politics

/Tag: politics

Orange Skull.

I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travellers, but when asked to kill a relatively anodyne reference to an Orange Skull I realised that perhaps it had been irresponsible to be playful about the dire existential threat we now live with, and I withdrew my introduction.

International fascism again looms large … and the dislocations that have followed the global economic meltdown of 2008 helped bring us to a point where the planet itself seems likely to melt down […] Armageddon seems somehow plausible and we’re all turned into helpless children scared of forces grander than we can imagine, looking for respite and answers in superheroes flying across screens in our chapel of dreams.

Art Spiegelman (re)learns that everything is political.

Timely reminder that the CEO of Marvel donates substantial sums of money to Trump, as well as functions as a political advisor, and is actively involved in censoring any criticism Marvel employees attempt to make about the regime in the name of being “apolitical”.

(Also that last line probably could do with a whole essay of unpacking all on its own because… wow. What a massive, potentially unintentional, neg against the superhero genre. I mean… I’m into it. But also… wow.)

2019-08-19T08:20:57+10:0019th August, 2019|Tags: comics, politics, pop culture, usa|

Thoughts and prayers.

Once there was a nation suffering the plague of gun violence. “Help us,” the nation prayed, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “You shall be provided with the legislative tools to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other wartime instruments of death.” And lo, the nation said, “I’d rather not.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a year or so later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “You shall be provided with the best universities and research institutions in the world, so that you may study the topic of gun violence and arrive at solutions to this public health crisis yourselves.” And lo, the nation said, “Let’s make funding studies of gun violence illegal.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a few months later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “You shall be provided with the best mental health resources in the world, and you shall be provided with wealth beyond compare so that all who are struggling with homicidal or suicidal thoughts will have access to care.” And lo, the nation said, “Sounds socialist to me. Let’s make Medicaid harder to access, not easier. And, oh yeah, our leaders are going to spread hate and xenophobia to give people a reason to commit acts of violence.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a few weeks later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “If you are scared that the Supreme Court will overturn sensible gun laws, if you are scared of the lobbying power of the NRA, then you shall be provided with a way to create Constitutional Amendments overturning the Second Amendment and making it harder for lobbying groups to influence elections.” And lo, the nation said, “A Constitutional Amendment? Sounds kinda complicated. It can’t be done except for all those times it’s been done. Nope.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a few days later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “It seems like many of these shooters are white men. I think you should raise boys differently and look closely at what whiteness does to someone’s psychology.” And lo, the nation said, “How dare you even say that.”

And so God — that’s me — I’m sitting up here going, What the hell is wrong with you?

God (via prophet Chas Gillespie) answers your thoughts and prayers.

2019-08-07T08:22:00+10:007th August, 2019|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|

What we see here is evidence of the only real innovation 8chan has brought to global terrorism: the gamification of mass violence. We see this not just in the references to “high scores”, but in the very way the Christchurch shooting was carried out. Brenton Tarrant livestreamed his massacre from a helmet cam in a way that made the shooting look almost exactly like a First Person Shooter video game. This was a conscious choice, as was his decision to pick a sound-track for the spree that would entertain and inspire his viewers.

Robert Evans on thoughts and prayers.

EtA: Fredrick Brennan, i.e. 8chan’s founder (but not current owner), calls for the site’s closure. The most interesting this from the article, though, is the quote from Cloudflare’s executive Matthew Prince’s statement that Cloudflare won’t revoke 8chan’s customer status because, If we kicked 8chan off our network […] law enforcement would have less visibility into what’s going on. Which is, like. Uh. Way to admit to the world in The New York Times that your company effectively acts as a giant spying apparatus for law enforcement, I guess. (Full disclosure: I also use Cloudflare for most of my sites.)

EtAx2: Apparently Cloudflare has now revoked services and the text quoted above has been removed from the NYT article. I didn’t grab a cap of it but… it was there, I swear!

EtAx3: Cloudflare’s statement:

In the two years since the Daily Stormer what we have done to try and solve the Internet’s deeper problem is engage with law enforcement and civil society organizations to try and find solutions. Among other things, that resulted in us cooperating around monitoring potential hate sites on our network and notifying law enforcement when there was content that contained an indication of potential violence. We will continue to work within the legal process to share information when we can to hopefully prevent horrific acts of violence. We believe this is our responsibility and, given Cloudflare’s scale and reach, we are hopeful we will continue to make progress toward solving the deeper problem.

So-oo-oo… yeah. Cloudflare is spying on the traffic on its network. Whether you think this is justified and/or acceptable is another discussion but… they’re definitely doing it.

2019-08-05T15:48:06+10:005th August, 2019|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, privacy, tech|

Borderwall.

[T]oday, relatively few land borders exist to physically fend off a neighboring power, and countries even cooperate to police the borders they share. Modern borders exist to control something else: the movement of people. They control us.

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on walls.

It’s amazing how freedom of movement seems to increase exponentially in relation to wealth…

2019-02-11T20:15:58+10:004th August, 2019|Tags: politics|

Wealth.

As [Jason] Hickel also points out about the earlier parts of the graph, and as I have pointed out previously, most of “people are making more money” comes from “people were forced off their subsistence farms so that they had to use money to buy what they got from their own labor before.”

[…]

People miss the essential point: it’s not how much money you have. It’s whether or not you have enough food, shelter, clothes and so on. It’s whether you have what you need and some of what you want.

Ian Welsh on money.

2019-02-08T09:01:28+10:0028th July, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|

MarketWorld.

But there is still another, darker way of judging what goes on when elites put themselves in the vanguard of social change: that doing so not only fails to make things better, but also serves to keep things as they are. After all, it takes the edge off of some of the public’s anger at being excluded from progress. It improves the image of the winners. By using private and voluntary half-measures, it crowds out public solutions that would solve problems for everyone, and do so with or without the elite’s blessing. There is no question that the outpouring of elite-led social change in our era does great good and soothes pain and saves lives. But we should also recall Oscar Wilde’s words about such elite helpfulness being “not a solution” but “an aggravation of the difficulty”. More than a century ago, in an age of churn like our own, he wrote: “Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good.”

Anand Giridharadas on philanthropy.

From a longer and very much worthwhile essay on billionaire philanthropy, and related to Giridharadas’s book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, which I really need to get around to reading…

Also, because it probably bears mentioning: in the modern context, comparing capitalists with slaveowning reads as, uh. Maybe something of a Hot Take. But contextually in Wilde’s time it was pretty common; Marx does it quite extensively in Capital, for example, to the point of all-but calling capitalism in general, in which individuals are effectively coerced under threat of starvation to sell themselves, a kind of “socially acceptable” form of slavery for white people.1 Marx’s point, incidentally, was both that slavery and capitalism are terrible institutions, that the drivers behind both are the same, and that the working class should be the ones to stand the most vociferously against slavery in general.2

So tl;dr, you could certainly have an argument as to the appropriateness of the “capitalism is like slavery!” comparison—both Marx and Wilde are, obviously, Extremely White Guys—but the fact that it was a known argument has probably in no small part contributed to the historic tendency of the right to try and do as much wedge politics as possible between the white working class and communities of color. Which, as we’re probably all aware, has been hugely successful for them.3 So… there’s that.

  1. “What the working man sells is not directly his Labor, but his Laboring Power, the temporary disposal of which he makes over to the capitalist. This is so much the case that I do not know whether by the English Law, but certainly by some Continental Laws, the maximum time is fixed for which a man is allowed to sell his laboring power. If allowed to do so for any indefinite period whatever, slavery would be immediately restored. Such a sale, if it comprised his lifetime, for example, would make him at once the lifelong slave of his employer.” Incidentally, this exact system is the generally considered to be the most prevalent form of slavery in modern times.
  2. “Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.”
  3. But has not always been the case, for which ref. for e.g. Alan I. Abramowitz’s The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump, which shows some of the statistical trends as they’ve manifested in the US over time.
2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0021st July, 2019|Tags: politics|

Systemic problems need systemic solutions.

The political project of neoliberalism, brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will.

[…]

At the very moment when climate change demands an unprecedented collective public response, neoliberal ideology stands in the way. Which is why, if we want to bring down emissions fast, we will need to overcome all of its free-market mantras: take railways and utilities and energy grids back into public control; regulate corporations to phase out fossil fuels; and raise taxes to pay for massive investment in climate-ready infrastructure and renewable energy — so that solar panels can go on everyone’s rooftop, not just on those who can afford it.

Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable. Its celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, its stigmatization of compassion and solidarity, has frayed our collective bonds. It has spread, like an insidious anti-social toxin, what Margaret Thatcher preached: “there is no such thing as society.”

Martin Lukacs on collective action.

This is a long excerpt, but one that always bears repeating: individual consumer actions cannot address systemic issues, and convincing you they can is neoliberalism’s greatest trick.

Stop freakin’ falling for it.

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0019th July, 2019|Tags: environment, politics|

Gravitas.

Let’s dig into “gravitas,” because it’s an ambiguous word, selectively applied. Ever wonder how expression that’s feminine, working-class, queer, or POC isn’t deemed as having “gravitas”, but talking like an Aaron Sorkin character does? Men have “gravitas,” women get “likeable.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on words.

Ocasio-Cortez is specifically namedropping Sorkin here because she’s saying this in response to some of his dipshit comments. Also, The West Wing is still a bad show and that’s a take I will now and forever stand by.

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0016th July, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|