Tuesday, May 31, 2005


The French Business Federation is crying about the No vote. They wanted to impose Thatcherism across France, which they claim would increase employment. (As though that were their main concern and not profits!) British unemployment figures (5.2%) are contrasted with France (10.3%) In terms of working class living standards these figures might not mean much. If most of the “extra” jobs in the UK are minimum wage or are of a precarious nature, then the only people to benefit are the rich minority who hire these slaves. Workers may well be better off on the dole in France than working for peanuts in the UK. There is also the problem of how that low unemployment came about - and this is certainly frightening to the average French worker. Thatcherism devastated scores of communities and ruined thousands of lives. In the heyday of the Iron Lady - in the 1980's - the unemployment rate in the UK was 12% and France only 2%. Hundreds of thousands of real jobs - i.e. making things - were destroyed and these were replaced by McJobs. Is this what the French workers want? Sure, stagnation is a drag, but the deliberate creation of misery is far worse.

The same is also said about Canada - our employment rate is always higher than the US. But who in their right mind would trade the Canadian situation for that of the American worker? US workers work longer, have far less vacation time, are overwhelmingly non-union, their UI is even worse than here, and in most states, thanks to the totalitarian "at will" law have no rights whatsoever.( See my Blog, March 23 for information on the evil "at will" law)

Some commentators have said that while “the French” find the Constitution too Thatcherite, “the British” find it too social. How do these commentators know what “the British” think? And which “British” ? Opposition to the constitution in France was working class. Would workers in the UK be much different in that regard? Perhaps this claim about what the British think is linked to the fact the progressive opposition in the UK does not have the resources that the French opponents have. The reason for this is that France is in many ways a more libertarian society than Britain. The authoritarian “first past the post” electoral system excludes all those Greens, Communists, and Trots who make up an important part of the opposition. The democratic press laws make sure that opposition papers get a wide circulation. French political parties are not petty dictatorships, thus Fabius and Hollande of the Socialist Party took opposite positions on the referendum, without the bullying, threats and expulsions that such opposition would incur within the Labour Party. (Think only of what the Blairites did to George Galloway for opposing the conquest of Iraq.)

Kevin Carson points out in the comments section of the previous article on the EU referendum, that while he is pleased for the Europeans, a weakened EU is not as strong a rival to US imperialism. I agree that the US should not be able to totally dominate the world and that a block composed of the EU, Russia and Latin America, would be a good thing. But the EU would be a much better rival to the US if it also provided a different model of society. The present Constitution was an attempt to import US style capitalism into Europe. The popular forces are pushing to create that alternative Europe, it might take a while to succeed and defeat the neocon reaction, but if it does, the whole world will turn to Europe and the US State and its corporate creatures will be in for a real shock.

Monday, May 30, 2005


As you all know, the French voted against the EU Constitution by a significant margin. Trade unions and other popular movements campaigned hard against a yes vote and were pleased to succeed. With the presumed rejection by Dutch voters in a couple of days, the Constitution should be a dead fish. Contrary to the pimp media, which is whining about “the selfish French”, what angered the left is not the European Federation, but the reactionary neoconservative economics smuggled into the Constitution. The French do not wish to have their living standards further destroyed and the EU turned into a carbon copy of the USA.

A little background on this. Not content with having the UK as its Trojan horse, US imperialism cultivated gangster capitalism in the ex- Eastern Block countries. Rather than converting Stalinist state capitalism into social democracy as many Europeans wished, the US imposed its “crash course” in so-called free markets which enabled some former apparachiks to grab huge chunks state of state property converting themselves into a particularly nasty breed of capitalist. Eastern European countries ruled by such capitalists promote neoconservative economics as well as pandering to the US attack on Iraq.

The idea was to lower the EU to the level of Eastern Europe, thereby shifting much German, Italian and French investments East and fattening the pockets of both the local greed creeps, as well as enriching the Western capitalists with cheap-labor and poor working standards. Now that the French (And soon the Dutch) have rejected this pig in a poke, this scam seems a lot less likely to be pulled off.

Hopefully the victory of the popular movements will encourage further revolt, both in France and in the rest of Europe. The Europeans need a “hot summer.”

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Tom Brokaw, who once said with a straight face only 40 people were killed in our invasion of Panama (subsequent reports put the figure at 4,000) now basks in his financial golden parachute. See Parallel Universes In this world, lies are lucrative,
but the truth doesn't pay much By John Kaminski
skylax@comcast.net http://www.johnkaminski.com/
Broklaw also wrote “The Greatest Generation” the thesis of which is the generation that fought WW2 was superior to the “selfish” Baby Boomers, who when given a war want didn’t want to go. Of course, from the viewpoint of our masters and their shills like Broklaw, the obedient slave is the good slave.

Joe Heller

True story, Word of Honor
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, "Joe, how does it feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel 'Catch-22'
has earned in its entire history?"
And Joe said, "I've got something he can never have."
And I said, "What on earth could that be, Joe?"
And Joe said "The knowledge that I've got enough."
Not bad! Rest in peace.

--- Kurt Vonnegut
(from the New Yorker magazine May 16, 2005) Thanx to Y.A. Duck for sending this.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Some freedoms such as freedom of speech, press or assembly are universal. By voicing your opinions you not harming anyone, even if those opinions might be wrong or even vicious. By meeting in a room with like minded people, you are harming no one. So too, if you wish to engage in consensual adult sexual activity or ingest certain drugs - no one is being hurt by this. (Paradoxically, we have laws against these non-coercive activities.)

However, once you get out of this narrow band of universal freedoms, trouble begins. What may be freedom to one person may be slavery to another. This is particularly true in such areas as municipal by-laws, labor and work-place regulation, environmental and consumer-protection regulations.

For an employer, restricting the work week to 40 hours might seem an imposition. For me, being forced to work as much as the employer likes would be slavery. For department stores, street sellers are an imposition, as they cut into profits, for the sellers (and people who like to frequent them) their suppression is an authoritarian act. For real estate interests someone who builds a small inexpensive house is an imposition, as it lowers the real estate values. For the person without much money the by-law that forces them to build a bigger house than they want is extortion. To restrict the right to fire at will seems a restriction on freedom for the boss, for the employee, such a right is pure feudalism.

Freedom has a class perspective. This is unavoidable. There is a difference between absolute and relative oppression, based upon the differing economic and political situations of workers and small business people compared with powerful political and corporate interests. Indeed, it is a joke to call any slight limitation on the power and profits of a powerful and rich minority "oppression." Compare the slight, relative loss of store profits compared with the absolute, income-destroying prohibition to sell on the street. A person who can not build because of a price-jacking bylaw suffers absolutely in this regard, whereas real estate interests would suffer relatively a small loss of profits, if this law did not exist. A boss can still fire for legitimate work-related reasons, only the imposition of his political, religious or racial prejudices on his employees are effected, whereas the employee fired for supporting the "wrong party" suffers an absolute loss - a livelihood and fundamental democratic rights.

Vulgar libertarians absolutize this relative "oppression". These are the folks that get their shorts in a knot over minimum wage laws and limitation of work hours. No wonder they won't get anywhere with 90% of the population. Neocon governments love to speak of the plight of the tax-payer. You might save $100 in taxes by firing 10,000 health care workers and employing low wage "private" employees. However the former is a relative deprivation, and losing your job is an absolute deprivation. (1)

As for the rich and powerful and their "relative oppression", that's tough! These regulations are what results when a system is rigged against the "little person". You can't always have your cake and eat it too, greed creeps. When everyone has a share and a say in how things are run, we can dispense with these regulations.

1. Even this $100 saving is unlikely as privatization (actually corporatization) is a scam. Generally, there is little or no saving. Working class tax payers now give their money to multinationals rather than to other workers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The BC Election

The Right-wing “Liberals” got 46% of the vote, the center-left NDP, 41% and the Greens 9%. In a democratic system the government would be an NDP-Green coalition, however since the province is run by the undemocratic first-past-the post system, the “Liberals” won 45 seats, the NDP 33 and the Greens zero.

One obvious outcome is that the majority of the population does not support the right, but it is still shocking that 46% of people could have such little regard for their fellows that they would vote for a group that is responsible for ruining the lives of ordinary working people and destroying communities. So BC gets stuck with the brownshirts once more. Hope there is something left of the place when I finally move there.

The referendum on STV – a complex, but far more democratic voting process that few people understood - did not pass. Since it needed 60% approval (unlike say firing 10,000 health care workers or mass privatizations) it was unlikely that it would pass and the vote was probably rigged that way for that reason. So BCers are still stuck with the undemocratic old system for the next election.

The orthodox left (NDP and labour) must share most of the blame for the tragic reelection of a gang of ruthless right-wingers. There have been, what, four different NDP governments. Any of these could have introduced a proportional ballot system and the right wing would be trapped in a corner like the rat that it is. But no, they did nothing about it, leaving these changes up to the right, who then, as we have seen, rigged it so the status quo would remain. (Where exactly is the "new democracy" in the New Democratic Party?)

The media pimped the “Liberals” day and night. This was to be expected. Let’s not cry about this. It is the result of having a class system. The boss class media is going to spout boss class propaganda, as sure as asses bray. This is why you need a left wing newspaper to at least attempt to counter them. Even a well put together weekly would do. But the NDP and labour have done very little to promote left wing media.

Admittedly things have changed a bit - there is labour support for The Tyee and Rabble, but historically, a newspaper was never seen as a priority. Stan Persky put together the weekly Solidarity with BC Fed help back in the heady days of the Almost General Strike of 1982. But the Fed killed it just as the paper was getting a readership.

In spite of everything, the BC election indicates something that is happening world-wide. A rejection of the neocon reaction that has dominated us for the past 25 years. Things are going to get quite hot in the coming years and I am not just talking about global warming.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


TO RULE THE WAVES, is a somewhat Neocon-flavored book about the history of the British Navy published by Harper Collins. Max Boot raves about it on the jacket cover and the author, Arthur Herman, likes the British Empire as a model to follow, a very Neoconnish fad these days. Given this orientation, what the book says about the development of capitalism is significant. Herman is certainly no anarchist opponent of capitalism, quite the contrary. However, the information he provides is more backing for Kevin Carson's excellent analysis of the history of capitalism, The Iron Fist Behind The Invisible Hand

The Royal Navy really began with Captain John Hawkins during the Elizabethan Era. Hawkins was one of the first English slave traders. This sort of sets the pattern for what is to come. Herman repeats over and over, that the English economy was built by the Navy - which, of course, means the state.

Move ahead to the 17th Century. According to Herman, " The Dutch had turned themselves into a formidable naval power in order to keep their overseas trade. The English did the opposite. It was their rise as a naval power... that allowed them to become a major trading power." By 1660, "... the navy itself was a crucial part of the kingdom's economy." As but one example, "England's entire forest industry was in the hands of the navy."

By 1700 the navy, "presided over the largest industrial organization in the world." and "Britain's iron industry had begun by making guns for the Royal Navy."

The slave trade, developed and protected by the navy, offered "fantastic profits", expanding from 7000 Africans in 1650 to 70,000 in 1750, with half of these freighted in English ships. The slave trade "...also grew a lucrative export business to Africa." Through the use of slave labor, sugar became a key industry in both England and America, being the major impetus of economic development in the latter. "By 1700, the W. Indies replaced England as the biggest market for colonial merchants, thanks to the demand for sugar."

It was only natural, " the mercantile interests... all recognized that their future depended on the success and strength of the Royal Navy."

At the end of the 18th Century, England fought and defeated Revolutionary France. Out of "...the wars of the French Revolution grew Britain's economy as never before. Trade boomed in 1798-1802, as the navy's control... opened new key markets for the goods of the Industrial Revolution." The Navy blockade of European ports during the Napoleonic Wars, "... would set the economies of European rivals, including France, back by more than a generation, thus ensuring that Britain would emerge as the leading industrial power." Thus, "war had given Britain the biggest economy... in the world."

In this manner, the Royal Navy (and thus the state) imposed the domination of capital upon the world. By winning the Napoleonic Wars, "Britain had made the defining social element the ownership of property... (of which Herman means ownership by a tiny wealthy minority, natch.) ...its foundation was the Royal Navy's historical role as defender of... its overseas trade."

Indivisibly linked to this economic power was the British Empire which expanded rapidly in the late 19th Century. This empire " would not have existed without the Royal Navy." This "new world order", Herman's actual words, no less, "would have quickly flown apart" without the navy.

Finally, there is an interesting contemporary aspect with the Oil War in Iraq. In 1912 the Royal Navy began to switch to oil to power its battleships as a way of avoiding the need to stop and take on coal. This change in fueling "made building petroleum reserves a priority." The Navy then "bought a controlling share in Anglo-Persian Petroleum Company." Hmm...

Yes, its so nice to see capitalism developing autonomously thru free markets and the 'unseen hand'. What! Do you see any statism? I don't see no statism. There ain't no state, nobody here but us free enterprisers!

Saturday, May 07, 2005


I have been following discussions for about a year now in the various news-discussion groups like Vive Le Canada, The Tyee
and Rabble. While the vast majority of the people involved in these discussions do so in a manner respectful of each other, there is one group that does not. The neocon apologists spew hate and venom across the screen. Anti-war sentiment is viciously slandered as pro-Saddam or pro-terrorist, Canadians are attacked as cowards, weaklings, back-stabbers and virtual communists, war resistors are traitors who ought to be shot, any criticism of Israeli policies is deemed anti-Semitic, and so forth.

Liberals, radicals and genuine conservatives counter this hate stream with logic and evidence - sometimes pages of evidence. All of this effort is for naught as the neocon True Believers simply ignore it.

None of these people ever admit to learning anything from these discussions. They come to these groups with one purpose in mind, to insult and disrupt. Such people are generally known as "trolls", a bit of an insult to those ogres who live under bridges. Some trolls may be more than just angry fanatics. Given such outrages as COINTELPRO, I wouldn't put it past the state to hire a few people to disrupt left-wing or anti-war discussion groups. But most of them are probably free-lance haters.

What kind of person would want to do this? I cannot imagine any leftist or pacifist spending their time doing the same to neocon sites. You have to be overflowing with hate to spend your time hanging around where you aren't wanted, insulting and vilifying people.

This level of hate must be so strong that it counters any evidence or logic, a hate so overwhelming that the victims of corporate state cruelty are dismissed out of hand or even thought to deserve their suffering. A hate so strong that it suffocates the natural feelings of empathy and compassion.

Of course, we all hate. It arises naturally when we are threatened. In this ultimate sense, we are no better than neocons, but there is hate and there is hate. It is natural, indeed healthy, to hate the oppressor. It is natural to hate war-mongering politicians, greedy capitalists and sadistic bureaucrats, for we are the victims of these creatures. The sort of people who boss and exploit us would be ostracized or even killed in a tribal society. (1) It is not natural, on the other hand, to hate the victims and glorify the aggressors, but this is precisely what the neocon supporters do.

How are neocon supporters threatened by the oppressed? The oppressed represent the reality which the True Believers don't want to accept. The reality they are slaves like the rest of us.

Part of the problem can be put down to ignorance. Neocon hate mongers are poorly educated, even if a few of them have graduated from college. This is evident not only by their inability to construct a logical argument, but their lack of knowledge of the basic facts of social science and history. They are so ignorant of political science that they cannot tell the difference between a moderate social democrat and a Stalinist and are completely unaware of the US state's long history of intervention in Latin America. All their "knowledge" seems to come from those worthy descendants of Julius Streicher and Joseph Goebbels, like Bill O'Reily and Ann Coulter.

A more encompassing explanation would have to include mis-placed hostility filtered thru a narcissistic mentality. Everyone suffers. It might be parental repression, bullying at school, or the endless humiliations of the work place. Everyone has a reservoir of repressed anger. Some people drink to deal with that anger, others kick the dog, some direct it to the true cause of their suffering - an unjust and authoritarian social structure. Then there are the people, like the neocon True Believers, who direct their hostility toward their fellow victims. This is a familiar type - unionized workers, Quebec nationalists, welfare recipients and feminists are the root of all our problems. The rich and powerful are innocent and have our best interests at heart.

Of course the media whores spend day and night convincing people that the problems are "greedy workers" and not greedy bosses.

I suspect that neocons had authoritarian parenting, most likely a mix of repression and material indulgence. There must be a vast amount of repressed rage combined with megalomania inside these people. Bush is the archetypal neocon, a materially spoiled child raised in a culturally and intellectually shallow, emotionally repressed, family, the perfect narcissist.

Narcissists think of themselves as unique and the center of the world. For the "rank and file" neocons to see themselves as part of the great mass of the exploited would run counter to their megalomania. They would like to be part of the world of the rich and powerful, but can't. But one way they can share this world is to identify with them and adopt their worldview. These slaves not only worship their masters, but they repeat all their justifications.

Narcissism is a strong tendency in post-modern society. When traditional morality breaks down two things occur. A new ethics arises to replace the old worn out system and part of society tumbles into amorality, or more correctly, into nihilism and narcissism. (2) The latter seems to be most prevalent in the United States. At the same time, in Western Europe and Canada a new post-modern ethic has developed, exemplified by opposition to war, concern for the poor and the environment. This helps explain the rather wide acceptance of neocon ideology in the USA and its relative weakness elsewhere. It is worth noting that many people rooted in traditional morality, as well as post-modern ethicals, condemn nihilism and narcissism. Thus one shouldn't be surprised if the new social movements and the Pope are sometimes on the same side.

1. A collective consciousness reaching back 100,000 years or more. The social aspect, which gives rise to, and reinforces our humanity, is based upon the unspoken, tacit assumption that each person is worthy of respect. Exploiters and bullies do not respect other people and thus threaten the mutual aid and reciprocity necessary for survival. As such they must be driven out of the group or killed.
2. To the extent that the old morality is itself rooted in nihilism, nihilism will result when it breaks down. To the extent that the old morality is based on a genuine ethic (one rooted in life), this aspect will become the core around which the new ethics grow. Christianity as an example - to the extent that Christianity is world-hating, it will give rise to nihilism in its decline, to the extent that it is ethical - promoting peace, opposing greed, supporting the oppressed - it will give rise to a new ethics in its decline. Thus, the prevalence of nihilism in the USA is a reflection of the strength of Bible-literalist hate cults, which are stronger there than any other country.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


It won't be the end of the world. On the other hand, it will be as severe an economic crisis as that of the Great Depression. The coming crisis won't be exactly the same as that of the 1930's. The price of oil will rise quickly once the oil peak is reached, but this will still take some years to accomplish. The economy will not collapse suddenly like the stock market crash of 1929. But it will mean the end of the ultra-consumer society and hopefully the end of trans-national corporate capitalism, both of which have been maintained by the artificially low price of energy. However, this won't mean a Third World existence, it will be more like living a contemporary version of the 1940's.

You wouldn’t want to have a large debt when Peak Oil arrives. The suburbs will be finished, so will energy-consuming monster houses and gas-guzzling SUV's. There could be as little as 5 years left. Sell your suburban house and gas-guzzler now. Eliminate any large debts. Get rid of any stocks and mutual funds. Rent an allotment or put a vegetable garden in your back yard. Install a wood stove. The people who will suffer the least will be those in the country who can cut wood and grow food, people in small towns who can walk everywhere, and people in the city centers with public transportation.

Mass unemployment will result as the multinationals go under. Air lines and trucking companies will collapse. There will have to be mandatory work-sharing, rather than having one group that works and a mass of unemployed who live on almost nothing. Work-sharing will create solidarity rather than division among the work force. We must start RIGHT NOW to promote the notion of work-sharing so it does not seem like a radical idea when the time comes.

At a certain point the price of gas will get so high that alternative fuels become competitive. Vegetable oil, alcohol and coal oil can all be used as fuels in automobiles.
Wood gas is a possible source in rural areas. Such vehicles will out of necessity be high-mileage and low power. Electric cars will be used in the city. This transition could occur quite rapidly as the technology already exists. But whatever the method of propulsion, there will be many fewer automobiles than now, due to high energy cost.

Flying will be out of the question for most people. Long distance travel will be done by rail and water. There is plenty of coal in the ground, so look toward new advanced forms of steam technology for trains and boats. Here the transition will be much more difficult as an entire new technology will have to be introduced and much infrastructure (new rail lines) built. Public transit will increase rapidly. Where will the capital come for this, given that the economy will be in depression? Perhaps those who destroyed public transit ought to pay.

The generation of electricity will be another problem. For countries like Canada that have huge hydro-electric resources, this will not be much of a problem. Even so, there will be a strain on the system as a switch is made from petroleum to electricity. Where will the extra electricity come from? Once again, as with gasoline, alternative sources of electricity will become viable once the price of regular electricity goes up. Home sized wind chargers, photovoltaics, coal-oil powered generators, for example.

Even a sharp reduction in the use of electricity is not the end of the world. Say you had to get by with a wind charger (1000 watts) You could still have a radio, TV, computer, sound system and a couple of light bulbs for areas where strong light is needed. Fridges can be run on propane, and though I don't know if they are manufactured or not, they can also be run on anything that will produce a steady flame, such as alcohol or coal oil. Back in the 1950's you could buy a washing machine that ran on a little gasoline motor, there is no reason these could not be made with alternate fuel powered engines.

Expensive energy means products will be made to last. Products will be repaired instead of being thrown out, and repair shops will open everywhere. Home deliveries will return and doctors will make house calls. Schools will be small and local so students can walk or cycle there. As in Europe where villages have daily bus service, in the rural areas people will start cooperative busses or jitneys to cut the cost of transportation. One positive off shoot will be that people will be in better physical shape. Obesity will be a thing of the past.

Farming and agricultural pursuits will revive. The end of cheap petroleum means the end of the over-mechanized and chemical based agro-business. Farms will be organic and labor intensive and will produce for local markets. Food will be more expensive, but of vastly better quality and the "multiplier effect" will revive the countryside. Energy farming will be of major importance, as farmers turn to hemp for the production of oil from the seeds and alcohol from the leaves and stems. (There is already an automobile powered by hemp.)

Far from disappearing, as some alarmists claim, communication technology will thrive. It takes little power to run a computer, radio or TV, and hardly anything at all for a telephone. The infrastructure is already there, and in a world where long-distance transportation is difficult, relative to today, the Internet will be a boon for the ordinary person.

No longer subsidized by the state and artificially-low fuel costs, much international trade will disappear. Local production for local markets will return. Economic decentralization will be the new reality. Much of the economy will be in the form of cooperatives and community-owned businesses. Not needing to pander to the needs of global financial markets with all their ups and downs, we will enter the era of the "steady state economy". We will look back upon the era of untrammeled corporate capitalism with almost as much disgust as we now look upon the slave and sugar economy of the 18th Century.


One of the marks of decadence in an empire is intellectual decline. This does not mean the occasional brilliant thinker might not arise - like Plotinus in late Roman society - but has more to do with the general intellectual level of the populace. In order to survive, every civilization needs a "middle level" of scientists, technicians, and writers. These need to be as well informed as possible. When this group shrinks in number or descends into superstition and irrationalism, the society is in trouble.

We find this in late Rome, where Plato and Aristotle were traded for religious cultism. Germany in the 1930's was seized by a group of pseudo-intellectuals imbued with modern superstitions like "race science" and eugenics. A similar process has been going on in the USA. According to polls 40% of the population think the world is only 6000 years old. About half the population reject evolution.

This is pure decadence. The US rulers have used superstition as a means of social control and now it is backfiring on them. Contemporary states need people to be as well educated as possible and by dumbing down the population in this manner, the US has fallen behind dramatically.

The level of irrationality found in the US is not found in any other developed country. Bible-literalist cultists make up a tiny proportion of the population in Europe, and in Asia, there has hardly ever been such disputes between science and religion. For the USA this could be a disaster in the making. Half the population have, through their beliefs, blocked themselves from careers in science. How can anyone be a physicist, biologist, geologist, or astronomer when indoctrinated with a belief system out of the Dark Ages?

But then again, for the neocons, maybe it doesn’t really matter. They are exporting all the jobs to India and China anyway. They probably think that the resulting development of a “middle class” in these countries will sop up the consumer good sales lost to the impoverished Western ex-middle class, who will now be living on minimum wages – if they can find a job.
Blogging Change
BCBloggers Code: Progressive Bloggers Site Meter