March 27, 2008
The New Totalitarianism of the Market
lifted from a comment
the walls, the ghettoisation, the collective punishment, the
disproprtionate force - these are all lessons straight out of the nazi
occupation of the east or rotterdam for example - petraeus is their
Random Morning Thoughts ...
I think it is an unbroken historical legacy, a continuous process of
the industrialisation of warfare and extermination, a confluence of the
ideas of "hygienic" chemistry and nationalist / militarist / masculinist
obsessions. That continuity is obfuscated by our nationalist
educational systems, which "take sides" and portray e.g. the Nazis as
an ahistorical blip, a weird moment of pure Evil, rather than as
participants in an historical continuum of refinement and "improvement"
of the tools of occupation and control.
The Nazis studied the Boers and British methods in Africa; W
Churchill recommended the use of the then-novel "poison gas" on African
indigenes; the Nazis practised modern warfare on the Spanish
revolutionaries (and the US and UK governments also backed the Franco
regime); Guernica was a trial run for the Blitzkrieg theory and modern
aerial bombardment, but bright minds on all sides were already thinking
about the possibilities as soon as the first dirigibles flew.
poison gas of WWI trench warfare was based on insecticidal chemistry,
and after the war the insecticides were 'improved' based on the vast
profitable "experiment" of trench warfare; come the Nazi regime and the
gas used to murder Jews en masse in the camps was a pesticide.
revolving door of CEOs becoming senators and senators becoming CEOs,
the technology used to slaughter "lower life forms" en masse rotates
between deployment against invertebrates and deployment against
despised human beings redefined as lower life forms. The basic idea of
achieving cleanliness and closure by mass slaughter never changes. Collective punishment, collateral damage -- just another way of
describing "bycatch" or "side effects" or "overspray."
The victorious Allies grabbed and studied the notebooks of the Nazi
merchants of horror, and gave special postwar protection to Nazi
scientists who might be useful in further developing the tools of
occupation and liquidation for "the good guys" (as if there were ever
any good guys in this filthy business) -- as Tom Lehrer noted in his
Ballad of Werner von Braun.
The Israelis studied apartheid South Africa as
a textbook example of how a small Euro/White minority could control a
larger colonised, indigneous nation... The ironies, the hypocrisies,
the tragedies are endless. What goes 'round comes 'round, over and over.
The historical arc of industrial warfare is transnational,
supranational. Krupp sold to all sides, as has every arms merchant
before and since. The escalation ("arms race" is a classic games theory
model) is endemic, structural, inevitable without strong intervention
in deliberate, organised opposition to imperialism and profiteering. The walls, the ghettoisation, the collective punishment, the disproportionate force
are the face of Taylorism and industrialism as applied to warfare and
colonialism, the "improvement" of warfare for "increased efficiency"
(and of course, greater profit).
Along with this goes the industrial mindset which increasingly
regards the entire biotic realm as a Problem to be exterminated and
replaced with controlled, standardised artificial monocrop.
Israeli wingnut demagogues talk about the Palestinians as "cockroaches"
or as a "disease" they are not merely echoing Nazi antisemitic rhetoric
in a horrid historical travesty, but hewing to the long cultural
tradition that springs from (among others) Pasteur and Liebig, of a
hatred and loathing for "microbes" and for the working class, the
peasantry, "the masses". Pasteur - staunch royalist - spoke of the
masses and of microbes in the same disgusted tone, and of revolutionary
ideas as like the corruption in a wound that leads to gangrene and rots
the body/social order, causing the death of the brain/soul (the King
and royal caste).
There is a cultural continuity between the millions of acres of
genetically identical monocultured cropland now disfiguring most of the
world's agricultural land, and the Aryan eugenicists' ideal of reducing
the human race to one blond, blue eyed archetype of standardised
height, weight, and physical fitness. The urge to conformity,
uniformity, microcontrol, predictability, repeatability, surely has
been in us from the beginnings of militarism and hierarchy; but the
industrial revolution was like mixing crack with the baccy.
of industrial processes (which from the beginning were driven
by military "needs" - the first mass produced assembly line techniques
were used to make Remington rifles - Ford's automobiles were the
second wave; and the artificial soda process that jumpstarted
industrial chemistry was invented in response to a military requirement
for munitions materiel, not for soap making) lent the
militarist/Taylorist cult of regimentation and uniformity a halo of
divine right - if it succeeded so spectacularly at yielding working
machines, temporary gluts of resources, "labour savings" and immense
profits, how could it be wrong? And besides, it tweaked the human
appetite for control and power.
And so the mania for standards, metrics, artificiality, control and
conformity spreads and spreads, lending a new and bland acceptability
to genocide and the destruction of nations. As one US grunt said of the
Iraqis, they are sure backwards and poor, they don't even have a
McDonald's or a Carl's Jr. ...
And even as we speak, over the last few
years, Proconsul Bremer's fiat laws attempt to wipe out the diversity
of Iraqi agriculture and force their farmers to grow GMO strains of
patented corporate wheat from US agribiz - standardised monoculture,
licensed and controlled, thousands of acres of undifferentiated
monocrop binding the farmer to the new feudal order of intellectual
property and privatisation of germline...
World without end, the
factory and the assembly line and the money economy remodelling every
facet of human existence, the new totalitarianism of the market.
It is not possible to unravel the war economy w/o unravelling these
- the myth that distance equals cleanliness (what we don't see
doesn't concern us, aerial bombardment is "clean" warfare, emissions
elsewhere mean "clean" vehicles, dumping our waste on the third world
keeps our countries "clean", dumping our sewage and toxic effluent in
rivers keeps our homes "clean" and so on);
- the myth that "efficiency"
is a virtuous end in its own right (efficient at what? to benefit
- the myth that money is more important than biotic reality;
myth that infinite growth is possible;
- the myths of race and nation, of
taxonomic obsession that flies in the face of the grand symbiosis of
- and so on...
But I'm raving...
Posted by b on March 27, 2008 at 03:39 PM | Permalink
no yr not - fury as reich suggested is healthy & sane
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 27, 2008 3:51:55 PM | 1
Posted by: Boogiedown | Mar 27, 2008 3:57:20 PM | 2
DeAnander, you said "It is not possible to unravel the war economy w/o unravelling these memes". Yes, this is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Let us get serious and talk about revolution and how to organize it.
Posted by: Peter Hofmann | Mar 27, 2008 4:14:32 PM | 3
Speaking of 'the poison gas of WWI trench warfare' and the like: Bidding War for Biowarfare Labs. The New Totalitarianism of the Market indeed, and the 21st century opens like a pox on the house of humanity.
“Either war is a sin, or Christ is a liar.” ~Ben Salmon.
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 27, 2008 4:52:15 PM | 4
De, read your great thoughts earlier and I am glad b headlined them. Has anyone seen a butterfly lately?
The beauty/natural selection of the Earth means that only one thing will save it, it's the two bit "me love you long time" butterfly that has BBC News24 and Sky News talking all about her and making 24 hour news "Hello Magazine"
Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 27, 2008 5:09:51 PM | 5
Very direct essay, DeAnander!
"The basic idea of achieving cleanliness and closure by mass slaughter never changes."
This seems to be at the heart.
Posted by: Gaianne | Mar 27, 2008 6:26:45 PM | 6
Read a post at axisoflogic recently on the normalization of evil that was much the same as this. thanks...
Posted by: mikefromtexas | Mar 27, 2008 7:30:34 PM | 7
An excellent rave. Rave on, DeAnander! And possibly add the myth of "security" -- national, social or otherwise, in all its manipulative guises.
Posted by: Maxcrat | Mar 27, 2008 8:20:13 PM | 8
Rave on and then on again & again. Your raving always feeds my psyche and I always feel well nourished.
Posted by: Juannie | Mar 27, 2008 9:28:29 PM | 9
Even as it chills much of any sense of optimism I might harbor.
Posted by: Juannie | Mar 27, 2008 9:34:07 PM | 10
WORD! BRAVO! BRILLIANT! AMEN! and RIGHT ON BROTHER/SISTER!
Posted by: R.L. | Mar 27, 2008 10:01:44 PM | 11
Wow, B, there I was riffing away in happy, innocent obscurity and half-awakeness, in my fuzzy slippers and without even any caffeine yet... and I return after a hard day at my trusty old Pfaff (a fine product of German industry, imho) fixing clothes and sewing a boat cushion, to find I've been unilaterally headlined :-) ever have one of those dreams where you're happily singing to yourself on the loo, and then the door opens and there's an entire Director's meeting peering in plus a bus conductor asking for your ticket?
Jeepers. in an ideal universe I'd have liked to polish or edit those thoughts a bit before getting frontpage exposure, but what the heck -- it's the Internet -- any of us may be quoted at any time, at any length, in or out of context! Even now I'm feeling the impulse to do some google factchecking -- was it really Remington rifles, or a different company? when did Churchill make that remark about poison gas and what were his exact words? -- but the general gist remains, and I think is defensible.
I'll cite a recent title as another puzzle piece -- Pollan's latest, In Defence of Food chronicles the chemicalisation of food (nutritionism), its reduction in popular as well as "health" authorities' thought to a list of vitamins, a percentage of protein. he details the reductionism of Liebig (there that guy is again, a pivotal character) and the whole NPK fiasco, the "protein theory", and other ways in which the models of lab chemistry and industrial "efficiency" were absurdly misapplied to complex living systems (like eaters and their food). much of this reductionism was also driven by military requirements, for example the desire to provision armies with long-lasting packaged food and the need to determine what was the minimum ration for one adult solider per diem to sustain physical activity and alertness. "tins" (or cans as USians call them) were invented, iirc, at the behest of Napoleon for provisioning the army for one of his famous misadventures. the Napoleonic Era may have miscarried but the tinning process endures to this day, as does the priority list that it engendered: foods "engineered" for transport and durability rather than for taste or quality... and so on.
anyway, IDoF is a good read, not all that lengthy, with Pollan's characteristic sprightly prose to help the medicine go down. highly recommended.
Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 27, 2008 10:35:07 PM | 12
Though we are too close to it to make a completely objective judgement, it has become obvious that our own culture has fallen into a dangerously unbalanced state, and is now producing warped and unbalanced minds. One part of our civilization - that dedicated to technology - has usurped authority over all the other components, geographical, biological, anthropological: indeed, the most frenetic advocates of this process are proclaiming that the whole biological world is now being supplanted by technology, and that man will either become a willing creature of his technology or cease to exist.
Not merely does technology claim priority in human affairs: it places the demand for constant technological change above any considerations of its own efficiency, its own continuity, or even, ironically enough, its own capacity to survive. To maintain such a system, whose postulates contradict those that underlie all living organisms, it requires for self-protection absolute conformity by the human community; and to achieve that conformity it proposes to institute a system of total control, starting with the human organism itself, even before conception has taken place. The means for establishing this control is the ultimate gift of the megamachine; and without submergence in the subjective 'myth of the machine,' as omnipotent, omniscent, and omnicomptent, it would not already have advanced to the point it has now reached.
-- lewis mumford, the pentagon of power
in the book, prophetic in parts & still most relevant, mumford also expounds on the "reciprocal interplay" between warfare and mechanization
Standardization, prefabrication, and mass production were all first established in state-organized arsenals, most notably in Venice, centuries before the "industrial revolution." It was not Arkwright, but Venetian urban officials in command of the arsenal, who first established the factory system; and it was not Sir Samuel Bentham and the elder Brunel who first standardized ship production, with various tackle blocks and planks cut to uniform measure; for centuries before, the arsenal at Venice had so well mastered the process of pre-fabrication that it could put together a whole small vessel within a month. And though the priority for fabricating machines with standardized and therefore replacable parts belongs to the inventors of printing with movable type, it was in the production of muskets that this method first became widely adopted: first in LeBlanc's innovation in France in 1785, and then, in 1800, in Eli Whitney's factory at Whitneyville, under contract with the United States government.
Let us not forget that the same demands for accurate artillery fire resulted in the invention of the modern computer.
It was in the army, finally, that the process of mechanization was first effectively applied on a mass scale to human beings, through the replacement of irregular feudal or citizen armies, intermittently assembled, by a standard army of hired or conscripted soldiers, under the severe discipline of daily drill, contrived to produce human beings whose spontaneous or instinctive reactions would be displaced by automatic responses to orders. "His not to reason why," was the motto for the whole system: the doing and dying followed.
Each solder must have the same clothes and the same equipment as every other member of his company. Drill made them act as one, discipline made them respond as one, the uniform made them look as one. [hence the need for the sewing machine]
From the sixteenth century on, then, the army furnished the pattern not only of quantity production but of ideal consumption under the machine system: rapid standardized production for equally rapid standardized consumption - with built-in waste and destruction as a means of averting financial bankruptcy through overproduction - the latter a recurrent threat to the capitalist system during the transitional era of competition in the free market.
The great change produced by this whole process of mechanization was to shift the balance of economic power from agriculture, with its accompanying industries - textiles and pottery and building, all neolithic in origin - to mining and warfare and machine production.
and from there he goes on about how "a monotechnics, based upon scientific intelligence and quantitative production, directly mainly toward economic expansion, material repletion, and military superiority, has taken the place of a polytechnics, based primarily, as in agriculture, on the needs, aptitudes, interests of living organisms: above all on man himself [sic]."
Posted by: b real | Mar 27, 2008 11:59:29 PM | 13
Things you can't avoid, you have to deal with
I wonder if it is possible to go back on global social patterning, on purpose.
Sure, massive die-off followed by extinction could do it, but what about on purpose? Humanity seems designed to seek a global scale of interaction and social outcomes. So, if we survive, isn't it true that we can't simply stop striving for a society organized at global scale? We will organize politically. And so, don't we have to find something to communicate and organize with, something that would overcome the current form of communicating via money?
Money is our logic, and it has changed
The thing about money logic is that it is ultimately democratic, drawing its power from each of us and our participation. So, it structures the logic of power because it is most effective. How shall we replace money?
Well, we already have repeatedly.
After precious money, came semi-precious money.
After semi-precious, fiat money.
After fiat, debt money.
After debt money, debt money with no precious metal backing, but rather claims to buy oil.
Each one of those innovations in money has added a new layer of communication/power, specifically ways of siphoning power to the money makers.
Adulterated precious metal kicked off nationalism by convincing people that they were identified with the nation that was powerful enough to make them take ersatz metal - and because the adulteraters promised other benefits, an identity and welfare.
Fiat money became possible after adulterating was accepted as normal, and multiplied the power of the government to tax without calling it tax. This created permanent massively organized war states.
And it keeps going. Each stage makes possible new degrees of hiearchy, and power at a distance.
Can money talk in both directions?
Is there a next series of innovations that can create additional forms of communication back from the capillary layers of society where ordinary everyday people live? Is there a way to modify money (not a utopian, but a practical way) so that some of the power can operate from the nerve endings, and not from the Cartesian-esquely deluded 'brain centers' that are cannibalizing us?
Posted by: citizen | Mar 28, 2008 12:00:31 AM | 14
I mean, seriously, we have some visual people here. What does money look like to you?
How would you picture it?
It is being imagined in different ways. How else are you going to mess around with capitalism, if we can't even re-imagine money?
Posted by: citizen | Mar 28, 2008 12:12:07 AM | 15
"Money" would be a gleaming purple LED pearl surgically embedded into
your palm, wirelessly connected to your "account", you'd raise it to
the seller in salute, and to the bar coder, and to the camera, then you
take your purchases and head for the exit door.
"Running out of money", a nice bullet-headed man would meet you before
the exit door, whisper in your ear, "I'm sorry for you," take your bags,
leaving you the infinite embarrassment of exiting a store unpurchased.
Unpurchased ... an unperson. A non-being. Nothing.
Posted by: Peris Troika | Mar 28, 2008 12:23:28 AM | 16
you cannot fight Nazis with rifles.
US, Europe and Russia did, and look how we are turning out. The disease, as De points out, exists on an individual level and can jump hosts.
As always, they do not need us to win wars. What they need us for is to
They are blind without their nerve endings. And they are used to having bad vision. But they cannot afford to be blind. So, what do you see?
Posted by: citizen | Mar 28, 2008 12:27:02 AM | 17
massive barter systems held together with ebay-like servers?
energy money? exchange in units of energy -- ergs, KWH, calories?
time money? all exchange in hours?
I don't know. all I do know is that money-as-we-know-it seems to have got far too abstract, disconnected from anything remotely recognisable as reality. compounding interest is obviously fictional, and so are most of the clever "instruments" of investment leveraged on the basic fiction of compounding interest. a guy called ChrisCook over at ET has many elaborate theories about equity-based finance vs debt-based finance, but I have been too preoccupied with my own affairs to follow his arguments as closely as they seem to deserve.
I am rather attached to the idea of usufruct rather than "property rights" -- i.e. your "right" to property is directly proportional to the amount of effort and time you put into improving it, and you have the right to enjoy the benefit of your labours during your lifetime. this seems to solve the problem of personal pride of craftsmanship [sic] and the deserved reward of hard labour, without institutionalising permanent land ownership... I am struggling towards a version of usufruct in which our "right" to things is directly proportional to the degree to which our activities foster and increase biotic diversity and robustness; this would mean that we have no "right" to things whose production and distribution destroy biotic systems, which (at present) means most of what we own, eat, wear etc.
Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 28, 2008 12:56:44 AM | 18
I'm reminded of a sci-fi short story where the Last Defender of Freedom or Something is manning a super machine gun weapon of some sort -- he swivels it 360, mowing the enemy down. They are now fleshless skeletons, but they keep coming, closer closer -- and then a bone finger taps him on the shoulder...
Fermi's Question is "Where are they?" and we are but repeating the answer...
Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Mar 28, 2008 2:29:36 AM | 19
Great writing, DeAnander. Thank you B for bringing it to the fore.
Posted by: Jeremiah | Mar 28, 2008 2:36:12 AM | 20
The thing about money logic is that it is ultimately democratic
i.e. your "right" to property is directly proportional to the amount of effort and time you put into improving it, and you have the right to enjoy the benefit of your labours during your lifetime.
there are still hillsides, unburdened by luxury condos, where we spartans may place the old and infirm to die....
try the gift economy
and associated radio coverage at unwelcome guests
(still a great rant, de)
Posted by: an old friend | Mar 28, 2008 3:13:27 AM | 21
The "Free Market" has gone from being a method for balancing supply and demand to become an ideology unto itself.
And just as the radical Marxist/Leninists were prepared to sacrifice million of their own in the name of retaining the purity of their Communist ideals, the advocates of the Free Market are prepared to doom whole sections of the world's population to poverty and exploitation in order to preserve the purity of Free Trade.
Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 28, 2008 5:39:58 AM | 22
Great post DeA - thanks for that.
Talking about "eradication", there's this:
Bat die off
... In what is one of the worst calamities to hit bat populations in the United States, on average 90 percent of the hibernating bats in four caves and mines in New York have died since last winter.
Wildlife biologists fear a significant die-off in about 15 caves and mines in New York, as well as at sites in Massachusetts and Vermont. Whatever is killing the bats leaves them unusually thin and, in some cases, dotted with a white fungus. Bat experts fear that what they call White Nose Syndrome may spell doom for several species that keep insect pests under control.
Other researchers want to know whether recently introduced pesticides, including those released to stop West Nile virus, may be contributing to the problem, either through a toxin or by greatly reducing the bat’s food source.
The die-offs are big enough that they may have economic effects. A study of Brazilian free-tailed bats in southwestern Texas found that their presence saved cotton farmers a sixth to an eighth of the cash value of their crops by consuming insect pests.
Posted by: Hamburger | Mar 28, 2008 6:11:04 AM | 23
I always enjoy reading what you write DeA. [on the loo or not]
Posted by: beq | Mar 28, 2008 7:29:37 AM | 24
an old friend@21
I appreciate that money logic does not intuitively seem "democratic". However, I am trying to point to something real, and I don't know the grounds on which you are disagreeing. Let me start with a caveat and then outline the grounds on which we can better understand money if we consider it to be democratic.
Caveat: democratic is not a normative term that means "progressive/good". It is a description of the origins of rule.
Adam Smith's Big Lie: The Wealth of Nations
How can we see that money builds and logics power democratically? In 3 dimensions at least: history, accounting, and psychology.
Historically, power based not merely on compelling the demos (people) but on inciting them to contribute voluntarily to national projects begins with national currencies - paper currencies whose claim to value is tied to the success of a state, not to the value of money's physical makeup. Earlier systems called the commoners fools and asserted the right to power based on being smarter and wiser. What I mean by democratic is that these governments rely on the people in order to know even the most basic facts necessary to govern. Currency is part of the system of government, because it is perhaps the major form of taxation. I, a democratic citizen, accept that tax because it is what makes me valuable to the government, and because I am already invested in this government because every dollar to which I have a claim will become instantly worthless if the government should fall.
Accounting - I've already touched on this in the last paragraph, but paper currency really does bind my interests together with the nation. So when United Fruit Company says some labor strike or foreign company is threatening the stability of the nation, they are telling me to hear them saying that every monetary unit I have is about to go down the drain. This is why vigilantes will go "against their own class interests" to destroy labor organizations. Because they see their accounting interests before their class interests. They're not simple fools, but materialist ones. And they are part of how power operates, again democratically.
Psychology - segueing from the previous paragraph - People don't do accounting easily, but they do identify with their money. And the money is identified with the nation. Adam Smith wrote a whole book based on the lie of its title the Wealth of Nations. Not so at all, the wealth mentioned in that 1776 book is clearly the wealth of banks. Why is this book cited so often? Because its core idea that bank wealth is our wealth is a weapon of rule, a weapon given its power by the way people identify with money and by the way they will unite socially and powerfully to crush those who seem to get between them and their money.
Thus I say, money power is logicked democratically.
Posted by: citizen | Mar 28, 2008 11:26:01 AM | 25
fascinating. last night over dinner w/my family were were discussing waves in the future. my comment, rethink money. it is inevitable because at present consumerism is consuming us. we live to consume instead of the other way around. new generations are born into massive debt, servitude. something's going to snap.
massive barter systems held together with ebay-like servers?
whatever it is will most likely sweep into popularity as fast as ebay, google, the web. once conceptualizing numbers start spinning out of control..
who can imagine a trillion? we each have a unique relationship w/value that can change radically from one moment to the next (as fast as it takes to shed a sweater when the sun comes out). we have to have agreement about value for money to function. when the critical mass's values shift, so will the system. i don't think the coming generations will accept or align w/the debt/negative value. it is one thing acknowledging you are living on a planet that has been badly scarred by past generations, it is another to expect those generations to carry the collective guilt it would require to spend their lives 'paying' off debt that keeps growing.
Posted by: annie | Mar 28, 2008 11:59:59 AM | 26
money power is logicked democratically.
value is logiked democratically. as long as value is measured in dollars, or logicked in dollars thesystem remains. but when conceptually values not measured in dollars trump those that do, boing..
Posted by: annie | Mar 28, 2008 12:06:35 PM | 27
Adam Smith was not in favor of an unfettered Free Market without a government, he was opposed to the state-licensed monopolies of the time like the British East India Company or government trade regulations like the Stamp Act or the Corn Laws.
He nonetheless believed that markets were there to serve people and not the opposite.
Today's equivalents of the British East India Company are companies like Halliburton, Northrup-Grumman or Blackwater, who receive no-bid cost plus contracts from the government.
And their concept of the Free Market is that of the banks when it comes to bailing them out of their speculative losses: socialize losses and privatize profits.
Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 28, 2008 1:32:09 PM | 28
Not raving. Great post. I may have the wording slightly garbled (think I read it in her biography), but Marguerite Yourcenar once memorably alluded to some of these interconnection by saying that in order to put human beings in cattle cars to be exterminated, the Nazis first had to have cattle cars.
Posted by: Madison Guy | Mar 28, 2008 3:51:37 PM | 30
No sustainable peoples believe in property. Property is bogus. It is part of the creation of institutionalized selfishness, and oppression.
Now, this is hard for little people, like myself, to get. I am very propriatory about my can-opener: After all, unlike most can-openers these days, it actually does open cans, and I don't want someone "borrowing" it and then wandering off . . . I will never be able to replace it with another can-opener that works!
But that is just my little situation in the context of s system of oppression, and my buy-in into it.
The big people do not worry about can-openers. They worry about stretches of land the size of continents, and their control over the resources therein. They worry about their ever-expanding profits, and the bending of all people to their will, by crushing if need be. There is no space here for normal human relations.
Learn from nature: Nature does not use money. Why not? In nature, NOTHING is fungible. Everything has its proper part.
But you have to be willing learn what that is.
Posted by: Gaianne | Mar 28, 2008 4:08:17 PM | 31
@madison... yeah... "cattle cars" being a railroad (industrial) method of transporting cattle-as-meat en masse to industrial slaughterhouses... for "efficiency" in slaughtering (paging Upton Sinclair) i.e. higher profits and more concentration of control in the hands of processors not farmers. another application of industrial methods that work very well for handling non-living materials, but involve enormous cruelty (and eventually negative returns) when applied to living systems or organisms.
I recently participated in the killing of a few roosters for meat on a homestead belonging to friends of mine in inland/Northern BC. it was not the most pleasant work, but it was sobering to reflect that the suffering for the birds was so much less than it would have been in a commercial slaughterhouse. one of the worst aspects is the transport to the abbatoir and the rough, inhumane handling during unloading. the "cost of transport" for centralised animal slaughter is not just measured in BTUs.
way back when, when I was young, we used to watch the original Star Trek series with rapt attention -- such a hopeful future -- and I recall a fictional technological device wielded by the ship's doctor called a dolorimeter. it measured pain. there was never any mention of units (dolories?) but the concept is, on reflection, radical. if we had dolorimeters we could measure the cost of our economic model in pain -- suffering, terror, agony. however I doubt that anyone in the current ruling elite would be interested in developing the technology -- after all, they "don't do body counts."
anyway, back to industrialism -- I should note that no one can credibly claim that "handcrafted" killing rules out genocide -- the recent unpleasantness in Rwanda was mostly done without the benefit of industrial methods, except for the forging, manufacturing and distribution of machetes. but it does make it a bit more difficult. and the awfulness of it is more visible, it is less possible to yawn and switch the channel, it is less possible to pretend that nothing happened... or at least I would like to think so, but for all I know the TV-addicted majority has laready forgotten Rwanda except as a dramatic backdrop for some slick Hollywood movie...
I'm going to backtrack for a moment and say that though I just said that industrial methods "work well" for non living materials, I now have a bad feeling about those words. industrial "efficiency" is what enables e.g. the devastation of MTR and the Alberta open-pit "tar sands" catastrophe. it's what enables us to pile up mountains of toxic gold mining tailings in a matter of months. it hastens the conversion of viable biome to toxic wasteland in the process of "improving" the extraction of minerals from the earth's outer crust. so "working well" is still in direct opposition to the health of biotic systems and the sane stewardship of land and biological capacity. it works well in a singleminded, obsessive, autistic sort of way -- the reductive approach, focussed narrowly on one desired outcome and ignoring all unintended consequences -- particularly when the costs of same can be fobbed off onto designated "losers" while the winners walk off with the loot...
industrial methods speed up processes so that biotic systems have no time to recover from the insults of liquidation and extraction. again, humans have proven ourselves perfectly capable of wrecking a functioning biome without industrial technology, but advances in "efficiency" enable us to do it so much faster these days. we can shoot ourselves in the foot with a semi automatic and reduce the whole limb to hamburger in seconds, instead of having to take several shots at it with an unreliable black-powder pistol.
it's not that I wish to ditch all the advances of industrialism -- as I've explained before... sewing machines and needles are mighty fine stuff, and so is steel (generally, for many applications) especially stainless, which can last for generations if well made and properly kept. but it seems as though the industrialism/capitalism/colonialism nexus is inherently cancerous. the colonialism creates a devalued periphery which is exactly what capitalism needs to float its fictional compound interest (a rate of return that can only be achieved by theft and looting); the capitalism injects vast rewards into a feverish fit of innovation, with raw materials kept cheap by the colonial exploitation of the periphery; and the whole thing spins out like a steam engine with no governor...
I'm grateful for steel and technology today. it's snowing a stubborn, grim, depressing wet snow in Nanaimo, but my boat is almost too hot for comfort due to a nice fire in the (steel) wood stove with its (stainless) stovepipe; atop the stove is a stainless steel pot with potatoes (organic) baking in it on the "free" heat; in the stove I'm burning sections of my downed mizzen mast, cut up a couple of days ago with an excellent (good steel) Japanese crosscut (hand) saw; on the stove a thermoelectric (fancy semiconductor tech) heat-powered fan pushes warm air around the cabin. and my laptop sits here keeping me entertained and connecting me with far-off friends on a dull rainy day. come nightfall I will not have to squint at my book by candlelight or breathe kerosene fumes, because high-tech LED lighting will give me reading and working light w/hardly any drain on 2 (industrial magic) sealed AGM house batteries which have charged (a little) all day from a Siemens PV panel (more industrial magic).
I'm grateful for every bit of this, and at the same time uncomfortably conscious of the mountain of industrial waste, slag heap, effluent, consumed water, sunk energy, pirated resources involved in all these comforts. here's the dilemma of our times... there's no spoon long enough to sup with this devil of resource liquidation and uncontrolled consumption, without being implicated in the results. we may be the first generation in our cultural tradition to come face to face with the possibility that all our ingenuity and creativity and "drive" is making things worse and not better. the cognitive dissonance is truly painful. it doesn't surprise me that so many people want to keep whistling past the graveyard and insisting that everything is just fine and "they" will think of something...
meanwhile? relocalise, relocalise, relocalise :-) the closer that our processes (and their outputs) are to home, the more likely it is that accounting will be visible and honest. or so I hope. global commerce makes a mighty big rug to sweep the dirt under. smaller, more local rugs will betray visible humps and visible stinks, and that -- one could hope -- might inspire some kind of housecleaning effort. (and here I rest my somewhat belaboured metaphor).
Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 28, 2008 4:24:45 PM | 32
@gaianne in nature nothing is fungible
succinctly put. most of Hornborg summarised in one pithy phrase :-)
Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 28, 2008 4:34:41 PM | 33
Now we see why Feudalism held on for so long: it was a system under which nobody owned any property except the King.
Those under him held it in fief and could (at least theoretically) have it confiscated if they used it in any manner not conducive to his ends.
The King in turn held the property in the name of all of his people. A reasonable and balanced system given its time and place in human history and development.
But then the Barons got together and blackmailed the King into signing a Magna Carta, which we have been sold as serving as the forerunner of the modern parliamentary democracy.
It was no such thing: it limited the king's power to curatil the Barons' rights and property in the name of his people and marked the start of the notion of permanent ownership of property; to be used and exploited to one's personal ends, regardless of what it inflicted on others, especially those who owned less or nothing at all.
Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 28, 2008 4:37:14 PM | 34
Wow. What a thread. Y'all are great.
@#32: *Envious (of the whole boat thing)
Posted by: Cloud | Mar 28, 2008 6:03:33 PM | 36
what was I smoking? oh well, not every phrase is felicitous when typing fast :-) I've heard a stench described as so bad you could almost see it in the air, but that wasn't quite what I meant :-)
Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 28, 2008 6:48:41 PM | 37
Has anyone studied up on the Iriquois? Wasn't that who Jefferson found most helpful in crafting guiding principles for a young republic? I keep thinking we need to go to any of them still deeply conversant w/their ancient wisdom & ask them if they would please step in & teach us how to reconnect to the planet & each other. If anyone wants to do a rant on the Iriquois that'd be a great wkend meditation :)
(I expect the wisdom of the elders resides mostly in books these days, as in the End Times, even the Indians have to get devoured by the culture of greed, lest anyone be allowed to remain w/real wisdom. Perhaps it's not that way throughout the country, but in Ca. all the tribes have gotten sucked up by the Mob into gambling.)
Posted by: jj | Mar 28, 2008 7:01:31 PM | 38
Gonna finish reading this thread even if it drives me to Zoloft! But, something DeAnander said in #32 really struck me.
...but for all I know the TV-addicted majority has laready forgotten Rwanda except as a dramatic backdrop for some slick Hollywood movie...
The repackaging of every possible reality as 'entertainment' (vis-a-vis the reality show trend in US tv broadcasting) reminds me quite uncomfortably of the Eloi and Morlocks in HG Welles' The Time Machine. This desensitization to everyone else's plight in life is changing the proles into Eloi - remember the scene when Weena falls in the river, and everyone else simply continues the languid party?
Thanks, DeAnander! This is some of the most provocative reading I've done all month.
Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Mar 28, 2008 9:46:07 PM | 39
as a successful model of federalism, the iroquois confederacy -- or haudenosaunee ("people who build" or "people of the longhouse"), which was comprised of first five & later six separate nations -- heavily influenced benjamin franklin's albany plan, which eventually helped shape the articles of confederation that determined how the new govt was to take form. both jefferson & franklin admired much of the ways of the peoples who already lived in these lands, being deists w/ enlightened fantasies about noble savages & all that, and then proceded to screw them out of their lands & futures as they saw fit to determine them. it's as simple as that. see for instance bruce johansen's forgotten founders: how the american indian helped shape democracy on franklin and anthony wallace's impressive jefferson and the indians: the tragic fate of the first americans for some real history on schizo tom.
no thanks to the invaders, these nations have managed to survive & rebound from their nadir. sure, the context is different, their worldviews have been altered by both external & internal forces, but "the wisdom of the elders" for these peoples is still very well alive & kicking for those who'll listen. we've covered some of them here over the years. back in this thread conchita, annie, beq & i reflected on a few who are alive or have passed over. i think the video series links here -- especially the ones covering on oren lyons -- are what you're looking for. clear, cogent analyses of western societies maladies & how to establish (i almost wrote reestablish!) a connection to the natural world. rather than rant, i will bow out to the voices in those links and elsewhere who speak from real knowledge.
Posted by: b real | Mar 29, 2008 12:26:43 AM | 42
Well, r'giap, we got our Politburo now, our gulag, and DOW 300 on Monday.
Four new Federal financial agencies, thus Federalizing all monetary
instruments, allowing full spectrum dominance and surveillance of all of US.
Largest consolidation of power since beginning of the Republic under Bush.Con,
and why not? The Bush Cosa Nostra is a major in arms, oil, drugs and banking.
MOC, ONI, PFRA, BRA and all their little scurrying welfare whore drones.
Sweeping Changes in Paulson Plan
By DAMIAN PALETTA
March 29, 2008
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson plans on Monday to call for sweeping structural changes in the way the government monitors financial markets, capping a broad review aimed at revamping a system of regulatory oversight built piecemeal since the Civil War.
If all the changes get made, they would represent a complete reworking of the U.S. regulatory system for finance. Such an outcome would likely take years and would also require major compromises from an increasingly partisan Congress. The proposal, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, is likely to trigger messy feuds over turf at a time when confidence in government supervision is low.
Even so, the blueprint could be a guide for future action. Senior Democrats have expressed in recent weeks that they also believe the regulatory system should be overhauled, potentially paving the way for possible deals.
Mr. Paulson's plan will include merging some agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (defanging both in one brilliant stroke), while broadening the authority of others, such as the Federal Reserve, which appears to be a winner under the proposal. Mr. Paulson is expected to recommend that the central bank play a greater role as a "market stability regulator," with broader authority over all financial market participants.
Mr. Paulson is also expected to call for the Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulates federal thrifts, to be phased out within two years and merged with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks. One reason is that there is very little difference these days between federal thrifts and national banks.
The Treasury plan has been in the works since last year but has taken on greater prominence since the onset of the housing crisis and ensuing credit crunch. Critics have blamed lax regulation at both the state and federal level for exacerbating the crisis.
A key part of the blueprint is aimed at fixing lapses in mortgage oversight. Mr. Paulson plans to call for the creation of a new entity, called Neo Mortgage Origination Commission (more Big Brother, up your ass), according to an outline of the Treasury Department's plan, which was first reported by the New York Times. This new entity would create licensing standards for state mortgage companies. This commission, which would include representatives from the Fed and other agencies, would scrutinize the way states oversee mortgage origination.
Also related to mortgages, Mr. Paulson is expected to call for federal laws to be "clarified and enhanced," "resolving any jurisdictional issues" that exist between state or federal supervisors.(killing off any lingering loopholes and making credit availability 100% Federalist ... e.g. Neo Pope in Town) Many of the problems in the housing market stemmed from loans offered by state-licensed companies. Federal regulators, too, were slow to create safeguards that could have banned some of these practices.
Mr. Paulson is expected to repeat his assertion that the Fed should have much more access to information from securities firms (yeah, every investor's account information, and links to all their offshore accounts) and investment banks that might borrow money from the central bank.
Presently, insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis, but the Treasury review is expected to call for the creation of an optional federal insurance charter that would be overseen by a Neo Office of National Insurance. Such an idea has been floated for years but never directly endorsed by Treasury.
In addition to some of the short- and medium-term changes, Treasury officials have also designed what they believe to be an "optimal structure" of financial oversight. It would create a single class for federally insured banks and thrifts, rather than the multiple versions that now exist. It would also create a single class of federally regulated insurance companies and a federal financial-services provider for other types of financial institutions.
A market stability regulator, which would likely be the Fed, would have broad powers over all three types of companies. A new regulator, called Neo Prudential Financial Regulatory Agency, would oversee the financial regulation of the insurance and federally insured banks. Another regulator, the Neo Business Regulatory Agency, would oversee business conduct at all the companies.
Posted by: Petey Michelson | Mar 29, 2008 12:56:32 AM | 43
you're soaking in it...
joe bageant: Rage Fatigue, Plastic Dirt and Happy Hour in America: The Audacity of Depression:
"Eventually the system will reach a point where the social cue is 'integration'--where the universal dependence of all moments on all other moments makes the talk of causality obsolete. It is idle to search for what might have been a cause within a monolithic society."
-- Theodor Adorno
In other words, Teddy boy, a totalitarian society. Not a nice word, according to our Western Civ instructors. An ironic one too, considering that Americans and Europeans sowed so much of its original seed. But the reality is that totalitarian society (dubbed "Totoland" in my household in a grim effort toward mockery: Dear Dorothy, fuck you and your little dog too! Signed, Bill Gates) is already here. And most of the planet accepts that as long as nobody next door is getting beheaded and at least some grains of corn keep dropping out of that ATM machine. Such is the belief in technology's supposed production efficiency in dealing with the supply and demand problems of this world's six billion.
That belief will remain because the technology will remain. Until it collapses along with the corporate aristocracy that make and own it. Otherwise, it cannot be dismantled without dismantling the world as we have made it and we cannot undo our own evolutionary species trajectory. Regardless of what the New Agers and Earth worshipping goddess cultists believe, we cannot haul six billion people back into pre-technology or support them in any natural sustainable fashion. Most of the world's common people accept this, however unconsciously, thus the lack of protests and counter efforts on any meaningful scale. The new totalitarianism is its own justification, and nobody in America or Europe is going to kick up much sand so long as the Darfurs and Haitis remain on the goddamned TV screen where they belong.
Posted by: b real | Apr 3, 2008 2:04:08 PM | 44
here's your link b real joe bageant
Posted by: annie | Apr 3, 2008 2:53:58 PM | 45
Posted by: b real | Apr 4, 2008 12:20:28 AM | 46