Generic Invader Nonsense: Obama on Iraq

As a presidential candidate, Barrack Obama described the war in Iraq as one that “should never have been authorised and never been waged.” On February 27, as president, Obama saw it differently. He told US troops at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina:

You have fought against tyranny and disorder. You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq. Under tough circumstances, the men and women of the United States military have served with honor, and succeeded beyond any expectation.1

This might best be described as Generic Invader Nonsense (GIN). Much the same has been said by every war leader and general of every invasion in history. Did Goebbels not argue that Germany was fighting “tyranny” on the Eastern front in 1941? Were Indonesian armed forces not offering a “precious opportunity” to the impoverished people of East Timor in 1975?

Obama next directed his GIN to the people of Iraq:

Our nations have known difficult times together. But ours is a bond forged by shared bloodshed, and countless friendships among our people. We Americans have offered our most precious resource – our young men and women – to work with you to rebuild what was destroyed by despotism; to root out our common enemies; and to seek peace and prosperity for our children and grandchildren, and for yours.

The precise moment when the illegal invasion demolishing Iraq — the attack that “should never have been authorised and never been waged” — became a selfless act of friendship in pursuit of peace and prosperity was not identified. Did this happen half-way through 2003? Perhaps early 2004?

America and Iraq have indeed known “difficult times together” — the US has caused them and Iraq has suffered them. The US helped install a vicious dictator, Saddam Hussein, supporting him through his worst crimes, which Western governments and media worked hard to bury out of sight. It then inflicted the devastating 1991 Gulf War and 12 years of genocidal sanctions, which claimed one million Iraqi lives. The 2003 war and invasion have cost a further million lives, have reduced 4 million people to the status of destitute refugees, and reduced a wrecked country to utter ruin.

But Obama’s lies matter little to much of the public, anti-war activists among them. ‘You don’t understand,’ they tell us. ’Obama +has+ to say all this stuff — it’s not what he believes. He‘s out to change all this, but he has to say it.’

This involves a kind of treble-think. Politicians typically hide their ruthlessness behind compassionate verbiage. Obama, we are to believe, is hiding his compassion behind ruthless verbiage — Machiavellianism in reverse.

Which is exactly what was said of Clinton and Blair in the 1990s. Of course it could be the case now. But should we not aim to be a little more socially scientific in our political analysis?

We can observe that, in a way that mirrors Newtonian physics, enormous political forces tend to act unimpeded unless challenged by powerful oppositional forces. We can observe, further, that there is no reason whatever to believe that the greed and violence that have become entrenched in American politics over decades and centuries have simply gone away. Certainly they have not been countered by mass democratic movements rooted in compassion rather than greed. There are no new, mass-based parties rooted in progressive values; no city-stopping protests erupting out of a transformational political process.

If a brand new, benevolent face now fronts the system in which traditionally ruthless forces dominate, rationality demands that we assume it to be a makeover, a brand alteration, an attempt precisely to +reduce+ pressure on the system to change.

The Bush-Blair crimes contaminated the American brand with Iraqi and Afghan blood products – we have to assume that the same ferocious system is now in the process of rehabilitating, not revolutionising, that brand. Greed, ignorance and hatred do not miraculously transform into compassion, wisdom and peacefulness, in individuals or in superpowers. Call it Newtonian political physics. Call it Buddhist psychology. Call it common sense.

Obama then spoke to the US armed forces:

And so I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime — and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government — and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life — that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible.

The first sentence is a flat lie. Bush also was “very clear” that the “single question” concerned the disarmament of Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. When it became impossible to deny their non-existence, Bush resorted to talk of “regime change”, although he knew this pretext was illegal under international law. Even this was not enough — the ‘coalition’ insisted the invasion would go ahead whether or not Saddam and his family left Iraq (as they were urged to do) because the goal, now, was “democracy”. As Noam Chomsky noted in April 2003:

“The one constant is that the US must end up in control of Iraq.”

Leaving Iraq?

Obama announced his plans for US forces in Iraq:

As a candidate for president, I made clear my support for a timeline of sixteen months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we’ve made and to protect our troops. Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a time line that will remove our combat brigades over the next eighteen months.

He added:

As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counterterrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35,000 to 50,000 US troops.

As commentators have noted, 50,000 is a lot of troops. The initial US invasion force in 2003, after all, consisted of 90,000 troops. And Obama did not comment on whether the US will maintain permanent military bases in Iraq. He did not discuss the withdrawal of over 100,000 private US military contractors and mercenaries stationed there.

On the face of it, there was a clear contradiction between Obama’s declared aim to “remove our combat brigades over the next eighteen months” and his leaving 30,000-50,000 troops to conduct, among other things, “targeted counterterrorism missions” — ie, combat missions.

The New York Times helped explain last December 4:

“Pentagon planners say that it is possible that Mr. Obama’s goal could be accomplished at least in part by relabeling some units, so that those currently counted as combat troops could be ‘re-missioned,’ their efforts redefined as training and support for the Iraqis.”2

Military occupiers have forever described their combat troops as ‘military advisors’ and suchlike — more GIN.

According to the American agreement with Iraq – known as a SOFA (status of forces agreement) – US forces must leave Iraq by the end of December 2011. But the “must” is actually much closer to a “might.” The New York Times noted that SOFA “remains subject to change, by mutual agreement, and U.S. Army planners acknowledge privately that they are examining projections that could see the number of Americans hovering between 30,000 and 50,000 — and some say as high as 70,000 — for a substantial time even beyond 2011.”2

“Privately”, obviously — why, in a democracy, would the public be told the truth?

In support of this private reality, Phyllis Bennis cites retired General Barry McCaffrey, who wrote in an internal report for the Pentagon last year:

“We should assume that the Iraqi government will eventually ask us to stay beyond 2011 with a residual force of trainers, counterterrorist capabilities, logistics, and air power. (My estimate–perhaps a force of 20,000 to 40,000 troops).”3

Because SOFA allows both sides to suggest changes, power politics has free reign. As Bennis notes, the Iraqi government has, from its beginnings, been “dependent on and accountable to the U.S.” She asks: “do we really think that that government would refuse a quiet U.S. ‘request’ for amending the agreement to push back or even eliminate the ostensibly final deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops?”

The Media Response

The above was covered by the corporate press with the same wilful gullibility that is found in its reporting on all key issues – the pattern is systematic and unvarying. Patrick Cockburn announced dramatically in the Independent:

“The pullout will bring to an end one of the most divisive wars in US history…”4

No reasonable person could use “will” in that sentence. Honest news reporting would begin: “It is claimed…”. Instead, the Independent predicted:

“31 December 2011
“The date by which all US forces will have left Iraq.”4

Ewen MacAskill wrote in the Guardian:

“Almost six years after the invasion of Iraq, the end is finally in sight for America’s involvement in its longest and bloodiest conflict since Vietnam. Barack Obama yesterday set out a timetable that will see all US combat units out by summer next year and the remainder by the end of 2011.”5

There is no reason to believe this, but it is the required ‘liberal’ view of the new ‘liberal’ president‘s GIN. Stated with this level of confidence it is potent propaganda. MacAskill added for good effect:

“The prospect of 50,000 staying, even if only for another year, produced dismay among the Democratic leadership in Congress.”

It is an interesting and significant reality of modern press performance that the right-wing media are often more honest about ‘liberal’ leaders than the ‘liberal’ press. Compare the Independent and Guardian’s take on events with Tim Reid’s in Murdoch’s Times:

“President Obama announced the withdrawal yesterday of more than 90,000 US combat troops from Iraq by August next year but his decision to keep a force of up to 50,000 was attacked by leaders of his party as a betrayal of his promise to end the war.”6

MacAskill continued in the Guardian:

“For Iraq, the death toll is unknown, in the tens of thousands, victims of the war, a nationalist uprising, sectarian in-fighting and jihadists attracted by the US presence.”

This is truly shameful journalism. The idea that the death toll is simply “unknown” fits well with Chomsky’s observation:

“The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.”7

Just last month, John Tirman, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, wrote:

“We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration.”Tirman, ‘Iraq’s Shocking Human Toll: About 1 Million Killed, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans,’ The Nation, February 2, 2009.

Tirman reported that “we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million ‘excess deaths’ as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war.”

He added:

This gruesome figure makes sense when reading of claims by Iraqi officials that there are 1-2 million war widows and 5 million orphans. This constitutes direct empirical evidence of total excess mortality and indirect, though confirming, evidence of the displaced and the bereaved and of general insecurity. The overall figures are stunning: 4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows, 5 million orphans, about 1 million dead — in one way or another, affecting nearly one in two Iraqis.

Tirman noted that only 5 per cent of refugees have chosen to return to their homes over the past year. According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 per cent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 per cent of children in Basra, and more than 70 per cent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

It is important to recognise that it is utter catastrophe on this scale that is being so blithely misreported and downplayed by journalists in the Guardian and Independent. These are genuine crimes of journalism – crimes of complicity and deception perpetrated against the British and Iraqi people.

Even the Guardian’s own journalists last year found that “Estimates put the toll at between 100,000 and one million.”8

Why would MacAskill write of casualties “For Iraq” (not just civilian casualties) in “the tens of thousands” when the lowest figure, one year ago, +just+ for civilian deaths +just+ by violence, was 100,000?

Martin Chulov brought further shame on the Guardian, writing:

“Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed during the insurgency.”9

We wrote to Chulov and his editor, Alan Rusbridger, on March 2:

I’ve never seen that formulation before. This is how the truth is slowly cleansed from the newsprint through repeated brainwashing. Now the main context for the killing is the insurgency rather than the occupation. The occupation itself just +is+ — maybe it’s a natural phenomenon, happened out of a clear blue sky. The facts — that it was based on a pack of lies, that it was an illegal war of aggression, an oil grab, and has zero legitimacy such that the US has no right to be there at all — somehow just don’t matter to you.

We received no response. The Guardian editor has not replied to our emails since December 2005, such is his commitment to open debate.

The reality, as every thinking mainstream journalist knows, is that free discussion into corporate profit-making does not go.

  1. Obama’s Speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C.,’ New York Times, February 27, 2009. []
  2. Thom Shanker, ‘Campaign Promises on Ending the War in Iraq Now Muted by Reality,’ New York Times, December 4, 2008. [] []
  3. Quoted, Bennis, ‘Obama To Announce Iraq Troop Withdrawal,’ February 27, 2009. []
  4. Cockburn, ‘Obama announces troop pullout,’ The Independent, February 28, 2009. [] []
  5. MacAskill, ‘US withdrawal: Six years after Iraq invasion, Obama sets out his exit plan,’ The Guardian, February 28, 2009. []
  6. Reid, ‘Obama promises to pull out 90,000 troops – but keep 50,000 there,’ The Times, February 28, 2009. []
  7. Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Hill and Wang, New York, 1992, p.79. []
  8. Jonathan Steele and Suzanne Goldenberg, ‘What is the real death toll in Iraq?,’ The Guardian, March 19, 2008. []
  9. Chulov, ‘We will leave Iraq a better place – British general,’ The Guardian, March 2, 2009. []
Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The most recent Media Lens book, Propaganda Blitz by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2018 by Pluto Press. Read other articles by Media Lens, or visit Media Lens's website.

74 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on March 7th, 2009 at 9:48am #

    at this time i’ll shun complexities like the seven plagues and just posit a [self-serving!?] simplicity: i evaluate all clero-political promises as lies.
    and self-serving complex promises, ooh la la; i’m going bananas already! tx

  2. Brian said on March 7th, 2009 at 10:32am #

    Excellent analysis of Obama’s talk to the troops.

    Gee, my local paper seemed to have missed that. They did make sure I was informed about Robin Williams heart condition. After all, they are the largest news gathering operation in our area and they cover everything.

  3. HR said on March 7th, 2009 at 11:19am #

    And big news outfits wonder why people have turned away from them, in droves. They blame it on the Internet instead of placing the blame where it belongs: on their failure to provide factual coverage of events; on their dedication to providing propaganda. The sooner they’re gone, the better. Their demise should be no cause for shedding of even one tear. Their passage will open up space for people who wish to “innovate” by giving us factual, and complete, coverage of REAL stories.

  4. kahar said on March 7th, 2009 at 3:48pm #

    Thank you Media Lens.
    With regard to the total BS concept of “excess” deaths which uses a pre 2003 mortality rate as the “normal” rate with which to compare war time mortality, people really need to wake up to the fact that NOTHING was normal in Iraq pre-2003 — it was under continuous and constant air attack as well as carpet bombing in the north and south,and people were also dying off from cancers and other diseases rarely seen before or ones that had already been eradicated. According to doctors I know there, just about every newborn child has been born with some deformity or other and in the heavily DU contaminated south it was even worse. The sanctions killed off the large numbers of the very young and the elderly. MIT and others take this situation as the normal mortality rate so when it comes to estimating the victims of war the real figure as a few journalists thankfully have already recognised and reported is more like over 3 million not one million as so many like to quote. If I am wrong on the method of calculating excess deaths then please do correct me, with evidence.

    USrael will never leave Iraq — occupation and settlement was the aim of the invasion and Obama is a dirty little whore of the Israeli NWO, besides, if we fantasise for a moment that they did leave the ICC would be flooded with crimes of the occupiers for years to come. It is no exaggeration to say that every single Iraqi who raised their voice in protest has been systematically erased and the Iraqi police and Army trained by the west are a huge criminal network.

  5. kahar said on March 7th, 2009 at 4:31pm #

    I read Tirman’s article and still can’t work out how you can have “1-2 million war widows” and only put the war death toll at 1 million. Does that make sense to anyone? And similarly how can you have 5 million war orphans and a death toll of only 1 million? Average family size in Iraq, having been a pretty much developed nation and with one of the highest relative number of university graduates in the world, was not that high. I have a first class degree in Maths and yet am too stupid to see how these figures could make sense..

  6. Boyd Collins said on March 7th, 2009 at 6:33pm #

    “…we assume it to be a makeover, a brand alteration, an attempt precisely to +reduce+ pressure on the system to change.” Precisely. The ruling elite knew that pressure from below would start to mount from many easily identifiable forces, so they turned to their staunch allies in such times. The role of the Democratic party in the U.S. has always been to act as a lightning rod for social discontent. Soaring rhetoric attracts dissident forces into safe channels where the potentially disruptive energy can be safely drained off. The rising energy of change becomes enervated through its diversion into party structures that use it to prop up the failing system.

    A recent posting on helps clarify the issue: “The gushing enthusiasm over Obama has been manufactured in order to evoke the illusion of change. This illusion is extremely useful for many purposes, but primarily because it allows the same policies to be pursued with different apparent justifications. The masses by necessity live on hope. Nurturing this hope is a key factor in the continuing dominance of the command and control system of which Obama is now the visible symbol. Decent people will endure hardship as long as they believe that those at the top truly have their best interests at heart. Obama symbolizes the intelligence, compassion, and unruffled endurance that are required to realize this drama.”

    The troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq until the system consolidates its control – it’s that simple. The urgency of controlling the resources in this region becomes more pressing by the day, so what is unpopular, particularly during the economic crisis will be relabeled. In the immortal words of Chomsky, “The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.”

    Therefore the war in Iraq will soon cease to exist. Reporting will decline to a fraction of a percent of news coverage and Iraq will be forgotten. Rather than complain about the lies in the news media, I prefer to approach them in the way John Pilger suggests. If studied intently, their pronouncements are an excellent barometer of where elite sentiment is trending at the moment. In the case of Iraq, the trend is toward silent domination.

  7. mary said on March 8th, 2009 at 3:50am #

    In London on April 1st, there will be a march organized by the Stop the War Coalition and other groupings.

    Obama will be in London for the G20 conference and on April 2nd there will be a march to the Excel centre where the meeting takes place followed by a rally.

    “Our message will be ‘Yes We Can’. Yes we can end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, yes we can get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, yes we can make jobs not bombs, yes we can abolish nukes, yes we can stop arming Israel.

    The G20 will meet at a time of world slump but they are spending more and more on war.

    Despite the disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US and Britain are sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan. They are spending more and more in Iraq. The total cost of the war will be around 6 trillion dollars.

    Most G20 leaders support Israel and refused to condemn Israel’s attack on Gaza or the continuing blockade. The US, Britain and others are still selling arms to Israel. Israel receives more aid from the US than any other country in world.

    The US spends $54 Bn and Britain nearly £2Bn every year on nuclear weapons.

    On April 1st and 2nd we will be marching to demand a different set of priorities from the world’s leaders.

    The leaders of the most powerful nations will meet in London in April against the backdrop of world slump and war and rising anger at the nightmare world they have created. The idea of the G20 is to find solutions. But if the recent economic gathering in Davos is anything to go by, the worlds’ leaders are running out of ideas. ”

    /……continues on

    Following these protests which are expected to be massive following those held earlier against Israel’s actions in Gaza, the focus moves to Strasbourg where protests against NATO will take place between 2-5 April.

  8. lloyd rowsey said on March 8th, 2009 at 6:26am #

    There were obvious clues IMMEDIATELY before the election. Did you see the Obama-McCain “debate” on foreign affairs? Did you hear the words “United Nations” pass the lips of either candidate? I think any sentient leftie whatching that performance should have concluded that Obama is as committed to unilaterial solutions abroad as McCain – and the entire corporate sector in the U.S. – was, and is.

    Despite the fact, I voted for Obama. On the come as it were. Hoping against hope that Samantha Power, and others, will have the influence on Our Leader to get him to at least start THINKING AND SAYING the words “United Nations”.

  9. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 8:20am #

    hahahaha, what a damn liar and two-face Obama is, just like the movie “Face Off” with Nicholas Cage. Obama even offended President Hugo Chavez, and the good people of Venezuela by stating that Venezuela is a nation that harbors terrorists without any scientific-evidence for that outragous libel and difamation.

    What a scam Obama has turned out to be

  10. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 8:35am #

    USA is and has been a terrorist-state even before 1776, it’s a failed-nation founded on genocide and pain. We need to create a new country in this land of United States, and even change its name from USA to Jeffersonian-Socialist Republic or something like that. Like Chavez which changed the name of Venezuela to Bolivarian-Republic of Venezuela

  11. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 8:55am #

    hahaha what a pair of mass-murderers Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Gordon Brown are. I was watching in a PBS documentary an interview between Queen Elizabeth and Gordon Brown, they were having the life of their time and their time of their life when they were talking about how wonderful has been the work of the British troops in the Middle East, speciallin Iraq. Man these people are worse than Charles Manson, how can they celebrate the war on iraq, after millions are dead

  12. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 9:46am #

    Boyd Collins, “The ruling elite knew that pressure from below would start to mount from many easily identifiable forces, so they turned to their staunch allies in such times. The role of the Democratic party in the U.S. has always been to act as a lightning rod for social discontent. Soaring rhetoric attracts dissident forces into safe channels where the potentially disruptive energy can be safely drained off. The rising energy of change becomes enervated through its diversion into party structures that use it to prop up the failing system.”

    Nicely said.

  13. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 10:11am #

    Max: hi, how are u? indeed, many people who dont know abou Marxism and historical-materialism think that there won’t be a socialist-revolution in USA just like the venezuela’s anti-capitalist revolution of the 1990s where the venezuelan citizens supported a socialist military out of its army.

    But USA is just like any other country, i think that we will see a real change in USA in the near future, i think that there will be a popular uprising in this country, because american jobless citizens will not be able to conform to the misery food-stamp program

  14. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 10:13am #

    Sooner or later this ‘tricke down welfare capitalist system’ will not provide bread for all, and will morph a plutocratic corporate capitalist system that can only provide stability, food and wealth for the upper bourgeoise classes of America.

    when that time comes we will see a revolutionary situation, when the proletariat take the bull by its horns and overthrows the corporate corrupted capitalist system for complete emancipation of the workign classes of this country


    # 1 – When it is impossible for the rich people of this country (like Bill Gates, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Donald Trump, Al Gore, Ross Perot, Dick Cheney, etc.) to maintain their wealth without any change; when there is an economic crisis, in one form or another, among the rich people, a crisis in the policy of the rich ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of middle and lower classes of America burst forth. For a socialist-revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for the middle and lower classes not to want to live in their old comfortable and stable way; it is also necessary that the rich upper millionaire class should be unable to live in their old comfortable way.

    # 2 – When the suffering and the needs of the middle and lower working classes of this country have grown more acute than usual

    # 3 – When, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the middle and working classes, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in peace time, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis *and by the upper classes themselves* into independent historical action.

  15. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 11:03am #


    The Bolivarian “revolution” is inspiring. But let’s not be too quick with the success of Venezuela’s “socialism”. First, I applaud the direction Chavez has taken and the swell of democracy behind it.

    But with oil as the primary pump for their GDP, one must be very cautious about what to call Venezuela from an economic perspective. I don’t fault Venezuela as the fifth largest member of OPEC to use the resource as a Citizen’s Dividen (

    Self-sufficiency for Venezuela will require a careful use of this non-renewable resource. An economy based primarily on such a resource is a mixed blessing.

    But the respective histories of USA and Latin America are about as dissimilar as two entities can be. The USA was born an empire of expansionism and has continued on that road to this day. That beginning pre-dates the formalization of capitalism (Adam Smith 1776). The crashing US economy is so completely and utterly connected globally, that it will be difficult to know what how it will shake out.

    Will there be a “revolution”, a “revolt” a move to fascism? to socialism? to a sustainable steady state with collective, cooperative eco-villages? Who can say?

    The MSM as has been mentioned along with the Democrat version of empire has deflated the energy behind revolt, and dissent – at least for the moment.

    Reality will, at some point, gain the upper hand. As energy is depleted. As the American life begins to diminish, it will take twists and turns we have yet to discern. It will emerge.

  16. bozh said on March 8th, 2009 at 1:09pm #

    plutos are now involved in a few missions achievables and have no time to deal with venezuella.
    natch, they want to destroy each incipient or well-developed socialist structure of society.

    but once ‘stans, arab/african lands are subdued and in firm control by plutos, venezuella will be a target for destruction.
    hopefully, russia and china continue changing their societal structures and once they wld be well-developed no force save nuclear wars wld destroy them.

    it shld be noted that it several millennia for plutos of some countries to obtain near-total stranglehold on powwer; it may take centuries to develop a good socialism. tx

  17. bozh said on March 8th, 2009 at 1:19pm #

    we also have trickle dwn education/econo-military-political power.
    also info; it trickles dwn and by the time it hits the bottom, it becomes abundant or utter disinfo.

    and what can one expect from a person who asks, What’s zionism? or what’s gaza? or wasn’t obama brilliant? tx

  18. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 1:30pm #


    I don’t know about the trajectory of socialism. Again, for better or worse, I think socialism and capitalism are passe. That doesn’t mean what we consider elements of each will go away.

    As far as US intervention in Latin America, I think Afghanistan will be the US’s major Waterloo. It will break the US. The US economy and standing in the world is clearly a thing of the past regarding strength.

    That doesn’t mean US won’t aimlessly continue with it’s dead habits and try to go into Venezuela. But there the power of the US is dwindling. Energy is needed to get energy. The party is over for the US as an empire. It will be necessary to look out.

    Now might the US find a World War III (aka Nazi Germany) to pull out of the dilemma of sinking empire? Possibly, but it will, like the Third Reich fail.

  19. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 1:48pm #

    I suspect, the US might try to invade Venezuela – Oil. That’s the mixed blessing. But there may be more than the US looking into OPEC oil.

    If the US is no longer a military power, than vying for oil will will heightened with China and Russia (and perhaps India). Perhaps, there will be a grand bargain whereby the 3 divvy the oil resources of the world.

    But I think this too is old thing asymmetrical warfar just doesn’t allow this simple divide and rule of the world’s resources.

    This much seems certain, what we’ve known and expected of the US and policies is unraveling. This is happening regardless of the administration. It is happening because of the very reality of thermodynamics.

  20. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 1:52pm #

    Max: yeah u are right, coz americans think that Democrat Party is a sort of socialist-revolutionary humanist populalist workers option. When in truth Democrat Party is a wing of the 1 party capitalist system.

    Coming back to Hugo Chavez, i think you have to realize that in order for a full socialism democratic system to work, all nations have to be socialists (Like Trotsky wrote about). So we cannot judge Hugo Chavez wrongly for not installing a perfect socialist system under workers-control. Besides, you have to deffend Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Revolution for being the best of all possible political systems in this world. (It is a welfare-state-capitalist system) but it is a lot better than the political systems of all countries of this world.

    In fact, Venezualan current system is more egalitarian, more humanist, more participative, more democratic, more de-centralized than even Norway, Scandinavia and Sweeden social-democratic governments.

    So it is fair to state that as imperfect, and as burocratic as Chavez and the Venezuelan-state is, it is the best Democratic System of all human history. So it is fair to praise Hugo Chavez as the best president that this world has ever had. And it is rational and objective to say that the current Venezuean-government is the best government of all human history.

  21. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 1:54pm #

    in fact, Venezuelan-government is one of the only lights and hopes of this world. Of course Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Nicaragua and Chile are also hopes and lights for this world of corporate evil right-wingers and bankers.

  22. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 2:49pm #

    I am not judging Hugo Chavez in terms of not creating a “perfect” socialist system. I’m simply pointing out that Venezuela is dependent on a non-renewable resource. Chavez is using the asset he has, but Venezuela must be mindful and careful of that very fragile economic underpinning.

    That said, it is the USA which is in a very bad corner. It is dependent on more on OPAC than ever before (Venezuela is part of OPAC).

    We are playing with fire, globally. I don’t think there will be a place to “hide”. Our President is printing and pumping paper into a highly leverage debt ridden economy – it is imploding all around us. He is throwing gasoline on the fire!!

    What this will mean to Venezuela is hard to surmize except it won’t be good. But than it won’t be good for ANYONE on the planet. The globalization of markets, to the extent that it has occurred puts us ALL in the worst possible situation. If there is a place which will not be hit, I don’t think anyone knows.

    Chavez, I think, is a very bright (incredible native intelligence, political savvy, and a strong sense of his people’s needs). But no leader is above what is happening on the world stage. The undercurrent will be so strong that, I think, the world will be flipped and the direction will be dramatically shifted. Who knows?

  23. Boyd Collins said on March 8th, 2009 at 3:06pm #

    This is directed to the “revolution” controversy of Max Shields and TC. I think that revolution breaks out when a long-suffering population reaches a limit and can’t be pushed to new levels of sacrifice. This is why I think the current situation is pre-revolutionary.

    In addition, revolution requires a recognition of common class interests by a large percentage of the population – a sense of solidarity with those of one’s class and an ability to organize those interests into political formations. This is where the social conditioning carried out by the MSM and educational institutions has been so effective. Isolated individuals are much easier to control and propagandize, therefore the media constantly infuse the social atmosphere with the sense that only individuals are real and social bonds are too fragile to rely on.

    As a consequence, there are no political formations in the U.S. that are currently strong enough to act as an organizing center for revolutionary forces. In Venezuela, the poor formed a class that had identifiable common interests around which Chavez could organize. In the U.S. it is possible that shared interests could form if the ruling elite’s bailout strategy causes the middle and lower class to find common cause in suffering.

    Thus Barack Obama’s role as one with the moral authority to demand sacrifices for the greater good. He is now president because he was most adept at providing the illusion of hope, a hope powerful enough to push the masses into the required efforts to prop up the current system. His role is to inspire us to the new levels of sacrifice necessary to sustain the lie on which the current economic system is based. For a number of reasons, including the coming debacles in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the onrushing climate crisis, I don’t think the current system can endure. Whether the succeeding system will be based on economic justice and social equality or be some new domination system will depend on new political formations that can inspire and organize the masses.

  24. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 3:17pm #

    Boyd Collins I concur with your above comment.

    The US is imploding and will explode, but there is no solidarity to build a focused movement.

    Can such a movement materialize in some “magical” way? Unlikely. It is not just the MSM, though their role is significant, it is the whole suburbanization of living communities which as destroyed community and thus the means for meaningful interaction that could lead to substanitive change.

    What is happening and will become more and more apparent, is the unraveling of empire. Obama needs to get out of the way. So, far, he is simply facilitating its demise at best.

  25. Barry said on March 8th, 2009 at 3:30pm #

    There is surely some good stuff happening in Venezuela. But I think it is easy to confuse socialism in Latin America with populist rhetoric – which has many of the right words but can just as easily be used to quell that masses as empower them. I think Chavez may just be that kind of populist/corporatist leader – a caudillo – that Latin America has seen many of. Doesn’t mean there he is the whole story of what is going in Venezuela, and Chavez himself, may be thinking he’s leading a socialist revolution – but the jury is still out. Still, the possibilities are far better than a right-wing caudillo, something virtually every country in Latin America (except maybe Costa Rica) has experienced.

  26. Boyd Collins said on March 8th, 2009 at 3:49pm #

    Max, I agree we need more than magic to create an organized political formation. I also recognize that isolation is the result of more than media-based indoctrination. That indoctrination is the result of social forces that are also reflected in suburbanization and many other facts of life in America. However, solidarity can arise when we are faced with a common enemy and when our common interests are clearly at stake. Despite the failure of many 20th century social movements, the pattern they established is now part of our political DNA and can form the seed around which new possibilities can coalesce.

  27. bozh said on March 8th, 2009 at 4:35pm #

    the fascist structure of society in US is sharply pyramidic and more, much more so than the structures of society in nam, cuba, venezuella, korea, and china.

    china also has steel mills, power plants, money, etc., just like US.
    to me “capitalism” is synnonimous with ownership of production and work .
    thus, to me, capitalism, is a narrow ideology; dealing solely with the ownership of work and production. at this time, i see no other attributes of the capitalism.

    and as we know, fascist capitalism engenders extreme wealth and poverty and extreme power and powerlessness.
    social capitalism wld narrow the gap bwtn top and bottom; thus we obtain a more egalitarian society and with time as an egalitarian as we once had.
    i suggest that we must have been very evenly valued; a people of small clan had to be kind to one another just to survive.

    that i am here today, i owe that to a black girl. blacks survived; spreading to asia; getting lighter skinned; ending with us whites.
    so much for hitler’s and other peoples’ racism. tx
    they may have been equally poor; however, they have succeeded and we are here today because of that.
    socialism at the insipient stage wld allow some private ownership of production.
    however, health care, transportation, electric power, banks. schooling, media wld be nationalized.tx

  28. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 5:02pm # <==Read this great-cool article by a Tennessean-socialist friend i have. Talks about how USA and capitalist countries have been ruled by psychopaths

  29. Max Shields said on March 8th, 2009 at 5:42pm #

    Barry, I wouldn’t quite so far as to call Chavez a populist/corporatist leader. But I there needs to be some reasoned assessment of whether one should call Venezuela a socialist country.

    While I agree with some important elements of socialism vis a vis capitalism, I don’t see “socialism” as a blueprint; one that we should rigously dedicate causes of justice to. So, while Chavez and Venezuela may not be “pure” socialism I see nothing wrong with that. I do think that we need to think clearly about the leveraging of a non-renewable resource to create an economy (regardless it’s “ism”). It is that which is at stake not the “ism” one applies.

    Boyd, I don’t disagree that there can be a revolt when times reaching a boiling point – and I think that is inevitable – but what direction and composition it will take is very hard to tell. The empire’s fall may be, like it’s existence, like none the world has ever witnessed; or will it like TS Elliot’s poem go: so that’s the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

    I do not think the revolt will be about socialism in the sense of the Russion or Chinese revolutions or the French Revolution per se.

  30. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 8:24pm #

    Max: but the socialist-system coming after capitalist-state is not a crazy idea. Remember that Karl Marx, Lenin were not crazy, nor are anti-scientific ideas. Even Einstein said that capitalism needs to go because it might blow us all in a nuclear war among capitalist powers for limited resources.

    Even if Karl Marx didn’t exist, the world is heading toward changes and toward the rise of the working class to power. Because evolution also happens in political systems.

    By the way Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Argentina, etc. are not socialist-systems because for socialism to work, the whole world would have to be under a socialist paradigm. If Hugo Chavez tried to apply full socialism in Venezuela it would collapse Venezuela’s economy. So i guess that’s why Hugo Chavez has not forced socialism in Venezuela in order for the country’s economy to be stable.

    So again, i don’t accept socialism ideas religiously like you said, but because change is the natural trend in the evolution of political-systems, and besides Marx, Lenin were not crazy, so we have to believe what they wrote.

  31. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 8th, 2009 at 8:53pm #

    Barry: I am sorry but Hugo Chavez is not a corporate-leader like u said. You are a bit disinformed about the changes in the power structures of Venezuela. In fact one sole proof to point to Chavez as almost a saint in power, is that Poverty-Levels in Venezuela decreased from 50% to 26% in 10 years. No corporate caudillo can decrease poverty levels so dramatically. In fact most caudillos as u said are repressive, and oligarchic and always representative of the upper-classes. So it is real hard to see a caudillo in the present or past who could decrease poverty-levels like Chavez did. Besides Hugo Chavez is not even in power by force, but very democratically elected by Venezuelan citizens. On a final note: France, Colombia, UK have unlimited reelectoral systems.


  32. Boyd Collins said on March 8th, 2009 at 9:05pm #

    Immanuel Wallerstein, the world systems authority, was recently asked the following question: “Is there anything that makes this time different from previous periods of trouble?”

    He answered as follows: “There is a crisis of the capitalist system, that is to say we have the conjuncture of normal downturn processes. What I think of as the fundamental crisis of the system is such that I don’t think the system will be here 20 or 30 years from now. It will have disappeared and been completely replaced by some other kind of world system. The explanation of that I have given a number of times in a number of my writings in the last 30 years is that there are three basic costs of capital which are personnel costs, input costs and taxation costs. Every capitalist has to pay for these three things, which have been rising steadily as a percentage of the price at which you can sell products. They have gotten to a point where they’re too large and the amount of surplus value that you can obtain from production has gotten so squeezed that it isn’t worth it to sensible capitalists. The risks are too great and profits too small. They are looking for alternatives. Other people are looking for other alternatives. For this I use a Prigogine kind of analyses where the system has deviated so far from equilibrium that it cannot be restored to any kind of equilibrium, even temporarily. Therefore, we are in a chaotic situation. Therefore, there is a bifurcation. Therefore, there is a fundamental conflict between which of the two possible alternative outcomes the system will take, inherently unpredictable but very much the issue. We can have a system better than capitalism or we can have a system that is worse than capitalism. The only thing we can’t have is a capitalist system. Now, I have given you a short version of the whole argument.”

    Which reinforces your point, Max. We are moving into chaotic territory where the system is bound to change in radical ways, but whether it is a neo-fascist state or a participatory society will depend on those of us who believe in democracy.

  33. Deadbeat said on March 9th, 2009 at 1:18am #

    Boyd Collins writes …

    [I]n the last 30 years is that there are three basic costs of capital which are personnel costs, input costs and taxation costs … which have been rising steadily as a percentage of the price at which you can sell products … [Costs] have gotten to a point where they’re too large and the amount of surplus value that you can obtain from production has gotten so squeezed that it isn’t worth it to sensible capitalists.

    The statistic that I have seen would appear to contradict the premise of your argument. Business has been posting records profits and corporate taxes are at its lowest level while wages in real terms has remained stagnant and productivity has been increasing. This means that the cost of output per worker has been declining and the surplus value has been expropriated by the capitalist class.

    This condition is what lead to all of the borrowing by workers to maintain there consumption levels especially in the major areas like housing, education, health care, transportation and raising children.

    It is clear then under these conditions that the capitalist class prefers crisis as they can use this crisis especially with a pliant working class swimming in debt to further heighten the level of labor exploitation by driving down living standards. It is only the fear of a working class revolt that concerns capitalists. Otherwise with the lack of solidarity among the working class and the willingness by the “Left” to misinform workers, it is clear that the capitalist class may have nothing to fear at all.

  34. Deadbeat said on March 9th, 2009 at 1:39am #

    T-C writes …

    So again, i don’t accept socialism ideas religiously like you said, but because change is the natural trend in the evolution of political-systems, and besides Marx, Lenin were not crazy, so we have to believe what they wrote.

    The main idea of socialism is economic democracy. In a functional democracy ideas can be tested and discarded. The people will be the best judge. Marx himself described himself as NOT being a Marxist. The main idea is that change or better yet adaptability of ideas. Marxism is not about rigidity or dogma but about flexibility and seeing and understanding contradictions.

    The problem with Max Shields position disparaging Marxism in order to promote his “ideology” is his assumption that he start with the assumption that Marxism is rigid which is the unfortunate concession being made by T-C in his response.

    Therefore it is misleading and misinforming readers to believe that Marxism is rigid and cannot adapt to new ideas. Being able to discuss and debate ideas is what Marxism is about and in order to have healthy debate and rational arguments you need an educated populous.

    I agree with T-C earlier responses on the need for educating the masses. Once again and it is rather unfortunate that there is a strain on the “Left” who’d rather misinform, mislead, and confuse the masses.

  35. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 6:06am #

    I know Deadbeat and Jesus was not a Christian. I didn’t say Marxism was rigid. I said that one should not adhere to a rigorous application of socialism as if it is a blueprint which must be followed, void of human creativity.

    Chavez, so it appears, has been innovative. He has taken what is before him, limits and lattitude and brought in the mix various socialist elements, but hardly a pure socialism. He is a flawed leader, as is always the case. The Cuban people seem best positioned for what is unfolding. But that has little to do with Marxism and more to do with their recent experience and how they dealt with it.

    As Boyd suggests I prefer a broader systems view. That’s not an ideology. It’s simply a way of discerning root causes to problems or to understand how a system – ecosystem, economic, etc. works and when it begins to falter. Again, that is not an ideology.

    As an example, a clear understanding of expotential growth provides how we’ve pushed the limits and how those limits have been breached. Now, I think, will be a time of great contraction.

    I am not “anti-” Marx. I just don’t think we should refer to him in a quasi-biblical sense, as if he is beyond reproach, just because we are in a sinking ship.

    I don’t think the system in use in the US can be saved. I don’t know what will materialize as we enter a time of great turmoil, like an earth quake where nothing seems secure.

    For those who have begun the process of local economies, my thoughts are: continue. Try to make a democratically-baed steady state economy. By doing so it may emerge as one alternative model/narrative. I suspect without that kind of work going on there will be a much darker outcome.

    I agree with Boyd’s quote by Wallerstein’s above.

  36. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 6:18am #

    I would also add about the Cuban people and very subjective and personal at that. Every time I see visions of Cubans I think “these people are lovely. They seem to be filled with a joy that is so giving and celebratory. What an incredible humanity.”


  37. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 7:23am #

    Boyd – I agree with Wallerstein (which is not to suggest any parity of intellect there) that the world economic system is poised to jump to a new level (Prigogine’s equilibrium theory which applies to all sorts of things – like the environment or the universe) – a level from which full return to past systems is impossible (sort of like going back to feudal relations). I would disagree a bit on costs to capitalists. Taxes, I believe have rarely been a motivating factor for capitalists except perhaps in Western Europe where rates have in the past been extraordinarily high. For the most part taxes have not been the deciding issue. It’s the cost of inputs and even more so, the cost of labor, that decides whether businesses succeed or fail, move or stay, bust heads or negotiate.

    With regard to inputs, changes in the nature of the economy have lessened their importance. Firms in the developed nations no longer need to be at the water’s edge for water power – nor at the site of iron and coal deposits. Inputs can come from far and wide, produced cheaply and imported cheaply – the per item cost of travel much less than it used to be. The world is now riddled with low-cost communication and transportation.

    The real savings come in the cost of labor – cheap labor used to come by union busting, relocating to areas of disciplined labor, etc. But since capitalism (so called ‘free trade’ – actually meaning ‘free investment’ – and ‘free disinvestment’) has penetrated all nations, the world can be viewed as a profit surface, with capital flowing in to regions of greater profit, and flowing out of regions of declining profit. Thus – China – where 1.3 billion people can provide amazingly cheap labor (by many hundreds of millions of proles) for a long time to come. With India (1.2 billion) also coming on line the world’s profit surface is positively glowing in East and South Asia.

    Apparently, Wallerstein thinks that the world system will possibly jump to some form of socialism – or some sort of fascism. The former I would think is doubtful without a lot more class solidarity growing across political/cultural lines – lines of identity which can even keep Slovaks and Czechs apart, or keep Hutu and Tutsi apart, never mind Burmese, Congolese, Chileans and Germans – and really never mind Americans, the vanguard of capitalism where cultural diversity is suspect and class analysis is treasonous.

    The latter, fascism, may be the more likely direction of things. The desires of 6.9 billion, or 10 billion in several decades, will be difficult to control from without, unless hundreds of millions of troops are trained on the masses. Fascism, or more accurately, Fascist Capitalism (as was Nazi Germany) which philosophy is basically a union of the State with Big Business, will happily do just that – as it has in the past – and elements of which exist in our political culture today. In short, the believers in some sort of socialist or participatory society (I am one) have their work cut out for them in demystifying the present system so that bulk of us can band together in common cause. An uphill battle to say the least.

  38. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 7:45am #

    deadbeat – I agree with your analysis of the declining cost of labor, the cost of output, stagnant wages, etc. Capital fears worker solidarity – but it also fears the rapidly falling rate of profit.

    What this condition eventually presents – as it finally has – is a crisis in capitalism. The same need to hold down the cost of labor also holds down spending power by the consuming classes. What is needed by capital is a huge middle class to absorb the products produced by the working classes. But the capitalist effort in the US and developed world is to suppress wages across the board except for the elite (whose partying we have been watching for several decades now). What we have is a middle class whose stagnating wages approach working class levels – and a growing working class whose wages put them in permanent hock – with all the stress and grief that entails.

    So the capitalists may have (naturally) outdone themselves here. They do not want the investment environment we are presently in. They want people to spend, spend, spend – but to spend the wages some other firm pays their workers, not the wee wages their own firm pays.

    The answer for capitalists may or may not have shown up just in time. That is China, which can provide hundreds of millions of workers and hundreds of millions of consumers. But as fast as China has been growing – it is not fast enough to offset the falling rate of profit elsewhere. Time will tell.

  39. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 7:51am #

    also note to deadbeat: The Greens for many years have been arguing for local economies. Some decades ago I was at a Green debate on the virtue of local economies – which may be considerable. Some other arguements included the notion that local economies/polities may encourage xenophobia – and the notion that such local entities run every risk of being authoritarian as being democratic. The blessing on that, one would hope, is that the authoritarianism remains localized.

  40. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:19am #

    Barry, I didn’t read in the quote by Wallerstein that he thought it would be fascism or socialism, just that it would NOT be capitalism.

    I don’t think the Greens are calling for an authoritarian state – local or otherwise.

    Look we can put a gun to our heads, and just go away (which Barry seems your ultimate solution) or we can face the problem and address it’s underpinnings.

    The federal (hierachical authoritarianism) government is IN CHARGE have no fear. Local governments have been neutered and local economies in the US have been destroyed.

    Perhaps, Barry, rather than toying with the topic, you could be constructive – what’s good about local and what could happen that we should make every effort to avoid.

    How’s that sound? Reasonable?

  41. bozh said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:23am #

    it is a good notion that we can put an idea to test and only after say that the idea was good or bad.
    in my earlier post, i called US structure of society “sharply pyramidic”.
    i shld have said that it is trapezoid but of different base and slant than any socialist structure. tx

  42. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:27am #

    Tennessee – I didn’t say Chavez was a corporate leader. I said that he may be a ‘corporatist’ leader. Corporatism is a medieval Catholic Church philosophy (with origins in Classical Period Greece) that holds that society should be viewed as a body (corp=body), with a brain, heart, limbs, etc. Such a leader and government has surfaced repeatedly in Latin America – a product of the Church and the Iberian societies (witness Franco and Salazar). The corporatist caudillo, his honchos, and allied elite sectors act as the brain, the working class is the braun – the limbs. (A middle class Latin America being largely non-existent historically.) I’m not saying that Chavez is necessarily a corporatist, but that he has the populist qualities that enable a corporatist society.

    I see you refer to Chavez as ‘almost a saint’. That is precisely the problem with populists in Latin America. ‘Sainthood’ is maybe the antithesis of socialism. And sainthood depends on worshipping the leader – a sort of ‘cult of personality’ develops – and is cultivated by the very leader.

    You are right that no corporate government could lower unemployment as Chavez has – but a socialist can – and so can a populist caudillo (whether he – or she, Isabel and Evita come to mind – believes in a corporatist structure to society or not). Chavez has, of course, benefitted greatly by the rise in oil prices. They’ve since fallen and are now rising again – so who knows. Yet some things about Chavez smack of ‘cult of personality.’ Things like putting Venezuela in its own time zone – a half hour different than its neighbors. Or more seriously, the effort to be president for life (or some sort of long-term rule). He’s done a lot of things that smack of ‘sainthood.’

    I need to know more about organizing from below in Venezuela versus popular decrees that can be revoked when deemed expendable. And I need to know that his administration is stocked with people not so much loyal to Chavez, but loyal to participatory change.

    Certainly, Chavez is up against the Big Bear across the Caribbean – and I root him on (and buy his gas) in this effort. The US would have him killed in a moment if it thought it could get away with the repercussions.

    I would not want to see him turn into a Castro, or a Mugabe, or the North Korean leader (is it Kim?) – all of whom have been presented as socialists to one degree or another. I also don’t want him to turn into a Somoza, or Peron, or Batista, or Duvalier, or any number of other populist leaders the region has endured. I do recognize that he is elected – and reelected. That’s a good sign -but not fool proof. But what is fool proof?

    At any rate, I am encouraged by Chavez and I see him in the vanguard of social change that is sweeping Latin America. Still, so far it is with baited breath.

  43. kahar said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:31am #

    Aside from the fact that 80% of the above discussion has nothing to do with the article, which, it seems, no one appears aware exists on this page, Max:”Jesus was not a Christian”, religion is a belief system not a gene you’re born with! And btw the jewish people myth is just that, total nonsense that has long been discredited.

  44. bozh said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:34am #

    but before any societal change in US can happen, their education, cia, fbi, [dis]info, army, jurisprudence, constitution, congress, senate, prez must become ours.

    we’ve just begun to take over some education and info; this, to me, is stupendous event. we are taking a crack at it.
    i’ll never heed a naysayer, saying aspersively that all we do is talk; from which nothing good comes, according to the wld-be wreckers of what little we are achieving. tnx

  45. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:46am #

    Right you are Max. Wallerstein said in that quote that it would be something other than capitalism – it was Boyd who suggested neo-fascism or participatory society. I agree with Boyd that those are the likely options.

    Greens are NOT calling for an authoritarian state (though, if you know the Greens, they draw from many tendencies, a few who do not object to authoritarianism if it saves the planet’s or bio-region’s non-human life). I was saying there had been Green debate over whether micro-societies/ecologies might become authoritarian – and further, if authoritarian, would at least it be better than present governments because they would be contained to small areas.

    Having been in Green Parties since the mid-1980s, I’m very familiar with local concepts of governance and economy. And while the world is a complicated place, I see no real progress towards that. I do see the constant reinforcement of the state system, and where that state system is breaking down – its not been constructive.

    I’m very open to both the theory and reality of smaller economies/polities. I’ve been involved in Green local projects. Hey, it is something to work for – one thing among many.

  46. Brian Koontz said on March 9th, 2009 at 8:57am #

    In reply to Tennessee-Chavizta:

    “But USA is just like any other country, i think that we will see a real change in USA in the near future, i think that there will be a popular uprising in this country, because american jobless citizens will not be able to conform to the misery food-stamp program”

    The USA is not like any other country. It’s the heart of the global empire, and it’s people (pathetically) reflect that. There may or may not be a popular uprising in this country, but if so it will be the *last* among the Western countries.

    Americans will defend their imperial benefits long before they will defend their freedom. It’s only when little hope exists for the continuation or recovery of those imperial benefits that Americans will “fight for their freedom”. This is precisely why the “shift to the left” in America only happened after 9/11, when Americans for the first time glimpsed the end of their empire.

    This has always been the case in America, going back to the American Revolution when “fighting for freedom” was overheated rhetoric which translates into “fighting for power”. Once it became more profitable to overthrow British rule than live under it they did so, and Americans ever since have been brainwashed (most quite complicitly) into believing their country was founded on principles of freedom and equality. Tell that to the indigenous population, or the imported african population, or women, or various white ethnicities, or various capitalist losers, or the countless people outside the US enslaved or killed by these “freedom lovers”.

    For Americans, it’s always been about power and it always will be. Now that the elite are weak and unable to provide Americans with sufficient imperial benefits sure, they may revolt. And then Dissident Voice can continue the centuries-old brainwashing by providing countless articles breathlessly extolling the “fight for freedom” of the American masses.

    When will humanity move past ALL forms of propaganda and embrace truth?

  47. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 9:04am #

    I don’t what “greens” you’re talking about. It sounds like your talking with kooks, not greens.

    If you are a US citizen, you may find it interesting to note that the USA Green Party began in 2001 (hardly the mid-80s). From 1996 to 2001 it was called Association of State Green Parties. But that’s neither here nor there, since the Green Party did not brand local economies. They’re a political party that is rather dysfunctional in the US – which is too bad.

    Again your response is glib. I do find your discussions on I/P much richer and thought through.

  48. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 9:43am #

    the bifurcation that Wallerstein mentions is very important.

    It is what happens as collapse approaches a species or community. At that moment, a significant shift in direction occurs. In the case of hunting, early hunters would hunt until all the local animals were gone, and move on to other places, but than came the realization that this could not continue, and as that moment was born animal husbandry. No doubt such methods had been tried and tested, but when animals are plentiful, there seems no reason to husband them.

    Cuba did the same thing to get out of the Special Period. What we know is that to make the shift, there are periods of incubation whereby ignored ideas begin to gain favor when collapse is imminent. So, the organic/permaculture work in Cuban universities that had been ignored when cheap oil from the Soviet Union had been creating a false economy finally disappeared, the university incubation paid off – the ideas were taken off the shelf and used to great success.

    So, the same is true of local economies as principles of sustainable living, these ideas have been mostly ignored as corporate globalization has ruled unimpeded for decades and more. Now, we have an opportunity to pull from the incubation of local living economies and begin to use them.

    The big question is, is the US so cynical that seems to dismiss much through tales of conversations with Greens in the mid-80s and talk of making Marx’s dialectics relevent? Or will we seize the moment?

    Perhaps more than any system, it is the joy of living in the faces of Cubans that proved the most beneficial in their time of need.

  49. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 9th, 2009 at 11:46am #

    Brian: What Imperial Benefits? A 175 dollars a month in food-stamp card? Man with 175 dollars you can’t even eat for a whole week. Face it, be realist and think in economic terms. Americans are used to consuming all the time, and to a relatively comfortable lifestyle. In fact, third world country citizens are more conformists than US citizens. What you say about the imperial benefits makes it look like US government is a sort of European Welfare State. But remember that US government is a neoliberal government with very little welfare and social programs.

    Those *real small* imperial benefits, combined with a hyperinflationary situation, combined with the US consumerist lifestyle, combined with high unemployment will trigger social uprising a lot more than third world countries and other countries.


  50. bozh said on March 9th, 2009 at 12:05pm #

    grabbing power to 98 degree from possible 100 degree started long ago; this atribute is quite human. or it became human some 10-100T yrs ago.
    amers are humans; humans have strong tendency to disempower lower classes so as to gain wealth from labor; thus, amers, too, have the same panhuman tendency.

    i know of no society that had freed itself from such bondage. miseducation is not only allowed but enacted into law.
    a child must get ‘schooling’.
    does one think education wld be allowed and enacted into law?
    no, probably never?! but if mns of parents wld demand education for their children, the ruling class might give in.

    that most amers sanctify their constitution, a mere writ, full of verbal brilliancies but without much content or understanding, proves how powerful also miseducation is.
    how was it possible that an ‘ideal’ constitution coexisted with slavery or with bombing of hiroshima?
    very easys; just tell that to 4-6 yr-old child. and you’ve got your serf for a life time.
    and ?all ruling classes and clergy knew that and have applied the method. tx

  51. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 1:44pm #

    Dead wrong Max. You are giving away either your lack of longevity or newness to the Green Movement. I was in two NY Green Parties beginning circa 1986 and in a North Carolina LEFT Green Party for a long time after that. These parties were inspired by the German Green Party that predates them but did not engage in electoral politics. And I don’t know where you are or what angle your Green party takes but early green parties in the US included everybody from witches and vegans to anarcho-syndicalists and Maoists – and every stripe in between. And yes, kooks.

    As for being glib, I first encountered that with your quote: ‘Look we can put a gun to our heads, and just go away (which Barry seems your ultimate solution) or we can face the problem and address it’s underpinnings.”

    So pray tell me: Whose going to own the means of production in your new societies?

    As for early hunters, it is unlikely they ran out of animals. It is much more likely that population pressure necessitated agriculture and animal husbandry. There was no ‘realization’ that animal husbandry should be invented.

  52. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 2:24pm #

    Kahar – Often, conversations take on a life of their own – they leave the article well behind.

    But Jesus was a Jew – both ethnically and religiously. He was not a Christian.

    What is the ‘Jewish myth’?

  53. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 2:28pm #

    bozh – the attribute of humans gaining 100% power probably emerged with the rise of agro-societies about 10,000 years ago and later. Before that, in band societies,there would have been little or no gain from exercising undue power – and perhaps banishment from the group.

  54. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 2:33pm #

    I think talking about the average American as if he or she were in the imperial class is like talking about the privilege of being white in America. It might make sense as analysis – but will gain few adherents in the real world.

  55. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 3:18pm #

    That’s how the national organization describes its beginnings. So, NY may have had its own thing going on, but this is the official site’s version.

    Barry, your comments about hunters is a total lack of having EVER read or studied what anthropologist and others have disciphered. Your thoughts on these matters are glib and empty, in other words pure BS.

    First, I never said that local economics is the total solution. Since you have not followed the discussions around this topic, I’ve made references to community ownership and workers cooperatives as models of proven successful results. These are well documented. Workers’ cooperatives are entrepreneurial, shared risk and provide the means for uniting worker/owner relationship (one and the same). This model can work with sole entrepreneurs who, sell the venture to the workers rather than “going public” or hiring professional management (management class is eliminated).

  56. Barry said on March 9th, 2009 at 4:02pm #

    Still dead wrong, Max. NY did not have its own thing going. There were numerous Green Parties in the US in the 1980s and they were alive and well before I joined them. They existed in virtually every bio-region of the country. Just because they had not formed a national party does not mean they did not exist. In fact, the WHOLE notion of being Green was founded in the need for local politics and NOT becoming a national party. One of the founders in my NY group eventually reversed course and attempted to get support for Green Party candidate for President in the 2004 election. The party founded in 2001 was based in the movements of prior two decades – and in fact, it might be considered that the Greens had almost run their course within a few years of its founding. So if you are going to comment on things Green – do the homework first.

    The work on hunter/gatherers transition to agriculture goes back a long way. It was Esther Boserup who discussed the alpha and the omega of whether population pressure induced agriculture or the reverse. To say that hunters ran out of game is childlike in its simplicity. Downright loopy. Obviously, your B.A. is NOT in anthropology.

    It wasn’t me who accused you of positing local economics as the only solution. As far as ownership of the means of production in a non-band society – the material world – it is either capitalist or socialist – and community ownership is maximally socialist. Stop pretending you’re ahead of the pack.

  57. Max Shields said on March 9th, 2009 at 4:27pm #

    lesson 1: Barry, you can keep saying “dead wrong” till the fuck’n cows come home. I don’t care whether you met up with some neighbors that said they were green. They could have been anybody, talking about anything. I won’t say they didn’t consider themselves politically active and inclined to support green/environment causes. If they were “authoritarian” types they don’t reflect what is consider the Green Party values. That’s fine, but I suggest you stop pawning them off as some kind of EXAMPLE of the Green Party.

    Lesson 2: Barry, I gave an example of bifurcation. Read Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Chapter 13, The Predicament if you want to know where this example is from.

    Lesson 3: Barry, the world is NOT either capitalist or socialist. Sorry, the world existed prior to 1776 when Adam Smith tossed out his opus; and certainly before Marx. Anything that pre-dates these chaps, may have a social/community element or some form of exchange, but it is only in your head “capitalism” or “socialism”. Community ownership, whereby locals own shares in a business is NOT socialism nor is it particularly capitalism. The Green Bay Packers are owned by the people of Green Bay (one rather grand scale example).

  58. Brian Koontz said on March 9th, 2009 at 7:04pm #

    In reply to Tennessee-Chavizta:

    “Brian: What Imperial Benefits? A 175 dollars a month in food-stamp card? Man with 175 dollars you can’t even eat for a whole week.”

    ?? One can have a very healthy diet at between $10-$15 (depending on cost of food in your area of the country) per day, or less if one really works the system. If one is on food stamps one can go to food pantries and find very cheap ways to get nutrition.

    Alternatively, one can live off of rice and pasta and spend *very* little on food, but that results in malnutrition.

    As of late 2003, the global median income is $850 a year. That’s $71 a month. 3 billion people in the world (at that time, the number subsequently has risen to roughly 3.5 billion) make at or less that amount, and would LOVE to have anything close to $175 a month in food stamps. The reason they don’t is that they aren’t living in an imperial economy so instead of stolen resources flowing into their country, they’re flowing out of it.

    The wage of every single American is based on the imperial economy, including that of the self-employed who are paid by Americans linked to the imperial economy. Progressive professors who rail against imperialism are paid by the very imperialists they are railing against, and they rarely refuse the coin.

    Imperial benefits are countless. One example is consumer purchase of manufactured goods. Clothing is made at ridiculously low labor wages, exploited wages in a dominated economy with no rights for workers. Then Americans, many of whom consider themselves to be good people, buy this clothing, thus supporting an extreme form of wage slavery.

    That’s why we need a global minimum wage and GLOBAL rights for workers, to end wage exploitation. Multinational corporations bide by no national boundaries and we must do the same.

    “Face it, be realist and think in economic terms. Americans are used to consuming all the time, and to a relatively comfortable lifestyle. In fact, third world country citizens are more conformists than US citizens. What you say about the imperial benefits makes it look like US government is a sort of European Welfare State. But remember that US government is a neoliberal government with very little welfare and social programs.”

    The US government is a welfare state. Not because it’s kind, but because that’s what it takes to placate the American people. Given that the welfare is a mere fraction of the global exploited value (most of which goes to multinational corporations and by a second derivative to corporate America) it’s the least it can do.

    Western Europe has had various empires, some long before the current one led by the US, and is part of the current Western Empire that dominates the world economically, politically, and militarily. Those economies are also welfare states, and you’re right that they provide their people with greater imperial benefits in many ways.

    “Those *real small* imperial benefits, combined with a hyperinflationary situation, combined with the US consumerist lifestyle, combined with high unemployment will trigger social uprising a lot more than third world countries and other countries.”

    I don’t have a good understanding of revolts in third world countries, which is why I limited my statement to saying that the US will be the last country among Western countries to revolt. Third world countries have very different dynamics and have more differences from country to country than the homogenous Western countries.

    I think you’re right that the third world is likely to be fairly stable through this crisis, for the simple reason that the third world is *already* near their maximum amount of exploitation – if the third world gets much poorer there is mass starvation, reducing the labor supply which the multinationals want to avoid. One way or another the third world will make it through this crisis. The first world may not.

    Bear in mind the reality of the global situation – American workers are much less highly valued than third world workers – American workers (and other Western workers) are seen by high capital as bad slaves – expensive, loud-mouthed, and unruly, requiring welfare to sustain. Third world workers are highly profitable and thus carry “favored slave” status. This is forming much of the background for the current Western banking bailouts and is part of the destruction of the global non-elite rich (what we in the States amusingly call the “middle class”).

    We are approaching a reality where the global elite no longer NEEDS Western slaves. Those slaves may be given a choice – join their global brethren and the very wage structure the Western slaves have supported over the centuries or be cast aside and neglected.

    One would hope at that point that America would revolt. If only America would now stand for global socialism.

  59. Barry said on March 10th, 2009 at 5:56am #

    Dead stupid, Max
    After calling me a liar – I called you on it, you looked up some site and then pretended you KNEW when the Greens started. And then when I called you on THAT, you posted that site as if IT should take the blame for your ignorance. You just don’t know what the eff you are talking about on the Greens. You’re flailing on this now – because you had no idea that just about every book that underlies Green thinking came out of the 20th century – back when the Greens in America were thriving in what may have been close to 100 parties and groups across the nation. Have you never even heard of Deep Ecology or Earth First! Do you think a fair electoral process is their prime motivation?

    Where I come from, Jane Jacobs is hometown reading. If you’ve just discovered her, then a pat on the head for you.

    News for you: Neither Marx nor Adam Smith claim to have invented anything – nor is anyone here claiming they did either. Describing, prescribing, or proscribing relations of production does not mean that person invented it. Do you think people are saying Darwin invented the dinosaurs, Galileo the stars? As far as the Packers go – their ownership has been socialized.

  60. Barry said on March 10th, 2009 at 6:31am #

    Brian – I think that while you are correct in the main, I have a few related points.

    We cannot expect professors to forego wages so as endorse their own penury. No one does that. In fact, I’m sure poor people world-wide would find that foolish.

    The diet you suggest is survivable for say, a 25-year old male. It does not work for mothers, children, the aged, or infirm.

    I’d say the lesser-developed world is not at all stable through this crisis. All across Africa, Nepal and Southeast Asia there is either political turmoil or extreme suppression of that possibility, most of which can be traced to exploited populations with no wage prospects and no political outlets. Some kill their neighbors – some turn to ‘extremist’ groups. Some turn to piracy. Some just die in famines. I don’t think the multinationals care too much about mass deaths in certain parts of the world except as they directly affect primary sector operations. They would care if say, famine, occurred in China right now – that’s their bottomless well of wage-slaves.

    The First World expects to make it through by extracting workers from the masses and making soldiers (a warrior class) out of them to be used against their former class. Allegiance is bought with paychecks, uniforms with decorations on them and camaraderie. That’s how it has worked in Latin America – where armies are not built for attacking a neighboring country.

    African workers don’t usually carry ‘favored slave’ status. Truth is, Africa is terribly exploited without even the benefit of wage slavery for hundreds of millions. People attempt to get by in the informal sector and often are quite marginal to usual capitalist exploitation. Many Africans would like to go thru wage-exploitation instead trying to make it on the streets selling the detritis of over-developed societies. But for recent Chinese attention, much of Africa is a long-term major DIS-investment environment.

    But yes, jobs that were in the US Northeast migrated first to the Southeast or West, then Mexico, then Malaysia (etc) , and now China. The ‘choice’ presented by remaining employers (even in the high-tech arena) is – work cheap or your job will disappear to Asia. Thus we now have lower wages chasing after high-priced goods and the chase has now fallen short – a crisis of capitalism. This is displeasing to the remaining capitalists – the NON-multi-nationals.

    But I think there is little chance the US will stand for global socialism any time soon. Both US capitalists and workers can be expected to cling to their declining share. Lord know how it will play out – and we haven’t even begun to integrate global environmental change.

  61. Max Shields said on March 10th, 2009 at 6:44am #

    Barry, can’t stand a little information? First, I ran for city council on the Green Party ticket so I’m a tad familiar with the party and didn’t need to “look it up” but used the national website to provide you with some information so as to stop your stupid made up crap. Apparently, was of no assistance for the deparately in need of ‘being right’ even when totally wrong.

    As far as Marx and Smith “claims” what the fuck does that have to do with anything? You spend your time here pushing shit with absolutely no basis for much of what you say.

    Barry, economics is a human INVENTION. Dinosaurs are not (am I talking to a two year old?) Socialism is not a natural science (or is it an idiot?). Nor is capitalism (or imbecile?).

    Of course I know what Deep Ecology and it is NOT the USA Green Party, sonny.

    As to Jane Jacobs, so your home town reads her. Great. When are you going to start? Your point is dumb. I gave you a reference and your response is “my home town reads her”. Now that’s smart.

    Green Bay Parkers is a community owned businesses. If you need to see the world in black (capitalism) and white (socialism) that’s your problem. Sometimes the world is just a tad more complex than that ol’ Barry.

  62. Barry said on March 10th, 2009 at 8:37am #

    You ran as a Green-without-a-clue. hank heavens you lost. Imagine thinking the Greens were invented (as you also think socialism and capitalism were invented by two individuals) in 2001. Tsk, tsk.

    You are the one that mentioned Marx and Smith in the same paragraph. I had not said anything about Smith. My point still stands – you are wrong to think that Marx and Smith invented the two -isms. They merely described economies.

    Apparently, the Deep Ecologists and Earth First!ers who used to inhabit the party (among the many you describe as kooks) have come to realize that a party whose ranks are filled with the likes of you will amount to nothing – as you admit. I mean, you do understand that it was possible to be a Deep Ecologist AND a member of a Green Party at the same time, no?

  63. Max Shields said on March 10th, 2009 at 9:18am #

    Barry, you’re lost in your own argument.

    Let me try to explain. I didn’t say that Deep Ecologists were not members of the Green Party. No one does a background check to become a registered Green voter. That said, I’m not questioning YOUR experience, I’m simply saying that the Green Party has 10 very explicit Values which explicitly run counter to your claim of authoritarianism. Does that mean you didn’t run into an authoritarian Green? No.

    Rant all you want about economies as defined by the works of Marx and Smith. They are inventions to suit human needs and wants. These classical economists were also deeply concerned about the moral and ethical aspect of societies (something missing in the neoclassical economists who were focused on mathematical models, void of morality).

    That economic models utilize an understanding (faulty or not) of human nature does NOT make them “discovered” [to paraphrase your point] or simply a description of a “phenomenon”. Economics is about social engineering for the most part (whether for good or ill).

    The fact that at some point humans were communial and leaned toward cooperation, democratic, and than toward hierarchical (empire top down) are simply two swings on a pendulum which demonstrate the flux rather than pre-determination of an economic “system”.

    Marx set out to CREATE a system both from a social as well as an economic perspective. He recognized the major short-comings of the capitalist model, but saw it as a stage to a “higher” level of human existence.

    Both economic systems have led through the introduction of many other factors, to a great chasm between humans and the natural world. Neither set out to do that.

  64. Tree said on March 10th, 2009 at 9:59am #

    Max and Barry, you two have quite a thing going on here. Every time I read your comments I have the mental image of two elks ramming each other in head. It’s like the testosterone is oozing of my computer monitor. May the best commenter win…

  65. Barry said on March 10th, 2009 at 10:13am #

    Maxwell – Jane Jacobs successfully beat back the Lower Manhattan Expressway in the early 60s. In the late 80s she was an inspiration for the NEW YORK GREENS to advocate against building an expressway up the west side of Manhattan that would replace the existing dilapidated structure. The Greens objective was to get the city to restore the marshlands that originally existed until they were backfilled – and to render these marshlands as off-limits to humans so that fish and wildlife would return. When the new highway was finally built it was downscaled from original plans – and provision was made for parkland – though not marshes. A partial victory. NYG was founded by New York Greens Lorna Salzman and Kirkpatrick Sale – both bioregionalists – and you can look them up. So we all know who Jane Jacobs is – and you now do too.

    Community-owned is socialist. Or do you think you are somehow ‘neither right nor left, but out in front’ with this community ownership thing? Nah, you’re just trying to re-invent the wheel.

  66. Max Shields said on March 10th, 2009 at 11:14am #

    Jane Jacobs is more than simply someone who fought ‘city hall’ and won, though her courage and determination was exemplary. I’ve read all of her works and she was an advocate for the city I am from.

    Her understanding of cities and economics is simply brilliant. She, unlike Marx and Smith, is not a grand systems master. I can’t imagine her calling herself a capitalist or a socialist. I don’t think she had much use for dogma.

    I’d suggest, Barry, you actually read her works. Unlike Marx, she’s a clear writer and thinker. (As is the case with Henry George who has much in common with Madame Jacobs.)

    Clarity is important. That Jane Jacobs’s work is approachable is a testament to the clarity of her thinking. But it belies an incredible depth of understanding.

    I find Karl Marx to be a confused thinker, lost in an abstract dialectic probably has its origins in the German school of philosophy – Grand Systems. I use th word “systems” advisedly. These were really grand schemes that played to the academic crowd.

    If you read Henry George – and here I want to be clear I’m not using George as some kind of demigod or ideologue, but purely as a thinker – you’ll see the contrast in his method which was a blend of inductive and deductive reasoning and observation. He was a masterful synthesizer. His language is clear, crisp and clear. His terms are clearly defined and never left to the chance or to a reader’s misapprehension. His mission was equally as clear. He was unfettered by “schools of thought” though he’d read all the classics of his time. He was self-taught and had a keen observational mind. He was not simply hold up in a British library. He lived life.

    Jacobs had a similar journey. Keen observer with an exceptional mind to match and articulate.

    I’m very familiar with Kirkpatrick Sale, but he’s hardly a seminal thinker.

    Why must one choose between left and right? These are legacies of the French Revolution. Like George and Jacobs it’s not about an ism but about a frame of observation. I would take it a step further, it is about emergence. It seems this need to rely on two economic systems has gotten us no where.

  67. Suthiano said on March 10th, 2009 at 12:35pm #


    I think that most Marxists, leftists, etc, have found someone other than Marx who articulates their beliefs more clearly, and most probably read other critics a lot more than they do Marx. Marx remains appealing because he guaranetees the overthrow of our current system (indeed, how very Hegelian of him.)

    Marx, and most ‘Marxists’, are university types, more interested in theory than the material reality they supposedly want to change. Bakunin was criticising Marx along those lines while Marx was still alive!

    However, Jane Jacobs is also ‘adored’ by many who have – perhaps from not understanding? – made many political decisions regarding the city that are indefensible. In Toronto, no one gets elected unless they hail Jane Jacobs as a prophet… same result as calling yourself a Marxist.

    At the core the problem remains the same but in reverse: in Marxism, one must try to go from the grand, systematic (and confusing) to the question of the particular: ‘what do I do today to bring about the revolution?’. With writers like ms. Jacobs, we must go from particular to grand, asking ‘how will decisions at the Federal level effect my ability to govern at municipal level?’, and ‘will it be possible to make any positive change while bigger structures exist?’.

    In Canada, despite electing ‘leftist’ city councils most of the time, and having a multitude of urban planning professors and academics who have read Jane Jacobs, our cities remain in dire straights. Our transit systems, despite being run by ‘leftists’ are falling apart, and spending money on installing more cameras as fares continue to go up.

    Toronto was planning on having an expanded “transit city”, a new light rail expansion for our public transit system. This came out of many years of talking (and need), and a ‘progressive’ council (with many members being direcly, or indirecly tied to the NDP ‘socialist’ party). Now Ontario is running billion dollar deficits and the idea that there is money for this expansion is a joke. At this point its hard to imagine how Toronto can run a transit system at all, considering (this is entirely factualy) that as ridership increases, it actually costs the TTC (toronto transit commission), and thus the City, more! This is because the TTC fare is subsidized by City/province.

    Despite talks of expansion, bus routes have been closed recently, even while people cram themsevles like sardines during rush hours (which last a combined 5 hours of the day).

    I’m not sure if I’ve made any ‘points’, but I think I’ve expressed something.


  68. Max Shields said on March 10th, 2009 at 1:11pm #

    Yes, you’ve made yourself very clear. Thank you. Out of curiosity, if left/Marxists don’t refer to Marx who do they refer to? Marcuse?

    Concerning Jacobs, the irony is she hated urban planners and yet they have flocked to her with grandiose schemes of New Urbanization and Smart Growth.

    I don’t worship anyone. Jacobs is a particular person who made what I think is a very important contribution. Her view of economics hark back to anscient times and she provides an archeologist’s view to urban growth and decay.

    Jacobs view of a healthy city is that it is a fairly “messy” place that people call home. Messy because it grows organically, without regard for sharp edges. There is a school of architecture that swears by her approach to aesthetics. A City is a human community, where living density creates innovation and cultural centers. Where children are reared, not just by parents, but by the community. But the community is not some kind of “socialist” entity, but the neighbor and aunt across the way. Crime is not reduced by having more police, but more well lit places and people who watch out and care for one another.

    But Jacobs was not a Marxist (it’s hard for me to use the two in the same sentence). I don’t think she was particularly fond of capitalism either.

    She was a decentralist, politically, and hated top-down planning. I think she rather liked the thinking of E. F. Schumacher. She would agree with some basic tenets of Smart Growth, but I rather doubt she’d adhere to them as a way to create a city. Smart Growth is a kind of bastardization of Jacob’s work.

  69. Barry said on March 10th, 2009 at 1:30pm #

    You lose Max – YOU accused ME of lying about the Greens – and when I called you on it you’ve been blathering ever since. You had no idea of the history of the Greens – then you belittle that history. Now YOU are trying to tell ME there’s no litmus test for the Greens AFTER I told YOU how varied the Greens had been? and AFTER you denied that there could be authoritarians in the Greens, jeez. You’re swimming backwards kid.

    Who cares if Sale is a seminal thinker or not? You are not one either. He’s a prominent ecologist who was very much involved in the Greens of the 1980s contrary to your statements that the Greens DID NOT EXIST then – and then when you realized your ignorance on this you tried to dismiss it by saying I was talking to neighbors. I guess it’s not enough for you to be in shit up to your ears.

    This from Salzman’s website:
    In 1985 she (that would be Lorna Salzman) co-founded the New York Greens, later called the NY Green Party, and in the late 1990s she ran for Congress and the US Senate on the Peconic Greens and Green Choice parties respectively. In 2002, she was the Green Party candidate for the US House of Representatives in the 1st CD, Suffolk County, Long Island NY. In 2004 she sought the US Green Party’s nomination for president.

    So while we have ALL read Jacobs, some of us were employing her principles while others of us were clueless. Don’t accuse me of lying again. I don’t lie.

  70. Max Shields said on March 10th, 2009 at 1:50pm #


    This is getting embarassing.

    I’ve started 3 non-profits all dedicated to implementing what I’m talking about – and they’re successful.

    If you’re employing her principles, good for you.

    I never called you a lier. I simply said that the national party started circa 1991 and became the USA Green Party in 2001 all of which is after the mid-80s when you were cozying up to the folks in NY somewhere. You went on about how Greens were authoritarian, blah blah blah. Much of which is garbage (that is your experience, which I’m not callling a lie).

    I think you’ve blown the “lying” thing out of proportion. We’ve had some harsh words here. We can disagree on particulars but I suspect we have more in common than many.


  71. Barry said on March 12th, 2009 at 8:16am #

    Max – You say you never called me ‘a liar.’ Well – you did.

    Apropos to prior conversation I had originally said:
    “Having been in Green Parties since the mid-1980s, I’m very familiar with local concepts of governance and economy. ”

    You replied:
    “I don’t what “greens” you’re talking about. It sounds like your talking with kooks, not greens. If you are a US citizen, you may find it interesting to note that the USA Green Party began in 2001 (hardly the mid-80s).

    I then said (and you had a second chance here to take my word on it):
    “I was in two NY Green Parties beginning circa 1986 and in a North Carolina LEFT Green Party for a long time after that. ”

    You replied:
    “So, NY may have had its own thing going on, but this is the official site’s version.”

    I then said:
    “There were numerous Green Parties in the US in the 1980s and they were alive and well before I joined them. They existed in virtually every bio-region of the country. Just because they had not formed a national party does not mean they did not exist.”

    To which you replied:
    “I don’t care whether you met up with some neighbors that said they were green. They could have been anybody, talking about anything.” “…I suggest you stop pawning them off as some kind of EXAMPLE of the Green Party.”
    And then you said: “First, I ran for city council on the Green Party ticket so I’m a tad familiar with the party and didn’t need to “look it up” but used the national website to provide you with some information so as to stop your stupid made up crap.”

    I then said:
    “In the late 80s she (Jacobs) was an inspiration for the NEW YORK GREENS to advocate against building an expressway up the west side of Manhattan that would replace the existing dilapidated structure.”
    And further: “NYG was founded by New York Greens Lorna Salzman and Kirkpatrick Sale – both bioregionalists – and you can look them up.”

    To which you replied:
    ” I’m very familiar with Kirkpatrick Sale, but he’s hardly a seminal thinker.”

    And I then said (regarding your end run around the subject):
    “Who cares if Sale is a seminal thinker or not? ”
    And I posted a quote from the NYG’s co-founder’s site:
    “In 1985 she (that would be Lorna Salzman – Barry) co-founded the New York Greens, later called the NY Green Party… ”

    So then you embark on a mystification PLUS belittling process:
    “I simply said that the national party started circa 1991 and became the USA Green Party in 2001 all of which is after the mid-80s when you were cozying up to the folks in NY somewhere. You went on about how Greens were authoritarian, blah blah blah. Much of which is garbage…”

    And now I’m saying the record of our conversation clearly indicates you saying I was not talking to Greens (but ‘kooks’) because the Green Party started in 2001 (thus my claim to have been in Greens or Green Parties is a lie.) And you referred to my “stupid made up crap.” I then showed you where you were wrong, and so you switched to belittling Green history in addition to ‘my experience.’ Funny that someone running on a Green ticket would do that. And the kicker is that having been presented with this information you still say; “after the mid-80s when you were cozying up to the folks in NY somewhere.” No guy – you are still not getting it. You were wrong from the start about the Green movement in the US, got called on it, but still resort to personal attack rather than face the facts. How ‘green’ is that?

    And we can repeat this sorry scenario with our conversation on Jane Jacobs or with your claim that I said that the “Greens were authoritarian” as well. You got these wrong too.

  72. Max Shields said on March 12th, 2009 at 8:34am #

    Barry, The problem with hashing this stuff is it’s out of context with the back and forth and I don’t have time to go over it.

    If you think I called you a lier, I can’t help that. I’m saying I didn’t but was responding to what you posted at the time regarding the Greens.

    My advise, let it go.

  73. bozh said on March 12th, 2009 at 8:48am #

    shld we alight from discussion what any ism is but dwell mostly and most of the time on what an ism does. and isms are in peoples’ bodyminds.
    and i can’t read a bodymind. nor can i ever know any nervous system.
    consider blair. evem mussolini was a socialist.
    a bodymind might write/say this and that but the meanings are -including meanings of words- locked in bodyminds of people.

    obama verbal brilliancies prove that meanings of what he said was locked in -not so deeply for me as i presaged coming of greater evil] in his nervous system.

    he knew what he meant and knew- like ?all wily priests/pols- that he wld be misinterpreted; i.e, understood in just the right way. tnx

  74. Barry99 said on March 14th, 2009 at 2:41pm #

    I gave you sufficient context. My remarks were about the Greens. Your remarks were ad hominem attacks.