Friday, April 15, 2011

very small things

                                 In a folded
spear of the Bird of Paradise lily,
two snails are mating. They began
yesterday and after twenty hours’
foreplay are still at it, inserting mutual
penises into mutual vaginas. ‘In times
dedicated to universality and excess’,
I have ‘never been so interested
in very small things – twinkling tadpoles
in a barrel of water, the germination
of a fungus, ants nibbling at the leaves
of a lemon tree and leaving it like lace.

- Landeg White, in Letters from Portugal (to appear)


I always thought Julia was the really smart one, in Orwell's 1984:

I don't imagine that we can alter anything in our own lifetime. But one can imagine little knots of resistance springing up here and there -- small groups of people banding themselves together, and gradually growing, and even leaving a few records behind, so that the next generations can carry on where we leave off.' 

'I'm not interested in the next generation, dear. I'm interested in us.' 

'You're only a rebel from the waist downwards,' he told her. 

She thought this brilliantly witty and flung her arms round him in delight. 

In the ramifications of party doctrine she had not the faintest interest. Whenever he began to talk of the principles of Ingsoc, doublethink, the mutability of the past, and the denial of objective reality, and to use Newspeak words, she became bored and confused and said that she never paid any attention to that kind of thing. One knew that it was all rubbish, so why let oneself be worried by it? She knew when to cheer and when to boo, and that was all one needed. If he persisted in talking of such subjects, she had a disconcerting habit of falling asleep. She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird."

What a beautiful new world to look up to

For chinese men, no house mean no luv

The takeover goes on

In financial crisis, no prosecutions of top figures (NYT)

Would we allow goldman sachs to fail now? (baselinescenario) (spoiler: the answer is no (of course))

I love to say I told you so, F., so here it is: "I told you so". I told you we should have let them all fall and you said I was irresponsible. I said at least we had to punish them right there and then and you said there was no time, we'd to it later; you said after this it would never be the same; it would have to change; they would have to accept changes. Well, here we are.

Years later, no punishment, no regulation,  failed banks and failed rating agencies preaching over the states who bailed them, and all of us on the road to servitude under the new corporate feudalism. And still the sheep bleat and flog both each other and their own backs and join in the cries of the austerics, like in some catholic orgy of self-flagelation.  Is it some judeo-cretin fetish again, maybe that's why I don't get it? Why aren't you shouting "off with their heads?" Why aren't they cowering in fear? Why aren't you singing "you got the guns but we've got the numbers?". Instead you cower in fear. Are you now discovering what being poor is? It is not about having no money. You still have money, but already you are poor. It is about living in fear. Every single day. It is about going to sleep hoping you won't get sick, because if everything goes right you might just make it, but if you wake up sick, expensively sick, then you are ruined forever - there in the gutter, but for the sake of luck, you go.

Why aren't you at least politely correcting them when they say "the state failed"? The state failed? Yes, it failed, when it bailed them out. But they who speak of the markets, the markets have spoken and they all failed, from the dirtiest Madoff right up to sage Warren Buffet, they all failed. They are broke. They are only standing up, the financially undead, because they bought the politicians and stole our money and our futures. And we let them. Because we won't go out on the streets and bring the whole fucking thing down. Because we won't burn their golf courses and serve them molotov cocktails. Because we have grown too polite. We have been bred to cower in front of the new aristocracy, to feed on their narrative, to think in their terms. And to admire their ugly mugs in the covers of magazines. The pigs have taken over the farm.

Large corporations are in effect states, and by their nature the worst kind of states: private realms and absolute tyrannies. The employer's rule is arbitrary, he controls what you dress, he controls every waking hour, and what the waking hours are, he controls your speech. Oh, you can leave. Leave and beg your meal from another just as bad, or perish, since the the social state is about to be eliminated. Your tax money is not there for you, you parasite! It is there to bail  out your betters when they fuck up again.

Communism fails because it degenerates into an opressive bureaucracy. Capitalism fails because it degenerates into corporate feudalism. Both are unstable systems, vigilance is necessary, and a periodical reboot must be executed, at great human expense. Jefferson was wise, or at least, right.

It is a brilliant takeover. We have freedom of speech - in the public sphere. We have the right to vote - in the public sphere. We have lots of rights - in the public sphere. Nobody would dare take those rights away openly. But the public sphere is reduced to a mere pebble, and in the private sphere - that occupies the whole world where you can dwell, feed, survive - it is back to middle age autocracy. Welcome back to the age of the robber barons. Welcome back to the age where I wonder if I should say such things in the future, without wearing a mask.

As I was writing this the sheep were shouting over some idiotic football match. The whole street trembled in joy because some obscenely overpayed athlete stuck a ball into a goal. If only these people could be made to shout half as hard over the fact they and their children are being gutted, the day could still be won.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Plus ça change...

"(...) when war comes they [The Government] are both unwilling and unable to increase their revenue in proportion to the increase of their expence. They are unwilling for fear of offending the people, who, by so great and so sudden an increase of taxes, would soon be disgusted with the war; and they are unable from not well knowing what taxes would be sufficient to produce the revenue wanted. The facility of borrowing delivers them from the embarrassment which this fear and inability would otherwise occasion. By means of borrowing they are enabled, with a very moderate increase of taxes, to raise, from year to year, money sufficient for carrying on the war, and by the practice of perpetually funding they are enabled, with the smallest possible increase of taxes, to raise annually the largest possible sum of money. In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which they pay on account of the war, and those which they had been accustomed to pay in time of peace. They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war."

-Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Monday, April 11, 2011

Noblesse Oblige

Of course we had to go into Lybia, young man! Have you no human compassion? What choice did we have, with civilian lives at stake? Mere consistency demanded so! Did we not rush headlong into Tian'anmen square? Did we not rescue Tibet? Did we not sanction and isolate China? Consistency, boy, and compassion, and Democracy, and, why, civilization! It is the white man's burden, after all!
Conditions apply: recipient of military help must have oil or other strategic interest; balance of forces must be extremely favorable, conflict must lead to inventory cycling and profits increase for miltary industrial complex.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Euro Doublespeak

"(...)In essence (...) it is the taxpayers of Greece, Ireland and Portugal who are bailing out German, French and British taxpayers and depositors — not the other way around. The indebted countries are not really getting bailouts, he said, “but loans at high interest rates.” For there to be a real bailout, he said, there would have to be a default.(...)"
-New York Times link

-Paul Mason, BBC link