The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. (i.e. no Gaza/Israel stuff.)


Avoiding Mass Ethnic Cleansing Or Genocide In Gaza


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 15, 2023


  1. Curt Kastens

    On another thread I spoke about the role that the legitimate left of the west has in telling the truth. Well it is pretty clear that telling the truth has produced very little fruit since the internent came along and provided people with an outlet to tell the turth that did not require the approval of a newspaper editor, or ones own printing press. And now the internet is subject to government cencorship as well. And even before that it was subject to the whims of site moderators who could prevent those trying to address an audiance other than the choir from reaching the those on the other side.
    If any fruit has been produced in is an undectable amount about the size of two shriveled Cornell Cherries. I mention Cornell Cherries because this fruit is rarely sold as a commercial crop. It has a huge disadvantage. The size of the seed exceeds the amount of pulp around the seed. But it also does have a small advantage. I was observed that it is quite resistent to insects. I guess that this is because the fruit is very astringent until it is quite ripe. It could be perhaps for this reason that many westerners believe that the fruit is poisonous. Also I noticed this year for the first time, that when the fruit was really ripe it had fermented and tasted horrible rather than tasting extra sweet. I am not sure if that was due to the particular climatic conditions that this part of northern europe saw this year, or if that is a normal developement.
    In any case I doubt that Abraham, or Moses, or Jesus, or Mohammad could feed many people with 2 shriveled Cornell Cherries. But if you can find a Cornell Cherry Tree in late summer or early fall it could become an emergency food source for you during the last days of the NTHE as most people will not recognize its potential.

  2. Curt Kastens

    Speaking of the truth, those that promote a two state soulution to the Palestinian conflict are not speaking the truth. They are not speaking in good faith. What a two state soulution actually means at this point in time is that the Israelis get Palestine and the Palestinians get a small reservation somewhere in the Sinai Desert, if they are lucky. If the Palestinians are not lucky their state will be a man made island in the middle of the dead sea created out of radio active waste.
    Also as someone pointed out early it is a lie to refer to this as a religious conflict. This is a flat out colonial expansionist agression, supported by western elites for numerous motives, as someone else, I think that it was Soredemos already pointed out.

  3. Curt Kastens

    I actually was not finished with my comment about endorsing a two state soulution is acutally endorsing a lie. I just forgot an important part that I wanted to add to it until now.
    There is no substitute for my Middle Eastern Peace Plan. It would be a one state soulution. It would give the Hewbrew speaking Palestinians an autonomous area of 1952 square kilometers centered on Tel Aviv. The Hebrew speaking leaders can mark out their own 1952 sqaure kilometers. But this territory can not include east Jeruselum. This hebrew speaking region would be allowed to have its own ground militia of up to 20,000 members, but not an air force or a navy°. The Palestinian Army, Navy, and Air Force have to be made up of a mix of Hebrew and Arabic speaking Palestinians. The mix would be prorated upon each sides percent of the overall population. Each unit down to the squad level would have to maintain this ratio.
    Niether the Old Testement nor the Koran would be allowed to form the basis for the Constitution. Yes, I know that this is an anti democratic policy. But a statesman and a statsman has to not only consider the aspirations of the people involved in this situation but also their deepest fears. The legal system of both the nation and of the autonomous area must incorporate Jury Nullification. A jury must consist of 13 members. First at least 9 members of a jury must agree that the law that a person is charged with breaking is a just law. If 11 members or more agree that the law is a just law the maximum penalty can be imposed by the judge in the case. if only 10 agree that the law is just then the maximum penalty that can be imposed is 6 years imprisonment or a fine in the amount not to exceed 6 years of a persons salary. If only 9 people agree that the law is a just law then the maximum penalty that can be levied is a fine not to exceed 3 years of a persons salary.
    To actually achieve a conviction 11 of 13 jurors would have to agree that a person actually committed the crime with which they were charged with. Techincalities such as is ignorance of the law a valid defence, what level of insanity must a person suffer from to make insanity a valid defence and so on can be decided at a latter date. Juries must be randomly selected. In crimes by Hebrew speaking people against Hebrew speaking people the jury can be all Hebrew speaking people. The same goes for Arabic speaking people. But in crimes involving people from both communties the juries must have at least 6 members from each language group. The trial must then be translated in to both languages.
    This also brings up an important point that must be addressed. A nation divided by language is just as fragil as one devided by religion. Here therefore is my Fatwa. The official language of the Hebrew speaking automous region will be Hebrew. The official language of the rest of Palestine will be Arabic. The official language of the Nation will be English. The effect of this law is that primary (grade school) education shall be mostly in Arabic or Hebrew but with enough English language instruction to prepare students for English language education only after the 8th grade. All children must attend public (government run schools). Private schools will not be outlawed but they can only operate when government run schools are not in operation.
    Hebrew or Arabic speaking people would be free to live anywhere in Palestine. Housing contracts that prevent a homeowner from selling to someone who does not speak a specified language would be prohibited. But if parents want their children to have an education in a language other than what is offered by the local government the parent is responsible for getting their children there. Failure to send your children to a government run school can and will result in prosecution.

    °if both sides agree to my honest, honorable and reasonable perposal then I will provide more details on what kinds of weapons this (reservist) militia could be armed with, and who is responsible for arming it, and for its operations.

    It is not hard to be arrogant when one lives in a world which is a swamp of dishonesty and stupidity.

  4. bruce wilder

    For those of us committed to a realistic appreciation of the world, hearing and telling “the truth” — moral as well as objective and factual truth — is deeply problematic and trimmed with doubt and also carries an ethical obligation. The nature of that ethical obligation is deeply entangled with power and authority in society.

    The fatuous talk of “speaking truth to power” typically without considering what that can mean.

    Lies are manipulative, tools of power. That is true for the individual defending his autonomy by lying to his employer about being sick in order to take time off work, as it is for the Israeli proto-fascist who made up the story of 40 decapitated babies so millions would unthinkingly endorse further war crimes and atrocities. Lies are powerful.

    Is there power in truth?

    In a very important and practical sense, you have to abjure power to tell the truth, because in telling a truth truthfully you give up any control over how your audience responds, of what others do with your insight, your testimony, your findings or learning. Being human, you speak from your own limited point of view regardless, and you may still speak from a hope to persuade, but you have to be willing to let others do as they will with whatever knowledge or information you share. If you are not willing, you will not speak truthfully. If you are willing, you will make the effort to disown your truth, to speak in terms of a shared, “objective” reality, complete in its being.

    Truth can only be a commonwealth, its power shared and distributed.

    Enlightened self-interest recognizes the shared interest of society in truth-telling as enhancing the commonwealth.

    It is a measure of how both oppressed and corrupt the U.S. and the West generally is that journalists and minor officials show so little concern to be circumspect in their reporting and statements.

  5. different clue

    About cornell cherries . . . . they are also known as cornelian cherries. Here are three kinds which can be ordered from Jung Seed Company ( not this year anymore, but next year again).

    Here is an article called ” growing and using cornelian cherry” from the Practical Self Reliance blog.

  6. Willy

    As a teen I had a small banner hanging in my bedroom proclaiming: “And you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” The real reason for hanging that banner was to keep my very religious parents off my back about my far larger Keith Emerson, Robert Plant, and Manhattan skyline posters which I’d thought were pretty cool. I’d hoped they weren’t too mammonish for their godly tastes and that little banner would comfort them.

    Dad had after all, gone to considerable length to edit the Time-Life “Dawn of Man” book which had mysteriously appeared in my childhood bookcase, disproving the science of anthropology with so many neatly written comments and footnotes. It would’ve been a helluva lot more effective had they just been cool parents like some of my friends had, instead of the selfish, subconscious, tribally reactionary, defense-mechanized automatons I’d had to deal with. Not to mention that science seems pretty humble while religion can be quite arrogant.

    And so I went out into the world to proclaim truths. “You vote against your interests.” “You enrich snake oil salesmen.” “You don’t do in accordance with what you say.” “You worship a goddamn carpetbagger.” “Imagine whirled peas.” To little avail. I’ve heard they even want to rewrite their own Bible to reflect the truths which they’ve come to worship as gospel.

    I’m beginning to wonder. What if I’d instead, hung very large religious posters all over my room, but just one small Led Zeppelin banner?

  7. StewartM

    On a personal note, a friend who is on my phone plan saw his phone die while on a trip across the country to help a family member. He went to get the phone serviced, and the result was that he (and thus I) got charged for a new phone.

    What was the presumed cause of failure? Why, the battery was dead. “What?” you might say, “By a new phone because of a simple battery failure?”

    It is indeed possible to replace the battery in this phone. But not that simple. Here is the tutorial:

    The device is strongly glued together, no doubt to keep it rated as a phone that can be submerged in 1 meter of water and still work. You need a variety of tools or tool fill-in (like how many people have guitar picks lying around the house?)

    But do most people need this degree of water protection? And besides, I’ve had the batteries replaced in water-resistant (100 meters or 200 meters deep) watches and a technician was able to put in a new battery and maintain its water resistance. So gluing the contraption together isn’t necessary either.

    Of course, the phones are bought locked by default. My phone provider says it provides support for unlocked phones but does not provide any listing of the phones it says it will support, leaving you guessing. If the US government is really serious about shutting down inflation at its source, and moreover reducing e-waste, some serious legislation is needed to force providers to give a list of supported unlocked equipment and force manufactures to favor repair over replacement.

  8. Chuck Mire

    The Republican House Speaker Race visualized:

  9. Some Guy

    Nice comment Willy.

    From my point of view, it seems like another week of bad news on most fronts, and it is probably bad to take pleasure in other’s misfortunes, but I did get some bleak amusement from Noah Smith losing his mind in real-time on twitter. Like a drunkard with no friends around to take away his car keys…

  10. different clue

    I have just run across a comment in a recent Naked Capitalism thread which offers links to material reproduced and archived from the Whole Earth Catalog series and their spinoff magazines CoEvolution Quarterly and Whole Earth Review.

    Here are those links.

    ( this is a link to Duck Duck Go’s search-results of relevant links . . . )

    So it still pays to read Naked Capitalism even if one has been banned from commenting over there.

  11. mago

    What might have turned the tide Willy is if you’d dropped acid and blasted Led Zeppelin’s first album from your basement bedroom, which is what I did, although I was the only person listening.

  12. Soredemos

    ‘Speaking truth to power’ has always been rather asinine if you actually stop to analyze it. Because implicit in it is that you don’t have any power. Just moral truth, or whatever, and I suppose some hope that if you lecture the people with the actual power enough, they’ll be impressed somehow and give you what you want.

    Even just typing that out it’s so self-evidently stupid.

    ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand’ is a bit better of a sentiment, but still there the implication is that you have no power.

    Your demands are only credible if you have at least some power, enough to incentivize the more powerful to concede something to you.

    Frankly, fuck all of that. Take power and enact change directly. Vlast, the Soviets called it. ‘Take power, you son of a bitch, when it is offered to you!’ is what one worker supposedly shouted at Lenin in a possibly apocryphal story.

    And all power ultimately flows from the barrel of a gun. I’ve grown exceptionally tired of moral indignation and posturing on the left. We’ve fallen so far from the days of the Bolaheviks, when even when the communists weren’t directly running things, they were such a threat waiting in the wings concessions to them had to be made.

    Now what do we have? Scattered, uncoordinated trade union strikes at best, and obnoxious, ineffectual Code Pink performance protests at worst. Actually, that’s not the worst. The worst is something like Chris Hedges writing gobbledygook, seminary school tinged articles about a need for a moral awakening. No, we need fucking power.

  13. Soredemos

    @different clue

    Unironically I consider naked capitalism possibly the singularly most important website on the internet. Not just for the quality of its original content, and the commentary and introductions from Yves and Lambert on reproduced pieces that are frequently better than the pieces themselves, but because it functions as a great hub of other worthwhile content. If it’s truly worthwhile, it’ll likely end up in either the daily Links or Water Cooler post.

    The commentariate there is also of ludicrously high quality, but it is ultimately its own form of echo chamber. It just takes a while for the walls of that chamber to become apparent.

    It’s also over policed. I’ve been banned from it I think three times over the last decade. The first time was for something stupid on my part that I can’t even recall and was probably justified. Fine. The second was for semi-shitposting where I posted something I didn’t properly research that turned out to be wrong, and pissed off mega-autist Lambert who felt compelled to waste time trying to hunt down a source. Goofy and stupid, and I genuinely resent being singled out as wasting time or posting something without proper sources because plenty of other people either post crap (like the guy who is constantly posting reworked song lyrics that aren’t even half as clever or charming as he thinks they are and are just big blocks of spam cluttering up the comments), or also similarly assert things without sourcing, which happens constantly and is usually allowed through without comment.

    And then most recently I was banned for daring to dissent on the matter of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That time I very carefully did bring actual sources and arguments and Yves simply didn’t like what I had to say. I was accused of ‘strawmanning’ her and banned. This is one of the times the wall of the echochamber becomes visible. Yves Smith went native in her years working in Japan and is incapable of viewing the bombings as anything other than a vindictive gesture by America to send a message to the Soviets and/or punish the little yellow midgets because racism. It doesn’t matter that that kind of Gar Alperovitz style narrative is cobbled together and full of holes.

  14. Soredemos

    I’ll also add that as someone whose job is working in the trenches trying to apply band-aids to the human wreckage of this failing society, I frankly resent how Yves Smith has abandoned the United States. After a career in the festering boil that is finance (and however much it may genuinely have been better when she was active in it, it has always been a cesspit and social drag), she switched to making a living running an informative but ultimately essentially powerless blog (the most she can do is be a recurring annoyance to private equity firms), before finally choosing to flee to Thailand to continue running that blog. I get that she’s getting old, but something about the wholesale abandonment of her (and my) country because it’s clearly declining and to stick around would be inconvenient for her really rubs me the wrong way. At least half the volunteers I work with every day are her age or older. There’s a selfish cowardice at play here.

  15. Jorge

    I applaud “Yves” and would also leave if I could. Once you start pricing American health care on retirement income, emigration becomes very enticing.

    The only way a single person can make an appreciable difference in politics is not legal- we shall stop there.

  16. Curt Kastens

    Re: And all power ultimately flows from the barrel of a gun. I’ve grown exceptionally tired of moral indignation and posturing on the left. We’ve fallen so far from the days of the Bolaheviks, when even when the communists weren’t directly running things, they were such a threat waiting in the wings concessions to them had to be made.

    If one can not organize the guns to be at the proper place at the proper time it does not matter how many guns you have or how much you want to use them. Guns are useless without the ability to organize them. The people who visit this site or naked capitalism really do not only not have a shred of power, they for the most part do not have a shred of hope of obtaining any kind of power.
    Yes speaking truth to power is assinine. That I do it shows that recognize how little power I, or we, have.
    In our industrialized society the amount of power that a person has is tied to the power that one has inside of an institution and the power of that institution. A movement for change that one can believe in organized from the bottom is not only unlikely it is litterally impossible in the United States.
    If you try to build a left wing citizens militia it would be infiltrated by the FBI and or state police so fast your head would spin just like Jodie Foster’s head on the Excorsist.
    Those who work fot the FBI or the state police on the other hand have specialized training that would make their chances of success in some kind of sabotage of the system theoretically much better than 0.000000000. Maybe not much better though.
    There is another good sociological reason why the reformers or revolutionaries always get their assed kicked. Command and Control of movements that want to bring change is quite complex requiring time consuming collation building. But Command and Control of capitalist or military organizations is very simple and agile. It is based upon the rule, I have the money therefore I make the decision, or, I hold the command position therefore I make the decision. Any movement inside the system that can actually hinder the controlling system will not be tolerated. Since 1992 my conclusion has been that either reform or revolution inside of the United States is impossible because of the catch 22 that I wrote about on another thread today.
    In 1992 I decided that I was getting out of the US because I did not want to be here when it slid in to facism. In 1996 I left with my family. I did not know at the time that the United States was going to bring the world down with it. Occassionlly in the first decade of this century I wondered if I did the right thing to leave because it seemed that the United States was the crucial battleground that would decide the world`s future.
    But I did not have doubts for very long because I realized being overseas also gave just as much opportunity to oppose US imperialism as being inside the United States did.
    I think that the same would be true for someone who went to Thailand.
    Anyways at this point it is clear that barring rescue by aliens that have God like technology the world has no real future. The only question for humanity at this point is in exactly what year this century does it all come to an end. Individuals might have some more personal questions to ask themselves.

  17. hiding behind my intellect

    I agree with much of what Soredemos said. The Naked Capitalism gang is at once fascinating, infuriating, and frankly frightening in many ways. I think it comes down to Soredemos’ point that they effectively hide their true selves while the people they purport to care about so much are unmasked, working in the trenches everyday to bring about the changes that the Naked Capitalism gang do an inordinate of studying and writing about.

    It seems some of the people there may be completely immobile, hooked up to feeding tubes – though fortunately able to keep their mental faculties alive by posting thoughts to Naked Capitalism every waking minute. And I actually enjoy many of the Rev’s, among others, posts. But it’s sometimes hard to imagine some of these folks are even real people.

    I also get a kick out of the people who work in university lab settings or some such and are always writing on Naked Capitalism about all the evil “anti-maskers” in their respective environments. I am not here to take a side on the completely unnuanced conversation around masks. Rather, I will just say that in my close to fifty years on this earth my experience has been that people who are that “vocal” in online forums are the same people who are unable to state their opinions that firmly when in in-person environments. I am not talking about the very real and disgusting fact that many of them would be fired for speaking this way to their superiors. I am talking about the fact that they get “online mad” at regular folks who are

    I have no patience, sympathy, or frankly respect for anyone who goes online and rages about getting covid from some specific individual. “I took every precaution but I got it from my neighbor’s kid who won’t wear a gas mask around everyday.”

    Fuck you.

    And I am not coming from a place of “let ‘er rip” as “Lambert” takes great pleasure in saying, in order to demean the entirety of the world who doesn’t read and subscribe to his utterly bizarre and rather self-absorbed verbiage around this – and every other – matter in the world.

  18. bruce wilder

    “The people who visit this site or naked capitalism really do not only not have a shred of power, they for the most part do not have a shred of hope of obtaining any kind of power.”


    And, as you say (and as Hannah Arendt said), power flows from organization, not “guns” per se. Protest as the objective of political “organizing” of the fatuous sort is a concession fatal to the aspirations of the protesters, when the base problem is the sociopathy of those monopolizing power. There is no point in “protesting” the sociopathy of a leadership class. What part of sociopathy do you not understand when you rely on moral hectoring as your means?

    The success of neoliberalism as an ideology has been to make it impossible for any ordinary citizen think seriously about organizing anything “from the bottom up”. Not a political party, not a church bake sale, not a bowling league. “There is no alternative” leads directly to the delirium of lesser evil thinking and waiting for individuals to become the change they seek, etc.

    Yves Smith – I am put off by her neurotic personality but attracted by the clarity of some of her insights. I have run afoul of comment policing for very mild remarks that were also very telling about the boundaries of the echo chamber. Whether consciously or not, she knows very well how to keep her site appearing safe to the observant PTB. Her audience is older and as near death as she is – one thing you will not see there is what a 25-yo thinks.

  19. StewartM


    And then most recently I was banned for daring to dissent on the matter of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    I guess I’d go with Yves’s POV. Most of the arguments justifying the nuclear bombing appear to be histrionics and exaggerations born of a guilty conscience. Most of the military men at the time didn’t think it was necessary. The Japanese were working on jet airplane development (ooh! they had made a prototype, a jet fighter save it didn’t have any jet engine in it yet! SCARY!) and had a nascent nuclear weapons program, but to argue that a country starved of essential supplies living off a 1200 calorie a day diet could have designed and manufactured weapons systems at a faster clip than it was done in the unbombed, resource- and labor-rich US is fatuous.

    I see no reason why a ground invasion of Japan would not have followed the same pattern as Germany—yes, some fighting at the frontiers, but a rapid collapse with cities and soldiers alike surrendering en masse. People forget the Germans too had their “Werewolf” program to fight-the-invasders-to-the-last-woman-and-child and not much came of it. Japanese military men were already saying “our people will not fight” and indeed US B-24 bomber crews flying low-level missions over Japan reported civilians waving white hankerchiefs at the planes.

    As for the racism argument, I think there is merit in that, contrasted with the bombing campaign in Germany. Against the Germans our initial strategy was ‘hit military targets in daylight and engage the Luftwaffe to destroy it”, for both military and moral reasons (although we slipped at Dresden and later). As Jimmy Doolittle said, the US bombers “were the bait”.

    Against the Japanese, the reason why we went to night firebombing was mostly we couldn’t hit targets in daylight at 35,000 due to the jet stream. We COULD hit them with precision at lower altitudes, but we wanted to fly higher during daylight to minimize bomber losses. This was even despite the fact that gun cameras on the B-29s (which the B-17s and B-24s in Europe lacked) were recording a 10:1 kill ratio in favor of the bombers, and moreover fighter escorts (P-51s) were available. So why wouldn’t the same strategy used in Europe (“the bombers are the bait to get the Japanese air arm up into the sky so we can blow it to bits”) work against the Japanese?

    And in the end, the night firebombing campaign was likely not only a war crime, but militarily stupid. Avoiding daylight air combat over Japan just left the Japanese with oodles of fighter planes, which they promptly filled with ordinance and rookie pilots and used against the US Navy as kamikazes. We probably lost more men to kamikazes than bomber crewmen we would have lost to air combat. Moreover, we were lucky with the kamikazes, as Japanese ‘honor’ had them targeting warships (the hardest to sink) whereas a strategy of targeting US troop ships, oil tankers, and supply ships might have put us in a world of hurt. A single kamikaze hit would have sink any of those ships.

  20. Soredemos

    I’m not talking about her sticking around to try and organize politically. I’m talking about her going out into the real world to directly help people. I know people who have recently suffered from strokes who after a couple months recovery are back out helping people in person. Smith won’t actually back up her professed concerns with action. She’ll run a blog that cataloges the many problems, but then flee to another country for the sake of convenience rather than actually do anything to alleviate any of those problems. A country is its citizens, and she has chosen to not lift a finger to help any of us.

    At least Strether seems to be staying put for now, but his practical contributions don’t extend beyond sitting with a laptop in his New England garden and making long posts where he hyper-analyzes speeches or CDC press releases with color coded highlighting.

    Both of these individuals are clearly highly intelligent and have a lifetime of experience and ability. And they’ve effectively chosen to do fuck all with any of it (but please put money in the tip jar so they can continue doing nothing!).

    @Curt Kastens

    You don’t have to organize a literal militia. What does need to happen is real labor organization and coordination. An actual power base that can start to make credible demands and assert power. They may or may not eventually have to involve an armed component, but revolutions tend to succeed not because of the militia but when the regular army starts to split and elements side with the revolutionaries.

  21. mago

    There was an anti war chant when the US of A was bombing the shit out of Vietnam and Cambodia that went like this:
    Hey hey LBJ, how many kids are you going to kill today?
    Lyndon Blaines Johnson, the president who unzipped his trousers at head of the table during a Chiefs of Staff meeting and waggled his dick and said, “Does Ho Chi Minh have one like this?”
    His dick was probably bigger than Netwhatshisfaces is, but a dick’s a dick
    Large or small when on the driver’s seat you’re gonna kill and fuck over as many as possible in pursuit of your psycho agendas.
    Psycho Killers que qué se

  22. Curt kastens


    but revolutions tend to succeed not because of the militia but when the regular army starts to split and elements side with the revolutionaries.

    I agree, and so do the leader of the US MIC. Which sums up nicely why Americans could not do anything to change the situation in the US. First of all due to the maasive advtange in indoctrination it is impossible to develope a reform movement that can deliver change that we can believe in let alone a revolutionary movement. And even if such a movement were to develope, without a seperate confidential communications system it would be impossible for resistence to organize in the military. And even if such a communication system existed any organization that grew to more than a dozen people would be infiltrated by traitors to the cause.
    It might be possible to overcome that obstical with foriegn intellegence agency help. But the chances would be slim and it would also open up the challangers to a charge that they are tools of some evil “foriegn” plot. That charge would confuse small minds. Finally not only would at least part of the military have to defect but every major police agency would have to, at least partially, defect as well.
    There is no accountability in the system. The buck does not stop anywhere. We are screwed. It is far far to late for a successful revolution to do any good now anyways.
    Accept that our fate is sealed and have a good time until the end. Or, accept that our fate is sealed and treat symptoms of the collapse as long as you are able. Or accept that our fate is sealed and if you are in a position to do so do something that would enrage the powerful do it because the worst that can happen is that you will die in prison of starvation or lack of water, or radiation, or heat stroke and that is what is in store for everyone in the next 1 to 15 years. There is no need to fret over your retirement plan. We can also cheer for the Russians, and Palestinians and Chinese, Cubans, and even the Iranians as that does not take very much time or money.

  23. mago

    Interesting comments about NC. I first learned about the site here, and after exploring it I had mixed feelings. It seemed a bit dense and contradictory in some ways. Intellectual, yes, but with a slant. The whole Covid thing . . .

    Then there’s the commentariat, self proclaimed to be the best the universal best. It’s the same people over and over again, but that’s to be expected. It’s a club, for sure. Some such as Feral Finster make appearances here as well.
    I recently ventured a couple of comments over there and was surprised that they were accepted.

    I don’t know why I commented there or even here. Just some old fart who wants to sound off I guess. I’m surrounded by people who think they’re alternative but are conventional in their political views, and they buy the propaganda. Can’t speak my mind or air my views. What’s an old man to do?

  24. Willy

    “Speaking truth to power“

    According to Wikipedia, originated with a pamphlet “Speak Truth to Power: a Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence”. Seems a step up from “Turn the other cheek”, but yeah, I can’t think of a better way to amuse a malignant psychopath than whining about his truth while he very much enjoys having power over you.

    Another bad memetic is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” which makes no sense to me. Getting rid of witches, yeah, that’d be a good intention, assuming there were witches and they were all bad. But we’ve all been part of “good intentions” which yielded good results. “Ensure your road of good intentions doesn’t get detoured by hell” seems more accurate.

    The left needs better, more accurate memetics, either stand alone or which disprove conservative “principles”, especially about accountability and capturing all the fertile economic ground.

  25. Willy

    @ Some Guy,

    My sister went to evangelical college and left her Amy Grant album in front of my “In the Court of the Crimson King”. So I could be enticed by her pretty face I suppose. She’d been complaining about “all that weird stuff” I’d been listening to (projecting that I’d be easily corrupted).

    One spring break she brought back a boyfriend who stayed in my room. He seemed reasonably cool so I let him play my records on my stereo setup. While I did my chores outside I heard “Walk This Way” being blasted over and over and over again. She was his first girlfriend. I think the truth behind that was that he wasn’t allowed stereo rock at his conservative home, plus my quasi-promiscuous sister had inadvertently taught him some sexual truth. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I chuckle every time I think of that little backfire. And then stop when I realize how much material greed and corruption she hypocritically rationalizes today.

  26. Occasional Contributor


    “Now what do we have? Scattered, uncoordinated trade union strikes at best, and obnoxious, ineffectual Code Pink performance protests at worst. Actually, that’s not the worst. The worst is something like Chris Hedges writing gobbledygook, seminary school tinged articles about a need for a moral awakening. No, we need fucking power.”

    It’s hard to gain power when the only thing “dissidents” really have is anger at the current system and status quo.

    Without a vision of what a better way of doing things looks like, and a plan or a program to get there, people can only protest against things they dislike and their energy quickly peaks, burns out and fades away. Nobody is going to risk life, limb or livelihood for vague sentiments and or symbolic demands that will never be met (e.g. “we are the 90%”, defunding the police) and these movements quickly disintegrate or get crushed by the state.

    As someone once said (Mark Fisher?) “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” The raw power of an angry mob that has lots of grievances but no idea how to fix them leads to chaos and disruption – and perhaps a cathartic release – but it doesn’t solve anything and is easily usurped and neutralized by the system that’s in place.

    Before a political system can be replaced people need to know what they want and figure out what needs to be done to get there.

  27. bruce wilder

    OC: “ Before a political system can be replaced people need to know what they want and figure out what needs to be done to get there.”

    The success of neoliberal “there is no alternative” is truly remarkable for its depth and breadth. Neoclassical economics is empty cliches and misdirection, misnaming and empty nonsense, but its rhetoric, tired and worn, is the only vocabulary. Even Monty Python socialism – now for something completely different – has lost mind share.

    The late 19th century and the early 20th was full of ideas and alternatives, from radicals and conservatives. The Progressive Movement in the U.S. was driven by very conservative figures to build institutions. There was a time when a diversity of financial institutions were sought. Syndicalism was a thing. Cooperatives were important enough in Britain to be a foundation of the Labour Party alongside trade and industrial unions.

    I think Curt may be right that the capacity to self-organize in the U.S. for socialized purposes and means has been deliberately destroyed and is now guarded against. The incapacity to generate any institution of local news reporting or dissemination is a great puzzle to me, but the answer may well be subtle sabotage.

  28. Willy

    Leonard Leo orchestrated billionaires to machinate a minority rule court system. I’m sure he had goals for that minority rule, but his primary goal was a reactionary court through which his own personal goals could be met (probably cash prizes for himself and his, rationalized with “faith-based values”).

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