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The vegetative State

December 13, 2010 1 comment

If anyone was wondering if the economy is completely brain-dead and continuing to function solely on Washington’s extraordinary intervention, just have a look at these charts provided by The Global Macro Monitor blog, via Barry Ritholtz. According to the research of Steve Keen and others, employment growth has a .67 correlation with the rate of debt expansion. Private employment growth is unlikely unless we see clear signs of private debt expansion, but the source of debt expansion at present is that of the wholly unproductive national government sector.

The author of the post writes,

If, as the President says, ‘the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy”, the country would have died in 2009 had not the policymakers taken the extraordinary measures they did. These charts illustrate how close we were to the abyss and should give a clearer perspective on what Bernanke & Co. were/are up against. They are heroes, in our book, for stabilizing the situation and pulling us back from the abyss. The jury is still out, however, on long-term structural adjustment and preventing a global sovereign debt crisis.

We disagree with the author’s characterization of the 2009 intervention by Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Bank — and the intervention by Washington generally. Of course, this disagreement stems from our differences over whether stabilization and “long-term structural adjustment” is preferable to the “abyss”. The only card Washington has in its hands right now is the constant, coordinated, relentless repetition from every “credible” source that the collapse of the bloated financial sector must lead to chaos and social breakdown.

Make no mistake, Washington and its supporters and paid hacks want you to believe that the economic security of the nation rests on these action, but the Too Big To Fail are being rescued in order to buy time for them to pass the “structural adjustment” of this crisis on to you. All the actions of Washington thus far has been aimed at this effort and none other.

This effort to spread panic and terror among the population — to cut off discussion and dissent — is no different than that which has you taking off your shoes and submitting to the impersonal gropes of would-be employees of McDonald’s just to board a plane — as well as that designed to make you acquiesce to the murder of thousands of Iraqi civilians and Afghanistan villagers.

Iraqi prisoners were abused at ‘UK’s Abu Ghraib’, court hears

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Guardian:

Evidence of the alleged systematic and brutal mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at a secret British military interrogation centre that is being described as “the UK’s Abu Ghraib” emerged yesterday during high court proceedings brought by more than 200 former inmates.The court was told there was evidence that detainees were starved, deprived of sleep, subjected to sensory deprivation and threatened with execution at the shadowy facilities near Basra operated by the Joint Forces Interrogation Team, or JFIT.It also received allegations that JFIT’s prisoners were beaten, forced to kneel in stressful positions for up to 30 hours at a time, and that some were subjected to electric shocks. Some of the prisoners say that they were subject to sexual humiliation by women soldiers, while others allege that they were held for days in cells as small as one metre square.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Evidence uncovered in Wikileaks Iraq logs of US civilian detention/torture in Iraq

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

They came forward with a preposterous story that they had been kidnapped, detained and tortured by American forces in Iraq for blowing the whistle on an illegal arms smuggling operation run by American contractors.

And then their story turned out to be true:

Had this all been just the word of Vance and Ertel, some might have sought to dismiss their claims. However, the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs contain a document that lends weight to their claims. That document states that two American civilians were being held captive in a compound and were rescued by coalition forces, and that a large weapons cache had also been found. These two Americans are identified as employees of the Shield Security Group, held by SGS against their will. The document also states that the weapons cache belonged to SGS, and does not in any way suggest that it somehow belonged to Vance and Ertel; when Vance’s and Ertel’s American rescuers/captors later accused them of stockpiling arms for insurgents, it was clearly an accusation made knowing it was false. Indeed, SGS is classed in the document by the U.S. Embassy as a “bad employer.”

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Collateral Murder…

July 22, 2010 4 comments

What the Fuck are you doing Mccord!?” It was my platoon leader. “You need to quit worrying about these Fucking kids, and pull security!” he screamed. “Roger that, sir” I said and immediately went to a roof top to pull security. While on the roof, one of the soldiers took a picture of me, I didn’t realize that the blood of the two children was all over me.

Here

Website supports whistle blower Bradley Manning

June 17, 2010 3 comments

There is now a website supporting Bradley Manning, the American hero who exposed war atrocities in Iraq. It provides a postal address where direct messages of support can be sent to the soldier.

Bradley Manning broke no laws, since it is the lawful obligation of every soldier to report evidence of war crimes.

The Golden Grimace (Part Nine: Gold, the dollar, and superfluous work)

June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

The price-form, however, is not only compatible with the possibility of a quantitative incongruity between magnitude of value and price, i.e., between the former and its expression in money, but it may also conceal a qualitative inconsistency, so much so, that, although money is nothing but the value-form of commodities, price ceases altogether to express value.

–Karl Marx

The relationship between the two measures of GDP is this:

The debasing of the dollar allowed a quantitative disparity to emerge between the prices of commodities and their values. This divergence of price from value not only emerged in the price of individual commodities, but also in the sum of all the prices of all commodities taken together. Because fiat dollars cannot measure the values of commodities, value no longer determines prices.

At first glance, this might not seem surprising since the value of commodities is something invisible to us – we do not and cannot know the value of anything we buy or sell. The value of a commodity is only expressed over a period of time through the apparently random fluctuations of the price of the commodity. It is something only apparent to us in the movement of these prices.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is this:  what was once true for any specific price of a commodity (that any price paid for it might not actually coincide with the value of the commodity) is now absolutely true even for the average of the fluctuations in the price of any specific commodity. And this is also true for all commodities taken together – no commodity’s prices ever reflects its value, and the aggregate prices of all commodities no longer reflect their aggregate value as well.

In other words, the dollar measure of GDP does not, in any way, reflect the value created by economic activity in the U.S. economy.

But, the value of a thing is only the expression of the socially necessary labor time required for its production expressed in some quantity of gold (or, another metal) money. So, to say this another way, in our society the actual work done in the economy is no longer determined by the socially necessary labor time required for the production of commodities. When the quantitative disparity emerged between the prices of commodities and their values, a disparity also emerged between the amount of work we do and the amount of work that was socially necessary to maintain our current standard of living.

Work was now determined by the fiat dollars rushing into the economy.

This absolute quantitative incongruity between price and value has profound implications for our present crisis. The value of a commodity is only a measure of the labor productively employed on it taken as an average of all the individual labor times employed on all the commodities of its type for which society has a need. If more labor is employed in producing the good than is on average necessary, or, if more of the good is produced than is necessary (supply and demand), these disparities would have been signaled by a fall in its price.

This no longer occurs.

The chart below displays the total output of United States GDP from 1929 to 2009 as measured in dollars. As such it measures only the growing total aggregate of dollar transactions – of the exchange of useful things for dollars, and the circulation of these useful things – over time. These use values are not, and cannot be, measured by dollars as values, because, as we have stated, the aggregate measure shows only the dollar demand for the goods and not their socially necessary labor times, neither individually nor as an aggregate.

The chart, therefore, measures the sum of the social labor process – the sum of use values in circulation to satisfy human need – but only insofar as this human need takes the form of money demand. It is a measure of the ever increasing raw productive power of social labor expended on disparate things of great value to us – things like food, houses, schools, medical care for disabled veterans of the genocides in Iraq and Afghanistan, and  research into cancer cure. It also measures destructive things of no value to us whatsoever – cluster bombs, depleted uranium shells and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a measure of dollar denominated activity, it even includes bizarre things of altogether contradictory value – such as all the economic activity that led to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster AND the dollar cost to clean it up. Both the money spent creating the disaster and the money spent cleaning it up after are registered on the above chart as GDP! Every transaction is represented in aggregate, with no indication as to how much society benefited from it or was impoverished and damaged by it.

This next chart measures that same aggregate output in terms of the dollar price of a billion ounces of gold. This chart does measure the aggregate socially necessary labor of the total social product in circulation over time – the amount of labor actually productively employed over the period.

The chart does not, and cannot be a measurement of the value of the individual use values within this circulation, but only the measure of all of them in aggregate. Even if we knew the dollar price of any object in this aggregate, we could not extrapolate from this dollar price to how much socially necessary labor time it embodies, because the dollar price of the good conveys no information about that labor time. (Remember, Washington can create as much money out of thin air as it needs to purchase anything it wants.) We also cannot know how much time we actually spent at work when this value was produced, because there is no definite relationship between the amount of work we do and the value we produce.

Gold can only measure the amount of work we HAD to do to produce the value; and, the dollar only measures the amount of work we actually did. When the dollar was on the gold standard these two measures were one and the same. But, now that this relationship is broken we have to perform an extra step: Only by dividing the annual dollar denominated GDP by the price of an ounce of gold for that year can we arrive at some idea of how much of the work we were doing was actually necessary.

The two charts above begin in 1929, before the dollar was debased from gold and are presented in absolute values. However, if we convert them to percentages, using 1929 as the base year, we can align them to see what happened when the dollar was debased. As you can see from the chart below, there is a fairly sharp divergence between the two measures of GDP after the dollar was debased by gold in 1933. This period is shown in the chart below.

US GDP (1929-1939) in gold (yellow) and dollars (green) as a percentage of 1929 levels

The chart shows the sudden sharp divergence of the prices of transactions in the US economy as measured in dollars (the green area) from these same transactions as recorded in the price of billions of ounces of gold (the yellow area). The dollar was not simply debased from gold, it was also devalued against gold – reduced from $20.67 per ounce to $35 per ounce. This was an overnight 41 percent reduction in the value of the wages of working families – a brutal material assault on their standard of living carried out by that puppet of Wall Street, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The fact that Roosevelt went on to be reelected three times after this monstrous economic calamity – and, to this day, enjoys almost universal adoration – does not, in any way, change this material fact. Recovery from the depression began only after Washington engineered a massive collapse in the real wages of working people.

This assault was, simultaneously, a sharp divergence of the actual labor time of working people from the socially necessary labor time required for the production of commodities. In every year after the debasement of the dollar, actual labor time exceeded its socially necessary requirement by 40 percent – meaning the country was increasingly awash not only in worthless dollars, but also a superfluity of work – unnecessary, superfluous labor that was the material precondition for the military buildup leading to the catastrophe of World War II.

The two measures of GDP, therefore, record the emergence of labor in its purely superfluous form – in the form of labor that neither results in any increase in the material wealth of society, nor in the means to create that material wealth.

If we extend this chart to 1980, we can see that this newly emerged superfluous labor expands even further to absorb a greater portion of actual labor time:

US GDP (1929-1980) in gold (yellow) and dollars (green) as a percentage of 1929 levels

Superfluous labor expanded dramatically between World War II and 1970 – growing from 40 percent of all work performed to more than 50 percent of all work performed. However, the Great Stagflation of the 1970s imposed such an unimaginably harsh reduction on the living standards of working families that by 1980 superfluous labor expanded to include more than 95 percent of all work performed. No more than five percent of the work day was necessary!

WORK ITSELF HAD BECOME ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY!

Let us repeat that, because you obviously did not hear what we said:

BY 1980, WORK ITSELF HAD BECOME ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY!

US GDP in gold (yellow) and dollars (green) as a percentage of 1929 levels

In the ten years since 2000, even this insignificant level of necessary work was cut in half – dropping to no more than 2 percent of all work performed. At the same time, economic activity, as measured in dollars, exploded in bubble after bubble, These bubbles were no more than the desperate actions of Washington and the gang of sociopaths residing on Wall Street trying desperately to maintain some semblance of economic activity through an explosion of debt,  financial instruments, and every sort of sordid Ponzi scheme to maintain their grip on the social power they wield over you, and which is embodied in your own self-enslavement to them.

Below, we show the divergence between the labor process measured in dollars, and that same labor process measured by socially necessary labor time, as the percentage of the total labor day embodying socially necessary labor time. This is the actual percentage of the present labor day required to satisfy human need.

Based on what we have presented here in this series, that chart indicates that no more than 2-3 percent of the current labor day is required to satisfy the total needs of society.

It also indicates that if the self-expansion of capital falters, for whatever reason, as now seems to be happening , economic activity will disappear in a massive catastrophic implosion.

Work is dead, folks. You’re all gonna have to get a life!

The is an old skool collection from some guy who sets up a hidden cam and captures his antics with a series of anonymous women in his home and at the office. For the most part, the faces are deliberately obscured, and his face is never shown. The guy initially sold the tapes, but also posted them in short clips on the usenet around 2000-2002.

Soldier arrested, accused of exposing the cover-up of war crimes in Iraq

June 7, 2010 Leave a comment

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Bradley Manning

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Iraq war veteran Ethan McCord: “quit being a pussy” and “suck it up”

April 28, 2010 Leave a comment

In a disturbing interview, Ethan McCord discusses the Wikileaks video, and the impact of war on our troops:

As far as the hidden agenda behind the war, I couldn’t even begin to guess what that is. I do know that the system is being driven by some people with pretty low morals and values, and they attempt to instill those values in the soldiers.

But the people who are driving the system don’t have to deal with the repercussions. It’s the American people who have to deal with them. They’re the ones who have to deal with all of these soldiers who come back from war, have no outlets and blow up.

I still live with this every day. When I close my eyes I see what happened that day and many other days like a slide show in my head. The smells come back to me. The cries of the children come back to me. The people driving this big war machine, they don’t have to deal with this. They live in their $36 million mansions and sleep well at night.

Anti-Washington versus Anti-Empire…

April 25, 2010 14 comments

On Alternet, some members of Code Pink report on their recent attempt to survey members of a recent TEA Party demonstration to see if there is some common ground between the tax resistors movement and the peace movement.

On Tax Day, my CODEPINK colleagues and I conducted 50 interviews with Tea Party members about the cost of war and empire. With military spending eating up 20 percent of the federal budget and half of all discretionary spending, we figured that any serious effort to shrink government would have to deal with this bull in the china shop.

While a recent New York Times/CBS poll showed the Tea Partiers to be relatively homogenous group of older, white, mostly males, we found that this group certainly doesn’t speak with the same tongue when it comes to the U.S. role in the world. On one side are the neocon interventionists who think the United States is God’s gift to the world. On the other side are non-interventionists who want to slay the warfare state. The extreme fissure is bound to upset the tea cart as more Tea Party leaders are forced to articulate their foreign policy positions.

Not surprising, they encountered a great deal of hostility to the cause of demilitarization – even to the point of being spat upon by at least one person – and about 70 percent support for present US military policy:

In our very small, unscientific sample, the hawks — many of whom were retired military or have close family in the military — outweighed the doves. Take the first question about the 800-plus bases the U.S. military maintains at a cost of over $100 billion a year. Thirty-five of the 50 respondents wanted to keep the bases. “We need those bases to maintain stability in the world. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if we weren’t there, the Islamists or the Chinese would jump in,” said Bruce Welker, a retired law enforcement officer from Pittsburgh. “I’d hate to see what would happen to the world without our military presence.”

The 15 people who wanted to dismantle the web of foreign military bases included Josh Little, a college student from Alexandria, Virginia. Josh said that his grandfather helped overthrow Hitler, but that was 60 years ago and it was high time for us to leave Germany. “I’d say the same for Japan, Korea and all of Europe. They can take care of themselves.”

The Code Pink activists found support for the idea of an alliance between left and right among those who did not support present US military policy. The common effort of Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul has some resonance within the group. Of the latter, the Code Pink activists note that Ron Paul’s “anti-empire message may be catching on” among these conservatives:

Cong. Ron Paul’s message of cutting the welfare/warfare state has attracted an enthusiastic following within the Tea Party. While progressives are turned off by his call for ending all kinds of domestic social programs, his anti-war and anti-empire message and consistent votes against war funding is a refreshing turn from liberal Democrats who decry war but always vote to fund it.

At the Tea Party Tax Day gathering, Cong. Ron Paul was one of the last to take the stage at the evening rally. He began by chastising liberals for their social spending, and then took on the conservatives for wanting to be the policemen of the world. “We’re stretched too far with all this government spending overseas,” he said to fans who had waited all day to hear him. “We should just mind our own business.”

Even Glen Beck was forced to give some lip service to this tendency in the TEA Party movement. The writer senses a great deal of tension within the TEA Party movement over the issue of Empire:

Tea Party leaders have been trying to keep this huge division between supporters of republic and empire under wraps. Aside from Ron Paul, you’ll rarely here them mention the raging wars or bulging military coffers. Their new Tea Party Contract from America, which talks about a limited government and an end to budget deficits, doesn’t mention military spending.

But you can’t have small government with a humongous military traipsing all over the world. Sooner or later, Tea Party leaders and manifestos will have to articulate their foreign policy positions.

Perhaps, what disappointed us after reading this very interesting report, was the writer’s apparent ignorance of the intellectual contradiction that also exists within the thinking of progressives: can you have big government without an equally “humongous military traipsing all over the world”? As one particularly astute young TEA Partier stated, “The hawks represent the old guard — so do both the Republican and the Democratic parties. With a few exceptions, they all love war and empire. But a small-government movement worth its salt can’t just be anti-Washington, it has to be anti-empire. If not, I’m outta here.”

The writer misses an important opportunity to ask: If you can’t be anti-Washington without also being anti-Empire, is it possible to be anti-Empire, without also being anti-Washington? Is the European Social compact worth the cost of an American Empire? Or, does the cost of the Empire make the compact not a prize but a burden, since the compact relies not on export surpluses, as in Germany, but on the ability to draw in massive surpluses produced abroad, i.e., since the American social safety net relies on the Empire?

Clearly, the division between the TEA Party and Libertarians on the one hand, and, progressives and Socialists on the other comes down to this!

Obama and The End of Prehistory…

April 22, 2010 3 comments

Napoleon Bonaparte

As usual, Threecrow peers into the quandary besetting most supporters of the Messiah and comes up with a gem – is the Anointed One a successful corporate shill, or just another failed and flawed populist representative of the masses? (The Past is Prologue. Or, “America Is Ready”) All but the most cynical and hateful poured their hopes and dreams into Barack Obama. We expected no less than he go before us and make the crooked straight, and the darkness light.

I believe they were voting for an Emperor. The candidate delivered his message to massive crowds of hundreds of thousands gathered in his name, we’re talking Woodstock numbers here, and he delivered those speeches in such a manner that the simple, bumper sticker claim of “Yes We Can” had reached the level of a promise, nay, more than that, a pledge, in fact an oath of “Yes We Will.” The image implanted in the minds of every citizen by that promise was that by giving the Emperor the Crown everything that was wrong in the nation and in the world would be made right. Not only that, but that it would be made right Overnight.

Instead, we have been subjected to one after another disappointment:

During the following two years after the election the perception most Americans developed was that the “Bail-Out” billions seemed to go to the very banks that broke us in the first place. What happened to all those “shovel ready” projects that were alluded to in an FDR manner during the campaign? The “health care debate” dragged on endlessly and took on the appearance of a Pyrrhic victory at best when finally passed and so confused the public that one would be hard pressed to find a single citizen who can tell you that he or she feels they have improved their situation or standing in the Health Care System a single degree. On energy all that is visible is the decision to “Drill baby drill” in the Atlantic and Gulf States region. Where are the Windmills? The Sun comes out daily; where are the millions of jobs that the commercials informed us would arrive with this “Time for Change?” And as to War, our Universal Soldier seems endlessly committed to conquering the very people who have successfully turned back every would be conqueror since Alexander the Great, while the seven year War in Iraq has become invisible to every “news” organization with a corporate owner. Only the families with one of their own staked out in that nation know anything of what has become of Iraq.

Threecrow argues that Americans, sensing a headlong rush into domestic bloodshed, sought to evade that catastrophe by raising Obama to put an end to the divisions of society – a man on the white horse who would, “impose his laws and rule over the empire with an unfailing and unflinching will, and woe-betide any individual or group who opposed his will. The lopping off of heads bit was left to the newly crowned man who they believed they had by their collective act of voting set upon the throne.”

Yet, we have witnessed an unbroken string of defeats as the Messiah implements, without exception, the very agenda of the Party of Wall Street in one sphere after another.

So, what is this? Is it, as stated in Ecclesiastes, “That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.” (Ecc. 1:15) Should we conclude that there is no solution within the context of political-economy – that we can neither vote nor work our way out of our present difficulties: the collapse of the material standard of living of American working families, the mad despoiling of our environment, the rapacious predatory activities of a small class of plutocrats, and war without end?

Is it even possible to have a man on a white horse without the previous lopping off of heads?

Consider, first, that this crowned rider is called forth as we are hopelessly locked in irresolvable political conflict, and incapable of overcoming that conflict. Consider, second, that this conflict is permanent and ongoing, and, thus, not just one man on a white horse, but a succession of men on white horses are called forth by us; that the historical singularity of a Napoleon becomes the routine procession of increasingly diminutive men into an ever more powerful office.

What then? The Triumph of Will having morphed into the Triumph of Wall Street (was it ever anything but, since we fought the battle on the enemy’s ground, that of demagoguery and illusion, by giving over our human capacity, which, by its very alienation, converted it into the very instrument of our defeat) The People are shocked to discover we had elected not a midget on stilts but a man lacking in stature nonetheless!

Could it have been otherwise? Was it possible that this revolution could be televised on MSNBC, sponsored by the Fortune 500, as we switched absentmindedly between the unfolding chastisement of Washington and Dancing with the Stars?

***

George Washington

The man on the white horse is a potent symbol of power and authority in our Civilization’s self-narrative. Is he the Father of Liberty? Or, a murderous slaveholder, confiscating the lands of the original peoples, and speculating on its value? Hero or Villain? It is a controversial question, as likely to elicit opinion on one side as on the other, but, before you take sides, consider the dilemma in a broader context.

This is an excerpt from the Wiki on the ambiguous symbolism of the White Horseman in our culture:

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the seven living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.revelation 6:1-2 NIV

The white horse of the apocalyptic four has been argued to represent either evil or righteousness:

As evil

The other three horsemen represent evil, destructive forces, and given the unified way in which all seven (sic) are introduced and described, it may be most likely that the first horseman is correspondingly evil. The rider of [the] white horse is often associated with Plague, as the bow is the symbol of Apollo and Artemis, and in Greek stories, illness was thought to be caused by their arrows. The German Stuttgarter Erklärungsbibel casts him as civil war and internal strife. One interpretation—which was held by evangelist Billy Graham—casts the rider of the white horse as the Antichrist, or a representation of false prophets, citing differences between the white horse in Revelation 6 and Jesus on the white Horse in Revelation 19. In Revelation 19 Jesus has many crowns, but in Revelation 6 the rider has just one.

As righteous

Irenaeus, an influential Christian theologian of the second century, was among the first to interpret this horseman as Christ himself, his white horse representing the successful spread of the gospel. Various scholars have since supported this theory, citing the later appearance, in Revelation 19, of Christ mounted on a white horse, appearing as The Word of God. Furthermore, earlier in the New Testament, the Book of Mark indicates that the advance of the gospel may indeed precede and foretell the apocalypse. The color white also tends to represent righteousness in the Bible, and Christ is in other instances portrayed as a conqueror. However, opposing interpretations argue that the first of the four horsemen is probably not the horseman of Revelation 19. They are described in significantly different ways, and Christ’s role as the Lamb who opens the seven seals makes it unlikely that he would also be one of the forces released by the seals.

Besides Christ, the horseman could represent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was understood to have come upon the Apostles at Pentecost after Jesus’ departure from earth. The appearance of the Lamb in Revelation 5 shows the triumphant arrival of Jesus in heaven, and the white horseman could represent the sending of the Holy Spirit by Jesus and the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, folks, pick your side. Is Obama the Anti-Christ? Or, the Christ? Is he a Harbinger of civil war and strife, as in the German interpretation? Or, that of a pre-Apocalyptic turn to Righteousness? One thing is certain, no matter your choice, there exists a ready made narrative through which your purely personal political prejudices can be transmitted immediately to society as the preferred narrative for our times.

“See,” you argue, “He is the Messiah, because he proposes to provide us with socialized health care insurance!

“See,” you argue, “He is the Anti-Christ, because he proposes to impose socialized health care insurance on us!

By one and the same act, Obama truly becomes all things to all people: a representative of God’s Love, and a scourge on, and tormentor of, God’s People. Each side rallies its forces – with teabaggers on the one side confronting supporters of the dying, and all but defunct, European social compact on the other. In this way, we study the signs, consult our favorite astrologers among the economists and pundits, and hold seance with long dead authorities, to discover the hidden patterns of history and auger the signs and omens that portend our deepest fears.

Our ambivalence toward the man on the white horse is further complicated by our disgust with Congress. If Congress can only represent our divided and fractured society in its profane, vulgar, and readily perceptible form – as a filthy, odious, assembly of whores, fortune seekers, predators, malcontents and bumbling co-conspirators against the public interest – the Presidency can only appear to us either as the singular embodiment of these virtues, or as their negation – as the Anti-Christ, who rules over this den of thieves, or as the Christ, who drives them from our Temple.

***

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The revulsion with which we regard Washington – the nauseating and truly pervasive sense of disgust at “the stench and sight of that heap of rotting viscera” called politics – is, therefore, no more than the way we comprehend our own Alienated Humanity, our own very real divisions embodied in Washington as an echo – a play of shadows, an image caught in a mirror on passing – and those divisions are of such petty and insignificant quality as only to be represented by a succession of midgets with the hubris to claim that they can put an end to them.

It is probably appropriate that the hubris of the present midget in the White House – who proposed to overcome our divisions by gathering them into his administration – was heralded by the hubris of his supporters, who proposed to put an end to the divisions of society by imposing the will of one faction of society on the other. Having chased the Moron from power, amidst the raucous celebration and heckling by his followers, who had sworn to erase the Moron’s naked partisanship and imperial rule, the Messiah promptly stunned his followers by actually proposing Bipartisan Cooperation, and undertaking negotiations with the Party of Wall Street to arrive at a solution to health care coverage first implemented by the Party of Wall Street in Massachusetts.

What a fool! Did Obama really think that his supporters wanted bipartisanship? What Terror declares its intention not to abolish the Monarchy, but to include it in its cabinet? What Civil War promises the Slavocracy a place among its war council before proceeding against it? What Populist Uprising backs the Trusts with the Treasury of the United States?

Did he really think a society seething with deep, persistent, hardened divisions could be ushered into the Civil Utopia by force of his personality and persistence? Are progressives in his coalition supposed to look the other way while American troops under his command murder pregnant mothers in Afghanistan, continue to occupy Iraq, and plan for the annihilation of Iran, simply because he also supports the Employee Free Choice Act?

Moreover, just try telling his supporters that health insurance for mothers in the United States presupposes bullets in the bodies of mothers in Afghanistan, and watch them look at you in stunned disbelief, as if they had somehow encountered a madman. Tell them that both are rooted in our own activity, which creates nothing, produces nothing, offers no value to us but robs us of our own humanity, and they will protest. “But we are productive,” they proclaim.”Unless we work the check out counter, WalMart cannot export our jobs to China and then sell us the very product of our own immiseration? Who will serve us cheeseburgers? If not us. Who will call our home during dinner? Who will nag us to pay our bills? Or, ding our credit ratings when we don’t? Who will process our mortgage payments? And, if we have no job, who will pay them?”

The very idea that We The People are superfluous to the Empire – a fifth wheel on the unicycle of modern industry – is not only repellent and insulting to them, but seizes them with such foreboding as to send them running wildly to Washington demanding that their useless sinecures be made more secure by reproduction on a greater scale.

WE WANT JOBS, MESSIAH!

or, alternately

STOP KILLING OUR JOBS, SATAN!

And they are goaded on this fool’s errand, by the economists of every stripe and political persuasion – men and women who are, as Karl Marx wrote, complete “simpletons [whose] specific talent [is to] deal with everything in monosyllables … The monetary system and the entire present system are in their opinion as straightforward and as stupid as they themselves are.” Idiots, who periodically break off from their scholarly masturbations to read the entrails of the bloated carcass of the Empire, and declare, “Yes, indeed, recovery is just around the corner! We need only tweak money a little more – put a few more dancing electrons in the hands of the consumer, and all will be right!”

Thus all of our conflicts and divisions, in their very real and palpable forms, between capital and labor, black and white; Jew, Christian and Muslim; native and foreign born; liberal, conservative, teabagger and progressive – the whole of the ceaselessly appearing real, imagined, or wholly manufactured fractures and conflicts of society – can be resolved with a fucking group shopping trip to T.J. Maxx.

***

Human Being

In his Epilogue, Threecrow asks if the Messiah is the first of the Horsemen to come, to be followed, in turn, by War, Famine and Sarah Palin.

This raises a frightening question for the nation. If I am right about any of this and America in 2008 did move towards Empire and Emperor flavored with spices from France, 1789, and the perception is as of now that of a failed or even flawed Emperor who was placed into power riding the back of a three word slogan of “Time for Change,”

How much more dangerous and perilous an Emperor can be placed upon the throne with the warning challenge of another three word slogan: America is Ready!

For what, one asks with quaking tone, is America ready?

What rough beast is slouching towards D.C. to be born?

That choice is completely up to us, of course, since We are Threecrow’s Rough Beast.

What will we do? Are we headed toward an inevitable civil conflict, or is there reason for hope the we can avoid catastrophe?

In every epoch of human conflict and suffering, the predatory forces of society could always rely not simply on the power to overwhelm, conquer and control their subjects, but also on the fact that those subjects – who were slaves not only to their oppressors but also to nature, want, poverty and the primitive productive forces of society – were compelled to labor notwithstanding their particular grievances bound up with their enslavement. The peasant, serf and slave could only hope to one day achieve the status of free labor – and, thus freed, peacefully continue their bondage to nature. A society founded on poverty and want is the natural and only basis for the horrors imposed on mankind by its members.

It is not until, as at present, we are confronted by the superfluity of our own labors – by the sheer lack of its necessity – and, by this means, compelled to acknowledge our redundancy as a mere beast of burden, that we are compelled to throw off the whole of mankind’s self-deceptions – of politics, economics, law, morality and the entire dead weight of our prehistory – and claim for ourselves the noble title of Human Being.

It is, therefore, merely (MERELY!) a matter of a revolution in our own consciousness – a revolution that acknowledges simply that we are no longer fit to be an appendage of a machine, because the machine has rendered us superfluous.

From that moment of acknowledgment forward, all the vexing problems of politics and economics, of war and peace, of wealth and poverty, which have for eons tortured society and subjected it to the mad passions of mobs and tyrants, dissolve into nothingness. All the divisions of society, all the factions and conspiracies, all the forms of servitude, dependence and obligation, and, hence, all the means by which midgets have raised themselves to be emperors, vanish with it. And their bothersome supporters and detractors, promoters and bashers, who have occupied and dominated our attention for all of human prehistory, can instead concern themselves with what should have always occupied their own attention: namely, what to do with the rest of their lives.

The Empire is mortally vulnerable, people!

And, this vulnerability rests not on the threat of small bands of militants inspired by one or another useless ideology and armed with the fabled weapon of mass destruction. It is vulnerable because you are superfluous to it, or, rather, that your only economic function within it is that of a passive consumer! Unless you stand ready to absorb ever increasing quantities of Chinese made product, the Empire falls. Unless you are willing to undertake even more debt, the Empire falls. Unless you are willing to go each day to a job where you produce nothing, and contribute nothing to society and to your own material living standard, the Empire falls.

Never before in human history have a group of slaves been able, on any pretext (whether it is that of the teabagger, with his hatred of taxes, or the simple-minded progressive, with her worship of European Socialism) to bring down the entire system of their enslavement just by shutting off their cable service until their oppressors are brought to heel! Even now families for none other than economic consideration are foregoing the payment of their mortgages to the criminals on Wall Street, because they will not service their debt on homes that are under water. You don’t even need a political complaint!

Moreover, every specific complaint on which you initially found your actions has the potential to rapidly metastasize into a general critique of your position in society, because (1) that position is bound up with your labor, which is, on the one hand, absolutely necessary to the continuation of your enslavement, but, on the other hand, absolutely superfluous to your own material standard of living; (2) your activity has this dual nature not only with respect to the US economy, but with all economies in the world market, i.e., that your activity is necessary to the continuation of the enslavement of the Chinese, German, Greek, South African, Indian, Nigerian, Brazilian and Chilean worker – i.e., of wage slavery on a global scale – even as it is superfluous to your own well being; (3) that it is impossible, therefore, to free ourselves of this activity without, at once, dooming the entire system of wage slavery, not just in one nation but all of them and simultaneously, because, without our superfluous activity, slavery everywhere becomes economically, and, therefore, practically, untenable.

It follows from this, that the divisions within this class, between teabagger and progressive; black and white; native and foreign born; liberal and conservative; socialist and libertarian – and all such meaningless divisions among us, or imagined by us, such as nationality, race, religious creed, political affiliation, sexual orientation, etc. – are of no significance whatsoever, except that each is no more than a starting point of a journey toward a general critique of our position as slaves in society, and therefore, leads to this revolution in consciousness by our direct action.

The fact is a debate over the historical significance of Obama and his administration is quite beside the point. The real question is our own power to force events. Can the vulnerability of the Empire’s fragile financial sector, and the dependence of the Empire on ever greater accumulation of consumer debt, be used as a lever to end the murderous outrages in Afghanistan and Iraq? Will one million, ten million, or even twenty million credit card holders in the United States commit themselves to not use those cards – and avoid tapping their credit – until the wars are ended, and the troops are home? Will others in the US and around the world join them and swear off all new debt for auto purchases, home mortgages, etc., until Washington’s budget for new wars is eliminated?

If these are not enough should we not consider boycotting lucrative but non-essential services like cable television, shutting off extra services on our cell phones, etc? Escalation could even continue to include collective slowing or ceasing payment on outstanding credit card, auto and other consumer and mortgage debt. Our ultimate weapon, of course, is to stop all work in non-manufacturing businesses, and those which do not provide a vital service, like hospitals, schools, etc.

We can and should relentlessly escalate our pressure until Washington ends its defiance and bends to our will.

Maids and menial workers brought down the entire system of segregation by means of a simple boycott in Montgomery – can we do no less to end the slaughter of pregnant mothers in American adventures, and return our sons and daughters to their families?

We have that power. Will we use it on our own behalf, or continue to hand it over to those who oppress us?