xenologer: (let it be)
I think I might be a libertarian-socialist.

Or:

When did capitalist right-wingers get so trusting, anyway?

Here's libertarian-socialism in a nutshell (at least as I understand it, and if someone can correct me in the comments, PLEASE DO, because I will consider your insight here to be a personal favor).

Libertarians don't want the government controlling their behavior, because having your freedom curtailed by people who are not accountable enough to you SUCKS, and shouldn't happen. Coercion is terrible, and you shouldn't feel coerced by your government. People like myself take this one step further.

I feel that corporations and powerful individuals have too much power to control my life and coerce me, and they're even less accountable to me than the government. At least the government I can vote in or out. Therefore, the answer seems to me that we should be as wary of companies or individuals with power as we are of governments.

There is more stuff here, but it is long. )
xenologer: (creator destroyer)
I'm reading discussions about the idea of a communist "vanguard" for the working class, and trying to sort out my feelings about the whole thing.

The bare bones idea seems to be that you can't wait for a group of people who've been marginalized, denied educational opportunities, and denied opportunity for political expression to figure out how to start a revolution and then do it effectively (since all that crap piled on them seems aimed at preventing precisely that). The solution some people have come up with (if I'm understanding what I'm reading correctly) is that what's needed is for a "vanguard" of intellectual working-class-allies to agitate the working class, get them all riled up and carve out some room for them to express themselves and start exercising the power they were always told they didn't have or deserve.

This sounds fairly reasonable, especially because it's speaking to the part of me that gets very frustrated with low-income self-identified conservatives who repeatedly vote against their own self-interest (oddly, in the name of protecting the sanctity of self-interest itself). However, I feel like I have to check that part of me. That part of me also says that these low-income self-destructive conservatives are obviously too stupid to know what's good for them, and clearly a bunch of educated elites like me (since, though it seems odd to me, an education is kind of an "elite" quality, for good or ill) to come in and take their whole lives and all their problems out of their hands so that someone who knows what to do can make it all better.

How fucking disempowering is that logic? That's why I resist it. If I look at people who disagree with me as though they must be saved from their own decisions, I stop being the person who's trying to help them realize their own power.

Seems to me that's the power and the danger of the "vanguard" notion as well. Obviously not all corners of middle- or working- or lower-class society are going to be class-conscious enough (or have the energy to spare, or have safe enough conditions, though those are obstacles I don't see mentioned much in leftist discussions) to go out and kick patriarchal classist capitalist ass. Obviously those people who have a better idea should lend those skills to something useful instead of using them to further their own power.

But they can use this to further their own power. We've seen this with TEA Parties organized by multi-billion dollar insurance companies that are agitating less-conscious working-class people to give their power over from working for their own welfare to working for the welfare of their oh-so-helpful-and-sympathetic new corporate masters. That's the really nasty thing about astroturf organizing like this; it uses people's suffering and gets them all riled up to diffuse that bitterness and hope in a direction that accomplishes nothing and is therefore "safe" for the companies holding their leashes.

How to organize without doing that? How is it possible to get people interested in a cause without taking their energy and directing it as a commodity belonging to whomever can take it?

I think it comes down to something I learned in a women's empowerment circle (and yes, I attended one for a little while, and still would be if my work schedule allowed it). There is a huge difference between offering support to someone while she works through her problems, and taking her problems out of her hands to solve them for her. One of these affirms her right and ability to control her own life, and one undermines it even as it attempts to assist.

It seems to me there's a place for a "vanguard," but the term makes it sound cohesive enough to worry me. The only reason I'm even conceding the term is that--should the seemingly-impossible occur and a revolution come or... or something--these people will have power. They will. Since I am firmly against power being wielded in secret (since power that is openly named can be more easily held accountable), naming this kinda-sorta-group of people is okay with me right now.

I'm just trying to sort out my feelings on the whole thing, and trying to figure out just what it is that people are advocating when they talk about a "vanguard." I guess it might just be like any "ally" out there. White allies to POC are good, but shouldn't use their advantages to take over anti-racist work. Same with hetero and cis allies to LGBT people, men who support feminism, etc.

Maybe this is a case of an archaic word being jammed into a discussion which has moved beyond it. I'm still not sure what I think; I'm just rambling here and hoping it goes somewhere useful.
xenologer: (hope)
Another run-down of things I'm reading right now. I'm categorizing them again so that "liberal" issues like racism and violence against women are easier for some of you to scroll past.

RACE

The Right Reacts to Powell Endorsement. Turns out Powell just saw a black man and said, "Yeah! That'll do!" I mean, I understand that they have to find a way to disqualify the endorsement of one of the most respected Republicans left in this country, but couldn't they have thought of anything better than simply pointing out that they're both black?

What kind of "Election Day unrest" are we talking about? I can't even summarize this one. But it's worth reading.

White Guys and the Prospect of an Obama Presidency "What I predict will change the most about racism under an Obama presidency is that the white guys wearing the Obama buttons will refuse to take racism seriously." Racism happens. Despite fears from some, that's not going to stop. Jessie points out some measures of racial inequality that won't be changed by Obama's election, but will be easier to ignore (not that people don't do just fine ignoring them already).

McCain supporters reveal racism, and while they're much much worse than Obama's supporters, the latter are not exempt either.

CLASS

Palin: American Taxpayers Aren't Patriotic. Look at Alaska's tax system and tell me she's learned anything useful running it. They don't even pay taxes there, but can run their state on the generosity of oil companies and federal *gasp* earmark dollars.

Higher Ed and the New New Deal. What would happen if public colleges and universities were free?

WOMEN

NY Shelters Will Be Reimbursed For Helping Undocumented Victims of Intimate Partner Violence. I know there are people on my friends list who hate nothing more than they hate the idea of illegal immigrants getting anything from Americans, but some of us are glad of this.

The original article is here. It mentions, "Though there are many economic and psychological reasons women linger with men who beat them, a shadowy immigration status makes it even harder to break away. Five women in the two shelters told me they had feared going to the police, because they worried that that could lead to deportation. Even if they sought to do so, the women said, their companions or husbands would have threatened to betray them to immigration officials."

LAPD allows over 200 rape cases to pass the statute of limitations without testing the rape kits. Fuck you, too, LA. Seriously.

MISC. ELECTION

Socialists: Obama no Socialist. Red-baiting is less effective when real socialists can publicly disagree with you, isn't it?

Be careful. First sociopaths kill animals. Bear cub was shot, and its body left with Obama signs stuck over its head.

Republicans heckling voters. Not politicians. Voters. At least they didn't slash their tires, vandalize any voter registration offices, beat any journalists to the ground, or otherwise attack anybody. No one was lynched in effigy, either. So I suppose we should be grateful that they're only yelling.

The Courts. What the USSC will really look like under Pres. McCain, or Pres. Obama.

Irony Alert: GOP Political Consultant Arrested For Voter Registration Fraud.

SCIENCE!

Do the use of hand gestures slow language learning?
xenologer: (prophet)
McCain’s attacks get more reckless, less responsible

McCain insisted that Obama’s “voting record … is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.” When reporter Dave Helling asked if McCain believes Obama is a socialist, McCain said, “Oh I don’t know,” as if it were a distinct possibility.

And that, oddly enough, was just the tip of the iceberg.

McCain, bordering on delusion, then accused Obama of reversing course on comprehensive immigration reform, which is hysterical, given that McCain reversed course on comprehensive immigration reform and Obama didn’t. But more importantly, it led to this fascinating exchange:

Q: But you flip-flop a little bit too.

McCain: No, I didn’t.

Q: You flip-flop on drilling, on tax cuts…

McCain: Actually, I didn’t. Actually, on the drilling issue, when gasoline reached $4 a gallon, we’ve got to do things that we otherwise haven’t done in the past. I have not changed my mind on any other issue. On immigration, I said we need comprehensive immigration reform, it failed twice, so we’ve got to do what’s going to succeed.

Q: But you were against the tax cuts, now you’re talking about making them permanent. Isn’t there flip-flopping on both sides?

McCain: Actually, no.
Now, if McCain wants to justify his reversals, that’s fine. He can explain why he changed his mind on various policies, and hope that voters understand. But McCain has instead decided to pretend that he’s never flip-flopped at all. Reality just didn’t happen in McCain’s odd worldview.

“I have not changed my mind on any other issue.” Senator, I’ve counted all of your flip-flops — and at last count, there are 64. At least try to stick to reality here.

McCain relies on the bogus National Journal rankings, after they’ve already been debunked. McCain says he hasn’t flip-flopped on anything, after we’ve already found several dozen examples to the contrary. McCain says Obama hasn’t “reached across the aisle,” after we’ve found plenty of instances of Obama doing just that. McCain just keeps lying, over and over again.

But that “socialist” line is pretty extraordinary. McCain, no matter how wrong he was on a given issue, used to conduct himself with a little more class. Even when one disagreed with him, it was easier to at least respect him as a senator.

But Candidate McCain has become reckless, and frankly, kind of an embarrassment to himself.

Two related thoughts. First, McCain worked for many years to develop a solid reputation in the political establishment, as a credible guy who took policy matters seriously. It’s a shame to see him throw this reputation away as part of a win-at-all-costs crusade for the presidency.

And second, I wonder what the media reaction would be if Obama attacked McCain with this kind of ferocity. Imagine if someone asked Obama if McCain were a fascist, and Obama said, “Oh, I don’t know.” Consider the response from news outlets if Obama called McCain an “extremist,” and began making things up.

We’d hear, I suspect, an endless barrage about Obama “cracking under pressure,” and “losing his cool.” McCain’s attacks yesterday, though, will almost certainly go by unnoticed by anyone except bloggers and blog readers.



Straight Talking (Now With Added Socialism!)
Click here for an excerpt. You can handle it, I promise! )

Here's what I think is weird, and anyone who's got evidence to the contrary should let me know. Republicans don't seem to be excited about McCain and in fact I hear almost nothing but bitching about him from Republicans I know. If you don't believe me, check sites like this.

To me this would suggest that you shouldn't vote for McCain. You don't agree with him on the issues, you don't think he's a real Conservative, you think he's a sleazy politician who's going senile to boot. So why in the hell do you want to put him in charge?

The answer is that it doesn't matter what Republicans want or what Republicans like. Sure, there are people who genuinely consider the candidates each election year, but by and large it doesn't matter if McCain makes his "base" happy. They'll vote for him because he's the Republican, and Republicans vote Republican. Once he secured the nomination, I saw very little he could do to lose the votes of the Right, including losing their support.

My opinion on this hasn't changed. If I could collect some small unit of currency for every Republican who hates McCain, but will vote against their own interests to get him elected... I'd still be depressed but at least I'd be depressed and wealthy. And then maybe Republicans would start looking out for me for a change!

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