Let’s get into something personal right off the hop.
Let's talk about resistance.
We live, simultaneously, in two different worlds. Ultimately, we live in the World of Nature, a world that we did not create and the world upon which all life depends. Most immediately, we inhabit a "human world" that we create ourselves. Because our human world is the result of our own choices and actions, we can say, quite properly, that we live, most immediately, in a “political world.” In this blog, I hope to explore the interaction of these two worlds that we call home.
The death spiral of the American Empire will not be halted with civility. It will not be halted with the 42 executive orders signed by Joe Biden, however welcome many are, especially since they can, with a new chief executive, be immediately revoked. It will not be halted by removing Donald Trump, and the crackpot conspiracy theorists, Christian fascists and racists who support him, from social media. It will not be halted by locking up the Proud Boys and the clueless protestors who stormed the Congress on January 6 and took selfies in Mike Pence’s Senate chair. It will not be halted by restoring the frayed alliances with our European allies or rejoining the World Health Organization or the Paris Climate Agreement. All of these measures are window dressing, masking the root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed. The longer wealth is funneled upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal, who put Biden into office and whose interests he assiduously serves, we are doomed.Once an oligarchy seizes power, deforming governing institutions to exclusively serve their narrow interests and turning the citizenry into serfs, there are only two options, as Aristotle pointed out — tyranny or revolution.
In a high-quality dementia care facility, confused residents who are at risk of unsafe wandering are skillfully redirected away from exit doors by staff members who are trained to provide them with the illusion of freedom while still keeping them in the safety of the care home. A propaganda-addled populace wandering around trying to find an escape from its oppressors is redirected in very much the same way.If you’ve ever visited a loved one in a locked dementia care facility, especially near sunset, you know how agitated the people who live there can become. The impulse to wander and pace is very common, and depending on where they’re at cognitively they’ll often demand to leave the facility at once so they can go “home”.When this happens, unskillful staff members will take an openly authoritarian position and tell the resident that they cannot leave and that the facility is their home now. This confrontational approach invariably leads to agitation on the part of the confused resident, because in their mind they really do live somewhere else and are being told they need to remain locked in a strange place that they have no memory of. This can quickly lead to a catastrophic response that is unpleasant for everyone, especially the resident in question.A more skillful staff member will employ a very different strategy. Rather than engaging in futile attempts to persuade someone with severe dementia that they must stay and that their perception of reality is wrong, they will simply say “Ah yes, right away Mister Smith! Let’s go get you ready to leave.” They’ll take him by the hand, ask him if he wants dinner before he leaves, get him talking about his time in the army, distracting him from the thought of leaving and letting the memory loss do the work for them. In a few minutes Mister Smith is happily chowing down on mechanical soft meat and potatoes without a care in the world.
That's how electoral politics works. The public will periodically become agitated at the way their wealth and resources are being stolen from them and spent on overseas wars, or the fact that they are deliberately kept poor and busy by a plutocratic system in which the relative wealth of the rich is given more political power by the relative poverty of everyone else, and they are redirected.They are not told “No Mister Smith, you are the property of the oligarchic empire.” They are instead told by the skillful manipulators of the political/media class, “Ah yes Mister Smith, you can have everything you want! Just vote for the Democratic Party right over there!”And just as the facility’s design intended, Mister Smith goes out the door to the Democratic Party, wanders around in circles for a while, then comes back inside without posing any inconvenience to the staff members who run the empire.
While a handful of elected officials recognize the gravity and push for a Green New Deal (GND) — that rightfully strives to curtail carbon-intensive economic growth — it must also be recognized that the GND is only an initial step. The GND hints at contradictions within the U.S. economy and outlines a transition to alleviate some of these contradictions, yet it is a mere jumping-off point and a framework that leaves questions regarding its implementation.
The current mode of production and distribution — of private ownership motivated by unlimited growth and profits — is incompatible with ensuring the survival of humanity, serving the common interest, and staving off ecological collapse. To effectively limit the destructive tendencies of a system based on carbon-intensive growth, mitigate economic contradictions, and reverse course from impending ecological collapse, a bold conversation offering implementation with explicit class politics is urgently needed from GND champions.GND supporters — Congressional, amongst the public, and media — must begin to look at how to achieve the resolution’s goals and consider the ideological framework of the GND’s implementation... As the clock ticks down and the urgency to correct climate change draws near, the GND’s future implementation cannot rely on rudderless ideological appeasement to the market (emphasis added).
We defend California quicker and louder because we uprooted our lives to move thousands of miles to be here. We can’t understand why people would want to leave, because we believe with a convert’s zeal in the promise that California has long offered: This is the place not just to chase your dream, but to catch it. It is where you can be yourself and be with whom you choose to be with and say what you want, when you want and as loudly as you want. Unlike the places we left.That’s why I moved here nearly 30 years ago. I believed all that. I still do.So that’s why it hurts us converts more when California doesn’t live up to that promise. Like now.Living the California dream is nearly impossible for anyone who isn’t already rich. Or, for the most part, white.
The dream isn’t attainable now for a skyrocketing number of residents who can’t buy a home or can’t afford rent unless they pack eight people into a two-bedroom apartment. It is a sham to people who shake their head at $12 grilled cheese sandwiches or wonder who would pay $7 for a shot of pressed juice....
For the past five years, this column (and my accompanying podcast) has been called “It’s All Political” for a reason. Everything we do — and everything we hope to change — has a political element to it.People can march in the streets in support of Black lives, but structural change will come only through political solutions. Yes, change starts in the streets. Nothing makes a politician move faster than the threat of losing a job. But lasting change doesn’t happen unless laws are changed.Our political system may be broken, but I remain optimistic that politics can be the route to change. Because I’ve seen it happen just in the time that I’ve lived here (emphasis added).
Even in the American empire’s neocolonial phase, the role of the U.S. military and the CIA was to kick open doors through which American businessmen could “follow the flag” to set up shop and develop new markets.
But now U.S. militarism and America’s economic interests have diverged. Apart from a few military contractors, American businesses have not followed the flag into the ruins of Iraq or America’s other current war-zones in any lasting way. Eighteen years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq’s largest trading partner is China, while Afghanistan’s is Pakistan, Somalia’s is the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Libya’s is the European Union (EU).
Instead of opening doors for American big business or supporting America’s diplomatic position in the world, the U.S. war machine has become a bull in the global china shop, wielding purely destructive power to destabilize countries and wreck their economies, closing doors to economic opportunity instead of opening them, diverting resources from real needs at home, and damaging America’s international standing instead of enhancing it.When President Eisenhower warned against the “unwarranted influence” of America’s military-industrial complex, he was predicting precisely this kind of dangerous dichotomy between the real economic and social needs of the American people and a war machine that costs more than the next ten militaries in the world put together but cannot win a war or vanquish a virus, let alone reconquer a lost empire.
China and the EU have become the major trading partners of most countries in the world. The United States is still a regional economic power, but even in South America, most countries now trade more with China (emphasis added).
China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty, while America’s poverty rate has barely budged in 50 years and child poverty has increased. America still has the weakest social safety net of any developed country and no universal healthcare system, and the inequalities of wealth and power caused by extreme neoliberalism have left half of Americans with little or no savings to live on in retirement or to weather any disruption in their lives. Our leaders’ insistence on siphoning off 66% of U.S. federal discretionary spending to preserve and expand a war machine that has long outlived any useful role in America’s declining economic empire is a debilitating waste of resources that jeopardizes our future.
Decades ago Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
As our government debates whether we can “afford” COVID relief, a Green New Deal and universal healthcare, we would be wise to recognize that our only hope of transforming this decadent, declining empire into a dynamic and prosperous post-imperial nation is rapidly and profoundly to shift our national priorities from irrelevant, destructive militarism to the programs of social uplift called for by Dr. King.
In the individualistic culture of the West, there is high value attached to being talented, taking care of yourself, and competing successfully in the marketplace. In East Asia, a "good" person may instead be seen as someone attentive to her own weaknesses, motivated by self-improvement, and emphasizing the values and needs of those around her.
What should we make of these differences that have persisted through the millennia? One important implication is that many attributes that psychologists have believed to be human universals are really only true for Westerners, a relatively small portion of humanity. A group of researchers, pointing out that most psychology experiments are carried out on samples drawn from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies have memorably given this subpopulation the acronym WEIRD. People from WEIRD societies are, it turns out, frequent outliers in experiments conducted globally, and one of the least representative human populations (emphasis added).
What seems clear is that the real reason many on the right oppose helping children is that they fear that such help might make low-income families less desperate. And the very reason they hate this proposal is the reason the rest of us should love it.
For the purposes of allowing unsheltered people to sleep at night during times when shelters are full, except in cases of critical need (including, but not limited to, increased fire risk; blocking access to a home, business, or a parking lot of a building; blocking access to both sides of the sidewalk on one street; or blocking the sidewalk in a way that that causes pedestrian use of the sidewalk to not be maintained for at least one side of the street), City staff shall not, on City sidewalks, outside of those areas specified in 6.36.040(a) where Outdoor Living Encampments are prohibited at all times, enforce SCMC section 15.32.010 against persons experiencing homelessness, between the hours of 8:01 PM-7:59 AM.
Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with economic liberalism and free-market capitalism. It is generally associated with policies of economic liberalization, including privatization, deregulation, globalization, free trade, austerity and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
There was a lot of binge-watching of documentaries, reality TV and romance. Stories that took place outside the U.S. also saw some of the largest gains as viewers were stuck at home and isolated. Through entertainment, we sought love, escapism and connection with others.
I, personally, prefer to use the term "Global Warming," rather than "Climate Change." Global Warming is the cause, and Climate Change is the effect. Still, I'll take an emergency declaration however it's denominated. A genuine emergency it is!