Monday, September 26, 2005


At one time people of color were not treated with respect. They were shown contempt, ruled by fear of punishment and bullied into submission. At one time women were not granted respect. They were shown contempt, ruled by fear of punishment and bullied into submission. At one time children were not treated with respect. They were shown contempt, ruled by fear of punishment and bullied into submission.

Today, the majority of the population think a contemptuous attitude toward people of color, women and children is barbaric. This change in attitude is a definite sign of social progress. However, this is still the situation for most of us in the work place. Our needs are not taken into account and we are ruled by sanctions. Indeed, it is getting worse under the neocon reaction. We are forced to work harder and longer. In the US workers have been stripped of their most basic democratic rights. We are treated like dirt. The only way we can win back our humanity is through self-management. Only then can we become responsible adults, ruled not by fear, but through knowledge and the pursuit of a common goal.

Self management is not only decent, humane and democratic, but is also common sense. Consider the logic behind authoritarian management. "The people who do the job are bossed by people who don't do the job." Following the logic of such a set-up, in a hospital surgeons ought to be managed by nurses and nurses by surgeons. The only people who really understand a job are the people who do it. Even where you have bosses who come up from the ranks, there is often a big time gap between being a line worker and a boss, in which time "what it is like" gets forgotten. Boss ideology also tends to supplant any sympathy that existed for the ordinary worker. Note how quickly the promoted learn to apologize for management's idiocies and crimes

Authoritarian management is ultimately rooted in feudalism. When capitalism developed it brought the irrational authoritarian and hierarchical methods of control along with it. Feudal society was obsessed by title and formality. Thus if someone had the title of "Lord" he was to be respected and obeyed even though he might be the most useless and incompetent creature on the planet. Given this world-view, we must obey our bosses even though they do not understand the job we do, for they have the title. This feudalistic nonsense was re-cycled in late 19th Century pseudo-science as Social Darwinism. (1) This ideology saw capitalists and their allied authorities as winners in the so-called "struggle for the survival of the fittest", thus justifying their exploitation and bullying. Social Darwinist thought is remains a strong undercurrent in ruling class ideology, as perusing any daily newspaper will show.

Authoritarian management is also rooted in psychological problems. For an insecure person to boss others about is a treat for the weak ego. This sort of person needs power, even if highly limited, say, to only bullying a couple of manual laborers. They seek power the way a drug addict seeks heroin. If authoritarian management was eliminated and democratic management introduced, such people would lose out big time - back to being ordinary workers, in fact due to their lack of real ability, lower in scale than the workers they once bossed.

It is said, though this might just be an excuse, that the biggest obstacle to any real form of worker-input is this lower and middle management. You would think it would be far cheaper and less hassle for the capitalists to just farm out the work to self-managed coops. The fact they don't do this is indicative of an obsessive need to control people. It isn't just wealth they seek, but power. Having thousands of employees makes them feel like a feudal lord with his serfs. They are as loony as their stooges and satraps, and if anything, crazier. Once again, a big chunk of the problem is rooted in psychology, and our ability to introduce self-management within capitalism is therefore quite limited. This does not mean we should not try, but in the long run we must eliminate capitalism and create a full-fledged cooperative, and therefore rational, economy.

1. Also one of the main components of Nazism, I might add. No wonder the heads of many major US corporations, including George W's grandpappy, loved Hitler.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Hobbit Is Human

The Hobbit has now been confirmed as human and a variant of Homo Erectus, the immediate predecessor to Homo Sapiens. Nor was it someone who was microcephalic, but was a normal, but very small person. See Article here


There are two errors to avoid when discussing Aboriginal People or our "primitive" ancestors. One is to romanticize them, to shoulder them with all our ideals of what a perfect society might look like. The reality is, these people were not politically correct, and often engaged in practices that we would regard as unsavory, such as feuding, raiding and slaving. The other error is to apply concepts of class structure and authority applicable only to our own society to Aboriginals and "primitives."

What do I mean by this? A clear division exists between cultures who have a state and class division and those who don't. West Coast societies had status hierarchy and slaves, but this should not be equated with the power hierarchies and slave economies of Classical Greece or the Roman Empire. What separates the two systems is the possession of, or lack of, coercive power. There is a difference between a status hierarchy and a power hierarchy. Luciano Pavarotti has immense status in the world, but any low-level bureaucrat has more coercive power. On the other hand, almost everyone regards George Bush with contempt, yet he has the power to kill us all.

Native societies, and presumably our own Paleolithic-Neolithic ancestors, confirmed immense status on some individuals. But they had little or no power to force people to do things. They could convince thru discussion, but not coerce. We cannot regard such societies as true class systems. Nor did they possess a state.

As for slaves, the idea of capturing and keeping one's enemies to do the dirty work may go back to the Mesolithic or even the Paleolithic. Changes in climate, population growth, or just following animal migration would force people to move great distances. Where the same ecological niche was used by both newcomer and the older settlers, conflict would arise. (On the other hand, conflict seems to have been avoided where different ecological niches were sought) 1. It probably didn't take very long to figure out it made more sense to keep the people captured in a raid rather than kill them. It would also confer more status upon the warrior who captured them. But this form of slavery cannot be equated to that found in a class society. Native slavery was not the most important part of the economy. Fishing, hunting and farming was done overwhelmingly by free people. Slavery was more status-bound than an economic force.

Then there is the question of war. Only a class society - that is one with a state - can fight true wars. Peoples without a state only raid and feud, not very nice, for sure, but rarely as destructive as wars promoted by states. It is generally accepted by historians and anthropologists that Native People were less violent before the coming of the European. Disruptions created by the fur trade, illness, European alliances and the vastly-increased killing power of fire arms made for a much greater level of violence. The Iroquois had been attempting to infiltrate Wendat (Huron) territory for 200 years. It was only in the mid-17th Century that the Wendat were decimated.

1. As with the Wendat farmers and Algonquin hunters or the Old European farmers and hunters. There seemed to be no conflict between these groups, one which occupied the valleys, the other the hills.

Monday, September 19, 2005


According to the British Columbian ethnobotanist, Nancy Turner there is "often little distinction between hunter-gatherer lifestyle... and diversified agrarian lifestyle..." (1.) In fact, there is a "continuum" between the two economies. This is a position I came to as well from reading about so-called primitive peoples. The distinction between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists was part of the 19th century concept of Progress and linear social evolution. As though our ancestors, who have the same brains we have, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and animals, were not capable of noticing that if seeds spill on the ground, plants would eventually grow.

For Turner there is an added misconception about hunter-gathers. They simply did not wander around looking for food, but were systematic about it, having regular territories with seasonal "crops" in different locations. The European invader was oblivious to Native economies, except where self-interest prevailed, like the fur trade. Racist arrogance precluded discussion or inquiry into how they gathered or produced fruit or vegetables. They were written off as "ignorant savages" stumbling aimlessly until they happened upon a berry patch.

British Columbian First Nations were certainly not just "gatherers." They engaged in controlled burning to encourage the growth of berry bushes and roots. Fruit trees and bushes were pruned, thinned and the soil tilled around them. Roots and berry bushes were transplanted to better or closer locations and fertilized with fish and seaweed. They often planted berry bushes near streams and waterfalls to allow for natural watering. Roots and bulbs were carefully selected, some for the harvest, others for replenishment of the crop. The Salishan peoples of Southern Vancouver Island depended upon fields of camas, a starchy tuber, the growth of which they encouraged by various means.

Some of these Native methods sound like permaculture. And if First Nations peoples engaged in permaculture, why not our own Mesolithic or even Paleolithic ancestors? This would help explain the ease of transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalists in Europe-Anatolia and the underlying cultural continuities which seem to run from the Paleolithic to the Chalcolithic or even Early Bronze Age. (2)

1. THE EARTHS BLANKET, by Nancy J. Turner, Douglas and MacIntyre 2004.
2. An egalitarian, shamanistic, relatively peaceful culture, existed in Europe from the time of Cro-Magnon peoples (The European ancestral population) to about 2500 BC., a period of more than 30,000 years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


General Motors destroyed the electric commuter railroads which flourished in the USA in the 1920's and '30's. They did this by insisting, as one of the largest shippers, that the railroads replace their electric locomotives with diesel units. Problem is diesel pollutes, the engines cost three times as much as an electric and last half as long. In 1935 there were seven times as many electric units as diesel, by 1970 there were ten times as many diesel as electric. (1)

But this was only the tip of the iceberg. After WW2 there was increasing pressure on the rail roads to convert from steam to diesel, as well. In 1945 almost all freight was transported by steam or electric. Within 10 years there were very few steam locomotives left in North America. In Europe this process took a little longer, steam finally being driven out in the early 1960's. This conversion process was a layer cake of disasters for both rail and the public.

First off, the expense for the railroad companies. Steam locomotives have a working life of about 50 years. Most of the engines were built in the 1930's, and those that weren't were from the 1920's or 1940's. Thus, we are looking at equipment that needed to be replaced from 1970 to 1990, yet they were all cut up for scrap metal by 1955! Locomotives were not the only loss. All the infrastructure created around steam, such as coaling stations, water towers, repair shops etc. either was scrapped or needed a complete and costly re-vamping. The destruction of all these locomotives and equipment is a loss that would run in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Even if much of the loss was written off in taxes, the expense was passed on to the tax-payer.

Now, while destroying all that perfectly good equipment, the rail lines would had to replace it with highly costly diesel units. Furthermore, these engines are not as durable as steam, are more complex, thus cost more to repair and need to be replaced more often.

The rail lines had to buy diesel from the oil companies. Many railroads owned coal mines, or as in Europe, both mines and rail were owned by the state. Furthermore, coal is found almost everywhere, whereas petroleum is rather rare by comparison. Western Europe is rich in coal, poor in oil, the same goes for Australia, Argentina, China, India, and South Africa. Canada is lucky to have coal on both the West and East coasts. The USA is sitting on a mountain of coal. Switching from steam to made diesel most of the world petro-dependent, leading ultimately to the oil crises and wars of the present epoch.

At the very time rail made the highly costly switch over, it was losing both freight and passengers. Government built air ports were helping the airlines steal passengers. Government built highways were converting medium haul freight to trucks and train passengers to bus passengers. Thus rail was caught in a pincer - costly investment on one side, loss of revenue on the other. Note how the state helped to destroy rail. Consider the amount of tax-payer wealth that had gone into building the lines in the first place - land grants, cheap loans, cash gifts, tax-write-offs - all of these would total to hundreds of billions of dollars of OUR money. Yet our money, once again to the tune of hundreds of billions was being used to destroy this investment!

All this may seem insane, but this was planned to happen this way. The oil companies and the auto manufactures found another new way to pillage the public and using their mouth pieces in government destroyed rail. We do not live in a free market economy and we never have. We live in a planned economy, one that is organized not for the benefit of the people, but for a tiny wealthy minority.

1.THE DARK AGES by Marty Jezer, South End, 1982

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Unfortunately some people on the left, like Murray Dobbin
still refer to the present state capitalist system as a free market system, without those telling quotes around the term “free market.” A little thought about how the present capitalist system works – with its corporate laws, government subsidies, patent laws, monopoly banking charters, injunctions against unions and other anti-worker legislation, not to mention imperialist wars – and this notion of “free markets” as well as “free enterprise”, “individualism”, and the “self-made man” are revealed as a load of bollocks.

Look a little deeper into the history of capitalism and you find the state virtually everywhere. Try the Enclosure Acts which destroyed the English peasantry, and the slave trade built on the strength of the British Navy, the destruction of the Indian textile industry, the Opium Wars… I could go on and on. All capitalism is essentially state capitalism, or to put it another way, capitalism is the state socialism of the rich. For anyone who wants to read of the statist origins of capitalism no better place to begin is the chapter on
primitive accumulation
of capital in Kevin Carson’s “Studies In Mutualist Political Economy”


A majority of Canadians favour nationalizing the oil industry and Eugene Plawiuk has an excellent blog article on this subject. Here are some quotes:

“We need to seriously look at the success Venezuela has had with its nationalization under workers control for a model of what to do in Canada with our Gas and Oil Reserves, the majority being in Alberta, and the American Oil companies… In this case it should not be about the Federal Government owning the resources, but the people, under a Proudhonian share capital model, with workers on the boards of directors and acting along with the public as share owners of the nationalized industry. First Nations peoples need to have a direct ownership in the resources, which are all situated on their lands and which they have not been compensated for by the Provincial government.”
Couldn’t agree more!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Thanks to What Really
I read what must be the world's stupidest (and cruelest) response to the horrific events in New Orleans. In
The Intellectual Activist, Sep 2 Robert Tracinski
says that welfare was to blame for the tragedy. He thinks that the alleged violence which greeted the alleged rescuers was the result of years of welfare dependency. First off, why believe the stories in the media? How childishly niave. Quite possibly they are gross exaggerations or even planted lies - think only of Saddam's "nookular" weapons - to let the Bushites off the hook for letting the people suffer.

Then, typical of the US authoritarian right, there is his irrationalism combined with provincialism. If "A" is the cause of "B", where "A" is significantly present, then so is "B." Across the 49th is a very well developed welfare system, far more generous than that of Dixie. But that would be too far to look - only the USA exists, I forgot. At the same time there have been natural disasters, Quebec's Great Ice Storm and the Winnipeg Flood. Neither of these were on the same scale as NO, but were significant enough to be a test of the anti-welfare thesis. In the poor, welfare-dependent areas of the cities there was cooperation, not violence, when disaster struck. QED welfare is not the cause of NO violence.

I would suggest the real reasons for the violence - if there was any - can be rooted in generations of brutal Nazi-like racism, bone-grinding poverty, poor education systems and CIA-introduced drugs. I would also suggest that welfare systems are the price you have to pay if you want to maintain a corporate capitalist system, otherwise you end up with a situation like Brazil, which I suppose for someone as cold blooded as Tracinski isn't such a bad idea.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Cultural reactionaries (1) claim social liberalism results in increased crime rates. "Permissiveness", feminism, "the feminization of society" are all blamed. (Note the misogyny.) At the same time they want harsher punishment for criminals, shrieking, "our jails are hotels." (2) All this is pure demagogy. When making such statements proof should be given, yet it never is. The reason? There is no proof. If social liberalism caused crime, then countries where it predominated would have higher incidents of serious criminality than countries with a more conservative bent. If this were true, our reactionaries would shout the information from the rooftops!

The evidence is clearly the opposite. Denmark and Holland have lower crime rates than the UK and USA, the two lands where the hang 'em and flog em gang have the ear of the state.

Another comparison. If liberalism is the cause of crime then social liberals as individuals should have a higher rate of serious crimes than social conservatives. Once again, this is not the case, Serial or mass killers and sex criminals come almost entirely out of a socially conservative environment. This type of criminal is well noted for obsessions about the military, police or authoritarian religions. In fact, I cannot think of a single social liberal serial killer-serial rapist.

Social reactionaries are right in claiming societal break down and the resulting nihilism as factors contributing to criminality. Trouble is, they place the blame for this condition on the wrong people. Narcissists and nihilists don't come popping out of social liberalism, but are a manifestation of social conservatism in decadence. Social conservatives faced with the stresses of contemporary society tend to go in a nihilist direction as their ideology disintegrates. Proof you ask? Once again, where do criminals come from? Are hoards of left-wing college professors and social workers being carted off to prison for white collar crime? Nope, but capitalism's true believer, blue blazer, corporate whiz kids sure are. The children of the counter-culture out pillaging, raping and murdering? Boys raised by gay couples and feminists on the street stealing purses? Nope, just the kids of the socially conservative lower classes. (3)

Social liberalism is based on social democracy, moderate Protestantism, liberal Catholicism, Reform Judaism, and Humanism. As an ideology, it has also had its share of problems. However, as radicals abandoned social liberalism, rather than jettisoning ethics, they created a new ethic, one that in many respects, grew out of the old.(4) This post-modern ethic, staunchly opposed to war, global poverty, imperialism, gender inequality, sexual repression and religious intolerance, is in fact, today's anti-nihilist force par excellence.

Nihilism is also rooted in the ideology of the social reactionaries. Their religious cults regard the world as evil and they wait anxiously for its destruction. This is nihilism at its very worst, even those arch-nihilists, the Nazis, only wanted to kill some of the people, not all of them. These reactionary cultists have committed the ultimate sin and blasphemy by splitting the divine from creation in such a radical and extreme manner. (According to the *Zohar* sin IS separation.) And what kind of divinity would wish to inflict such suffering on his creation? It's not hard to figure out who the god of the social reactionaries really is... "Pleased ta meet you, hope you guessed mah name..."

Narcissists and psychopaths lack empathy, and this is mirrored in the reactionaries lack of empathy for humanity, fetuses excepted, and the world of nature. Their lack of empathy is especially obvious toward the poor, Blacks, Native People and the environment. Empathy is reserved for white males and obedient women and children. Nature is something to exploit and pave over.

No group is more obsessed with vengeance than cultural reactionaries. These are the people eager to kill, er, pardon me, eager to have OTHER people kill, Arabs or string up Karla Homolka. Their sick lust for revenge barbarizes society, creating an environment for the crimes they get so excited about. What happens in society is best described as garbage-in, garbage-out, yet these folks aren't swift enough to understand that. Serial killers seek to revenge themselves on society or women. Now where do you think that idea came from, out of the air? Once again, the proof is there for all to see. Countries that take a less vindictive approach to justice, have a lower incidence of violent crime than the USA where revenge is the more the mode.

Central to societal breakdown is the destruction of community. Political and economic centralization, globalism, suburban sprawl, Walmart, MacDonalds, all of these help destroy community. Yet, when do reactionaries criticize any of this? Rather, they are the foremost apologists for these attacks.

Responsibility is a favorite word for these folks. The poor it seems must always be responsible, but not corporations. In order to be responsible people have to practice being responsible. How can they do that, if as the reactionaries wish, they are confined in authoritarian families and schools - the very essence of which is not to think and act for yourself, but do what you are told? People indoctrinated with an authoritarian mentality cannot show responsibility, for that you need mental freedom. Is this so hard to figure out? Then, the 8 hours a day, five days a week we are trapped in powerlessness in our work places. How can people learn to be responsible if the best hours of the day they are treated like cattle?

Family breakdown is another factor we can see eye to eye with the reactionaries. But they scapegoat feminists and our easier divorce laws. The difference between the past and the last 35 years is honesty. All marital problems were once swept under the rug and families were full of suppressed hostility and bitterness. Is having a divorce any worse than this? In reality, what causes family breakdown is complex, including decline of community and the extended family, unemployment, sexual repression, poor education, obsessive materialism, inflated housing costs, an immature concept of marriage and an infantile concept of manhood. Our reactionaries are the last folks on the planet to tackle these problems.

Reactionaries claim liberals and libertarians are wimps because they don't buy into the revenge cult and the over-exaggerated sense of individual responsibility. Reactionaries, on the other hand, are hypocrites and cowards, hiding behind demonizing verbiage, so as to ignore the major part their ideologies and practices play in fostering social break down and crime.

1. I chose the term "social reactionary" to separate out the sort of social conservatives who do look at the world in genuine ethical terms. Though a minority of right-wingers, such people share a concern about war, the loss of liberty, the increasing power of the state and corporations with the libertarian left. For example, or
2. If I ever have any say in the matter, the idiots who think jails are a soft touch will spend a few years locked up in a 6 by 8 cell with a couple of four hundred pound, HIV-infected, psychopathic, homosexual bikers.
3. The typical criminal is young, male, poor, badly educated and comes from an abusive family. Their values, such as they are, tend toward social conservatism.
4. A major reason for the abandonment of liberalism was its inconsistency. Liberals were for peace, but in practice supported war. Liberals promoted democracy, yet supported centralization, the destroyer of democracy. Liberals claimed to believe in individual liberty, but urged the state to interfere in our lives. (Both drug and alcohol prohibition were largely the work of liberals.)
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