of a Commissioner of Education (from out of state), who has been an embarrassment to our Republican Legislature.
  • Refused to sign the Agenda 21 resolution passed by the state legislature (note that all Republicans voting in both the House and Senate voted yes).
  • Lied to party leaders by stating that changes would come after the TEAM act was passed, hiring people from the Obama administration was not the change we were promised.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE Stewart County GOP, that we hereby urge The Tennessee Republican Executive Committee to take meaningful action against the Governor Bill Haslam ‘s Administration.