Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 12, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-03

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:


Other issues:


This was a record week for Moon of Alabama. Nine posts plus a MoA Week in Review with a total of more than 12,300 words were published. More than 2,800 comments were made. The traffic by far exceeded the usual level.

Pageviews per day on
(The value of 'Today' is of 10:00am EST)


The traffic will come down again and the average will likely settle a bit above the usual level of 25,000 pageviews per day. The number of comments will likewise fall back to the usual 100 per day. Even though I tried during the week to block or delete some of the spam and insults in the comments there was too little time to police them all. I will have to find a better solution for that problem.


The U.S. Navy loves to exaggerate its 'swagger'. This week it claimed that a 5th fleet ship was harassed by a Russian war ship and alleged that the Russian ship broke the traffic rules at sea. It published two videos of the incident. But we have been here before. In June last year there was a similar case with a 7th fleet ship in which the navy also published videos and pictures. By analyzing those videos and by consulting the International Maritime Organization (IMO) nautical rules we could prove that it was the U.S. ship which  had violated the law. The recent case is similar.


The U.S. ship is to the left of the Russian ship with their projected courses crossing at an acute angle. The U.S. ship was faster and tried to get in front of the Russian one which it eventually did. It was the wrong thing to do:

>Power-driven vessel A approaches the port side of power-driven vessel B. Vessel A is considered the give-way vessel. As the give-way vessel, A must take EARLY and SUBSTANTIAL action to keep clear and avoid crossing the stand-on vessel B.<

Ship A, the USS Farragut which took the pictures, should have given way and should have passed behind the Russian vessel. The Russian Ministry of Defense is absolutely right when it blames the U.S. ship of violating the rules:

>"It was the US destroyer that blatantly violated international rules for preventing collisions at sea on 9 January 2020 by making a manoeuvre to cross the Russian ship's course, while being positioned to the left of the forward-moving Russian military vessel", the ministry's statement reads.<

The U.S. Navy should stop this silly nonsense. By posting video evidence of the misbehavior of its own ships it only makes itself into a laughing stock. It should instead punish the captains who are responsible for such breaches of the rules at sea.

737 MAX:

The new CEO of Boeing is a long term board member who is to a large part responsible for the chaos Boeing finds itself in.


>Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani to comply with US sanctions, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business Friday.<
tim anderson @timand2037 - 1:01 UTC · Jan 12, 2020
#Washington enforces its world view. #Facebook (incl. #Instagram) taking down posts favorable to #Soleimani, #Nasrallah etc because it "operates under U.S. laws". That means banning posts supportive of #Cuba, #Venezuela, #Iran, #Hezbollah, #Palestinian militia, #Iraqi PMUs etc

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on January 12, 2020 at 19:01 UTC | Permalink

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john brewster @200

Yes, I’m still here. Though with my post @199 I was beginning to wonder if we might take our now effectively private conversation to the newer open thread—might get some more perspectives worth hearing (and a troll or two of course). I’m open to it if you are.

Onward. I completely agree. It is exceedingly dangerous that the vast majority of the population is de facto tech illiterate. This is by capitalist design. Remember Trump’s campaign statement, right to the faces of his adoring supporters? “I love the poorly educated!”

The Bolsheviks got their start in the late 19th century League for the Emancipation of the Working Class. What was their activism? Teaching working class people how to read. Perhaps today’s Marxists need to consider such a turn in our priorities. Yet with such small numbers in the US, even more of those so able to raise the level of this kind of illiteracy…

An old friend of mine once mentioned having visited Cuba and overhearing a fellow solidarity activist going on and on romanticizing guerrilla struggle, until a Cuban comrade ventured (remember this was the ‘60s), “The Revolution in the US will led by those with a screwdriver and a working knowledge of computers.” Today I’m sure the answer would have been hackers and code warriors.

In spite of this paucity of tech-savvy Marxists we predicted the monopolization of the internet since its open origins—in Marx’s own writings 150 years ago (the classics) he termed it the concentration of capital and it happens in every industry (giving the lie to Libertarian fantasies of free markets that stay free).

Though I do my best to bootstrap myself into high tech literacy, as I mentioned my life has been in healthcare and I’m doing well to call myself semi-literate in computer science (no more blockquotes for me after my last comment!). But I agree we are in the middle of a fight, with not only resources but trained comrades so overstretched we constantly fight against burn out. It’s long been known that theory without practice is sterile, yet practice without theory is futile. We are faced with a dire situation of needing to be everywhere, and know if not everything then way more than we do—and time is short. To borrow Lenin’s phrase, what is to be done?

I myself in this moment can’t offer a tech-savvy battle plan. But I do know that even with all their power and technology, the capitalists aren’t nearly as in control as they make themselves out to be. Their system is coming undone—contradictions are becoming open and this means among other things that their corporate media will lose its stranglehold over the population. As I wrote above, the real revolutionary movement is almost always a tiny minority until the window of revolutionary opportunity opens. At that time a great many people will not necessarily join any particular organization, but will see what needs to be done—and this will include a significant proportion of those tech-literate people we need. The coders and hackers whose ‘60s predecessors our old Cuban comrade spoke of—or perhaps Veblen’s “soviet of engineers” after all.

IT-savvy, biotech-savvy, high-skilled and less skilled workers of all kinds, we’re all going to need each other. We’re going to need folks to work together who may presently think of each other as alien, with little in common. And we’re all going to need the lessons of history, theory and all, lest we repeat it. The Bolsheviks of old used to say, “It is not we who will persuade you, but life itself.”

I can only hope it does so before the nukes fly or the oceans boil.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 18 2020 8:13 utc | 201

Vintage Red @ 201

Thanks for sticking with it.

Strangely, it is harder for me to write on weekends than during the week. I would like to continue this conversation and pull in more people; but I wouldn't have the bandwidth to do it justice. (That is, typographic pace is about all I can manage.)

Perhaps, come the week (i.e., Monday) I can put this discussion together into something suitable for an Open Thread.

But feel free to make reference to this discussion if you want to start something up in the Open Thread.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 18 2020 20:11 utc | 202

Vintage Red @ 201

There's a piece at The Atlantic ( Every Place Is the Same Now) that, while long-winded and from a blindered, yuppie perspective, does speak to the "technology determines society" hypothesis. Specifically, how cellphone technology has vaporized the concept of purpose-built space. Here's a snip:

Until the 20th century, one had to leave the house for almost anything: to work, to eat or shop, to entertain yourself, to see other people. For decades, a family might have a single radio, then a few radios and a single television set. The possibilities available outside the home were far greater than those within its walls. But now, it’s not merely possible to do almost anything from home—it’s also the easiest option. Our forebears’ problem has been inverted: Now home is a prison of convenience that we need special help to escape.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 18 2020 20:42 utc | 203

john brewster @202, 203

Totally understand, I've had some things come up in RL as well. I don't know that I'll be able to start an Open Thread discussion on this soon, but will join in if you can. I'm sure there will be future opportunities to raise these topics as well.

I'll check out your link but from the snip it reminds me of a classic old science fiction story, "Huddling Place" by Clifford Simak. Written in the '40s it doesn't foresee mobile phones and IT as the cause, but suburbanization and exurbanization leading to a progressive mass agoraphobia. I've long observed about the atomization of society as being part of the ruling class's control strategy; whether from mobile phones allowing desired stimuli to be delivered to one's home or from social anxiety/agoraphobia or both, in the capitalists' view the rest of us are to become animals in pens pushing marked buttons as we are trained. As Edward Snowden said, “Governments can reduce our dignity to something like that of tagged animals.”

And yes to Charles Stross and his friends Ken MacLeod and the late great Iain M. Banks (the latter two both Trotskyists, as it happens). I've read many of their works. Science fiction is a genre allowing us to more deeply understand what it is to be human, and our relationship to the amazing world around us.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 19 2020 19:36 utc | 204

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