Monday, October 10, 2011

A Solution

The last post was a bit controversial. I got a hair across my ass when I was watching the videos of the protesters that are being posted on YouTube. I was interested because I, like everyone else in the middle class, support the brutal financial rape of Bank of America as vengeance for their ongoing raping of their clients. And the same for every other major corporation that abuses its consumers. I want to see some white collar criminals go to jail for their crimes and evilness that have fucked over the country. I think the greedy patricians and oligarchs ought to pay for abusing me with their stupid ways.

And I was all set to go Occupy Baltimore, too, to express my disgust with the corporate hierarchs.

And then I saw a video of a guy holding up a cardboard sign that said "We are the 99%." And I got this vision of the whole entire world, and I remembered the Global Rich List calculator, and that I'm something like the 50,000,000th richest person on the planet, out of 7 billion. That puts me at about the top 7% of the planet, and the 99% bottom of the US at the same time.

And then I started seeing all the plastic bottles of water these guys were carrying around. And I saw they were organizing in Starbucks. And they were wearing all their obscure t-shirts they ordered online, wearing their designer hipster glasses, sporting carefully crafted couture. And I watched the folks who "know what's going on" saying that no one person stands for the movement, there is no one voice, what unites them is their disgust at the current situation. And then I saw someone saying to those considering joining the occupation to take the time to figure out what you believe, ten or fifteen minutes so that if you get interviewed, you don't look like an idiot on Fox News.

And it dawned on me that most of those folks showing up were idiots. They don't have any historical perspective, and they think any changes that they manage to get will be more than cosmetic. Hell, they don't even watch what is happening in Egypt right now, today. Hello new boss, same as the old boss. 1% controls the most, everyone else makes due with as much as they can scramble up and horde. It's the way of the world, and it always has been when more than a couple hundred or so humans are living in the same place.

A long time friend said I had the most cynical stoic perspective she'd ever seen in response to one of the comments along those lines I made on FaceBook. It's not, I don't think, because that's just how it is, was, and regardless of optimistic idealists' hopes and dreams, that's how it's going to remain forever.

Ok, maybe she's right.

But why does it have to be that way?

Because the way people do things in groups is fucked up.

When the revolutionaries, peaceful or bloodied have won, they divvy up the spoils of war along the lines that they all agree are right and fair for everyone, right? Ever? No. Even in a completely democratic process, there will be factions who walk away feeling dissatisfied. Look at Washington. People don't agree on things.

The idea that forming a group to do group activities to change the world will make it better is infantile, and stands bald faced against the solid evidence of history, and the evidence of the eyeballs in our heads right now. Right now goddamnit. Search Google News for what's going on with the Arab Spring. Today.

My Idea of a Solution

But there is an answer that will fix everything. If every one of those protesters out there in the street stopped making their event an occupation, and started making their lives a protest, things would change fundamentally.

If they unhooked their reliance on the system, and plugged it into themselves, and then started doing the real work of picking the right institutions to invest in, living ecologically sound lifestyles, destroying their reliance on the public energy grid, starting their own businesses, creating jobs themselves as they grew and profited, and voted sane, center-political candidates into office that would work together to get corporations taxed and regulated, small businesses subsidized, and the distribution of taxation fair, they would change the whole world.

When I start seeing them saying, "I got ripped off by corporate America because I trusted them and signed the contracts without reading the fine print or understanding the risks I was getting into, and I'm not going to do that ever again," then I'll have respect for this movement.

If they just tended their gardens, the problems they have would go away.

A group of enraged Bank of America people all went to BoA to close their accounts at once in a big protest, and they got arrested. Some people were like, "whoa, it's a crime to close your bank account, see how fucked up it is!" I see your point, you're right, but really what did you expect? An angry mob goes to the bank, the cops will be called.

If people would just calmly, quietly walk into their large banking institutions and close them down like sane adults, there wouldn't have been any uproar, the cops wouldn't have been called in, and the banks would be feeling a deep, cold dread that would spread to every corner of corporate business.

Put your money where your beliefs are. Find small local institutions, and put your money in them. Credit unions. Don't put it all in one place. Have some land somewhere, have something that produces something useful available.

If you must work with big corporations, read the fine print, shop around, and get screwed the least. It's complicated, it sucks, and that's life. It can't be simpler because there are too many of us involved now. That's the world you live in, and it's not going to change at the core, it will be complicated, and the rich will control the most and the poor will control the least. It doesn't matter if the outer form is capitalist, communist, or religious, democratic or tyrranical. Oligarchical patricians will still rule the world, and stack the deck in their favor. Gerrymandering, it's like that.

But this social outcry could do something positive, and I'd rather see people rioting in the streets than eating cheeseburgers while they watch Jersey Shore. I guess.

But really, they're doing it for the same reasons.


  1. "And if there is one thing that historians know, it's that nothing great was ever achieved except by those who were filled with passion. Their passion may have been illogical, even bizarre to modern people. Their understanding of the world and what they were doing may have been false. It usually was. But they were not afraid to act, guided by whatever ideas they had in their possession. Do not sneer at such people. You would not be here without them." - Eric Flint, Mother of Demons

    "If they unhooked their reliance on the system, and plugged it into themselves, and then started doing the real work of picking the right institutions to invest in, living ecologically sound lifestyles, destroying their reliance on the public energy grid, starting their own businesses, creating jobs themselves as they grew and profited, and voted sane, center-political candidates into office that would work together to get corporations taxed and regulated, small businesses subsidized, and the distribution of taxation fair, they would change the whole world."

    Here's the rub. Some people can't.

    You, and I, have the privilege of being white, male, relatively healthy, in the prime of our lives, and relatively intelligent, in a culture that rewards those qualities. Not everyone has those privileges. Even those of us who have those privileges won't have them forever. I'll always be white, and male, but I won't always be young, healthy, or possibly intelligent (brain damage due to an accident? Alzheimer's?).

    One of the markers of civilization, and how it progresses, depends on how it treats those least able to those who can't help themselves. Even the Law of Moses requires property owners to leave the corners of their fields unharvested for the poor, encourages the giving of alms.

    Those people are being crushed. The middle class, who would normally help the less off, are being strangled. The system is rigged against them. You invest in the right things, and someone manipulates the stock and boom, your savings are gone. You buy a commodity, and boom, speculation drives up or down the price depending on what the computer says will be the best way to make a killing. (e.g., Did you know the price of green coffee beans doubled in the past year due to speculation?)

    Most people are idiots. I'm an idiot when it comes to handling money, myself. It's not that I'm not smart or not educated, it's that money is an emotional topic for me, and that always causes issues. The point is, they have the passion to make themselves heard. They are starting a dialogue from people who are not usually heard. Yes, some of them are both dumb and privileged and simply made bad choices.

    However, they're speaking for those who can't speak. They're speaking for those who's services are cut to pay for wars and corporate bailouts. They're speaking for those who've had a touch time because their job has been cut to pay for a CEO's million dollar bonus because the stock price went up 2 points. I'm glad to see them speaking instead of being silent.

    Nothing will change unless the malfeasance of the 1% has a light shed on it. And I do believe there's malfeasance on a massive scale going on. I can see it in the 'solutions' proposed, the way the public money is being spent. It's a crime. Justice will not be done until the victims are heard.

  2. Your solution will work for you, for me, and for people like us. It won't work for a mildly retarded man who depends on state aid. It won't work for a family of 4 when both income earners have lost their jobs. It won't work for the thousands of homless I see every day here in Portland. You need the start of a kingdom for your solution to work.

    Many people are refugees.

    Regarding oligarchs, there was a time when the oligarchs remembered that their positions depend on the rest of the population being kept busy, usually with some for of employment (wars, building, circuses, whatever) and kept housed and fed. One of the main issues in the Roman Empire was the influx of cheap labor due to the foreign wars, which returned lots of slaves. We outsource for our slaves now, but the problem is still the same.

    Occasionally, the oligarchs need to be reminded that the masses outnumber them greatly, and their mercenaries only will stay loyal as long as the bills are paid and the danger isn't too great.

  3. While I support the OWS movement in principle, I can't say that I really have a problem with you noticing that there are some assholes involved in the movement and calling them out. Protesting, quite frankly, is an activity that has a lot of appeal for people who would rather complain than get anything done.

    But at the same time, I support the protests because looking at the media coverage and so forth it may be succeeding where other more intelligently-planned events have comprehensively failed. Success is my proof. The issues that the protests are calling attention to are real and important, like how the big crash made the financial class richer and everyone else poorer.

    I was going to add more, but Scott's messages came up on my last preview and he said it better than I was about to. We'll have to see how the protests play out - maybe this is just a promising beginning that will peter out do to the influence of said assholes. On the other hand, it seems to me that on the whole there's still a real opportunity here for them to do some good.

  4. Yes, but they are doing *something*. They are trying, in an age where we're fooled into thinking that angry postings on FB or memes about the color of one's bra are some sort of social activism, to get out of their houses and do something, no matter how ham-handed.

    It's a start. And IMHO, it should be encouraged. If we just call them douchebag hipsters for not being crunchier-than-thou, and for essentially being part of the society that is problematic, we're missing the point. People have to get angry first, to see their reality for what it is - a construction, not the way it 'has' to be.

  5. Pedestrian opinions incoming:

    Were you referring to the BoA protest in Boston? The footage of the citizens inside the bank looked completely calm and quiet to me. They didn't storm the building.

    Anyway, the formulation of the 13 colonies into the United States was just as haphazard and militaristic as anything going on in Egypt right now - and the latter doesn't even have a constitution drawn up yet. The founding fathers were all a bunch of privileged book-readers who were inspired by the revolutionary writings of foreigners calling for social and political reform in their own countries. I dunno - I find it hard to be stressed out about this.

    And, in and of itself, I don't see anything wrong with privileged people taking part in these protests. Just like there's nothing wrong with white people joining a civil rights march in the 60s. It's called being an ally. (Although, as any champion of social justice will tell you, allies can often behave stupidly in spite of their good intentions.)

    More people could certainly do with educating themselves and others about the issues and options. But I think anyone can recognize that there is a crisis in representative democracy today that renders many of your constructive proposals impossible, short of a massive social upheaval. Which, one can only hope, is what we will see.

  6. VVF, I don't know about Boston's BoA, I'm rumormongering. If I don't link to something, it's hearsay.

    The formation of the colonies into these United States was done by the privileged land (and slave) owning patriarchal oligarchs, for the patriarchal oligarchs. And in 200 years, we have what we have, and people are protesting it today. That's exactly my point. The revolution doesn't make things perfect for the individual, and the deck is always stacked in favor of an elite.

    I don't think we'll see a massive social upheaval. I really want there to be one. I want enfrenzied bachanae tearing apart the rich and drinking their blood. I want votes of no confidence in the representatives in the congressional branch of the government, a total redo of the Supreme Court, and a socially progressive, fiscally responsible president. I want strict laws against corporations being considered persons, and tight limits on the ability to buy politicians. I want 24-hour "News" shows outlawed, unless they're showing news. I want Walter Cronkite's head thawed and attached to a robot death machine that gives fair and balanced news without opinion or comment, and have it be programmed to automatically detect and destroy yellow journalism on sight.

    Did I ever tell you about the time I lived on a hippy commune that supported itself primarily by selling magazines around the country? We hit concerts as often as possible, selling our radical zines. At a Marilyn Manson concert in Austin or Houston, some dude came running out of the show carrying a live chicken, and he was in tears. The band had released the chicken to the mosh pit, expecting the crowd to tear it apart, I guess. He was all gothed out and had a painted face and lots of spikes he'd put through his leather collar and everything, his mascara was running down his face as he explained to us how wrong it was to kill this poor innocent chicken.

    It's all fun and games until it gets real, I guess.

    I heard this morning that "anarchists" have taken over the Boston OWS movement, and a hundred or so demonstrators were arrested for expanding their camp to some place where the cops told them they couldn't camp.

    I think I'm the true anarchist. I live my life above the law, acknowledging it exists and planning around it, but not serving it at all.

  7. I'm ok with whaterver anyone can say about possible solutions or dislikes, since there always be differences and that's a normal behavior of human, so I'm ok with all of it.

    What really pisses me off and put my blood to boil is this:

    "You, and I, have the privilege of being white, male, relatively healthy, in the prime of our lives, and relatively intelligent, in a culture that rewards those qualities. Not everyone has those privileges"

    What the fuck? do you think that being like that makes you better than other people? FUCK YOU.


  8. Fr. VL: He's not saying it makes anyone better, he's just pointing out that white guys have it easier than brown people in America because our culture is intrinsically racist.

    Rich white guys make the rules, and it's easier for young, attractive, white males to get ahead. We get "privilege" is all he meant, he wasn't condoning it or saying it was based on anything real. Scott's not like that.

    I think he'd agree with you whole heartedly in condemning anyone who suggested the color of your skin or your age makes you better than anyone else.

    I don't have racist friends.

  9. @Frater VL,

    I can't win. If I acknowledge the privilege, I get told I think I'm better than other people. If I don't acknowledge the privilege, I get told I'm not aware of the benefits the privilege gives me. Either way, there's no way to dialog with some people.

    Being like that does not make me better than other people. It is an accident of my birth and/or age and/or genetic family, depending on which advantage we talk about. These accidents of birth do benefit me, and I acknowledge that. I also acknowledge that other people don't have these same accidents, and that some effort should be made to help those who do not: Whether it's more opportunities, fiscal support, or what have you. Doesn't mean I'm better, just means I have advantages.

    That said, I thank you for your offer of NSA sex, but must respectfully decline.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.