We need a transition

Doug Henwood's Facebook page had this paragraph emblazoned upon it today:

I write this nervously out of fear it will unleash a shitstorm, but here goes. As the mess in Syria deepened, I kept hearing from people on the left that something had to be done about Assad. What that something was was never specified—the closest I ever heard to a specific policy was a no-fly zone, which sounds harmless but actually involves a lot of bombing. It always seemed to me that the call to do something would end with a barrage of cruise missiles at the very least. Who would the agent of "doing something" be other than the U.S. military and its allies?

So here is my question: after all we've read from William Blum and from Noam Chomsky, how is it that for some of us (at least) the US military became a moral agent? It should be clear to all of us by now that the US military is nothing of a moral agent, but rather an entity which brings ruination upon countries throughout the world for the sake of the raw exercise of power. Or, as the character of Paul Atreides says in Frank Herbert's Dune; "The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it." It's mostly, but not entirely, true.

It's been clear since the Cold War began that the US military is the sort of agency described by Atreides, and that it exercises its control over the world without any real purpose beyond the exercise of this power. A great example of US agency is the decade-or-so it spent "escalating" in southern Vietnam, after having spent another decade-or-so supporting the pointless Diem regime. When the whole "power to destroy a thing" charade was over and the "destroyed" entity recovered, the regime in the southern part of the country collapsed because there was really no point to it beyond the fear expressed by the southerners that the northerners would take revenge upon them once they had given up. Alan Dawson's 55 Days offers a good blow-by-blow description of what actually happened.

If you want to "do something" about Syria, then, you need to develop some agent, and some agency, capable of "doing" whatever it is needs to be done. One of the reasons we don't have a Left in the US is that our cultural "Left" has not gotten to the point of thinking about agency, about what or who it is that is going to develop the sort of agency we want. Instead it is imagined that we are to "bear witness" or "speak truth to power" or any of that cool Quaker stuff, and the correct agency will magically appear. Hint: it won't. Second hint: even if you want the military to "do something" about Assad, the odds are fast approaching zero that the US military will do what you want it to do. The US military has been bombing countries throughout Obama's and Bush Junior's terms of office; be thankful you heard something about it this time around.

This argument applies to all discussions of a "the US government should do X" character. For starters, I'd like the US government to enact all of Bernie Sanders' agenda; wish me luck. Let's start with the reality that we have very little control over what the US government actually does, and then proceed from there. Once having designed an agency, we can then dream of what the US government will be compelled to do in light of our agency. We will find, however, that once we are involved in the nitty-gritty of agency, that most of our attention will be focused upon how to make the agency happen, rather than upon what we want to do.

Here's another option: we need a transition. We'll need a period in which the agencies we need will be built, brick laid upon brick. If the world goes to Hell in a handbasket in the meantime, we will have to console ourselves with the notion that there really isn't anything we can do about it. We don't build transitions now. We wax idealistic about how the world could be what we want it to be, and then when push comes to shove we vote for lesser-of-two-evils candidates and undo whatever it is that we might have done. That's why Daily Kos was and is at best a self-nullifying entity.

A transition is something that needs to be planned out practically. It has nothing to do with immediate moral reactions we might wish to emote in response to whatever it is the news media have flashed before our eyes at any particular time. It's about building organizations, appealing to the public, solidifying a utopian vision that isn't the utopia of money whose patrons currently tell us "there is no alternative."

So what's it going to be folks?

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each other. I believe it is too late. We have a one-way ticket to MadMax from Escape from New York.

Nothing makes sense, nothing is how it looks, nothing means what is said. Quite candidly, I don't think we'll even get thru 4 years of this regime. Even if we refill the entire House and Senate with Ds only, I don't trust them not to compromise with the Holy Ghost because they couldn't help it.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

You're covering, in a pretty kind way, some of what I've been thinking for a while.

This is the heart of it, and it's absolutely crucial (it's also what fuels the constant debate over whether to take over the Dems or start a third party):

If you want to "do something" about Syria, then, you need to develop some agent, and some agency, capable of "doing" whatever it is needs to be done. One of the reasons we don't have a Left in the US is that our cultural "Left" has not gotten to the point of thinking about agency, about what or who it is that is going to develop the sort of agency we want. Instead it is imagined that we are to "bear witness" or "speak truth to power" or any of that cool Quaker stuff, and the correct agency will magically appear. Hint: it won't.

The way I put it to myself, and have been since 2011, is: we don't have a policy problem, we have a politics problem. Or, more accurately, our policy problem is symptomatic, like a fever; trying to bring down the fever without trying to cure the illness might produce a slight amelioration of conditions, but isn't going to help in the long run.

This is why it's so fucking frustrating to watch left-wing, or liberal, or progressive people saying they're going to come up with the next plan,and then more than half their plan is a list of policy goals. Cenk Uygur's Justice Democrats is particularly guilty of this. I don't know if you noticed what happened when Debbie, the Sane Progressive, made a simple and obvious critique of his strategy, a critique that everyone should have been able to make without hardly thinking about it, after the election debacle of last year. Instead, Debbie made the critique, and was immediately body-slammed all over the internet by trolls supporting Cenk and Kyle, up to and including this piece of McCarthyism from Kyle himself (the analysis by Hard Bastard, the podcaster, is good even though I don't agree with most of his opinions, since he is a right-winger. But he nails this one:)

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal another handy use of the idea of We Don't Have A Left. Instead we have vanguards who have lost touch with the proletariat and who are more interested in their fantasies of revolution than in actually hearing what said proletariat has to say, and sellouts who wrestle daily with how they are to make the most of having sold out. A coherent Left politics, on the other hand, appears to have been missing for some time now.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

If people don't have the energy or motivation to regularly attend a Meetup, people probably don't have the energy to organize a revolution.

Maybe we ought just to have potlucks for awhile before we can organize around practical-enough premises to have a productive meeting?

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus That's where I was at the end of Occupy--organizing potlucks between non-Occupying members of faith communities and Occupiers. Got one done, went off nicely, asked people if they wanted to have another one--big cheers; asked who was willing to help organize the next one. Made the mistake of asking online. Dead silence. Asked again. Dead silence.

Then Occupy ended anyway, because it had no capacity to continue without the encampments, which had been bulldozed by men with guns.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus So the answer is, yes, potlucks before meetings. Then potlucks with meetings.

I hope your question wasn't ironic.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal related to political goals which can forward the cause. We could start the next political party at an opening for a community garden, for all I know. Faith communities (since you brought them up) sometimes have chunks of spare land which they might be willing to donate to community gardening...

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus I think this is a great idea.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Thanks for the edifying video!

By definition, (in now-sullied-by-DemCorp-PR-abuse terms) a liberal/actual leftist/progressive is not authoritarian and bullying; the guy being critiqued sounds like (If I have the name right?) Glen Beck (?) doing a Hillary/Correct The Record Troll melt-down on hapless subordinates.

I don't know if this is set-up sabotage to discredit Bernie's message and 'prove' that 'fairy-dusted-unicorn-pie-in-the-sky' can't work (which such 'messaging signals' as 'Bernie didn't really win, even if he came close' despite everything Ole Spittle-Flyer would actually admit to [can't recall his name,] and the rabid denial of proven Dem nomination electoral cheating and of the control exerted over Two-Faced Trade-Off Party (s)elections, plus bizarre and virulently emitted misrepresentation of fact to attack 'enemies' making valid and concerning points using undeniable facts which must be taken into account and dealt with to avoid wasting more time and effort, as TPTB would wish the public to do, seem to me to indicate,) or if this is just the typical behaviour we've seen too often exhibited by the (Soros?)/Clinton faction crowd but the fact that this guy could/would even fake acting like this shows that, to say the least, he's definitely not a prog. and learnt his manners from the 'come to heel or drop dead' Parasite class.

Many of us had already figured that the Soros-linked Justice Dems were another 'divide and co-opt' attempt - there is another Party I can't recall the name of but which wishes to 'Draft Bernie' and actually sounds feasible, going by what I've gathered. I personally would have nothing to do with the Justice Dems and feel that The Young Turks have shown their colours and, while sometimes worth watching now that they're apparently shifting back into a more 'progressive' mode, (and trying to regain lost viewers I suppose; they did some great DAPL coverage, if I recall correctly) I have no trust in them myself.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Ellen North Those of the Young Turks I still listen to:

Jimmy Dore
Jordan Chariton
Michael Tracy

But even in their case, I'm kind of waiting for the axe to drop. Eventually, they will get a call from Cenk, or Cenk will get a call from some rich bastard, and THEN Cenk will regretfully tell Dore, Chariton, etc., to fall in line. For now I think he's using them to hang onto the 1/3 of his audience that wouldn't support Hillary if she were the last person on earth.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Was formed to deal with problems like Syria. If we insist on being the world's police (Where are you G. Washington, "Beware of foreign wars"?) then we can lead a debate at the UN, NYC. But as far as bombing, we should limit our interests, as others should limit their interests, e.g., European Union, India, Russia, Turkey, to our own hemisphere. There's plenty of Syrian neighbors, UN members all, capable of bombing Syria.

[Oh, we are the Empire! Shhh, the proverbial elephant in the room.]

So I guess we should talk about empire. Should The World's Greatest Democracy (TM) be a world-wide empire, forcing other's to obey us, or else? (I vote no.)

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

I always, always ask myself: who's going to do the work? where is the time going to come from? the energy? the money? other resources?

Where do our people go when they are hurt? How do we heal their wounds? Re-energize them?

Even in these dark times, how do we have fun? What nourishes our movement?

If people don't have the energy or motivation to regularly attend a Meetup, people probably don't have the energy to organize a revolution. If people don't want to answer the above questions, or can't, then there's no way we can build a movement strong enough to do much of anything.

You can't build a movement by having strong ideas of what is right online and sometimes taking those views on the street. That's not politics. That's religion.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

If people don't have the energy or motivation to regularly attend a Meetup, people probably don't have the energy to organize a revolution.

Hence the continuous, boss-class mandated erosion of living standards since the mid-1970s. When people have to work themselves to death just to survive right now, there's not enough left of them to make trouble for the bosses.

Sad

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@thanatokephaloides The assault on time is a Big Deal. No doubt. The assault on the imagination is going on simultaneously, so that it's like we've forgotten how to do anything except go through the same automatic motions over and over, and asking people to step outside of that pattern tends to elicit despair. We can't seem to imagine successfully building anything.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

PriceRip's picture

@thanatokephaloides

... there's not enough left of them to make trouble for the bosses.

          Clear vision coupled with clear goals works wonders. Endless meetings quibbling over terms and irrelevant minutia kills the soul of any "action committee".

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@PriceRip God, that's true. And at the risk of sounding paranoid, all it takes to derail most left-wing meetings is to send infiltrators to do just that. Best of all is if you send a few to talk about how abused they've been by the group because of racism, sexism, ableism, or any other ism you can come up with.

This presents a Catch-22 to the group, and the movement, b/c no left-wing movement worth its salt would want to ignore an actual abuse of anybody, especially on grounds of racism, sexism, etc, so it's not like the group can dismiss such claims. Any such claim must be addressed. Therefore, to stop the movement/group from doing anything, just make sure they have an endless round of such claims to address--sort of.

My "tell" for the fake ones rather than the real ones is that the fake claims tend to be very vague and not specific, with little concrete detail, and the person making the claim tends to want, not redress or concrete changes, but an endless conversation about how shitty they've been treated. It's a great way to create multiple divisions in any left-wing group: you have the person who made the claim, with any who support them; the person accused of wrongdoing, and those who support them; the people who think addressing the claim is a moral imperative, a group which has some overlapwith the first group, but is not identical to it, and the people who begin to plead, with greater and greater intensity, that the group stop spending all its time talking about how it treats itself and get back to the work it came together to do. Then the first group can have an A-HA! See, we said this group was...racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, ableist...moment. That goes on for a bit, and then the size of the group dwindles as large numbers of people decide that nothing is going to be done other than sitting for several hours at a time in a room while tearful people argue with each other. That's not what most people go to a political movement for. In fact, it's hard for me to imagine Malcolm X or even Elridge Cleaver--or even Martin Luther King!--being in favor of such multiple-hours-long handwringing when there are actually Black people being murdered daily, or Susan B Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Sojourner Truth or Audre Lorde being in favor of it while girls are daily slut-shamed into suicide.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

PriceRip's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

          You should write a stage script: This would make a great presentation at an Occupy like action prep session. I would play the part of an early deserters as I would get frustrated early in the scene. A derailleur can really muck up the works, and some are so subtle that by the time you catch on, the group size has dropped below criticality.

          I ran into a variant derailleur a few years ago. As an actual internal disruptor, Mr. Tedious, was perhaps even more of a sea anchor than an external plant. Mr. Tedious would insist that everyone had a voice in every decision no matter how insignificant the decision. By "everyone had a voice" I mean he would use passive/aggressive techniques to badger each and every person into talking ... endlessly ... there was no way to satisfy Mr. Tedious's need for total 100% consensus.

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PriceRip's picture

          One of the reasons we don't have a Left in the US is that our cultural "Left" has not gotten to the point of thinking about agency, about what or who it is that is going to develop the sort of agency we want.

          I and most of my friends have asked and debated these issues for an age. But why would anyone "in the US government" interested in the musing of "immature" "idealists" with no real "coin in the game"? And do be careful "the US government" is not a "the" thing, it is not even a thing. The US government is a large collection of individuals that all seem to have their own agendas and those outside that morass have nothing to contribute, unless that "nothing" can be used to an advantage by someone of the aforementioned "large collection of individuals".

          Repeated failure to be taken seriously leads to one becoming a cynic. My cynicism is well earned but bashing my head against a stone wall seems to be more in accord with my personality than the alternatives. So, I wonder what sort of action might we-all take to get the ball rolling. Or, is it rolling and we need to catch up to it?

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Cassiodorus's picture

@PriceRip And we aren't part of it. Oh and since y'all have debated agency "for an age," what conclusions did you all develop, and what organizations did you all develop as a result of your conclusions? And could I be a member?

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

PriceRip's picture

@Cassiodorus

          I will start writing an article today. It will take a bit of thought to put it into readable form.

          A bit of a head's up: It's not so much about creating organizations (like JtC creating c99p) as it is about being an effective agent in developing "agency" within a group (like JtC does while managing c99p). It's about developing (on demand) a skill set and identifying obtainable goals (tactical) leading toward a desirable objective (strategic).
          That last sentence is a description of my teaching technique in its entirety.

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for when the war with Russia and China starts.

Maybe we could capture all of the war-mongers and store them on a luxury island far away from civilization. Keeping them in luxury would cost much less than the spending on the military.

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dfarrah

earthling1's picture

are right here, online. This is where I get most of my information. And through the links provided. The back and forth both challenges and reaffirms my thinking. Even the trolls (Jamawani) makes me give pause, sometimes. It's all healthy discourse that happens at the speed of light and we should take full advantage of it, because it could disappear tomorrow. Then we would really have to "meetup" somewhere dark and secret.
Today, I spent a couple of hours over at Breitbart. The comment section following the bombing story started out pretty bizarre with some posters clearly in need of professional help. But continuing on (some 500 comments) actual sane voices began to appear. Most were admitted Trump voters who have turned and it got pretty ugly for awhile but compelling arguments began to coalesce around Trump becoming a turncoat. By the end, many believed Trump no different than Clinton. I half thought to join and log on but decided it already was a beautiful thing and to leave it alone.
Anyway, soft engagement at these sites could prove useful at identifying kindred spirits. Can't help but recall reading on another site today a veteran saying he thought he was a Republican most his life, only to discover he's a progressive, all over this bombing.
Food for thought.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@earthling1 Online is fine for the exchange of information and the development of healthy debate and discourse, if you can find a place like this website, and if independent media on the internet remains a going concern (there is currently the beginnings of a movement to shut such efforts down; YouTube has demonetized all the political news shows/channels, or at least all the progressive ones, which tells me the establishment no longer wants to rely simply on an army of online trolls, but wants a real shutdown).

Online is a mixed bag when it comes to planning and executing actions. It's very difficult to get people on a website to do anything beyond clicking a Donate button--that's my experience with all websites. At best, online is the quick 21st-century equivalent to a bulletin board with notes attached saying "meeting here!" "action here!" Information transfer, again. Coming up with a strategy, tactics, deciding what to do--not so much. Also, there's the fact that in-person is still the best way, though not a perfect way, to keep from immediately informing everyone in power exactly what you're intending to do. Online, you might as well be sending the NSA a memo and asking them to pass it along to all their friends. But what's more important is that you can't get people to plan on the internet. You just can't. Even Occupy, which used the internet splendidly, didn't make plans there. The people who started in met in person, and then sent out the word across multiple media. If they'd done their planning on line, probably nothing would have happened.

That's why electoral campaigns work so well with online. The planning gets done by a tiny group of people offline, and then they use online to rally the troops, hand out orders essentially (or requests). But all people have to do is say "yes" or "no." Online is fairly good at getting people to answer binary questions.

What online is near-incapable of doing is nurturing and fostering a revolution. Much as I value my online community--and I absolutely do, or I wouldn't have bothered helping to create this place for us to be--the only way to have a revolution that stands up against horrors is to have the strongest relationships to the widest extent that you can. The internet is great for the extent. It's great for breadth. It's not at all good for depth. Most of us don't even know each other's real names. We don't pick up each other's kids for school, or bring casseroles by when we're sick, we've never exchanged a hug or even a handshake, there's a whole dimension to our relationships that is, of necessity, missing, because we've never met.

Put it this way: if, god forbid, the government kicked my door in tomorrow, would any of you even know? Wouldn't you all just wonder, gee, where did CSTS go?

Exclusively online movements are only good for hackers, because what they're doing, the actions they're taking, ARE, of necessity, online actions. For people with high levels of digital skill, the Aaron Swartzes of the world, maybe that suffices--though even Aaron Swartz did not limit himself that way, but had IRL political actions and relationships that he used to build the beginnings of his movement. But for those of us who don't have that level of digital skill, our actions need to be IRL. And without an IRL movement, the IRL actions are like a shallow-rooted plant that spreads everywhere quickly, and dies just as quickly.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

earthling1's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I've been to a couple of meetups and it was great putting a face with whom I am conversing online. I don't remember doing any real planning or even coming to agree on having another. Not that I wouldn't attend another one. I do have a standing offer to meetup with Big Al at a nearby park to engage the passing citizenry, a Farmers Market being nearby. But this is not a planning session, just a way for both Big Al and I to get out of our cabins and just do Something.
Online planning of "meetups" also run the risk of infiltration, perhaps not by the NSA, but other Leo. The NYPDs infiltration of BLM meetups is a prime example.
I'm not sure what to do CSMS. We here are not a very large group of dissidents, if we are even considered that, and perhaps not even worth the time and effort to monitor.
With regard to having your door kicked in and suddenly go missing, it has crossed my mind. In fact I just recently had a PM conversation with JcT on this same subject, how would anyone here know in a timely manner? What if it was the beginning of a roundup? In this day and age, nothing can be discounted. I, personally, have a pre written draft that my SO is to release should anything happen to me, just so the community here would know.
There are a lot of great ideas circulating through this site. There is bound to be someone watching. Just my humble opinion. But thanks for the response.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@earthling1 However, I totally agree with you about not limiting who we converse with/listen to.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Lily O Lady's picture

@earthling1

That's why the wedding photo of Trump with the Clintons should have been central to the election. It said it all.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

shaharazade's picture

My question is how do meet ups provide agency? Another question, how does the 'left' get ordinary people to attend these meet ups? The left seems very inbred and lame in America. In a way the internet has isolated humans and shattered any cohesive grassroots organizing outside the duopoply. I have no interest any attending a meet up that ends up being like Monty Python's Peoples Judean Front.

What agency is gained when people who are willing to go are still speaking and operating on the tired useless lines drawn by the lefties, academics and famous lefties who are great at pinpointing what's wrong but haven't a clue about any political solution that is outside of the system that they are reacting to. A good example is the famous Women's March here in Portland. The Socialist party here wanted to march and speak at the rally but the 'organizer' a pink pussy hated fake feminist said no they could not as they we're men and to radically leftist. So they had their own rally and then met up with the women for the main march.

The only meet ups I went to that seemed viable and we're heavily attended we're back in the Howard Dean, fake Dem. progressive, days. That 'movement' went nowhere just like it was intended to. Same with Obomber ad Bernie. Right now there are lots of people who are looking for agency outside this farce. Are they lefties? I don't know but they do know that they are screwed. I guess I'm saying that like in the Tower of Babble, no one is willing to connect the dots or let go of the left's pet issues that have nothing to do with stopping this nightmare.

Racism, sexism, gender all these societal ills are addressed as separate cultural issues. How can agency be achieved unless people have a goal other then complaining and reacting using the lines drawn by the freaking elitist left who refuse to let go of their pet issues that seem to me to only reinforce the divide and conquer, cultural war.

I have been looking locally for a means to be politically active. I belong to Stop Demolishing Portland. They are great at chronicling the corruption of the city and the investment/developers but not so good at organizing any effective action that can makes a dent in the rapid destruction. I found some 'events' on various Portland fb pages coming up. Not meet ups for vague agency but marches or speakers that are not Demorat's.

Union's like the nurses or teachers seem to be gearing up to resist. Same with environmental groups, local food and agriculture. The official so called left NGO's are so tied into the financial aspects of the system and lobbying that they are useless. I do not think at this point their is a cohesive way to get agency through organizing and meeting up.

A transition is something that needs to be planned out practically. It has nothing to do with immediate moral reactions we might wish to emote in response to whatever it is the news media have flashed before our eyes at any particular time. It's about building organizations, appealing to the public, solidifying a utopian vision that isn't the utopia of money whose patrons currently tell us "there is no alternative."

Transition is occurring right now. I disagree with you on the point of practical planning being needed or building an organized entity at this point for agency. Transition is organic and cannot be laid out with rules regulations and pecking orders among the planners. I think your underestimating people's ability to comprehend what they are up against and they are resisting. The fact that so many people who are not official lefties, but aware of this horror show are turning away from the duopoly is part of the process.

It will happen as humans are resourceful and have throughout history had to deal with needed transitions. Utopia and heaven are both concepts that do not seem to me to exist and if they do one mans utopia is another mans hell. Organized heaven or utopia seems like an oxymoron. I'd settle for busting up the grip of global centralized power and getting some basic democracy and justice.

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@shaharazade
i.e. Political suicide, to stand in the way of transition to better government and good governance. Adressing the issues of inequality, standards of living for all, health, education, and freedom from need. Any less, is an embarrassment.

Good on you for doing your part towards making governance more responsive.

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Fighting for democratic principles,... well, since forever

Cassiodorus's picture

@shaharazade The utopia of sustainability is what I have in mind. It can be modeled more or less on Ernest Callenbach's "Ecotopia"; its only real requirement is that it be a society which doesn't collapse after destroying its non-human environment.

I'm also interested in the utopia of communication. The Internet is a proto-example of that; Paul Mason has a book out called "Postcapitalism" describing his vision of how Internet social relations will result in a society in which everything is free. The book is pretty flawed, but I'm still interested. I reviewed it in the pages of Capitalism Nature Socialism.

And then there's the anarchist utopia described in Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Dispossessed." That's probably the utopia we'll have to settle for -- a society of noncoercive social relations amidst a bleak environment, in our case an environment transformed by the climate-change ecology under destructive capitalism. In LeGuin's idea of "Anarres," the residents have to stick together so that they all don't die, while at the same time basic freedoms are preserved through general, collectively-accepted, belief. Perhaps something like Occupy would get us there.

"Chaos" these days looks to me like a pretext for neoliberal restructuring, kind of like what they did to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Justice Democrats/ Brand New Congress thing doesn't really bother me. When they finally get in touch, and I'm sure they've got my phone number, they'll get an earful from me about the rather exacting standard I plan to hold them to.

Hope you are doing well.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@shaharazade We don't have the new frameworks we need to enable organizing to occur. Our old frameworks have been destroyed along with the old culture. There's no use putting new wine in those old bottles. So we need new bottles. That's the first step of practical organization: creating the mental/cultural framework for that organization.

You seem to be saying that's not something anybody can do on purpose, at least not any of us, and that we just have to wait on the zeitgeist to move our way.

What I'm saying is that maybe people CAN do that on purpose, but we are too exhausted and demoralized right now to do the work. And too damned busy keeping the bills paid. There are things we could do that would be of value that I can see, though none of them provides "the answer" everybody wants. But I don't have the energy to bring them to birth right now, and it seems that's not an isolated condition. Most people are exhausted.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

shaharazade's picture

@#7.10+ years trying via the Democrat's trying to get governance more responsive. It's just not going to work using the farce of a two party system we have ended up with. A duopoly. The last thing the pols and the political apparatchik of either party wants is democracy, representation or the rule of laws not men (or women).

So what's a human being to do? Put on a pink pussy hat? Or maybe get behind Bernie's hustling for reforming the Dems. fake out movement's? Nah. I'm done with anything that this FUBAR system tries to sell as change or reform. It's not going to happen not now not ever until people really think enough is enough and do something other then wringing their hands and talking about who did what to who and how we online can win the gotcha take down of perceived and real enemies.

I'm in limbo and am no longer waiting for Godot, Bernie or any savior to rescue me or lead the way to utopia. It's up to us. Just who is this us? Well maybe 'we the people' who cannot fathom how any of this maze is going to do a damn thing. I'll still keep trying but am leery at this point of any org., persona, movement or leader who tells me that the only way to stop this shit is to join a group and organize. Do all these roads not lead back to Rome? I guess I'm now an anarchist as in no ruler. Chaos may be preferable to organizing under the present options available.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Or that old chestnut 'the law is king'. We have no universal laws anymore they abolished them as they interfered with the global 'oligarchical collectivists' wet dream of empire for dominion and profit.

For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other

Any semblance of universal law, those inalienable truths, are gone daddy gone. Both sides took them away they were an impediment to the NWO we now globally live under and call inevitable or progress.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@shaharazade Many anarchists HAVE groups, social organizations, etc.

But you illustrate quite well the second worst problem here: distrust. Americans distrust each other so much we can barely make friends. How the hell are we going to form the kind of bonds that underlie a successful revolution?

Again, I don't think we have to be the absolute victims of our circumstances. I think we can choose to live otherwise. But few people want to, or are able to (due to exhaustion, etc.) do the work of reconceiving an entire politics.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Just want to say thanks for the essay - these are such essential points and the time is now, in case there's otherwise no later.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.