Archive for November, 2010

November 29, 2010

Economic Dialectic and You

by nkwilczy

If there’s one thing I’ve found out in my years on this earth it is that people, and specifically Americans, do not much care for economic dialectic. Well, tough shit, this world is very economic and if I learned anything from the financial crisis it was that those who do not understand economics are getting boned. The easiest way for me to conceptualize and try to explain economics is in the dialectical format. When I was originally interested in this dialectic, in high school, to understand it I read three types of books, Ayn Rand’s pro-capitalist propaganda that was kind of light on economic substance, books like the Gulag Archipelago that were also light on economic substance, and also Marx’s manifesto, which is primarily a introduction to economics with the intent of enraging the audience. So I understand the economic angle as a Marxist dialectic rather than in the manner of Friedman, Von hayek, or Keynes.   This is how I understand it:

To some extent, the problem with communism as it has been practiced on Earth is that the theoretical communist tradition that most are based on, Marx’s work, is not a nationalistic philosophy. It is not intended to be a workable system except as a total world system, what I mean to say is that there is no such practical thing as military communism, the external threats pose too much of a distraction from the work of the proletariat for nationally based communist organizations to succeed. Mao and Stalin both retrofit much of the ideology regarding economics into a nationalistic philosophy that did not seize existing means of productions so much as create and administer new ones. In this way the similarities between communism and capitalism are even more pronounced, if you compare Wealth of Nations and the Communist Manifesto you can see that they posses much of the same message, the nature of the world is economic and the way to gain power and succeed at one’s goals is to dominate the means of production. The primary difference between these two books is the target audience. What this means for Marx’s predictions is that his philosophy has not become so much the post capitalist model as an alternative model to capitalism for establishing industrial development within a country. This industrial development is fundamentally unequal, regardless of the ideological structure that contributes to it’s growth there will be low skill labor contributing to production with the use of various means of production that are managed externally, even if that external management is a ward of the proletariat. Like any manager for stockholders the communist officials have to seek the maximum return on investment, even if it means devaluing the contributions of individual “stockholder/citizens.” This runs counter to our instincts about the nature of communism, but so far as communism ever worked to preserve economic equality it always served to limit civic equality between party members and non members, rural and urban citizens. To some extent in China the system has undergone a transition, with the state extending some civil liberties, such as internal migration rights, in exchange for avoiding some of their formal obligations that previously supported property equality.

It might seem silly, internal migration rights are something that we take for granted in America, but it points to a strength in the communist model. If communism is not so much an inevitable result of capitalism but an alternative method to achieve industrial society and an internal national economy then they both have at their heart the same goal and the same destination, of creating a nation with a robust economy where the population’s demand for food and shelter are met and productive sustaining effort is invested into the means of generating wealth and exchange value. Since this sort of a system is the product of effective synergy between the organization of the state and private actors I consider it best to visualize their final shared goal as lukewarm water, some would probably say tepid but I am an optimist and would prefer to put positive spin on these ideal operational economies. Such things will consist of government regulations to protect consumers, government support for the most integral supporting industries, such as commercial, and I emphasize commercial, banking. But this working economy will also require a large number of private actors to contribute their own effort willingly, and this motivation can most effectively be secured by monetizing self improvement. This lukewarm system will incorporate both philosophies about the means of production into a productive internal synergy for a state, much as it did in the United States throughout the Twentieth Century with large subsidies for the agriculture sector and federal deposit insurance, Interstate Highway programs, Social Security, the FDA, all working hand in hand with private distributors of goods and services who operate without direction from Washington in the name of profit motive, with labor that has a stake in the means of production. Both systems have different capacities to regress and become less stable, with communism because the wards of the proletariat are always so few there are clear and obvious problems of top down corruption, and personal goals preventing positive progress for the citizens. Within capitalism there is the urge to decentralize everything and to avoid central administration in any case, even in those cases where it has previously proven effective at solving obvious problems.

My point about the strength of the communist path in seeking the eventual shared lukewarm goal is that communism, it seems to me, takes the approach of heating the water as much as possible first and then letting it gradually cool to lukewarm, where capitalist democracies work to increase the heat from cold water in order to reach that goal. The difference is that within capitalist democracies every regulation, tax, provision and program, things that might very well be necessary for the economic growth of the country requires a great deal of expended effort in order to enact, popular support has to be found, you have to convince the media, you have to sell it to party whips and combat the influence of moneyed interests. On the other hand it is significantly easier to liberalize a highly controlled society. China, for instance, has to only make minor strides to decriminalize internal migration, and because of the context, the strictly regulated society, they are able to cash in on this liberalization because their citizens will happily forfeit their rations and subsidies and work as migrant labor to increase the Gross Domestic Product. In fact because of the currency manipulation they have little choice but to do so and as of the nineties there were estimates that the migrant labor force was totaling over a hundred million, although no official count exists.

Most proponents of globalization would defend it based on it’s stated goals. Much like the communist and capitalist economic models that preceded the globally integrated model, the stated goal of lowering inequality is a noble one, and to the proponents of globalization those intentions are more than good enough to pave with. But when evaluated in a historical context the question should no longer be one of “why are these systems not creating equality,” because none of these systems exist to create economic or political equality, they have all stubbornly refused to do so every chance they got. The goal of capitalism, communism and globalization is instead something much simpler, these systems exist to create and perpetuate industrial production and to unevenly distribute economic growth, to whom and how are usually the particulars most specific to the system. The people who benefit from the development of globalization as a system to promote global inequality as opposed to those who traditionally benefited from the previous systems, not to discount the presence of former acolytes of both in the globalization camp, are disparate, and those benefits are distributed in ways that are broad and often taken for granted. In fact this is another shared purpose of both systems. Communism engages in their policies, to create and utilize industrial production and agriculture frequently at the expense of individual contributors for the benefit of a broad and disparate base, when capitalist measures are the ones that enact individual cost for broader benefit those intentions are again invoked in order to preserve the moral basis for the system. For that reason I do not believe that capitalism, communism, or globalization are engineered by specific individuals, the so called “haves,” in order to promote the inequality that they benefit from and that each system promotes, I do not believe that it is a scam or scheme or that the wool has really been pulled over everyone’s eyes as it may seem when evaluating the practical implications of my thesis: that globalization exists to perpetuate and promote internal inequality for states. What I believe instead is that these systems of economic management are a product of widespread and multifaceted gradual social development on the part of the entire sum of the human race. These unequal societies have been the basis for successful human societies to date. Jesus said that we would always have the poor, and in the context of both capitalist and communist societies you can clearly see that despite the bounty of this world and our obligation to care for our fellow man we have, one human being at a time through the hourglass of history, decided regardless of the ideology we were given that economic strife and scarcity are the most effective motivations to perpetuate a society of any sort. Theoretically it motivates both the have-nots to seek a higher economic status through the various established perceived paths, party loyalty or capital utilization and investment, and it also motivates the haves to continue behaving in a successful and innovative manner in order to avoid losing that status. These things were less obvious under previous systems, it was easy to blame either industrialists or party officials who benefited most obviously from the systems but with the advent of global integration and the demand side, reduced cost focus of successful retailers such as Wal Mart it is clear that the people who benefit most from these systems are so diverse and disparate that it cannot be understood except as a large scale social development for the purposes of providing food and shelter to anybody who can figure out how to play the game right.

November 26, 2010

Thanksgivin

by nkwilczy

A day late.

I am thankful for healthcare reform. The end to the war in Iraq. My low cost consumer goods from China. And Global Warming.

For real, it might put my birthplace underwater, but it might just make this lattitude tolerable. Fucking winter.

“But if you are born wealthy, then doesn’t being a socialist make you an ungrateful brat?”

“No. I was an ungrateful brat before I was a socialist. That’s exactly why I am a socialist, the world needs to get rid of people like me.”

November 18, 2010

Detox IS real

by nkwilczy

There has been something of the first rumbles of a media blitz that Detox is actually coming out next year (I… admit…. that I watch Eminem interviews when they’re on TV and in those I’ve seen lately he is always running his mouth about working on Detox). I am an optimist, and a huge Dr. Dre fan since I was 12. The man reinvented hip hop. Twice. From the sound of Kush I wouldn’t add a third time quite yet (although God knows hip hop needs a third reinvention from Dre), but it sounds pretty good, it’s about weed and it’s Dr. Dre and Snoop and Detox is real and there.

My personal theory, probably like a year or so ago, was that he was creating a foundation and testing the waters for some sort of new style using Before I Self Destruct:

and, well, Relapse. Well to be fair, this theory was mostly formulated before Relapse dropped and then, well, nevermind. Recovery on the other hand was a much nicer album but the only Dre beat on that album was So Bad. Crack a Bottle wasn’t bad…

But Kush is much better, and since it’s a Dre album and not an Eminem one, Dr. Dre is not tied to the more… well there won’t be a song on Detox about anybody getting raped by their stepfather. I hope not.

SMOKE WEED EVERY DAY.

November 16, 2010

They are Trying to Build a Prison

by nkwilczy

Seven and a half hours before I turned twenty one I was pulled over for smoking a blunt in my car. I had eight more blunts, if they had been measured it would have come to a small, but safe, amount under the half of an ounce that is decriminalized in North Carolina. They were never measured, I had my registration in hand when the officer came up to my car. Since the glove compartment was locked (thank YOU Jay-Z) and the roach of my previous blunt was somewhere far behind us in the middle of I-40 the officer started grasping at any stem he could find, an empty plastic baggie (to prove, incidentally, that “all the weed is gone”), my traditionally terrible balance, his inaccurate assessment of my driving, he decided to use these things to make a case for a DWI. At that point those seven and a half hours were a big deal, and handcuffs jingled on my wrists as we rode into custody.

Before dumping me in a holding cell he asked me the time. He had taken my phone so I initially responded with “You tell me.” But he insisted.

“5:13,” I told him. I had been smoking a 4:20 blunt when he pulled me over and I had a good estimate of how long his shenanigans had taken.

When he checked his watch I was a minute and a half off. I like to think that he had a look of sudden understanding, as though he suddenly knew that I wasn’t actually inebriated at all. But then I was in the holding cell.

The holding cell in Alamance county had a couple of disgruntled guys who made a lot of noise on the telephone to their girlfriends or bondsmen but were otherwise quiet and as antisocial as the situation seemed to warrant.

A portly older man, the sort of individual that we refer to in the south as a “good ‘ole boy,” told me a story about his own processing. Specifically how he had found a handful of assorted and nondescript pills in his pocket at some point before he was searched and had taken the first opportunity to swallow them all in one gulp. I do not know what he was charged with. His eyes bugged out. The top of his head was bald, haloed by long white hair.

I spent a couple of hours talking to a very frightened Mexican boy, a fifteen year old who had been apprehended at a traffic stop on his way to Wal Mart for driving without a license. He told me that he was the primary English speaker in his household and that his mother would not be off work before seven o’clock.

The older gentleman rocked and moaned in the corner. The other inmates yelled at people who could get them out and glared at everyone else.

At seven o’clock, as the boy predicted, he was taken further into processing and I did not see him again. He had voiced a LOT of concern about being deported.

For my part I was not hauled off to county prison or to Mexico. I sat stubbornly in the cell for a full six hours until I was willing to call my parents and admit what had happened. The older guy rolled his eyes and his face went all pale. I assumed he had a prison break scheme involving an overdose until his daughter arrived to bail him out.

The standoffish types, a rainbow of bitterness and self-righteous rage, came and went, yelled at bondsmen, yelled at their families, and spent the rest of their time glaring sullenly at everyone else as though they had a shank, or were contemplating rape.

I couldn’t tell you if that little boy got out. I don’t know if his mother risked the trip to get him out or could afford the bail. I don’t know if the American Immigration system won another of it’s gruesome victories. I admit that I have spent no small amount of time wondering about it since, but it never mattered because I could never have helped him.

November 6, 2010

Keith Olbermann

by nkwilczy

So, I survived the election. Frankly I don’t know what all the whining was about, Pelosi will be speaker again in 2-6 years and she’ll still have a substantial voting bloc there until she retakes it. And the Senate, well, if I were Bernie Sanders I’d be getting ready to filibuster any attempt to add 700 billion dollars to subsidize the wealthiest Americans with money they won’t even use to stimulate the economy, in fact if I were any left leaning member of the Senate. Hell, Harry Reid survived and held on to his leadership position. That’s how I saw Tuesday, not fire and apocalypse, just a tighter margin in Congress, a lot of TALK about Republicans running things now, but you know, things could have been a lot worse, Christine O’Donnel lost. It also seemed to be a hit and miss night for the Tea Party, sure, they got Rand Paul, but a Tea Party Caucus in either house would be pretty lonely.

Keith Olbermann did not fare so well, indefinitely suspended from MSNBC for donating to some campaign. The thing is, you work for a company, you follow their rules, or if you don’t then they enforce the penalties. Sure, the rules are different at Fox, but Keith you don’t work for Fox.

But let’s be clear about this: Keith Olbermann’s show sucks. He’s like a halfassed left wing Rush Limbaugh and nobody is missing out on anything. People were saying “why did he bother sending money when he can just plug them on TV,” but let’s be clear, Olbermann isn’t on Adult Swim, he’s not on Comedy Central, he’s not on MTV. He hosts the Keith Olbermann show on MSNBC and, well, his ratings reflect that, anybody who was watching his show was already gonna vote straight ticket.

I say suspend Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell too, just to try and clean house. Completely rearrange the focus of the network. One editorial show, Rachel Maddow, and then change everything else to straight news, give up on trying to beat Fox at their own game and try to be a real news network, without all the stupid rhetoric. It takes two to tango.

It would only take one hour for Maddow to go over all the talking points anyways, it only takes one hour for anyone to go over the talking points and having a five hour loop of the talking points is not helping anyone accomplish anything and we need to, as progressives in America, change tack.

November 2, 2010

Happy Election 2010!

by nkwilczy

First, since it is a political day, allow me to show you something political that I was introduced to at the Rally, the website of the Unknown Presidential Candidate. There are a variety of political cartoons there that are extremely well done.

I also want to provide some music for the occasion, I always have said that the greatest representation of Brutus and Cassius sneaking up on Caesar at the Senate steps my generation has been given is what Green Day and Blink 182 did to Punk Rock, and for sure, they are traitors, but today, let’s kick it old school anyways, this one is for everyone with no short term memory trying to take us back to the regrettable age of George Bush and Conan O’Brien.

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