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Posts by Larry Gambone

ISIS – Made in the USA

Kevin Carson hits the nail on the head - as he always does - and exposes the role the US state and its British satrap played in creating the islamo-fascist terrorist group, ISIS. See http://c4ss.org/content/29482

Flight MH-17

Amid all the hate-mongering by the media about Flight MH-17, it is a relief to read an objective report. For anyone naive enough to believe the mass media, remember the lies that led up to the US attacking Iraq.
See http://cluborlov.blogspot.ca/2014/07/fact-free-zone.html#more

The Craftsman Bungalow



No style is better suited to the environment of the Pacific North West as the craftsman house. This concept of house design grew out of the arts and crafts movement initiated by the libertarian socialist William Morrisin the late 19thCentury. The idea was to build solid, tasteful houses of local materials that fit into the environment.
 
Fit in they did. Constructed of lumber and stone, they had steeply pitched roofs and wide eves for the rain. Deep verandahs on the front and sides provided natural air conditioning in the summer and an outdoor room in the mild but wet months. The houses were placed near the street and with the front porch made for easy communications with passers-by and thus helped stimulate community. The slight set-back meant for a large back yard on an otherwise small lot.
 
Most of the craftsman bungalows were one and a half stories high, allowing for upstairs bedrooms. Such compactness once again allowed for a smaller lot. It also meant that construction costs were cheaper than a sprawling one story structure. An extra four feet of wall costs far less than an 20 feet of roof and concrete foundation. Since heat travels up, these bedrooms cost less for heating. The problem of hot rooms in the summer could be offset by window placement and awnings.
 
The more expensive craftsman are truly a joy to the eye. Stained and beveled glass above the windows and the front door. Oak doors, wainscotting, stonework and stone fireplaces were common. This is a style that was never ostentatious, phony or tawdry, unlike some of the houses that came later. If the owners were trying to send a message to passers-by, it was one of good taste, modesty and decency.
 
Craftsman were built roughly 1905-1930, though I have seen houses dating from the 1940s still influenced by them. This perfect West Coast style was replaced by the idiocies of fashion and design disconnected from theenvironmental and social necessities. First came the ersatzSouthern California Spanish style of flat roofs and pseudo adobe. So perfect for our rainy weather. Then the phony ranch house, sprawling across the enormous lot, now needed. Today, the hideous, vinyl-clad, three car McMansion, a true monument to bad taste, bad planning and poor construction.
 
The depths of this idiocy wereplumbed with the “leaky condo crisis” here in BC. The building regulations were set for dry Manitoba and not the wet coast. Naturally the condos leaked. Thanks to the criminality of corporate law, those responsible for this travesty were never held to account and the poor devils who purchased condos had to cough up for the highly expensive repairs.
 
The change in house style mirrorsperverse socio-economic change. From solidity and modesty to trashy, disposable show off. This represents the corporatization of society, something largely absent in 1905. Alienation is at the core of corporate domination, so it should be of no surprise to you that the front porch had to go and the houses were deeply set back to eliminate communication. The sprawling house needs a bigger lot and so the cost was driven up. The garage, at one time hidden in the back lane, is moved to the front and it its latest manifestation, the snout house, obscures the dwelling completely. Neighborhoods begin to look like industrial parks. This shouldn't surprise you, given that the corporatist mentality is essentially totalitarian.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Craftsman

The Primacy of Politics in the Libertarian Revolution


The primacy of the economic struggle was a result of a rather mechanical economic determinism. While it is crucial in a revolutionary situation that workers occupy the means of production, that alone is not enough. We saw this in Spain in 1936, the workers took over the factories and the peasants the land, but failed to smash the state. Thus the revolution went only so far, quit and then was defeated by its enemies.
 
Hence, the old Socialists were right about the primacy of the political. They just had the wrong form of politics, reducing the concept to that of parliament alone. (Since the 1960s we have known that “everything is political”) In turn, the old time syndicalists reduced politics to the parliamentary and claimed to be anti-political, even though such actions as free speech fights and attempts to liberate class war prisoners were clearly political in nature.
 
The revolution is thus a political act (more likely a series of political acts) backed by economic power. The political minus the economic means a futile revolt. The economic minus the political means at best a few reforms, but more likely a vicious counter-revolution. Both the political and the economic have to work together. Workers councils unite both, as do neighborhood assemblies working together with syndicalist union locals. The goal is popular power through assemblies and delegation. (My translation of the term and concept, poder popular, crucial to the South American anarchist program.)
 
As well as syndicalist unions, a revolutionary political organization must exist. The revolutionary organization seeks not to control the population or the revolutionary process, but merely to: 1. prevent hostile, reactionary and authoritarian elements from seizing power, 2. push the movement to smashing the state and replacing it with popular power.
 
The assemblies, both neighborhood and workplace, delegate power with instantly recallable delegates to municipal, regional, provincial and national levels – as needed. Most effort will be expended at the neighborhood, municipal and regional levels, unlike the reverse situation today with the state and its top-down bureaucratic procedures. The assemblies thus destroy the state and replace it with direct democratic popular power.
 
The experiences of the German and Russian Revolutions, as well as the Occupy Movement have shown us the potential problems and the means to offset these problems. The assemblies – at all levels – must be run by modified consensus procedure, or at the minimum, a “super democracy” requiring two thirds, or three quarters majority. A system of simple majority at the assembly level would create a great danger for the revolution. Reactionary elements who seek to disrupt the movement and vanguardists who seek to propel themselves into power and reconstitute the state, are masters at manipulating simple majority democracy.
 
Every group has the right to exclude those hostile to it. Assemblies should have constitutions or points of agreement specifying that the assemblies are open to only those people who agree that the assembly shall be the means of governance. Those opposed to the assembly concept must be excluded. 

Political parties may become involved in the assembly so long as they publicly express the primacy of the assembly in writing. Thus, counter-revolutionary and authoritarian vanguardist elements will be effectively excluded from the assemblies and popular power will not fall victim to their machinations. (And as well, the revolutionary organization(s) will be working to expose and quarantine such elements.)

Not Dear Old Uncle Heinie! Compartmental Thinking and The Politics of Domination



Sociopaths are attracted to power hierarchies, but this is not our only problem. Dominator class sociopathology does not fully explain the crimes committed against humanity and the biosphere. Not all individuals, or even a majority of those involved in power hierarchies are sociopaths. The majority are skilled mental compartmentalizers. Compartmentalization involves splitting theemotions and morality in two. With friends, family and “acceptable people”, one acts humanely, with the victims, one is only limited by the orders of a superior officer or manager.
Not dear old uncle Heinie!” was how Heinrich Himmler's extended family greeted the news that he was the architect of the Holocaust. With his family, Himmler was a nice guy. Yet at work he could murder millions. So too, the Argentine military officer who would pat his baby's head with the same hand that an hour ago tortured an 18 year old student to death. So too, the stock manipulator who deliberately wrecks a business, throwing thousands out of work, then has an amiable game of golf with his friends.
 
Almost everyone in a position of authority will compartmentalize when ordered to do something cruel. A tiny minority will refuse and some will go insane when forced to commit crimes against humanity, but the vast majority will do what they are told. Compartmentalization is normal with people of an authoritarian upbringing. It is, like the associated condition of denial, a typical survival strategy of abused children. This is also one of the reasons many abused, in turn, become criminals and abusers or are attracted to positions of authority. It is much easier to bully or commit crimes when one has compartmentalized from infancy.
 
The key element in getting people to easily compartmentalize is the dehumanization of the victims. The “average” person finds great difficulty in assaulting, torturing or murdering their fellow human beings. One of the goals of military training is to overcome this aversion. Propaganda is used to make the alleged enemy out as subhuman, not worthy of any sympathy, to be killed like a vicious wild animal. Hence the soldiers on the other side are not considered soldiers, but Huns, Boshe, Slopes, Gooks, Sand Monkeys etc.,
Demonization is an important tactic, Communists and anarchists are not people who want a better world for the workers, but monsters destroying civilization. Environmentalists are crazies who wish take your car away etc., Unworthy of any consideration, and at the same time deemed highly threatening, these imaginary devils in human form kick the reptile portion of the brain into high gear. Away flies any empathy and down come the clubs, the electrodes are clamped to the genitals, and the machine guns roar.
 
How can we help overcome this problem, and at the same time weaken the hold that irrational authority has over a significant portion of the population? We must make people aware of compartmentalization, which means encouraging greater self-awareness. We must continue to encourage libertarian parenting and pedagogy and fight child abuse in all its many forms and rationalizations. We must continue to encourage the questioning of authority and the undermining of the mass media hate propaganda that demonizes the system's latest targets.


Why People Reject Politics


Most people are disconnected from the political process. They are this way not from ignorance or malevolence, rather the political process is completely at odds with their daily lives. This even goes for, and perhaps especially for, people who are otherwise highly political – the activists in the environmental, anti-war and anti-corporate movements.
 
Think of your friends and family. How long would they tolerate you acting like a politician or a government? So much of politics is the opposite of how we are. The manipulation to get us to vote for them, the dishonest attacks on each other, the lobbying, the hostility to dissent – we don't treat each other this way. They would turn their backs on you if you consistently lied, bullied, and scammed them, the way politicians or governments do as a matter of course. If six friends decide to go out for dinner together, they do not appoint one of them to decide which resto and force the others to eat there if they hate that kind of food. Instead, they would find an eating place acceptable to everyone.
 
The organizations we do belong to – reading circles, singing groups, neighborhood associations, folk clubs, activist groups - work in a more consensus-based and egalitarian way. With government the prime minister or president picks a cabinet who then bully the MPs into line. To hell with the people if it is something the leaders want to do. If we object they send in the police or the army to crush us. This is not how we run our organizations, and if anyone even attempted such behaviour they would be shown the door.
 
Aside from government and the work place, we live our lives horizontally. Government (and work) are organized in a top-down, hierarchical manner – the minority at the top telling the mass what to do and punishing them if they don't obey.
 
As for us, we tend to live ever more horizontally as time progresses. A hundred years ago, almost everyone lived in a hierarchy based upon race, gender, class, religion and age. Anglo-Saxons bullied all the other races and ethnic groups, men dominated women, age dominated youth and Christians persecuted non-Christians. Anyone who worked with their hands was deemed inferior. Child-rearing and pedagogy were exercises in emotional, verbal and physical abuse. Today with the democratic family, a leveling of race and religious hatreds, a less misogynous attitude toward women, we treat each other in a much more egalitarian and respectful manner.
 
We are more or less stuck with our work relations, its either work for a boss and all the authoritarian, hierarchical goop that goes with it, or live a life of poverty. While we can not avoid work, we can avoid politics. There is nothing forcing us to vote or support a political party. So people are free to shun politics, i.e., that which is foreign and disgusting to them. (1)
 
1.The turning away from politics is part of a greater process of withdrawal. Though still a minority, many people have turned their backs on war, GMO's, the mass media, crass consumerism, etc.

What Is Not Being Said About Bullying



Bullying is extremely destructive and leads to a host of social problems. The ruin of a child's self esteem in this manner can lead to everything from under achievement to substance abuse and suicide. It is an important step forward that schools have finally recognized this problem and began combating bullying.
 
Problem is, these steps do not go far enough, to the root cause. Nor can they, for to do so would bring into question the very nature of the system we live under. Politically and economically, this system is based  and run  on bullying. As long as you give in to the bully, you will get off lightly. Try to stand up for yourself and the beating commences. So too in the adult world of work and politics. A tiny minority own and control the wealth of society and this wealth in turn allows them to control the system of government. The workplace is not a democracy, but an autocracy where you are ordered around. If you should disagree, you are threatened and often subject to verbal abuse. If you challenge the system, the state will be used to suppress you, which can entail verbal bullying, assault and kidnapping. (arrest and possible prison) Any minority that questions the system's methods or priorities will be subject to insults and abuse in the media. This may lead to gullible members of the public verbally or physically assaulting the minority or engaging in some other sort of bullying.
 
Consider as well our political system. Less than 40% of the electorate can force their views upon the remaining 60%. And force they will cheerfully use, the police and the army if need be. If this isn't bullying, what is? The only way to end this political bullying would be to institute a more consensus-based system.
 
Furthermore, hierarchies engaged in domination, such as management, police, military, prison or any other bureaucracies that deal with the public, tend to attract bullies. This is not to say that everyone, or even a majority of those involved in such hierarchies, are bullies. A large enough minority will be found in these institutions to make life hell for those who get in their clutches. The highly authoritarian and “tribal” nature of these institution's culture will also mean they will be all but impossible to root out. (Think only of residential school victims, borstal inmates, police women and women soldiers and what they have had to put up with in trying to get their voices heard.)
 
The only way to truly eliminate bullying is to eliminate the authoritarian social relations that create this abuse.

European Elections and the US Empire – various articles

Totalitarianism US Style – neoliberalism as a totalitarian ideology and its 
destruction of democracy and society in general:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/an-interview-with-henry-giroux-on-democracy-in-crisis/

The end of US domination as Russia, China and other countries get together:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/the-birth-of-a-eurasian-century/

An excellent overview of the European elections and what the future might 
hold for the neo-liberal right's attempts to destroy living standards and roll 
back social reforms:
http://www.marxist.com/the-meaning-of-the-european-elections-2014.htm

Ten lessons from the European elections and how Russophobia didn't pan out:
http://rt.com/op-edge/161936-lessons-european-election-russophobia/

Another good analysis of the European situation:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11917&updaterx=2014-05-28+14%3A30%3A00

Why the Dominators Hate Direct Democracy


Representative democracy, such as exists in Parliament and Congress, effectively isolates people. Once ever four or five years you get to have your five minutes of democracy, casting your vote for one group or another, groups over which you have zero control. Meanwhile, you have been subject to a 24-7 propaganda bombardment from the media. This onslaught works upon and bolsters your fears, anxieties and prejudices. In isolation, both at home in front of the TV and later the ballot box, you are more likely to vote against your own interests  with knee-jerk fears and prejudices.
 
Direct democracy links individuals, involves them in discussion in an assembly. Issues are debated, and without the censorship and demonization indulged in by the media, people can hear other viewpoints and make their own decisions. Fence-sitters can be swayed by the assembly in a positive direction, whereas in isolation and subject to propaganda bombardment, they might support policies that work against their real interests.
 
Direct democracy can only function in a relatively small group – no more than a few thousand people. This means a community or neighborhood assembly, and thus questions get discussed in relation to the needs and desires of that community and are not abstract debates at the provincial or national level. Positive NIMBY can take place. A possible example – no one wants a nuclear waste dump in their community, but in a national referendum they might allow one if they thought it might be put somewhere other than their region. If the vote was by community only, there would be no nuclear waste dumps allowed anywhere.
 
It isn't hard to see why the dominators hate direct democracy. Their power to dominate would quickly fade. The claim that right-wingers sometimes make that direct democracy is a form of tyranny is easy to understand. It seems like tyranny to them, because they are no longer in control and telling us what to do. Our freedom is despotism to them. Their freedom can only rest upon our servitude.

Stolen Utopia – The Real Cost of Neoliberalism




Back in 1970 there was a low or non-existent government deficit and all the social reforms such as health care, pensions and unemployment insurance existed. We had the 40 hour week, paid vacations and statutory holidays. Indeed, we were better off back then, since UI has been savagely cut back and ,many other programs and services wrecked or terminated. All of this was done on a 1970 economy, but the economy today is 2-3 times larger, and we are told that cut backs must happen because “we can't afford it.” How is it we could afford reforms in 1970 but not now with a much larger economy? Do you smell a rat? I do.

The secret of how we have gotten screwed boils down to two different, but connected, issues:
 
The first is that the mega-rich and their corporations are not paying the same tax rate as back then. The govt has slashed taxes to its pampered puppet masters, and if that isn't enough, these same spoiled brats have taken up tax fraud in a big way, pretending their money is made in Bermuda or the Caymans. The govt, of course, has done nothing to stop this racket. The greed creeps are simply no longer willing to pay for that long list of government granted privileges that made them ricos in the first place. By this I mean privileges such as the corporation as fictitious person, limited liability, patents, corporate welfare and the magic money machine called a bank charter.
 
The second has to do with the Bank of Canada. Back in 1970 it still did what it was originally designed to do – lend money to the govt. at no interest, instead of borrowing from financial markets at high interest. (This was in large measure how Canada managed to pay off the massive cost of WW2 and build all that infrastructure in the 1950s and '60s without incurring a crippling debt.) The high interest charged since then by private lenders to Canadian governments has effectively crippled these institutions. The connection I referred to earlier? The private financing of government debt replacing the BofC was a gift to the banks and other financial corporations, i.e., the richest members of our society.
 
With 2-3X the economy, the BofC doing its rightful jobs, and the wealthy paying at least part of their way, we should be stacking up massive government surpluses. Or, that wealth could have been converted into reforms that in our present stage of degradation would seem pipe dreams. Guaranteed Annual Income? Easy! Retirement at 55? Why not? Four day work week? Let's do it. Free university tuition, free public transit? No sweat. This is the real crime of the neo-liberal counter-revolution - depriving us of a virtual social democratic utopia.