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Three New Reads – September

Philip Roddis
Let none accuse me of frivolity. My three selected reads this month address subjects that could not be more serious. As Western media and leaders continue to vilify Russia, Tony Kevin gives a much needed and more sober assessment. While the trashing of our environment – capital’s war on nature – proceeds apace, Bloggers Out of the Woods critically assess the contribution of Extinction Rebellion. And in the wake of this month’s strikes on Riyadh’s soft underbelly – its oil facilities – Patrick Cockburn asks: do cheap drones mark a shift in modern warfare, one that poses a major threat to America’s military industrial complex?

On September 11, Russia expert Tony Kevin delivered an address to the Independent Scholars Association of Australia. The transcript was published ten days later on OffGuardian, a site I probably consult more than any other. Though not primarily about Ukraine, Kevin touched on that country more than once, including this passage:

In 2014 we saw violent US-supported regime change and civil war in Ukraine. In February, after months of increasing tension from the anti-Russian protest movement’s sitdown strike in Kiev, there was a murderous clash between protesters and police, sparked off by hidden shooters (we now know they were expert Georgian snipers), aiming at police.

The elected government collapsed and President Yanukevich fled to Russia, pursued by murder squads.

The new Poroshenko government pledged harsh anti-Russian language laws. Rebels in two Russophone regions in Eastern Ukraine took local control, and appealed for Russian military help. In March, a referendum took place in Russian-speaking Crimea on leaving Ukraine, under Russian military protection. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, a request promptly granted by the Russian Parliament and President.

Crimea’s border with Ukraine was secured against saboteurs. Crimea is prospering under its pro-Russian government, with the economy kick-started by Russian transport infrastructure investment.

In April, Poroshenko ordered full military attack on the separatist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. A brutal civil war ensued, with aerial and artillery bombardment bringing massive civilian death and destruction to the separatist region. There was major refugee outflow into Russia and other parts of Ukraine. The shootdown of MH17 took place in July 2014.

Well that has to be a crock of garbage, right? I mean, it flies in the face of all we know of nasty Russia and valiant Ukraine, stuff that must be true because Luke Harding wrote it in the Graun, and we have triangulation from near identical coverage by the Beeb no less…

Kevin is not the only Russia watcher whose assessments, at odds with assiduously framed and orchestrated mainstream orthodoxies, have brought him deplatformed status. Former Reagan appointees Stephen Cohen, the West’s foremost Russia expert, and Paul Craig Roberts have for years been marginalised.

For a critical appraisal of the orthodoxies they fall foul of, we can do worse than turn to this from American Conservative; voice of the noninterventionist right and critical of mainstream narratives on Russia, Middle East, Venezuela and much besides.*

If for no other reason, I’d recommend Tony Kevin’s words for their insights into the ease with which dissident voices can be marginalised and no-platformed in a West fondly believed by its deluded citizens – sorry: the hour is late and this is a time for plain talking, not pulled punches – to be truly democratic and genuinely committed to principles of free speech.

But that’s not my main reason. It’s likely that, since you are still reading, you are more sceptical than most of mainstream narratives. In which case you are likely to be open to the notion that Russia is demonised for reasons that have little to do with those given by the Luke Hardings of this world (whose name is Legion) and a great deal to do with the agenda of an American led West facing slow decline in the face of Eurasia rising. A West whose leaders are busy making choices that may make sense on Wall Street but run counter to your real interests and mine.

It’s also likely, however, that you are too busy with the demands of life – job, family, paying the mortgage – to be as informed as you’d like. Confronted by friends parroting mainstream lines by ‘quality’ media, you find yourself dubious but ill-versed to counter arguments – what about Russian imperialism in Ukraine? …what about Assad’s use of poison gas? – used to paint black white and justify wars hot, and wars cold.

What Kevin does is summarise the lies and omissions littering mainstream accounts of Russia. We need more such round-ups on live hot spots of mainstream disinformation, and his offering would for this reason alone get my recommendation. But again there’s more. Along the way he has a section headed, “Truth, trust and false narratives”.

It opens with a tribute to my favourite blogger, a ‘fearless and brilliant’ Caitlin Johnstone, and shows how such mendacious accounts are assembled and sold to us.

In short, how we are brainwashed.

Read the full piece here (5862 words)

*

Out of the Woods are utterly convinced of the need for action addressing ecological crisis by any means necessary. But not all means are necessary.

As one himself frequently guilty of promising posts I either never get round to writing, or write with unforgivable tardiness, I’m in no position to throw stones. This article, which appeared in July, was heralded as part one of three on Extinction Rebellion. It focuses on XR’s tactics, with parts two and three to address defects in, respectively, its organisational forms and strategies.

As best I can ascertain, neither of the latter have yet appeared.

But I find sufficient merit in Part One to justify its inclusion here. Posted on Libcom.org by a frequent contributor, Out of the Woods, it deserves a read by at least two groups: those who doubt the dire straits capitalism’s reckless disregard for nature has brought us to, and those contemplating direct action of the kind XR practices.

It may even be that Out of the Woods’s delay in posting parts two and three has been brought about by its belated realisation that, in discussing the tactical defects of XR, it ipso facto says all that needs to be said of its organisational forms and strategies; indeed, of its entire world view.

I speak as a marxist for whom several things are apparent. One is that the most pressing issue of our time is the destruction of our environment. I needn’t get into the climate change debate here. Alarming loss of species, the consequences incalculable, and gross pollution – especially in the global south – of our soil, the water we drink and air we breathe; these will do for now. Capitalism’s insane but systemic addiction to narrowly defined growth is propelling us with frightening speed toward catastrophe of one form or another.

The second is that existing political processes, discredited in so many ways in the eyes of those who still use such things for seeing beyond the ends of their noses, are no less discredited on this front. These processes – parliamentarism, trade unionism, EU ‘internationalism’ – have all, to borrow from that crypto marxist classic, The Bible, been weighed in the balance and found wanting. The need for direct forms of protest could not be clearer or more pressing.

The third, recently pointed out to me by Roger (Socialist in Canada) Annis is that a key lesson of the modern era is that Change of the kind now needed has always come about by cross class alliances. The French, Russian, Chinese and Cuban Revolutions all involved workers, peasants, petit-bourgeois and other class forces. So will it be with effective opposition to environmental madness.

My fourth point, following hard on the third, is a distinction between Popular Fronts and United Fronts. The former, commonly referred to as ‘rainbow alliances’, seek the biggest possible mass base. To this end political discourse is contained and ideally eliminated as a threat to the unity of what must always be fragile coalitions, likely to fall apart or be co-opted by darker forces the moment they are tested in action, as they surely will be.

The united front by contrast works on the premise of agreement on a set of specific demands – opposition to fracking, say, combined with tactical steps to obstruct it. Such steps are engaged in by all groups and individuals who can, without dilution of wider principles and fundamental worldviews, sign up for them. Those groups and individuals will work tirelessly for goals they see as worthy but limited, while remaining free to argue the need for more radical measures.

Which is all the introduction needed for this experientially grounded and perceptive Out of the Woods piece.

Read the full piece here here. (3580 words)

*

The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East, but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally.

On the morning of 14 September, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles – all cheap and unsophisticated compared to modern military aircraft – disabled half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and raised the world price of oil by 20 per cent.

This happened despite the Saudis spending $67.6bn (£54bn) on their defence budget last year, much of it on vastly expensive aircraft and air defence systems, which notably failed to stop the attack. The US defence budget stands at $750bn (£600.2bn), and its intelligence budget at $85bn (£68bn), but the US forces in the Gulf did not know what was happening until it was all over.

Excuses advanced for this failure include the drones flying too low to be detected and unfairly coming from a direction different from the one that might have been expected.

I have a soft spot for Patrick Cockburn. Even when I think him wrong in the bigger view, which on the Middle East is often, I respect his sincerity and commitment to factually based reporting. In any case, as with many of the sources I find myself consulting – Russia Today,  Al-Monitor, Al-Jazeera, Economist, Guardian and American Conservative to name but few – I needn’t share all or for that matter any of their world views to find usefulness therein.

Shit, I’ll even use the CIA Factbook from time to time!

Take this from HuffPo at the time of John Bolton’s accession as National Security Advisor. Its title says it all: War With Iran Won’t Be Iraq All Over Again. It’ll Be Much Worse. I couldn’t agree more, especially when a large part of its reasoning has to do with Iran’s highly developed ability to wage protracted asymmetric war against conventionally superior forces.

What’s more, as Global Research opined two months ago, US alliances across the region show themselves on closer scrutiny to be shakier than initial appearances might suggest.

But let’s stay with asymmetric warfare. That’s what Cockburn’s piece is about. He doesn’t stick to Iran though. While he sees Tehran (rightly or wrongly) as one possible perpetrator of those drone strikes on Saudi oil, his is the broader point that hitherto decisive military superiority can vanish overnight.

It is unthinkable that American, British and Saudi military chiefs will accept that they command expensive, technically advanced forces that are obsolete in practice. This means they are stuck with arms that suck up resources but are, in practical terms, out of date. The Japanese, soon after they had demonstrated at Pearl Harbour the vulnerability of battleships, commissioned the world’s largest battleship, the Yamato, which fired its guns only once and was sunk in 1945 by US torpedo aircraft and bombers operating from aircraft carriers.

Food for thought, in this my shortest read recommend today.

Read the full piece here (1145 words)

*I am not uncritical of American Conservative, nor of Stephen Cohen. But my criticisms centre not on their untrustworthiness – they are to my mind that rarest of things, honest and independent brokers – but their naivity. Underpinning their critiques of Russophobia is a belief that somehow the West has taken a wrong turn in relation to Russia and much else. It follows that by electing better administrations, ones that return to ‘core values’ of American capitalism, a dangerous drift to war with Russia (and perhaps China too) can be corrected. To my marxist way of thinking this betrays weak understanding of the nature of capitalism in the age of imperialism. I will nonetheless continue to cite such sources precisely because in their innocence they continue to offer crisp and incisive appraisals of mainstream folly.

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Gezzah Potts
Gezzah Potts
Sep 30, 2019 12:46 PM

Appreciate this Philip, thanks. Sadly, in our brave new world, people like John Pilger, Eva Bartlett, Tony Kevin, Max Blumenthal, Seymour Hersh, et al are now…. Unpeople. They are either smeared, slandered, or just outright ignored. Refer to the Global Conference on Media Freedom earlier this year.
Appreciate the link to libcom about Extinction Rebellion.
Here in Melbourne have noticed something odd. In suburbs that have been gentrified, with a sizable influx of Hipsters and yuppies, there are Extinction Rebellion posters all over the place. In very average middle class or semi working class suburbs further out, cannot recall seeing any posters for Extinction Rebellion. Thats any. Coincidence? Was I looking hard enough? Do I need to go to Specsavers?
I read elsewhere that one of Extinction Rebellion’s tactics is too deliberately sideline and go round genuinely radical socialist groups. Coincidence again? Capitalism has indeed created a huge disaster in the destruction of the environment in its all consuming quest for profit.
We need to instigate a form of Ecosocialism in my opinion. A system that benefits both the Planet as well as Humanity. Not a system based on unadulterated greed of the few.

BigB
BigB
Sep 30, 2019 12:05 PM

Eurasia rising? I did the Yuan (CNY) v Dollar (USD) the other day. Here is the Ruble (RUB) v USD 10 year chart. That massive spike in 2014/15 is the RUB losing half its value – more down to the ongoing crash in global oil prices than any sanction effect (which has been at least partly beneficial to Russia – at Germany and Europes expense). Is it has never recovered its value though – except on a short term basis (day to day) – in no way can it be said “Eurasia is rising”. Both the RUB and CNY have depreciated against the USD on the long term basis. Define ‘rising’ as a synonym for ‘falling’.

https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=RUB&view=10Y

You see the USD funded the ‘rising’: and the appreciating USD is investors favourite hedge for the coming storm. China is struggling to keep the CNY from freefalling – because they need the USD to do that. I’ve explained why before. Eurasia is not rising at all. The USD is. This is the objective truth which no amount of subjective reappraisal can change.

If we are not pulling any punches: what is rising in Eurasia is ecofascism. The idea of a ‘sovereigntist’ globalisation is a Noble Lie. Let’s not make the mistake that both VVP and Xi are ardent globalists. They have said it enough times to warrant no equivocation. And the ‘sovereigntism’ comes straight from the mouth of Dugin. Let’s call his neo-Volkisch neo-Nazism out for what it is: ‘blood and soil’ ecofascism.

Now is not the time to go into the philosophy: but if you do not know your ‘ethnoi’; ‘narod’; or ‘Dasein’ …or know exactly what the Nazi Heidegger meant by ‘care’ (hint: you can probably guess) …then I do. Another time maybe: but my deconstruction is my own and owes nothing to libertarians who have come to the same conclusion. There is only one conclusion to draw: Eurasianism is ‘blood and soil’ ecofascism rising under a ‘sovereigntist’ Noble Lie (something you tell the kids to stop them revolting. Which has worked for over two millennia of neo-Platonic authoritarianism.)

What is arising in Eurasia is arising everywhere. Ecofascism – with its Noble Lie of sovereignty under globalisation – has colonised Eurasia. Which with the Russia/China alliance means the world island or ‘supercontinent’ – the ‘Purple Archangel’ for the deranged Duginites (who are themselves ‘Angel Initiators’) – has its own version of the GND/4IR ‘net zero’ SDG pseudo-ecological climate climax economic civilisation. And it will be climax: because there will be nothing left afterward – precious little blood and definitely no soil. And the climax will be a whimper – not a bang – of the last human (sein) gasping for air and water on a murdered planet (Dasein: or being and Being if you get the lingo).

Calling all crypto-capitalists: wake up and smell the heat death of a dying planet – murdered by the greed, racist hatred, and gross ecological delusion of capitalists. I can go into the actual detail another time: but all capitalism offers is death. Not in the long term: its happening now. From which the crypto-capitalists turn away and project their personal dreams East …onto fascist racist neo-Volkisch colonisation of the supercontinent – neoliberalism 4.0 – the greenwashing of ecofascism.

So, if the import of the worlds largest landmass coming under a pseudo-green neoliberalist ‘sovereigntist’ Noble Lie eludes us at this time. We face the same agenda here. In case you do not get it yet: this is much bigger than a little girl and some crusty XR Rebels. The whole world is burning as fuel for the unquenchable greed, racist hatred; and delusion of ‘Hungry Ghost’ capitalists.

To which: the XR hitpiece is so out of date as to be nothing other than that. It was out of date before it was published – if you read the comments. XR did take a lot of the early criticism on board. As even the article says: you cannot expect an organisation to emerge fully formed.

FWIW: XR (at least claims) to organise around the principles of SOHO and sortition. If it becomes apparent that it is not: there will be a rebellion withinn the rebellion – to which I am aligned (on a healthy contingent basis). SOHO is ‘self-organising holarchic open’ systems – where the part is the whole and the whole the part. If that sounds like a challenge to the rampant individualist: then rigid individualisms days are numbered.

The Self is a political construct that has no indexal link to reality. That is, it is an abstract entity. This is the basis of ecology and SOHO. If that sounds like brainwashed cultism: shall we examine the brainwashed occultism of the individuated capitalist Cartesian subject? Under whose guise we are murdeing the earth and consuming our own future. For what? An abstract entity invented and inculcated since pre-Socratic times as a tool of power?

Pulling no punches: constructing the Self constructs the State and delivers power unto Them. They who are us in our divided Capitalist automatic subject Self. It was not Marx who pointed this out: it was Weber. A long time ago: long enough for us to get the message.

To which Marx was close in his famous aphorism: “”It is not consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”. Which was probably the first stating of Capitalist Realism. Elaborated by Weber, Fromm; etc into something close to the statement I made. In other words: we constitute capitalism just as capitalism constitutes us. The Self is the story we tell not to ever admit this to ourselves (Charakter Masken; character armour; persona; authoritarian personality; Cartesian capitalist subject; alienation; moral appelation; etc).

To which XR purports to support Jem Bendell’s ‘Deep Adaptation’. As well as Polly Higgins interspecies anti-extinctionism. Which is by far the most radical extant agenda available. Is it corporate leveraged and recuperated: of course it is. Is it a perfect vehicle: not even close? But is it better than voting in the eco-extinctionism Labour back. By a galaxy and then some.

In the UK: Labour constitute the false hopes of the eco-illiterate and economically challenged. That is why they are the sharp spearpoint being driven by the full force of corporate climate capitalism throught the heart of humanity. You can’t turn that spearpoint around sitting back and taking aim at Greta and XR. Are they manipulated: yes. Can that be turned around: not by sitting at home. The praxis of stasis is a tacit corporate consent.

This is not going away. Hoping the corpratocracy will back down if we expose Greta and XR is beyond naivety. Look at the map. They’ve already colonised more than half the globe with the latest iteration of blood and soil ecofascism. Comparisons with 1933 are warranted. Especially with more than a whiff of weaponised anti-semitism in the air.

The only reason I ever studied history is to be alert to the rise of fascism if it ever rose again. It is. Bigger and more organised than before. There can be no world war to defeat it; it is neo-global. Study Mosley; study Dugin; study Evola; study Heidegger; study Plato; study Marx; study Weber; study Deleuze and Guattarri (two of the few that ever even began to offer incomplete alternatives). If not XR: study ecology. Capitalism is collapsing into the repo markets. Capitalism in crisis is fascism. The modern iteration is blood and soil ecofascism. To which there is not humanist alternative: until we create one.

If XR cannot be subverted from within (I believe it can be): then we need our own movement. And the police may not be so accomodating in a crisis. But anyone who thinks capitalism or politics offer survivable alternatives for humanity might want to reconsider. Ecofascism is capitalism in crisis: coming to a town near you whether you bitch, moan, or vote it in. Just have a think about it. TINA: there is no alternative unless we make one.

bevin
bevin
Sep 30, 2019 3:39 PM
Reply to  BigB

” Labour constitute the false hopes of the eco-illiterate and economically challenged. That is why they are the sharp spearpoint being driven by the full force of corporate climate capitalism throught the heart of humanity…”
This close collaboration between “the full force of climate change capitalism” (is there any other kind?) and Jeremy Corbyn is not immediately apparent to the ordinary observer.
The problem with your arguments is that they get borne away by the excitement which they arouse within you. Fascism is a specific response to capitalist crisis not the only one, and whether fascism arises depends on the response it evokes, particularly among its probable victims. It was the response of the SPD, for example, and its inability to work with the KPD which was one of the contributory factors in the successful rise of Naziism.
In a word sectarianism among working class organisations was one of the causes of the failure of the massive and longstanding institutions of Labour to mount any resistance to the Nazi coup.
As you slash away at those portions of the left that you find are insufficiently educated-something evidenced by their failure to agree with your prescriptions- you might want to consider that, when you get around to “making up” an alternative to ecofascism, you will likely want human material, perhaps even dredged up from the supporters of ‘eco-extinctionist Labour’ to assist you.

BigB
BigB
Oct 1, 2019 1:14 AM
Reply to  bevin

Fascism or corporatism has morphed since 1933, I’ll grant you that. I do not expect the Black Shirts or the Riot of Cable Street. Corporatism has been fashioning a state media cultural alliance all my adult life. One could argue – and I would not demur – that the new fascism – or Wolin’s invert totalitarianism – is almost complete. The hegemony of capital over humanity has taken place by stealth. Its capital is ‘offshore’. Its subversion of humanity goes largely unseen. And, by and large, those in the developed world approve and consent to that which is no less evil than the abominations of the middle of last century.

If Hitler or Mussolini had their time again: they would not deviate from the course of action that has brought us here. By many accounts: Hitler was a great fan of how a handful of bureaucrats ruled India. Let’s face it: how many know that they are endocolonised by capitalism? And how many will admit it: even privately to themselves?

We stand in the midst of a battle looking for the outer enemy: when the enemy is only and ever within. It is quite an exciting time to be alive. Because the outer is played out. There is a huge surfeit of suppressed subjective feeling and emotion seeking an outlet. The tide is turning against pure objectivity and scientific ideographic representation of humanity without consciousness. I mean, it is the 21st century: and all the work on putting the 1st person live experience into a dead cosmogony without affect or consciousness is recent. Can you not see what has been suppressed so long by power regimes based on the ghost of imagination we call the Self?

I do not suppose you are current in cognitive neuroscience? It is too early to do what Nietzsche supposedly did to God – and declare the the Individual is dead. But that is the direction of travel. The literature is all about embodiment and the socially constructed self (small non-independent ‘s’) …as an artifact of culture. Who also is neither as smart or as rational as that culture would have it. Homo economicus died 20 years ago and no one noticed.

And where are we in politics? 300 years out of date? I tried to bring some more current research to bear on politics a good while back. That was a mistake. We intentionally do politics with minds and concepts that have no indexal link with reality. And economy which is pure negentropic imagination. And get the exact results that entails: disaster. Disaster that endangers us to the possible point of extinction.

What I prescribe is that we design an economy that accounts for entropy and the environment. Which is so necessary it should not need stating. I mean: an imaginary political economy – what use is that to pretend and then predicate a polity on it? Also, we should not have the imaginary construct of Self as the focal point of a cultural regime of power. Is it really unreasonable to want peace and non-dominance for all? And the bloke who wants the least is the strange one.

I am not a political movement. I have no agenda. The world will wake up to fact or it will not. Entropy is a fact. The Self is not. We supposedly live in an empirical and evidence-based society. What is the evidence for the Self? Neuroscientists are already talking in Nietzschian terms of the Necessary or Vital Lie. That is extend and pretend the authoritarian tradition of self beyond the point of lie. Can you not see the delinquency in this? Because I can. There is no Self: there is only the political construct of self. One that self-constructs its own authoritarianism.

Prescribe is the wrong word. I strongly suggest we do something about that and stop pretending. Because the pretense is turning nasty. The implications are not good. Rest assured my friend: no one will listen to me. Likely we will rip ourselves to pieces. All I ever really wanted to say is that we do not need to. Science says we are a lot more altruistic and emotionally integrated than the political culture allows us to be. We could build a new politics around that. To which people will turn or not. I have no power to slash away at anything much: the Left destroyed itself. I merely point it out to those who have failed to notice. And will you ever take on board any critique of Labours GND suicide pact with corporate ecofascists? The GND needs to be exposed for the regime of power it represents.
And, ecologically, people are illiterate. If they weren’t: they would not need to turn to me or anyone else to expose the GND. And they would not be voting Labour.

milosevic
milosevic
Oct 1, 2019 3:52 AM
Reply to  BigB

Science says we are a lot more altruistic and emotionally integrated than the political culture allows us to be. We could build a new politics around that.

I’d like to suggest that you keep propagating that point, rather than the more esoteric stuff which nobody else understands, and probably wouldn’t agree with if they did.

To which people will turn or not.

They probably need to experience an environment which embodies such values, rather than just being told about it. The whole culture of capitalist society has been degraded to such an extent, that most people probably can’t imagine an alternative culture of social solidarity and mutual aid, never having had direct experience of any such thing.

How to organize such an environment, in the middle of late-capitalist social and cultural squalor, on a sufficient scale that people would notice how different it made them feel, is an unresolved question.

I have no power to slash away at anything much: the Left destroyed itself.

To be fair, the destruction was generously sponsored by elite “philanthropic” foundations, who steered their pet academics and NGOs in the direction of identity politics and similar diversions, carefully designed to make class politics unintelligible, and the ruling class completely disappear from view.

I merely point it out to those who have failed to notice.

I wonder if the problem isn’t so much that people have failed to notice, as that the sort of people who would formerly have noticed, decades ago, hardly exist anymore. The average modern identity politics activist probably isn’t capable of noticing the disappearance of authentic left-wing politics; their own career trajectory is on an upward slope, due to the above-mentioned elite sponsorship. Any revival of what traditionally used to be thought of as left-wing politics, would be perceived as a threat to their comfortable middle-class status.

BigB
BigB
Oct 1, 2019 12:06 PM
Reply to  milosevic

M: given our history – that’s a very salient and intelligent comment. And I mean that with no shred of sarcasm at all.

My frustration is partly born of the fact that my position is not esoteric at all. It is current: that is all. Not actually current: the principle of ‘autopoiesis’ is 40 years old. Helmholz’s principle of ‘active inference’ over a hundred. Embodiment – which is the broad church position I advocate has literally 1,000s of academic documents to back it up. I can’t keep up: new information alights every day.

And we are doing politics with non-existent imaginary categories – that the new science absolutely refutes – hundreds of years out of date. It’s really frustrating that we demand we do politics with political categories set by Plato and Aristotle – Republican v Democrat; conservative v progressive. The binary politics of authoritarianism and the regimes of pseudo-truth and power.

The Continental Tradition has been bypassed by the Enlightenment Tradition to our detriment. Essentially, we subject ourselves to Rule – then complain about it. That’s politics. But the way we complain about it demands more rule: it is a vicious circle zero-sum game that ends in some form of fascism – however you define it – the fascism we involuntarily and subconciously want.

How about – instead of this tired Eternal Return of Master/Slave authoritarianism – we change the rules of the game? The direction of travel of cognitive neuroscience is clear – there is no Individual Self. No shit Sherlock! We have a parallel tradition – the Perennial Philosophy – that literally told us that 4,000 years ago. We chose Rule: and we’re still bitching about why.

We had the ‘Affective Turn’ which I would project back to Bergson, James, Brentano, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty; etc and no one noticed. Not politically. We essentially have Ayn Rand’s attitude to affect and emotion. Or Plato and Descartes disdain for the felt live experience. People do feel, and they are alive – but the avenues of the possible that has opened in politics – IP and LGBTQ++ fixations – we would probably agree are not effective – but recuperative avenues of distraction into which subjectivity has been corralled. Just as ‘femology’ has replaced any affective radical feminism.

You know, how would you feel if I determined your political beingness – by my 3rd person judgement of who I think you are …and how you fit into my determinative Method? Even if I let you self-report how you feel: or hook you up to my fMRI scanner while I ask you to perform basic tasks? Do you think I would get anywhere near the felt living being you are in my academic report? Not even close.

And that is where we are politically. Forcing people into alienating and dehumanising objectified categories where they do not feel they belong. Politics dictate authoritarian and objectified categories that reduce being human an instrumental rationality that is not ours. It’s a tool of power. To which we consent because the culture demands it. And most of us do not know that are other categories of life beyond the political constructivism. And so the political cycle goes on.

The aporia is that how do we create an environment of learning, praxis and liberation beyond politics? Anything that enters the political domain of Self and categories must become Self and categories to be politically intelligible. In doing so: it ceases to be of liberational praxis and becomes part of the Eternal Recurrence of the gross political. It will take a better person than me to break that deadlock. Some of our finest minds tried and failed. I merely wanted to broaden the ossified antique categories of neo-Plato/Aristotle/Cartesian subjectivity and captivity to the next new possible.

All the information is out there: it just needs coalescing into a cohesive format to challenge the Cartesian subjectivity of authoritarian rule. I’ll tell you one thing for free though: I have a bookshelf of the latest in cognitive neuroscience, linguistics: etc. Every one of those popular books – written for the layman like me – have those I would consider the ‘enemy’ …those who wish to maintain the current relations of rule. Pinker, Kahnemman, and Sunnstein are common endorsers …but even Soros gets round to reading the latest developments. Someone is taking it all in: and applying it as ‘Theories of Change’ against us.

While we are content – or even discontent – with being Cartesian authoritarian subjects – the next new possible of authoritarianism qua freedom is being designed with all the latest science has to offer. I offer this as a warning: if we do not take the very latest information into account and forge a praxis of freedom for ourselves – the authoritarians will do it for us, just as you say. We will not even know how we are being manipulated – via affect and emotion.

Facts do not matter – it is not effect but affect we should be seeking. Coherence and plausibility – not facticity – of the narrative is what counts. Has everyone not twigged why children are now the new political figureheads. You are right: we could almost give up fact checking the narrative. It is a credible and affective alternative we need. Humans are risk aversive: we will find ways of believing the unbelievable unless there is a credible alternative that engages us emotionally. TINA: there is no alternative unless we create one from our live experience – to re-ignite the dead political categories.

Just trying to point it out – or ‘nudge’ – in the right direction. Versus the multi-trillions of those using the same ‘ecology of mind’ data-set to employ the ‘silent-nudge’ subliminally determined toward the furtherance of the authoritarian society of control. That is why we have science as a third party discipline. It’s not the narratives: it’s the deep structure of the narrative that is the primal means of control. Everything is converted from live experience to categories of Self and control by maintaining the structure of the language – what is called the ‘langue’. The ‘parole’ – the narrative – is of secondary import. That is the change of vector that is required, as I see it. To which I am frustrated at not being able to bring in any of the liberational work that has been done because it is considered ‘esoteric’.

Can you see how it all functions as a peer-policed society of control now? Anything outside the sanctioned normativity of social constructivism is just ‘wierd’. That is how the categories of control are controlled – just by us: not them.

Philip Roddis
Philip Roddis
Sep 30, 2019 9:03 PM
Reply to  BigB

BigB your repetition of a casual and quite specifically contextualised remark of mine – pulling punches – seems slightly unhinged to me. (Could you perhaps try to make your case more simply, less emotively and preferably above the line?} I wouldn’t reply to your comment had it come from anyone else. We go back a way though, and have conducted ourselves well. I’ll make an exception here.

I shan’t reply to all you say. In fact, on the XR issue, I’m not even clear what you yourself are saying, or if and to what extent we differ. As for the question of Russia and China, I have two responses. One is that depreciation of their currencies against the dollar is a bizarre metric for the point you seem to be making. You are surely aware that a gripe of successive US administrations has been that Beijing artificially and unfairly holds down its currency?

My other? You say “Let’s not make the mistake that both VVP and Xi are ardent globalists.” Agreed, let’s not. Let’s just say I prefer the US Empire checked than unchallenged, absolute hegemon.

BigB
BigB
Sep 30, 2019 11:48 PM
Reply to  Philip Roddis

The whole econometric point I have being trying to convey is that the US Empire is not checked at all financially by Russia and China. They are extending the Washington Consensus and USD credit lines. The military checking is a welcome result: but does little to stop the alienation and dehumanisation of capitalism. All that has occurred is that there was a seeming shift in allegiance stemming from WEF and SPIEF this year. So forgive me for happening upon a chance remark of yours: but Eurasia is not rising. Something much darker is occurring that needs addressing. Something I will address another time.

I’m not sure there is any distance between us at all on the environmental causal nexus of the web of crises that is capitalism. But the airing of an article from the 22nd March seemed rather bizarre to me. The people who penned the article – Out of the Woods – clearly want us to confront the police as enemies. Well, I did that, back in the day – and I still bear the scars. Also, I am no stranger to the inside of a police cell. It was no epiphany either. But making deliberate class confrontation and warfare with the police is no genius idea either. Their advisory group have shut up shop and are no longer open for business. All that remains is an overt criticism of XR’s early campaign. Overt and unwarranted.

Well, funnily enough – the criticism and bad publicity were noted at XR. As most of the comments noted on the posted article. The protocol is not to talk to the police, not to give details; etc. And you have to volunteer to be an arrestable person (which I will not be on account of my previous). So the article stands as a bizarre and outdated criticism of an organisation that is no longer extant, as such. So why is it being aired now?

On the specific issue of anti-capitalism: that has changed to. I’m not an XR recruiter: but I am well aware of a lack of actual revolutionary assessment of their agenda. That is: what other choice is there? It is the imperfect or the imperfect versus the praxis of inertia? In Realpolitik terms: there are not other current choices for activism …except for some small crusty groups up and down the country that are not mobilised and will never mobilise. Perhaps you know the old activist aphorism: no negation without affirmation. If the idea is bad: come up with a better one.

I happen to believe – rightly or wrongly – that the climate capitalists have misinterpreted and underestimated the strength of feeling that is desperate for change. Capitalism is collapsing faster than they anticipated. It is not an eternal law of the universe that capitalism will last forever. And where is the alternative? The writers of the piece commit to denigration: with no credible alternative. It is XR or Labour: which is Hobson’s Choice on a murdered planet.

So at least we can agree of sorts that the core XR and Greta message is true: the world is on fire. It has been for thousands of years: but now it is critical because of humanities own inaction. Whether XR are who they claim to be – and their members have already changed the internal structure after the XR Business fiasco – remains to be seen. I am as intrigued as anyone else to hear what the public message will be on October 7th. If it is vastly different to what has been discussed this Summer – there will be a revolt within the revolt. What no one is allowing for that there are a lot of genuine activists at the grassroots who have had enough.

And if the binary commenters here think that everyone is being duped – as even Admin have said (which one I do not know) – how do they know? Do people really think that no one at XR has read Cory Morningstar? Many follow her on Twitter – as I do.

There is to be too purist. One I myself have fallen into. Of which Cory and Hiroyuki are perhaps asking for the impossible perfect that ticks all the boxes. The paradox is that it would never get off the ground. The Realpolitik is that we are going to get ecofascism anyway. Those who look East are misinterpreting what they see in the ecofascist technocracy rising in Eurasia. And if Dugin does have VVP’s ear: that is very bad for humanity.

So all I am writing too is that XR get a fair appraisal: not a resurrected hatchet job from March. Much has changed since then. Privately, many recognise that capitalism is the causal mechanism and so cannot be the solution. To come right out and declare this will bring the batons raining down …and Out of the Woods will have their day of blood: for what? To satisfy their prejudice? I’m a bit old for that, Comrade. I can’t run as fast as I could in 1980. A climate capitalist sanctioned Rebellion against climate capitalism is a dangerous thing. Just supposing the climate capitalist possessing class set in motion their own downfall. That would be a delicious irony that would make my life complete. And, unlike the Out of the Woods lot: I do believe it is possible to subvert XR from within. No one is going to subvert it from without. That is for sure.

Philip Roddis
Philip Roddis
Oct 1, 2019 9:30 AM
Reply to  BigB

BigB my friend. I’m often torn in reponding to your comments. On the one hand I admire your sincerity, on the other I have to agree with bevin’s assessment (above) that you get carried away by your own rhetoric. (This, BTW, is why I advocate your writing above the line, for the discipline it necessitates of communicating simply and clearly through well structured arguments, and renouncing the temptation – which all writers are prone to but must learn to resist – of parading our knowledge even when it gets in the way of our core message.)

I feel the same ambivalence at more specific levels. While I share your reluctace to go down the road of eulogising Putin and Xi – we don’t need to do that: it suffices that they provide a check to US supremacy, as in Syria – I wonder at the ways it finds expression in your comments. I’m at a loss as to how the economic and military ascendance I attribute to Russia and China can be reduced to the one-dimensionally fiscal metric of currency conversion!

On XR it seems I’ve hit a raw nerve. You know more about it than I do, and I’d LOVE to be proved wrong on a matter which, as I make clear in my post, I regard as second to none in importance. But again you get carried away. You drag in a British Labour Party I not once referred to – and with which a correct relationship is a vast subject that for the best part of a century divided some of the best minds on the UK Left – but do not address the distinction I make, between United and Popular front. (We can use other terms of course, but I was fairly clear on how UF and PF differ.) I dare say you have much to say on this that we all could learn from. So may I again suggest you do rein in the emotion and esoteric references, and try to communicate with greater clarity and greater precision – not least to folk like me, who have far more questions than answers – a way forward for existing and potential XR activists. You might also include what has changed, and critically, within XR in the few weeks since Out of the Woods wrote that post .

In solidarity, if not total agreement, Phil.

BigB
BigB
Oct 1, 2019 2:12 PM
Reply to  Philip Roddis

Phil:

We seem to have bounced off each other: for which I apologise. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to return to greater solidarity.

Several things struck a chord – perhaps the wrong. Starting with the Dollar (USD). We are both anti-capitalists with a common admiration for Marx. There is more than one type of imperialism. Beneath the more common dimensions of imperialism – that have led to some sort of uneasy checks and balances in Syria – there is financial imperialism. Which amounts to the hegemony of capital over – not just labour – but over all of humanity and nature as well.

Bracketing off ‘big guns’ imperialism – Eurasia rising is a totalitarian rising within the framing I just described. To which the progressive disposition attributes some sort of prestige. For the colonisation of the ‘supercontinent’ by trans-national free-enterprise capital? Have we forgotten our Marxist roots? Capitalist hegemony achieved by violence or finance amounts to the same thing at the end of the day. The whole of Eurasia has been colonised by alienation: which is some sort of corporate fascism.

I will not diverge too much: but I would just like to anchor my point in Marx’s Theory of Alienation. Which for me: was some of his strongest work. I wish he fleshed it out much further. But capitalism alienates us from each other, our work, from nature, and from our ‘species essence’ or ‘species being’. Capital colonisation retards humanity and reduces us to mini-capitalists or automatic Cartesian subjects of authoritarian rule. This is exactly the sort of collectivist determination everyone fears in fascism. Peterson et al rail against fascism but cannot see the fascism they preach. But you my friend – you know better. Which surprised me.

The metric of the USD is not well understood. I have attempted to broaden that understanding to little avail. The dollar is not the dollar alone. The largest pool of capital in the world centres on London – not the Fed. Bonds issued there are denominated in USD are in fact ‘eurodollars’. And it is the dynamics of the eurodollar markets that entail globalisation. liberalisation, and privatisation …the hegemony of capital over all humanity. Which is a secret totalitarian autarchy over humanity all of its own. One very few recognise. One people reject when it is made known.

I have gone into detail elsewhere – so I will not again – but Russia and China offer zero alternative to this. Other than a revisionist balance of power within the Washington Consensus institutions. To which I have commented again and again. Every joint communique reaffirms the same position – a more effective WTO etc. Their joint position is absolutely clear. And that extends the neoliberal hegemony of capital over humanity. I see nothing to celebrate in this: other than the checks and balances this has brought. A nuclear imposed milataristic stalemate is hardly a boon for humanity. One that allows the imperialism of financialisation to flourish: from which all the multi-polar dominators seek to benefit the most. Another type or expression of corporatist Fascism?

Which is only as good as it lasts. Corporatism is collapsing into the repo markets. Which indicates a dollar illiquidity crisis. Which is a pure 2007 redux. To which most misunderstand. Russia and China need the USD – another fact I have posted. I believe I posted PCR and Michael piece before. Both Russia and China borrow USD to convert into local currency (hard currency to soft currency in the patter). They do this to stave off inflation. It’s bollox and ruins the currency – but they do it anyway because it is pure neoliberal dogma. And their central banks and all major economists are neoliberals …trained in the USA. PCR calls it ‘America’s Fifth Column’.

For that: and many other reasons: Eurasia is not rising. It is a sub-imperial subaltern of the Washington Consensus. An entirely factual – but incredibly unpopular opinion. If Eurasia is endocolonised by overfinacialised corporatist fascism – and the West is too – then what alternative is there? The one I have been writing to for years: us …we are the solution. Just so long as we can see clearly that we have no other solution.

XR hit a raw nerve because Cory Morningstar posted that article way back when. And I believed it: as others still do. It set me against XR: but it also made me curious. So I made contact with some people outside the Court – wher the ‘Polly Higgins’ was. In no word of a lie: I felt as though I had come home. It can be somewhat isolationist being anti-capitalist in a capitalist society. Not least: you have to at least partially conform to get paid. Every day I break all my principles. I’m a walking hypocrite who no longer walks alone.

I’m not an idiot though. I share most of the reservations nearly everyone else shares. The whole thing was a set up by climate capitalists. But despite this: it has drawn many, many good people out of the woodwork. One couple I communicate with are pushing 80. They have heard every lie piled on every other hollow lie that has ever been told. With people like them – and I do not think they are undercover cops – the climate capitalists will have a hard job containing the managed perception they seek.

I can tell you one thing for free: there is a very strong sense of ‘no more bullshit’. That goes for the organisation itself. If there is an attempt at a top down hierarchical authoritarianism – it will provoke a backlash. Do not be surprised if the original movement is broken away from if that becomes the case. Just my impression.

This is already an overlong apology (but it’s raining so I cannot work today): but I tried the reasoned argument bit. I offered to go through the GND with Bevin and point out its fallacy. Still waiting. The reason I comment to it is that there is ionly two alternatives in the UK. Three, if you include inaction. Labour and the XR Rebellion …corporate tools both. In no uncertain terms: the GND is humanities suicide pact with the green neoliberal corporatocracy. XR have yet to commit to policies: that I know of. Other than their list of demands. But policy discussion is centred on Jem Bendell’s ‘Deep Adaptation’ paper. It’s too ‘climate-centric’ for my liking: but it maybe, just maybe, the dawning of a post-capitalist landscape. One the imperialist capitalist climate economy Labour Party will never, ever make.

It’s XR or barbarism; or XR and barbarism. The deciding factor will be the ratio of good people to counteract the corporate fascist agenda. Labour only offer fascism and increased alienation from our species essence. To which no amount of false consciousness can ever make me return.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Sep 30, 2019 11:22 PM
Reply to  BigB

Hmmm. I’ve heard a lot of epithets flung at the Chinese and the Russians lately, but I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve ever come across anyone calling them ‘eco-fascists’! Personally, I would sooner apply that label to the Globalist régime in the West, where Greta Thunberg and cap-and-trade are being used to shore up the legitimacy of a dying system. But that’s just me …

Martin Usher
Martin Usher
Oct 1, 2019 2:13 AM
Reply to  BigB

I think you’re making two mistakes. One is to assume that currency flows and relative value are the primary metric of wealth. Sure, there’s money to be made, as it were, but often and increasingly that money is not backed up with value, its tied to debt and the hope that that debt will ‘perform’ (because if it doesn’t then that money has absolutely no value). The other mistake is to misunderstand the nature of fascism. To anyone who’ knows anything of the history of 20th century fascism there is a particular way of talking, a militaristic turn of phrase where everything is like open warfare. Conservative politicians in both the US and UK are already talking like fascists and their response to events, especially those they can’t control, shows the characteristic hysterical bluster and tendency to hyperbole.

There really isn’t a whole lot of daylight between what we think of a conservative and a fascist. In the past conservatives have been quite friendly to fascists because they share similar values and appreciate order and hierarchy. This got us into trouble in the 30s and its quite horrifying to see how some eastern European countries openly flaunt their fascist past as ‘nationalist’. We’re back flirting with the same forces, inviting them into our societies. Now the open neo-Nazis, they’re just fools that like street theater**, but the infrastructure of fascism. Its there for all to see — the hysterical rhetoric, labeling opposition as treason, the disdain for custom, practice and even the law if it interferes, the tendency to appoint insiders, relatives and party hacks to positions of power regardless of their competence, the use of government as personal baronies, as a tool for enrichment…… the list is quite comprehensive and its troubling. I think we need to put our own house in order before patting ourselves on our collective backs about open and democratic we are and lecturing others’ about their shortcomings.

(**Just like the old days. ..”Useful idiots”)

mark
mark
Sep 30, 2019 11:24 AM

One minor pedantic point.
The current US military budget is not $750 billion.
The true figure is $1,134 billion.
34% is hidden by accounting slight of hand.

Tom
Tom
Sep 30, 2019 6:36 AM

Extinction Rebellion equals Greta Thunberg equals R2P. Extinction Rebellion hold demonstrations outside Bolivian Embassy’s in Europe as Bolivia heads towards elections.

https://off-guardian.org/2019/09/09/propaganda-blitz-against-bolivias-progressive-government/

I smell a colour revolution in the making here. The Green Party where I live has in the past supported R2P with respect to Arab Spring colour revolutions. Whether these organizations are useful idiots, infiltrated organizations or Astroturfing, the next assault on those countries that haven’t been swallowed up by the “Exceptional Nation” will be attacked in the name of saving the planet. Billionaires backing Greta are destroying the planet, not Evo Morales. A comment I saw over at Moon of Alabama, “Greta may be able to see CO2, but I can smell BS” (a mile away). Extinction Rebellion is giving off a similar odour.

axisofoil
axisofoil
Sep 30, 2019 3:11 AM
Paul
Paul
Sep 30, 2019 1:11 AM

It is indeed very strange that a ‘swarm’ of drones and missiles were able to strike Saudi oil facilities – but did they? There was certainly a lot smoke as there was with the oil tankers said to have been mined (above the water line). Were the formidable Saudi defences really looking ‘the wrong way’ or ‘aimed too high’? How do the Israelis cope with smaller lower drones? The Houthi’s claim “they did it” but their original statement is interesting as it mentions significant assistance from inside the Kingdom. So did the Saudis lead them into that a trap that saw them claiming responsibility? Oil production – which they wanted to reduce anyway – had recovered in hours. Few photos of damage have emerged and fewer details; the Kingdom says they still don’t know from where the ‘swarm’ came – except it must be Iran. Once again there is a sudden dearth of surveillance from the sky; nobody sees the swarm! In what must be one of the most surveilled air spaces of the World. Shades of the Ukraine 2014 when nobody tracked any attack on the jet liner crossing the war zone. Staging these attacks by the KSA enables them to argue for War with Iran but it also suggests they need help; unsurprisingly they find Trump’s assertion that they do the front line stuff this time not easy listening. It has caused a big wobble of frank fear in the effete ruling class. Their last fighting was about 1932. The whole story is literally shrouded in dense black smoke and when that’s blown away we’ll get some more, no doubt.