Thursday, May 25, 2006

Green Hell

I am trying to kill my lawn. All 7000 square feet of it. Few things are as stupid as being enslaved to the idea of having your yard look like the top of a billiard table. Perhaps the same sadists that invented the contemporary suburb also invented the lawn. Like the suburbs, where it proliferates like a noxious weed, the lawn serves no purpose, looks sterile, wastes labour and pollutes. Looking back on the history of lawns, it seems snobbery might well be the root cause of the malady. Two hundred years ago only the rich could afford a lawn, since cutting one was a laborious, and relatively costly procedure, involving someone highly skilled with a scythe. The wealthy enjoyed their lawns as both symbols of their wealth and their authoritarian passion for orderliness. Then, alas, in 1880 the lawnmower was invented and the middle classes, joyously emulating their masters, began replacing their back gardens with the Green Menace. I am attempting to eliminate the monstrosity that I have inherited when I bought my house and replace it with wild flowers, herbs, and fruit-bearing shrubs. But I am not alone in this endeavor.

Counterpunch ran an article on lawn elimination and there is even a

Web Site web site devoted to the cause. Homeowners of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your lawns!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Only a people filled with contempt for others could march in and seize a territory, then expel or Working people have died by the millions – and are still dying – in unsafe mines and factories and the boss-classes wars. Only rulers filled with contempt for working people could do such a thing. Of course, this contempt is rationalized with verbiage about “survival of the fittest”, “national interest” and self-aggrandizing prattle about “expertise” and “leadership.”

Latin America was pillaged first by British companies and now by US corporate and governmental interests, the latter with their death squads and torture schools having introduced an unprecedented level of sadism. For the Imperial Masters to commit such crimes, they must feel the deepest contempt for the people they persecute and exploit. All callously written off with, “Well, they are only Indians, anyway,” or they are “communists” or have “an inferior culture.”

For several thousand years (at least) women and children have been humiliated, degraded, abused, beaten and raped by patriarchal society. Only men (and female Quislings) full of contempt (self-contempt for the later) would treat their sisters, mothers, wives and offspring in this manner. All the silly self-serving rationalizations are trotted out - “women are less intelligent”, children are “ignorant”, “their place is to obey.”

The fact is, the folks held in contempt by the Masters are actually SUPERIOR to them, (1) and maintaining that contempt is an unending task. What a constant struggle it is to prop up this facade! In spite of “inferiority”, the “natives” know the country and teach the arrogant, stupid white man how to live there, the workers keep things running and produce the wealth, not their inept and parasitic bosses, Latin Americans possess a history and culture that makes the Gringos look like poor uncultured wretches, women are usually wiser than men and children easily see through the adult's childish ideologically-rooted obsessions.

Now you might well ask that if contempt is a mask, a cover-up for exploitation and bullying, what is it about the dominators that makes them wish to commit these crimes? In part, we are dealing with deep-rooted insecurity. The need to trample over others to become “someone”, the overweening lust for power, all speak of people who need to bolster their egos in an obsessive manner. In reading the lives of the ruling classes, we often discover a family life of cold, distant parents and authoritarian schooling or upbringing. These are common roots of emotional insecurity.. We also read of the many “Little Caligulas”, the sociopathic spoiled brats of the ruling class. They have no empathy for the ordinary person, and if they have to kill a hundred thousand of them to pursue a political or economic goal, it is no more than stepping on a bug. Neurotics and sociopaths, our Masters are emotionally sick. Rather than, when the time comes, putting them up against the wall – as emotionally satisfying as that might be – they ought instead to be placed in institutions for the criminally insane.

1. True enough, during a class system's “Heroic Period” the rulers are quite often people of intelligence and character, however, during a time of decline, such as the present, the lesser types take charge. Compare Washington and Bush, Gladstone and Blair, and you get the idea.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Myth Of Socialism As Statism

What did the original socialists envision to be the owner and controller of the economy? Did they think it ought to be the state? Did they favor nationalization? Or did they want something else entirely? Let’s have a look, going right back to the late 18th Century, through the 19th and into the 20th, and see what important socialists and socialist organizations thought.

*Thomas Spence – farm land and industry owned by join stock companies, all farmers and workers as voting shareholders.

* St. Simon – a system of voluntary corporations

* Ricardian Socialists – worker coops

* Owen – industrial coops and cooperative intentional communities

* Fourier – the Phlanistery – an intentional community

* Cabet - industry owned by the municipality (“commune” in French, hence commune-ism)

* Flora Tristan – worker coops

* Proudhon – worker coops financed by Peoples Bank – a kind of credit union that issued money.

* Greene – mutualist banking system allowing farmers and workers to own means of production.

* Lasalle – worker coops financed by the state – for which he was excoriated by Marx as a “state socialist”

* Marx – a “national system of cooperative production”

* Tucker - mutualist banking system allowing farmers and workers to own means of production.

* Dietzgen – cooperative production

* Knights of Labor – worker coops

* Parsons – workers ownership and control of production

* Vanderveldt – socialist society as a ‘giant cooperative”

* Socialist Labor Party – industry owned and run democratically thru the Socialist Industrial Unions

* Socialist Party USA – until late 1920’s emphasized workers control of production.

* CGT France, 1919 Program - mixed economy with large industry owned by stakeholder coops.

* IWW – democratically run through the industrial unions.

* Socialist Party of Canada, Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1904-05 program – common ownership, democratically run – both parties, to this very day, bitterly opposed to nationalization.

* SDP – Erfurt Program 1892 – Minimum program includes a mixed economy of state, cooperative and municipal industries. While often considered a state socialist document, in reality it does not give predominance to state ownership.

Well? Where’s the statism? All these socialisms have one thing in common, a desire to create an economy where everyone has a share and a say.

Why The Confusion

The state did play a role in the Marxist parties of the Second International. But its role was not to nationalize industry and create a vast bureaucratic state socialist economy. Put simply, the workers parties were to be elected to the national government, and backed by the trade unions, cooperative movement and other popular organizations, would expropriate the big capitalist enterprises. Three things would then happen: 1. The expropriated enterprises handed over to the workers organizations, coops and municipalities. 2, The army and police disbanded and replaced by worker and municipal militias. 3. Political power decentralized to the cantonal and

municipal level and direct democracy and federalism introduced. These three aspects are the famous “withering away of the state” that Marx and Engels talked about.

The first problem with this scenario was that the workers parties never got a majority in parliament. So they began to water-down their program and adopt a lot of the statist reformism of the liberal reformers. Due to the Iron Law of Oligarchy the parties themselves became sclerotic and conservative. Then WW1 intervened, splitting the workers parties into hostile factions. Finally, under the baleful influence of the Fabians, the Bolsheviks and the “success” of state capitalism in the belligerent nations, the definition of socialism began to change from one of democratic and worker ownership and control to nationalization and statism. The new post-war social democracy began to pretend that state ownership/control was economic democracy since the state was democratic. This, as we see from the list above, was not anything like the economic democracy envisaged by the previous generations of socialists and labor militants.

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