Monday, February 28, 2011

The Value of Secrecy in an Era of Excessive Sharing

1) The euphemism is the art of the open secret. If translation means (among other things) transferring meaning from one linguistic context into another, and metaphor means (among other things) transferring and connecting meaning from one sensory/physical context to another, the euphemism is much cheaper, debased: saying one thing but meaning another. The metaphor, simile or translation's meaning can be obscured, but its nature as metaphor/simile/translation is never in doubt. The euphemism, however, has an incredibly clear meaning, but only once you recognize it as euphemism. When millions of voters talk about state's rights and small businesses they genuinely believe they are not talking about race and tax cuts for millionaires: because they do not access the embedded truth, for them the euphemism qua euphemism does not exist: it is only a lie. Just as internet data does not exist until it is called up by the user, a euphemism only becomes itself when its embedded truth is accessed. The euphemism is the lie that tells the truth. The euphemism is the criminal hidden in plain sight. The euphemism is the public secret.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Walkers of the World: Die!

Ryan Harvey is posting videos from the worker occupied capital building. Incredible stuff. The police have been ordered to remove protesters from the capital building at 4 O'clock today. While some (as above) have joined the protesters and are refusing the orders, it appears that others may well kick the people out. A vital revolutionary moment: are they Cops or workers? Each will have to make his choice.

Videos have shown joy reigning from Tahrir to Sanaa to Madison. Anger brings the crowd together, but the revolutionary crowd cleanses anger of its impotence, self-destruction, and futility, and reveals the truth: anger is happiness repressed. Remove societal denial and anger expresses itself as laughter, not violence.

I was a fool, believing in the joyous revolutionary expression of violence as the main tool. Where it is defensive it is right, but the idea that violent revolution is the only possible revolution comes from an impotent (if accurately targeted) rage. I can only speak for myself in this moment of revelation, but my belief in violent revolution had many critical weak points: a desire for self-destruction, suicide by cop; a misogynist appraisal of the possibility of class war; reading critical revolutionary material which at its newest was over 40 years old; the fascistic action movie fantasy that one man with a gun can change it all; the meeting of a personal failure, laziness viz responsibility, with a revolutionary theory that eschews work for pleasure; a knee jerk contrarianism to the pacifism that so badly failed our parents; a mythologizing of myself to hide my own existential meaninglessness.

If you look closely, you will see almost all of these failings emerge from the self-idolatrous bourgeois myth of the college student: I accepted violence into my heart when I was materially the furthest I would ever be from it. No one is more impotent, coddled, and confused than the American college student.

The people of the Middle East are holding a daily master's class. The people of Wisconsin reinvigorate democracy. No revolutionary violence except defensive violence. The strength of the people, silent, present, engaged, and joyous, is enough to overthrow any tyrant.

When change is power's mantra, consistency is strength.
When day old news is old news, we must become ancient.
When brevity is king, we must speak in paragraphs.
When discourse is a wall of noise, silence is power.
When the system is fast, fluid and strong as the wind, the people must become a forest.

Proletariat Grows Their Muscles

When public schools cut sports budgets, the kids still need, still want to exercise. But look around you, know any private soccer clubs? How many times you seen a football gym? Private sports means combat sports means the kids are learning to fight, they're learning the value in the fight and the strength in their hands.
Look around you, crumbling public structure tailspin, it destroys part of us yes but solutions arise in the gap left by tradition.
Show a man his weakness and he may crumble. Show a class their weakness and they'll find their strength.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We are all Slumlords

"If we choose to pry culture away from capitalism while the rest of life is still capitalistic, culture will become a slum." -Jaron Lanier, You Are Not A Gadget

We are witnessing the slumitization of culture, but Lanier, though he makes the vital observation, misses the cause, because, of course, he is a techno-capitalist. He argues that the structures of web design that have become embedded (as web 2.0) are the problem, and that a different web culture/design would save us from such de-capitalisation of culture. He argues again and again that such design (in particular its emphasis on free hive mind culture) is arbitrary, not inevitable. Fair enough, but we cannot refight the battles freedom has already lost. (The regret/nostalgia based desire to refight old battles reflects the inherent conservative bent within leftist thought). Lanier sees how intellectual tech savy leftists can so easily be coopted into a philosophy of repressive culture slumitization, but fails to understand that this slumitization in fact benefits techno-capitalism (because he believes that capitalism is basically benevolent), that capitalist society has been attempting to turn culture into a slum for 50 (if not 150) years, that culture was politically irrelevant well before the dot com bubble.

Of course, what Lanier wants is just the reestablishment of a capitalistic cultural middle class, the destruction of which the internet has certainly hastened. But true revolutionary art or culture may only become viable once middle class cultural production has been destroyed. The question is, are we in the techno-repressionary endgame (Skynet) or are we headed for 365 Tunisias?

Art is dead, but Lanier makes an excellent argument for protecting its corpse.

"Digital Maoism doesn't reject all hierarchy. Instead, it overwhelmingly rewards the one preferred hierarchy of digital metaness, in which a mashup is more important than the sources who are mashed. If you have seized a very high niche in the aggregation of human expression- in the way that Google has with search, for example- then you can become super powerful..."Meta" equals power in the cloud." -79

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wasted Ideology: Silence is Golden

In the 21st century, only one mode of address constitutes political strength: silence.

Talking about talking (or, if you prefer, discussing the discourse, taking on the media) is inherently conservative. You condone torture the minute you argue about what it is called. (And yes, that absolutely means this post is conservative.) By failing to discuss historical events, but rather addressing the discussion about them, the left has colluded with Fukuyama's premise. Rather than put events in historical context (even events as purely historical as 9/11 or Katrina) the impulse from the left has been punch-drunk argument about public discourse. Goebbels was a fool when he said "tell a lie big enough...", because that requires much too much effort. All you need to do is question the truth loud enough and long enough, especially when your enemies are naval gazing neurotic cowards.

Think of the silent treatment, used to torment children for generations. When applying the silent treatment, you do not shut up completely, but rather stop speaking to one person: the punished, the treated. Failing to respond is a show of strength, not apathy but power. Apathy means allowing the enemy to say whatever they want and receding from the public space. Power means silently rolling over their objections.

If we've learned one thing in the last 30 years its that arguing is useless. If we've learned one thing in the last 30 days, it's that true strength comes from abstaining from dialogue. Though the people in Tahrir and Tunisia were sonically loud, their statement was bodily, silent. "We will not leave until you go". That was all. Over and over Mubarak tried to address them, to appease them, to speak to them. They did not respond, except perhaps with boos. They said nothing until he had left, other than "we will not leave". And "we will not leave" was not said by leaders, or press releases, or fliers, or manifestos, or speeches. It was said by action alone. They did not leave, until he could not stand the silent treatment any more.

And in Wisconsin, when the vote to destroy public unions came around, did the Democratic congressmen argue their point rationally, hoping to sway Republicans? No, they fled to another state, thus not even having the silent presence to allow abstaining votes to allow a quorum. They disappeared completely, went as silent as possible, and suddenly the right was powerless. They couldn't shout them down, couldn't force them into agreement by public shaming, and Republicans were left with their shriveled white dicks in their manicured hands.

When discussion is loudest and most heavily valued, true power means never saying anything at all. One silent action is infinitely more valuable than a thousand blog posts. Be a tree.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Arabs Teach Americans How to Fight For Freedom

"The images from Wisconsin — with its protests, shutdown of some public services and missing Democratic senators, who fled the state to block a vote — evoked the Middle East more than the Midwest.

The parallels raise the inevitable question: Is Wisconsin the Tunisia of collective bargaining rights?"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Al-Shaab Yoread Isqat Al Nizam!

Though the chant remains the same in Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Iran, the New York Times has started translating it "The people want to topple the government" rather than its actual translation "The people want to topple the regime."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Revolution's Indelible Spread


Obama Recognizing Hypocrisy

President Obama accused Iran’s leaders of hypocrisy for first encouraging the protests in Egypt, which they described as a continuation of Iran’s own revolution, and then cracking down on Iranians who used the pretext to come out on the streets. He then urged protesters to muster “the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government.”

But speaking to other restive countries, including Bahrain, Mr. Obama directed his advice to governments, not protesters, illustrating just how tricky diplomacy in the region has become. He said his administration, in talking to Arab allies, was sending the message that “you have a young, vibrant generation within the Middle East that is looking for greater opportunity; and that if you are governing these countries, you’ve got to get out ahead of change. You can’t be behind the curve.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Drunk Politics: The People Are Nothing Without TV

Look how eagerly the media claims credit for the work of the people.
The media is the most desperate watchdog of all. No story is about the actions of people, but about the "actions" of the media. Every narrative becomes either a "he said/she said" fight between "politicians" that appear on television or in writing, or an argument about which format of the media (Social Networking, Al Jazeera Television, Google, Twitter, Anderson Cooper, etc) was most directly responsible for the news.
What the Egyptians and Tunisians have shown us is that the media will bend to the will of the people when it is strong enough.
The people are the strongest force on earth, bar none. The right believes it is the military. They are ten times smarter than the left, who believe it is the media.

The right is more capable of effectively employing the media, because they do not give it a godlike status of truth and beauty (name a single lefty who wont wax fucking poetic about Edward Murrow or Bob Woodward or Jean-Luc Godard or Slavoj Zizek: but can't name a single politician or world leader who they admire in that time period) they merely embarrass the left by accusing them of predictability. The left, perverted by years of identity politics and self righteous 'counter-cultural' indivualism, hate to have someone else define their position. Because of the permanent adolescence of liberal cultural thought (ie: rebellion means just doing the opposite of what your parents say) the American right wing can win a fight just by taunting the left. The right can get the left to do whatever they want just by accusing them of the truth.
Here is the extent of the political dialogue between the right and the left over the last 20 years:

R: You support the poor!

L: How dare you! You don't know how I think. Watch this, I'll just end welfare and slash food stamps and raise consumer taxes and lower corporate taxes and cut funding to infrastructure while raising spending on pointless violence abroad.

R: You support the poor! And Blacks!

L: How dare you! You don't know how I think. Watch me endorse torture and smash whistle blowers and end unemployment insurance and lower corporate taxes and lower taxes on the rich and extend state secret privileges and fire teachers and firemen and policemen so that I can cut estate taxes.

R: You support the poor! And Blacks! And Mexicans! And women!

L: I've really had enough out of you! I am just absolutely not going to take these insults anymore! I am so sick of you bullying me, that I am just going to increase military spending and tighten border security, say nothing about gun control no matter how serious or dramatic the gun killing becomes, euphemistically reach out to small businesses, attack unions, and apologize for all the times I've ever masturbated.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Great Euphemisms of the 21st Century

Threat Level
No Child Left Behind
Change We Can Believe In
Homeland Security
Social Networking
Enhanced Interrogation
Jobless Recovery
Weapons of Mass Destruction
End of Combat Operations
Smart Phone
Small Businesses

"You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." -Donald Rumsfeld

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011