Archive for August, 2012

25
Aug
12

For Norses Only?

For the few among my readers who still can’t see why communism is the sustainable solution, and capitalism is intrinsically wasteful there is this excellent documentary. Most of it is in English, with some small parts in French and German. Originally, I could only find a link available to Denmark; now, it’s only available with Norwegian titles. Try watching it all the same: most of the dialogues are in English

The best quote from the documentary comes from a Frenchman, however:

If you believe this model is sustainable, you are either an idiot or an economist.

Great is the temptation of adding, with Mark Twain, “but I repeat myself” (the Frenchman said, instead: “and, today, we are all economists”).

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22
Aug
12

Capitalism as a Cargo Cult

I have hinted before at the fact that capitalism is not so much a political but rather a religious idea; in order to make the Reader understand how, I will not so much focus on the definition of religion (there are thousands, and I am not really interested in politically correct mumbo-jumbo), but rather on which practices commonly characterize successful religions. These are:

  1. The presence of a set of arbitrary Rules that are not open for discussion.
  2. The promise of happiness in the future (usually, after death) in exchange for present misery and for following the Rules.
  3. The empowerment of a priestly or prophetic class whose task is interpreting the Rules, and whose members enjoy both luxury and the respect of those who do not belong to it.
  4. Natalism, in the sense of encouraging the adherents to reproduce as much as possible: a religion’s success is in numbers, and religion is most often picked from parents.
  5. Harassment, emargination or oppression of those who do not adhere to the religion.
  6. Rituals.
  7. Sectarianism: splitting into slightly different but reciprocally hostile currents of thought.

Is this much different from capitalism? Not really.

  1. Capitalism has promulgated for years economic theories that have no theoretical or experimental base, but which nobody is allowed to discuss. Reducing salaries is supposed to bring prosperity. Reducing taxes is supposed to improve state budgets. Cutting jobs is supposed to reduce unemployment. Putting resources in the hands of few is supposed to be good for everybody. The bankruptcy of banks is going to bring the End of the World as We Know It. All this runs contrary to both reason and history, but nobody who believes in capitalism discusses it.
  2. All the former has a vague, eschatological character: where Soviet communism made five years  plans, capitalism applies policies that are supposed to work sometimes in the future.
  3. Believers in capitalism bear no grudges towards the truly rich, no matter how ill-gotten their gains are. In fact, they think nothing of paying $831 each for a “stimulus package” of which, two years later, 16% had already been used for paying bonuses to the same managers who had caused the crisis it was supposed to solve (the rest merely disappeared).
  4. Capitalist beliefs are associated with high birth rates; Eastern European countries, which are still heavily influenced by communism, are at the bottom of the list; Cuba is the lowest in the Caribbean. Local culture and availability of resources have some influence as well, as do non-integrated immigrant communities, but capitalism systematically promotes the wife-country house-and-children culture; and never mind if you can’t afford the house.
  5. Capitalist governments think nothing of outlawing communist parties, forming anti-Comintern pacts, pepper-spraying demonstrators, accusing anti-capitalists of terrorism, using state militia as strike-breakers or plainly killing  left-wing politicians. It happened in Chile, it happened in Argentina, it happened in Indonesia and, unless you do something about it, it will happen where you live. On a less dramatic scale, it is impossible for avowed communists to have an industrial career in most countries: the Present Writer is forced to use a pseudonym to keep his job, as do many other left-wing bloggers.
  6. There is nothing beautiful, or comfortable, in travelling with a 10-metre limousine. Caviar has a vague taste of fish, but nobody in his right mind would prefer it to a sole. People with self-respect, the kind of people who do not sit on corners drinking from a paper bag, will never taste worse wine than Champagne. Golf is, as, in the words of Mark Twain, “a good walk spoiled”. This doesn’t matter to the aspiring capitalist: these are ritual tools, not utilities.
  7. There is much-quoted book called The Black Book of Communism. There is no black book of capitalism because capitalism is so fragmented in almost-identical but non-mutually-recognizing movements that it has successfully rejected any historical responsibility. The Peterloo Massacre, the peasants slaughtered in Guatemala and Viet Nam, the intellectuals dumped in the sea by Gualtieri and Pinochet, those hacked to death in Indonesia and those shot by the Freikorps in Berlin are victims of the same ideology; but when it comes to criticising it, we are not allowed to call it capitalism: all of a sudden, we have to think of individual responsibilities.

But which kind of religion is Capitalism? It is hard to assess: the fact of being dogmatic, murderous and continuously attempting to pervert law and government is typical of old-world monotheistic religions; however, Capitalism, unknown to many, has actually defined itself as a religion, by creating of the concept of cargo cult.

A cargo cult is or, rather, would be, a Melanesian religion where wealth simply falls from the sky or drifts ashore without its adherents having to go through the tedious details of production. They would just have to imitate a military parade, or something like that. Reports of such cults started appearing in anthropological papers from the early 40’s, and prospered during the age in which, in the “free world”, being a racist was considered hip, that is, until the early 70’s. After that, the papers became both rarer and more critical until, in the 80’s, sociologists mostly wrote about cargo cults to say that they never existed, and that the idea was invented to make Melanesians look like uncivilized idiots. Throughout all this, nobody behind the Iron Curtain ever wrote about cargo cults: as they would later do with lobotomy, Soviet scholars immediately identified the idea as pseudoscience and never endorsed it.  It pervaded popular culture, anyhow, and Michael Rutschky used it in relation to the protests that preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall. Afterwards, it became gradually clear that the idea of cargo cult was mostly a projection of capitalist tendencies on obscure and heterogeneous South Pacific cultures which we expected to behave like us; this resembled the way bad science fiction writers have aliens from Outer Space to speak English to each other.

By 2004, anthropologist Doug Dalton was calling the cargo cult concept “The Mimetic Critique of Capitalist Culture”. And why not? Melanesians do not, it turns out, expect to get American-made goods by holding mock military parades. But we do expect to receive Chinese-made goods by bombing Syria. And that, my honoured readers, is religion.

16
Aug
12

Easy Prophecy, Meep!

Apparently, I was wrong: Ecuador has, indeed, granted asylum to Julian Assange. The coming days will reveal how its officials can get him out of the embassy and out of reach of Swedish harpies and American executioners. And if this is actually any concern of theirs.

In the meanwhile, I can imagine the desperate race of a swarm of spin doctors trying to cram Assange’s name, as well as the continued existence of England and the location of Sweden, in the thick skull of Romney and his jock running mate. Outraged speeches will follow.

03
Aug
12

Whatever Happened to Julian Assange?

If we have learnt one thing from the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it is that sexual assault allegations are a great way to discredit an opponent–and put him in jail, too. The fact that he will then be raped every day is of no concern to the Honest, Right-Thinking Citizen: it is distasteful to talk about such things and, in any case, we think only the orifices of women are worthy of legal protection; as for those of men, it’s ok to peruse them, as long as they don’t enjoy it. But I am straying from the main point, which is the absolutely ridiculous “rape” case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Let’s look at the facts where the Average Joe would first look for them, namely, Wikipedia:

On 20 August 2010, two women came to Swedish police inquiring whether it was possible to require that Julian Assange be submitted to an HIV-test. The women involved were a 26-year-old in Enköping and a 31-year-old in Stockholm.

This sounds like: two women, living 78 km from each other and allegedly raped on different days, go to the same police station the same day. How come? Did they meet on julianassangerapedme.com?

It also sounds like Swedish women have a rather cavalier attitude towards rape: “Say, officer, we would like to ask whether we can have a bloke take an HIV test. Oh, by the way, we weren’t consenting, but first things first”.

And if this weren’t enough, we have the other side of the story: Assange himself.  The man, basically a nerd, with absolutely no precedents for either sexual or violent crimes would decide to devote himself to rape twice when he is at the top of his celebrity and in one of the countries in the world where it is easiest to score. Did he suddenly come to think that he should really try raping somebody before he turned 40?

Of course, it didn’t go like this. Reading more in-depth articles, one finds out that the two women are not two mysterious figures, sheltered by Swedish victim protection laws: they are called Anna Ardin and  Sofia Wilén. They are on Twitter. They are on Facebook. Anybody who cares to can contact them, including conspiracy-minded capitalists, vengeful Americans and public prosecutors looking for five minutes in the sun. And they knew each other in advance. The case becomes a lot clearer now: both women shagged the same guy, within days, both turned out to have done so without a condom, and figured out that if somebody is both a man-whore and a bareback rider, one’d better be on the safe side of STD’s. Then the vultures came.

What convinced the two blondes? Jealousy? Money? Fame? Brainwashing by a man-hating prosecutor? With the formless mass the media are becoming, we might never know; what we do know is that Anna Ardin seems to be obsessed with revenge.

And what about Ecuador? It is in a difficult situation, one from which it is brilliantly coming out by procrastinating: for every day spent in the embassy, the neutral press finds it less interesting to talk about Assange, while the lackeys of capitalism continue a smear campaign against him that, started with preposterous allegations of endangering lives in Afghanistan, is now engaging in such barrel-scraping that even his table manners are criticized. Either by indifference or hostility, people (other than my readers: those I shall constantly remind) will forget about Assange: then, he’ll be thrown to the wolves, probably in exchange for a better banana deal.

As I said before, being a prophet is not that hard.