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

To say that people must never revolt violently is to say America’s founding was illegitimate

The question is not if it is ever justified.  The question is when.

The credible threat of revolt was understood by America’s founders to be necessary for liberty to exist, just as they understood that standing armies were a great threat to liberty and that eternal war is the graveyard of freedom.

The mainstream left in the US, Britain and many other countries, exists today in large part to ensure that there is no credible threat of revolt from the left, so that the elites can steal and kill as they please.  Its only other purpose is the same as that of Conservative parties: to steal from the poor and give to the rich, but while pretending they do not.


Horse to water


Arthur Silber could use some help


  1. Cloud

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that your average bloke will not directly challenge the most technically sophisticated State in history, nor a viscious public consciousness that delights in stomping on the ‘terrorist’ and the weak as much as Orwell ever dreaded, while said bloke has anything at all left to lose.

    Bloke does not stick his neck out when social solidarity is arguably the worst it has ever been anywhere. (Some thought the internet would help, it’s better than television at any rate, but on balance its effects are negative. For every byte of Ian Welsh & co. there are hundreds of bytes of disinformation, distraction, sedatives, somas.)

    Add to this the fact that people are going to starve, no matter what, because industrial civilization is running out of gas, and has left the earth far more populated than it ever could have been without coal and petrol. An intelligent political system could soften this crash slightly. But even the most optimally “first-world future” must still fall far short of what most of the Occupy crowd (not to mention the rest of the first-worlders) envision, so it’s very hard to motivate revolution by telling the truth. And primate do what primate do: maximize resources for kin groups, strangers be damned.

    Basically, I have zero conventional optimism left. Personally I’m cultivating an expectation of continual dysfunction and a (reluctant) appreciation of anarchist theory, in line with the philosophy of Epictetus.

  2. Remember the French Revolution of 1789. If that was victory, what would defeat have looked like?

  3. Ian Welsh

    The Ancien Regime was not pretty, and many French still celebrate Bastille Day.

    But the Ancien Regime made evolution impossible, and thus made revolution inevitable.

  4. The Terror killed the revolutionary leaders, the noble allies of the revolution, and half the intellectuals of France, and lost to Bonaparte. (And, BTW, Marie Antoinette was much more sympathetic to the people of France than most of the French nobility. “Let them eat cake” was a slander.) If that’s victory, I’d hate to see defeat. Weapons are much better nowadays. A Terror with semi-automatic rifles, like those common in North America, would make Somalia look like a minor spat. And that’s not even counting the vast numbers of military and police weapons in the USA.

    I think we’re going to have to do this one without the satisfactions of violence.

  5. Ian Welsh

    Unlikely. Because your enemies are very happy to use violence.

    And I think the French should be the ones to decide if the Revolution was worth it. They seem to think it was. But that’s not my point. Again, the Ancien Regime made evolution impossible, so they made revolution inevitable. That’s not a “it was a good thing”, it’s a “A leads to B”.

    But don’t argue with me. I’m a nobody. The question isn’t what I think will happen because I have so close to zero influence there is no real difference, the question is what will happen.

    And I believe what will happen is violence. At least in many countries. The first tremors are starting. You can see them in Chile, you can see them in Greece, you can see them in the US, in Oakland, you can see them in South Africa (killing miners is really stupid. Miners are the elite corps of revolution.)

  6. groo

    well, Ian,
    you pose a difficult thesis here.
    This is an ‘equivalence’, right?
    –To say ‘A’ is to say ‘B’.–

    My response is necessarily incomplete, so I beg your/ the readers’ pardon in advance.

    Historically the settlers acted under the premise that might is right.
    By this they eliminated a completely different way of thinking of the indigenous people, who have been living in vast spaces, and did not have ‘our’ conception of property.

    in this case it is BY NECESSITY that the settlers, because they outnumbered the indigenous people, and had superior weapons, won the case.

    Now I completely agree that the founding of the post-1500s-Americas is in a sense illegitimate.

    But this was also the case historically, whenever dense populations formed.
    The Cro Magnon just changed locations, whenever a place became too crowded.

    The point is, that whenever places became crowded, hierarchies formed, which were defended by
    a) raw power
    b) belief-systems, to rationalize the status quo, including the concept of property.

    This is the original sin, so to say, and has been brushed over ever since.

    The concept of ‘property’ does not make any sense whatsoever, if there is NO OPPONENT, who has to be suppressed, and in the ideal case a meme is implanted in his mind, which even makes -ahem- economical sense, because raw power is energy-intensive.

    As an anarchist in the -hopefully- best thinkable sense, I see the problem here:

    How to adapt the rules to dense spaces and opposing parties?
    The child is already drowning.
    Thinking minds ask, how to better the situation, which we pitifully inherited, and, like the Titanic has to be turned around.
    Is democracy the solution?
    Increasingly doubtful.
    Too corruptible.
    What to do?
    I have no answer to this.

    To make the story short:
    Americans should develop a sense of guilt, be not so Ayn-Randian.
    Which would be ‘Christian’ in the original sense.

    I even would find my peace with those critters, if they stuck to their gospel.
    But inventive as they are, they even turn around their gospel 180 degrees, and STILL are able to believe!
    Jesus with the sword.
    Logic is not the strength of these critters, it seems.

    Twisted minds perform wonders of argument twice a day!

  7. Celsius 233

    I’ve been waiting and looking for well over 20 years.
    I’m not waiting anymore (not being dramatic; I left).
    One can rail till the cows come home; Americans are not what they used to be.
    They are a beaten down people; divided, broken, scattered, unable to think critically and in a perpetual state of waiting; for the non-existent second coming and they still believe elections matter.
    My sister has finally seen the light and will join me in two weeks.
    Oddly enough; her friends are very supportive.

  8. Ian Welsh

    Oh, and in retail killing, automatic weapons make less of a difference than people think. Ask Rwanda about that. For genocide, machetes are more than sufficient. And they have the advantage that they never run out of ammo and they’re cheap.

    People in America and the West have also not understood the lessons of Iraq, Afghanistan… and Mexico.

  9. Obviously it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But I have to agree that Americans just don’t have any sort of revolution in them. If they did, things never would have gotten to this point. Shrub never would have taken office, and his father and Reagan would have died in jail for their crimes. This country is too stupid, too misinformed, too conservative. There will be sporadic violence by the rightwingers, and maybe a few pathetic attempts by the people who might not like the right (how pathetic is shooting a lowly security guard instead of going after the public faces of that wingnut outfit?). But not the violence of a revolution – not in my lifetime – that is just wishful thinking. Mostly I just see continued gradual decline with maybe a few abrupt episodes. The fact that wingnuts think Obama is a Kenyan socialist is no surprise. The fact that many if not most “liberals” think Obama is a liberal or even left of center tells you all you need to know about this country. Doomed.

  10. Liberty for whom to do what? Revolt against whom or what and on behalf of what purpose or objective?

    The mainstream left in the US, Britain and many other countries, exists today in large part to ensure that there is no credible threat of revolt from the left

    This has become an essential Iron Law. The only possibility of an armed uprising, pretty much anywhere in the “Free World,” is from the Right. The state, its agents and a cadre of Lone Gunmen commits continuous violence against the People; that state/madman violence ensures that a revolt from the left never occurs while the mainstream “left” ensures that there can never be even the threat of an armed revolt from the left. It works beautifully.

    The only armed insurrectionists are on the right, but the ones we’re all conditioned to fear are the unarmed “anarchists” and frightful visions of “terrorists.” Isn’t that something?

    Oh, and how often must we be warned about “1789” and all that unpleasantness in France? Of course it has nothing to do with anything but suppressing the idea of armed revolt and overthrow of the established order.

    What of 1776 then, and the unpleasantness subsequent to that little contretemps? “If that was victory, what would would defeat look like?” seems quite an appropriate question regarding the American Revolution given the monstrousness of the situation we face now.

    If 1789 was a mistake, then maybe 1776 was too. And if 1776 was a mistake, then so was 1688. Perhaps it would be best if the People — or a portion thereof — would never rise but would always be content with petitioning the King and awaiting His Majesty’s assent.

  11. “Liberty for whom to do what? Revolt against whom or what and on behalf of what purpose or objective?”
    Good points, Che. As tempting as it is to think of violent means against the wingnuts, it’s kind of against my morality, and more importantly what would it achieve besides scoring a bit of well deserved revenge? If we waved a magic wand to improve or even perfect our political system, it would only be a matter of a short time before we ended up back where we are since the american people themselves seem incapable of intelligent discussions or decisions, or even recognizing when others are make them.

  12. groo

    Ché Pasa,

    what You describe is a vicius circle or a downward spiral. Violent revolutions more often than not result in worse conditions than before.

    Trying to convince people by pure argument has an even worse track record on the short run, to be sure. (Question is: how much time is left, before everything is broken?)

    On an earth bigger than ours everybody could go his own way and live his dreams.

    This was the case with the early North-American settlers, where, for a short moment a lot of people could pursue their aspirations.

    The original sin, it seems to me, is the pursuit of personal land-property, which finally gets codified as ‘law’, where the ‘sheriff’ steps in, who as a deputy of the state guarantees the order of the land.
    Most Wild-West films, it seems to me, are more of a distraction, in that they emphasize the fight against the ‘outlaws’, which has often a subtext, eg the cowboys/(and the herd-owner, ofcourse) leading big herds over long distances, violating property-claims of local farmers.

    Compare this to the Indians hunting buffaloes, and you see the difference.

    Now the story is quite different in densely populated areas, as I tried to elaborate above.

    Maybe we should read history differently.
    As a/THE history of property-relationships.

    Revolutions are just pivotal points in this timeline, and mostly change affairs to the worse. It is other forces, which do the heavy lifting, ie eg stubbornly working out the facts.

    ‘Facts’ belong to the Left, making them up is a feature of the Right.

    See this glorious Romney/Ryan team, which is basically bereft of any facts, and resorts to making up things and affairs.

  13. Mary Mac

    I believe that the reason Americans can’t come to terms with the government we have is because we have no where to focus. We are a transient culture and mostly we live alone in our ticky tacky houses. How do we create a revolution out of nothing? It is not that Americans are lazy or stupid. It is that they are uninvolved due to the weird nature of our lives. There is no there, there. We all joined our own club and the club only has one member.

  14. Mary Mac

    In other words, we have no community.

  15. Mary mac, you need to get out of your ticky tacky house more. The intellectual laziness and plain ol’ stupidity are HUGE and immovable. Try having a conversation with those folks and if you are not contemplating violence by the end, you must be a saint.

  16. “Little wheel spin and spin, big wheel turn around and around…”

    There are all kinds of Revolutions to ponder, but it’s strange to see so many comments (not just here) asserting that by and large the upshot of Revolutions is to make things worse.

    In general? And for whom?

    An effective Revolution makes fundamental changes in the established social and political and economic order. Some people’s situation will definitely be worse because an effective Revolution removes an overclass from economic and political power. That’s one of the points of having the Revolution. Conditions for their replacements will get markedly better. For everyone else, their situation — economically, politically and otherwise — may improve or not, but it’s really very hard to say the French peasant’s condition during the reign of Louis XVI was somehow made worse in general by the French Revolution. Or that somehow Russians in general would have been better off if they had remained under the rule of the Tsar. Or that for most Americans (leaving aside for the moment the victims of genocide) conditions deteriorated after the Peace of Paris.

    Revolutions change things in ways that aren’t always predictable. The uncertainty factor looms large, and it’s one reason why genuine Revolutions are infrequent. People generally don’t want unpredictable changes in their lives and they will resist taking risky action if there is a safe and predictable alternative.

    groo, can you show me how the conditions of the Chinese people are worse now than they were in 1938? Are the French people worse off now than they were in 1788? Even the Russians who ultimately rejected the Soviet Revolution would not be likely to argue that somehow their condition toward the end of the Soviet era was worse than it was in 1917.

    But maybe you’re making a different point and I missed it.

  17. soullite

    So what? Maybe they do sometimes make things worse. Maybe they even often make things worse. They also appear to be the only shot at making things better.

    In life, most opportunities to make things better also carry some amount of risk that they’ll make things worse. I don’t see anyone here offering a better choice. Mostly, I see a bunch of fatalistic crap, people who have convinced themselves that the world after the French revolution was worse than the world before, and people engaging in the usual ‘yeah, the left sucks – but ROMNEY!!!!’

    And everyone has revolution in them. All humans – no matter what their culture, or their ethnicity, or whatever – are pretty much the same. Americans aren’t better than other people, but we aren’t worse either. Put enough stress on a society, and that society will fray. The strongest socializations will break apart once people stop caring what their neighbors think. The strongest moral system will wear thin when people go into survival mode. Culture is at best a luxury.

  18. jcapan

    “Americans aren’t better than other people, but we aren’t worse either.”

    Nicely put.

    “groo, can you show me how the conditions of the Chinese people are worse now than they were in 1938?”

    Well, the Communists didn’t take full power until 1949 and by almost any measure what happened during the Cultural Revolution was worse (than just about anything). What they’ve achieved since, after abandoning their defining ideology, is apples to oranges. But I see your pt. and agree. Iran may not look like paradise but the Shah and friends and his puppeteers in Washington deserved everything they got. Ditto pre-Castro Cuba, pre-Ho Chi Minh Vietnam et al. Even though things often turn out demonstrably bad or worse, replacing old motherfuckers with newer, different motherfuckers, there is some alluring comeuppance in watching the old ones go. Sadly, a lot of innocent blood is spilled along the way.

    But morally judging these revolutions is absurd–soullite’s closing paragraph says it all. There is no choice involved, eventually, when things get bad enough, when the pressure and despair reaches a breaking pt. the storm comes. There is no avoiding it. One can only hope to be prepared. What’s most troubling, from my perch in the Pacific to the US, is that the forces prepared to exploit that anger and energy is all on the right.

    But if you’re looking for a little optimism, Zinn’s The Coming Revolt of the Guards might resonate:

  19. You are correct about the mainstream left, Ian. They are generally hostile to any form of violence, apparently thinking that the system can be reformed (somehow) from within. One reason for their reluctance to resort to violence is that they are economically too comfortable to be willing to change the system through such dramatic means. However, as more and more people “fall through the cracks” of the system and lose a middle-class standard of living, the population will become increasingly radicalized. There’s nothing like an episode of starvation, homelessness, denial of health care, and/or imprisonment to radicalize a person. When large groups of people (particularly under the close proximity of urban settings) find themselves sharing the same desperate situation, that’s when revolutions, rebellions, rioting, etc., begin.

    The influence of the mainstream left (and right) is in a state of steady decline because fewer people enjoy a comfortable middle-class standard of living. As a result, the population of the United States has become increasingly polarized. The so-called ‘Tea Party’ of the right and ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement’ of the left are symptoms of this increasing polarization. It is true, however, that the right appears to be more eager to take up arms than the left. Their political position has been partly legitimized in recent years by the rightward shift in the political ideology of the country since Reagan was elected. The momentum is clearly on their side, therefore they have assumed a more offensive posture. The mainstream left, on the other hand, have been acting defensively by attempting to save remnants of the New Deal. This sad state-of-affairs probably won’t change until we find ourselves in another Great Depression and the ideology of capitalism is, once again, repudiated. At that time, a window of opportunity will present itself.

  20. Re: China. I picked 1938 because there was a revolution and a civil war and a foreign invasion all happening simultaneously. Yet bad as it was, it wasn’t the worst of the pre-PRC era.

    Sadly, a lot of innocent blood is spilled along the way.

    Sadly. Would that it were not so.

    Unfortunately, a lot of innocent blood is spilled whether or not there is Revolution.

    Lessening and mitigating bloodshed seems to be an integral part of Revolutionary theory these days. The kinds of armed insurrections and violent Revolutions that once were comparatively common have become more and more rare.

    But the absence of insurrection or Revolution does not by any means ensure that less innocent blood is shed.

    …the forces prepared to exploit that anger and energy is all on the right.


  21. jcapan

    “Unfortunately, a lot of innocent blood is spilled whether or not there is Revolution.

    Lessening and mitigating bloodshed seems to be an integral part of Revolutionary theory these days. The kinds of armed insurrections and violent Revolutions that once were comparatively common have become more and more rare.

    But the absence of insurrection or Revolution does not by any means ensure that less innocent blood is shed.”

    Agree agree agree.

    No need to cry over spilt blood as long as it’s poor brown fuckers in places we couldn’t locate on a map at gunpoint, or the marginalized and voiceless within our own borders. Lessening and mitigating is practiced where poor collateral bastards are concerned. When it’s the truly innocent, our beloved mercenaries, assorted maintenance men and women of a murderous empire, well, that’s heralded throughout the land. Justice must be done and all that nauseating rot.

    But, yes, what I’d say to folks like Raven is this system is so bad for so long, that it’s mindboggling unsustainability is going to result in a rage against a machine at some pt. Sadly, it’ll almost certain to misdirected at the wrong machine. Yes, they’ll likely kill the rich who don’t run, along with intellectuals and dissidents and anyone else who questions their bloodletting. I’m sure cooing palliative phrases cribbed from MLK or the big G will help when they come for you though.

  22. “Because your enemies are very happy to use violence.”

    Yet our goals are not the same as those of our enemies. Broadly, our enemies want to set up an aristocratic society. Violence is not a barrier to this. We want to set up, or perhaps restore, an egalitarian, sustainable society. It’s not clear how to achieve this. It would be easy to achieve a bloodbath. But to achieve our goal? The historical track record of violent civil war is a poor one; we need only look at this history of the US civil war to see that. The war was followed by a reinvention of the oppressive racist society of the South. Was the Civil War a step on the way, or just an unavoidable disaster? Suppose India had risen violently against the Raj. Would it have become a more-or-less peaceful federation afterwards with a relatively positive relationship with the UK in less than a generation? It does not seem possible. If widespread violence breaks out in the USA, I expect that the public will welcome the authoritarians who make the streets safe again, just as they did in Afghanistan.

    (There’s more to say about this–“nature bats last”–but I have no time to say it.)

  23. Eschapp

    OWS seems to me (and Ian seems to have hinted as much) to be astroturf of some sort. When things were coming to a head with the port shutdowns, they still refused to state any concrete grievances, and timed the “shutdowns” so as to not to actually disrupt shipping. The result was that they generated all the public enmity that serious mass civil disobedience would have done, while accomplishing nothing of substance and giving no-one any reason to rally behind their “movement”. A massive upsurge of populist ardor got harnessed to an anchor.

  24. jcapan

    Regarding the legitimacy of America’s founding, I enjoyed this recent post by Charles Davis (again, see Mr. Zinn for a fuller treatment):

    During the debate on the US constitution, the founders were pretty explicit about this, making it abundantly clear that protecting property – the large estates gifted to them by the British crown, the men and women sold to them by slave traders – was a driving force behind their push for a more powerful central government. James Madison, for instance, who would serve as the young republic’s fourth president, warned his fellow founders of the perils of democracy, saying too much of it would jeopardize the property of the landed aristocracy. “In England,” he observed, “if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure.” Land would be redistributed to the landless, he cautioned. Without the rich exercising monopoly privileges over the commons, the masses would be less dependent on elites like them.

    Rather than open up elections to the riff-raff – the 99 percent – Madison argued the American state ought to be structured so as “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” And he wasn’t alone. Another delegate to the 1787 constitutional convention, the country’s first attorney general, Edmund Randolph, said that as he saw it from looking at the example of the states, “Our chief danger arises from the democratic parts of our constitutions.” In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton derided the allegedly “pure democracy” of the ancients, saying they “never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”

    Though wrapped in the detached language of political science, for the founders this anti-democratic position was borne of self-interest. When they warned of minorities losing their “rights” to the majority, they meant their rights to get paid on the federal bonds they owned and to be protected from egalitarian political movements to discharge existing debts. Most significantly, it meant protections for their claimed right to own other people.

    At the time of America’s founding, a full 20 percent of the US population was enslaved. It was the 1 percent, the slaveowners, who called that freedom and agitated for a break with Britain, where abolitionist sentiment was dangerously on the rise. According to historian Simon Schama, the revolution favored by the small minority of white aristocrats who founded the US government “was a revolution, first and foremost, mobilized to protect slavery.” The sanctity of property rights, which was and is enshrined in the Constitution, meant the literal right to own another person.

  25. S Brennan

    When the corruption becomes unsustainable I see Coup…not Revolution…my 2 cents

  26. S Brennan PERMALINK
    August 20, 2012
    When the corruption becomes unsustainable I see Coup…not Revolution…my 2 cents

    Well, considering that only one man, Smedley Butler, stopped an attempted coup here in 1933, that scenario is entirely believable.

  27. Morocco Bama


    When the corruption becomes unsustainable I see Coup…not Revolution…my 2 cents

    You mean another one? They come through in waves. But they’re not always obvious, especially the silent ones these days. There’s no need for brazen and brute force when the velvet glove still works like a charm. When all resistance is usurped, co-opted and formulated/reformulated for innocuous consumption. Resistance as a commodity. The System is genius.

    As the Soviet émigré Mikhail Epstein pointed out many years ago in Transculture and Society: a society like ours, a culture that commodifies everything it touches, “is able to absorb and assimilate even revolutionary challenges [through] the mechanism of commodification.” In this way, any radical challenge to the system is instantly transformed, “denial itself, turned into another commodity.” Or, as Allan Bloom suggested with a slightly different twist in The Closing Of The American Mind, a liberal democracy is capable of taking even the most countercultural activities and absorbing them into the mainstream, transforming such acts into acceptable cultural practice – with appropriate rules, policies and procedures.

    It is not an unreasonable bet that this is what happens time and again to the resistance movement in the United States. It is turned into a commodity to be hawked through new media like Facebook and Twitter, proffered for consumption by the mainstream corporate press, and corralled by the establishment of new political movements like the Tea Party gang. Resistance becomes hoodwinked and then mainstreamed; brought in under the Big Tent. Here we have the taming and suppression of the human spirit. Even in full battle mode, those seeking actual change have simply become a spectacle to be observed, tolerated, enjoyed, even lauded; then clicked off once the next commercial bursts onto our screens. So much for radical politics and real rebellion in America: even our most sacred acts of defiance, of insurgency, are now routinely transformed into objets de art, objets de cultura – commodities to be used for entertainment, distraction and propaganda.

    The entire apparatus of our culture – a “culture of make-believe” as Derrick Jensen has dubbed it – may be brought to bear at any moment in defusing resistance, not through authoritarian suppression or banana-republic brutality, but through more subtle means of control, persuasion and marketing: allowing it, praising it, and repackaging it for distribution to the public. This in turn further stabilizes and emboldens the system, reinforcing its faux image of cultural, political or religious openness. As Allan Bloom well noted, openness becomes the enemy of the good; but it also becomes the enemy of any real challenge to the system itself. Openness betrays its true nature, as a core element of that “inverted totalitarianism” that Chris Hedges is so fond of discussing these days.


  28. And when that doesn’t work, they have no problem bringing out the tanks and troops and all the apparatus of violent suppression. No problem at all.

  29. S Brennan PERMALINK
    August 20, 2012
    When the corruption becomes unsustainable I see Coup…not Revolution…my 2 cents
    I’d say a coup will come not when corruption becomes unsustainable, but when the corruption becomes threatened by reform. I don’t understand how so many people think that the solution to corruption is a military coup, when really it is the culmination of corruption, where the corruptor take power in name and fact and stop acting thru their puppets. But in the end, I agree that a coup or coups will be stops on the road toward any revolution, which I think will be decades or generations away.
    We already saw a coup of sorts with Bush v Gore, and there was no effective pushback, the people acquiesced, and you notice the Vichy Dems are not even talking about undoing the tax cuts for the rich, or cuts to military spending, or restoring the civil liberties we have lost in the last 10 years. So maybe we’ll see more coups like that, until democratic reform looks like a real possibility. Then we’ll have an explicit coup.

  30. Morocco Bama

    In decades? Have you lost your freakin mind? Decades? There are no decades. The future is now….it’s been stolen, it’s in front of your face, and there’s no such thing as reforming something that is doing exactly as it was intended to do. Get real! This System has stolen its future. There is no future with this System. There is no bargaining with, pleading with, and petitioning of, this System. This System must go, and in order for that to happen, you must not react to it, you must not engage with it, you must envision another world, and move towards it and away from this malignant one, otherwise, you will get more of the same until there is no more….and that time is coming much sooner than Reformationist Progressives care to acknowledge.

  31. Notorious P.A.T.

    It seems Todd Akin is the most important politician in America. No point in even trying to talk about financial corruption or presidential assassination these days.

  32. StewartM

    Ian Welsh

    But don’t argue with me. I’m a nobody. The question isn’t what I think will happen because I have so close to zero influence there is no real difference, the question is what will happen.

    And when it happens, it will be for the same reason it always happens–that the economy has become so unraveled and gone so into the crapper that the forces of repression can no longer repress anymore. By that time, of course, on our current trajectory the suffering will have become immense.

    And the more immense the suffering, the uglier the payback and the more likely it will spin out of control and lead to the new order replacing it being ugly too (which I think is the Raven’s point). If we’re to draw parallels to Revolutionary France, and what happened, not only must we mention the Ancien Regime‘s stonewalling any chance of reform pre-1789, we also have to look after what happened between 1789 and 1791, where it still could have been possible to make a peaceful and orderly transition (many of the revolutionaries were moderate) but the old conservative order still via intrigue and war refused to even accept Louis XVI retained in power as a constitutional monarch (as per Great Britain) which radicalized the Revolution.


  33. S Brennan

    I did not use coup in the metaphorical context, I meant coup in the traditional sense…for which there is more than enough historical precedence.

    The eff-ups that orchestrated Gore vs Bush do not live on a military paycheck…when corruption creates a positive feedback, it’s amplitude grows [the regime we are currently under], eventually, even the most privileged [or well armed] on the public pay roll are threatened. The results? History is clear on this matter.

  34. eclecticdog

    The left is in on the racket, so of course they discourage violence. Food is key to revolutions: plenty of cheap food = no revolution; expensive or no food = anarchy, riots, revolt.

  35. David Kowalski

    War, economic disasters and/or the threat or reality of losing what had been seem to be triggers for revolutions.

    In the U.S., it was (in the 1700s) the loss of what was, that triggered the revolt. Not just slavery. Britain was determined to make its colonies pay for some of the costs of what we call the French and Indian War and what is elsewhere known as the Seven year War. Not only did it institute taxes (the Stamp Act) but it also cut off a whole class of colonial middlemen (or tried to) by monopolizing the tea trade, etc through the British East India Company. The Revolution started in Boston and took a good ten years to boil up into actual war.

    To keep costs low, Britain also cut off settlement of the Ohio Valley by its own colonists, No colonists meant happy Indians a good fur trade and … pissed of land speculators (more important) and potential settlers.

    John Hancock and George Washington were extremely wealthy guys but their fortunes were on the line. “Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Fortunes, indeed.

    War triggered the Russian revolution in 1905, the first Kerensky revolution and the second Leninist one. But the quality of life had been going down hill. Our lives and fortunes again.

    Economic disaster triggered Mussolini and Hitler but failed to do the same in France or England. Certainly conditions were worse in the early 20s than in the 30’s in Germany but, fearing the left, German industrialists supported the Nazis (bad mistake).

    Economic failure in the 1830s, 1890s, and 1930s in the U.S. did not create a revolution. The Panic of 1857 was much milder than the Panic of 1837, the Panic of 1893 or the Great Depression. It was the loss of what the wealthy had that triggered secession in the South, indeed, the long standing decline in electoral and Senate power by the slave states made the election of Lincoln possible and the eventual election 0f an anti-slavery president inevitable. Without expansion, the economic viability of slavery based on monoculture was pretty feeble. As of 1860, the two areas for expansion for slavery were east Texas and Florida. The free states had much of the west and part of the midwest. Not enough, I guess, to feel safe but enough to feel threatened economically and to be fear aggressive.

    The safe thing to do, of course, for the wealthy in Europe and the U.S. is to reform enough to take the wind out of the sails of revolution. Instead, we see a doubling down. Not smart but the folks Tom Wolfe sneered at as the masters of the universe don’t seem to look long term. Yes, FDR, the “enemy to his class” saved capitalism. Obama , the Bushes, Reagn? Not so much. Just doubling down thank you.

  36. groo

    20120822 20:36

    Ché Pasa

    groo, can you show me how the conditions of the Chinese people are worse now than they were in 1938? Are the French people worse off now than they were in 1788? Even the Russians who ultimately rejected the Soviet Revolution would not be likely to argue that somehow their condition toward the end of the Soviet era was worse than it was in 1917.

    But maybe you’re making a different point and I missed it.

    …the forces prepared to exploit that anger and energy is all on the right.


    Two different points here.

    To my understanding the Chinese went a long and winding road since the 1700s.
    To be provocative: there were no revolutions in China, but insurrections and antiimmperialist struggles, which even applies to Mao.
    Do not forget the role of Japan besides the Western powers.
    After Mao there was a GRADUAL reorientation — see Guofeng and later Xiaopeng. NO ‘revolution’ in the western sense.
    The blood spilled after Mao is quite minor.

    So China seems like big ship slowy steering, BUT steering!

    As jcapan rightly points out, the stirring up of emotions is a thing of the right.
    Why? Because it is the main tool to energize its base, which is intellectually depraved
    Pol Pot, who is usually characterized als some stone-age communist, with the clear aim of this label: putting the blame re the ills of this world on defunct socialism.
    Pol Pot used the same tools as Hitler, i.e stirring up emotions and implanting memes.
    To my understanding the rise of National Socialism was not a revolution, but a consequence of conditions. (Versailles, Weimar, Hyperinflation)

    So every ‘revolution’ has its peculiar set of conditions, and it is even unclear to me whether there is such a generalizable term.

  37. groo

    To make this clearer:

    Stirring up emotions is a tool of the right. Or maybe we should abandon that ‘right-‘left’ label altogether.
    To be sure. I am getting angry at times. But tomorrow is another day. I rethink. Develop strategies. Eg abandoning the filibuster, which results in a 40:60 rule.

    Fighting the politics of fear (terrorism) and grandezza ( military, superior god) is a different categorial system, compared to the cultivation of rationality.

    But as long as voter turnout is some 50%, 20% of the voters could block any change via filibuster.

    This is the fineprint of US-ahem-‘democracy’, and be sure the right understands this better than the left, which relies on opinion polls of total voters and other inapplicables.

    Here the right is simply efficient, whereas the left dreams of ‘revolution’.
    Remember: 50% of people are below IQ 100. (I am not a friend of categorization by IQ, but reterm it as ‘electoral’ IQ, which even makes things worse, it seems.)

    Sorry folks.

    A lot of blood is at stake. so be careful.

  38. Ian Welsh

    Revolutions do not occur when things are their worst, this is well understood. Absolute levels of well-being are not important except in a couple situations (people are close to starving but not actually starving, men cannot afford women).

    Humans are about relative. Conditions matter when people’s lives are getting worse, but they still have the means to resist. Otherwise revolts happen when there is some “reform” from an authoritarian system, but not enough.

    Finally, generally speaking, revolts happen during fiscal crisis, when the rich refuse to tax themselves to repay themselves, but insist on taxing the poor, who don’t have enough money to repay the rich.

  39. gtash

    I believe there is a thought embedded in most people I know. It is the attraction to finding a “win-win” solution to everything. That expression “win-win” was bestowed upon many people as an excuse by business-folk to assume that “everything is negotiable”. Both of these expressions are part of a large segment of our culture–and I am not so sure you find it so widespread in other cultures, even among other First World/Global Player cultures whose alleged character may revolve around other things, but whose behavior is assumed to revolve around business “practicalities”.

    In my time, I have seen the Left in America accept pacifism as the One True Road. The Right merely capitalizes on it as Ian says—it is a thing which can be overcome by brute force. And the Left’s hesitation over the years has allowed it to become surrounded by local-level idealogues who game the system even further for strategic advantage. It appears they have won. But the Left still believes in its heart of hearts there is one True Road, that there is a “win-win” somewhere out there. We seem to have signed onto this marketing talk ourselves.

  40. groo

    @Ian, gtash,

    I am still not convinced.

    There is a lot to consider:
    a) terrorism is sort of asymmetrical warfare. But let me differentiate:
    a1) terrorists do not have a consistent motive, which is voisible from the outside
    a2) insurgents/rebels are different (eg Chinese boxer-Rebellion
    a3) a ‘revolution’ is something else in that it encompasses an idea of a different societal structure, eg Robespierre, who is bedeviled for known reasons, bur was a very insightful man.

    …Conditions matter when people’s lives are getting worse, but they still have the means to resist. …
    but what is the driving idea?
    The 99% movement does not have any. This maybe a good thing. maybe it crystallizes. But not yet, as far as I can see.
    To limit possible bloodshed, there needs to be an overarching idea, or set of memes, which rearrange right versus wrong.

    We have watched quite a bunch of ‘revolutions’ recently, from the orange ones to the Arab ones.
    Syria being the last of this confusing bunch.

    Actually it seems to me that those were infiltrated by the opponent from the beginning.
    So in the era of mirrors within mirrors, could we even recognize a genuine ‘revolution’ if there were one?

    Consider me doubtful.

  41. groo

    sorry for the typos, but You get the message.
    (I’m normally very picky with typos, but in hindsight I recognize that I have been in a hurry or emotional stir, or a mix of both. Consider that as relevant. )

    all the best

  42. groo

    Speaking of Robespierre.

    He was executed at age 36.
    If there ever was a true revolutionary, he would be the man.

    See his speech 1794:
    “On the Enemies of the Nation”
    The last year of his life.

    Where are the men of his age with his depth of thinking nowadays?
    Just asking.
    Busy on twitter or facebook, wrestling with their virtual keyboards, limiting their messages to 200-something characters?
    This sort of ‘revolution’ definitely has failed, I suppose.
    We live in the age of fragmented minds, it seems.

    Will we ever recover?

    Or must we stumble, fall to the earth, smell the blood in our nose, smell the soil, if we are lucky enough NOT to fall down on ASPHALT, but ‘REAL’ earth?

    It is Your’s to judge, not mine.
    Mine has been made.

  43. From @groo’s Robespierre link:

    I myself find that the situation in which the enemies of the republic have placed me is not without its advantages, for the more uncertain and precarious are the lives of the defenders of the fatherland, the more independent they are of men’s evil.

    This is brilliant.

  44. groo

    glad You dug into the sources.

    Robespierre was a very interesting character, who, as you rightly cite, gained freedom of thinking by being cornered.

    Now this is NOT something to be easily swallowed by the left.

    Chris Hedges:

    “Violent radicals are used by the state to justify harsh repression. They scare the mainstream from the movement. They thwart the goal of all revolutions, which is to turn the majority against an isolated and discredited ruling class. These violent fringe groups are seductive to those who yearn for personal empowerment through hyper-masculinity and violence, but they do little to advance the cause.”

    Albeit Hedges is more often right than wrong, he says this:

    “The primary role of radical extremists, such as Maximilien Robespierre and Vladimir Lenin, is to hijack successful revolutions. They unleash a reign of terror, primarily against fellow revolutionaries, which often outdoes the repression of the old regime. They often do not play much of a role in building a revolution.
    The power of the Occupy movement is that it expresses the widespread disgust with the elites, and the deep desire for justice and fairness that is essential to all successful revolutionary movements. The Occupy movement will change and mutate, but it will not go away.”

    Although I am trying to moderate, I also try to understand Robespierre, if only because of his sheer brilliance.
    Hedges does not.

    Leaderless ‘revolutions’ would be a good thing, and I would be all for it.
    One possible way to starve the beast — the big/militant/deep state — from a leftist perspective is to bypass/ignore it: go local, establish local currencies and such.
    Do not engage in big politics.
    A long road.
    But there is this urgency, right?
    Everything is crumbling in high speed.
    Slow responses to fast processes are pointless.

    The right wants to starve the beast also, but for completely different reasons: to further an elitist agenda. So the common ground, which some claim to exist, is shaky at best.

    As a final remark:
    Our current situation in the -ahem- West is completely different from Robespierre’s, as it is from ANY ‘revolutionary’ situation, be them orange, arab or whatever.
    So let us be wise and choose the right hammer for the specific nail, as any craftsman would do.

    All the best,

  45. groo

    One further remark –sorry folks–

    Basically the theory of the state is quite simple, the first being Hobbes’ Leviathan:

    “Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the state of nature. In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This, Hobbes argues, would lead to a “war of all against all”

    Now eg Kafka and Orwell saw the downside.
    The Leviathan turning maverick and reprogramming the collective Super-Ego (Ueber-Ich) to maintain itself, like a parasite that takes over.

    A conscious, hopefully SUCCESSFUL ‘revolution’ aims to get rid of this parasite.
    For this it is necessary to reprogram the collective Super-Ego , i.e. value structure.

    Could this be accomplished by the 99%?

    I doubt.
    The 1% are much more focused. Their currency is money=power.

    So what would be needed?

    A STRONG idea, that this is not so.

    Any nowadays-‘revolution’ which does not tackle the money=power equation is doomed from the start.

    I hope that Ian ponders this issue sometime.

    I am just a commenter.


  46. Hedges stepped in it when he made an ill-advisedly unequivocal and wholesale denouncement of the “Black Bloc” back in February (I discussed it in this post, as well as elsewhere.) My original position was much more pacifistic until Chris’ articulation, which exposed all manner of problems with a strictly Gandhi-an approach to all revolutionary circumstances (the issue of how self-policing a movement can poison it, for example.)

    He took some hits for this, and has been reeling ever since – his language on these matters is much more “exploratory” than expositive of late.

  47. the money=power equation

    The commodification of life, of any aspect of life, is the fundamental problem, IMO. There’s your big idea: Materialism is a hoax. (“There is no spoon.”)

  48. groo: “To limit possible bloodshed…” Revolution does not care about limiting bloodshed. The American revolution in 1776 was a very, very bloody affair. Russia in 1917. Syria today. Need I go on?

  49. Celsius 233

    Revolution, anarchy, armed resistance? Isn’t there a simpler solution? I think so.
    An idea, that has a proven track record is the boycott.
    Caesar Chavez used it very effectively in California against the grape growers.
    I’m using it every chance I get. You think big business is screwing you in the states?
    Here in Asia, minus the strict consumer rules, it’s gone viral and with no conscious.
    Boycott; unidentifiable, untraceable, and uncontrollable.
    It’s the perfect action, IMO.

  50. A global revolt is taking place. It grandly calls itself a Revolution, but it’s not quite there yet, in part because there is no clearly stated goal or direction; it’s too diffuse and sometimes arbitrary to be a Revolution as we would usually understand the term, but it is clearly on the path to Revolution.

    It’s partly generational — declaring independence of the young (er) from the burdens of the Old Timers who think they know best, but who have obviously fucked up the future for everyone including themselves.

    It’s partly class war, as represented by the iconic 99% meme, but the ideal of class solidarity is constantly being undermined by internal and external forces that seek to divide the 99% into discreet interest groups and to demonize anything that doesn’t fit a strictly ordered pattern of “responsible” revolt. (Thus, Chris Hedges ham-handed demonization of the Black Blocs.) In addition, there have been ongoing efforts at a kind of self-defeating make believe as in the calls on police to join the 99% or the not infrequent efforts (primarily by nonviolence advocates) to placate or negotiate with the Masters of the Universe and the civic authorities who serve them, garnering ever more cruel responses.

    The fact that people are now being chased and shot down in by police in Times Square and at the Empire State Building, regardless of the risks to bystanders, much as that poor Brazilian guy was chased and summarily executed in the London subway several years ago, should be cluing people to the fact that there is no outer limit to the cruelty that may be employed against the people regardless of the presence or absence of revolt or Revolution.

    The rulers want us to see and fear their brutality and cruelty. That’s why so much of what they do is so ostentatiously public, whether it be the multiple summary executions by police in New York and Anaheim and where ever, or the increasing levels of public brutality and outright public torture of targeted individuals associated with Occupy. They want us to know that they will make us suffer or they will kill us outright if we get too far our of line, or when ever they want — and there is nothing we can do about it.

    Continuous narrowing of the definition of nonviolent resistance such that even speaking out against overt cruelty and brutality carries an overtone of “violence” (your voice is too loud, your attitude too threatening, your garb is too black, wearing bandanas is “violent”) ultimately must be rejected as foolish and ahistorical.

    The question remains: was America’s founding illegitimate because it was brutal and violent and bloody, an armed insurrection and Revolution?

  51. If only there was some way for people to speak out that didn’t require large amounts of money or organization…

  52. groo

    Bill H,

    every ‘revolution’ is different, it appears to me.

    the overarching theme is to change something substantial.
    But what is that?
    To put something from its head onto its foot?
    An let dialectics via thesis-antithesis work out the details.
    As much as I admire Hegel on this one, what did he get? Marx.
    I pledge for more anticipation, like every chessplayer does, to not have to live through all the dire consequences.
    The argument for blood, it seems to me, is, that history is best written in blood/life, because this is the ultimate stake every being has at his disposal.
    Blood -as proof- trumping ‘thinking’ as something insubstantial wrt to the physical.
    ( I ecountered this as a schoolboy, where we made fun of a comrade, not knowing what we did. His only defense was, that he attacked us physically, because he was physically quite strong. He used the faculties at his disposal.
    I did not understand this for quite some time.
    Later on he became the cashier of the most conservative political party around.
    Understand the story?

    Sounds sort of teabaggerish: Those who cherish the ‘let’s get physical’ meme.

    In some -ahem- order of progression this would be:
    a) Physical (violent). (low level)
    b) Emotional (intermediate amygdala)
    c) Rational (prefrontal cortex, which mainly inhibits! ‘Thinking’ is mainly inhibiting impulses, until Kahnemans ‘slow system’ takes over.)

    Thanks for considering.


  53. Everythings Jake


    I think Chris Hedges is holding his own just fine: (7:42-14:45)

    In brief, “this was hardly an attack on arnarchism, it was an attack on stupidity”

  54. Celsius 233

    Everythings Jake
    August 25, 2012
    I think Chris Hedges is holding his own just fine: (7:42-14:45)
    In brief, “this was hardly an attack on arnarchism, it was an attack on stupidity”.
    Thanks for that link; Hedges at his consummate best.

  55. Celsius 233

    August 25, 2012
    If only there was some way for people to speak out that didn’t require large amounts of money or organization…

  56. @Everythings Jake –

    To be clear, I remain an admirer of Hedges and can be generally counted as among his “supporters” (whatever that means.) (I’m away from a machine that can watch videos at the moment – anyone else familiar with a problem whereby Win7 locks out video viewing? – but will check out your link later.)

    I’ll try to find the forum where he became uncharacteristically and nakedly defensive over this discussion, to the point of “take my ball and go home.” That said, everyone has his low points. My point, I guess, is that he has been in a state of re-synthesis of these ideas, and I have full faith that he will achieve (or has achieved?) this.

    (Again, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch the video, tho from the title it seems he is still splitting some hairs – one imagines that he would not have bothered to publish an essay against mere “stupidity” in the first instance…)

  57. @groo –

    Re: “fast and slow.” I remember reading somewhere that, in the encounters between Europeans and Native Americans, that the propensity for (some?) of the indigenous cultures’ to remain silent for a period before responding within a dialectic was interpreted as stupidity, rather than recognizing it as the wise decision to actually consider what had been proposed and turn it around a bit in the mind.

    Perhaps this is apocryphal, but the Western tendency to admire the “quick wit” is quite deleterious. I know that in my “pub debates” in the past that the desire to pause and seriously consider the adversary’s point is an invitation to interruption and the shout-down…

  58. groo

    re ‘fast and slow’

    Kahneman’s take is quite interesting from many angles.
    1st — the ‘free will’ debate: The deniers rest their argument on the ‘fast’ processes, which are reflexes or conditioned responses.

    2nd — Actually there are a lot of hints that our higher faculties are in a substantial amount INHIBITORY.
    ( Creativity, btw, is a wholly different issue, and we should not intermingle that!
    ‘Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses’ was already known to the Romans.
    Brain science found out that if the prefrontal cortex is dampened -ie inhibitions are dampened- that cautious drivers turn to risk-taking speed-addicts. (This is not to say that I take brain research as the ultimate revelation. It is known for a long time for any long-time observer of affairs, ie buddhists and monks, that this is the case. This is old wine. And a good one. ))

    The main effort of any culture, which deserves its name, should be, to keep silent for a substantial amount of time.
    But this is not an easy sell, so to say.

    You are right that all sorts of prejudices have been thrown onto socalled primitive cultures.
    Either they talk too much, or talk too little. And anyway: Their talk is termed pointless from the standpoint of the industrious entrepreneur, who is used to spot the ‘lazy people’ and those who need some supervision by their selfprofessed ‘superior’ industriousness .

    This is a fundamental tradegy, because those who have the means (Mainly: weapons) to impose their silly preconceptions onto those who found a better/peaceful way, always seem to win out.

    Considering environmental issues, it seems clear that CONSTRAINT/INHIBITION is the way to go.

    Now ask the question: Why is this?

    It is eg the capitalist imperative to CONSUME, which is related to the GROWTH paradigm., which drives our culture, and would need to be INHIBITED, right?

    But this would need a tiny bit of holistic thinking.

    To come back to the issue:
    Any nowadays ‘revolution’ , which does not address this core problem, does not deserve the name.

    THIS IS NOT AN ARAB or ORANGE issue, but one of the core western countries.
    If we do not see it, we are lost.
    Deservedly so.

    Now I’m exhausted.

    All the best

  59. @groo –

    One of the things that doesn’t seem to have been considered in the Kahneman article (and perhaps the book, which I haven’t read), is the consideration that might be given to cultural choice as regards the value of what they term “System 1” over “System 2” (pre-frontal cortex inhibited). That’s what I was trying to touch on with my “clever wit” anecdote.

    For example, when we look at the “practical reality” of political necessity, we often accept as given (“that’s politics”) that the reflexive rhetoric necessary to win campaigns is somehow carved in stone (human nature.) It’s probably more accurately cultural nature – we’ve collectively chosen to value the polemic over reason. A more Zen-like culture might not see true policy debates as wonky and impotent, for example. “System 2” politics might be more of a norm in public, and personal, affairs.

    “System 2” gets “tired” because it gets constantly pushed back against – especially in this marketing culture, but also in our personal encounters.

  60. Everythings Jake

    @ Petro

    Thanks for the link. Think it’s also fair evidence that he’s holding his own quite fine. Telling the prima donna holier than thou art school grad, who callously belittled a 17 year old for using the phrase “we’, which despite her vaunted claim to superior powers of “self-criticism”, she subsequently went on to use hundreds of times, that he was wouldn’t continue to engage isn’t an instance of “take my ball and go home” petulance, it’s just good plain sense.

  61. He’s being very reasonable, and “holding his own” – to understate the fact. But the original article that started the whole kerfluffle was definitely over-the-top, and offended many well-intentioned, and strategically apt, folk who deserve a place at the table – and not to be dsmissed as “a cancer.” IMO, he has walked some of that back without acknowledging that he’s walked it back. A minor personality flaw, noted only in passing (I’ll not say more of it – I’m not interested in diminishing the man or extracting a confession.)

    (I agree that some of the other parties in the discussion became unhinged as well, I just had somewhat higher expectations from the august Chris Hedges, which admittedly is not exactly fair.)

  62. (Lest I be misunderstood, I’ll stress again that I’m not taking an anti-Hedges position, he’s got it 99.9% correct – for a more detailed picture of my critique, please see my comment at the post-mortem, link here.)

  63. Chris Hedges has been trying to walk-back what he did: demonize and scapegoat “Black Bloc anarchists,” using exactly the tactics and terminologies that he experienced coming from the Serbs about their enemies when he covered that unfortunate business in the Former Yugoslavia. These were tactics and terminologies he deplored when they did it, just as any thinking person deplores such dangerous tactics which have more than once led to genocide, but until it was repeatedly hammered home to him by anarchists and others that he was doing the same thing, he was oblivious. Or at least he has tried to make out he wasn’t “deliberately” doing what he was doing.

    Hedges will be debating the issue with representatives of CrimethInc. on Sept 12, 2012, at CUNY.

  64. Lurker the Third

    August 25, 2012
    If only there was some way for people to speak out that didn’t require large amounts of money or organization…
    Boycotts can be a very effective tactic. But was being tongue in cheek in his comment. Freeway blogging, posting large signs on overpasses that can be seen by thousands, is a low cost way of delivering a message to a wide audience. Go to his site for some great examples.

  65. What Che Pasa said. I think the confusion lies in the false dichotomy of violence/non-violence. The truth is, fighting back against injustice is violence, regardless of the tactics (just ask the elites who tremble in their boots.) The debate should be over “effective” violence vs. ineffective violence. Hedges makes good points in this framing. It’s the holier-than-thou cloaking behind mythical “non-violence” which divides the movement, not people breaking windows. (I will endorse the view that violence against property differs from violence against person only in degree – I’ve written about it at my place. And keep in mind that I consider the idea f “property” a violence, but we are dealing with human beings and their prevailing beliefs and states of mind, which are valid things to be concerned with.)

    We should embrace all tactics (while being persuasive about better ones), as long as the violence is unified against injustice – not each other in these “useful idiot” witch hunts within the movement.

  66. Everythings Jake


    Good points. I did not mention in my last post, but did hear in the conversation you linked to that Chris was prepared to re-evaluate his use of “cancer” as a comparison for the black bloc, which I think may have been the reference you were making to walking back his thinking.

    I also think fairly often on the question of whether or not Malcom makes MLK possible, which has been discussed extensively here before, so I’m not certain that I entirely agree with Chris, but I always find his thinking clear and compelling. I do wonder if he is right that powerlessness is the best and perhaps only weapon – it seems there is no hope in trying to compete with the kinds of weaponry that states are now using to literally garrison the planet, although Afghanistan seems to show that the superior weaponry itself is still insufficient to “win” – unless, I suppose winning comes to be defined as actual eradication.


  67. groo


    I value your thinking through the issue.

    And keep in mind that I consider the idea (o)f “property” a violence,

    Very rarely anyone aknowledges that truth.
    The idea of property is very sloppy indeed, and wold never pass Plato’s smell-test of an ‘idea’.

    Matt Bruenig covers the issue repeatedly. (I’ve linked to him already)
    EG here:

    The air and the atmosphere is an especially problematic issue for libertarians. Who owns those things? Libertarians might try to argue that you own the air above your land, but air — or the matter that it is made up of — does not stay above your land; it moves around the world. Any matter released into the air is sure to find itself to someone else’s property, causing a violation. The atmosphere might seem like something nobody owns and therefore something anybody can dump things into.

    Property is never something isolated. Same with ‘value’.
    Those are RELATIONS.
    Same with ‘externalities’. There are none in a finite world.

    All this is dangerous for the neoliberal mindset. Therefore they fight against this.

  68. groo

    Johan Galtung:
    35 empires…I’m a specialist in the downfall of empires…and we have worked on that scientifically…(laughter)…the cartesian method is, to find- together with Hume and Locke- a common denominator.
    The method is false. There is no common denominator. No! One has to view it holistically:


    Quite a statement, right?

    (Galtung speech, Vienna 2006).

    (Sorry. This is german, so I transcribed one relevant passage here.)

    Galtung is one of the thinkers who basically knows it all, but is rarely heard in the media.
    Why not? You guess!
    There are some english snippets also. Just have a look/listen in the googlevideoverse.

    All the best


  69. Celsius 233

    August 28, 2012
    Johan Galtung:
    35 empires…I’m a specialist in the downfall of empires…and we have worked on that scientifically…(laughter)…the cartesian method is, to find- together with Hume and Locke- a common denominator.
    The method is false. There is no common denominator. No! One has to view it holistically:
    ํYou might enjoy this;

    Amy Goodman has interviewed Galtung many times…

  70. groo

    thanks, Celsius!

    interesting is his timeframe –2020 for the US demise.

    As a personal note:
    My initiation on that is fundamentally wrong was LTG in 1972, then the financialisation of the economy came, accelerating from the 1980’s on, then the dotcom-bubble 2000+, then the housing-bubble 2007+, which actually started earlier, say 2004.

    I remember upsetting friends with my alarmist take on the housing bubble in Spain, US, Ireland …

    Now Galtung is more realistic and more Keynesean wrt the time-frame of affairs:
    “Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent.”

    And it is not only markets, but deepeseated convictions of the majority of any society, which cannot -and actuallyshould not- be altered within a year or so.
    A factor which smoothes out the alarmist extremes in normal times.
    Cassandra rightfully warned, but she had the wrong timing and the collective mind was unprepared.

    But we are NOT in normal times. Which frustrates a lot of people here, including me.

    Galtung made the interesting remark, that he shortened his timeframe by 5 years from 25 to 20 due to the Bush years, which to him was a good thing, as far as I understand him.

    Now Romney/Ryan probably would be another booster to shorten the time to US/western collapse for another couple of years, say 2 to 3.
    So we would be in 2017 to 2018.
    ( Obama just would stop the clock, and keep it at 2020. Americans will probably vote for the delay, it seems, avoiding short-term amok/suicide, contemplating -at least subconsciously- what freaky individuals do.)

    Still a bit late, but I think Galtung is a better realist than I am, regarding time-frames.

    Anyway. Just -ahem- funny considerations. Or not.

    All the best

  71. groo

    as a sidenote:

    after WWII the German belief-system should have collapsed instantly, right?

    It did not. The most extreme beliefs were tabooed, and there was a lot of silence.
    But underneath the silence there was only slow change.

    It was not until the mid-sixties that eg the old Nazis in the juridicial system were exposed.
    20! years after the lost war. There are still remnants today. After nearly 60 years!

    Belarus being helped out by german police.
    With the best intentions, ofcourse.

    Think about that!

    Compare that to the KuKluxKlan.
    There are still significant numbers. And ZERO they will NEVER be .

    Collective consciousness is strange, and works like a diffuse semantic net, where the thinkable relates to the possible, which is gradually nearing the impossible as a ‘matter’ of thought.

    Which should not be forbidden, but debated.
    So here we are in the ‘Meta’: What is debatable, and for what reason?
    And what is ‘reason’ anyhow?
    How to debate ‘reason’ as a meta-issue?

    Sorry for my coming-out as a homegrown philosopher.

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