What if Objectivists/Libertarians admitted the truth?

One of the things which really hampers Objectivists/Libertarians is their (self-imposed) inability to accurately communicate their own views and values.

The textbook example of this is (of course), the claim that they support “capitalism”.

Quite frankly, if you have to keep reiterating the fact that what you support and advocate has NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED, then you have no business (mis)using the name of an existing social/economic/political system.

Every time Objectivists/Libertarians handwave about how the trans-national corporate plutonomy isn’t “really” Capitalism, they are (justifiably) met with exactly the same sort of eye-roll which would-be apologists for Marxism get when they claim that the U.S.S.R, Cuba, North Korea etc. aren’t “really” Marxist.

So, here’s a few “ground-rules” that Objectivists/Libertarians could use as a starting-point:

  1. Acknowledge that what they insist on designating as “Capitalism” has never existed, and has only crudely ever been approximated.

How so?

SLAVERY and “Jim Crow”, for one.

The mere existence of corporations(whether notionally “for profit” or “not-for-profit”) and similar systems of State-granted privileges, for another.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporation_%28film%29

3. “Structural” sexism (IE: “Gender” roles): the infamous Kinder, Küche, Kirche mentality which systematically served to freeze females out of all but (stereotypically) “masculine” pursuits (thus privileging “White” males – yet again).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder,_K%C3%BCche,_Kirche

So long as women were relegated to the “gender”-role of domestic drudge/breeding machine, they were systematically disadvataged, relative to their “white”, male counterparts.

So, no: what Objectivists/Libertarians claim to support has never actually existed, and has only ever been (crudely) approximated.  IN ACTUALITY, the “capitalist” system which actually exists amounts to a system of  transnational, corporate plutonomy.

If all economies have always been “mixted” economies (IE: systems involving various levels of STATE CONTROL and/or SOCIOECONOMIC stratification), then it follows that there are really no “mixed” economies – merely economies.

The first (and most important) thing for Objectivists/Libertarians to acknowledge is the fact that (by their definition) there have never been any genuinely “free” economies, and no genuinely “moral” socioeconomic systems.

At absolute most, some socioeconomic structures have been somewhat less evil (in that they “permitted” more individuals a – somewhat – wider spectrum of permitted alternatives.)

 

 

Advertisements

Just barely managed to sit through twenty minutes of a “documentary” on Bluegrass music. some observations:

The “Documentary” in question is called something like “Bluegrass country soul”, and involves (poorly-edited) footage taken at Carlton Haney’s 7th Bluegrass festival, sometime in the 1970s.

The things that stuck out most about the documentary (and the “scene” which it purports to be documenting), are as follows:

  1. OVERWHELMINGLY “WHITE” crowd.  There is some off-hand mention of occasional attendees from Japan, but the whole “scene” appeared to consist near-exclusively of WHITE Appalachian-types, and wannabe-Appalachian types.  Some vaguely hippie-ish “longhairs” in the crowd and as performers, but….the whole thing was weirdly (and rather tragically) segregated.

2. NO discernible “evolution” since whenever this documentary was filmed.  Bluegrass festivals (and “jam sessions”) tend to be exactly the same – at least they did as late as 2013, when I had my most recent opportunity to brush up against that particular genre-based “scene”.

You see exactly the same demographic/subcultural mix: hell, probably mostly the same people.  The “scene” is utterly stagnant and repetitive to the point where once you’ve gone to one such festival, you’ve essentially vicariously attended all of them.

This isn’t about some ersatz “tradition” dating from the 1940s.  This is about an increasingly-marginal (and never particularly “relevant”) music genre which has spent over fifty years dedicated to NOT evolving.

See, here’s the thing:  this isn’t about (for example) the “Great American Songbook”, or “Jazz Standards”, or whatever;  many music genres/subcultures develop a more or less coherent set of subcultural “shibboleths” – aesthetic/structural attributes which permit the most ignorant/least discerning elements of the “fan-base” to make snap-judgments about the (supposed) “authenticity’ of any given example.

That’s pathological in a different way, but that at least allows for a significant amount of exploration/syncretism/creativity (even if you do have to waste time and effort on fruitless debates over whether or not such “fusions”/derivative genres are “authentic”, or not.)

The situation with Bluegrass is weirdly different, in that even the most “exploratory” or “progressive” elements of the genre never substantively deviated from the defined aesthetic “palette”  set down by the “canonical” groups in the 1940s and ’50s:

“Fiddle”, guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, “Dobro”.

Even the most “progressive” individuals/groups seldom (if ever) deviated from the above formula, OR from the (increasingly stagnant and self-parodyling) palette of imagery related to Appalachian stereotypes.

Weirdly enough, the ersatz “HIllbillies” involved in the “Bluegrass” scene never seemed to do anything to actually help appalachia develop.

Why is this, do you think?  Could it have something to do with the fact that they had either managed to escape from the grinding stagnation/poverty/degradation of “the holler”?

I submit that the “Bluegrass” music scene was to Appalachia what “hip-hop culture”/basketball is to the urban “Minority” subcultures: a way for *some* to escape the specific “ghetto” into which they were unlucky enough to have been born:

Because make no mistake:  Applachia is definitely a ghetto, in many respects:

http://theweek.com/articles/452321/appalachia-big-white-ghetto

Quite frankly Appalachia is irremediably fucked:

There is here a strain of fervid and sometimes apocalyptic Christianity, and visions of the Rapture must have a certain appeal for people who already have been left behind. Like its black urban counterparts, the Big White Ghetto suffers from a whole trainload of social problems, but the most significant among them may be adverse selection: Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for decades. As they go, businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain.

There’s the tragedy, right there: the “vibrant folk-culture” of the region has been relentlessly exploited and milked by everyone from Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax and other “musicologists”, and used as a means to GTFO by such folks as Bill Monroe and Jean Ritchie – while the region itself has either been ignored or ridiculed.

To the extent  that there was ever anything resembling an “economy” in that region, it consisted primarily of resource extraction (most notably, coal-mining).    Now, the region is both “played out” in terms of mining (hence the mountaintop-removal thing) and no longer nearly as economically “necessary”  (due to coal mining in other regions of the world, and other fuel sources – fracking, “renewables”, etc.)

At any rate: the “vibrant folk culture” milked by Lomax and others has now become essentially an affectation for the (comparatively) well-off in other regions.  Appalachia itself?  Not so much:

THERE ARE LOTS of diversions in the Big White Ghetto, the vast moribund matrix of Wonder Bread–hued Appalachian towns and villages stretching from northern Mississippi to southern New York, a slowly dissipating nebula of poverty and misery with its heart in eastern Kentucky, the last redoubt of the Scots-Irish working class that picked up where African slave labor left off, mining and cropping and sawing the raw materials for a modern American economy that would soon run out of profitable uses for the class of people who 500 years ago would have been known, without any derogation, as peasants. Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.

No amount of “bluegrass festivals” or “quilting bees” is ever going to solve those problems – Bean Blossom notwithstanding.

 

I’m either sentimental, or a glutton for punishment, I honestly don’t know which:

So, I called Karl (KA3RCS) earlier today.

I’ll be honest about my motivation with this: I am most likely the closest thing he has to a “friend”, or will ever have, at this point.

From what I can gather, his “lifestyle” is either utterly stagnant, or slowly unraveling:  shit job, which supposedly “wipes him out” to the point where he can’t even summon up enough motivation to go to the repeater site, or even loiter around in parking-lots, anymore.

Supposedly (I have no idea why), he frequently stays at the place far beyond his actual shift, ostensibly to help other people out with computer/electronics-related problems of their own, unpaid.

I have no idea why he would do this (given that most of his co-workers are probably at least as skilled as he is – which admittedly isn’t really saying that much).

Is he trying to be a “suck-up?”   Trying to ingratiate himself with co-workers?  One piece of the puzzle is that if he lurks at the workplace, he doesn’t have to turn on the air-conditioning at his trailer.

Realistically, it sounds like he has basically figured out a way to scam time in an air-conditioned environment, and “suck up” to co-workers.  This doesn’t really surprise me, given that his other two alternatives amount to: rummaging through the hoarded E-waste (which he describes as “overwhelming”), and/or loitering in various parking-lots.

His rickety shit-bucket of a jeep is even worse, still not inspected or registered.  He hasn’t been to the storage-units in over a year, at this point.  Medical bills?  My wife attempted to advise him on some resources which are typically available to those in financial difficulty – and he neglected to contact them in a timely fashion.

Bottom-line: Karl is irremediably fucked, and (as per usual) extremely bitter and depressed – especially about the fact that his younger sister (Julia) supposedly received nearly a million dollars (which would supposedly have been “her inheritance”), from the sale of some property karl’s parents owned.

Of course, Karl blames this state of affairs on the fact that “they actually loved her”, and supposedly always treated him as some sort of after-thought.

Dunno.  I do know that Karl’s (endless – and accelerating) run of (self-inflicted) failure has long since crossed from “mildly entertaining” to “just plain pitiful”.

In theory (if he can manage not to fuck anything else up), his rickety shit-bucket of a jeep will finally be paid off sometimes next year, at which time he will theoretically have (slightly) more money to sink into getting the shit-bucket repaired to the point where it is actually legal to drive it.

Of course, this assumes that the shit-bucket remains at least semi-functional
(which is exceedingly unlikely).

At any rate, Kar’ls “life” has essentially become a “cautionary tale”.

I don’t even find that funny, at this point – it’s just pathetic.

 

Anti-“Violence” whining pisses me off:

Here’s a thought-experiment:

Should a woman attempt to defend herself against a would-be rapist?

There are exactly two, mutually-exclusive and mutually-exhaustive answers to the above question:

yes (by the appropriate means/within the appropriate context)

NO (as an absolute prohibition, without regard to context)

The thing is: any self-defense measure (even something as blatantly stereotphical as “attempting to scratch with long fingernails” or “stomping his food with her high heel”, or something of that sort) – necessarily involves the use of physical force, and could be stigmatized as a form of “violence”.

This is the essential evil of pacifism: victims willingly reducing THEMSELVES to the status of “prey” ensures that their victimizer(s) CONTINUE victimizing.

So, no: I have absolutely no problem with the (ridiculous) pseudo-category of “violence”.  The only legitimate topic of conversation is : “violence” against whom?  To what purpose?

There is a vast gulf between (say) the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and the actions of the Nazis themselves.  Anyone who would even attempt to conflate the two is morally lower than the Nazis themselves.

(this is also why I hate Gandhi – but that’s another topic).

So anyway: either women should at least attempt to defend themselves against their would-be victimizers, or they shouldn’t.

Simple as that, really.

 

 

Leonard peikoff is a DIM-wit:

So, some while back I decided sink a few hours into reading Leonard Peikoff’s book The DIM Hypothesis: why the lights of the west are going out.

Quite frankly, it was pretty much what you’d expect:  a mind-numbingly superficial glance at the history of “The West”, recycling of cherry-picked quotes he’s used as “illustration” since The Ominous Parallels, a “warning” about a nascent Christian theocracy (late to the party, Lenny – just sayin’.).

The particularly idiotic thing about Peikoff’s book is: his prescription for repairing “Western” civilization.

It amounts to: attempting to get Objectivism to “dominate the academic mainstream” – after which it will (supposedly) “trickle down” into the rest of the culture (because Peikoff genuinely believes that the wider culture is merely a passive reflection of the fundamental ideas which happen to be most prevalent among “ACADEMIC” philosophers, at any given time.

Now, there are several serious problems with this:

  1. First, his obsession with controlling academia flatly ignores the fact that there are several (competing) versions of “academia”, at this point: historically “Black” colleges, colleges explicitly created by Fundie Christians, etc.

So, no: there’s really no way to “dominate the academic mainstream” in the way Peikoff wants to pretend is possible.

There’s a reason for this: Historically “black” colleges, “women’s” colleges, Fundie colleges, etc. were all created essentially  either because their target demographic was excluded from “academia”, or because the target demographic didn’t like what “academia” was doing – often, both.

Really, this process shouldn’t be that difficult for even somebody like Peikoff to understand:  witness (for example) the fact that there are two main “factions” to the Objectivist “movement” (ARI and “Atlas Society”).

2. What is worse, is Peikoff’s (implicit – and sometimes explicit) notion  that factions which are fundamentally similar in some respects (for instance, Marxists vs. Nazis) only have “superficial” differences.

This is patently untrue;  agreement – even on broad fundamentals does NOT translate into any sort of “harmony”.

For example, witness the (endless) shit-show which has been going on between Roman Catholicism, the various “Orthodox” churches, and the ever-splintering morass of “Protestantism”.

So, no.  Peikoff’s “prediction” that some sort of (explicitly Christian) totalitarianism will be able to jackboot their way to hegemony specifically over the territory currently administered by the U.S. is almost laughably unlikely.

Don’t get me wrong: there is definitely a Fundie Protestant subculture of (overwhelmingly “White”) folks who would genuinely love nothing more than to do exactly that — Rushdoony’s Dominionism, for example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rousas_Rushdoony

(The problem with their wish-mongering is: this would involve “Christians” actually being able to refrain from characterizing one another as having their “Ears tickled by unsound doctrine”, etc.

It would also require that there NOT be other (equally intense) factions in play:

The most significant (and potentially dangerous0 such factions (contrary to Peikoff’s misdiagnoses) are: Latino/Hispanic separatists (at least some of whom openly advocate for the Western U.S. to secede from the United states, and join Mexico):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconquista_%28Mexico%29

The other primary ethno-“racial” faction are those (such as Craig Cobb) who explicitly advocate for the “Northwestern Territorial Imperative” (IE: the takeover – and eventual seccession – of the Northwestern U.S. and/or at least part of Canada, to create an explicitly “White” ethnostate.)

So, no:  there are definitely explicitly non-religious “factions” in play — “White power” ideologues, Hispanic/latino separatists, the “Neoconfederate” movement –

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Confederate

Now, please note something;  According to Peikoff’s “logic”, both the “Northwest Territorial imperative” and the “reconquista” movement are indistinguishable, because both of them “agree on fundamentals” (for example: an endgame scenario involving an explicitly “ethnic” or “racial” homeland, encompassing territory which is currently part of the U.S.)

TL;DR: Peikoff’s “analysis” is simplistic to the point of self-parody.

Not that I actually expected anything else from somebody who’s wasted his entire life frantically turd-polishing Ayn Rand’s (dubious) “legacy”.

*Yawn*

 

 

 

 

Obligatory “Kathy Griffin” post:

So, Kathy Griffin actually managed to become…..visible….again. 🙂

Here’s the thing:

First, the “decapitated Trump head” photo was just abysmally cliche.  The whole “simulated brutality against a political/ideological opponent”-thing was played out back when they used to hang/burn effigies of enemies:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effigy

So, no: the whole “severed head”-thing wasn’t particularly funny, clever, novel, or even that “edgy” (given that both GWAR and Snoop Dogg have basically done roughly equivalent stuff involving trump-snuff imagery already.

The thing that I really don’t get is: Kathy’s whole deal with doing the photo shoot was about (as she put it) “images that make noise”.  Further, she quipped that they should probably “all go to Mexico” – both of which statements strongly imply that she intended it to be “edgy’ – and moreover, that she was hoping for some sort of ‘noise”, in response.

Well, she got it.

CNN (a bunch of total pussies) terminated her from their crap-tastic New Years Eve show.  Pretty much every venue on her now-nonexistent comedy tour has preemptively canceled, and/or caved to complaints.

Moreover, she even lost her endorsement deal with Squatty Potty.

Now….her “apology” video and press conference were interesting:

 

  1. First, she had to already know that it was utterly irrelevant whether she/her photographer pal happened to “take down” the trump snuff-pic: once something has gone “viral”, there is essentially no way to “remove” it, such that it will actually stay gone.

The only way Kathy Griffin could possibly “take down” the Trump Snuff-pic would be for her to somehow acquire a nuclear missile, and detonate it at  a high-altitude to (possibly) cause sufficient EMP to take out the entire electrical/telecommunications “grid” over North America – which would *still* not do anything much to any of the websites etc. hosted from Europe/Australia/Japan, etc.

So, there’s no way for her to ever “take it down” – and she should have understood that fact.

Now, the “apology” strikes me as exactly the sort of thing you’d do if you weren’t really sorry, didn’t really give a shit whether anybody thought you were worry, but just wanted to put forward enough of a token attempt at an “apology” so you could turn it into a “witch-hunt”.

Which is exactly what she then did, with the press conference.

Now, Kathy Griffin has set up a rather clever niche for herself:

  1. On one hand, she is probably the most hated and reviled media personality (especially among Trump’s fanbase).    The nigh-endless shitstorm she managed to create with one photo, purportedly from a photo-shoot where the rest of the stuff is unreleased, is truly amazing to behold.
  2. Her “emotional breakdown” during the press conference (“I won’t have a career after this!  He broke me!!!”, etc.), can play either of two ways: either she gets to be a “martyr” to “Trump’s hate-machine”, OR she gets to be the embodiment of what Trump’s  fan-base sees as the absolute worst aspects of “Liberal” Hollywood.

Actually, she gets to be both – given that culture is so “polarized” nowadays.  There is no “mainstream” anymore.

Kathy Griffin has single-handedly managed to catapult herself to the sort of fame/infamy/visibility which *used to be* the norm, back when there really was such a thing as “mainstream” culture/media.

Kathy Griffin will be back – not as the (self-described) “D-list comic” with the failed talk-shows, but rather as a “Controversial” figure (think Jim Morrison or George Carlin).

She’ll be both loved and hated – but she’ll be visible to both “sides”.

Her fan-base (or whatever size – no matter how “niche”) will rally around her in a big way.

The “haters?”  FREE PUBLICITY:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succ%C3%A8s_de_scandale

Either way: Kathy Griffin is a fuckin’ genius.

I mean seriously: she “lost” a (throwaway) gig doing CNN’s New Years’ coverage, around a dozen (piddling) live gigs, and being the spokesperson for Squatty Potty.  In exchange, she is now the embodiment of pure evil (to Trumpistas), or the first real “martyr” for the Anti-Trump “Resistance”.

Either way: well played, Kathy, well played.

 

 

 

Even Eric S. Raymond says good stuff every now and again:

Top Ten Reasons I’m Not A (Left-)Liberal:

  1. Gun control. Liberals are completely wrong about this. A fair number
    of them know better, too, but they sponsor lies about it as a form of class
    warfare against conservative-leaning gun owners.
  2. Nuclear power. They’re wrong about this, too, and the cost in
    both dollars and human deaths by pollution and other fossil-fuel
    side-effects has been enormous.
  3. Affirmative action. These programs couldn’t be a more diabolical or
    effective plan for plan for entrenching racial prejudice if the Aryan
    Nations had designed them.
  4. Abortion: The liberals’ looney-toon feminist need to believe that
    a fetus one second before birth is a parasitic lump of tissue with no
    rights, but a fetus one second afterwards is a full human, has done
    half the job of making a reasoned debate on abortion
    nigh-impossible.
  5. Communism. I haven’t forgiven the Left for sucking up to the monstrous
    evil that was the Soviet Union. And I never will.
  6. Socialism. Liberals have never met a tax, a government
    intervention, or a forcible redistribution of wealth they didn’t like.
    Their economic program is Communism without the guts to admit it.
  7. Junk science. No medical study is too bogus and no environmental
    scare too fraudalent for liberals. If it rationalizes bashing
    capitalism or slathering on another layer of regulatory bureaucracy,
    they’ll take it.
  8. Defining deviancy down. Liberals are in such a desperate rush to
    embrace the `victimized by society’ and speak the language of
    compassion that they’ve forgotten how to condemn harmful,
    self-destructive and other-destructive behavior.
  9. William Jefferson Clinton. Sociopathic liar, perjurer, sexual predator.
    There was nothing but a sucking narcissistic vacuum where his principles
    should have been. Liberals worship him.
  10. Liberals, by and large, are fools.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Not A Conservative:

  1. Pornography. The complete absence of evidence that exposure to
    sexually-explicit material is harmful to children or anyone else doesn’t
    stop conservatives from advocating massive censorship.
  2. Drugs. We found out that Prohibition was a bad idea back in the
    1930s — all it did was create a huge and virulent criminal class, erode
    respect for the law, and corrupt our politics. Some people never learn.
  3. Creationism. I don’t know who I find more revolting, the drooling
    morons who actally believe creationism or the intelligent panderers
    who know better but provide them with political cover for their
    religious-fundamentalist agenda in return for votes.
  4. Abortion. The conservatives’ looney-toon religious need to
    believe that a fertilized gamete is morally equivalent to a human
    being has done the other half of making a reasoned debate on abortion
    nigh-impossible.
  5. Racism. I haven’t forgiven the Right for segregation, Jim Crow laws,
    and lynching blacks. And I never will.
  6. Sexism. Way too much conservative thought still reads like an
    apologia for keeping women barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.
  7. Anti-science. Stem cells, therapeutic cloning — it doesn’t matter
    how many more diabetes, cancer and AIDS patients have to die to
    protect the anti-abortion movement’s ideological flanks. Knowledge —
    who needs it? Conservatives would try suppressing astronomy
    if the telescope had just been invented.
  8. Family values. Conservatives are so desperate to reassert the
    repressive `normalcy’ they think existed in Grand-dad’s time that they
    pretend we can undo the effects of the automobile, television, the
    Pill, and the Internet.
  9. Ronald Wilson Reagan. A B-movie actor who thought ketchup was
    a vegetable. His grip on reality was so dangerously weak that the
    Alzheimer’s made no perceptible difference. Conservatives worship him.
  10. Conservatives, by and large, are villains.

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=153

This list pretty much nails it.

The confusing/infuriating thing about it is: He originally created this list in (I think) 2002.  It is now 2017.  NOTHING substantive has changed on either “side” of the so-called “culture war”.

15 years of ZERO genuine social progress.