Friday, December 26, 2008

Neutrality...yeah right!

The false god of neutrality is yet another effect of modern capitalism! Neutrality represents an attack on classical liberalism and the idea that each of us is a searching, self-perfecting being. Capitalism would like us to believe that in some Hegelian way we've reached the ideal state (economically, politically, and ideologically). Even if Fukuyama thought that the capitalist state wasn't perfect and that plenty about capitalism isn't fair (think CB and Sonia), he did believe it is the best system available to humans. So if we teach neutrality it must be based on the idea that we cannot transcend the current economic system. Neutrality can now be centered on a capitalistic system. All value follows from there.

So neutrality is therefore neither possible nor desirable. If we teach neutrality we teach moral apathy and this is something capitalism demands of its teachers. It is parallel to the intolerance taught by religions. So to me, the best place to start getting rid of our world's three-headed monster (hierarchy, capitalism and religion) is none other than school themselves.

I remind my colleagues on a daily basis that schools are supposed to be those places where nothing is sacred...that place is church. I remind them that inside the halls of education everything must be treated in revolutionary terms. We must seek to transcend our current understanding. We must seek to move beyond what we treat as common sense. We must assume we are unfinished. We must look, prod, pull, smash, tear and deconstruct everything. This includes our language, our ideas, our ethics, our science, etc.

We cannot allow the moral police to enter our sphere (though they are ever prevalent and vigilant) anymore than they already have, unless they are willing to be adult about their positions and subject them to ruthless critique. If they continue to isolate themselves from analysis, they must be ignored. School boards are chalk full of the conservative religious types and they need to go away...and since this isn't happening, they must be ignored!!! Their values have place in churches, not schools. Leave the sacred (superstition) to the church or private religious schools! They have nothing to offer schools but a case study in superstition, intolerance and imposed ignorance. More importantly, teachers must be willing to be fired defending the cause of critical, revolutionary education.

Neutrality is even a claim of our media. Everywhere neutrality is claimed despite the self-deception that it is impossible and assumes certain values. These values are themselves debatable in how they are applied versus how they are abstractly discussed. That is why any knucklehead can go to their local high school and watch a couple of young debaters in a Lincoln-Douglas debate use the same exact value to dispute each others positions on complicated social, political and economic issue.

So a teacher naively hoping to be neutral could say: "using the value of 'justice' one of you defend the death penalty and the other oppose it." We now see that defining 'justice' then becomes the location of the debate. What is the neutral position in this highly debated issue like the death penalty or abortion? Does one exist? One could perhaps offer nuance to one of these issues, but it doesn't make them neutral. So how can a neutral position exist in the academic realm on issues concerning social or political relations?

Is the social studies teacher capable of neutrally recapitulating history? Not if he or she is ethical they aren't.

Can the English teacher be neutral when discussing Anne Frank's Diary or To Kill a Mockingbird?

Is the Spanish teacher neutral who takes students to Nicaragua and chooses not to ignore that the U.S. was condemned by the International Court for terrorism?

How can an ecology teacher be neutral or value-free when teaching about the environment today?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It Has Been Way Too Long

I was blown away to realize I haven't posted since July! It's been an absolute whirlwind getting into this school year, organizing with the Two Rivers Branch of the IWW and CAJA (Community Action for Justice in the Americas). So I thought I'd maybe give a quick update of the things that have been going on lately.

I took 10 students and three parents to Nicaragua with Global Exchange at the beginning of November. The organization that led our tour in Nicaragua was called Matagalpa Tours. I was very impressed with their work.

Some of the highlights of this tour were a two-night homestay in a Fair Trade coffee community called El Roblar; a baseball game with that community's youth; a soccer game with one of the only women's soccer teams in the entire country; visits with Nicaragua's "Civil Coordinator" (equivalent to a human rights expert), unions, women's radio station (La Vos), water and electricity defender; a visit to a "free-trade zone" with sweatshops; a jungle canopy tour; and most powerfully a visit to the municipal dump called La Chureca.

This fall, I was also occuppied with a student retreat to the mountains outside Helena, MT to create a student group called Students for Social Economic and Environmental Justice (SSEEJ). During this retreat the students decided on campaigns to affect change within their own school, including an effort have the school's coffee kiosk become 100% fair trade coffee; an effort to have the school's apparel to become 100% sweatfree; an effort to reduce the amount of the overall energy consumption; and finally, an effort to improve recycling efforts within the school.

Finally, back in October I was very busy helping to organize a speaking tour from Mexico Solidarity Network to Missoula, MT. Carlos Euceda, a community organizer, and Willy Barreno, a film-maker, came through Montana to talk about the recent passage into law of the Merida Initiative that will guarantee nearly $1.4 billion in military aid to Mexico over the next several years. Their tour was very successful and their message reached many Montanans.

All in all, this has been a very busy beginning to another school year, but I hope to be able to give more attention to my blog now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trying Not To Think Of "Worker" As Negative

Stemming from the discussion of my last post, I thought further discussion was necessary to talk about the "working class"...or whatever that means anymore, and our efforts to get our society organized along revolutionary lines. I think it prudent to look in as many directions as possible for lessons, ideas, and theory. I recently found Murray Bookchin's short essays about the anarchosyndicalist revolution of 1936 instructive.

Please forgive the wholesale use of Bookchin to elucidate what I was trying to say in my last post, not too mention what I think John Holloway is also trying to say in Change the World Without Taking Power, but here you go:

The limitations of the trade union movement, even in its anarchosyndicalist form, have become manifestly clear. To see in trade unions (whether syndicalist or not) an inherent potentiality for revolutionary struggle is to assume that the interests of workers and capitalists, merely as classes, are intrinsically incompatible. This is demonstrably untrue if one is willing to acknowledge the obvious capacity of the system to remake or to literally create the worker in the image of a repressive industrial culture and rationality. From the family, through the school and religious institutions, the mass media, to the factory and finally trade union and "revolutionary" party, capitalist society conspires to foster obedience, hierarchy, the work ethic, and authoritarian discipline in the working class as a whole; indeed, in many of its "emancipatory" movements as well.

The factory and the class organizations that spring from it play the most compelling role in promoting a well-regulated, almost unconscious docility in mature workers--a docility that manifests itself not so much in characterless passivity as in a pragmatic commitment to hierarchical organizations and authoritarian leaders. Workers can be very militant and exhibit strong, even powerful character traits in the most demanding social situations; but these traits can be brought as much , if not more readily, to the service of a reformist labor bureaucracy as to a libertarian revolutionary movement. They must break with the hold of bourgeois culture on their sensibilities--specifically, with the hold of the factory, the locus of the workers' very class existence--before they can move into that supreme form of direct action called "revolution," and further, construct a society they will directly control in their workshops and communities.

This amounts to saying that workers must see themselves as human beings, not as class beings; as creative personalities, not as "proletarians"; as self-affirming individuals, not as "masses.' And the destiny of a liberated society must be the free commune, not the confederation of factories, however self-administered; for such a confederation takes a part of society--its economic component--and reifies it into the totality of society. Indeed, even that economic component must be humanized precisely by our bringing an "affinity of friendship" to the work process, by diminishing the role of onerous work in the lives of producers, indeed, by a total "transvaluation of values" (to use Nietzsche's phrase) as it applies to production and consumption as well as social and personal life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get Organized in the Workplace Now!

It is interesting that while many of us involved in social and economic justice expend a great deal of energy and effort struggling for justice around the globe, we fail to see ourselves as workers. And why should we want to? Be “workers” that is. US Americans are taught a highly contradictory message about our labor, which is: we must admire the blue-collar sector for its hard work and invaluable contributions to our society, but we mustn’t aspire to be them. So most of us go to college in order to avoid becoming “them.” I know I did!

“We do not struggle as working class, we struggle against being working class, against being classified… There is nothing good about being members of the working class, about being ordered, commanded, separated from our product and our process of production. Struggle arises not from the fact that we are working class but from the fact that we-are-and-are-not working class, that we exist against-and-beyond being working class, that they try to order and command us but we do not want to be ordered and commanded, that they try to separate us from our product and our producing and our humanity and our selves and we do not want to be separated from all that. In this sense, working-class identity is not something “good” to be treasured, but something “bad,” something to be fought against, something that is fought against, something that is constantly at issue.

The working class cannot emancipate itself in so far as it is working class. It is only is so far as we are not working class that the question of emancipation can ever be posed… The working class does not stand outside capital: on the contrary it is capital that defines it (us) as working class. Labor stands opposed to capital, but it is an internal opposition. It is only as far as labor is something more than labor; the worker more than a seller of labor power, that the issue of revolution can even be posed.” -John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power

Many of us already hold jobs, yet I imagine most of us have put little thought into organizing our own workplaces. There are many, many reasons for this, but the fact remains that US American labor remains largely unorganized (also for a number of reasons) and as a result we reinforce the market forces which continue to divide us. Sacrificing our time, energy and labor for the cause of economic and social justice while helping to reproduce the social order seems counter-productive and highly contradictory. Don’t we reinforce the capitalist way of life (with all its vicious divisions, exploitation, thoughtless consumption, concentration of power, etc.) and undermine our own good intentions and social initiatives to create a better world if all we do is change shopping habits? The collaboration between state and capital is incomparably more powerful than the combined efforts of protest, boycotts, and rallies. Fifteen million people took to the streets to stop the invasion in Iraq and yet our memory of that day has faded away.

Even the most radical and revolutionary non-profits (and especially NGO’s) often reproduce undemocratic corporate business models that disempower employees/associates (workers) by separating them from the very decisions that affect their lives. Everywhere we look we are reproducing the world against which we as activists for peace and justice struggle. We are not slowing thoughtless consumption and the production of destructive weapons; we are upholding it by refusing to seize power in the workplace where it is all created.

Many of you are fellow workers, so I am going to be a little pushy and ask that you give these ideas some serious thought. I know that all of us are very passionate about what we do and to which causes we give our efforts and energy, so I completely appreciate the way in which our time is limited. However, I did not arrive to this point by accident or haphazardly. I too spent—and continue to spend—a good deal of my creative energy and passion struggling for the goals and objectives of three groups: Community Action for Justice in the Americas (I'm a board member), Witness for Peace and Students for Economic and Social Justice (University of Montana). I love, with all my heart, these organizations. And they are an integral part of the struggle for a better world. However, I feel there are self-evident limits to the kind of effects that that work alone can have in changing the system. At the same time, I am not in the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) because I expect to see a revolution or to smash capitalism while I am alive (although I love to say these things and it would be nice! J). I do, however, expect to see and experience a drastic increase in democratic and direct discussions and actions that will lead to very tangible and material benefits. Above all, I expect to see drastic changes in power relationships. And we all agree that it is power who decides (i.e. bosses and their politicians).

Our social factory (including the Spectacular Society) has done such a thorough job of inoculating us against viral thinking such as the rights we should have to determine what work should be done and by whom, how it should be organized, or to what end. Also, we have not been encouraged to participate with power in how society as a whole might shape its own role in democratically organizing our material lives. No, we have been limited to negotiating the price of labor (a “negotiation” that has led to little more that a savage wage slave system).

I would hope that we think about the possibilities of directly participating in the class war through our workplaces and of all the potential that has for genuinely struggling alongside the faceless multitude of sweatshop workers for whom we fight. Beyond the inherent contradiction of fighting for social and economic justice without our selves being engaged in workplace democracy, we have a chance to address the complexity of globalization, off-shoring, immigration, and exploitative labor practices right where we work. How can we relate to workplace struggles if we are not engaged in them? We shouldn’t want better wages here and there, we should expect the world! Even in non-profits, we should be telling our board of directors: “one worker, one vote.” Without us there is no non-profit. “Labor has to become more than labor, the worker more than a seller of labor power.” Let’s open the books and let’s look at the numbers together. Clearly, non-profits are not a primary target for IWW labor organizing (though the IWW has already organized a couple of non-profits and is developing a model for non-profit workplace democracy right here in Missoula), but I expect many of us will end up working in this industry, so we shouldn’t forget the contradictions that exist even in the more ostensibly benign workplaces.

So let’s start telling the boss that we are going to make some changes in the workplace. We are going to start making decisions democratically. When we can do these things here and now, we are going to be much more credible as a force for justice over "there"! There is no war but class war!

Friday, March 28, 2008


“I like to be human because in my unfinishedness I know that I am conditioned. Yet conscious of such conditioning, I know that I can go beyond it, which is the essential difference between conditioned and determined existence…In other words, my presence in the world is not so much of someone who is merely adapting to something “external,” but of someone who is inserted as if belonging essentially to it. It’s the position of one who struggles to become the subject and maker of history and not simply a passive, disconnected object.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

I am so thankful that we don’t have pre-determined existences, and that we have socio-historical vocations to determine ourselves ontologically. Call it free will, call it an ontological vocation, or call it choice. Needless to say, we have a choice and we can become active agents actively pursuing our being in this world, instead of passive receptacles of a life pre-determined by the conditioning of external forces. In the modern context, these forces stem from the market-system which conditions us, and prefers us to be and to feel as we do (reticent, tired, overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless, crazy, irrational, isolated, etc.). The perceived divinity of market forces conditions us to believe our roles as workers, students, parents, consumers, citizens, spouses, children, elderly, etc. are both predetermined and limited by the “invisible hand” of the market.

So what is one of the most radical things we can do? Become aware of our conditioning and sharpen our edge for perceiving all of the socio-cultural, historical and even genetic factors that have conditioned our construction. Recognize that “it would be ironic if the awareness of my presence in the world did not at the same time imply a recognition that I could not be absent from the construction of my own presence.” If we fail to recognize our role in determining who we are and how we’ll live our every moment, we renounce our “historical, ethical, social, and political responsibility for [our] own evolution.” So in that sense, according to Freire, we are renouncing our ontological vocation to intervene in the world.

Once we recognize that we are alive and free to pursue our ontological vocation of becoming, we must remain vigilant to external conditioning. Instead of thinking of it as burdensome “work,” we should celebrate the freedom of determining for ourselves who we want to be, and think of it as our duty to ourselves. And with the choice to become a constructive presence in our own worlds, comes necessary training, education, self-reflection, and yes, dutiful “work.” There is a two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace to life.

Here is where our vigilance and constant recognition of the conditioning is all important. Externally, market forces recognize and capitalize on our unfinishedness and lead us to believe that without the market we cannot resolve our anxieties about being unfinished. Indeed, market forces wish us to see our “unfinishedness” as simply a phase in a pre-determined life. Market forces further strap a relatively benign idea of unfinishedness with notions that the “vocation of becoming” is more burdensome than one can manage alone or with the limited time one has to pursue such frivolousness. “Oh, if one only had more energy, money and time!”

And, frankly, we have lost our time. We have lost our energy. And so we have lost our roles in our own lives. We are not actually making history anymore, though the mediated images of the spectacle delude this perception so that we see ourselves as choosing. All we are doing is surviving. We are managing pre-determined lives from debt to debt, from holiday to holiday, from grocery visit to grocery visit, or from out-dated laptop to out-date laptop. In between, we might go through a phase of cleaning house and “taking control” over our lives. We suddenly become determined to turn our lives around and get into shape only to lose track of that fleeting emotional “choice” to the burdens of economics and diminishing time. Trapped in a tide of ceaseless pounding by market forces, we are clinging to rocks like barnacles: inert, inactive and eating whatever the waves bring us.

The difference between a market-driven plan to “take control” of one’s life and the kind of conscientization called for by Freire is fundamental. Rather than a Dr. Phil “Relationship Rescue” plan that ignores the cosmic conditioning of our lives and pretends to end our problems after a pre-determined program of study, Freire asks us to recognize our incompletedness as fundamental to the human condition. Our lives require a constant cycle of research, reflection and then action. From each action will undoubtedly evoke new challenges that will require more education, reflection and subsequent action. This kind of ontological—and radical—action on our parts both individually and collectively subverts market determinism and increasingly liberates the human experience.

In order to undermine the monoliths of inevitability, and pre-determination which was historically influenced by fear, superstition, and cosmological anxiety and then institutionalized by neoliberal philosophy and religion, we must insist on the necessity of conscientization. Becoming aware of our conditioning and our unfinishedness lends itself to an honesty and curiosity that rarely manifests in our world.

Can you imagine a world of conscientious, curious and honest people?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Missoula's Labor Film Festival and the Bay Area's Anarchist Book Fair

Damn! I'm jealous! Another year, another Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, and I'm not there. My friend in Oakland tells me about this every year and I still haven't had the fortune of being there.

Check out the link and see for yourself what makes this event so amazing. There are many video posts and descriptions of the kinds of books and vendors that are present.
Last night, Missoula hosted the first night of their 3rd annual Labor Film Festival in the Roxy Theater. I'm proud to say it, but there were more Wobblies in attendance than any other single union! (Way to go Wobs)! There were three great films, including Morristown (which I borrowed from the organizers to show to my class!), all about the devastating effects of trade liberalization on Mexico and the U.S. The film is an excellent discussion with U.S. workers whose lives have been ruined by NAFTA and corporate off-shoring.

Tonight there are two more films, including a film by Ken Loach called Bread and Roses. We will also be raffling off some prizes, including a $200 gas card, a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle (I hope a Wobbly doesn't win it, then people will think we are arming ourselves!), and many other things.

Montanans continue to express interest in the IWW as our numbers and community support grows. Our presence is increasingly noticeable; we are seeing our decals, buttons and t-shirts around on the streets. Fights are brewing, so bosses beware!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Infantile World

I know it may be asking too much for idiot ideologues, pundits, and politicians to be honest enough to admit that it was Colombia that crossed the border of a sovereign nation, not Venezuela, but things are getting ridiculous! Likewise, we know Obama and Clinton to be intelligent enough to read and understand the verifiable truth about Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, but getting them to be honest enough to actually read it and then admit THE TRUTH may be too tall an order.

Here's the thing that sucks. Even when handed the evidence on a silver platter (as I've done here) ideologues won't read it (there are actual studies on this kind of blind dogmatism). Secondly, once they read incontrovertible fact, they'll deny it. Like petulant children they'll stomp their feet and say it just can't be true, because rather than grow up and admit the flaws in their thinking, they carry on with infantile behavior. Perhaps that is the reason they often choose not to read the forces them to admit that they are wrong. Oh the shame...the shame of admitting we are wrong or that we don't have a clue what we are talking about! Surely not "wrong"...that's worse than death!

But I've decided to give the benefit of the doubt to this hapless bunch in case they can be honest enough to read the evidential record (all of the highlighted links in this post are actual evidence, documents and articles, not homepages of websites) :

1) Colombian paramilitaries are responsible for 70% of all human rights violations in Colombia, not the FARC. These incontrovertible facts can be found in the following links Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Global Exchange, Witness for Peace, et. al.

2) The paramilitaries (AUC) are an armband switch-a-roo away from being Colombian military and police. Thereby making the actual terrorist organization the Colombian government and their criminal leader: Alvaro Uribe.

3) The U.S. is therefore a major sponsor of terror! To the tune of $5 billion since 1999 through Plan Colombia to fight the FARC and ELN, not the AUC paramilitaries.

4) Just in case $5 billion is not enough, a U.S. corporation has been linked to the paramilitaries to fund their repression of organized labor and carry out assassinations, torture and disappearances. (Just in case you try to say the paramilitaries have demobilized...we've got that one covered with, gasp--EVIDENCE! and more EVIDENCE!)

5) Oh yeah, what about that sorted business Uribe's gotten himself all caught up in called "Para-politica," which hasn't even led to a pause in U.S. funding.

6) Chavez has won democratic elections consistently since 1998. Then when one of his policies was defeated, he graciously accepted defeat. Despite what ever fantasies ideologues may have, Venezuela under Chavez is a democracy. (Just in case someone tells me to move there, let me interrupt you and say that I'm staying here because I want to bring democracy to the U.S.!)

7) The U.S. has already tried to overthrow Chavez once (2002) and failed. We funded and gave tactical support to the coup through the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID. Yo fool ideologues! You don't have to do your homework today since I did the research for you. Here are some declassified documents...just in case you actually decide to be honest and begin doing actual research and look at actual evidence, here you go: EVIDENCE

The ridiculous obsession of some people who love to demonize Chavez despite contravening evidence makes them sound like fools!

The credibility, like the fantasies of so many ideologues, continues to crumble away since they continually fail to provide any kind of factual evidence to back their ridiculous claims. Even the U.S.'s own documentary record condemns them. One only need go to the National Security Archive and read through the declassified documents there!

When those of us seeking the truth are forced to hold our noses as we read and listen to the undocumented claims of ideological quacks and jingoistic pundits all day long, we are often foolish enough to wait for evidence from them. Then we come to our senses and realize who's shilling the shit! However, far more shameful than holding out hope for some honesty, are the ideological hacks and lazy asses that repeat these false claims and try to pass off opinion as fact whenever it suits their narratives. If they were my students I would have to fail them for not providing evidence to back their claims.

Fortunately, I don't feel as though I've wasted my time, nor my breath on ideologues who--by their very definition--will likely not change even when struck by lightning! Nope! My students will read and witness for themselves the infantile world they have the misfortune of inheriting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Anonymous Challenge

I recently received the following comment on one of my older posts from an "anonymous" writer, and was challenged to see how "economists," the wealthy or "their fans" might respond to this comment. That has, of course, peaked my interest. Although I fear I can predict many of the responses, I do want to be entertained by good ol' Beaker-boy (an enamored, and unashamed aficionado of concentrated wealth) have at it.

P.S. I rather enjoyed this rant and agree with a great deal of it.

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for all of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductable crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductable contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. WAKE UP PEOPLE. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Vioxx. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of which concentrate the world’s wealth and resources and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘ good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTABLE PR CRAP. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

To Vote or Not to Vote...

“There is a difference between an inconsequential left and a consequential right, the difference is they both do the same things, but one says they don't.” Subcomandante Marcos

There is simply no way for democracy to adequately function within the capitalist system. For that matter, we cannot consider our federal system a democracy... perhaps it's a republic, corportacracy, state capitalism? It's certainly not a functional democracy. For this reason, I can only conclude that to participate in the presidential elections is to uphold a corrupt system and makes us complicit in its crimes.

Bought and sold by big money, Clinton and Obama (like Republicans) are in no way beholden to those they pretend to represent. They have prostituted themselves to those that are truly running and "electing" our leaders! Are they different then the Republicans? Sure, they do the bidding of big business in sheep's clothing, making their airs of benevolence that much more hateful!

It is often purported that Hillary is left of Obama. This is flatly false. She is and has always been the candidate of big business: a reality that puts Hillary in a position directly in conflict with the struggles of the poor, unions, social, environmental and economic justice. She was featured on the front page of Fortune magazine as the best candidate for big business, for god's sake! As the article points out she has been allowed to get away with--and I have heard many reminiscing with her--saying that the 90's were better. But it was the 90's in which all of the vicious free trade deals that crushed unions, the working class and the poor of the earth were devised, "negotiated," and signed! By supporting the business agenda she is also promising to accelerate environmental destruction of our planet. The poisonous elixir of free trade agreements that reduce environmental standards which allow corporations to further pollute our planet and her stated rejection of the Kyoto Protocol is the recipe she has in store for our world. She is also the candidate that repeatedly voted for the Iraq War and is muscling up to be tough on terror and national security. She is morally reprehensible and should not be thought of as someone above the fray of prostitution "democracy." She like all other candidates is opportunistic, power hungry and vetted beyond human recognition.

It is utterly insulting to hear Hillary Clinton use the slogan "Sí se puede" which she has shamelessly co-opted. This slogan is meant to overthrow tyrants, not to be used by them!

When discussing the issue of whether or not to participate in our elections, the issue of welfare, social security, funding for education, etc. is an often repeated concern. Well, the Republic of Lakotah pointed out that despite the generosity of the U.S. government for the past 155 years in the form of welfare and food stamps, they have the lowest life expectancy for males of any nation in the world (44 years)! They have an unemployment rate of 85%. An amazing 97% of Lakotah people live below the federal poverty level! And the suicide rate is 150% of the national average! Wisely--I think--they decided to go at it alone. I have no idea what their plan is. Frankly, it's not my business. But I can honestly say that they couldn't be much worse off no matter where in the world they were living, so why not try a new direction? In relation to voting, what has it gotten any American Indian? What has voting achieved for any of us? Real change has never come from voting, if it did, they'd outlaw it!

Please bear in mind that the TV/Toothpaste Elections intend to make us feel as though any of these candidates actually cares. They smile at us and make us feel reassured that someone is going to stick up for us. Someone is going to calm things down, "get us out of the war" (remember this recent promise?), unite the "divide" in this country, etc., etc. But it is the PR industry that elects our leaders, and "super delegates," not us!

By the way, is the country actually divided? No. The country is not nearly as divided as we've been led to believe. Confused? Yes. In the abstract we are divided, but placed within context our country is far less divided. A recent NY Times/CBS poll showed that 64% of Americans would willingly pay $500 more per year in taxes in order to have universal healthcare! Americans want out of the war…immediately! Americans overwhelmingly believe CEO's make an unfair, bloated salary and believe money should be more fairly distributed. The majority of Americans believe we should be signed onto the Kyoto Protocol. And on and on and on. So why is there such a huge disconnect between public policy and public opinion?

To me the answer is simple: we continue to allow our system to shill false hope that anything of significance will come from federal elections and so each time we vote we further legitimize our system, and so are complicit in the drawing out of global misery. We also demonstrate a measure of contempt for democracy by knowingly participating in this sham. Just think what it would be like if Americans were appropriately aware of this sham and through a rapid decrease in participation gave a vote of no confidence to our federal system. If we coupled abstention from voting with education and organization, we could build a resistance to mental colonization and prepare ourselves for how we are going to have to provide for ourselves. Couldn't this lead to democratic changes? Possibly an end to the two-party dictatorship? Or Instant Run-off Voting? Or campaign finance reform? Or more?

If our concern is democracy than we should protect it, fight for it and stand up for it by creating it on our own in the workplace, and local communities! No to federal elections!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Back Door Capitalism

Capitalism is such an insidious bacteria, it seems to find any and every crack to seep its way into public space. Education is no exception. Smaller Learning Community grants are given to public schools across the U.S. The grants promise schools to answer the problem of students slipping through cracks when isolated within anonymous, large school populations by creating "smaller learning communities." What progressive couldn't get on board with that, right? As one of the SLC Grant Coordinators I was excited by the possibilities of this grant to address prejudice, violence, isolation, suicide, etc. In fact, I'm still somewhat positive that these things can be accomplished, but not by outside private entities whose primary motivation is ultimately profit!

Many of the private consultants that attend the SLC Grant conferences (like the one I attended in Florida this weekend) are armed with canned answers, books, workshops, private consultations, PowerPoints, handouts, brochures, etc. Perhaps, not too surprising, they were also once educators themselves. (Warning: the following is one big tongue in cheek!). Now, however, they have found more "profitable" ways to help educate our children. Their ways are always "more efficient," "more logical," and always "common sense." They're above the fray and have broken free from the fetters of bureaucratic public education to discover more streamline models that are obviously much more sensible and realistic approaches to education.

In reality, these former educators couldn't handle the growing list of duties and unrealistic demands placed on teachers, nor the never-ending prescriptive policies (such as NCLB) that go unfunded. So they quite their jobs to get rich saving education. Shouldn't these former educators be admired for recognizing the limits of public education and seeking to solve problems with efficient, steam-line private monies. After all, the free market will redress any level of corruption and profiteering, right? Or should they be recognized as opportunistic vultures whose most intelligent assessments were acknowledging that they'd never get ahead on the front lines of education? Did they figure out that instead they'd be smarter to exploit a very vulnerable and desperate institution? (A vulnerability and desperation that are predicated on under-funding, and the cultural devaluing of education as a social priority).

(A quick pre-emptive for Wiser) The amount of work a teacher does is utterly under-appreciated! Enough said!

What I observed this past week was nothing short of criminal. Former educators costing our school district more than $12,000 to fly a delegation of eight educators (principal, counselors and teachers) to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We dutifully helped our flailing economy (and capitalism's inside group) by paying for flights, meals, hotels, transportation, and then the big whammy: a conference of private entities shilling their less-than-professional books, tapes, DVDs, overheads, and flimsy science that would rescue our sorry schools. Interestingly, the money came from our SLC grant. Our grant is a $5 million grant (spread among several high schools in the area) that our government feels can best be spent on contracting with outside private companies. Ahhh, the perfect asymmetrical relationship contracting the public to the private (stage one in which Milton Friedman gets his oats!); just as the private companies likes it: no accountability, no audits, no transparency.

In reality, this kind of profit looping is all too common in the modern capitalist system. Can the Patriots be stopped? Can criminal profiteering? The Revolution Will Not Be Funded!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Business as Unusual

One fine example of democracy in the workplace that I recently witnessed firsthand was off Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland, CA. ARIZMENDI is a bakery cooperative that was inspired by an earlier bakery in California, the CHEESEBOARD, that wanted to experiment with democratic decision-making and horizontal management. Though foreign to most in this country the longevity of these experiments says something about their viability.

A couple of years ago, Troutsky introduced me to a delicious beer, FULLSAIL, that is made in a worker-owned factory. Reading the labels and packaging is often entertaining itself. The workers sound very pleased with their work situation as well.

The viability of employee-owned, democratic workplaces seems less a novelty these days than one might think. The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives has a substantial list of such places.