7/31/10

Lesbian Tenderness

Source

Threatened by a Lack of Meaning

I strive for short-term memory loss. To forget what you're doing. I was too engrossed to notice. When I cam to there was this nagging compulsion to analyse the experience. Nothing can be explained, he insisted.

Can the wilderness be tamed by thought? The absence of an image provokes endless contemplation. So the theory goes. We're threatened by a lack of meaning. I push it to the limit. It's a liminal life I lead. Because there's always the risk. That's what I crave.

Obama Repackages Empire

Source

The Obama administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit.

Almost all of the changes have been at the level of packaging, argumentation, symbol, and rhetoric. The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations concerns not the substance of terrorism policy, but rather its packaging.

Overall, he's implementing a U.S. foreign policy that advances the interest of the American empire in a way the Republicans could only have dreamed of doing.

What people misunderstand about Barack Obama is that this is a man who is a brilliant supporter of empire.

He has figured out a way to essentially trick a lot of people into believing they're supporting radical change, when in effect what they're doing is supporting a radical expansion of the U.S. empire. Obama has re-branded war and occupation.

Although Obama's leadership has enhanced America's image, as yet there has been no major change from the policies and outcomes of the Bush years.

Obama presents himself as the ‘un-Bush.' But when you look at substance, rather than style and rhetoric, and the structural constraints on presidential power, you can legitimately question the extent of his ability to change US policies.

Different Lifestyles: Mormons Deserve As Much Respect as Homosexuals

Source

With the Mormon compound scandals, involving religion-based, underage poly-marriages, and shows such as “Big Love,” polyamory’s prominence in the media is increasing.

Even so, it’s still in its baby stages compared to other sexual rights movements. People may still assume that polyamory automatically includes Mormonism and non-consensual, underage marriages. The truth is, polyamory is just another sexual lifestyle.

Poly families consist of three or more people in a committed relationship — sometimes they all date each other, sometimes someone’s girlfriend has her own girlfriend and so on.

Despite the argument about where polyamory fits in with swinging (partner-swapping) and open relationships (a relationship in which lovers can form outside romances), polyamory is a valid sexual lifestyle.

Practitioners refrain from triteness and jealousy for their relationships to work. The poly families I’ve known have been great communicators. Their children also benefit from constant adult supervision, akin to the support a traditional extended family could provide.

If a child is raised in a home where the adults are honest, open, loving and consistently present, physically and emotionally, it’s not going to matter whether those adults are monogamous or polyamorous.

There’s nothing inherently wrong about either of these lifestyles, and yet people who follow them are still unable to come out for fear of professional and child-care related repercussions.

They deserve just as much recognition in their struggles as do gays and lesbians.

'Thoughtcrime' in Today's America

Source

The neoconservatives have set up in America Thoughtcrime watch committees over professors. Academics who depart from or challenge the neocon line are reported and are subjected to vilification campaigns.

Sami Al-Arian, a computer science professor at a Florida University, was destroyed by the US Department of 'Justice' because he gave the Palestinian side of the story.

The neocon academic spy operation has been given a boost by Dennis C. Blair, director of National Intelligence. Blair has announced plans for a program to train intelligence officers, whose identities and activities would not be known to professors or administrators, to conduct covert missions in university classrooms.

This is as Orwellian is it comes. Thinking independently is rapidly becoming a serious Thoughtcrime. Winston Smith was the only one among Big Brother’s subjects capable of independent thought. His ability to think independently was discovered and terminated.

Already we see that the US media is incapable of independent thought. Independent thought in the universities, where careers are dependent on government grants, is already half dead.

Independent thought does not exist in think tanks, which serve the interests of donors. In America independent thought is rapidly becoming an anti-American act, which is itself morphing into a terrorist act.

Newspeak handles effortlessly the morphing and transforming of meaning. New generations born into the new system know no difference and, thus, do not need to be silenced. Once the older generations are brought to heel, truth is whatever Big Brother says.

7/30/10

The Third World War

Source

Here's news of the Third World War. America has invaded Africa. U.S. troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa.

In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and "bunker-buster" bombs are said to be arriving at the U.S. base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege.

In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of "Defense" Robert Gates complains that "the general [European] public and the political class" are so opposed to war that they are an "impediment" to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.

According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a "war of perception." Thus, the recent "liberation of the city of Marja" from the Taliban's "command and control structure" was pure Hollywood.

A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.

"War is fun," the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony, meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms, such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons.

The West Has Dissidents Too

Source

We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.
It works.
We blew the shit out of them,
They suffocated in their own shit!
We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.
Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.


When playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October 2005, it produced anxiety within government circles in Britain.

Pinter’s determined opposition to US and British foreign policy, and his resistance to the renewed imperialist carve-up of the globe centring on the war against Iraq, have brought attacks on him from many quarters.

His fellow playwright David Hare noted that not a single party leader in Britain had congratulated Pinter on the award. This was hardly surprising, given the support the major parties in Britain gave to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The Swedish Academy’s citation noted Pinter’s position as “the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century.”

The Academy recognised that his opposition to imperialist war and his dedication to freedom of speech and democratic rights “can be seen as a development of the early Pinter’s analyzing of threat and injustice.”

There Were No Remains

I've imagined the worst case scenario. He left without notice. There was no trace of him. There were no remains. We couldn't track him down.

I bet he left strict instructions. I'm not to be followed. Isn't that asking for it? He's in the final stages of doubt. What's coming next to nothing. There's the satisfaction of knowing it's fatal. What a relief! Imagine the flow when you go.

Teenage Sexuality

Source

Predatory America

Source

Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a "pre-fascist era." Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define.

"Fascism" is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression.

On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is "more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent."

This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology.

The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent.

7/28/10

The Deconstruction of Modernity

Source

In the last thirty years we have experienced the transition from what has been called modernism to what is being called postmodernism. To oversimplify, this has focused on three areas.

First, knowledge and truth. Where modernism thought it could know things objectively about the world, postmodernism has reminded us that there is no such thing as neutral knowledge.

Everybody has a point of view, and that point of view distorts. Everybody describes things the way that suits them. There is no such thing as objective truth.

Likewise, there are no such things as objective values, only preferences.

Opinions have become more important than facts. Attitude more important than truth. This means the collapse of modernity. We're on our own now. No more meta-narratives. Each of us constructs his or her own 'text.'

The cultural symbols that encapsulate this revolution are the iPod and a billion bloggers. Everyone creates their own private world.

Second, the self. Modernity vaunted the great lonely individual, the all-powerful “I,” symbolised perfectly in Descartes’s cogito ergo sum and in the proud claim, “I am the master of my fate. . . the captain of my soul".

Postmodernity has deconstructed the self, the “I.”

The “I” now may be just a floating signifier, a temporary and accidental meeting place of conflicting forces and impulses. Just as reality collapses inward upon the knower, the knower deconstructs itself.

Third, the story. Modernity implied a narrative about the way the world was. It was essentially an eschatological story.

World history had been steadily moving toward, or at least eagerly awaiting, the point at which the industrial revolution and the philosophical enlightenment would burst upon the world bringing a new era of blessing for all.

This huge overarching story—such overarching stories are known in this postmodernist world as metanarratives—now has been conclusively shown to be an oppressive, imperialist, and self-serving construct.

It has brought untold misery to millions in the industrialized West, and to billions in the rest of the world, where cheap labor and raw materials have been ruthlessly exploited. It is a story that serves the interest of Western industrial capitalism.

Modernity stands condemned of building a new tower of Babel. Postmodernity has gone on to claim, primarily with this great metanarrative as the example, that all metanarratives are suspect. They are all power games.

Collapsing reality, deconstructing selfhood, and the death of the metanarrative - these are the keys to understanding postmodernity.

It is a ruthless application of the hermeneutic of suspicion to everything that the post-Enlightenment Western world has held dear.

It corresponds exactly with the internet revolution, which has generated and sustained a world in which creating new apparent realities, living in one’s own private world, and telling one’s own story, even though it does not cohere with anybody else’s story, becomes easier and easier.

My Bitch Is on Heat

Source

War, Empire & Capitalism

Source

The imperialists cannot be reasoned with, made to see the error of their ways, or appealed to on a humanitarian basis. The all-mighty profit motive is too strong for that.

They will not concede that their ambition to control the world — over the dead bodies of Iraqis, Afghans and U.S. soldiers — is impossible to achieve.

Not until they are confronted with rebellion at home as well as abroad will they reconsider their course of action, as finally happened with the Vietnam War.

This explains why the current wars seem to go on endlessly, why the invasion of Iraq has lasted seven years and the assault on Afghanistan even longer.

It explains why a Democratic administration, elected very largely on the hope that it would bring home the soldiers and National Guard, still has 98,000 troops in Iraq, plus an equal number of mercenaries.

Why this administration has escalated the war in Afghanistan, is attacking Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and shows no sign of pulling back from the area.

The class character of these wars also explains why the war makers are vulnerable.

The system that spawned the wars is bringing unemployment and extreme poverty to tens of millions inside the United States itself. The wars grow increasingly unpopular as the public treasury is looted to pay for them.

Workers’ taxes provide not only the hundreds of billions for current wars but billions in interest on the debt incurred by past wars.

Every public service is being cut back — but not the military or the interest payments to the banks.

While the military-financial-industrial complex wallows in cost-plus contracts, returning veterans run into a wall of unemployment and foreclosures, not the welcoming jobs they had hoped for.

Something has to give. So much long-term misery for the working class cannot be contained within the present social fabric.

Caught in the Act of

Don't ask me where I'm taking my life. It's no more than the next thought. I'm caught up in the act of. I take no clients. I can't advise you.

There's always the urge to run another lap. Is the challenge a compelling obsession? Have you been getting on without letting up? He continued in the same vein without expectation.

I Blog. Therefore, I Am

Source

Within the vastness and anonymity of the web, there is the need for individuals to stake out their own territory, to greedily snatch their piece of the pie, and to announce it like petulant toddlers. “That’s My Widget! That’s My Yahoo!”

But what is the purpose of the regressive, patronizing language of “my”? Why do our online personas need to be mollified in a saccharine, congratulatory tone usually reserved for praising a motor skill-challenged kid for eating with a “big boy fork”?

I decided that in order to decipher the odd juvenilia of the online “my”, I would consult the psychological theories of childhood development.

Freud’s psychosexual stages ultimately yielded very little in my admittedly cursory research (although his “anal expulsive” personality could explain the existence of certain blogs).

I found the most interesting insights in the works of Erik Erikson. In Erikson’s stages of child development, there is a phase called Autonomy Versus Shame and Doubt.

In this phase, children are compelled to differentiate themselves from others, and to assert their independence and individuality.

I suppose this struggle for differentiation must have been especially resonant to a person with a name like Erik Erikson.

At any rate, the need for differentiation is often manifested in verbal use of the words “my” and “mine”, and in the claiming of possessions.

According to one description of this phase, “We grab and take what is forbidden and fiercely assert that “it is MINE.”

We respond with animal rage when we are forbidden to touch or to take what is obviously ours. After we bite, hit, scream or yell and are still not given OUR possession back, we throw a temper tantrum to express our frustration.”

Although the online expression of ownership is somewhat more grown-up, I wonder if it the need to assert what is mine may stem from a similar rooted assertion of autonomy, an insistence that we are separate from others in the strange, confusing world of the Internet.

We are not simply part of the nebulous, collective swamp of personalities and searches and numbers and letters.

We are each a singular person, unique from other persons (or so we’d like to think), and certain things on the Internet are ours.

I AM somebody. MY twitters count. I see MYSELF on Facebook. Therefore, I AM

7/27/10

Massive Upheavals & Class Conflict

Source

Workers have suffered a steady erosion in their living standards since the 'Reagan Years'. The full impact was hidden through various mechanisms, such as working extra hours, women entering the workforce and the explosion of credit card and household debt. None of these coping mechanisms are working any longer.

As it was during the 1930s, capitalism is increasingly becoming a dirty word and discredited.

First the profit system unleashed an unprecedented financial disaster, spreading its destruction to Europe and around the world; now it has produced the worst ecological disaster in US and possibly world history, with incalculable consequences for the planet.

Universally governments—which poured trillions into the coffers of the world’s banks—are demanding austerity, saying there is no money for schools, old-age pensions, decent wages, affordable housing and health care.

Even in the US, where anti-communism has been a semi-official religion of the political establishment, the media, academia and the trade unions, polls show increasing percentages of the population favoring “socialism” over capitalism.

Forty-three percent of young people under 30 regarded socialism more favorably, according to a recent Pew Research poll.

As has happened many times before, the renewal of capitalist 'principles' take place during a recession.

The working class pay for the decline of American capitalism. Thus, 'austerity programs' are introduced to cut workers' wages and benefits. This ensures capitalism returns to profit.

This time may be different. The desperate state that many working-class people find themselves in may provoke massive upheavals and class conflict.

American Ideology: The Cult of Individualism

Source

Bracing against the Marxist menace, America erected a powerful pantheon of ideas where the deities of Capital received frequent and fulsome tribute.

Foremost among these deities was Individuality.

The scripture inscribed at the base of this particular god was unmistakably clear: Americans, unlike their enslaved Soviet counterparts, were free.

Uninhibited by draconian government, unimpeded by drab tyranny, their horizons were limited only by their individual willpower, work ethic, and imagination.

New enemies have stepped out from battered caves and Babylonian crevices to replace the old, but the sanctity of Individuality still stands, untarnished by time.

Striking down oily terrorists abroad and grubby miscreants at home, Individuality inveighs against all enemies of Capital with unmatched fury:

As an integral part of their quest for ‘uniqueness,’ Americans hold a natural right to pursue infinite wealth and power, without regard for fellow Americans or human beings elsewhere.

And if this wealth and power happen to become amassed in the hands of a select few - if, by the very procurement of such worldly treasures by these few, many more are fated to suffer misery - that is simply the nature of the game:

Kings crowned and paupers parsed out by the forces of the Great American Way.

His Ego's Tripping

There's no participation when you're on watch. You know what your trouble is? I can't accept being a bit part. I dream of the lead. Hush up, child, and show some respect. Here comes the prophet. May one be with you! How's it looking, then? Can you give us a lift-up?

That's the trouble with followers. You're there to entertain them. I've got an hour to spare. What's the word, wise one? Can you fill my vacuum? The drive leaves them prone. Lie in any activity. One's word's enough. You make me passive. Do we believe the leader's cry? Don't follow me! We know your ego's tripping>

We're Not Made to Be Monogamous

Source

The problem with monogamy is that after a few years the frequency of sex dwindles to a trickle. If an active sex life is good for your physical and mental health, then traditional monogamy might not be the best choice for long-term health.

As they say, it's all in the mind. Two key sexual players in the brain are dopamine (a neurotransmitter) and prolactin (a hormone).

They are like the hills and valleys of a roller coaster. Dopamine provides the high points. If neurons wrote on bathroom walls, they'd write: "For a good time, call Dopamine."

Dopamine is the reason that experiences such as great food and hot sex feel so darn good. Speaking of sex, it has been said that "orgasm is the biggest blast of dopamine available to humans" (legally, that is).

Dopamine is also released when pain is encounterd (suggesting some interesting connections between pain and pleasure) and, of course, it is released by many of the most notoriously addicting recreational drugs, which is a major reason why they are so addicting.

By comparison, prolactin provides the down-slopes, which is not to say that prolactin is bad. It's the "satisfaction" molecule. Prolactin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in both men and women after orgasm.

After sex, Mother Nature wants to bring us back to reality. She wants us to stop screwing around and pay attention to other important things, like sleeping, going to work, raising children, and so on.

Prolactin appears to be part of this process; without it we might do nothing but have continuous sex until we die of malnutrition, exhaustion, or what have you – perhaps without ever really feeling satisfied along the way.

One very interesting thing to know about prolactin: Scientists have discovered that proactin triggers stem cells in the brain to produce new neurons! If you see a headline saying "Sex makes your brain grow" – you can bet that prolactin is star of the show.

People seeking treatments for victims of stroke and degenerative diseases like Huntington's, Parkinson's, and Alzheimers are hopeful that this research will lead to new treatment options.

Advocates of more sexually liberal lifestyles are hoping that the good news about prolactin might lend credence to the belief that lots of good sex is a good thing, and thus liberal sexual lifestyles should not be stigmatized by prudish cultures.

Western Media Bias

Source

Almost every demonstrator has found that the media are against him/her, but what lies behind this in-built bias?

The media spreads the same old lies every time workers go on strike.

During strikes, the media constantly tell us that workers are powerless but at the same time they are holding the country to ransom.

The media act as if unions are undemocratic, even though workers have voted to act collectively. The causes of a dispute are rarely explained.

Yet when bosses say we need cuts, they are rarely questioned. And when the police attack demonstrations, the media always reports their version of events.

This is because TV and newspaper reporting reflect the existing power set-up in society.

The mass media reproduces the ruling class’s view of what matters in the world. And quite often it deliberately sets out to paint a picture favourable to government and big business.

The revolutionaries Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote in the 19th century that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas”.

Under capitalism a handful of rich and powerful people own the mass media. They form part of a ruling class—the tiny number of people at the top of society who own the factories, offices and other workplaces.

7/26/10

The Grind of Work

Source

The main problem with "work" is that so many people have sunk into a life of alienated labor. The gap between "what people do" and "what people need" has become unbridgeable.

Human beings are no longer in touch with their environment or even with themselves. It's unsurprising they no longer feel that the locus of power is within them.

All human beings need to ease up on "working" for a living. "Work," as it is generally known, is a complete denial of the liberal education that people struggle for in their youth.

The modern corporation has no room for liberal thinking; on the contrary, to work for a living means either to be a slave, stuck in an entry-level position forever, or to climb the corporate ladder and be a sycophant, a hypocrite, and a robot, losing all touch with one's soul, constantly trying to please a boss.

The boss is in turn dehumanized by those on the next-higher level of authority. What a contradiction most people endure. They pay lip service to democracy on a political level, yet they spend eight hours a day in an economic environment that is totally undemocratic.

It's misleading to talk about the "daily grind" when the grind is not "daily" but eternal.

In fact, the grind is almost everything. Our daily job take up more time that any other part of the twenty-four hour cycle, and certainly more time than any other phase of our lives.

Perhaps some well-paid industrial psychologists have looked into the question of making the grind even more pervasive. (For those who have jobs, of course - for a large number of people, ironically, there is the vast emptiness of unemployment.)

If the research and development of sleep were ever left to large corporations, they would do their best to reduce human sleep to zero.

After all, sleep is a big waste of time, a third of a human life. That time could be devoted to increasing production of goods and services, increasing the Gross Domestic Product, increasing corporate profits.

Porn Is Cathartic

Source

Barbara Nitke was the still photographer on 72 hardcore movies made in New York from 1982 to the present.

"There's another facet to our sexuality - sex that has an edge of anger to it, sex that is unconnected, sex that says something other than 'I love you'. I think I am living out that part of my sexuality second hand when I shoot.”

“X-rated movies offer that same release to our culture. The word that comes to my mind in describing sexuality in this country is 'repression'. I like that X-rated movies take a stand against repression, but at the same time, they play to it.”

“Have you seen many women come on camera?”

“When a woman actually comes during the shooting, it is a moment of triumph on the set, because she has triumphed over all of the obstacles, and there are a lot of them.

"Usually it happens not because of her partner, but because the woman has decided she is going to enjoy this.

"I remember one scene when the director, the late Chris Covino, yelled 'Cut,' and Long Jean Silver kept the scene going until she came. It was wonderful. A great moment.”

Near the end of our interview, Barbara says, “The thing I always wonder is what would the X-rated business be like in a society that had a very high regard for sex and for sexual people?”

“People would see your photos as holy pictures.”

“Yes. Wouldn't that be great.”

Can You Get Me from Here to There?

Would you see the consultant who offered no hope? I'm afraid you're going to die. Isn't there anything you can give me to get from here to there? What's the consolation prize? Well. you could examine yourself more. So, I stood and stared at my reflection. That's it, then. In this particular case I'm carried away. It happens to be the only one.

I mean, take my life. It doesn't amount to much. Use protection during discourse. I'm carrying doubt. A deficiency of purpose. Test the self for screening. I'm always dismissing it. I suppose I could look forward to. Will my lot improve? I've always indulged myself.

Status Symbols & Hierarchies

Source

We’re a craven species, obsessed with status for the sake of status. The pursuit of status shapes so many of our interactions, both in person and online.”

That’s basically what Pierre Bourdieu demonstrates in 'Distinction'. Status lurks behind many things like aesthetics that have pretensions of seeming objective.

Bourdieu rejects the traditional notion that what he calls "tastes" (that is, consumer preferences) are the result of innate, individualistic choices of the human intellect.

He argues that this "Kantian aesthetic" fails to recognize that tastes are socially conditioned and that the objects of consumer choice reflect a symbolic hierarchy that is determined and maintained by the socially dominant in order to enforce their distance or distinction from other classes of society.

Thus, for Bourdieu, taste becomes a "social weapon" that defines and marks off the high from the low, the sacred from the profane, and the "legitimate" from the "illegitimate."

One finds this in matters ranging from food and drink, cosmetics, and newspapers on the one hand Ranging from to art, music, and literature on the other.

Bourdieu sees the realm of consumerism as a field of power relations or hierarchies. The field is a multidimensional space of positions or locations in which a person's coordinates are determined by both the amount and composition of the types of "capital" that they possess.

Social Media Competitiveness

Source

Social software quantifies our social life. Facebook doesn’t just let us connect with our friends. It counts our friends.

Twitter doesn’t just allow us to aggregate a stream of chatter. It measures our social reach. LinkedIn has too many damn hierarchies to count. Even the 'old-fashioned' blog is all about the metrics, from page views to unique visitors.

I’m most troubled by the need in all of us constantly to check up on these numbers, and to accept these measurements as a measure of something meaningful.

There's a natural nebulousness with social interactions. I might know you’re important, but I don’t know how important. We've now made social interactions explicit. The end result is that our online relationships are shadowed by power relations.

Social media quantifies something essentially qualitative and makes it more amenable to economic analysis, as well as making “winners” and “losers” more explicit. All of this makes sociality more openly competitive.

Because we compete with everybody in the world theoretically, we are far more likely to be anxious and disappointed with our current status. We can always directly compete with someone more popular or revered or whatever than us.

7/24/10

We're Reactionaries: No Sex for Pleasure

Source

The link between reactionary politics and sexual repression only became clear to me recently when I read Emma Goldman’s memoirs and discovered that the crime she and her colleagues were repeatedly sent to jail for in the '30s was distributing birth control information.

To most of us, it may be hard to understand why birth control is a political issue rather than a private choice and why Christian fundamentalists oppose it.

Is it because keeping people frustrated and miserable makes it easier to control them?

Is it because power and domination are increased by denying permission whenever possible with no regard for the consequences?

Is it because sexual freedom and happiness may be a seed of hope for larger freedoms?

It's not a conscious strategy but an instinctive hypocrisy or blind obstructionism.

Opposing any kind of progress or change becomes an erosion of existing authority.

Why would procreation be deemed natural and pleasure not? Is it fear of sex? A means to control women, perhaps even to ensure their availability for sex?

Recession & Repression

Source

My male friend wailed: "I used to be so focused on keeping up with the Joneses with my conspicuous consumption. I lost that game. Now, I'm jobless and sexless. I feel like a failure. The only thing I can do well is to drink beer."

We don't like to admit it, but our definition of success has an awful lot to do with positional consumption - how we compare ourselves with others.

Our national shrink-in-chief Dr. Obama might want to consider the cognitive dissonance he and the Fed are unleashing on the country when they tell us we're doing better, yet we see the ranks of the unemployed swelling further.

While we hear this is a pretty severe recession, many industries are clearly having depression-like symptoms.

Whether it's a recession or a depression, it's leading to the Great Repression.

One of the dictionary definitions of "repression" is "the classical defense mechanism that protects you from impulses or ideas that would cause anxiety by preventing them from becoming conscious."

My friend is doing his best to stay unconscious about his jobless recovery and his sexless marriage and he's doing it by drinking more.

In fact, this summer the Gallup organization reported that alcohol -- especially beer -- is one of the few consumer products that has held its own in this downturn.

So, the next time Ben Bernanke tells us that we're on the road to recovery just know that he's sending a few more people into denial.

No one wants to realize the beer isn't solving the confusion over why their personal financial situation isn't mirroring what they're hearing on TV.

'Bitch' & 'Ho' in Black Culture

Source

It’s fair to say that most women feel subjected to impossible standards of beauty, and apart from their particular racial twist, hip-hop’s beauty issues closely mirror those in the media generally.

But the booty issue is another matter. Rap’s portrayal of sexuality is far more explicit, and more cold-blooded than that usually found in the mainstream culture.

Party rap rarely refers to a woman as anything but a “bitch” or a “ho” [whore]. Only the ho has any value, and that’s solely as a sexual object who earns an equal measure of admiration and contempt for her sexual insatiability.

Her sexuality is not an expression of her desire—it’s a commodity for sale to the high bidder, to the alpha male who claims sexual rights by virtue of his power, wealth and prowess.

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting looks at this heartless portrayal of sexuality from a number of angles.

She provides sympathetic insight into what motivates the video vixens, writing that “many of these women are singers, professional models, dancers and aspiring actresses, earning their rent, tuition monies or commercial exposure for a day’s work on a shoot.”

Her book, Pimps Up, Ho’s Down, attributes part of the problem to black strip clubs, which have become the main proving ground for new rap music.

It’s cheaper to plunk down a $10 cover and tip a DJ than it is to pay for radio ads, and if the dancers and men go for a song, it’s on its way to being a hit.

Strip clubs are to hip-hop what polling is to politics—an indicator of what moves the crowd.

Obviously, what goes over well in the atmosphere of a strip club is more likely to be raunchy than respectful, and to perpetuate the image of women as sexual property.

But why would women who aren’t regulars at a strip club world be happy consumers of its music?

Sharpley-Whiting suggests history is at play. In racist cultures, African American women are seen as promiscuous, she says.

In this persistent context, black women have sometimes reacted by moving to the opposite extreme - denying their own sexuality.

And yet reactive sexual conservatism within the African American community has also weighed heavily on young black women.

For some of them, the unrestrained sexuality of hip-hop, though it is deeply poisonous in its own way, can be a sort of antidote to repression. “Hip-hop says it’s okay to be sexual,” says Sharpley-Whiting. “Celebrate your black ‘womanness.’”

The frankness of hip-hop is apparently too much for the wider, whiter culture even when it’s attached to an intellectual critique. The title of Sharpley-Whiting's book shut her out of book signings at suburban bookstores.

SOD: A Sense of Detachment

If you lick enough stamps for the state of anxiety. Too much leisure. That's my trouble. Uou know what they say about an idle mind makes you mellancholic. Unless you can give me good cause to. I mean, What's there to die for? Give me a reason.

One in all in one. Will That do? The cult of one. At least I belong. If you're looking for a distinctive and formal set of principles. A sop for pacification. Look no further than sodism. I stand in for a sense of detachment.

Sod's First Law. Like the only child, create somebody to play in public. I've been occupied with the making of fiction. What else does one do on one's own? It's imperative you represent. Be it only a bacterium in a culture. One wants to spread in the guise of. He acted up in the company of others.

The 'Enlightened' Liberal-Left

Source

In the West we can detect two ideological components that compete for our hearts and minds; Both claim to know what is ‘wrong’ and who is ‘right’.

The Liberal would insist on praising individual liberty and civil equality; the Leftist would tend to believe to possess a ‘social scientific’ tool helping to identify who is ‘progressive’ and who is ‘reactionary’.

As things stand, it is these two modernist secularist precepts that act as our Western political ethical guard. But in fact, they have achieved the opposite.

Each ideology in its own peculiar way has led us to a state of moral blindness. It is these two so-called ‘humanist’ calls, that either consciously prepare the ground for criminal interventionalist colonial wars (the Liberal), or failed to oppose them while employing wrong ideologies and faulty arguments (the Left).

Both Liberal and Left, in their apparent banal Western forms suggest that secularism is the answer for the world's ailments. Without a doubt, Western secularism may be a remedy for some Western social malaise.

Western Liberal and Left ideologies, in most cases, fail to understand that secularism is in itself a natural outcome of Christian culture, i.e., a direct product of Christian tradition and openness towards an independent civic existence.

In the West, the spiritual and the civil sphere are largely separated. It's this very division that enabled the rise of secularity and the discourse of rationality.

It is this very division that also led to the birth of a secular ethical value system in the spirit of enlightenment and modernism.

But this very division led also to the rise of some blunt forms of fundamental-secularism that matured into crude anti religious worldviews that are no different from bigotry.

It is actually that very misleading fundamental secularism that brought the West to a total dismissal of a billion human beings out there just because they wear the wrong scarf or happen to believe in something we fail to grasp.

'We' [the Westerners] tend to believe that 'our' technological superiority together with our beloved ‘enlightenment’ equips us with a ‘rational secularist anthropocentric, absolutist ethical system’ of the very highest moral stand.

It's time the Western left made a serious critical assessment of this ‘we know better’ attitude and the ways it tends to deal with popular forces in the south as ideologically and politically inferior.

7/23/10

Capitalism: Not Waving but Drowning

Source

The realization is dawning on the financial gamblers and speculators that their hopes for a capitalist recovery are slipping away.

The trillions of dollars in bailout funds and stimulus funds have been unable to revive the capitalist economy enough to start a genuine recovery.

The stock market plunged over the release of the official government jobs numbers for last month. The speculators had had their hopes raised by rumors that there would see a big jump in job creation in the capitalist economy.

That is, in business-created jobs. But the government report showed that of the 431,000 new jobs created, 411,000 were from the government hiring people temporarily to work for eight weeks on the 2010 Census.

Private businesses hired a net total of only 20,000 workers in May. With 30 million workers unemployed and underemployed, this means that the capitalist economy basically stood still from the point of view of job creation.

It hardly needs to be emphasized that Wall Street’s woes over the lack of job creation have nothing to do with concern for the workers.

Even though these financial sharks live on speculative profits made from buying and selling financial instruments of one type or another, they know full well that the ultimate source of real profit is the exploitation of labor.

The labor of the workers creates all the wealth that the corporations pay out in dividends and that the speculators gamble with.

To them, a failure of job creation is, in essence, a failure of profit creation. That is what worries them first and foremost.

Of course, they are worried that expanding long-term mass unemployment could in the long run lead to social uprisings. But in the short run, the market went down on the realization that capitalist exploitation was slowing.

Hyper-Reality

Source

Jean Baudrillard suggests that hyper-reality is where the world we live in has been replaced by a copy world, where we seek simulated stimuli and nothing more. Hyperreality exists in a state where chosen symbols of reality mask our surroundings, thus producing unreality.

Jean Baudrillard noted that with Disneyland, “everyday life has been captured by the signs and sign systems generated to represent it. We relate to the models as if they were reality.

In his argument, California's Disneyland functions as ‘an imaginary effect concealing that reality no more exists outside than inside the bounds of the artificial perimeter.’”

Disneyland attendance is much like that of modern-day social media use. Virtual reality provides the same type of hyper-realistic world that was detailed above. In effect, it replaces a reality—social interaction, with another seeming reality—virtual interaction, which creates an element of unreality.

American idealism is forever branded in the American dream: The belief that with some hard work and clever thought, one can achieve his or her utopian world—a world where happiness abounds among equal opportunity, capitalism, consumerism, and industrialism.

Conversely, postmodernism has no such grandiose ambitions. Postmodernism might be considered the satirical twist of the American dream. It objects to objectivity.

Rather than searching for answers, postmodernism makes a parody of presupposed truths and juxtaposes seemingly unrelated pieces of culture together>

Lying in Contemplation

There's a thin line to work out between obsession. Once you question the answer follows. You must accept I take the lead. That doesn't mean I'm the example. Don't expect me to organise. I couldn't find a castle in the air. However, I manage to function.

Mine's a fecal offering. We pass the present while speculating on futures. Who wants might have been? We'll go out now and get you a contemplation tank. Would you like to lie in wait? As the director said. Where'd we be without light, sound and activity?

"Terrorism" Is Fighting for Freedom

Source

Muslims have been victims of western oppression for centuries. At last, they have decided to fight back and liberate themselves from colonial 'rule'. When faced with a vastly superior terror machine, is it surprising they use guerrilla tactics?

The continued occupation of Iraq, which was spearheaded by the United States and the United Kingdom, continues after seven long years and will last decades.

Israel's occupation of Palestine and theft of its land also continues unchecked with the full support of western nations.

So we know why the terrorists are mad and with whom. The need to ask "Why?" is understandable but ultimately useless and dishonest. Terror is usually the result of unacknowledged grievances.

Muslims are mad at the United States, Great Britain and the Indian government, and those who are angry enough to commit acts of violence would obviously choose India's financial capital to inflict maximum damage and gain world wide attention in the process.

The scenes of dead bodies and bloody streets were painful but necessary to see. In seven years of the Iraq occupation American television networks have not seen fit to broadcast images of dead and maimed Iraqis.

That absence of vital information is shameful and keeps the country in a state of blissful ignorance. It makes already incurious and uninformed Americans more susceptible to propaganda from the government and the media.

Sex Dreams

Source

Sex dreams make up about 8 percent of all dreams for both men and women. The most common kind of sex dream involve good old-fashioned fucking, followed by propositions or flirting, kissing and fantasies.

Gender dream equality runs counter to much of that past (and outdated) research, as well as the long-standing assumption that men think about sex far more than women, both consciously and subconsciously.

This change doesn’t mean that modern women have spontaneously started dreaming about sex a lot more. It’s just that women these days are much more comfortable discussing their sexuality and fantasies.

However, though they experience them with essentially the same frequency, men and women’s sex dreams aren’t exactly the same.

Men’s sexual dreams were more likely to take place in public or unknown settings, to have the dreamer initiate sexual contact, and to involve unknown characters or multiple partners.

In fact, men’s dreams were twice as likely to involve multiple partners. Both men and women had an orgasm in about 4 percent of their dreams, but women also reported that orgasms were experienced by a partner in about 4 percent of sex dreams.

In contrast, men didn’t report that other people had an orgasm in their dreams. I guess if there’s a time and a place to be focused only on your own pleasure, it might as well be when you’re alone and unconscious.

Observed gender differences may be indicative of different waking needs, experiences, desires and attitudes with respect to sexuality.

This is consistent with the continuity hypothesis of dreaming, which postulates that the content of everyday dreams reflects the dreamer’s waking states and concerns.

Still, the men weren’t getting all the perks. Women’s sex dreams were twice as likely to feature public figures (9 percent to 4 percent).

On the other hand, 20 percent of women’s dreams featured current or past partners, compared to only 14 percent of men’s.

Unfortunately, this means that when your boyfriend wakes up all hot and bothered, chances are he wasn’t thinking about you — no matter how emphatically he insists otherwise.

7/21/10

'Date Rape' Controversy: The Sexual Heat of The Moment

Source

Feminist religious dogma, long ago disposed of by neuroscientists and psychologists, states that men are essentially born as eunuchs, only to have wicked masculinity imposed on them by an evil society. This is usually presented as “social construction theory.”

Like the other great religions of the world, though, the goal of contemporary feminism and Gay Party activism is not to explain sex, but to abolish its passion.

The yin and yang of masculinity and femininity is what makes sexual exploration exciting. Sex isn’t about contract-signing. It’s about spontaneity, raw energy and control (or its counterpart, surrender).

Feminism envisions a bedroom scene in which two amorphous, gender-neutral blobs ask each other “Is this OK with you?” before daring to move their lips any lower on the other’s body.

Worse yet: a gender-neutral sexuality can have no conception of the inherently gendered thrills of fetishism, sadomasochism, kink or cross-dressing. How blasé!

For my pro-sex views, I am variously called a misogynist, a rape apologist and — my personal favorite — a “pro-date rape proto-fascist.”

Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?

To cry “date rape” after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger.

“Date rape” is an incoherent concept. There’s rape and there’s not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation.

It’s not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex — especially anonymous sex — can become very blurry.

If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!

Either I Am or I'm Not

I took a post as uncoverer of the selfconscious. In the past I've overhyphenated. Now that's under control. We pay for analysis. Someone who puts up with the indulgences of others. What makes a good listener? The art of condescension.

I can relieve you of your neuroses. Just relax and foreplay, You want to be desired, don't you? See me as son of freud, the great seducer. I bet you feel better already. As I said in my last affair. You either accept I am or I'm not.

Disneyland, Social Media & Postmodernism

Source

Disneyland, although an ideal world, was never quite so modern as it was postmodern. Its hyperrealistic environment is at odds with modern thinking. Ultimately, visitors who trek to the park aren’t necessarily seeking the ideal world but rather an escape from objectivity.

Disneyland attendance is much like that of modern-day social media use.

Virtual reality provides the same type of hyperrealistic world that was detailed above. In effect, it replaces a reality—social interaction, with another seeming reality—virtual interaction, which creates an element of unreality.

Disneyland has few clocks for guests to tell time and many of the attractions take place in dark environments. The buildings and attractions are also disproportionate, creating spatial illusions.

These elements suspend time and space for park guests, further enhancing their notions of hyperreality. As so many have noted, the park allows for guests to relive childhood dreams in a packaged, sterilized world without consequences or adult concerns.

Hyper-reality allows the guests to embrace postmodernism. For postmodernism seeks not to define truths by connections, but rather, it simply makes connections—never coming to conclusions about reality.

I don’t assume to say that Americans have completely forgone attempts to find meaning, but contemporary society, as a whole, is moved by this trend, further pushed by pop culture and mass media.

While Disneyland may still be considered the mind controlling dream land of the 21st century, in the end, it’s this postmodern tendency in our culture that continues to compel us to the gates of the happiest place on earth.

Raging Bull: Trying to Contain Casino Capitalism

Source

As anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows the laws of capitalism provide winners and losers. If you provide enough campaign money and lobby effectively I guess that negates you from losing in today's America.

This has to change. If traders take unacceptable risks and do it from our banks they need to suffer the consequences when their deals go south.

We should break up our largest banks, as being bigger doesn't provide any guarantee of anything these days except, it appears, immunity from any wrongdoing.

We should control the outrageous behavior of casino gamblers posing as bankers and seriously curtail their activities in trading that cause more harm than good.

Big is not better and wrong is wrong. Get some serious financial reform with real teeth that can send people who break the law to jail.

Move our casinos from the banks and insurance firms in New York back to Las Vegas where they belong. As Simon Johnson said, "Bets in Vegas don't upset the U.S. financial system".

Casino capitalism has to end before it is allowed to bring on another financial crisis.

Why Breasts Sexually Excite Men

Source

First, let's dispense with any purely utilitarian interpretations. While the mammary glands contained in women's breasts exist for the feeding of infants, the fatty tissue that confers the magical curve of the human breast - the swell, sway, and jiggle - has nothing to do with milk production.

Given the clear physiological costs of having pendulous breasts (back strain, loss of balance, difficulty running), if they aren't meant to advertise milk for babies, why did human females evolve and retain these cumbersome appendages?

Theories range from the belief that breasts serve as signaling devices announcing fertility and fat deposits sufficient to withstand the rigors of pregnancy and breastfeeding to "genital echo theory":

Females developed pendulous breasts around the time hominids began walking upright in order to provoke the excitation males formerly felt when gazing at the fatty deposits on the buttocks.

Theorists supporting genital echo theory have noted that swellings like those of chimpanzees and bonobos would interfere with locomotion in a bi-pedal primate.

So when our distant ancestors began walking upright, they reason that some of the female's fertility signaling moved from the rear office, as it were, to the front showroom.

7/20/10

We're All Whores

Source

America loves a whore. We're a nation of whores, after all -- just try holding down a job in this great land of ours without compromising your values and shortchanging your best ideas.

We grow up hearing "Be yourself!" and "Follow your dreams!" but the marketplace tramples all over such fanciful rainbows-and-unicorns notions of identity and self-respect with its big, dirty, hobnailed boots.

Thus are plucky, original human beings transformed into polite, agreeable team players, anxious to waste a lifetime kowtowing to the lowest common denominator.

Once you sell a big part of your soul for a hot slice of the American dream (something about grassy lawns, enormous mortgages and life insurance policies you can't afford), you've set the stage for a lifetime of doing stupid, demeaning shit just to make your nut.

When you recognize that your "success" in life has cemented you on a path of unending compromise, getting paid to get screwed up the ass by a stranger really doesn't seem like that much of a stretch.

So sure, we'll tut-tut over women who sell sex, but underneath it all, we know they're kindred spirits, throwing a little leg to get a leg up in a world gone mad.

So, don't get all sanctimonious and condemn literal whoring when you [and I and the rest of us] go in for figurative whoring - you know, the respectable kind of whoring where you grab ankle and take it from The Man on a daily basis?"

And look, maybe there are some deliriously happy whores in the world. Just because we don't enjoy getting sodomized by management, that doesn't mean there isn't a bunch of unflappable sexpots out there who genuinely love fucking for forty pieces of silver.

On the Capitalist Roundabout

Source

Capitalism as a system has always and everywhere gone through phases, repeated swings between two alternative forms.

Private capitalism is the neoliberal, "laissez-faire" form: government intervention in economic affairs is minimized, and individuals and businesses interact largely through voluntary market exchanges.

The other form is state-interventionist, "social democratic," welfare-state capitalism: government manages the economy by regulating what the private capitalists can do or by sometimes even taking over their enterprises to turn business decisions into government decisions.

Every few decades, in every capitalist country, whichever of these two forms has been in place runs into serious economic difficulty. Workers lose jobs, incomes decline, enterprises fail, and so on.

The cry arises that "something must be done." Those feeling the least pain and making good money prefer to let the existing form of capitalism correct itself.

Those hurting the most and losing money demand more drastic change.

When this second group prevails politically, the existing form of capitalism is ended and the other installed. A few decades later the same drama is played out in reverse.

Slogan of the Day

How can one be oneself with others? A private matter between consenting voices. That's the only reality. Whereas, I'm virtually here. It's a good job I've got some slogans with me. Let me see. How about getting in touch with your real self?

That's asking for trouble. We avoid it like saturated fat. You need a bypass. Keep busy! Be productive! You know what they say. Too much contemplation brings you out in doubt. An idle thought. You can't be sure.

Celebrity Worship Syndrome

Source

In this media-saturated world, celebrity is a growing new power. It manipulates taste, fashion and advertising. It is all-pervasive. There has even been a mental illness invented to describe those who follow celebrities too closely.

It is called Celebrity Worship Syndrome and its sufferers dedicate their lives to the chosen subject of their affection.

For me the key word here is 'worship'. Celebrities have become new Gods and Goddesses. We idolise them. They seem unreal and inaccessible and yet become the object of our wants and desires.

When we see them made flesh it appears magical. Stories of their lives distract us from the everyday hardships of our own. We respond to their exhortations to do things. If Oprah says read, we read.

If Bono says give, we give. This is not a harmless side effect of fame in the modern world. This is religion.

As a former TV executive, Jon Katz, once wrote:

"Celebrity worship is akin to a national religion in the United States. It's one of the country's most invasive and dubiously valuable exports to the world and it is the fast-burning fuel for a relentless, corrosive media machine that infects most every part of our culture."

Terra! Terra! Terra!

Source

Journalism has become a linguistic battleground - and when reporters use terms such 'spike in violence' or 'surge' or 'settler', they are playing along with a pernicious game, argues Robert Fisk

Following the latest in semantics on the news? Journalism and the Israeli government are in love again.

It's Islamic terror, Turkish terror, Hamas terror, Islamic Jihad terror, Hezbollah terror, activist terror, war on terror, Palestinian terror, Muslim terror, Iranian terror, Syrian terror, anti-Semitic terror...

But I am doing the Israelis an injustice. Their lexicon, and that of the White House - most of the time - and our reporters' lexicon, is the same. Yes, let's be fair to the Israelis.

Their lexicon goes like this: Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror.

How many times did I just use the word "terror"? Twenty. But it might as well be 60, or 100, or 1,000, or a million. We are in love with the word, seduced by it, fixated by it, attacked by it, assaulted by it, raped by it, committed to it.

It is love and sadism and death in one double syllable, the prime time-theme song, the opening of every television symphony, the headline of every page, a punctuation mark in our journalism, a semicolon, a comma, our most powerful full stop. "Terror, terror, terror, terror". Each repetition justifies its predecessor.

Most of all, it's about the terror of power and the power of terror. Power and terror have become interchangeable.

7/19/10

Why Isn't Class an Issue in America?

Source

The fundamental division in America isn't race or gender. It's class.

The American ruling class has gone further than any other in the world to suppress any public discussion and analysis of class conflict.

From the late 1940s on, the anti-communist witch-hunting associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy spearheaded a drive to effectively outlaw any public discussion of socialism, Marxism or the class divisions in American society.

After the social eruptions of the 1960s - the civil rights struggles and urban riots, the mass movement against the Vietnam War, and major struggles by the labor movement - the American bourgeoisie began to utilize identity politics to divide and confuse the mass opposition to its policies and block the emergence of the working class as an independent social force.

Black nationalism, “Chicano” nationalism, women’s liberation and gay liberation all emerged, to name only the most heavily promoted forms of identity politics.

In each case, real social grievances of significant sections of the American population were divorced from their connection to the socio-economic foundation.

That is, the division of society between the relative handful of capitalist owners of the means of production, and the vast majority of the population who must sell their labor power to make a living.

The Democratic Party became the principal vehicle for peddling the politics of race and gender, recruiting a layer of black, female and Hispanic politicians who engage in populist demagogy that uses race and gender to deny underlying class tensions.

The political development of the American working class requiresthe direct and open discussion of the class realities in our society.

No country in the world is as deeply and intractably divided along economic lines as the United States, where the top 1 percent of the population owns 40 percent of the wealth and monopolizes 20 percent of the income.

Any analysis of the political issues facing working people that does not take these class divisions as the fundamental reality is an exercise in deception and political manipulation.

A Figment of Imagination

We're both on the look-out for meaning. What're you having? Mine's a metaphor. I suppose you've got the reason. We can only be in a play. You seem to take your role seriously. While you figure out my figment. I know it's a cover for my failure. I can't prove any of this. But to say I've been put here. As in the eye of a prophet. I've been created for that purpose.

So, if you're going to blame anyone. Suits me if you call it god. A substantial of fun to be had with. Personally, I prefer one to others. The interior self sometimes comes out to play a public role. What you get's an aspect of oneself. If it's only a part you take the piss from time to time. Moi? Profound? Never! Yet I really think.

Consumer Capitalism is an Equal-Opportunity Whore

Source

Control and conformity, the two Orwellian bugaboos, reckoned without behavioural psychology, which teaches that the most effective form of control is achieved by rewarding the organism, not by punishing it.

Capitalism understands behaviorism as totalitarianism does not.

In totalitarian countries, there are coups and revolutions and liberation movements. In capitalist countries, there are sales.

Consumer capitalism hopes to attract consumers to things that make them feel good, to things, that, in the language of behaviorisms, are "reinforcing".

Consumer capitalism stands ready to push ideas, ideologies and revolutionary strategies with the same acumen it brings to marketing perfume and defence contracts; in street lingo, consumer capitalism is an equal-opportunity whore.

Individuality is accorded prime importance in the West, in the belief that individuality is the thing the West has that the East wants, the thing that spells the secret of its unprecedented ability to market life with such demographic exactitude that it is called a style. Lifestyle.

It's profoundly disturbing that consumer capitalism is able to promote a concept of the self, an understanding of human nature, that it could manipulate so easily.

To the manipulators of taste [advertising agencies] we're little more than a bundle of irrational emotional responses and desires, often contradictory and infantile.

It is the very versatility of capitalism that finds it triumphing over every challenge to it. Gramsci summed it up as capitalism's capacity to project itself as the natural order of things

Capitalist Goal: Cutting Workers' Wages & Benefits

Source

Here's the real worry. The basic assumption that jobs will eventually return when the economy recovers is probably wrong.

Some jobs will come back, of course. But the reality that no one wants to talk about is a structural change in the economy that's been going on for years but which the Great Recession has dramatically accelerated.

Under the pressure of this awful recession, many companies have found ways to cut their payrolls for good.

They’ve discovered that new software and computer technologies have made workers in Asia and Latin America just about as productive as Americans, and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently outsourced abroad.

This means many Americans won’t be rehired unless they’re willing to settle for much lower wages and benefits.

Today's official unemployment numbers hide the extent to which Americans are already on this path.

Among those with jobs, a large and growing number have had to accept lower pay as a condition for keeping them. Or they've lost higher-paying jobs and are now in a new ones that pays less.

Yet reducing unemployment by cutting wages merely exchanges one problem for another. We'll get jobs back but have more people working for pay they consider inadequate, more working families at or near poverty, and widening inequality.

Obese Troops Fight for American Values

Source

If the youth of America don't lose that weight, how will they fare in the deserts of Iraq, waging our 100 Year War of Imperial Conquest? Or cope in Afghanistan?

Exactly. That's why schools across the country are literally forcing kids to shape up.

# Lincoln University (in Pennsylvania!) is mandating that students with a body mass index over 30 either lose weight or "take a one-semester fitness and nutrition course."

Hahaha! That will be the reaction of their fellow students, which is why the school might have to back down on this requirement.

Problem: You know who has a body mass index over 30? The Incredible Hulk. Who would make a fine soldier.

A related problem there, and at other schools, is kids eating the fries and the pizza. Why not just remove "food" from the cafeteria? Cause, meet effect.

# In the San Francisco Bay Area, the toughest high schools are now forced to contend with yoga classes.

"What began as small pilot programs has suddenly spread as more South Bay schools in neighborhoods challenged by poverty, drugs and gang violence turn to the power of yoga as a stress reducer," you see.

All this does is make violent kids more flexible, which equals more torque on their kicks. Just great.

7/17/10

In Praise of Casual Sex

Source

You know what really gets my goat? The idea - touted by smug marrieds sipping sauvignon blanc and exuding faux sympathy - that casual sex is inherently superficial and evidence of a gaping hole in one's life. Huh?

Sure, I want a loving, stable relationship, but please don't mistake my flings in the meantime for moral or philosophical bankruptcy. The immorality of sexuality has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with dishonesty.

That's right: it consists in infidelity, all too often perpetrated by smug marrieds. It also consists in concluding that a relationship is over without bothering to tell the other half, allowing it to drift on while you look for someone else.

Anyone who supposes that this kind of duplicity has anything to do with the casual sex enjoyed by consenting singles is kidding themselves.

No-strings sex also gets a kicking from the holier-than-thou brigade because of its “association” with teenage pregnancy, STDs and the like, but these have nothing to do with sex and everything to do with stupidity.

Armed with an ounce of common sense and a packet of condoms, the parties to a one-night stand have little to fear beyond a squeaky mattress. Sure, not every fling is wonderful, any more than every friendship or every marriage.

They can be awful and should never be undertaken when too hammered to have a hope of remembering what happened.

But flings can also be genuinely wonderful - life-affirming liaisons that electrify the soul and exalt the spirit.

The Sexual Politics of Wilhelm Reich

Source

What has prevented the growth of Socialist consciousness among the working class even though the material conditions for the immediate establishment of Socialism have been in existence for at least three-quarters of a century?

Why, when Socialism is so obviously in their interest, do workers continue to support and maintain capitalism?

Why is the political behaviour of the working class so irrational? For Wilhelm Reich the answer could be summed up in two words: sexual repression.

In his view, the restrictions on sexual activity imposed through the father-dominated family structure produced people dependent on authority and incapable of independent thought and action.

As a medical student in Vienna after the first world war he became interested first in the physiology and then in the psychology of sex. He joined the circle around Freud, the psychoanalysist, and became one of his close disciples.

Freud had been teaching since before the turn of the century that most mental illness was caused by "sexual repression" dating from early childhood.

And that every human being was born with a "sexual instinct" which had to be tamed before he could become a fit member of society and that in fact this is what, from the psychological point of view, growing up and becoming socialized meant.

Sexual repression is a very important socializing device. It ensures that people become the kind of accepting, non-complaining, pliable workers and citizens that capitalism needs.

US Propaganda Conceals Imperialist Agenda

Source

The propaganda goes something like this: The U.S. is trying to spread democracy and human rights; those people have been killing each other for centuries and don’t understand or appreciate the rule of law, democracy, etc.

To promote this racist image, coverage of the Middle East says little about its history. To people who have only seen the Middle East through the lenses of the ruling-class propaganda, it is a mystery when, how and why U.S. involvement in the Middle East started.

We are asked to believe that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991 to save Kuwait, and then invaded Iraq again in 2003 to save its people from Saddam Hussein; that the U.S. got involved in Iran in the 1980s because of the hostage crisis; and that the U.S. is now opposed to Iran out of fear of nuclear proliferation.

Ruling-class propaganda does not tell us that the U.S. has been directly involved in Iraq since the 1920s, when U.S. oil corporations got 23.75 percent of Iraq’s oil as a reward for entering World War I on the side of the victorious British and French empires. The rest went to the British, the French and the Netherlands. Iraq got nothing.

The capitalist media rarely mention the fact that in 1953 the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and installed a ruthless dictator, the Shah, as its client.

Because of the nature of the coverage, many people don’t realize that it is not some kind of accident that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and others have corrupt, undemocratic and backward regimes that undermine the interests of their people. These are all regimes specifically propped up by the imperialists.

Have You Heard the One About?

Talking about it's not essential. I want to put things to write. Thought progresses through the act of. To tell it isn't like that. You develop a routine. Have you heard the one about? I was up-river, looking for the soul of darkness.IN other works, I'm in the thick of tautology. Am I repeating myself? Stop me if you've heard the one about.

I'll never be a stand-up. It doesn't go with the territory. I appear here to be a prophet. Not your divine-driven sort. More like a seer of imagination. Where the philosopher plods intellectually I leap in. I'm sorry, but I can't help feeling superior about this.

Twilight of Empire

Source

All great empires and nations decay from within. By the time they hobble off the world stage, overrun by the hordes at the gates or vanishing quietly into the pages of history books, what made them successful and powerful no longer has relevance.

This rot takes place over decades, as with the Soviet Union, or, even longer, as with the Roman, Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian empires. It is often imperceptible.

Dying empires cling until the very end to the outward trappings of power.

They mask their weakness behind a costly and technologically advanced military.

They pursue increasingly unrealistic imperial ambitions. They stifle dissent with efficient and often ruthless mechanisms of control.

They lose the capacity for empathy, which allows them to see themselves through the eyes of others, to create a world of accommodation rather than strife.

The creeds and noble ideals of the nation become empty cliches, used to justify acts of greater plunder, corruption and violence. By the end, there is only a raw lust for power and few willing to confront it.

America spends almost as much on military power as the rest of the world combined, while Social Security and Medicare entitlements are jeopardized because of huge deficits. Money is available for war, but not for the simple necessities of daily life.

The decision to measure the strength of the state in military terms is fatal. It leads to a growing cynicism among a disenchanted citizenry and a Hobbesian ethic of individual gain at the expense of everyone else.

Few want to fight and die for a Halliburton or an Exxon. This is why we do not have a draft. It is why taxes have not been raised and we borrow to fund the war.

It is why the state has organized, and spends billions to maintain, a mercenary army in Iraq and Afghanistan. We leave the fighting and dying mostly to our poor and hired killers. No nationwide sacrifices are required. We will worry about it later.

It all amounts to a tacit complicity on the part of a passive population. This permits the oligarchy to squander capital and lives.

It creates a world where we speak exclusively in the language of violence. It has plunged us into an endless cycle of war and conflict that is draining away the vitality, resources and promise of the nation.

It signals the twilight of this empire.

7/16/10

America Spends Ten Times More on 'Defense' Than It Does on Health

Source



America's military complex will get the lion’s share of our taxes.

When supplemental expenditure is added to the rest of the military budget, the result is a total of $739.2 billion being squandered on what is euphemistically called defense.

That is ten times greater than expenditure on health.

How the West Got Rich

Source

An empire uses its state power to gather private wealth for its investor class. It uses public wealth to shore up its state power and prevent other nations from self-development. Empires have always been involved in the bloody accumulation of wealth.

Imperialism is where the dominant investor interests in one country use their economic and military power on another nation or region in order to expropriate its land, labor, natural resources, capital, and markets manner. These enrich the investor interests of the imperial power.

Empires don't just pursue “power for power's sake.” There are real and enormous material interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over.

So for centuries the ruling interests of Western Europe and later on North America and Japan went forth with their financiers -- and when necessary their armies -- to lay claim to most of planet Earth.

This included the labor of indigenous peoples, their markets, their incomes (through colonial taxation or debt control or other means), and the abundant treasures of their lands.

Empires pillage their gold, silver, diamonds, copper, rum, molasses, hemp, flax, ebony, timber, sugar, tobacco, ivory, iron, tin, nickel, coal, cotton, corn, and more recently: uranium, manganese, titanium, bauxite, oil, and - say it again - oil and so on.

Empires are enormously profitable for the dominant economic interests of the imperial nation but enormously costly to the people of the colonized country.

In addition to suffering the pillage of their lands and natural resources, the people of these targeted countries are frequently killed in large numbers by the intruders.

This is another thing that empires do which too often goes unmentioned in the historical and political literature of countries like the United States, Britain, and France. Empires impoverish whole populations and kill lots and lots of innocent people.

How Chic Is My Shit?

A copy of my greatest work goes out to whom it may concern. Would you stand by while I shit? And then admire the motion? The boys dysenteric. What a find! Sign him to the agency. How chic is my shit? Who said the cock crows on its dunghill?

Actually, it's more complex than that. He's here to give head to head manipulation. Going through the Freudian stages. It's enough to make you mental. I turn out to be a sublimation of. Do you consider this to be more appropriate? Mine's a selfish cause. I'm after your awe. It may inspire me.

Idolatry of Affluence

Source

For more than 200 years, the arriving technologies have been hailed as wondrous new shortcuts to democracy.

In the late 18th century, the first rudimentary telegraphs were supposed to usher in an egalitarian era of communications.

During the last hundred years, outsized expectations for democratization and social change were projected onto radio. Then came broadcast television, cable TV, the Web, email, instant messaging, and now social media. Each one, in turn, promising greater participation in the western talisman ofdemocracy.

But the realities of economic class and the leverage of concentrated capital can't be swept aside -- or even seriously disrupted -- by any technology.

Every gee-whiz digital breakthrough happens in a social and political context. And the tremendous gaps of power among Americans, in large measure corresponding to financial resources, will not be closed by digital means.

Though usually expressed in indirect ways, idolatry of affluence has been a common theme in mass media, paralleled by the adulation heaped on pricey consumer goods -- most flagrant in advertisements but also noticeable in quite a lot of news coverage.

The great enthusiasm that’s expressed toward digital products often fits right into the common media reverence for what only money can buy.

The endless media chatter about the latest digital products, including the ponderous coverage of the market-share implications for media industries, is just another way of talking around the extreme imbalances of power that persist in the United States.

Social Change by Violent Means

Source

Review of Pacifism as Pathology | By Ward Churchill

This short book outlines how pacifism in the US is connected to a practice that poses no threat to the status quo.

And gives the illusion the state gives a damn about candlelight vigils and symbolic arrests; that actively undermines people doing effective organizing and action against the state.

Ward Churchill underscores the urgency of situation today. The American empire sustaining its rule by exploiting and dominating the world, abroad and at home.

Understanding that, how can we categorically dismiss even the idea of the use of violence? And how can we blame the victims of state violence for being too militant?

This is an indispensable book for anyone seriously interested in social change, and who sooner or later may have to consider the place of violence in the general scheme of things.

As the title implies, and wasting little time in preparing the audience for what will surely be a disturbing argument to many, the author lays out his case against white progressives.

Or, to be precise, the liberal/social democratic complacent legions of mostly well-educated middle and upper middle class activists.

They are deemed "delusional" not only in the ineffectual tactics and strategies they pursue (which the ruling elites are only too happy to accommodate as per a well-scripted minuet), but in the belief that they are actually performing revolutionary acts...

The crux of Churchill's argument, which is hard to refute, is that mainstream liberals, and a sizeable contingent of self-defined "Leftists" (read here mostly social democrats) will do anything except assume actual risk in opposing the system.

They are mostly interested in practicing "comfort zone" politics, they will almost invariably indulge in essentially worthless "cathartic" posturing instead of solid opposition.

Yet they vociferously denouncing and browbeating those who would dare suggest more confrontational tactics, including general strikes, active resistance, even guerrilla tactics.

7/14/10

ABCapitalism

Source

Capitalism is a way to rearrange the distribution of money unevenly. It's supposed to reward hard work and creativity, but it really doesn't.

It rewards indolence in that those with money can loan it out and do nothing more productive with it than collect interest. This results with those having money moving up the economic ladder and those without moving toward poverty.

Capitalism favors competition over cooperation. This competition is like a race in which the rich always get to run downhill while the rest of us have to run uphill.

It ensures that someone will always be left behind. It nurtures a climate of dishonesty and allows huge disparities in incomes. Many criminals are created in the finance community in the pursuit of wealth.

It is ironic that our educational system has glorified capitalism as an answer to many social problems while ignoring the problems that it causes.

Watch the Fecal Matter

I must try harder to see how I seem to you. Am I that demanding? The fault lies with I take it too seriously. You've wandered in out of the cold. You haven't come to be consumed. Don't worry, child. There's no penetration without engorgement. I'll call fore when we play.

To be sure a bad case of vanity in this space. Walk where you will carefully. Watch the fecal matter. He continued in the same veing without expectation. despite what you said in vain above. At the first signs of obsession. Make no mistake in my grammar.

Democrats: Morbid Symptoms

Source

The free-market system blunders into recession. Its victims flock to the free-market banner. Here we go again.

The backlash against liberalism has been going on for more than 40 years. It is as immediate as this morning's newspaper but as old as those "Silent Majority" buttons you find at antique stores.

Since the days of George Wallace, conservatives have been leading rebellions against hippies, against busing, against Hollywood, against property taxes, against welfare, against evolution, against whatever.

The formula is familiar beyond the point of tedium.

Middle-American righteousness, resentment of liberal "elites," weepy fantasies of persecution set to a country-music melody.

Yet its power never wears off. Today conservatives are giddily anticipating another electoral disaster for the "Party of the People."

Democrats don't speak to angry, working-class people because a lot of them can't speak to angry, working-class people. They don't know how.

Many of the party's resident geniuses gave up on that constituency long ago, preferring instead to remodel their organization as the vanguard of enlightened professionals and the shrine of purest globaloney.

They worked hard to convince Wall Street that new-style Democrats could be trusted. They accepted, for the most part, the deregulatory agenda of the Reagan administration.

In fact, in some fields like banking, telecommunications and free trade, they went farther than Ronald Reagan dared.

Along the way, these new-style Democrats did little as their allies in organized labor were scythed down by organized money.

Last year they watched as the percentage of unionized workers in the private sector sank lower than any point in the 20th century.

The fatuity of it all is surely plain to Democrats by now. They have permitted nothing less than the decimation of their own grass-roots social movement.

Their problems stem from their bourgeois convictions, from the botched centrist faith to which so many of their leaders still cling.

They do what they do because they believe the opinionators on the Sunday talk shows really know the answer. That the truth really resides in the dusty neoliberal, globalization clichés of the '90s.

America's Newest Soap: Obamaland [Canned Applause]

Source

The number of times American legislators stood up to demonstrate their approval during Obama's presidential address to a joint session of Congress was nothing short of ridiculous.

It may have been possible to condone the enthusiasm of the audience had it been been attributable primarily to persisting relief over the regime change.

But who can forget that George W. Bush's mangled prose, non sequiturs, inadvertent neologisms and straightforward untruths frequently attracted the same reaction?

All too often, the atmosphere surrounding his state of the union addresses was redolent of the notorious Nuremberg rallies.

I would hesitate to extend that analogy to Barack Obama, so let's just say that it's unlikely Josef Stalin in his prime would have received a comparable number of standing ovations at a gathering of the party faithful - notwithstanding his life-and-death power over members of the audience.

I'm not suggesting that members of the US Congress are, on such occasions, uncommonly obsequious towards their commanders-in-chief out of fear.

One does suspect quite a few of them are guided by the herd instinct, and by a reluctance to appear meanspiritedly partisan or unpatriotic.

But the result is a level of absurdity that is compounded by every successive wave of confected adulation.

The cumulative effect can be as annoying as the canned laughter punctuating American sitcoms try alert TV audiences to each joke.

Do Women Promote Themselves As Sex Objects?

Source

Why do adolescent boys masturbate furiously and adolescent girls don't? That might go some way to explaining the male mindset. The female mindset seems to be one of pleasuring/gratifying men by arousing them. Maybe female desire is to be desired.

Women take the whole sex object thing so seriously. Men like looking at the female form. The firmer the better. It doesn't mean we objectify ALL women in society ALL the time.

Objectifying the female body is very much part of male sex psychology. It is not every part, not the whole part but I would suggest that objectification is more a part of male sexuality than it is for females.

We are talking generalizations here but themes can certainly be identified.

Compare the gay male scene with the lesbian scene. Unadulterated male sexuality can be very aggressive and objectifying.Generally, male sexual expression is lustful. Can the same be said of women's sexual expression?

Men just want to fuck. Women want to be desired first. Therein lies the difference

7/13/10

Men Are Driven by Sexual Desire; Women Strive to Be Sexually Desired

Source

It's important to differentiate between what women say and what women do. Women often stand to gain by appealing to men. Professing an enthusiasm for sex is one way of doing this. This is hardly a modern female ploy. The sexually provocative female has existed since time began.

What is much more indicative of women’s enthusiasm for sex is what women actually do.

Men masturbate regularly throughout their lives but very few women ever masturbate to enjoy arousal and orgasm.

Men enjoy their own porn-arousal all their lives but even young women buy much less erotica.

Our culture abounds with images of women’s bodies but women don't generate a demand for images of men’s bodies.

Lap-dancing and pole-dancing bars are directed at men and are seldom (if ever) intended for women.

Prostitutes offer men sex the world over but women very rarely pay for sex. It would be more useful to ask older women, who have less to prove, what they think of sex. I have tried talking to women of all ages about sex and the vast majority prefer to make no comment at all.

In fact, very few women are shouting from the rooftops about the marvels of sex. Unfortunately the majority is intimidated by the sexual ego of the minority (one woman in million).