'Number of fatalities' after shooting at Parkland, Florida, high school, senator says | 14 Feb 2018 | A gunman opened fire at a Florida high school on Wednesday afternoon, and there are "a number of fatalities," according to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. Authorities responded to an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland around 2:30 p.m. and said that the gunman was not in custody. More than an hour later, just after 4 p.m., the Broward County Sheriff's Office announced on Twitter that a suspect had been apprehended, adding that the scene was still active. Citing Broward County officials, Nelson told NBC News that there were multiple fatalities.
Off Grid Internet gets a Boost: FCC Approves SpaceX plan to Build Broadband Satellite Service in the United States
Today the FCC approved Elon Musk’s SpaceX plan to build a broadband network using satellites, making way for more reliable Off Grid Internet services. [...]
Mega barf alert *and* gag me with a chainaw: Mitt Romney set to announce his Utah Senate bid - NBC News | 14 Feb 2018 | [Deep State dirt-bag] Mitt Romney will announce on Thursday his bid for Utah's up-for-grabs U.S. Senate seat, sources close to the 2012 Republican presidential nominee told NBC News. The announcement will be in a video message rather than a large-scale rally or kick-off event, according to NBC. Romney's first live campaign speech will be given at the Utah County Lincoln Day dinner on Friday night, sources told NBC. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Romney spoke openly against then-candidate Donald Trump.
via plain words
The day after Trump was elected President, news reports circulated images of young people at college campuses gathering to cry and mourn together. At these “cry-ins” or “self-care events,” students reportedly colored in coloring books, played with play-doh, met with therapy dogs, drank hot chocolate, and of course, cried together. These stories were met with ridicule, supposedly showcasing the oversensitive millennial generation as a bunch of snowflakes who can’t handle the world. But just like how, to Baudrillard, the existence of the uber-commercialized and artificial Disneyland gives cover to the rest of society pretending not to be both already, these spectacular stories of human coping hide the fact that society is already coping all the time.
To cope means to deal with something with some degree of success. When faced with a situation that is unalterable, it is a workaround or sidestep. Since you cannot change it, you try to figure out a way to handle it. In the 20th century, revolutionaries faced the miserable world with hope to transform it into something better, which guided their actions and ways of living. But in present day, a revolution seems less possible, and hopelessness is spreading. Every day is a new disaster: environmental catastrophe, war and the threat of nuclear winter, daily random mass shootings, Nazis killing people and trying to gain power, and the arrival of an Orwellian techno-future. These horrors compound ongoing miseries of daily life under capitalism: hunger, boredom, humiliation, exploitation, isolation, violence, oppression, alienation, etc. Since it seems like we can’t change these realities, we try to cope with them.Coping with our minds
Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice that has recently become popular within the field of psychology. It involves adopting a quasi-meditative mindset throughout daily life to non-judgmentally notice toxic thoughts. Seeing these thoughts for what they are supposedly lessens their ability to exacerbate neurosis and anxiety. This practice contrasts with psychoanalysis and other schools of psychology in discarding the role of the therapist as an expert of the mind, who tries to “fix” the patient by uncovering latent secrets buried within their psyche. Mindfulness never aims to “cure”, but rather offers an ongoing strategy for dealing with anxiety and toxic thoughts. In other words, it is a coping strategy that’s become popular due to an increasingly anxiety-producing world. It’s not the only one.
Psychiatry, a sister discipline to psychology that includes its practitioners prescribing anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, adopts the same approach. It never tries to cure someone of depression or anxiety, but instead aims to assist the patient in getting through daily life. Like mindfulness, it is a coping mechanism that can be useful to people. Both are in prominence right now because they level people out enough to enable them to be productive members of society. Someone who cannot get out of bed in the morning won’t be able to produce value at work or through whatever role they are assigned in capitalist society.Coping through drugs
The number of people addicted to opioids have increased drastically in the last decade, including over double the amount of heroin users in the US from 2002 to 2016.  The Opioid Crisis is largely a result of over-prescription of painkillers for severe and chronic pain. These painkillers are addictive, and 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed them admit to misusing them.  When the prescription runs out, or when a tolerance is built-up to the drug’s effects, many begin using heroin or other illegal opioids. Chronic means “continuing or occurring again and again for a long time,” implying that it probably won’t going away permanently. Taking painkillers then is a way of coping, of constantly battling a condition that isn’t being fixed for whatever reason.
The most common reported type of chronic pain is low back pain,  which has a number of different causes. But it’s likely that the prevalence of this kind of pain has actually increased over time. A study done in North Carolina shows that the proportion of people suffering from long-term, low back pain has more than doubled between the early ‘90s and 2009.  Clearly something about this society and form of life is causing people to feel more chronic pain, which they then cope with by taking painkillers.
Habitual use of any drug can be read as a coping mechanism. 55 million people in the US used weed within the last year, and 35 million do on a monthly basis. 52% who used marijuana come from millennial generation.  Weed lowers your standards, it makes boring things fun. A stupid show on Netflix becomes entertaining, the toxic parts of a relationship are de-emphasized over the presence of a warm body to cuddle with, and emotions are dulled to the point of being manageable or ignorable. While drug use can provide interesting experiences, habitual use is clearly a way of coping with a boring and stressful world as well as putting off dealing with ongoing problems in life. Since under late capitalism the world cannot be acclimated to the needs of the body, with weed the body adjusts itself to acclimate to the world: a boring, despair-inducing, and stressful one at best.Radical Self-care
The idea of “radical self-care” has become popular through Tumblr and online social justice circles in recent years. Rejecting notions of mandatory productivity and its related shame, radical self-care rhetoric preaches that people should do whatever they need to do to get through the day. The examples given usually seem to be indulgent forms of consumption: eat a whole pizza, binge-watch a mindless series, stay in bed all day if you need to. That radical self-care often translates into indulging in consuming commodities is a stellar example of capitalism preying on people’s vulnerabilities.
The rhetoric around radical self-care goes something like: “whatever you need to do to cope, do it. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for how you cope with the world.” What’s striking about this is how identical it is to a popular sentiment in prison: Whatever you have to do to do your time, do it. A thoughtful and multifaceted analysis of radical self-care has already been made , but what’s apparent here is that it is a synonym for coping.Sadvertising & Sentimentality in advertising and culture
Marketing and PR executives are tasked with creating propaganda content for their brands, products, and organizations, which requires them to study social trends and know the pulse of the public. In the last few years there was a trend in advertising dubbed “sadvertising,” where ads consisted of sentimental and emotionally moving stories, often unrelated to the products being marketed. William Gelner, former chief creative officer of the marketing agency 180LA, attributes this trend to the fact that: “…we live such digitally switched-on, always-plugged-in lives, and yet we still also somehow feel disconnected from people. As human beings, we’re looking for human connection, and I think that emotional storytelling can help bridge that gap.”  But at the end of 2016, after both Brexit and Trump’s election, the mood of holiday advertising quickly changed. An article published by a website for Association Executives:
“Last year’s tear jerking sentimental ads have been replaced with trampolining animals, courtesy of John Lewis, and a shift from sentimental wallowing – ‘sadvertising’ – to a healthy injection of light relief and laughter. Maybe the prospect of Brexit and Trump was simply more than most of us could deal with! When it comes to communications it’s definitely crucial to have an accurate appreciation of the predominant mood of the audience.” 
A trend that exploits people’s unfulfilled desires to have meaningful connections was replaced by a trend that tip toes lightheartedly around people’s fears of a disastrous future. While the cope-baiting is most obvious in the latter, in both cases the target of the advertisements is someone trying to deal with the miserable life they’re stuck in.Failure to cope
To cope implies a degree of successfully persevering through the situation. What about when you cannot, when you lack the ability to both change a situation and deal with it in your life? Hopelessness is “significantly related to eventual suicide” by psychiatrists , and suicide rates have been on the rise across demographics of age and gender. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  If suicide is related to coping, is it linked to a failure to cope, or is it actually a rejection of coping as a way of living? Random mass shootings are also on the rise.  These seemingly arbitrary acts are hard to understand, but the absence of empathy points to a lack of connection with people, and the suicidal intentions behind them demonstrates a feeling of hopelessness.Conclusion
It would be stupid, insensitive, and unhelpful to suggest that people “stop coping,” as if that were possible or even desirable. Instead, I seek to uncover a trend in the hope of allowing us to better understand this oft-changing and complex society we have been forced into. If you know what your enemy has been up to, wouldn’t that help you plot against them?Notes
 Crimethinc’s “Self As Other” – https://crimethinc.com/2013/09/06/new-zine-about-self-care-self-as-otherdrugsdepressioncopinghopelessnessself-carecategory: Essays
To preserve a community institution and a great place to work, business owner Susanne Ward is selling Rock City Roasters and Cafe to the people who helped build it -- the employees -- with the help of the Cooperative Development Institute.
Watch more from Cooperative Development Institute.
Go to the GEO front page
The people behind Coops Vidriana wrote to us to let us know about their new gorgeous-looking magazine on Platform Cooperativism. It’s bilingual (German/English) and features a bunch of new articles and some drop-dead stunning design. Jana Pirlein has been kind enough to pen the following intro for the P2PF blog.
Jana Pirlein: We, a group of German university students, have just published a magazine about platform cooperativism where we discuss platform-based cooperatives as a kind of counter-movement to the increasingly widespread platform capitalism. In short: An update of the “sharing economy”.
In addition to theoretical discussions, we want to point out the very practical relevance of the topic and encourage readers to think about their own consumption behavior, as well.
The magazine is for all age groups, but especially aimed at people new to the scene. It is written bilingually in German and English and available for free through Creative Commons! Our aim is and has been to present the values, practices and protagonists behind the social movement that is currently forming around the topic of cooperativism.
#CoopsViadrina Volume 1 from Johanna Voll
Go to the GEO front page
We do not revolt because we might fail. People might get shot or imprisoned, vulnerable people might suffer more than they already do, police oppression might increase, and all that effort could be wasted forever. And though these fears have always been good fears, our reliance on technology for re-assurances of certainty has amplified our inaction.
This is not a controversial statement: if many of us can barely try a new restaurant without relying on smartphones to take away the very minimal risk of an awful meal, why would we expect ourselves to face actual, real risk?
A manifesto from Rhyd Wildermuth
“Welcome to the modern world. It’s just like the old world, except it doesn’t work.”
My friend and I were both hungry; me perhaps a bit more so since I’d been traveling all day, hadn’t eaten that morning and it was now mid-evening.
“I’ll take you to dinner,” I told him. “Somewhere close–maybe pizza.”
“Okay,” he answered, and then started looking at his phone. “This place has really good reviews. Just need to take two trains.”
I was really hungry. “How long will that take?” I asked.
“45 minutes, maybe an hour.”
I shook my head. “Seems far and will cost a lot to get there. Isn’t there a place nearby?”
It was his turn to shake his head. “None with good reviews.”
“I don’t care,” I answered, probably a bit too curtly. The hunger was irritating me greatly. “Let’s just walk to one of them.”
So we did, set out into the cold city night, finally coming to an Italian restaurant. I looked at the menu, the prices were decent. “Perfect,” I said, turning to him.
“I can’t find any reviews on Trip Advisor though,” he answered. “But there’s one about a mile from here with a lot of reviews…”
Exhausted and frustrated, I snapped back: “Food’s food. I’m buying anyway…let’s go in.”
“But it might not be good,” he replied, until suddenly seeing something on his phone that made him excited. “Nevermind, I found it. Good reviews, we can go in.”
I’ve thought about this interaction very often since it happened a few months ago. My friend isn’t stupid; in fact, he’s very intelligent, and his magical insights into the world are often quite profound. Nor is he hardly alone in succumbing to the peculiar sort of paralysis of inaction I’ve recounted here. In fact, I suffer from it often too, as no doubt you likely do.
The desire to know if something is good before you try it, to want certainty about the uncertain–that’s hardly a new thing. But what is new, deeply radically new, is our reliance on social media (and the corporations which run them) and technological devices to give us that certainty, to tell us it’s going to be okay, to remove the risk that an action might not result in the absolute best conditions.
As with a night out at a restaurant or a date with a person met online, so too with any of the actions we might take towards revolution. We look to Tumblr and Twitter to gauge the sentiment of others, to divine if our groups and theories and plans are popular enough, have all the required sign-off’s from every possible identity focus-group, and nod sagely when told ‘that won’t work’ by whichever correctly-branded social justice personality happened to come through our feed that particular minute.
We do not revolt because we might fail. People might get shot or imprisoned, vulnerable people might suffer more than they already do, police oppression might increase, and all that effort could be wasted forever. And though these fears have always been good fears, our reliance on technology for re-assurances of certainty has amplified our inaction. This is not a controversial statement: if many of us can barely try a new restaurant without relying on smartphones to take away the very minimal risk of an awful meal, why would we expect ourselves to face actual, real risk?
Those Satanic Mills
If you feel this way of critiquing technology seems bizarre, anti-modern, ‘primitive,’ or appears to ignore all the ‘good’ that technology has done, you might be tempted to describe all this as ‘luddite.’ And you’d be correct, and not in the ways most moderns have come to understand what the Luddites fought for.
The Luddites have always fascinated me. Men and women, sometimes cross-dressing, stealing into oppressive factories in the middle of the night to smash looms to stop production: that’s quite hardcore, regardless of why they did it. Besides the awesome acts of industrial sabotage, however, two other aspects of what the followers of King (or Ned, or Captain) Ludd did two hundred years ago are extremely relevant to us now.
The first aspect is their anarcho-paganism. They all claimed to follow a ghostly captain or leader who urged them on their night-time strikes against the industrialists. The stories they told about exactly who He was varied just as often as their actions: Ludd lived under a hill, or in a well, or under a church, all three places not ironically located “somewhere” in Sherwood forest, where Robin of Locksley and his fellow rogues were said to hide. Ludd was a spirit, a king, or a general (“No General But Ludd/Means The Poor Any Good” went one of their chants), or just a captain amongst them, or even the ghost of a man named Ned Ludd (killed after sabotaging a factory, goes the stories). Like other similar groups such as the Whiteboys and Molly Maguires and Rebeccas, the Luddites invoked the mythic against capitalists and the State to great effect, at least while their resistance lasted.
And that brings me to the third aspect of the Luddite resistance, the part which I find most haunting as another year on this earth passes for me (I’m 41 today, it seems). To explain this aspect, though, we need to step back a bit and look not just at the Luddites themselves but at the era in which they fought and the strange (and eerily familiar) historical circumstances which created the world around them.
If industrial capitalism has a specific birthdate and birthplace, it was 1769 in Derbyshire, England. It was in that year and in that place the very first modern factory was built by Richard Arkwright. The sound of the factory was compared to “the devil’s bagpipes,” a fact memorialized in this poem by Lorna Smithers:
When Richard Arkwright played the devil’s bagpipes on Stoneygate a giant hush came over the town. The blistering whirring sound against the pink horizon of a sun that would not set over clear sights for two centuries of soot and smog was damnable. Yes damnable! Gathering in storm clouds over Snape Fell.
You who have seen a premonition might have heard the village seers tell of smoke for flesh charry knees and the squalor of shanty towns. Red brick mills turning satanic faces to the coin of their heliotropic sun: Empire.
Piecers running between generations bent legged beggers, tongue in cheek defiant. Weavers watching shuttles slipping through fingers like untamed flies. Luddites sweeping across greens with armaments and gritted teeth…
It took forty years for Arkwright’s new terror, “those Satanic mills” as William Blake called them in 1804, to finally spark the resistance movement known as the Luddites. In that space of time, Arkwright’s first mill multiplied into 2400 similar factories spread throughout England (mostly in the major cities), an average of 60 a year.
So, in two generations, Britain had gone from a place where there was no such thing as a factory to a place where there were several thousands. In four decades, an entire society which had started out knowing nothing about industrialization appeared to become irrevocably industrialised, and it was at that point the Luddites struck.
But why then? Why not before? And why fight what appeared to be inevitable?Against the Modern World
We must first ignore the modern interpretation of what a Luddite is. They weren’t ‘anti-technology’ or slow-to-adapt old people hopelessly left behind in a new world. Nor where they only concerned with fighting for better wages for weavers (who, before the factories, were able to support themselves and large families on the income from their specialized trade).
They were people close to my age and somewhat younger, the oldest people alive in Britain who could still remember the old world before factories, but still also young enough to actually work in them. They were a generation that stood on a threshold between the pre-industrial world and the new industrial capitalist order.
Imagine if you will what it must have been like to see your parents and the older people in your villages, towns, and cities starving because they could not or would not adapt to this brave new world. Many of them were too old, feeble, or weak-sighted to work in the factories, and anyway the factory owners preferred children as young as five to do much of the nimble work (and they couldn’t fight back). So while you see the older generation starving and destitute, you also see your own children or younger siblings coming home from the mills with broken fingers, strange bruises, and unmentionable wounds from their 14-hour day crawling under machinery to tie broken threads or retrieve loose bobbins.
And then there’s you, you and others your age, still young enough to work in many of the mills yet old enough to remember when the world wasn’t like this at all.
Now, it is almost impossible for us to imagine a world before factories, even as in many modern liberal democratic countries very few of us have actually stepped foot in one. That’s not because they aren’t around anymore: they’ve moved mostly to Asia and Africa, where exhausted workers are crammed up like cattle in a slaughterhouse to make the phone and laptops you’re probably reading this on (as well as the clothes you’re wearing, possibly the chair you’re sitting on, and most of the stuff inside the home where you lay your head at night) for little or no wages.
And it is almost impossible to imagine what society was like before the factory. What was it like to only wear clothes made by yourself or people who lived nearby? What was life like before the cities swelled with displaced peasants blinking in the light of dawn before the gates of textile and steel mills, hungry and exhausted but jostling each other in line for a job that day to feed their family? What did the streets and town squares look like at night before everyone had to wake up at dawn to go to work? How did we relate to each other before wages became the only way to survive? And what did society look like before mass-production, when no one ever wore the same thing, when ‘pre-packaged experiences,’ monoculture, and conformity were literally impossible?
It is almost impossible to imagine the world before factories.
Almost, but not completely.
Because we are living in a similar world to what the Luddites experienced.“All that is sacred is profaned…”*
(* from The Communist Manifesto)
If you can pinpoint any places in western history where technology severely altered the way human society functioned, I suspect there are three. The most obvious one is the industrial revolution, which was also the birth of capitalism. The one before that changed the world as well (but much more slowly) was the invention of the printing press, which gave to early merchants and the bourgeoisie the power to disseminate literature outside the strictures of religious and royal decree. And while we tend to see that invention as a net gain for humanity, we must remember that mass-printing and distribution has always been primarily in the hands of the rich, with the rest of us merely passive consumers.
The third–well, that’s the era we’re in now, the computer/internet ‘revolution.’
The first ‘node-to-node’ digital communication happened in 1969, 200 years after from the birth of Richard Arkwright’s steam-powered looming frame. But being military technology, it took more than a decade for that technology to filter out to non-military capitalists and become the ‘World Wide Web.’ In the following decades, we’ve gone from a world where random (“risky”) human interactions occurred only in public spaces to one where most such interactions now occur ‘online.’ Here’s some other stuff that has changed:
- 30 years ago, there were no smartphones or texting; in 2015, 98% of all Americans 18-29 years old had a cellphone.
- 17 years ago there was no Wikipedia, 14 years ago there was no such thing as Facebook, 12 years ago no Twitter, 11 years ago no Tumblr, and 7 years ago no Instagram.
- In 1984 only 8% of US homes had a computer of any sort; in 2010, 77% did.
These are all merely statistics about technological saturation; they tell us only as much as the figures about factories in England between 1769 and 1810 told us. But we don’t need to dig very far to understand that this technological change has radically altered what it means to be a human in a capitalist society.
For instance: before cellphones, you could only be reached at home. That meant if you needed to wait for a call you had to stay by the phone, but it also meant that your life was less likely to revolve around the ability of someone to get a hold of you immediately. There was no expectation that your attention could be gotten at any hour of the day because such a thing was impossible.
Before texting and email there were letters. You had to take the time to decide what you were going to say to someone, write it out on paper, post it in the mail, and then wait some amount of time for a reply. Thus human interactions were slower and more ponderous and most of all more intentional. Even the angriest of letters wouldn’t arrive until the next day at the earliest, and this slowness meant there was always at least a little time to rethink your immediate fury, unlike now with our instantaneous ‘send’ buttons.
Social media, however, probably represents the largest shift in how we relate to each other and also how we see ourselves. To have large groups of friends you had to do stuff for them, and with them, call them on weekends or send them letters, catch up with them for coffee or go to their parties or invite them for dinner, take vacations to see them or host them in your home. Now you need only post an update and read theirs to feel you’ve performed acts of friendship.
Accompanying that shift has been an increasing feeling of isolation and alienation. So many people now self-diagnose with introversion (as with trauma, or social anxiety, or many other ailments) that one wonders how humans ever managed to talk to each other before the internet.
The general response to this apparent increase in alienation is to state it has always been there, that being connected to each other more via the internet has helped us talk about it more, and that anyway we are #Blessed the internet came around to let us all be social despite our fear and misanthropy.
But in this case particularly, those of us who stand on the same threshold of change that the Luddites also stood upon cannot help but remember–we all did fine without social media. Better, even. We got over our shyness and anxiety because we had to, and the internet appears to have merely enabled us to not get over such things, to not address our social anxiety and fear of rejection and instead hide safely behind a screen.
Before the internet, binge-watching television (“Netflix and chill”) or staring at a screen for hours a day was a sign you’d given up on yourself and the world around you, were depressed and really just needed a friendly face or to go for a walk. They were symptoms of serious depression, indications that some large issue in your life has been unaddressed for too long and the things to ‘get you through’ had become addictions which prevented you from seeking help.
Now those things are all proud marks of ‘self-care’ enabled by technology without which we’d all surely be miserable, lonely humans. Nevermind that we are still miserable, lonely humans, and probably more so now.
Non-Binary Poly Radical #Blessed Vegan Cruelty-Free #Resister Queer Theorist Influencers Unite!™
Less controversial but even more unaddressed is what this new ‘technological revolution’ has done to our ability to survive, to earn enough money to eat and pay rent. The much-vaunted and ridiculous ‘internet of things’ has made it so we rarely get to ‘own’ the things we pay capitalists for, and must re-sell parts of ourselves constantly in order to compensate for dwindling wages and no savings. This is the curse of the ‘millenial’ (a marketing term that, like so much else, somehow became a ‘fact’ in capitalist society)–to have no steady income but to have thousands of Instagram followers in the hopes of one day having enough to be an ‘influencer’. To face insurmountable college debt and no way to secure housing but to get thousands of retweets on Twitter.
It is not just the fate of millenials. I’ve had two posts shared over 100,000 times and one seen by 1.5 million people. And yet I haven’t been able to afford eating more than twice a day in years, and have been nomadic for the last five years because 1.5 million views doesn’t pay rent.
The answer to the poverty experienced by more and more people (again–not just millenials) is to ‘monetize’ your life. Or as put in a rather brilliant essay about nomads like myself at It’s Going Down (“Living In A Van Down By The Instagram”):
The point here is not to whine about how we all can’t be special snowflakes or social media super-stars; the point is to state that capital is colonizing all aspects of our lives, including online worlds, and attempting to make us in turn generate profit, content, and value during all waking moments, either online or off. And, there’s no better backdrop to do this than when we are constantly traveling, as we in turn are utilizing and activating our social networks for the sake of monetizing them. Thus, we are pushed to take photos and tag corporations in the hopes that maybe one day we could get $50 for a sponsored post. To fundamentally turn ourselves, and our lives, into brands.
As was pointed out in the new book, Now, by the Invisible Committee, this has become both the economic baseline as well as central anxiety of our time. We aren’t just driving somewhere and enjoying a podcast or randomly picking up a hitch hiker, we are instead missing out on an opportunity to sell our labor power for Uber or Lyft. We aren’t taking photos to share with loved ones, we are building up our brand and trying to gain followers, which we will then sell to multinational corporations. This is the logic of the gig economy applied to all aspects of our lives, at all times, and in all scenarios.
To monetize yourself, though, requires you make yourself more sell-able, becoming a brand, a product, constantly adapting to market demands. Or as Badean wrote in “Identity In Crisis:”, in the Journal of Queer Nihilism:
“The collapse of traditional subject positions is managed through the proliferation of a new positions: app designers, graphic designers, cyber sex workers, queer theorists, feminist publishers, social network engineers, trend hunters, eBay sellers, social justice activists, performance artists, porn directors, spammers, party promoters, award winning baristas.
We are forced to continually define ourselves, to enact countless operations upon ourselves so as to produce ourselves anew each day as someone worth taking to market — our basic survival depends on the ceaseless deployment of increasingly discreet technologies of the self.
Everything is for sale: our sex appeal, our fetishes, our tattoos, our radicalism, our fashion sense, our queerness, our androgyny, our fitness, our fluidity, our abnormality, our sociability. Facebook and Twitter function as the new resume.
We are caught in the unending necessity to be continually educating, training, exploring, perfecting, and fine-tuning ourselves. Our continual self-invention is both economic imperative and economic engine.”
No doubt this seems dire enough, but one more dark truth emerges from this constant race. Because if we are constructing our identities in order to become more sale-able to people (be that for money or Facebook likes or even just to be noticed in this new hyper-gendered micro-radical hierarchy of new identities), how do we even know who we are anymore?
To be honest, I don’t always know. I am a radical queer anarchist pagan nomad punk fag brother boyfriend theorist bard druid, but none of that actually tells me what I am, only the hashtags people might use to define me on a social media post. Labels that once gave meaning now become indelible brandings. Try to shift any of those identities and the world (or the social media world, anyway) pushes back…hard. And just as often, those labels themselves are fiercely contested: I cannot count how many times I’ve been told I’m too ‘masculine-presenting’ to be allowed to use the term queer.
So who am I? Who gets to decide? And why are we using capitalist tools to mediate those discussions in the first place? Or is it possible it’s those very tools which have triggered these crises in the first place?Not All Revolutions Are Good
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
(The Communist Manifesto)
The shift wrought by internet technology wherein identity is now the very battlefield of our ability to survive in the world may seem utterly different from any other struggle which has come before. In context of the struggle the Luddites and the early communists and anarchists fought, however, not much has really changed.
The rise of industrial capitalism triggered vast shifts in social relations which are to this day still being constantly disrupted. It should thus be no surprise to us that ‘disruptive technology’ is a statement of pride for many of the new architects of this current upheaval, an upheaval in which we also take part when we celebrate the destruction of older forms of relating (binary gender, hetero-normative society, class-based politics). What ‘good’ comes from these disruptions unfortunately seems fleeting and probably is. Because while it is a beautiful thing that acceptance of gender variance and queer sexuality have become so prominent, it’s a sick joke to say a poor queer or trans person desperately trying to pay rent by sleeping on a friend’s couch while letting out their bedroom on AirBnb, turning tricks on TaskRabbit or bareback hookup apps, and desperately looking for the perfect filter to get their Instagram account another 100 followers has somehow had their life ‘improved’ by these disruptions.
Yet, to this current horror in which we all find ourselves, perhaps the Luddites might shrug and say, “at least you didn’t have time forced upon you.” Because along with ‘disruption’ of the factory from hand-craft and laborer to factory and wage-slave came the beginning of an oppressive order of time.
Clocks became no longer curiosities but requirements. Suddenly, knowing if it was half-past eight or just ‘morning’ became the crucial difference between feeding your family for a day or starving on the street. Time literally had to be disciplined into us during the birth of industrialization, often times by christian moralists like John Wesley working on behalf of the factory owners. Time became something that you “spent” rather than something that passed, work became measured not by what needed doing according to the season but what the factory boss demanded you do within a set number of hours.
Before industrialization, work was task-oriented. You planted at some times of the year, harvested at others, ground wheat and fixed carts, wove cloth and made clothes not when an arbitrary number declared it was ‘time’ to do so but when the thing itself needed doing. And work itself was determined by how long you wanted to take doing the task, not how many hours the boss said you needed to stand at a counter or else be fired.
When attempting to imagine what that world was like (not very long ago), we tend to imagine it for ourselves, what our own life might have been like. Harder to imagine, however, is what all of society itself was like without clocks as over-seers. Imagine then what life would be like if not just you but all your friends and all the people in your town lived life without clocks, and you get a little closer to understanding precisely what the Luddites were fighting for.A New Luddite Rebellion
It was against such radical, world-altering shifts that the Luddites broke into factories at night, smashing looms. One imagines they wanted their time back, they wanted their children and parents back, wanted the ability to survive without working in factories back. They wanted back the rich texture of a society where you knew the people who made your clothes, talked to the people who grew your food, or were those people themselves.
We are living in another such time. People older than me lived most of their childhoods without the internet and do not (or cannot) adapt to a world where everything about them is on display, sold piecemeal through Facebook updates and Instagram photos.
Those much younger than me do not know a world without cellphones, do not remember that it was possible to make new friends and meet amazing lovers without connecting first to an always-on device in your pocket. How many of them know you can arrive by train to a foreign city with just a paper map and a notebook and have the best trip of your life? How many will ever get a chance to experience what it was like to not just survive but actually have a pretty decent life in a city on less than full-time, barely-above minimum wage as I did in Seattle 15 years ago? And most of all, how many of them will ever know that risk and uncertainty is not something to be avoided at all costs but very often the thing which makes life worth living in the first place?
I barely remember what that was like.
I also barely remember what it was like to be anonymous, to have hours and hours of free time without devices I felt like I needed always to be looking at, constantly notifying me that emails and texts and retweets and messages are coming in. To have long conversations with strangers while waiting for a bus, to make new friends on the walk to work or find an awesome lover by chance while whiling away the day at a cafe. And most of all, I barely remember what it was like to know who I am without labels–to not need to call myself anything but my name, and have that be enough.
I want that all back. If you are close in age to me, you probably do to. If you are younger than me and don’t know what that was like, perhaps my telling of it is enough to entice you to want it also, and if you are older than me you might be shaking your head, having already mourned what’s been lost.
More than anything, we need this all back. Not just our time (consumed constantly by always-on devices and relentless updates). Not just our Selves (boxed in, categorized, labeled and shelved by any number of ‘identities.’). Not just our ability to pay rent and eat and still have enough money left over to enjoy the ever-dwindling number of months and days we have on this earth. Not just all that, but we need our will back, our reckless desire to act in the face of risk and uncertainty, the chaotic and unscripted interactions between ourselves and the world which make our lives not just exciting, but mythic.
And therein’s the key to the ritual invocation we must perform to take back what we’ve watched slowly sold off of our lives with each new screech of the devil’s bagpipes. There are spirits, gods, and ancestors who keep the memory of the old worlds even as we forget. Ludd was one, and though his followers failed to stop the horror born of the factories in England, some of us still remember their attempt. Be it Ludd or the Raven King, Brighid or Dionysos, or perhaps all the old gods and heroes summoned together, we can make another go at stopping this new horror waking upon the world. From the shattered remains of the past we can reconstruct a new resistance against this increasingly senseless drive towards self-as-product.
And if we fail, we will no doubt be smeared by many for being ‘anti-modern’ just as the Luddites were, dismissed and forgotten by many others, but definitely remembered by some, just as the Luddites are still remembered now.
We may indeed fail. The risks are very, very great, and there’s no Trip Advisor listing to assure us that there will be good food and pleasant ambiance after our uprising. Perhaps our failures will be re-tweeted across the world, Facebook Live videos streaming our defeat to countless millions using greasy thumbs to scroll through the comments. We’ll lose Instagram followers and potential Influencer sponsorships while the rich and powerful of the world destroy more forests, gun down more poor people, and start more wars.
We probably won’t win. But I’m gonna try anyway, because I want my life back.
And maybe you do, too.Rhyd Wildermuth Tags: luddismanti-civcategory: Essays
The post Rojava: Statement from Antifascist Forces in Afrin (AFFA) appeared first on It's Going Down.The following statement from international antifascist volunteers fighting in Rojava to defend Afrin from the Turkish State was originally posted on Insurrection News, which we repost below.
On the 20th January 2018, Turkish army and Islamist terrorists supported and sponsored by the Turkish state launched an invasion against Afrin, a Kurdish majority enclave situated in the northwest of Syria – ironically named “Operation Olive Branch”.
Afrin is one of the cantons of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria – commonly known as Rojava. In 2011, the people of Afrin, Kobani and Cizre region rose up in arms and declared themselves autonomous in the midst of a brutal civil war and sectarian conflicts. In the next six years, from elevating the role of women in politics and society, dismantling patriarchal and feudal cultural practices, building a political system that emphasises direct democracy, municipalism and pluralism, to creating an economic system that is based on needs, equality and sustainability, the revolutionary people of Rojava were able to initiate widespread social reforms.
One of the most despicable outcomes of the Syrian civil war was the ascension of the Islamic State (ISIS). This barbaric gang took advantage of the chaotic geopolitical situations, they were able to take over large swathes of territory. Tens of thousands of civilians lived under a regime of terror installed by the Islamist terrorist group. ISIS was seemingly unstoppable, until the battle of Kobani, where the terrorist group experienced their first major defeat at the hands of the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), Women’s Protection Unit (YPJ) and allies. From Kobani, Manbij, Raqqa, to Deir ez-Zor, the revolutionary forces of Rojava played an essential role in the defeat of ISIS.
From the beginning, the Turkish state had sought every opportunity to blackmail, blockade, sabotage and destroy the Rojava revolution. This stemmed from a long history of systemic oppression and discrimination of the Kurdish people. But it also demonstrated the resurgence of the tendencies towards fascism of the Turkish polity. Under the leadership of Erdoğan and his AK party, the Turkish state engaged in a series of mass arrests, brutal crackdowns on opposition and harsh censorship of free press under the pretence of anti-terrorism. Thousands of innocent people including democratically elected opposition representatives were thrown into jail without fair trials. Enforcement of conservative religious values and practices, including discrimination against LGBTQ communities, as well as an increasingly expansionist and neo-colonial foreign policy signal the rise of a fascist regime in Turkey.
Today in Afrin, we are witnessing another attempt by the fascistic Turkish state to attack the revolutionary aspirations of the autonomous people of Rojava. Erdoğan has even openly called for the “Arabisation” of the overwhelmingly Kurdish region of Afrin. Facing a genocidal enemy with absolute military superiority, but with will and determination, the people of Afrin have already unflinchingly resisted the imperialist invasion for more than twenty days while the world’s governments have so far turned a blind eye.
We are a group of communists, socialists, anarchists and antifascists, hailing from different parts of the world. Despite coming from different ideological and cultural backgrounds, we are united in Rojava by the principles of solidarity, internationalism and antifascism. From Manbij to Raqqa, we have fought alongside YPG, YPJ, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and a number of Turkish revolutionary forces against the barbaric ISIS. Now in Afrin, we have once again come together to fight alongside our comrades against fascism, imperialism and terrorism.
Internationalists have shed blood for this struggle against fascism. From Şehid Ivanna Hoffman who was one of the first international women martyrs in Rojava, Şehid Michael Israel who was murdered by a Turkish airstrike in Manbij to Şehid Jac Holmes who fell in Raqqa as the capital of ISIS was liberated by the antifascist forces, we honor the martyrs by continuing their struggle.
The resistance of Afrin is one of the most critical moments in the struggle against fascism of our time. The time to act is now.
We call for international solidarity with the struggle of Afrin.
We call on determined international revolutionaries to join our struggle.
We also call upon widespread civil actions against the Turkish state around the world.
In unity, we will be triumphant. In solidarity, we will defeat our enemies.
Şehid namirin! Bijî berxwedana Efrînê!
Death to Fascism! Death to colonialism!
Long live international solidarity!
Antifascist Forces in Afrin (AFFA)
Şehid Michael Israel Brigade
13th February 2018
The post Alton Gas Criminalizing Grassroots Mi’kmaq Water Protectors appeared first on It's Going Down.The following update comes from people on the ground in Mi’kmaq territory defending land and water from the construction of an Alton Gas project. Check their Twitter feed for more updates.
Sipekne’katik/Fort Ellis — Alton Gas has posted signs outside the Treaty Camp at the Shubenacadie River naming water protectors on site as trespassers and criminals.
Grassroots Mi’kmaq water protectors have been holding down a protection camp at the Shubenacadie River for nine months to prevent Alton Gas from dumping thousands of tons of salt brine into the sacred river every day. They are outraged by Alton Gas’ bully tactics and intent to resume work on the project without allowing Sipekne’katik to complete its community consultation process.
The Alton Gas project proposes to create two salt caverns by solution mining an existing salt deposit, dumping the salt brine in the Shubenacadie River, and filling the resulting caverns with gas. The company’s mixing channel, designed to mix the brine into the river water, filled with mud almost immediately upon its creation. Additionally, Alton Gas is eight years behind schedule, has a number of lapsed and defunct permits, and has cancelled two of the four caverns it originally planned to create.
“Alton Gas has been interfering with Sipekne’katik’s self-made consultation process,” says grassroots grandmother water protector, Dorene Bernard. “The band has recently hired a person to do Community Consultation on this project and others. Now, the company is trying to intimidate and harass water protectors, and paint us as criminals.”
— StopAltonGas (@StopAltonGas) February 12, 2018
“This camp is peaceful, and principled,” says Bernard. “We’re here as Mi’kmaq and treaty rights holders to defend our right to this river and this place. Defending this right is our responsibility. Alton Gas is trying to paint us as criminal for protecting our Treaty rights and doing our sacred duty to protect our unceded lands and waters.”
“Sipekne’katik has been developing its own consultation process – we want to tell Canada how we will be consulted, and not have that dictated for us,” says Bernard. Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative (KMKNO) does not represent Sipekne’katik. “Alton Gas is trying to bully us here at the river by calling us criminals, and bully our band council into signing an impact benefit agreement. All we’re doing is defending our treaty right to this river and protection of the watershed.
“The RCMP officers come with Alton Gas when they try to do work or hang up signs like these ones. They are protecting Alton Gas’s interests more than they are protecting us as peaceful water protectors and treaty rights holders,” says Rebecca Cope-Moore.
Treaty Camp water protectors are calling on the Government of Nova Scotia to stop Alton Gas from proceeding with their project while Sipekne’katik completes its consultation process.
The post Parkdale Rent Strikers to Michael Lax: Your Eviction Notices Don’t Intimidate Us appeared first on It's Going Down.The following short report comes from Parkdale Organize in Toronto. For more information on the group, check out our podcast interview with them here, as well as this overview of current self-organized tenant groups here.
Michael Lax, landlord and director of Nuspor Investments, has sent eviction notices to the rent strikers at 1251 King.
On Sunday night rent strikers met and unanimously agreed to continue to withhold their rent until Michael Lax drops his application for a rent increase above the guideline at the building. The rent strikers are not intimidated. They will continue their rent strike with the support of their neighbours in Parkdale.
Lax will no longer be allowed to hide in his offices or behind his network of corporations. In the coming days rent strikers will be calling on neighbours and supporters across the city to join a campaign targeting Lax directly. Stay tuned!
White powdery substance found to be baby powder at former President Obama's DC office | 13 Feb 2018 | An envelope with a "powdery substance" found at former President Barack Obama's D.C. office is now found to be baby powder, following a police investigation on Tuesday. The incident was reported at around 11 a.m. at the World Wildlife Fund Headquarters at 1250 24th Street in Northwest D.C. D.C. Fire and EMS first responders wearing hazmat suits entered the building to investigate. FBI and Secret Service also responded to the scene.
'White powder' sent to Barack Obama's Washington office sparks urgent probe | 13 Feb 2018 | Reports a 'white substance' has been sent to Barack Obama's Washington office has sparked an investigation. It comes just a day after Donald Trump's daughter-in-law was taken to hospital a letter containing a 'suspicious substance' was sent to her New York apartment. And counter-terror police were deployed to the Houses of Parliament this morning after a package of white powder reportedly sent to Amber Rudd's office sparked a security alert. Both packages were investigated by police, who found them to be harmless.
The post Against Amazon and Its World: For An Anti-Amazon Olympics appeared first on It's Going Down.The following is a call to resist the construction of a new Amazon HQ as well as build solidarity with Amazon workers. To read a background on global struggles against Amazon and the world that it is creating, go here.
The sum total of all social evil is being concentrated into a single entity: Amazon. The technology giant, with its tremendous logistical and algorithmic powers, is building an unfree world all around us. In the past, colonies were built far away from the Empire. Now, they are constructed in the hearts of city centers, guarded off from the rest of the world. In the coming months, Amazon intends to announce a location for HQ2, its proposed second headquarters. The effects of this operation, in which the world’s richest man would build a $4B megaplex to facilitate the growth of his delusional science fiction fantasies, would be utterly catastrophic.
We are not interested in compromise, only in a fight. This is a call out to those cities across the country that Amazon is proposing to colonize: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, D.C., Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina’s Research Triangle, as well as Seattle who already have an Amazon HQ. We propose an Anti-Amazon Olympics to see which city can create the most trouble for Amazon before they announce their verdict.
#Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in the world, as the online commerce giant slashes wages and pushes forward automation. In Europe, workers are responding with strikes and arson attacks. Will the proletarian retail revolt spread? https://t.co/SX7UBKD1Xy pic.twitter.com/ewsgThblFz
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 22, 2017
Find ways to act in solidarity with strikers, union battles, and Amazon employees in general. Amazon delivery trucks serve every part of your town. Find out where they keep their lockers and store fronts. Whole Foods is Amazon. There are distribution and fulfillment centers on the outskirts of every major city. Their poisonous ecosystem is growing all around us, and we must hold them accountable for its negative impact on our lives. We must show Amazon that there is popular and widespread resistance everywhere they threaten.
Let’s take the initiative, let’s stop Amazon before it’s too late! There’s no time but now!
Share the results of your campaign in whatever way you see fit. You can email us anonymously at firstname.lastname@example.orgTHE ONLY PLACE AMAZON SHOULD BUILD ITS NEW HEADQUARTERS IS IN THE NINTH CIRCLE OF HELL!
The post A Fight for Freedom: No Racist, Sexist Fascists in DC appeared first on It's Going Down.The following is a call to oppose an upcoming gathering of Alt-Lite trolls in Washington DC.
We’re in year two of the Trump regime, and the US is drifting dangerously towards fascism. Trump’s volunteer propaganda team, champions of fake news, misogyny, and racism, will come to DC to make a mockery of “freedom.” We will protest outside. Real freedom is in the streets.
Who are the Alt-Lite and far-Right trolls that seem to exist to spreading disinformation and fake news? Mike Cernovich is best known for pushing the "Pizzagate" conspiracy. In 2016 he attempted to place himself within the Alt-Right, but soon joined the 'Alt-Lite' faction. pic.twitter.com/0bSMDkMjQi
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 19, 2017
The fascists will descend upon Washington DC the evening of Saturday, February 24th, for an evening of sipping fine wine and expensive delicacies. They’re calling their fancy event, “A Night for Freedom.” We are not fooled. We know that their vision is one that protects the oppressive status quo, protects a system predominantly run by rich white men like them and like Trump at the expense of everyone else. Starting at 5 PM, we will protest. We will announce our location as soon as the fascists announce their venue.
A Lot of Cernovich's escapades, from Pizzagate to his disgusting discussion of sexual assault and rape, can be found here: https://t.co/OW0USwGGKM
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 19, 2017
This fascist event is organized by Mike Cernovich, who once tweeted “date rape does not exist.” Cernovich was himself accused of rape, and likes to describe his own very rapey behavior. He was given a seven-figure settlement in a divorce, allowing him a lot of time to tweet pro-Trump propaganda and accuse everyone he disagrees with of pedophilia. Cernovich was one of the lead promoters of the “pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which led a man to walk into Comet Ping-Pong with a gun and shoot the place up, all based on the lies Cernovich had spread. Cernovich also participated in the gamergate harassment of women attempting to address sexism in video games. He bullies. He’s anti-trans and anti-immigrant. He tweets that his semen has mystical powers. He’s a terrible person.
Fascism and sexism go hand in hand. The links are clear between rape apologists and Trump, who himself bragged about sexual assault and has defended domestic abusers. A hallmark of fascism is toxic masculinity, the type that seeks dominance and avoids accountability, the type that seeks to control women, that denies sexual assault and domestic violence, and that wishes to persecute immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and anyone they believe they can oppress.
Mike Cernovich gets caught red-handed in Pizzagate lie
Why is Mike allowed to stay on twitter orchestrating smear campaign after smear campaign? He regularly doxes people he doesn't like. He is a danger to society. @jack @twitter @twittersupport @twittergov pic.twitter.com/UZ2w794SCx
— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) November 18, 2017
We antifascists are those who value real freedom. Opposing fascism is true humanity. Immigrants, Muslims, women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, the poor and working class, and anyone who recognizes the humanity of all people stand united against fascism, authoritarianism, and oppression. We value our differences, the vibrant living Earth, and a future that includes all of us.
We will hold a public rally outside the fascist banquet. The event will feature a variety of speakers who are DC organizers, music, signage, etc. We will gather the community, make noise, and stop them.
— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) November 21, 2017
We will convene at 5 PM outside their venue. The right-wing organizers have not yet made public the location of their event because they know we are successful at getting them shut down. Their event will occur on the final night of the “Conservative Political Action Conference” (CPAC), but is expected to be at a different location than the CPAC conference itself. Please stay tuned! We will announce the location as soon as it is known.FREEDOM IS IN THE STREETS!
THIS CALL TO ACTION: This was written by a committee of members of the DC Antifascist Collective, who were empowered to do so by a process of consensus by the body of the collective as a whole.
ORGANIZERS, POTENTIAL SPEAKERS: Please contact us through our Facebook page if you wish to speak/collaborate/volunteer/participate in this protest event. Please note that only vetted individuals will gain traction in communicating with us, as there is a strong likelihood that the right-wing organizers may attempt to infiltrate our planning process.MORE INFORMATION:
The cast of characters who are organizing the fancy fascist event will include notorious right-wing personalities such as James O’Keefe, Cassandra Fairbanks, John Goldman (aka “Jack Murphy”), Stefan Molyneux, and Jack Posobiec, who has recently launched a PAC with Cernovich oriented toward getting far-Right fascist candidates elected to office.
Cernovich, Posobiec, and their lackeys have conducted targeted disinformation campaigns, including Pizzagate, planting a “Rape Melania” sign in a crowd of anti-Trump protesters, and planting other signs such as a pro-pedophilia sign in a crowd of antifascist protesters. Many of their disinformation campaigns occur under the guise of other fake troll accounts.
Lucian Wintrich, one of Milo's associates, is also a White House correspondent and writes for the conspiracy website, The Gateway Pundit. Recently, Wintrich gave a speech based on a neo-Nazi meme alongside a Proud Boy who attended Unite the Right. https://t.co/abnFTMxB9N
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 19, 2017
These fascists are often called the “Alt Lite.” They are careful to keep the most extreme Nazis at a distance while maintaining an air of plausible deniability. They claim they’re not white supremacists, but they are indeed immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, heteronormative, right-wing-meme-generating liars whose work has contributed to the rise of the most hateful elements of the “Alt Right.”
We must oppose these fascists. We have put the “Alt Right” on the defensive. Now our focus must shift to these “Alt Lite” personalities. They may not wear swastikas or perform Nazi salutes in public but they pursue the same policy agenda that the most extreme, hateful factions of the far-Right pursue.
What do we do when we need to defend our communities against their brand of domination, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism? We get out into the streets and oppose them!
LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio02132018
Kathan co-hosts. Epidemic of loneliness, epidemic of despair. Life expectancy
slipping. Pinker's new, nutso Enlightenment Now. Narcissism e.g. "The Bride
May Now Kiss Herself." Few anarchists seem to notice what's happening in society
at large. Missile proliferation - like the rest of technology. Open season on cops.
Sea level rise accelerating, extinction crisis in Australia, enormous East China
Sea oil spill. E-skin. What is resistance? Action news.
"Left Out," a podcast produced by Paul Sliker, Dante Dallavalle and Michael Palmieri, creates in-depth conversations with the most interesting political thinkers, heterodox economists and organizers on the Left. Follow "Left Out" on Twitter: @leftoutpodcast
A decade after the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, it is still popular belief among the public and mainstream press that "no one saw" the 2007-08 financial crisis coming. The truth is, however, that a handful of unorthodox economists had the foresight to warn of the crisis, and were able to develop and apply the right analytical framework to the large amounts of empirical data available, allowing them to forecast why and how it would happen.
In late 2005, Keene became one of the first in this tiny club of economists to get it right (and one of only two do so with mathematical models), earning himself the Revere Award from the Real-World Economics Review for "being the economist who most cogently warned of the crisis, and whose work is most likely to prevent future crises."
So what distinguishes Keen's approach to economics from the mainstream theory (also known as "Neoclassical" economics)?
According to Keen, it's because of his focus on the importance of credit in a dynamic, non-equilibrium framework. From that viewpoint, he identifies the ratio of private debt to GDP -- and the rate of change of that ratio -- as a key determinant of the state of the economy.
In the first half of our interview, Professor Keen explains why conventional economic theory doesn't describe capitalism accurately, as well as Hyman Minsky's hypothesis on the significance of private debt in the economy -- something that is largely ignored by the predominant "Neoclassical" school of economics today.
In the second half, we turn to the prescriptive. Keen contends the main thing people need to think about is that "as well as workers and capitalists we have creditors and debtors in this economy -- and by far the most important social clash these days is not between workers and capitalists, it's between the financial sector and the rest of the economy."
As for the left, Keen thinks in order to win it must be less reactive and more intelligent in their campaigning, otherwise the future we'll face "will be that of The Hunger Games and not of a democratic society." That means focusing more on the role of private debt than on wage campaigns or unionization, and fighting for a modern debt jubilee and universal basic income.
Keen wraps up our discussion with his forecast for the global economy and gives us his predictions for what countries are most likely to face a crisis in the next one to three years.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are continuing to debate the future of DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the United States. Republican lawmakers are pushing to include an amendment to punish so-called sanctuary cities as part of any immigration legislation to protect DREAMers. Meanwhile, a second federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from canceling DACA. On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York issued an injunction to keep the program temporarily in place, warning its cancellation would have "profound and irreversible" social costs, writing, "It is impossible to understand the full consequences of a decision of this magnitude." For more, we speak with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Please check back later for full transcript.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal talks about the scandal embroiling the White House over former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who resigned after evidence surfaced that he had abused his two ex-wives. On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate that the FBI had told the White House about the physical and verbal abuse allegations that were holding up Porter's background check months earlier than the White House has admitted. Jayapal talks about why she has called for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to resign, as well as her support for impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Please check back later for full transcript.
A shredded flag is thrown to the ground before Seattle police during a Freedom Rally at University of Washington in Seattle on February 10, 2018. At least five people were taken into policy custody at a right-wing rally that attracted hundreds of protesters to the University of Washington campus. (Photo: Emily Molli / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Washington, DC, police and federal prosecutors have been collaborating with notorious right-wing groups known for fascist statements and using doctored videos to ambush their targets in an attempt to convict and jail protesters from President Trump's inauguration.
The question is not whether the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the US Attorney's office in Washington, DC, are working with Oath Keepers, a group of cops and veterans with rabid anti-government views, and Project Veritas, a far-right group known for fabricating accounts to ambush the media and the political left.
The question is, how deep is the relationship between the police, federal prosecutors and these extremists? And in MPD's case, are Washington police breaking the law, as its city council has passed laws barring them from spying on protesters or protest groups?
"It's extraordinarily dangerous for prosecutors and police to be accepting information and evidence from politically motivated organizations that are intending to work against their political opponents," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director and constitutional rights attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. "That's not how they're supposed to operate."
"So when the US Attorney's Office takes video from the widely discredited Project Veritas, in fact, edited video, and submits it into evidence in an effort to prosecute protesters and put them away for decades in prison, it is critically important that the public has an opportunity to see what's going on behind those scenes, and to know what the relationships are that the Metropolitan Police Department, the DC police department, or any police department, has with right-wing organizations," she said. "They simply can't be working in collaboration."
The capital's cops and right-wingers are apparently working together, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by PCJF against DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Karl A. Racine in the US Attorney's office. They want to force the police and prosecutors to turn over all documentation of the relationship between their agencies and right-wing groups that was "used to prosecute persons whose political views are in apparent opposition to the political goals of the providing entities," as the lawsuit said.
"What we are trying to get at is the nature and extent of the relationship, of the DC police department working with Project Veritas, Oath Keepers and other entities," Verheyden-Hilliard said. "We know for a fact that the police department worked with Project Veritas, obtaining edited video that group created when it infiltrated organizations that were planning protests for [President] Trump's inauguration. And in fact, the US Attorney's office in Washington, DC, introduced that video in their failed prosecution of six people caught in that dragnet arrest on January 20. There are still dozens of cases pending. But in the initial round, they tried to prosecute six people for having been in proximity to a demonstration, where other people are alleged to have engaged in acts of property damage at other locations and times separate from the location and time of the arrest."
Astoundingly, federal prosecutors introduced the doctored video evidence made by Project Veritas the same week the Washington Post reported that the group had tried to bait the paper with a fabricated account by a fellow right-winger who accused Alabama Republican Roy Moore -- then a US Senate candidate -- of sexual harassment. (Moore has been accused by a series of women, first reported by the Post.)
"So they did introduce this video into evidence" to try to convict six protesters from Trump's inauguration, Verheyden-Hilliard said. "It was created by Project Veritas. The police also were given video that they used, and the US Attorney's office used, from the right-wing militia Oath Keepers. When they introduced that video in court, it was the exact same week that Project Veritas was exposed for trying to plant a fake story in the Washington Post. So we immediately filed a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] demand, seeking records showing the nature of the police department and its officers and Project Veritas, Oath Keepers and any other private entity that is providing intelligence information to the MPD. And they refused to respond to that request. We have even had followup inquiry and they are absolutely silent. They will not respond, so we sued them for the documents."
There is a long history of police working with right-wing groups to subvert the organizing and speech rights of social justice groups. On Friday, the Guardian reported police in California were working with white supremacists before June 2016 anti-fascist protests in Sacramento, the state capital, to target protesters for arrest. That wasn't the only example cited, either. "At an Oregon 'alt-right' event, police allowed a member of a right-wing militia-style group to help officers arrest an anti-fascist activist," it reported. "Police in Charlottesville were widely accused of standing by as Nazis attacked protesters, and a black man who was badly beaten by white supremacists was later charged with a felony."
A generation ago, the San Francisco Police Department was caught working with the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish civil rights group, to "spy, harass and intimidate" pro-Palestine activists, as the New York Times reported in 1993. But one big difference between the California state police and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington is that the District of Columbia's city council has explicitly passed laws barring the city's police from spying on and framing protesters.
That law came after the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund sued the city after anti-globalization protests more than a dozen years ago.
"We have information showing during the anti-globalization movement that police agencies in both Washington, DC, and Philadelphia were readily obtaining and using politically created false information by right-wing organizations. It's very dangerous," Verheyden-Hilliard said. "But in Washington, DC, we put these restrictions in place under the law. So there's a key component here, which is, the police are actually barred by law -- there are restrictions on their surveillance of political protest groups. And we are very concerned that they are actually trying to outsource that by working with these right-wing organizations to do what the police are barred by law from doing. But, in our view, that would still be illegal. We don't think that they can actually work as a proxy."
It's chilling to recall what the capital's police did a dozen years ago, and to ponder who they're partnering with today to apparently evade restrictions on that behavior.
"We found that the DC police were sending agent provocateurs into peaceful organizing meetings, encouraging people to undertake acts of violence, which were rejected," Verheyden-Hilliard said. "We found that they were sending cops on long-term assignment pretending to be social justice activists. They were going into people's homes. They were participating in their meetings in an active capacity. And when we were finally able to bring this to light, after some years of litigation, there were laws put into place to make it clear that the police could not conduct themselves in those ways."
But some police departments are conducting themselves in that manner -- and not just in Washington.
"It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the [neo-]Nazis," Yvette Felarca, "a Berkeley teacher and anti-fascist organizer charged with assault and rioting after participating in the June 2016 Sacramento rally, where she said she was stabbed and bludgeoned in the head," told the Guardian. "The people who were victimized by the [neo-]Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys."
While this police tactic is not new, Verheyden-Hilliard said Trump has given extremists in police ranks his blessing to go after the political left.
"With Trump taking over the presidency, and his comments before and after, he made it clear that he's giving a green light to the police to act against social justice demonstrators," she said. "He has heralded police brutality as an acceptable form of policing. And I think he has certainly sent a message to police forces and to anyone inside those police forces who has an affinity for any of these right-wing organizations that it's completely acceptable to act on their views in the context of policing. We can see with Charlottesville real questionable police conduct; their failure to act against white supremacists and neo-Nazi demonstrators, while simultaneously acting against social justice demonstrators."If you believe our world needs more journalism covering the issues that matter, then show your support for independent media: Make a donation to Truthout today!
Trump's infrastructure plan, which he rolled out on Monday, looks to public/private partnerships at the state level to pay for investment. Hunter Blair, budget analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, discusses why Trump's proposal will harm more people and the need to rethink what constitutes "infrastructure."
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Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. We're now more than a year into the Trump administration, and activists have scored some important victories in those months. Yet there is always more to be done, and for many people, the question of where to focus and how to help remains. In this series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators, not only about how to resist, but how to build a better world. Today's interview is the 110th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.
Today we bring you a conversation with Hunter Blair, the budget analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. Blair discusses Trump's newly released infrastructure plan and explains why unloading the burden of majority of funding to states and localities is the wrong approach.
Sarah Jaffe: We are talking on Monday. The Trump infrastructure plan, if we can call it that, has been released, and you have been looking at the potential things that might be in it for a while. Tell us about what the overall structure of this thing is, what is in it, and what should we be afraid of?
Hunter Blair: I think the structure of the plan is what we expected to see. It is only $200 billion in federal funding, as opposed to the headline claims of either $1.5 trillion or $1 trillion that the administration had been claiming. Of that, $100 billion goes to this sort of grant program that kicks the funding decisions to states and localities. They are required to come up with 80 percent of the funding and the federal government only provides 20 percent. There is $50 billion for rural projects. All of it comes back to what appears to be their belief that state and local governments need to spend even more on funding our infrastructure. Then, there are quite a lot of boilerplate claims about leveraging the private sector.
Let's talk about the state funding question right now because there is.... Well, there are a couple of big problems with taking it all to the states.
State and local governments already account for the vast majority of our public infrastructure spending. [The Congressional Budget Office] had a report where 77 percent of public infrastructure spending on transportation and water infrastructure comes from state and local governments. It strikes me that if we think that this type of system has led to an underinvestment in infrastructure, kicking still further of the onus onto the states seems wrong.
Then, of course, there is the problem that ... unlike the federal government, states can't really run a deficit.
Yes, that is absolutely right. As far as funding is concerned, if the federal government is unwilling to fund it and sends the decisions to the states, states are going to have to raise taxes or put tolls or user fees on whichever piece of infrastructure, because, as you say, they can't run the sorts of deficits that the federal government can.
There are several questions about what this is going to look like in practice. What kinds of infrastructure are we talking about here? He has made some promises all over the place, but when it comes down to it, what kinds of things are they suggesting be built?
As far as their claims about leveraging the private sector, what we are talking about there are mostly very large mega-projects. Things that you would see in big urban areas. That is the main takeaway for most of the funding. There is the small rural account, but it is $50 billion over 10 years.
Obviously, we have crumbling infrastructure on many levels. One of the big ones ... on a lot of people's minds still is clean water. I live in a small city in New York that has water problems. Flint still doesn't have clean water. Is there anything at all in this plan, such as it is, that would take into account things like that?
Unless a state or local government decided that that was where to put a particular part of the funding, no. Even then, we have already seen how states and local governments have responded to the types of funding constraints that they are under, and so the idea that we are going to get some sort of noticeable increase in infrastructure with a plan like this -- and particularly noticeable increases in places that were having trouble getting state and local governments to fund fully -- seems wrong.
One of the big reasons that people wanted to talk about a big massive infrastructure project is, of course ... job creation, and particularly the kinds of jobs that people have been losing.... Under a plan like this that is contingent on states eking out some money and/or private companies doing things, what does the picture around job creation look like here?
As far as states and local governments ... since this isn't a real infrastructure plan and it is just kicking all of the decisions to states and local governments, we have seen how they have responded to those decisions. We have seen the underinvestment. So, getting more jobs from this is not likely to happen. As far as the public/private partnership type of things go, what we are looking at is, historically [public/private partnerships] have avoided ... prevailing wage laws. It is very probable that if, let's say there was a significant increase in infrastructure, if a lot of that came from public/private partnerships, it would not be surprising if these were much worse jobs than they should have been.
Let's go a little bit deeper about this public/private partnership thing. It is kind of a buzz term that gets thrown around a lot by politicians of both parties, frankly. Talk a little bit about the history of what [they] look like in practice where we have seen them operate and what the pitfalls have been.
You are right, we hear about it a lot from a lot of politicians about very boilerplate claims, "We are going to leverage the private sector to find this many dollars." At the end of the day, private entities don't bring any more funding to the table. Either the federal government is going to fund it or you are going to be looking at taxes or tolls or user fees. Private companies do not build our infrastructure for free and they don't manage or maintain anything of the sort for free and they expect to earn a return. They will earn that return through partnerships that allow them to collect tolls or pay them through state and local taxes. Leveraging the private sector, it gets thrown around a lot, but it certainly doesn't bring any new money to the table.
It just brings a different type of financing to the table. It brings that financing at a time [when] interest rates are still incredibly low. It seems like also the wrong time to be talking about it. Along with that, public/private partnerships bring their own sorts of problems that you have to deal with. Typically, the public sector has provided infrastructure in the US because a lot of infrastructure has natural monopoly characteristics: high fixed costs and low marginal costs that would allow private companies to keep out competitors. This means that they would have the incentives to hike prices or deteriorate the service quality, which means even if a private sector entity is providing the infrastructure or managing the infrastructure, you still need a strong role for the public sector in regulating it to ensure efficient pricing or good service quality. Again, you are not really getting around needing a strong public role by introducing public/private partnerships.
I am just picturing a giant bridge over the Hudson River that says "Trump" on it in gold. What are you going to do? Sell naming rights to infrastructure? It makes no sense to me. But I guess that is the slippage here -- as you say "public/private partnership" and what that actually means is that we give public goods to private ownership. Then, it gets a name.
Talk a little bit about what an actual infrastructure plan that fixed problems that we know we have -- like crumbling bridges and water that poisons children -- and what ideally that would look like to put people to work and fix problems and maybe keep us all from dying in a climate change catastrophe.
I think, ideally, we have seen how much the state and local governments have taken on and have seen where that has gotten us as far as underinvestment in infrastructure across the board. I think that an ideal infrastructure project would be on that size -- $1 trillion, $1.5 trillion, $2 trillion -- but it would be real federal dollars put on the table to make the sorts of investments we need. Beyond that, I think public investment is larger than just infrastructure. We should be investing in early childhood education and things like that.
It is interesting to think about the kinds of things and the kinds of jobs that are considered "infrastructure investments" and "infrastructure jobs." That we don't think about our public schools as infrastructure in the same way that we think about a bridge.
Right, but it is absolutely a part of the type of public investments that our country needs. It should be part of a broad public investment plan.
The plan is now out. People have been talking about it, thinking about it, organizing around these issues of infrastructure for a while. What can people do to pressure for real investments -- not giveaways to private companies and dumping the responsibility on the state?
I think you do what you typically do. Call your congressperson or senator and tell them about the type of infrastructure plan that you would actually like to see: real infrastructure investment from the federal government, not just kicking it to states and localities to figure out where to get funding from.
How can people find out more about this and keep up with your work?
You can find out more at www.EPI.org.
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.