NOVUS CANNABIS POPULUS CONGRETGATIO
THE TANTRIC MUFF INN TEMPLE OF JOY
Political pearls of wisdom according to
His Holiness the shitty guru Horny Krishna
With the elections approaching I decided to shed some light and inspirational positive thoughts to carry you through, because no matter who you vote for you are well and truly fucked so get used to it… Om Shitty Om
‘Democracy is the process by which the people will choose the biggest dick to fuck them over…’
‘Ancient Rome declined because it had a senate. God help you America, how fucked do you think you are with a congress, and a senate???’
We all would like to vote for the better man… But the fucker hasn’t been born yet’
‘Never vote for someone… Always vote against the pricks, meaning all of them…’
‘The US government is up for sale… and you suckers have no biding on it, just the right to fork in the bill’
‘People never lie so much as on a dating profile, job interview, a teenager caught smoking pot or a candidate before an election’
‘Does who vote decide nothing. Does who rig the counting of the votes decide everything’
‘Vote for the man who promises jack shit… He wont let you down’
‘Having free elections and then paying for the end results, its like paying a hooker to get laid and ended up with crabs as a bonus’
‘An election is nothing more the a gambling auction, organized by thieves, to choose a criminal to rob the masses’
‘Fuck bias, I don’t like or trust the democrats, and a good republican is a dead one…’
‘A politician ia a liar who can talk, representing a political party that’s corrupt, supported by a bunch of imbeciles who can’t think for themselves and love to be fucked over.’
‘If voting was any good, they would make it against the law’
‘The decisions are already made up for you even before you place the ballot’
‘You have the power to let them know, veto the vote… Voting counts for nothing”
‘Voting is overrated… Don’t believe the hype’
…and finally but not the least…
‘The only hope for America is a female president. But a real woman, not a chick with a dick like Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton’
Om Shitty Om
His Holiness the shitty guru Horny Krishna
My fellow Americans,
Now more than ever our government needs our help. For centuries we have believed democracy to be the best form of government, without ever experiencing true democracy. Greed and corruption have infiltrated our government, and now Democrats and Republicans have become so hopelessly opposed and unwilling to work together that nothing is accomplished. Our “representatives” use their entire term to campaign for reelection instead of doing the work Americans want done. Our government is broken, but we can fix it, and we can fix it through participating in our limited democracy, ironically. There is hope for democracy – a new hope, a liberating hope, a Libertarian hope. The Libertarian Party must be America’s Party now, because a new choice is always more democratic.
Democracy, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority; b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”
Free elections are an illusion. For the majority of this country’s history, two parties have held a monopoly over campaign contributions and the vote. Either a Democrat or Republican has won every presidential election since 1852, and since 1804 the most electoral votes a third-party candidate has obtained is just 46 by George Wallace in 1968. That was the year Tricky Dick was elected the first time. Needless to say had we realized then what we have the opportunity to realize now we could have avoided putting a crook in office. But we have an opportunity to change American politics once again and bring about a more democratic democracy.
The United States political scene suffers from what Herbert Marcuse would call one-dimensional thought, which “militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations and objectives that…transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe” (Marcuse 12). This one-dimensional thought allows for greed and corruption to flourish in our government because we, the people, have accepted it as simply a consequence of democracy.
Marcuse’s one-dimensional thought is ever-present in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act. “The Republican and Democratic candidates who win their parties’ nominations for President are each eligible to receive a grant to cover all the expenses of their general election campaigns. The basic $20 million grant is adjusted for inflation each Presidential election year. In 2008, the grant was $84.1 million…A third-party Presidential candidate may qualify for some public funds after the general election if he or she receives at least five percent of the popular vote.” So the Democratic and Republican candidates get $84.1 million and the third-party candidate gets squat unless they grab 5% of the vote in the previous election. The laws governing these “free” elections are keeping third parties at a disadvantage to install an incumbent, ruling order that “militates against qualitative change.” Changing these laws is not an option at this point, so we must act within the system to bring about qualitative change, which is one-dimensional in itself., but no one in Congress is going to reform campaign finance laws when they’re running for reelection. “In the political sphere…the programs of the big parties become ever more undistinguishable, even in the degree of hypocrisy and in the odor of the cliches” (Marcuse 19). The Democrats and Republicans are false opposites. They clearly have the same goal in mind – to keep the power divided amongst themselves and the money out of the hands of people looking to change the status quo. That’s why it’s important that the Libertarian Party surpass the 5% popular vote benchmark in the 2012 presidential election, or we can expect more of the same from the White House.
“As the great words of freedom and fulfillment are pronounced by campaigning leaders and politicians, on screens and radios and stages, they turn into meaningless sounds which obtain meaning only in the context of propaganda, business, discipline, and relaxation.” We’re in the whirlwind of this media now and we can already smell the stench of propaganda permeating from the camps of Democrats and Republicans, but the Libertarian Party doesn’t have the money to compete on television and radio, and unless the Libertarian Party is able to poll at 15%, they won’t be able to compete on stage either. You see, third party candidates are withheld from nationally televised debates if they don’t reach 15% on CNN’s presidential election poll. Don’t let the propaganda fool you. There’s only one party looking to bring about qualitative change despite what President Obama’s campaign slogan may be.
Marcuse warns us that “the range of choice open to the individual is not the decisive factor in determining the degree of human freedom, but what can be chosen and what is chosen.” Having another choice on the ballot does not make us more free, but having a quality choice on the ballot will if we cast a quality vote. The Libertarian Party takes the social tolerance of the Democrats and mixes it with the fiscal responsibility of the Republicans, which proves to be a strong party in an election year expecting the most independent voters in history. We have a quality choice in the Libertarian Party. Now it’s up to us to cast a quality vote. Though Marcuse again warns, “Free election of masters does not abolish the masters of the slaves.” The American government is a democratic republic, and until we change the entire order of things, a very two-dimensional thought, we’ll have to deal with our “masters” for the time being, but we can operate the machine.
“We are neither in the amphitheatre, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine, invested by its effects of power, which we bring to ourselves since we are part of its mechanism” (Foucault 217). Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish insists that power is everywhere and we all can wield it. And he’s right. Despite our panoptic society, we are still the fuel that drives the machine. Under the current administration, the panoptic surveillance has only increased, as President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the US government to detain its own citizens indefinitely and without trial if they are suspected terrorists. All of this after our President said during his campaign that he’d close Guantanamo Bay. A clear example of Foucault’s power relations occurred quite recently, when only public outrage kept bills SOPA and PIPA from criminalizing file sharing and destroying the communicative, free structure of the Internet. We do have power, “against an extraordinary evil, power is mobilized; it makes itself everywhere present and visible” (Foucault 205). Internet activists used the best tool they had to defeat SOPA and PIPA – the Internet. They flooded Congress Twitter accounts with pleas to stop the bills. They shut down Wikipedia in outrage of the bills. And yes, some people hacked into bank websites and shut them down, but it was ultimately a success for the American people, though many people believe CISPA, a cyber-security bill passed by the House on Thursday, to be a way for the government to further monitor its own citizens. The oppressors always comes back with a power play of their own, but the Libertarian Party is strongly opposed to any legislation that allows our government to monitor our web practices. It’s a clear invasion of privacy and that’s why we need to keep fighting because “there is no risk…that the increase of power created by the panoptic machine may degenerate into tyranny’ the disciplinary mechanism will be democratically controlled, since it will be constantly accessible ‘to the great tribunal committee of the world’” (Foucault 207).
The actions of Internet activists are also a great demonstration of communicative action. “In modern, secular societies social order rests chiefly on the basis of communicative action (action coordinated by validity claims) and discourse, which together help establish and maintain social integrity – that is, they provide the glue that keeps society together.“ Jürgen Habermas is my kind of guy – a democratic socialist in the best sense. “Habermas argues that we can establish an ideal speech situation – a set of conditions under which democratic discussion optimally takes place – that can guide the way we set up group conversations on important community issues and decisions” (Brookfield 63). He would urge us to organize at a local level and discuss the issues of the day and arrive at a consensus that neglects no one and is not self-serving, which is difficult given Habermas believes human beings to be “essentially self-interested,” though the Internet has provided an opportunity for humanitarian efforts, as Clay Shirky makes clear in his book Cognitive Surplus. “The Internet is an opportunity machine, a way for small groups to create new opportunities, at lower cost and with less hassle than ever before, and to advertise those opportunities to the largest set of potential participants in history.” (Shirky 128-129). The Internet allows us to organize our efforts and communicate effectively, and I think Habermas is wrong to think “the electronic mass media of today is organized in such a way that it controls the loyalty of a depoliticised population” (qtd. in Brookfield 232). “For Habermas democracy is all about communication – the freest, least-restricted communication possible. In his view the greater the freedom of conversation that people enjoy, the higher the chance that true critical reason – reason employed to create a just, humane democracy – will emerge.” (Brookfield, 230). If the Internet is not the freest form of communication, I’m a little scared of what might be. I think now that Habermas knows Twitter is capable of keeping bills off the Senate floor, he may change his tune and urge us to use this “opportunity machine” to organize communicative action for liberty.
In organizing communicative action, Paulo Freire would urge “the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity…become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both” (Freire 46). When the Libertarian Party does rise up and overcome our oppressors, it’s important to embrace those oppressors and help them to regain their humanity. We can’t simply leave the Democrats and Republicans in the dust. That would be selfish and ineffective. When the gay community finally achieves marriage equality, they aren’t going to live their lives oblivious to heterosexuals. We must help Democrats and Republicans realize their oppressive ways and install an active dialogue between the oppressed and the oppressors, and if we are to move forward, we must not fear freedom.
“The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man, nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest of human completion” (Freire 48).
A heavy burden of responsibility is awaiting the Libertarian Party at the end of this election, regardless of outcome, and we must not shy away from this responsibility as the Tea Party movement has done. We must accept this responsibility and go about restoring legitimacy to our government through love, because bipartisan bickering and political pandering is how we got here in the first place. Paulo Freire, a civil rights activist himself, would be appalled by the unwillingness of both Democrats and Republicans to recognize the marriage rights of gay human beings. The Libertarian Party won’t allow Democrats and Republicans to continue ignoring the gay community. Marriage equality cannot be denied to these Americans simply because they’re not conducting a traditional, religious marriage. Marriage used to be as strong a social order as evangelical Republicans still believe it to be, but we all know marriage doesn’t mean the same thing it did 20 years ago. Marriage is a human right, a civil right, a right that shall not be denied to any human regardless of race or sexual preference, and the Libertarian Party will fight for those rights.
It’s clear the Libertarian Party has a unique opportunity to change American politics forever, but how can we bring about this communicative action? Well, by taking a page from Augusto Boal’s book we can “practice how the theater can be placed at the service of the oppressed” (121). Boal’s main objective, and this is the main objective of the Libertarian Party as well, is “to change the people – ‘spectators,’ passive beings in the theatrical phenomenon – into subjects, into actors, transformers of the dramatic action” (122). Boal’s Peru experiments provide a model for Americans looking to become more aware of other people’s hopes and “one will be able to physically ‘interpret’ characters different from oneself” (128). Only through understanding each other can we effectively govern ourselves. A thorough understanding of our fellow citizens isn’t all we’ll need to bring about change, though. They must also have a thorough understanding of us, and Boal offers an effective way to invite people to live in other people’s shoes. The medical marijuana debate is a perfect opportunity for Boal’s theatric experiments to be put to the test. Consider a hypothetical situation: a Libertarian who happens to be a medical marijuana patient in favor of legalizing marijuana meets a Republican or Democrat staunchly opposed to medical marijuana and legalization of any kind. Boal gives us a model for reshaping people’s subjectivities by allowing them to step out of their own heads and into someone else’s. The Libertarian calmly explains why she supports marijuana legalization and listens attentively to why the new friend is opposed to it. Aware of their new friend’s subjectivities, the Libertarian invites the new friend to step into her shoes. “I suffer from (cancer/post-traumatic stress syndrome/multiple sclerosis/degenerative disc disease/etc.), and I use marijuana to deal with the (pain/nausea). Without it my life is a living hell, and now my provider has been arrested by the DEA despite following the state medical marijuana laws, so I can’t even get the medication I need. Now, if you found yourself with (cancer/post-traumatic stress syndrome/multiple sclerosis/etc.) and a doctor told you this plant could help you live more comfortably, would you still support DEA raids of providers just looking to make a living?” Most folks can’t help but feel empathetic because they have actively experienced what the other person is going through. They were invited to consider their subjectivities in an alternate reality. They are no longer a spectator, but a “spectactor.”
Without action there is no theatre, and the show can’t go on without action. Boal urges us to get off our asses and act rather than watch, and the Libertarian Party urges you to do the same. We find ourselves in a participatory democracy in which the participants are unwilling to participate, whether it be due to poor choices on the ballot or simple laziness. We cannot allow this lack of participation define our democracy.
“The spectator is less than a man and it is necessary to humanize him, to restore him to his capacity of action in all its fullness. He too must be a subject, an actor” (Boal, 155). We must become actors, for without action we are forever stuck in constant oppressiveness. Volunteer to register voters in your community or on your campus and inform them of the Libertarian Party and where it stands on the issues. Don’t just register them. Educate them. Discuss these issues with your neighbors, and inform those who may be misinformed. Distribute informative election materials and signs around your community. There is so much more to a participatory democracy than simply voting, and in order for the Libertarian Party to be America’s Party we all have to participate more. “The poetics of the oppressed is essentially the poetics of liberation: the spectator no longer delegates power to the characters either to think or to act in his place. The spectator frees himself; he thinks and acts for himself! Theater is action! Perhaps the theater is not revolutionary in itself; but have no doubts, it is a rehearsal of revolution!” Life is all action, too, and until we act together we’ll accomplish nothing.
Brookfield, Stephen D. The Power of Critical Theory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.
Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1985.
Finlayson, James. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford, 2005.
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. New York: Vintage Books, 1977.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1960.
Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon, 1964.
Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus. New York: Penguin, 2010.
Tags: act, action, actor, america, american, augusto boal, boal, campaign, choice, communicate, communication, communicative action, Democracy, Democrat, election, foucault, free, Freedom, freire, gay, Government, habermas, Human, humanity, internet, Law, liberation, Libertarian, Libertarian Party, Liberty, life, marcuse, marriage equality, michel foucault, Money, one-dimensional, oppressed, oppressor, order, panoptic, panopticism, participant, participate, participatory, party, paulo freire, poetics of the oppressed, politic, Politics, Power, Republican, responsibility, Revolution, social, spectator, surveil, theater, theatre, vote
So, last night I put myself through the agony of watching the entire NBC sponsored Republican debate. I don’t normally do this, but since I am such a fan of Brian Williams and his fetish for the British royals and heart-warming feel good stories about people making a difference, I figured, “What the fuck?”
What follows are a few of my (almost) unedited random thoughts:
Take a look at the Iowa results from last night, and smile!
I think this is justified for two reasons: first, the elections are a snapshot of the dynamically changing opinion among the American population. Of course, this snapshot is limited to those who actually attended the GOP caucuses, and it does not reflect the mass of the population except in some statistical fashion. But, it is the largest of snapshots likely to be gained in Iowa until the general election.
Second, the election can help us to understand how anti-statism is expressed in the outcome. I admit this political expression of anti-statism is only evident in a fundamentally flawed fashion — in the form of Ron Paul’s own person. As @punkjohnnycash on Twitter noted, Paul more accurately can be described as an anti-federalist, rather than an anti-statist. Still, I think, his support in the election can serve as a sort of proxy for anti-statist sentiment, so long as we remember Punk Johnny Cash’s caveat.
So, with those two caveats in mind — Iowa is only a limited sample of a proxy of the anti-statist position — let’s look at the results.
Returns indicated GOP Grandparents (65 and olde), are going for Romney, parents (40-65) went for Santorum, and their adult children (17-39) went for Paul. Paul also pulled from the lower working class. The income distribution of the vote reflects the age distribution, and this tends to support Paul among the young. Since younger voters are also over-represented in the lower income range of the population, the data seems consistent.
I would imagine, the distribution in the military is similar, with the lower ranks, who are being ground up by war, going with Paul. Politically, we might be looking at significant anger in the lower rank military due to the lethality of constant combat. A distinguishing feature of this election season are the donations to Paul from the military to the exclusion of almost all other candidates.
The results show 80%, of the GOP lodged firmly in what we can define as the “statist camp” — non-Ron Paul voters from the older and higher income base. The younger and lower income base is firmly anti-Washington, at least, and possibly anti-statist to the extent this anti-statism can have a political expression in the GOP as anti-federalist sentiment.
I think, the future is with the young, lower income mass. Parents will follow their children. This is true in thinking and in actual circumstances, for two reasons: austerity is forcing parents to provide less support to their kids, and you can bet this is having a profound psychological impact on them. It is very difficult to turn your kids away for support for education, or tiding them over during early financial burdens. Add to this, the adult children who are no longer leaving home to start their own families because of economic stress.
My conclusion from this: with 20 percent of the GOP already openly hostile to Washington, the stage is being set for a large-scale political crisis.
The remaining GOP is split between a larger evangelical base (50%) and the traditional business community (25%) and these folks should not be ignored. The division between the business community and the evangelicals is bitter and unbridgeable. The business community is not at all on board for the dogmatic pietism of the evangelicals — the workplace is hostile to that shit. Moreover, unlike the Democrats, the GOP has no figure to unite around and hold the fractures in place.
Ron Paul’s anti-federalism plays in all three sections of the GOP, but for different reasons. There is hostility to Washington as a political-economic entity (anti-statism); cultural entity (evangelicals); and regulatory (business). Don’t underestimate these anti-Washington attitudes: business, even dominating Washington, still is antagonistic to Washington at the granular level.
Capitals are fiercely competing with each other over the levers of power, and this is a life or death struggle among them. The domination of finance capital over Washington is not at all supportive of the interests of non-finance capital. Moreover, there is a huge mass of capital unable to function as capital, that has retreated to gold, speculation and treasuries. These capital are being screwed right now — this is FOFOA and followers of Austrian economists. They are on the edge of extinction.
The MF Global collapse sent a shock-wave through this mass of dead capital, as the banksters essentially ripped them off in broad daylight. MF Global was a wholesale looting of small capital by big capital. These folks will also fuel the anti-Washington anger.
The anti-statist argument is in very good position this morning — we should be happy!
Next up: Obama’s progressive base.
Among the progressives, Washington has done much of our job for us by destroying the independent worker organizations in the past 30 years. Resistance through these working class organizations is now impossible, the working class can no longer act politically as a class but as individuals. This might seem bizarre for a Marxist to state, but the these organizations were the primary social base of the fascist state. The divisions within the class domestically and internationally allowed capital to consolidate its grip on state power. And, the American labor movement played a pivotal role in Washington’s international strategy.
This corrupt fascistic labor movement no longer exists; over the past 30 years, it has been systematically dismantled, to impose the neoliberal agenda. A national labor movement within a globally evolved capitalism is an anachronism. A global labor movement is an oxymoron, since we are talking about all of humanity against a tiny stratum of parasites.
Occupy and the Tea Party are the new models for working class resistance — no leaders, because we all control only ourselves. The thing to note in this election is how the AstroTurfing of the Tea Party led not to its dissolution, but the emergence of Ron Paul’s anti-federalist message as a force within the GOP — anti-statist sentiment is adapting itself to ready made forms. The GOP corporate center did not kill the Tea Party message, it only infected itself with that message.
All in all, we are in a good position to establish a movement to replace the state with an association that is global. An association that recognizes no class, no dogmas and no national borders. The message of anti-statists should be:
“Occupy AND RUN everything, from your job to your planet.”
The union sit downs of the 1930s and the civil rights sit-ins of the 1960s are antiquated forms of 20th Century resistance; we now need to actively recognize our own capacities for self-activity. Both the sit-down strikes and the sit-ins were attempts by the oppressed to gain political and economic recognition, now the oppressed need to recognize their own capacities as their own. I really think we need to begin where we are – in our communities and workplaces – take control of these and manage them ourselves.
Also read: Robert Wenzel: “HOT: Did Ron Paul Just Win Iowa?” Ron Paul supporters are being very aggressive in their effort.
Newest Gartner poll: Ron Paul polling in first place among both Republicans and Democrats nationwide!
According to a Gartner poll released Friday, December 15th, 2011, Ron Paul is now polling in first, nationwide, with both Democratic and Republican voters as well as Independents. This poll surveyed 547,000 Americans from across the country in a variety of demographic groups who were registered voters in the Republican and Democratic parties, and registered Independents. While some were surprised by the results, others felt that they better represented the current position of many American voters than previous polls in which candidate Ron Paul, (R-TX) was polling in fourth or fifth at best among GOP voters.
As Paul’s latest polling numbers soar, so too do the hopes and ambitions of his most ardent followers. Some have begun celebrating, and a “money bomb” – a scheduled event during which large numbers of supporters contribute financially to the campaign in a planned fashion in order to generate headlines by breaking contribution records – has been planned to help garner even more publicity for the Gartner poll and to help the campaign to capitalize on this success. While the campaign is abuzz with the news, mainstream coverage of this poll has, on the other hand, been low-key at best. CBS Evening News makes brief mention of Paul’s victory, but spends far more time discussing the placement of other candidates, including incumbent US president Barack Obama, now running in second place even among his own party’s voters.
While the Obama campaign has so far not responded to our requests for comment, some grass-roots supporters who have asked not to be named stated that the Obama campaign is still not in full gear, and the president expects that Democratic voters will in fact turn out to deliver their candidate another four years in office. Paul supporters, meanwhile, are unconvinced. One Paul supporter posts online; “It’s clear to me that the exodus away from Obama amongst his own party’s voters is evidence that he has not lived up to the progressive values espoused during his 2008 campaign and that even if they may not be in agreement with all of Doctor Paul’s policies, they are drawn to his honesty and consistency. That’s something American politics has been lacking.” So while the Obama campaign closes ranks, Paul fans are more jubilant than ever – a tall order for a group known for everything from a Ron Paul Blimp to breaking single-day fundraising records in 2008.
Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to how things are going lately, this entire story probably sounds like bullshit to you. That’s because it is. My point is that anyone can post any damned thing they want on the internet, and claim any level of legitimacy. They can misrepresent facts, statistics, and studies, or they can fabricate them entirely. No such Gartner poll exists. It never did. Ron Paul isn’t in first place, and he’s certainly not taking Democratic votes to the bank.
The internet is full of such crap. Two recent articles come to mind: one example is a piece on a communist site which claims that Cuba has absolutely no malnourished children as per a UNICEF study. Unfortunately, while the news is overall good – as of 2006, only 4% of children are malnourished and that’s down from 7% as of 2004 – there is no UNICEF data from later than 2006 regarding nutrition for children in Cuba. While the article mentions a specific set of UNICEF studies – the most recent of which, in 2009, covers child safety such as child abuse prevention exclusively – it does not link to any specific source for its claims. As it turns out, the claims just aren’t true at all. The second example is an atheist website which claims that a UMN study shows atheists to be “the most hated minority in America.“ Once again, this article doesn’t link to its source, and while the source does exist and has some interesting data, it’s clear that the goal of the atheist website is to misrepresent the facts. The study does, in fact, not discuss “hatred” at all, and doesn’t even cover all minorities. Rather, it looks at a specific set of metrics including who people would consider voting for for president of the USA, who people would like to see their children date, etc. These metrics include a fixed set of minorities – not all minorities, and in some instances lacking in some key areas. This is because the study isn’t actually a study at all, but rather an analysis of various surveys released by survey companies.
It’s important to always consider your sources critically. Question everything! (Or shut up and be… a victim of authority…)
We had just received envelopes containing information about the local election. Not just simple reminders, but the actual voting cards, which we could fill out and send back in an enclosed envelope. Absolutely perfect, not having to meet up at an over-crowded hall smelling of sweaty old men.
“Hey, hunny — we’ve received our local voting cards in the mail,” I told to the missus. She looked at me funny, “but we’re not Dutch citizens, we can’t vote.” I then explained to her that in most European countries you only have to be a resident to be allowed to vote.
That was in 2008.
After we moved to Australia in 2009 I’ve lost that freedom. The missus is an Australian citizen, so she don’t have to worry about that, but I’m only an Australian resident. To be allowed to vote in Australia, one of the criteria are that you are a citizen. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been here or that you pay taxes, you have to be an Australian citizen.
You can of course contact your local representative in the are you live, but that doesn’t guarantee you will be heard. But being able to vote, gives you one guaranteed say about who you want to run Australia.
If you are allowed to vote, given you’re a registered voter, you are forced to vote. Meaning, you will be fined if you do not excercise your “right” to vote.
In countries like Norway, The Netherlands and the USA, you are not forced to vote. You have a right to vote, but you also have the right to decide if you want to take advantage of that right. It is, as most democratic and freedom loving countries sees it, part of the democratic freedom, that you decide if you want to vote or not. However, exercising that right is very important. If you are unhappy with who is running the country or you are happy with your country’s leader, the best way to express that is by voting.
By not voting, you are silent while others speak for you. Is that what you want?
Forcing your citizens to vote, as I see it, has little or nothing to do with freedom or democracy. As some Australians have pointed out to me, statistically it looks very good to force citizens to vote. Although, as I’ve tried to point out to them, it doesn’t guarantee an accurate vote, just a nice statistic.
A too common argument here, in Australia, is to point at USA and say, “they are not forced to vote, this is shown in the few numbers of citizens who turn up to vote.”
That is a good point. Maybe if more people were forced in the USA to vote the country would have better politicians. Or would it? And what about their freedom to choose to vote?
Recently there were local elections in Norway and apparently there were more than usual who decided not to vote. A lot of political parties blamed them for their loss in the elections. However, my friend had a different view than blaming those who didn’t vote. He blamed the politicians for not being interesting enough. He said that, “it’s the politicians job to make you want to get out of your chair and vote.”
Maybe that is the issue in Australia and USA. Australian politicians are so hopeless that they have to force their citizens to vote, or else no-one would turn up. While the US politicians are not interesting at all, so most people couldn’t give a shit and decides not to vote at all. Maybe it’s time Australian and US politicians starts to truly work for their money and make people vote, not because they feel forced, but because they want to make a change — a change that will happen, not just promised.
The economy in the US, when writing this, things doesn’t look so good. While Australia might not suffer from yet another world economic crisis, I prefer the US over Australia in regards to voting. Because if a country promises me freedom, I want to have freedom. Telling me I have the freedom to vote on any party I want, but as long as a vote, is not freedom in my eyes.
Voting on any party without having to fear prosecution and being allowed to decide if you want to vote or not, that is freedom. I want to vote because I can and want to, not because I’m told to do it.
I have been critiquing Barry Eichengreen’s unprincipled attack on Ron Paul and his demand for a return to the gold standard, but, so far, I have danced around the real question posed by this vicious hit piece. Eichengreen’s argument is not about whether or not Ron Paul’s ideas can be compared to the insanity of Glenn Beck, nor is it even about the criticism of the Fascist State proposed by the argument of Frederick Hayek, who plays in this venal attack only the role of betrayer — Ron Paul having based his argument on many of the insights of Hayek, is ultimately betrayed by him when the latter dismisses
the possibility of a return to the gold standard.
Hayek concedes, in other words, to the necessity of totalitarianism.
Ron Paul, having been deserted by Hayek, even before he begins his career as a politician, is left alone in the company of Glenn Beck, who (Beck) is trying to foist gold coin on you at an astounding markup. The implication of this being that if Ron Paul is not himself in cahoots with Glenn Beck, he is just another hopeless sucker to be played. Just another miser looking for a place to safely store up his accumulated wealth from the predations of the investment banksters.
All of this is nothing more than an attempt at misdirection, a ploy to distract you from asking the important question:
What is money?
Ask this question to Ron Paul, and he will tell you gold is money — honest money, not a fiction of money as is ex nihilo currency. When Ron Paul asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke if gold was money, the Chairman tried his damnedest to avoid giving a straight answer. The chairman knows that money can perform two useful functions: universal means of payment in an exchange, and store of value. Even if gold is not recognized as the official standard of prices in a country, it can still perform exceptional service as store of value. And, in this function, it entirely fulfills the definition of a money – moreover, it fulfills this function better than any other commodity. And, it certainly fulfills this function better than currency created out of thin air.
Yes. Gold is money. But, of course, that is not the question I am asking:
“What is money?”
Not what thing can serve as money, but what is money itself. No matter what serves as money, or the functions of money it fulfills; what is money itself, i.e., the functions to be filled by the things?
Simply stated: Gold is money, but money is not gold.
People always make this silly argument: “Why can’t dogs, or sea shells or emeralds be money?” Yes. Within limits, anything can serve as money; and, this fact makes the thing serving as money appear entirely accidental and arbitrarily established. So, for instance, whether gold or dancing electrons on a Federal Reserve terminal is money seems simply a matter of convenience and fit.
But, the real questions raised by this is why anything serves as money? That is, why money? This question appears to us entirely irrational. We take the existence of money for granted, and therefore, argue not about money itself, but the things to be used as money. Eichengreen wants us to believe the question, “What thing should serve as money?”, has no deeper significance but for a handful of scam artists and marks like Glenn Beck and Ron Paul. A fifty dollar gold coin (worth some $1900) is inconvenient for daily purchases; we should use dancing electrons on a Federal Reserve terminal.
But, why do we have to use anything at all when it comes time to fill up the SUV for a trip to the corner store? Why isn’t the gas free? In other words, what is money doing coming between us and the things we need?
“Because”, the economist Barry Eichengreen will tell us, “there is not enough of stuff to go around.” Well, how does Barry know this? Does he have some insight into how much of one or another thing is produced in relation to demand for that thing? No. He doesn’t. The function of money is to tell us which things are in shortfall relative to demand because those things have a price in the market place. Prices presuppose the existence of scarcity; of a relation to nature marked by insufficiency of means to satisfy human want. Money is not an attribute of a fully human society, but the attribute of a society still living under the oppressive demands of nature.
So, the question,
“What is money?”
really comes down to
“What is scarcity?”
And, this can now be answered: it is insufficient means to satisfy human needs. But, this answer is still insufficient, because we really have no way to know directly if scarcity exists, right? What we know is the things generally have a price, and we infer from this that things must be scarce. But, this too is a fallacy like “gold is money = money is gold”. I stated that prices presuppose scarcity — but I must now correct myself. Scarcity of means to satisfy human needs is necessarily expressed by prices, but prices do not of themselves necessarily express scarcity of means.
Catelization, monopoly pricing, false scarcity and the Fascist State
We know, for instance, near the turn of the 20th Century, certain big industries learned they could maintain artificially high prices on their products by creating entirely artificial scarcities. We know also how this expertise was put to use and the reaction of society to it. Or, at least, we think we do. Folks like Joseph Stromberg, Murray Rothbard, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy tell a much different story than the official record. That alternative narrative is summed up brilliantly by Kevin Carson in his work here.
But merely private attempts at cartelization before the Progressive Era–namely the so-called “trusts”–were miserable failures, according to Kolko. The dominant trend at the turn of the century–despite the effects of tariffs, patents, railroad subsidies, and other existing forms of statism–was competition. The trust movement was an attempt to cartelize the economy through such voluntary and private means as mergers, acquisitions, and price collusion. But the over-leveraged and over-capitalized trusts were even less efficient than before, and steadily lost market share at the hands of their smaller, more efficient competitors. Standard Oil and U.S. Steel, immediately after their formation, began a process of eroding market share. In the face of this resounding failure, big business acted through the state to cartelize itself–hence, the Progressive regulatory agenda. “Ironically, contrary to the consensus of historians, it was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it.”
In fact, these folks argue, cartelization and monopoly pricing wasn’t very successful until the state stepped in at the behest of industry to organize them. Carson again:
The Federal Trade Commission created a hospitable atmosphere for trade associations and their efforts to prevent price cutting. (18) The two pieces of legislation accomplished what the trusts had been unable to: it enabled a handful of firms in each industry to stabilize their market share and to maintain an oligopoly structure between them. This oligopoly pattern has remained stable ever since.
It was during the war [i.e. WWI] that effective, working oligopoly and price and market agreements became operational in the dominant sectors of the American economy. The rapid diffusion of power in the economy and relatively easy entry [i.e., the conditions the trust movement failed to suppress] virtually ceased. Despite the cessation of important new legislative enactments, the unity of business and the federal government continued throughout the 1920s and thereafter, using the foundations laid in the Progressive Era to stabilize and consolidate conditions within various industries. And, on the same progressive foundations and exploiting the experience with the war agencies, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt later formulated programs for saving American capitalism. The principle of utilizing the federal government to stabilize the economy, established in the context of modern industrialism during the Progressive Era, became the basis of political capitalism in its many later ramifications. (19)
But, there’s a problem with this cartel argument by Austrians, like Hayek and Mises, and Marxist-Keynesians, like Baran and Sweezy: Following Rudolf Hilferding, they describe prices realized by cartelization as “tribute exacted from the entire body of domestic consumers.”
The “monopoly capital” theorists introduced a major innovation over classical Marxism by treating monopoly profit as a surplus extracted from the consumer in the exchange process, rather than from the laborer in the production process. This innovation was anticipated by the Austro-Marxist Hilferding in his description of the super profits resulting from the tariff:
The productive tariff thus provides the cartel with an extra profit over and above that which results from the cartelization itself, and gives it the power to levy an indirect tax on the domestic population. This extra profit no longer originates in the surplus value produced by the workers employed in cartels; nor is it a deduction from the profit of the other non-cartelized industries. It is a tribute exacted from the entire body of domestic consumers. (64)
The problem with this theory is this: if we assume a closed system where the wages of the working class are the overwhelming source of purchasing power for the goods produced by industry, with prices of commodities more or less dependent on the consumption power of the mass of workers who produce them, these workers are unable to buy what they produce. The problem cited by Marx that the consumption power of society is an obstacle to the realization of surplus value is only intensified by cartelization.
Cartelization, even if it could be achieved in one or two industries, could not be the principle feature of any closed economy. Moreover, Marx’s theory predicts as productivity increased, and the body of workers needed to produce a given output shrank, this imbalance worsens. Even with the full weight of the state behind it, monopoly pricing would result in the severe limitation of the consumption power of society. This wholly artificial limitation on the consumption power of society would be expressed as a reduced demand for the output of industry and generally falling prices. So, in any case, the attempt to impose a general scarcity on society through cartelization alone must, in the end, fail miserably.
At this point it is entirely necessary to again ask the question:
“What is money?”
But, this time, not in the fashion we previously addressed it,
“Why is money coming between us and the things we need?”
We now can ask it in the form Barry Eichengreen wants us to consider it:
“What thing should serve as the money?”
As we just saw, cartelization must fail, even if it is sponsored by the state, owing to the artificial limits on the consumption of society. The limited means of consumption in the hands of the mass of workers must place definite limits on the demand for the output of industry.
But, what if — and this is only a silly hypothetical — another source of “demand” could be found within society? What if, out of nowhere, government should suddenly find itself in possession of a previously untapped endless supply of gold? What if, no matter how much of this supply of gold was actually spent, the gold coffers of the state remained full to the bursting point. Indeed, what if, for every bar of gold the state spent, 2 or 3 … or one thousand bars took the place of the spent gold?
In this case, the consumption power of society lost by cartelization and monopoly pricing could be made up for by judicious Fascist State spending, for instance on the military or building out an entire highway system or leveling the industiral competitors of entire continents in a global holocaust or pursuing a decades long Cold War/War on Terror/War on Democracy, to offset the limited demand of society. Since all gold bars look pretty much the same, no one need know that the state had a secret vault that produced gold as needed. No one need know that gold had lost its “price” as a commodity, because it was so incredibly abundant as to exceed all demand for it.
Which is to say, no one need know that in gold-money terms, all other commodities, including labor power, were essentially being given away for free.
The only people who would know this would be the men and women who managed the vault. And, since they were getting a cut of every bar spent into circulation, they could be relied on to keep this a tightly held secret.
“What is money?”
Is it gold, a commodity in limited supply, and requiring a great deal of time and effort to produce? Or, is it the dancing electrons on a computer terminal in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, DC? Is it real gold, available in definite limited quantities? Or, is it “electronic gold”, available in infinite quantities? The first choice makes it impossible for state enforced monopoly pricing and cartelization; the second makes it entirely possible.
So far as I know, I am the only one making this argument — Marxist or non-Marxist. But, it is the entire point of Ron Paul’s campaign. It is what makes his campaign a potentially revolutionary moment in American society. Of far greater importance than he imagines, because, like any petty capitalist, he is only looking for a safe place to store his wealth. The radical potential of a demand for the return to the gold standard, even from the mouth of this petty capitalist, this classical liberal is a dagger aimed directly at the heart of the Fascist State, and of its globe-straddling empire.
Tags: Austrian Economics, Barry Eichengreen, Depression, ex nihilo pecunaim, Federal Reserve, financial crisis, gold, Hayek, international financial system, Joseph Stromberg, Karl Marx, Kevin Carson, Libertarianism, monetary policy, Money, Murray Rothbard, Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy, political-economy, Ron Paul, Rudolf Hilferding, Tea Party, Wall Street Crisis
Barry Eichengreen makes much of the role the theories of Friedrich Hayek play in Ron Paul’s world view for a reason that becomes immediately clear:
In his 2009 book, End the Fed, Paul describes how he discovered the work of Hayek back in the 1960s by reading The Road to Serfdom. First published in 1944, the book enjoyed a recrudescence last year after it was touted by Glenn Beck, briefly skyrocketing to number one on Amazon.com’s and Barnes and Noble’s best-seller lists. But as Beck, that notorious stickler for facts, would presumably admit, Paul found it first.
The Road to Serfdom warned, in the words of the libertarian economist Richard Ebeling, of “the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning.” Hayek argued that governments were progressively abandoning the economic freedom without which personal and political liberty could not exist. As he saw it, state intervention in the economy more generally, by restricting individual freedom of action, is necessarily coercive. Hayek therefore called for limiting government to its essential functions and relying wherever possible on market competition, not just because this was more efficient, but because doing so maximized individual choice and human agency.
Yes, folks: Ron Paul is a follower of the very same theories recently endorsed by that cheap huckster of gold coin: right wing conspiracy theorist nut job, Glenn Beck.
Indeed, Ron Paul hails from that portion of the libertarian movement that is a reactive response to the growing role of the state in the economic activity of society. While Marxists predict this increasing state role — demanding only that state power must rest in the hands of the workers whose activity it is — libertarians of Paul’s type reject this role entirely and warn it can only have catastrophic implications for human freedom. Thus, these two streams of communist thought diverge less significantly in their respective diagnoses what was taking place in 20th Century than in their respective solution to it.
As Eichengreen points out, Ron Paul sees in the ever increasing interference by the state in economic activity a danger to individual freedom and a growing threat of totalitarian statist power, in which the state attempts to determine the individual and society rather than being determined by them. This has echoes among Marxists, who themselves had nothing but disdain for nationalization of industry, and by Marxist writers, like Raya Dunayevskaya, who, during the same period Hayek was developing his own ideas, observed an inherent tendency of the state to organize society as if it were a factory floor.
“At the same time the constant crises in production and the revolts engendered befuddle the minds of men who are OUTSIDE of the labor process… where surplus labor appears as surplus product and hence PLANLESSNESS. They thereupon contrast the ANARCHY of the market to the order in the factory. And they present themselves as the CONSCIOUS planners who can bring order also into ‘society,’ that is, the market.”
Paraphrasing Marx, Dunayevskaya points to the inherent logic of this process:
If the order of the factory were also in the market, you’d have complete totalitarianism.”
What Eichengreen wants to treat as an observation specific to the “loony right” turns out to be a view held in common by both the followers of Marx and the followers of the Austrian School. Moreover, it is not just the fringes of political thought who warned of growing convergence between the state and capital, the mainstream of political thought also recognized this inherent tendency, Eichengreen acknowledges, by citing President Richard Nixon’s famous quote, “we are all Keynesians now.” What emerges from this is a very different impression than the one Eichengreen wishes us to take away from his tawdry attempt to discredit Paul by noting his affinity with Glenn Beck for the writings of Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek and the Austrian School within bourgeois economics: As Engels predicted, the state was being driven by Capital’s own development to assume the role of social capitalist, managing the process of production and acting as the direct exploiter of labor power.
While mainstream bourgeois political-economy was treating the convergence of Capital and State power as a mere economic fact, the followers of Hayek and the best of the followers of Marx warn not merely of the effect this process would have on economic activity, but the effect it must have on the state itself — as social manager of the process of extraction of surplus value from the mass of society, the state must become increasingly indifferent to its will, must increasingly treat it as a collective commodity, as a mass of labor power, and, therefore, as nothing more than a collective source of surplus value.
Although lacking the tools of historical materialist analysis, that comes from familiarity with Marx’s own methods, libertarians, like Ron Paul, have actually been able to better understand the implications of increasing state control over economic life than Marxists, who, having abandoned Marx’s methods to adopt spurious theories propagated from whatever academic scribbler, still to this day have failed to completely understand the Fascist State.
Eichengreen, worthless charlatan that he is, deftly sidesteps this critique shared by both Austrians and Marxists of the political impact of growing Fascist State control over the production of surplus value, and instead directs our attention to the entirely phony debate of whether gold as money serves society better than ex nihilo currency to abolish the crises inherent in the capitalist mode of production itself. He begins this foray by admitting the failure of of monetary policy to prevent the present crisis, but poses it as a non sequitur:
Why are Ron Paul’s ideas becoming more popular among voters?
The answer, as is Eichengreen’s standard practice in this bullshit hit piece, is to blame Ron Paul’s popularity on Glenn Beck:
BUT IF Representative Paul has been agitating for a return to gold for the better part of four decades, why have his arguments now begun to resonate more widely? One might point to new media—to the proliferation of cable-television channels, satellite-radio stations and websites that allow out-of-the-mainstream arguments to more easily find their audiences. It is tempting to blame the black-helicopter brigades who see conspiracies everywhere, but most especially in government. There are the forces of globalization, which lead older, less-skilled workers to feel left behind economically, fanning their anger with everyone in power, but with the educated elites in particular (not least onetime professors with seats on the Federal Reserve Board).
Only after we get this conspicuously offensive run of personal attacks on Ron Paul’s reputation, does Eichengreen actually admit: Ron Paul’s ideas are gaining in popularity, because the Fascist State is suffering a crisis produced by a decade of depression and financial calamity:
There may be something to all this, but there is also the financial crisis, the most serious to hit the United States in more than eight decades. Its very occurrence seemingly validated the arguments of those like Paul who had long insisted that the economic superstructure was, as a result of government interference and fiat money, inherently unstable. Chicken Little becomes an oracle on those rare occasions when the sky actually does fall.
Ah! But, even now, Eichengreen, forced to admit, finally, the present unpleasantness, cannot help but label Ron Paul a broken clock for having rightly predicted it in the first place. Okay, fine.
So, it turns out that the banksters really do extend credit beyond all possibility of it being repaid; and, it turns out that this over-extension of credit plays some role in overinvestment and the accumulation of debt, and, it turns out prices spiral to previously unimaginable heights during periods of boom — and, finally, it turns out all this comes crashing down around the ears of the capitalist, when, as at present, a contraction erupts suddenly, and without warning.
This schema bears more than a passing resemblance to the events of the last decade. Our recent financial crisis had multiple causes, to be sure—all financial crises do. But a principal cause was surely the strongly procyclical behavior of credit and the rapid growth of bank lending. The credit boom that spanned the first eight years of the twenty-first century was unprecedented in modern U.S. history. It was fueled by a Federal Reserve System that lowered interest rates virtually to zero in response to the collapse of the tech bubble and 9/11 and then found it difficult to normalize them quickly. The boom was further encouraged by the belief that there existed a “Greenspan-Bernanke put”—that the Fed would cut interest rates again if the financial markets encountered difficulties, as it had done not just in 2001 but also in 1998 and even before that, in 1987. (The Chinese as well may have played a role in underwriting the credit boom, but that’s another story.) That many of the projects thereby financed, notably in residential and commercial real estate, were less than sound became painfully evident with the crash.
All this is just as the Austrian School would have predicted. In this sense, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman went too far when he concluded, some years ago, that Austrian theories of the business cycle have as much relevance to the present day “as the phlogiston theory of fire.”
(I think it is rather cute to see Eichengreen present himself as the disinterested referee between the warring factions of bourgeois political-economy, by gently chiding Paul Krugman for going too far in his criticism of the Austrians — after all, the Fascist State will have to borrow heavily from the Austrian School to extricate itself from its present predicament)
Where people like Ron Paul go wrong, Eichengreen warns, is their belief that there is no solution to this crisis but to allow it to unfold to its likely unpalatable conclusion — unpalatable, of course, for the Fascist State, since such an event is its death-spiral as social capitalist. Apparently, without even realizing it, this pompous ass Eichengreen demonstrates the truth of Hayek’s argument: Fascist State management of the economy, once undertaken, must, over time, require ever increasing efforts to control economic events, and, therefore, ever increasing totalitarian control over society itself.
Eichengreen pleads us to understand the Fascist State does not intervene into the economy on behalf of Capital (and itself as manager of the total social capital) but to protect widows and orphans from starvation and poverty:
Society, in its wisdom, has concluded that inflicting intense pain upon innocent bystanders through a long period of high unemployment is not the best way of discouraging irrational exuberance in financial markets. Nor is precipitating a depression the most expeditious way of cleansing bank and corporate balance sheets. Better is to stabilize the level of economic activity and encourage the strong expansion of the economy. This enables banks and firms to grow out from under their bad debts. In this way, the mistaken investments of the past eventually become inconsequential. While there may indeed be a problem of moral hazard, it is best left for the future, when it can be addressed by imposing more rigorous regulatory restraints on the banking and financial systems.
Thus, in order to protect widows and orphans from starvation, the Fascist State is compelled to prop up the profits and asset prices of failed banksters and encourage the export of productive capital to the less developed regions of the world market — not to mention, leave millions without jobs and millions more under threat of losing their jobs. Eichengreen even has the astonishing gall to state the problem of moral hazard identified by Austrians, “is best left for the future, when it can be addressed by imposing more rigorous regulatory restraints on the banking and financial systems.” Eichengreen takes us all for fools — did not Washington deregulate the banksters prior to this depression, precisely when the economy was still expanding? If banks are deregulated during periods of expansion, and they cannot be regulated during periods of depression, when might the time be optimal to address moral hazard?
The question, of course, is rhetorical — and not simply because Eichengreen is only blowing smoke in our face. Eichengreen actually argues that Fascist State intervention prevented a depression!:
…we have learned how to prevent a financial crisis from precipitating a depression through the use of monetary and fiscal stimuli. All the evidence, whether from the 1930s or recent years, suggests that when private demand temporarily evaporates, the government can replace it with public spending. When financial markets temporarily become illiquid, central-bank purchases of distressed assets can help to reliquefy them, allowing borrowing and lending to resume.
And, here we can see the role of the thing serving as money and its relation to the crises inherent in the capitalist mode of production. Ex nihilo currency does not abolish crises, it merely masks them from view: while ex nihilo dollar based measures of economic activity indicate the economy suffered a massive catastrophic financial crisis in 2008, gold indicates this financial crisis is only the latest expression of an even more catastrophic depression that has, so far, lasted more than a decade.
NEXT: The tale of two monies
Tags: Austrian Economics, Barry Eichengreen, Depression, ex nihilo pecunaim, Federal Reserve, financial crisis, gold, Hayek, international financial system, Karl Marx, Libertarianism, monetary policy, Money, political-economy, Raya Dunayevskaya, Ron Paul, Tea Party, unemployment, Wall Street Crisis
Washington has a problem, and Barry Eichengreen is doing his bit to save it. The problem’s name is Ron Paul, and this problem comes wrapped in 24 carat gold:
GOLD IS back, what with libertarians the country over looking to force the government out of the business of monetary-policy making. How? Well, by bringing back the gold standard of course.
Last week, Eichengreen published a slickly worded appeal to libertarian-leaning Tea Party voters, who, it appears, are growing increasingly enamored with Ron Paul’s argument against ex nihilo money and the bankster cartel through which Washington effects economic policy.
The pro-gold bandwagon has been present in force in Iowa, home of the first serious test of GOP candidates for that party’s presidential nomination. Supporters tried but failed to force taxpayers in Montana and Georgia to pay certain taxes in gold or silver. Utah even made gold and silver coins minted by Washington official tender in the state. But, the movement is not limited to just the US: several member states of the European Union have made not so quiet noises demanding real hard assets in return for more bailout funds for some distressed members burdened by debt and falling GDP.
No doubt, these developments are a growing concern in Washington precisely because demands for real assets like commodity money threaten to blow up its eighty year old control of domestic and global economic activity through the continuous creation of money out of thin air.
Although Eichengreen invokes the difficulty of paying for a fill up at your local gas station, “with a $50 American eagle coin worth some $1,500 at current market prices”; the real problem posed by a gold (or any commodity) standard for prices is that such a standard sounds a death-knell to a decades long free ride for the very wealthiest members of society, and would end the 40 years of steady erosion of wages for working people here, and in countries racked by inflation and severe austerity regimes around the world.
Make no mistake: Ron Paul is now one of the most dangerous politicians in the United States or anywhere else, because his message to end the Federal Reserve Bank and its control of monetary and employment policy has begun to approach the outer limits of a critical mass of support — if not to end the Fed outright, than at least to bring the issue front and center of American politics.
Eichengreen begins his attack on Ron Paul’s call for an end to the Federal Reserve by choosing, of all things, Ron Paul’s own writings as weapon against him:
Paul has been campaigning for returning to the gold standard longer than any of his rivals for the Republican nomination—in fact, since he first entered politics in the 1970s.
Paul is also a more eloquent advocate of the gold standard. His arguments are structured around the theories of Friedrich Hayek, the 1974 Nobel Laureate in economics identified with the Austrian School, and around those of Hayek’s teacher, Ludwig von Mises. In his 2009 book, End the Fed, Paul describes how he discovered the work of Hayek back in the 1960s by reading The Road to Serfdom.
For Eichengreen, Paul’s self-identification with Hayek is a godsend, because, as Eichengreen already knows at the outset of his article, Hayek ultimately opposed the gold standard as a solution to monetary crises:
At the end of The Denationalization of Money, Hayek concludes that the gold standard is no solution to the world’s monetary problems. There could be violent fluctuations in the price of gold were it to again become the principal means of payment and store of value, since the demand for it might change dramatically, whether owing to shifts in the state of confidence or general economic conditions. Alternatively, if the price of gold were fixed by law, as under gold standards past, its purchasing power (that is, the general price level) would fluctuate violently. And even if the quantity of money were fixed, the supply of credit by the banking system might still be strongly procyclical, subjecting the economy to destabilizing oscillations, as was not infrequently the case under the gold standard of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Eichengreen pulls off a clever misdirection against Ron Paul by deliberately conflating the problem of financial instability with the problem of limiting Fascist State control over economic activity. Ron Paul’s argument, of course, is not primarily directed at eliminating financial crises, which occur with some frequency no matter what serves as the standards of prices, but at removing from Washington’s control over economic activity not just at home, but wherever the dollar is accepted as means of payment in the world market — and, because the dollar is the world reserve currency, that means everywhere. But, by conflating the question of Fascist State control over the world economy with solving the problem of financial and industrial crises that are endemic to the capitalist mode of production, Eichengreen takes the opportunity to foist an even more unworkable scheme on unsuspecting Ron Paul supporters: privatize money itself:
For a solution to this instability, Hayek himself ultimately looked not to the gold standard but to the rise of private monies that might compete with the government’s own. Private issuers, he argued, would have an interest in keeping the purchasing power of their monies stable, for otherwise there would be no market for them. The central bank would then have no option but to do likewise, since private parties now had alternatives guaranteed to hold their value.
Abstract and idealistic, one might say. On the other hand, maybe the Tea Party should look for monetary salvation not to the gold standard but to private monies like Bitcoin.
It is cheek of monumental — epic — proportion. Even by the standards of the unscrupulous economics profession — a field of “scholarship” having no peer review and no accountability — the sniveling hucksterism of Eichengreen’s gambit is quite breathtaking. However, not to be overly impressed by this two-bit mattress-as-savings-account salesman, in the next section of this response to Barry Eichengreen, I want to spend a moment reviewing his examination of the problem of financial instability, and the alleged role of gold (commodity) money in “subjecting the economy to destabilizing oscillations… under the gold standard of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”
Part Two: Money and crises
Tags: Austrian Economics, Barry Eichengreen, Depression, ex nihilo pecunaim, Federal Reserve, financial crisis, gold, Hayek, international financial system, Libertarianism, monetary policy, Money, political-economy, Ron Paul, Tea Party, unemployment, Wall Street Crisis
The central problem posed by the debate in Gonzo Times: how to build an anti-statist movement in a political environment almost entirely populated by supporters of the state?
We have no choice but to assume this is the situation faced by anti-statists who hope to construct a society based on voluntary association. A voluntary association isn’t a product of anti-statist ideologies, but a result of actions by people who employ the state in their interest.
In my opinion, the fight against austerity on the Left, and the fight against the incessant expansion of state spending on the Right, are identical. To realize either aim, you must realize both of them. This practically resolves into a fight against the most wasteful state spending. The profligacy of the fascist state can only be addressed if it targets those expenditures which satisfy no human need whatsoever. And, austerity can only be addressed if it addresses the relentlessly expanding absorption of real social resources by the fascist state.
Poverty and fascist state military expenditures are not two different problems — stated this way, this is self-evident. But, why this is true is often lost on those who oppose the fascist state: and this lack of clarity severely hurts our cause.
Those who oppose the state have their feet in both sides of this debate; some are in movements against wasteful spending and some are in movements against austerity. However, there is no coordination of message among all opponents of the fascist state working in these two movements. In both movements opponents of the fascist state should be showing how poverty and state domination of real social resources are identical.
This domination of real social resources is not just an ideological construct; it consists of productive capital, and labor power diverted from productive use. It is the same capital and labor power that, were it productively employed, could abolish all poverty in short order. Bringing this truth to both sides of the social debate is important, but not easy — both sides are dominated by fascist state parties and organizations. Both sides are played off against one another for the purpose of maintaining existing political and economic relations.
The opponents of the state have a task to turn what are now two camps battling for control over the state into one camp aiming to abolish it. To do this we need tools and arguments: tools that strip off the veil hiding real relations, and an argument based on those real relations.
I want to propose one tool available to us and it is based on what I think is a basic truth: the lies of the fascist state begin with money.
If you look at the chart in my post to Gonzo Times from yesterday, Sorry progressives, the Bush tax cuts did not kill the economy, you can see why this is true. That chart shows there has been two depression since World War II — the economy suffered depression in 1970-1981 and for the last 10 years. Not a single economist admits to this. Not the Fed or a single government agency has ever discussed this, but all know this to be true. The reason why you do not know it to be true is that your attention is focused on dollars, rather than the price of gold.
(In the following part of this post, I don’t want you to get me wrong. I am not arguing for a return to the gold standard — I am just laying out the history.)
States learned pretty early on in the 1800′s that their paper token of money could within limits serve the same function as commodity money. During the Civil War, Congress issued tokens to fund war against the slave states; in World War I, Britain did the same to fund its effort. The Confederacy employed the same token issue to make up for its lack of gold to fund its rebellion. And, it is common knowledge everyone from banksters to states routinely debased money to siphon off whatever portion of wealth they could. Manipulation of the metal content of coin, or excess creation of paper tokens were so routine, we had a habit of biting a coin to test it.
However, this “counterfeiting” was always held in bounds by the fact that these coins and paper were only tokens of a definite quantity of gold or another metal. The state issued a paper token and received real goods in return, but this eventually led to the collapse in purchasing power of the token. The paper tokens were only a claim on gold, and when people cashed in this claim for gold, banks suffered a loss of their real assets. At the same time, you or I could only verify that a paper token of a dollar really was worth a dollar by cashing it in for a gold dollar.
The possibility existed, however, that the paper dollar we accepted in return for our commodity, was not actually equal to a gold dollar.
The possibility that a paper dollar is not actually the equivalent of a “real dollar” is the basis of the discrepancy in the chart I posted. In what now serves as a dollar, there has never been a year over year contraction in the US economy since the Great Depression until now. However, the same data measured by the yardstick of the price of an ounce of gold shows there has been two severe depressions during that time.
The first was the Great Stagflation of the 1970s — an event so severe even today we fear inflation more than unemployment. The second, began in 2001 and has continued uninterrupted until now. The Great Stagflation of the 1970s saw real economic activity collapse by 82% — far more severe than the Great Depression and lasted more than twice as long. This depression has lasted as long as the Great Stagflation, with real economic activity falling some 75% so far.
Just as we saw in the Great Stagflation the collapse of classical Keynesianism, now we see the collapse of neoliberalism. The collapse of the neoliberal consensus stems from the fact that what worked to end the crisis of the 1970s is not working now. The neoliberal consensus was: “free trade agreements”, stable deficit spending, consumer debt, and export of manufacturing. Capital was exported to the low wage periphery, and the excessive profit took the form of consumer debt and US Treasuries financed with artificially low interest rates. This is not working any longer, and the political crisis of the moment consists entirely of a debate over what replaces it.
The fascist state can no longer function in the old way, and a new way of rationalizing Capital has yet to emerge.
Personally, I don’t understand most of this, but I do understand that all statistics regarding the actual economy are a lie. All economic and political analysis that proceeds from the dollar already accepts the Fascist State’s lie in its totality. Exposing the Fascist State on the Left and the Right, begins with ripping off the veil of money and revealing the true state of affairs.
The most important piece of information implied by the chart posted yesterday is the great gap between real and dollar denominated activity. Simply stated, on the chart you can see how far the economy can fall, should the collapse in fiscal and monetary policy continue.
The next most important piece of information provided by analysis based on gold is how deeply the wages of the average worker has been cut. It is not the least bit true that wages have stagnated over the past three decades; the real case is far more horrific: at the highest point in the expansion coming off the Great Stagflation, the average hourly wage was just 40% of what it was in 1970. Measured in dollar terms, the wages of the average worker have never fallen year over year, in gold terms they fell to about 10% by 1980. And, as I stated, they only recovered to about 40% of the 1970 level by 2001, when the economy was again plunged into depression. The real purchasing power of wages right now is about 10% of the level in 1970, and still falling.
These are just 2 examples of how money is providing a cover for Fascist State policy by confusing working people about their own reality. I should be clear at this point: this confusion is not an accident; it is not an artifact of otherwise natural money relations. It is true, as historical materialism argues, that money acts as a veil to hide real relations between individuals in society. However, we are not dealing with money in its “natural form”, i.e., in the form of commodity money. We are dealing with an entirely fictitious form of money; deliberately created to hide from the worker her relation to the state itself. A form created to conceal from her that her exploitation is now managed directly by the fascist state, which acts as the social capitalist.
This effort is best explained by one of the two geniuses who first described how it worked, Lord John Maynard Keynes:
Thus it is fortunate that the workers, though unconsciously, are instinctively more reasonable economists than the classical school, inasmuch as they resist reductions of money-wages, which are seldom or never of an all-round character, even though the existing real equivalent of these wages exceeds the marginal disutility of the existing employment; whereas they do not resist reductions of real wages, which are associated with increases in aggregate employment and leave relative money-wages unchanged, unless the reduction proceeds so far as to threaten a reduction of the real wage below the marginal disutility of the existing volume of employment. Every trade union will put up some resistance to a cut in money-wages, however small. But since no trade union would dream of striking on every occasion of a rise in the cost of living, they do not raise the obstacle to any increase in aggregate employment which is attributed to them by the classical school. – Keynes, General Theory, 1936
This is the entire political-economy of the fascist state stated concisely in the words of one of its most profound thinkers: working people will respond to gradual starvation through inflation by working more and longer to make up for the loss of real wages.
There is a massive black hole in the center of Marxism that cannot be ignored, since it touches on the question of social revolution itself. That question can be posed this way: What happened to the Soviet Union? But, the better formulation is this:
Why didn’t the Great Depression touch off a revolution in the West?
Numerous explanations of this failure have been offered by commentators of every variety within and without Marxism. During the Great Depression, it is clear, capitalism suffered an irreversible breakdown due to absolute over-accumulation. And, it is also clear that effective control over the state was already in the hands of the proletarian majority through its suffrage. Moreover, as now, the solution to the general crisis of capitalism was already obvious, and universally recognized: reduction of labor hours.
The principal explanations now fashionable within Marxism deny one or more of these facts. They propose: There is,
- no general crisis; or,
- no effective control over state power by the proletariat; or,
- that reduction of hours of labor will not work.
Every one of these explanations violate the assumptions of historical materialism.
If you deny there is a general crisis of capitalism, you are making the argument there can be absolute over-accumulation in one country leading to export of capital to the less developed regions of the world market, but there cannot be absolute over-accumulation in the world market itself. And, since Lenin’s theses on imperialism is entirely based on the concept of global over-accumulation, you have to reject his conclusions. Not too mention a materialist explanation of the more than 130 million dead in two world conflicts and the numerous conflicts following this.
If you want to deny universal suffrage of the proletarian majority is the sufficient condition for its effective political rule you must then impose conditions on this rule other than those that stem from its material position in society. You must then deny Marx’s thesis that the proletariat’s historical mission stems from who they are, not what they think. This position, as in the “Bolshevik model”, denies the capacity of the proletariat to empirically determine their own role in history.
Lenin advances the “Bolshevik Model” in “What is to be Done.” Which, I think, is a reaction to social-democratic reformism. No matter what the cause, this idea becomes embedded in Marxism so firmly that it has been enshrined as the concept of “vanguard party”. Anarchists rightly ridicule this by pointing out Marxism leads either to reformist social-democracy or despotic Leninism.
On the other hand, Marxism borrows from the argument of Anarchists like Noam Chomsky that, somehow, the effective power of the proletariat is a manufactured consent — the working class is indoctrinated. Their leaders are bribed, their organizations are co-opted, and their reality is hidden from them by deceptions spread in the media.
Finally if you deny reduction of hours of labor is the only solution to the general crisis of capitalism you can’t explain the fascist state. The fascist state emerges simultaneously in all industrial nations during the Great Depression despite their numerous historical differences. It clearly emerges as the political response to the general crisis, which is nothing more than massive unemployment a glut of productive capacity and intense competition between national capitals over division of the world market.
But, absolute over-accumulation is just accumulation of capital that can no longer function as capital that cannot expand its own value through exploitation of labor power, cannot realize the surplus value extracted as profit. It takes the form of a mass of superfluous means of subsistence, means of production, and idled workers, who are now available for war.
This surplus of mean of subsistence, means of production and idled workers is produced during the period of the social work day beyond that required for the wages of the productively employed population. Absolute over-accumulation simply means the work day can’t be longer than that needed to satisfy the material requirements of the laborers.
I think, any attempt to explain why the Great Depression did not end in a social revolution must begin with these assumptions. This explanation must, at the same time, account for the failure of the Marxist-Leninist model of revolution. The first failure is only the second failure presented in another form.
We can probably best begin to account for what happened during the Great Depression by examining the flaws in the Marxist theory of the state. For this, I want to use Althusser’s 1970 work, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.
Althusser has this formulation of the ‘Marxist theory of the state’ (the quotation marks are his, not mine):
To summarize the ‘Marxist theory of the state’ on this point, it can be said that the Marxist classics have always claimed that (1) the state is the repressive state apparatus, (2) state power and state apparatus must be distinguished, (3) the objective of the class struggle concerns state power, and in consequence the use of the state apparatus by the classes (or alliance of classes or of fractions of classes) holding state power as a function of their class objectives, and (4) the proletariat must seize state power in order to destroy the existing bourgeois state apparatus and, in a first phase, replace it with a quite different, proletarian, state apparatus, then in later phases set in motion a radical process, that of the destruction of the state (the end of state power, the end of every state apparatus).
The problem with this statement by Althusser of the ‘Marxist theory of the state’ is that it is a fantasy; and is not historical materialism. To figure out why, we have to work backwards in Althusser’s formulation — from (4) to (1)
With regards to (4), I have never encountered the formulation in Marx or Engels that the workers replace the bourgeois state apparatus with their own. In fact, I have never encountered Marx or Engels speaking of any state apparatus but the present bourgeois state apparatus. And, their verdict on this, based on the Commune, was definitive: It must be broken.
Not reformed, not replaced, not refurbished — broken.
What made the proletarian state power different from all preceding forms is that this apparatus itself was abolished at the outset. The Anarchists of the Commune replaced it with a working body combining both deliberative and executive functions. Marx could have differed with this, but he explicitly did not — he endorsed it.
With deliberative and executive functions combined, there is no state apparatus as distinct from state power. But, the present state consists of this division — of a useless legislative body and power concentrated in the executive. Since, there was no stand-alone executive in the Commune, the idea that the state is destroyed only in later phases is complete bunk. For this reason, Marx referred to what Anarchists created in the commune as no longer a state.
This has to be empasized: Marx looked at what the Communards created and said it was NOT a state.
And why was this: because the Anarchists had abolished the historical division between the executive and deliberative functions of the state. The new society was itself both the deliberative body and the means for executing its decisions. In both the Soviet despotic and the Western democratic forms of proletarian rule, we find exactly that this division is not done away with.
In (3), Althusser argues that the objective of the class struggle is to wield the state apparatus as a function of class objectives. But, as early as 1845, in The German Ideology, Marx described the proletariat as a class which was not a class, but the dissolution of other classes. In 1851 work, Reflections on Money, he explains how money relations conceal relations of production and classes.
Both classes shop the same stores, pay the same prices for the same goods — the only apparent difference is the amount of money in their wallets. While material relations of production determine society, these relations are buried deep beneath purely monetary ones. Given that, for the proletariat, it is not a class in any real sense, and given that its relation to other classes is concealed from it how is historical materialism to conclude that the proletariat wields state power as a function of its class objectives?
Since all interests are only interests in the exploitation of labor under given relations, how is labor itself to express such an interest? Against what class is this interest to be expressed other than itself?
In (2), Althusser expresses the opinion that state power and state apparatus must be distinguished. So, how are we to do this? Until the Commune had state power ever been exercised in any other form than through the state apparatus? Was there a discovery in 1970 of some epoch in which the state power of the ruling class was exercised directly and not through an apparatus?
Althusser is wrong on this, I think.
Throughout history, state power has consisted of an armed body of men to enforce the domination of the existing ruling class. This special interest, which having raised itself to position of the general interest, must become the objective of all special interests seeking to impose themselves on society as the general interest. The competition between classes over control of this apparatus only expresses the fact that the history of society is the succession of one after another special interests.
In (1), Althusser defines the state as “the repressive state apparatus”. But, Engels, in his 1880 work, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, is already describing the state as much more than this: “The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine — the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital.”
If the crises demonstrate the incapacity of the bourgeoisie for managing any longer modern productive forces, the transformation of the great establishments for production and distribution into joint-stock companies, trusts, and State property, show how unnecessary the bourgeoisie are for that purpose. All the social functions of the capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange, where the different capitalists despoil one another of their capital. At first, the capitalistic mode of production forces out the workers. Now, it forces out the capitalists, and reduces them, just as it reduced the workers, to the ranks of the surplus-population, although not immediately into those of the industrial reserve army.
But, the transformation — either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into State-ownership — does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. In the joint-stock companies and trusts, this is obvious. And the modern State, again, is only the organization that bourgeois society takes on in order to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments as well of the workers as of individual capitalists. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine — the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The workers remain wage-workers — proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is, rather, brought to a head. But, brought to a head, it topples over. State-ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution.
Already, under the pressure of the capitalist mode of production, the state was undergoing a profound transformation. The state was not eclipsing the two great classes in bourgeois society, but coming more to function as the social capitalist.
I want to address some questions raised by commenters to Reddit r/anarchism regarding my post, “Open Letter to Certain Members of the Libertarian Party: Please, stop being assholes”.
It was not my intention to pick a fight on the merits of mainstream Libertarianism — I am solely concerned with the problem of antipolitics; which is to say, I am solely concerned with crafting a message to the majority of voters that dismantling the state is in their interest.
If you cannot craft a message that contains this idea and lock onto to it like a pit-bull you leave yourself vulnerable to fascist opponents.
The core proposition I am advancing is that the population looks to the fascist state to preserve and protect their interests. I don’t intend to define those interests for people, I only want to draw some outline of the parameters based on actual characteristics.
First, people have to eat — in our society, you eat one of two ways: out of the proceeds of your labor, or out of your revenue from your stock of capital. The vast majority — 99 percent — of the population depend entirely on their labor, or, absent this, some form of public subsistence.
Second, people fight for their interests with every means available to them — political, economic, etc. All divisions in society are political, and all battles have the objective to gain control of and wield power on behalf of these interests. The history of the fascist state is nothing more than history of this universal competition over control of the coercive powers of the state in order to use these coercive power to enforce definite interests within society — to impose these interests on society as a whole.
In this sense, there is not an iota of difference between the Koch Brothers and AFL-CIO. And, our goal as anti-statists against both the Koch Brothers and the AFL-CIO is identical: we want to deny them this coercive state power. We do not favor the political power of the Koch Brothers against the AFL-CIO, nor the AFL-CIO against the Koch Brothers.
The corollary of this position is that we want to abolish both laws that protect the monopoly property rights of the Koch Brothers and laws that protect the labor rights of the members of the AFL-CIO. On the surface, this appears brutally indifferent to the circumstances of every member of society — it is no wonder people are against it. It is brutally indifferent to class conflict, to race, to religion, to sexual preference, to national origin, to all differences among us.
So, Rand Paul is entirely correct to be against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but not because it was unconstitutional or such nonsense, but because antistatists are against all laws, law itself, and the coercive functions of the state.
Antistatists believe the state does not end conflict and division within society, but sustains and reinforces these conflicts and divisions. The conflict between wage labor and capital could not for moment continue today, if it were not for the constant intervention of the state into the economy. While we may differ over the cause of the conflict between wage labor and capital, we entirely agree the state facilitates it. We agree that the role of the fascist state is to manage the conflict, not abolish it.
Our indifference to the circumstances of wage labor or capital in relation to the state, does not result from a common view of the conflict; it results from a common view of the role of the state in sustaining division and conflict and making its continuation possible.
Every antistatist has her own view of what society looks like after the state is abolished — some have several contradictory views. If those views had any impact whatsoever on the trajectory of human society, they might be of some significance. The fact is, all the views, all the models, all the blueprints for a new society are meaningless — mankind will take no notice of them. In the aftermath of the abolition of the state people will create their lives as they see fit based on conditions they discover empirically. So, it is not a matter of debate over differing visions of a post-state society that should concern us, but creating the post-state society.
That is, figuring out how to abolish the fascist state.
In my opinion, this comes down to the practical problem of convincing a working majority of the population that dismantling the state is in their interest — how ever they define this interest. (We do not seek to define it for them.) In the post, I argued you can begin by telling the wage laborer that if she votes for you you will strip every labor protection from her. I leave it to you to decide whether this is a promising strategy.
The other political approach is to show why abolishing the state will improve her life. And, by showing, I do not mean charts, blogs or books — I mean a platform that really will work for her, that will improve her life. Like, for instance, abolishing the national security state, and, with this, abolishing all her taxes, and reducing her hours of work. You might disagree with me on the specific proposals, but you get my drift. Practical improvements in people’s lives must be demonstrated.
Some people, either because they want to prove themselves more radical than everyone else, or because they serve some interest, imagine they must put forth the most aggressive program against the economic interest of the majority of voters.
Folks, this ain’t going to work, and it only helps the fascists hold onto power.
If, Barack Obama is “defending grandmothers and social security”, while antistatists are frontally attacking it — who wins this argument? If Barack Obama is “defending the environment”, while antistatists are issuing blistering attacks on the EPA, who wins? Our argument is that Social Security is a failure, because it does not end the inscecurity of seniors. The EPA is a failure, because it does not end the damage to the environment.
These programs are failures because they do not address the problems that forced them to be created in the first place.
So, that was my argument. I chose to present it the way I did in order to get people to read it and think about the issues I raised. It was not a diatribe against “rightwing libertarianism”, as some believe, but an argument against all three communist (antistatist) trends and the failed political strategy of one of more promising vehicles for political struggle against the state. I believe the term, “rightwing libertarianism” is a silly term: if you want to abolish the state you are a social revolutionary — pure and simple, no qualifications.
Something has got to change, folks.
99ers, how do you think this happened: “Corp profits account for 92% of growth in real national income.” .
A recent study by a team of economists at Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies argues that the current economic recovery is the worst since World War II for worker pay and job growth — but the best for corporate profits. The headline:
Over this six-quarter period [from Q2 of 2009 to Q4 of 2010], corporate profits captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income.
That’s right. Of the $528 billion in real national income gained between the second quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2010, pre-tax corporate profits accounted for $464 billion, while wages rose by just $7 billion. If you extend that out to the first quarter of 2011:
[C]orporate profits accounted for 92% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries declined by $22 billion and contributed nothing to growth.
Ninety-two percent of the national income increase in the last two years has ended up in the pockets of Wall Street because millions of people are working too much, while millions of other people like you are unemployed. The statistics gather by Northeastern University demonstrate that by keeping you unemployed, the corporations gained a massive share of income in this “recovery”.
This why Obama doesn’t care about you; this is why he did not take one question on the subject during his Twitter Town Hall.
The unemployed are the deadweights being used in this crisis to hold down the wages of the employed. As long as hours of work are not changed, neither will this. There is nothing difficult to understand about this: Obama is using you to line the pockets of Wall Street.
Can I put this is simpler terms — terms even a grade school child will understand? Keeping you hungry, keeps wages down! Obama doesn’t want to reduce hours of work because he knows longer hours of work provide massive profits to corporations.
The two parties have their talking points: “It is too costly to stimulate the economy to reduce unemployment, we have to balance the budget.”
And, they can point to the 2009 stimulus bill to prove their point” In 2009, it cost nearly $300,000 to produce one measly $25,000 job. But this is a complete distraction: It doesn’t cost a dime to create jobs by reducing hours of work. Cutting hours of work, so everyone has a job, does not cost a dime and can completely eliminate unemployment forever. If the work week was 20 hours long, the unemployed would have a job, and the overworked population would have more freedom from work. While Washington would have fewer idle resources for its wars of aggression.
At some point 99ers will have to realize the two parties have deliberately locked you out by using the excuse that ending unemployment is expensive — even as they limit our options to only the most expensive kinds of stimulus measures. The entire deficit debate is designed to distract the nation from the plight of the unemployed. Obama is working with Boehner to do this.
Ending unemployment doesn’t cost a dime!
Ending inequality doesn’t cost a dime!
All it takes is a reduction in hours of work. Either 99ers learn this lesson, or you will continue to suffer.
There are now enough 99ers to prevent Obama’s reelection in 2012. So you should stop whining and start trying to defeat him. The moment a group starts called “99ers to defeat Obama in 2012″ is the moment Washington starts taking your plight seriously. 99ers need to stop whining about being ignored and start fighting for a complete abolition of unemployment. You are bigger than the Tea Party and Moveon.org combined. You need to show your power.
The only way to get Washington’s attention is to make sure Obama goes down in flames in 2012. Almost all the battleground states in 2012 are experiencing massive unemployment and huge numbers of 99ers. No party will get elected if 99ers refuse to support them in these states.
It is time you stop whining about Obama, and make his life a complete misery — you need to change the terms of the debate. If 99ers would, for one minute, start thinking intelligently about unemployment, Obama and Boehner could be stopped.
No one is coming to your rescue. Only you will save yourself and the rest of the employed, who are working more hours for less income. As long as 99ers spend their days begging on their knees for a job, the two parties will ignore you.
Stand up for yourselves! If Obama gets reelected in 2012, he will be the GOP’s man in the White House — and 99ers will be screwed again.
If anyone follows what I have written for Little Green Footballs or United Liberty, you’ll know I was pretty harsh on Ron Paul’s son Rand, who is now the Senator elect for the state of Kentucky. While in Washington D.C., a Kentuckian of high rank in a libertarian organization told me that “racism” was catapulting Rand to the Kentucky seat in the U.S. Senate. This was before his painful Civil Rights interview on Rachel Maddow’s show or having discovered that Rand was the generous recipient of donations from white nationalist organizations.
As is said over at Disinfo, both Senator Paul and Congressman Paul being the subject of a New York Times spotlight is a sharp break from the treatment of Paul during 2008. Read for yourself:
As virtually all of Washington was declaring WikiLeaks’s disclosures of secret diplomatic cables an act of treason, Representative Ron Paul was applauding the organization for exposing the United States’ “delusional foreign policy.”
For this, the conservative blog RedState dubbed him “Al Qaeda’s favorite member of Congress.”
It was hardly the first time that Mr. Paul had marched to his own beat. During his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, he was best remembered for declaring in a debate that the 9/11 attacks were the Muslim world’s response to American military intervention around the globe. A fellow candidate, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, interrupted and demanded that he take back the words — a request that Mr. Paul refused.
During his 20 years in Congress, Mr. Paul has staked out the lonely end of 434-to-1 votes against legislation that he considers unconstitutional, even on issues as ceremonial as granting Mother Teresa a Congressional Gold Medal. His colleagues have dubbed him “Dr. No,” but his wife will insist that they have the spelling wrong: he is really Dr. Know.
Now it appears others are beginning to credit him with some wisdom — or at least acknowledging his passionate following.
After years of blocking him from a leadership position, Mr. Paul’s fellow Republicans have named him chairman of the House subcommittee on domestic monetary policy, which oversees the Federal Reserve as well as the currency and the valuation of the dollar.
Mr. Paul has strong views on those issues. He has written a book called “End the Fed”; he embraces Austrian economic thought, which holds that the government has no role in regulating the economy; and he advocates a return to the gold standard.
Many of the new Republicans in the next Congress campaigned on precisely the issues that Mr. Paul has been talking about for 40 years: forbidding Congress from any action not explicitly authorized in the Constitution, eliminating entire federal departments as unconstitutional and checking the power of the Fed.
He has been called the “intellectual godfather of the Tea Party,” but he also is the real father of the Tea Party movement’s most high-profile winner, Senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky. (The two will be roommates in Ron Paul’s Virginia condominium. “I told him as long as he didn’t expect me to cook,” the elder Mr. Paul said. “I’m not going to take care of him the way his mother did.”)…
Ron Paul did in the 2008 Republican presidential debates what no one from either party had ever dared to do in public: democratize and hold for discussion the merits of foreign policy and drug policy. In the Democratic Party, Dennis Kucinich has played a similar role but, perhaps because of the inherent contrarian nature of Paul’s libertarianism, was never as unapologetic. When Paul discussed drug and foreign policy, he sounded a whole lot more like normal people who don’t hold office or work in a think tank in Washington D.C.
If any restaurant operated like voting in the United States you would refuse to eat there. We would be given the choices of Poop and Shit. You can choose the poop, but it’s a gamble and the chances are good that once you’ve chosen the poop you will be forced to eat the shit. Some people figured this out and decided they wanted to eat pizza instead of poop or shit.
So, cheeseburgers and hot-dogs were added to the menu. We have third parties! If you order from the menu order a hot-dog or a cheeseburger. The problem with that is, I’m a vegetarian and I wanted a veggie pizza. So the vegetarian I am decides to order something that is at least edible, a hot-dog. Guess what. I am force fed shit still despite my constant ordering cheeseburgers and hot-dogs.
Really no matter what you vote for you will be force fed someones shit despite your opposition to eating shit. They will promise caviar but what they aren’t telling you is that they ate the damn caviar and it’s still shit even though it used to be caviar.
It would only make sense to leave the restaurant, go home with your friends and make a veggie pizza.
This November I will be force fed shit. I will try to get as many of us to reject the poop and shit and join me in making my pizza. There is no choice. this is only the tyranny of the two ruling powers.