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IEET > Security > Biosecurity > Eco-gov > Resilience > SciTech > Rights > Personhood > Life > Access > Enablement > Health > Vision > Contributors > Wesley Strong

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Fear of a Geo-engineered Planet


Wesley Strong
Wesley Strong
Ethical Technology

Posted: Jun 21, 2013

The climate crisis demands our immediate attention. Climate change could devastate thousands of at-risk communities beyond repair and leave the face of the earth scarred. We cannot be alarmist enough about continued climate change and the threat it poses to life on this planet. This is the first time in the history of this planet that a species altered global climate to such a degree. The future of life on this planet is entering a period of extreme risk and few are offering rational solutions.

Leftists and environmentalists are correct to confront this issue with great urgency. Climate change grows exponentially as powerful elites continue to pursue a course dominated by the consumption of fossil fuels. Social movements continue to challenge the power of states throughout the globe to continue this destructive course. These movements are large, powerful, and often diverse. They face a very strong opponent, however, and have yet to really land a blow against the powerful capitalist elites that seek to profit from climate change rather than prevent it.

Right-wingers, namely represented by the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States, work hard to combat and control the climate change narrative. Climate scientists have overwhelmingly and to the greatest degree possible proven the human impact on climate and the growing crisis over the course of forty or so years. Republicans have largely worked to challenge the legitimacy of climate science using spurious logic and over-exaggerating incidents like “ClimateGate”, encouraging many to outright ignore the human impact on climate. Former President George W. Bush largely ignored global summits and climate accords.

President Obama and many other Democratic Party leaders intervene on a regular basis in global climate summits and discussions intent on controlling the trajectory of discussion. The US under President Obama acts to control the impact of climate talks on US business interests, often preventing any agreement that could begin to chip away at cascading climate change. This was certainly the case in Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Doha, and likely will be the case at the conference in Warsaw in November.i

The interventions of both parties on behalf of the US ruling class form a policy of Climate Imperialism. The US exploits its power over other nations (military, economic, and political) to disrupt climate talks, spread a spurious narrative about climate change, and ignore their responsibility to change as the largest contributor to the crisis. Democrats and Republicans both contribute to this policy and neither seems to have a serious interest in stopping cascade climate change.

---

The left has a much more sound approach to the crisis. The left – anarchists, marxists, socialists, and anti-capitalists of various types – focus on transforming society to alter the means and mode of production to further integrate working people with each other and with the world around them and prevent further contributions to climate change. The left is not without its contradictions and problems, however, specifically when it comes to the use of technology.

Anti-capitalists often criticize technology on the basis that it is used to harm people and the environment. Technology is not inherently negative despite this use, however. Those with the most power in society determine how technologies are used. Ruling classes dominate power structures under capitalism. They are most responsible for the use of technology in society and as such are the most responsible for the negative hurtful impacts of technology on society. Technology is not altogether bad or entirely harmful. It can also bring some incredible, life-supporting benefits.ii

The left’s criticism of technology is not unwarranted. The oppressive history of technology and science deserves to be criticized and routinely dismantled. Science and Technology are not inherently objective, positive, or good for humanity. Technology and science have been used numerous times by those in power throughout history to cause harm to people in oppressive ways. This does not mean that all technology is bad, that the scientific progress and understanding we’ve gained is all used to oppress and cause harm. Criticism from the left rarely sees this complexity and often rejects technology wholesale, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Technology can be used in positive, constructive ways, especially when it comes to climate change, medical health, and numerous other non-military applications.

There are a few critics of geoengineering, some louder than others. Websites specifically against geoengineering are fairly few. iii They lack any real criticisms beyond simple conjecture and conspiracy theory. GeoengineeringWatchiv reads more like an Alex Jones spinoff than anything reputable. This particular site seems largely devoted to the “Chemtrails” conspiracy theory. This website presents an argument for a behind-the-scenes collaboration between the state and the airlines to spread atmosphere altering chemicals via jet exhaust. These “Chemtrails” are really just pictures of what is totally normal jet exhaust. Conspiracy theories are designed to ignore evidence from the start, so it is no surprise, in this case, that the evidence is overtly misrepresented and false. I would encourage people to visit this site and notice that they are exploiting the fanatic commitment they create by exploiting ignorance in order to sell things to site visitors. This is no different than any other conspiracy site. It is all an act to make profit and offers no serious or real criticism that could help address critical problems of climate change.

Climate change is a caused by human activity and first must be addressed by changing human behaviors and systems. Leftists tend to stop at this point, however, either out of ignorance of technology or outright rejection. Climate change will continue to be a crisis for decades even if we completely stopped consuming fossil fuels today. Geoengineering technologies can be used to curb or reduce this time-span or residual climate change effects, especially for communities most at-risk.

Proposing that crucial technologies could be provided to those who need it most under capitalism is largely arrogant, however. Geoengineering technologies are more likely to be used to preserve the lifestyles of the rich and privileged. The elite would argue that they must preserve their wealth and protect themselves first because their wealth is what drives the economy, creates jobs, and provides stability in the market. This couldn't be further from the truth. Capitalism is a class-based system and this argument is a political argument of the ruling class to protect their political interests. They will never concede that this system created this problem in the first place. The ruling class will never do something, no matter how necessary, without a return in kind – whether it is financial or otherwise. They will certainly not give freely of their wealth in order to save the poor.

A serious handling of the climate crisis requires a ruthless criticism of the causal role capitalism plays in it. This allows us to think of how we could use geoengineering technologies in a post-capitalist society. It will certainly require a revolutionary transformation of human systems in order to adequately address the climate crisis. It is hard to think of a situation where capitalism will survive such a radical transformation as those who suffer the most under climate change have long been the targets of capitalist aggression. It is not out of bounds to think about technology under a different system, in fact it may be a requirement if we aim to adequately address the crisis.

Geoengineering could be extremely beneficial in a post-capitalist society based on socialistic principles. Socialistic principles would distribute wealth according to need. This would require a drastic redistribution of wealth to communities most at-risk due to climate change. Geoengineering technologies could be one form of wealth redistribution. Geoengineering technologies could be used as a form of climate reparations, providing much needed air treatment systems based on algae, agricultural regrowth and stimulation using low tech methods, and in the most dire situations high-tech methods to protect communities and coastlines from erosion during periods of recovery while greenhouse gases are being captured.

Geoengineering and other innovative technologies can and should be used to help curb the impacts of various crises created by humans and human systems. We need to understand that these technologies will be most effective when they are supplements to a much larger change in human societies, namely in the advanced capitalist world that creates the greatest amount of greenhouse gases. Revolutionary change is needed to transform society from a system that monetizes environment for the benefit of the wealthy few to a society that recognizes the inherent value of human integration with natural systems and the value created from maintaining a balance with systems that have evolved over millions of years. These systems surely provide more stability than geoengineering technologies can.

We can use geoengineering to restore these systems. We can’t rely on geoengineering to solve a problem created by human systems and behavior. We must be willing to transform our societies towards socialistic principles of solidarity, democracy, and freedom. We also should be critical of how we use geoengineering technologies and search out solutions that facilitate a transition to a stable-self-sustaining ecosystem. Technologies that are meant to replace natural systems are counter-productive and will only contribute to further environmental destruction and greater instability. We must transform society and use technologies that facilitate rehabilitation of original systems to prevent further environmental devastation at the hands of failed equipment, political battles, and “market corrections”.

We must be willing to take responsibility for our roles in this crisis, specifically on the systemic level. “System Change not Climate Change” is not just a popular slogan among environmentalists. It is a motto that we should strive to live by. We must confront capitalism for what it is, a system of exploitation, environmental destruction, and drastic inequality. We need a socialist society so that we can use geoengineering and a vast number of other advanced technologies and sciences to provide for those most in need, as opposed to serving the profit interests of those who already have plenty. Climate change is a symptom. Capitalism is the crisis.

ihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
United_Nations_Climate_Change_
conference#2012:_COP_18.2FMOP
_8.2C_Doha.2C_Qatar

ii Ruling classes are those who own or operate businesses for themselves or others and retain power to determine the future of work in their industry on any level from firing individual workers to reshaping an entire industry.

iii This may be in part because geoengineering has not been a huge part of the public discourse on climate change.

iv http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/


Wesley Strong studied sociology at Central Connecticut State University, where he graduated from in 2008 with honors. Wes was awarded the C. Wright Mills Award for Excellence in Public Discourse.
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COMMENTS


How is it inherently counterproductive to replace natural systems with ones we’ve engineered? Some of the example technologies in the provided picture are arguably such replacements.

It is highly unlikely that capitalism will be completely overthrown in the near future, especially in time to correct and reverse the environmental damage we’ve already done. The correct solution is increased investment in green technologies, and we are already along that path, through capitalism. There is no logical connection between increased socialism and environmental sustainability - in fact, history shows socialist regimes are just as capable of cranking out the pollution, though without the added benefit of the innovative capability to develop green technologies. Capitalist inequity is indeed a problem, as is the environmental damage it can wreak without sufficient regulation, though waving the magic wand of socialism is an implausible solution.





One correction, albeit pettifogging: no socialist regime has ever existed—only social democracies exist.





@Intomorrow: No True Scotsman rears his ugly head. We can say the same about most every political philosophy or economic theory.





yeah, if you are basing assumptions about what can be done under socialism on Stalin, China, Cuba, and others, you’ll have few examples. Cuba has had some success on building a society that runs on a very small amount of oil, clearly demonstrating several ways to reduce consumption, including moving away from oil based transportation and localizing food growth. These changes came from below, not from the party structure, though they did eventually recieve party support. This is the type of socialism I am advocating and the type of socialism that can do a lot to address the climate crisis, socialism from below. Even in china uunder rigid party domination and a state-managed capitaist economy workers are constantly in an uproar about conditions in the workplace AND their communities. THe CP of China, which is in NO WAY socialist OR communist at this point. continues to crank out coal and oil based power, but the Chinese people are very much against it, especially if they live near or around a plant or construction site. Socialism from below would create a direct avenue through which this voice would have power to address these concerns, as opposed to a top-down system of bureaucratic governance. IT is quite difficult to talk about that issue inside of this article without it being 30 pages long.

Capitalist investment is doing very little to address the issue whatsoever. Maybe in a fairytale land where everyone has money and has access to these technologies, but in the real world capitaism exists as a system to prevent people from having access. “Charity” doesn’t work either. Instead of freeing people form their bonds, it makes them dependent on a system often run by the worst of all people who are willing to cut people off from what they need based on obsurd notions of monetary value. Food and supplies litterally sat in giant warehouses in Haiti after the earthquake a few years back while NGOs refused to give it out to people who were starving and dying of Cholera. This is the case in most poor countries. Western/Capitalist NGOs take money largely to fund themselves and conduct foriegn surveillance for the US state department, with little of their mission being about actually helping people. This is well documented, including serveral well-known cases where the Red Cross purposefully did not report extreme levels of violence during conflicts so as to not create enemies among political elites who wanted to avoid conflicts/crises.

Capitalism put us in this position in the first place. Inequaity isn’t simply a phenomenon/byproduct that can be resolved. Inequality is the core of the system. Capitalism is responsible for the climate crisis in so many ways, and in fact capitalists have played a powerful role in limiting the growth of technologies that could help reverse the human impact on climate.

Also, we should aim to avoid a future where our survival is dependent upon geoenineering technologies, even under capitalism as I agree we are not likely to have a socialist revolution soon (though we are MUCH closer than we were 3 years ago), BECAUSE those who create and manage the use of such technologies (namely the US Gov’t and contractors hired by the US Gov’t would then have complete control over our lives and be able to hold us hostage by threatening to remove or shut down such technologies. These should be seen as temporary remediation measures to return to ecological stability as much as possible, with an acceptance of the public wealth of the commons, though some techs, like large algae farms and those technologies that are more on the low tech end, could remain to help strengthen ecological systems even further. I didn’t really explain this in the piece, again out of concern for length.

The Human study of science is a comedy of errors and it is quite foolish to place the future of all human life in the hands of states and corporations that have already shown a huge disdain for popular democracy and human life. They are focused on profit solely, everything else is secondary. You need to spend some time living amongst the people of the global south if you do not understand how big of a deal this is. They are survivors of capitalism. They are hit the hardest.

i am working on a larger piece that discusses the political conflicts of transhumanism at a greater length/depth. It likely will be published in parts over this summer, and will explain more of these issues in depth.





Oh, and there have been many places in history where popular socialistic democracy has been practiced, including in some regions in the USSR prior to the dissolution of the soviets and the Bolshevik grab for state power (which happened in reverse order), as well as inside other socialistic states, in states under capitalist rule, and among revolutionary movements throughout the world. It is a model that has been proven to be productive and resourceful time and time again, though rarely ever able to gain state power. this is a small hurdle, however, as most modern serious leftist parties are FAR more democratic that their predecessors who were more beholden to the Stalinist Soviet Union/Bolsheviks. Its hard to imagine a socialist revolution without some grand-narrative struggle that can be embodied politically in a mass party based in the real popular struggle (not some “intelligencia” vanguard, etc. like the bolsheviks who eventually sold out the revolution for their own purposes). Its hard to imagine socialist success without a true and serious form of popular democracy, especially given the direction social movements have taken towards adopting such a model (in various forms). The popular struggle is the heart and the party is a method in which to take power and begin dismantling the state.





I don’t “need to spend some time living amongst the people of the global south” as I’m in full agreement with you as to the vast human costs of our current system. I’m just saying that you do not present a viable alternative out of our current shitscape. Even if we grant that there were a few innovative technologies developed out of what was the closest thing we’ve had to “pure” socialist regimes, these were few and far between - these regimes largely piggybacked on the innovations of the west, achieved through the profit motive. This reality will be exponentially moreso as the low-hanging technological fruit have long been picked and what we need now, this deep in the hole, is technology bordering on magic, among which large scale geoengineering is looking more and more to be an inescapable part of.





Quite right, SHaGGGz. Socialism isn’t possible while we are still human. Wesley might as well admit it now rather than later.

“@Intomorrow: No True Scotsman rears his ugly head. We can say the same about most every political philosophy or economic theory.”

Most, yes: but not Fascism, National Socialism; they were real; what could be more real than Fascism and National Socialism?





you both obviously miss my point. There is nothing that prevents biologically humans from building socialism from below. A great sign of that is that IT ALREADY HAPPENS. I like how an article about geoengineering that criticizes the left’s rejections over it becomes reduces to ideological oppositions to socialism with massive assumptions (that socialism takes forever to build and that socialism can’t be achieved while we are “still human”) that really don’t hold up to reality AT ALL. These are liberal escape mechanisms that you use to avoid the real conversation altogether. That socialism from below can be achieved, that we desperately need it, and how we can get there from here. That requires a self criticism that liberal adventurists just don’t want to have. Masquerading this as the absolute truth is just entirely dishonest.

Socialism from below is not a “ideology” it is a process that erquires a commitment to grassroots democracy, social movements, and revolutionary transformation. It is not “achieved” at one point, but it does require a conquest of capital, which also admitedly will not occur at “one point” You are reducing a complex issue that this article purposefully does not discuss (since the article is criticizing the left and the THists on the issue of geoengineering). If you want to talk about socialism and your undying rejection of it without any basis or grounds whatsoever, feel free to comment on my future pieces that actually discuss this very point exhaustively, with suggested related readings.





Also, i don’t care whether or not you agree with me about the human costs of climate change. I am saying that you really cannot truly understand the human cost unless you learn about the human cost form the people who are most affected by it. Its not just a set of data to be bantered around, not just a set of ideologies to debate. We are VERY privileged to live in areas that suffer the LEAST from climate change and our understanding of its impact is limited to mere data and information, but not much real experience, certainly not the decades of environmental devastation wrought on the global south. I don’t need you to agree with me, I need you to understand those who suffer, and not reduce their chances for radical transformation to the whims of capital that for so long has devastated, destroyed, and dismantled their communities in the name of profit tangentially for our benefit. The fact that you cannot understand their reality completely, even after they’ve taught you about it, is what you seem to miss, and you are basing your entire argument on the fact that you have a comprehensive and exhaustive understanding of the issue, which you cannot really ever achieve without living those experiences.





@wcstrong: I never denied that we are extremely fortunate and privileged to be where we are, nor that capital is largely responsible for the plight of the global south, nor do I have an “undying rejection” of socialism - I’d actually love to live in a socialist society, or at least one with a much more equitable distribution of resources and decision-making agency. All I was saying was that the “critique” you provide is a pretty weak and vacuous one, and you never show how capitalism as opposed to socialism leads to greater environmental devastation, nor how socialism as opposed to capitalism would get us out of our current predicament. You say that a broader socialist screed is forthcoming, though judging from past such efforts on your part and their resulting meandering without providing actual solutions, I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath.





Wesley,
first we develop a civilisation, afterwards we think about socialism. We live in a state of controlled barbarism.





that’s my point, this article is not written to list out those arguments. Unless ou want a 30-page article. I did not intend to make those arguments in this piece This is about Geoengineering and the problem of relying on such technologies to “stop” climate change combined with criticizing the left’s opposition to using them to curb the crises. That seems to be conveniently ignored here.

You don’t seem to understand what a society based on socialism from below is, so it’s hard for me to imagine that you really understand the points I am making. The critique I make in this piece is far from vacuous and provides more argument than your rejection of socialism as necessary to combat climate change. You basically say it wont work with the seeming assumption that it will take too long which is entirely ignorant of history. If you’d love to be in a socialist society, it’d behoove you to actually understand what that means, which if you did you’d have a grasp of the points I am trying to make.

I suggest you read Hal Draper’s Socialism from below to get an elementary grasp of what I am talking about. I am working on a piece that will relate these points to THism and the need for socialism in the modern period. That is in the works, you can wait to troll that piece to continue this discussion, though I suggest you read Draper first.

@INt It is pretty arrogant and racist to say “we live in a state of controlled barbarism”. Barbarism is a term used by the greeks to spur racist hatred against the persians that has since been used to demonize others, largely on the path to conquest and colonalism. Comparing the current state of affairs with the colonialism, that is saying that we all are suffering through those, is profoundly misleading and blatantly untrue. White people don’t suffer from colonialism. In fact, most people in the US, most white people, continue to benefit from it in many ways, even those who are poor, though to a lesser degree. Colonialism and imperialism goes after communities of color domestically and throughout the world to a much greater degree.

Civilization is not a moral principle that needs to be adopted. Civilization is a form of organizing human living that involves power structures. Also, the assumption that we need some sort of advanced civilization before we can have socialism is entirely privileged. Its basically imperialistic thinking, basically telling movements of the global south who are for socialism and socialistic governments as a transition into something greater that their struggles are for naught and will only fail because capitalism is the ultimate form, a logic derived from the 1990s rebirth of liberalism (neoliberalism) and the declaration of the “end of ideology”. You are using thinking that is derived from this logic to imperialistically deny the hopes of millions upon millions of people for a better world, one they very well may be ready to achieve, regardless of how lazy and apathetic their US counterparts are. Socialism may seem far off for us in the US (though in most cases it rises VERY quickly), but it is a reality in so many other places throughout the world. I will touch on this in a future piece. I don’t have time to sit down and write 30 page polemics on demand though I am working on something of the sort, it just takes more time. I suggest you make a greater effort to understand what socialism is on your own until that point. I ill paste a few suggested readings below.

Hal Draper’s Socialism from Below
Marx’s third address to the paris commune
Marx’s address to the workingmens association Value, price and profit
Rosa Luxemburgs reform or revolution
Trotskys a revolution betrayed
Camejo’s Liberalism, ultraleftistism, or mass action
Gramscis prison notebooks
Emma Goldmans AnarchismL What it really stands for

these are just a few, I would suggest also reading CLR James, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and countless others on marxists.org





President Obama is talking big on
climate change, but will he act?

guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/25/obama-climate-change-speech-more-promises?CMP=twt_fd





It is good to recognize the difference in rhetoric between Obama and Bush, however, it doesn’t hold through to meet policy decisions really at all. Its not that he “doesn’t have the political capital”, that’s really not a good interpretation at all. The democrats just want nice talk, but little to no action. I mean, we are talking about a president who is in favor of carbon sequestration and walked into Copenhagen and completely dismantled the conference, with similar interactions at conferences since. Remember, he got the Nobel Peace Prize for his rhetoric whilst bombing children and weddings and assassinating US citizens overseas.

Obama might do a few things in order to preserve a progressive-ish legacy, but we all know it’ll be far from what is needed.





Am not going to reply to your piece, Wesley, because you are gullible: between pigheaded oligarchs and gullible leftists, we can’t win for losing. BTW, Middle Americans would rather eat their children than become socialists. And the world over, rich men rule (women and children cannot be held culpable as men ultimately call the shots).
IMO war can be finished or reduced to a minimum, yet the wealthy will continue to rule—perhaps only absolute poverty can be ended; it might well be the best we can do in an incredibly power-mad world.

“The [D]emocrats just want nice talk, but little to no action”

You qualified the above by writing ‘little’ rather than leaving it at ‘no action’. Why is it, if you actually believe Democrats are as negative as you write they are, they engage in ‘little’ action? They are trapped. All progressives save for progressives who are v. well off are trapped. First, with an old fashioned Mid America; second, they are 24/7 reminded not to bite the paw that feeds them. Don’t you venture out of academia to assess the situation at close hand? Reading books is positive, but books are no substitute for examining life up close. Academia is clean- the outside world is dirty, bloody. Are you in academia, Wes? if you are, good for you, stay there, you don’t want to be on the frontlines as Che, you don’t want to to be tortured as Rosa Luxemburg was, or be stabbed with an icepick in Mexico.

We are only living in the year 2013 nominally.. the Mid American mind is living in Reagan’s America circa 1983—three decades in the past. It is unfair for you to write or hint Obama is in any way fond of war; Obama is hated by US warmongers even more than Clinton, if possible, one reason being Obama has to hide from warmongers how much he despises their wars and how much contempt he has for them. I appreciate Obama more ‘n more; for instance how he adroitly manipulated American warmongers with the Benghazi affair. If it were up to them they would have started another war over Benghazi. Unbelievable, but true.
Another of the many reasons to admire Obama is his preventing John McCain from being elected POTUS so McCain could relive how he shoved a bayonet up a Quote “gook’s” Unquote ass in ‘Nam. Be thankful for small favors… they add up to big ones eventually.
Not all Rightists want the wars we are in today—and virtually all of us (another sign of being trapped) are paying for them via taxes—many libertarians are opposed to the wars; however warmongers dominate the Right. Just look at how much Obama is detested by the Ruling warmonger Right:

http://spectator.org/archives/2013/06/24/candy-bombing-berlin
Among the sugar plums pushed out the window in rainbow-colored parachutes by the president were promises to close Guantanamo… limit the use of drones in targeting terrorists… promote massive increases in wind and solar energy… create “the world’s first AIDS-free generation”… look for ways to more evenly distribute wealth around the globe… and work toward a goal of “a world without nuclear weapons.”
That last promise is a bit breath-taking. Does anyone other than the current “leader of the free world” seriously believe that U.S. and European security would be enhanced by trying to create a world in which we all of our nuclear weapons and assumed that we could persuade or cajole every other nuclear-armed nation — from Russia and China to Israel and the U.K., and from Pakistan and North Korea to Iran (the next in line for membership in the club) — to join with us in forswearing nuclear arms?
Obama said that he will work to reduce the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal by up to a third through “negotiated cuts” with Russia. On this issue, it appears that he is prepared to lead from the front — not from the rear — which is to say, he may be willing to cut the U.S. nuclear stockpile even without any matching cuts from Russia or other nations. In its lead editorial this weekend (“The Obama Age of Proliferation”), the Wall Street Journal noted:
Even if Russia won’t go along, Mr. Obama’s new nuclear strategy says the U.S. has more warheads, missiles and submarines than it needs. The White House can invoke this conclusion to prune the arsenal through budget cuts or executive orders. This way he can also impose changes to America’s missile defenses sought by the Russians without direct Congressional approval.
In candy-bombing Berlin, Obama called climate change “the global threat of our time.” That’s climate change — not terrorism, not chaos in the Middle East, not the imminent spread of nuclear weapons to a terrorist state

————————————————-
“Hal Draper’s Socialism from Below
Marx’s third address to the paris commune
Marx’s address to the workingmens association Value, price and profit
Rosa Luxemburgs reform or revolution
Trotskys a revolution betrayed
Camejo’s Liberalism, ultraleftistism, or mass action
Gramscis prison notebooks
Emma Goldmans AnarchismL What it really stands for”

Would rather toss their works in the paper recycling bin. Wes, I wasted a quarter century talking to progressive futurists, don’t need a bunch of antiquarian books. It is understood IEET kindly offers a forum for every viewpoint in its articles—however the last thing in the world I want right now is to read clenched fist books you recommend, and libertopian books the Libertarians peddle. It’s the marketplace of ideas: heavy emphasis on marketplace.

“CLR James, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and countless others on marxists.org”

Read Malcolm X in 1966, started involvement in progressive politics two years later. What were you doing those years? The Revolution fizzled out almost as soon as it began because it lacked foresight and had no sense of humor; it was grim men (few women) playacting Che. This party is serious, but demonstrates that lack of vision and grimness:

http://www.workers.org/

Back when the books you listed were published, activists really did dedicate their lives to revolution, though they might have been clueless from the get-go. Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky, many others, died painful deaths. Will reserve judgment on Luxemburg, but Trotsky was an extremely bright, educated fool. It was asinine for Trotsky and his associates to have thought world revolution was possible in the early 20th century—it isn’t possible now after all the advancements since then.
Am not even convinced social progress exists, it could be what we term ‘social progress’ is in actuality damage control. Don’t know, but am not going by what you or anyone else writes. SHaGGGz, due to not wanting to post too many comments, want to answer your question below in this comment.

“If you actually poll Americans to find out what their idealized wealth distribution would be, it’s far closer to the demonized socialism they’re told they would never accept than the downright Dickensian reality before them.”

Matter of opinion. A counter-question: do you live in Mid America? not the coasts; Mid America is the South and Midwest, the Heartland. If you do happen to live in the Heartland, you ought to know what respondents might say in your hypothetical poll would not match their thinking. No purpose in going into dreary detail unless you wish to press the issue. Suffice it to write Mid Americans think one thing, do another, say something else. One day they are Paul of Tarsus, next day they are Adam Smith, the day after that Francisco Franco. Mid Americans want big government: for their own people; they want small govt. for outsiders. In case you have not noticed, it is a cliquish world.

 

 

 





@Intomorrow: “Middle Americans would rather eat their children than become socialists.”

Since when? And what exactly do you mean by socialist? The decades of a “simpler time” right wingers pine for so wistfully had tax rates that would make their heads explode from the sheer cognitive dissonance. If you actually poll Americans to find out what their idealized wealth distribution would be, it’s far closer to the demonized socialism they’re told they would never accept than the downright Dickensian reality before them.





Wow. I am gullible? You seem to re-hash all the same political arguments of liberalism, the same ideology that at one point accepted colonialism and slavery (and in a slightly different way still does today). I mean, I think i heard that same argument on CNN when they were attacking an anti-war movement leader for criticizing Obama’s drone program.

You may have read Malcolm X, but you clearly do not understand his points. Malcolm X was a revolutionary, “progressive” politics were something he routinely criticized. He criticized the black establishment for not being revolutionary. Malcolm X would have a field day with Obama. See his comments on “progress” that are widely published (try youtube). I mean Obama got elected then this whole shit about the post-racial era started coming up, which is so incredibly racist its disgusting. As if the future of all black people will be determined by putting a (very privileged) half-black man (who shares little with the common black american other than skin pigment) into an office, into power in a system that has ALWAYS attacked black and brown communities (and continues to).

Your little fantasy land where Obama is “anti-war” is one of the biggest blatant contradictions I have ever seen. Need I remind you that the US DID go to war in Libya? A good section of the Libyan opposition to Gaddaffi (who was problematic no doubt) was funded and run by the CIA through NATO and other groups, fostering anti-black racism and violence, hatred, and Libyan arab nationalism (in a nation that is historically very mixed).  Is bombing people not war? What, o glorious keeper of all knowledge since you read Malcolm X in 1966, is the true definition of war? I mean, the US continues to have active CIA operations in Libya (why do you think they targeted the embassy?) The US is intervening in the sovereignty of other nations with physical force, is that not war? I mean, Obama bombing kids is not war because he must have been pushed into it, he must have been under pressure (even though he repeatedly and openly admitted that he would do exactly what he has done in the lead up to his FIRST election). The relationship you describe is a dog and pony show, played up in the media to exaggerate the differencessbetween the two ruling parties. It does not (and has not) resulted in any substantial policy changes regarding foreign policy. It really boggles my mind how you think Bill Clinton was an anti-war president, too, he’s responsible for the deaths of millions of Iraqi children under the Sanctions program (that is most definitely a war tactic - something you would understand if you had ever been the target of such a massive sanction [see Gaza]). Whether we openly fight wars and invade countries or fight wars in less overt ways through the CIA, sanctions, NATO, etc. these arre US forieng policy decisions that are killing people and taking away their political power all in the interest of US business. Is that not wrong? Is that NOT war?

There are plenty of readings that aren’t so “antiquated”, however since you clearly lack any reasonable understanding of socialism and socialist thought, I figured I should suggest some of the elementary readings. There are plenty of contemporary thinkers that complement these earlier works including Chomsky, Foucault (to some extent), and countless others that aren’t coming to my mind at the moment.

I love that you attack the american working class (using the term middle america) saying things like they would rather eat their children then have democratic power in society. or that they are all stuck in the Reagan era. This clearly demonstrates how isolated you are from real workers on the ground who HAVE been willing to take more radical action. Your reality seems to be shaped by the same broad generalizations that you seem to oppose. You seem to want to advocate progress, yet re-hash the same classist, racist, and imperialist notions that the ruling class uses to disempower workers throughout the world. I mean, I know, work with, and have met countless workers and working people who despise the very people you describe (who are quite often the wealthier sections of the white working class who are trying to cloak their racism through political entities like the tea party, etc.) You say that workers would rather eat their children than live in a socialist country. Well, that’s entirely classist. Earlier you’ve denied oppressed people’s aspirations for freedom from capital by making a blanket assumption that it just can’t work. That’s imperialistic and racist. You deny people’s right to self determination as a matter of material “fact”, when you are clearly missing/ignoring good chunks of history, particularly when it comes to popular struggle.

It seems bizarre to me that you’d be so convicted to rabidly defending a president responsible for more drone bombings than Bush, more deportations of undocumented workers than Bush, more assassinations of Americans (without an semblance of trial) than Bush (4 to 0 on that), and continued expansion of war and military conflict into several regions including Libya, Syria, Somalia and eastern Africa through Africom, and expanding dark network of military operations and military police training of death squads, like SERIOUSLY, need I go on? Is he doing all of this “because he was pressured”? Is he deep down inside a closet radicals that wants to end all wars? Is this what we consider to be a “peace leader”? If that’s really the case, if Obama is beyond reproach, then we must all be fucked anyway, so all poor people should work for free so the bosses can accumulate all the wealth and expedite capitalist development towards technologies that will ultimately save us from the climate crisis. Right? Isn’t that the logical conclusion?

Oh and if the “market” is supposed to save us, tell me how it’s saved workers in sweatshops, indigenous communities colonized by white cultures and powers, women, oppressed peoples, etc. Do you even think about what you are going to say before you post it? Your previous comment reads more like an angry rant than any sensible argument.

Also, I noticed that “where were you in 66” thing you did. I see what you did there with that little attempt and hiding your ageism as some sort of challenge to my knowledge. It sounds like you have some issues with being jaded with popular struggle, maybe whatever “progressive” politics you were involved with haven’t worked out as you had initially hoped. Have you ever thought about self-criticism? That’s a healthy part of having a serious dialogue. Trotsky said that the youth will always be the most radical, and this comments, combined with your attempts to sell Obama/the democrats as “anti-war” seem to demonstrate that quite well.

Anyways, If you want to talk about socialism v. capitalism, I am open to that discussion, however, it requires an amount of respect that you have yet to afford me and a level of self criticism that you seem to avoid (it seems so that you can feel that supporting Obama is being radical). I can and am respectful if you are respectful to me, I didn’t attack you in my piece (though you have attacked me personally countless times in these and other comments, forcing me to defend myself), and I am open to listening to and responding to a rational argument if you have one you want to present, but comment trolling and flame wars are perhaps the lowest form of discourse that I really don’t think is useful to engage in (though I will defend myself and my arguments).

Criticizing capitalism seems to cause a very deep and personal reaction in you, not sure why, but if you have a rational argument for capitalism over socialism, I suggest you take the time to write it up instead of wasting your time trying to tear down people on the internet who have plenty of confidence and plenty of avenues for their writing and discussions that result in good discussion/criticism and don’t turn into flame war pukefests.

I would love to read a well written argument that is challenges my position on these issues (something I have yet to really read on this site). I am working on a few pieces that will further define my positions, so if you feel I have not been clear enough (which I am willing to concede), you can wait to read those pieces which I hope will be more exhaustive and begin your criticisms from there.





@Shaggz, that last comment of yours is actually something that I’d generally agree with. That’s a surprise.

I thought about deleting my comment above because it may come off as too harsh, but I wont, so ya’ll can feel free to read it and continue the personal attacks.

It seems to me that you both are very much stuck in a reality defined by liberalism (intomorrow more than shaggz, apparently). My next piece will talk about liberalism in the context of Transhumanism (or more accurately vice versa) as I attempt to deconstruct the relationship a bit.

Again, I am more in favor of thought out arguments than comment flame wars on the internet, the prior is FAR more productive. If you disagree, write a piece and submit it to IEET’s blog and we’ll have a back and forth in a sensible manner.

Also, you list Workers World Party as an example of the failures of the New Left of the 60s. I couldn’t agree more. There are a few (and I mean FEW) things that are redeeming about WWP/PSL/The radical maoist tendency in the US. There are FAR more troubling things (such as a commitment to central dictatorship, lack of internal criticism, and a serious cult like behavior that you describe). I AM NOT advocating for dictatorship. I AM an advocate for socialism from BELOW, which is entirely different and contrary to rigidly centralist Leninist forms of organization. Even Trotsky had faults despite his genius. I’d hardly call him a fool. He made mistakes, the party is fallible, its not a monolith, that should be obvious. And they had a really good chance for a while to foment worldwide revolution, the German SDP just failed miserably and collapsed on its own contradictions and friendliness towards capital. That would have been HUGE stepping stone, and at one time it was a plausible argument to have. I could have this discussion all day, I’d prefer it in a different format.





@wcstrong: “that last comment of yours is actually something that I’d generally agree with. That’s a surprise.”

You shouldn’t be that surprised - I think my criticism of minor points in your worldview, with which I largely agree, can make me seem as if some sort of capitalist ideologue. I’m not, it merely seems to be the least bad available system, though its current gluttonous permutation seems obviously destructive, unsustainable and suicidal. I’m definitely not in the same league as Intomorrow, whose dutiful apologizing for the obvious war criminal Obama (whom I don’t single out - probably every post-war US president could be reasonably described as such) I find quite disgusting.

I’m glad you didn’t take down your long post, which I found articulate and informative. And your characterization of Intomorrow as a disillusioned reformer I found to be pretty apt.





At any rate, not offended by what you write because it’s good to get this out in the open, the lack of vision and humor in the far-left. First error of yours:

“You say that workers would rather eat their children than live in a socialist country.”

No. Not workers—Mid America.

Error #2:

“Also, you list Workers World Party as an example of the failures of the New Left of the 60s.”

WWP and all the rest (dozens, hundreds altogether, of parties) are Old Left—not New Left.

Here you are correct:

“the German SDP just failed miserably and collapsed on its own contradictions and friendliness towards capital”

Later on Stalin sabotaged the SDP by breaking with them, working against them and publicly terming them “social fascists”—an appellation better describing Stalin than the SDP. Stalin did more to bring Hitler to power than Henry Ford, Mussolini, and von Papen combined. Stalin was right re one ‘issue’, though; as it turned out, a big one: socialism in one country. World revolution was an impossibility (and still is 96 yrs. after the Russian Revolution). But that is water—blood—under the bridge.
I honestly think equality, as we know it, finished when the Berlin Wall fell in ‘89; so it isn’t that I’m hypnotised by liberalism, it is the near-certainty that equality as we have known it and know it at this time is ended. Am disillusioned concerning equality and justice; not peace.
You are right an article would be a better way than unceasing comments. Best would be someone such as Pete Wicks who has a math background and grasps the main scientific points necessary to write this sort of article. That is if he and others similar to him would have the time. Hank Pellissier said it takes about ten hours to write a decent piece and it’s asking too much to have someone cut ten hrs. out of their schedule to write a non-science piece along the lines of what we both (without knowing you) would want. Plus, let’s not mince words: these sort of articles don’t go far because people only deep down care about their own people whether they live in third world ghettos or the most expensive mansions. Used to go to rallies wherein the chant was “self-determination for the Puerto Rican nation.” Finally it dawned: what about the others? What good would it do if the Puerto Rican nation were self-determined? Nothing whatsoever. People only care about their own families, friends, and by extension their ethnic identities. “Self determination for me, my friends and my ethnic ‘nation’ ”
Everyone else can drop dead.





Mid-America, by this I think you mean the social creation referred to as the “middle-class” which functionally does not exists as a class defined by those same conditions (and much rather is a mechanism through which the ruling class can get workers to identify with ruling class politics)...Well, needless to say “mid America IS part of the working class, they are workers. They don’t own or determine the daily business operations of business. (and don’t talk about that whole stock nonsense, small stockholders really aren’t significant, and the big stock holders are already in the ruling class.)

The Left in the 1960s was called the “New Left” at the time. People who are in the actual left refer to it as such. You are right, however, it is now old with ideas influenced by insurrectionary Maoism in some corners, but many activists from that time period continue to do serious and important work, even some people in WWP. The term “Old Left” refers to the generation prior who were influenced to a greater degree by the COMINTERN/CP/Stalin and often lack any critical race/gender/sex politics. These terms are misleading in the current context, but are common left-jargon.

Socialism in Russia existed to a limited degree well before Stalin rose to power and dissolved into party dictatorship following the dissolution of the soviets, Krondstadt, the early purges, the rise of Stalin, and the elimination of factions. I have no desire to defend Stalin in any way. Socialism in one country is an absurd policy. Capitalism doesn’t exist in one country, it must be confronted everywhere by whatever means are reasonable at the time. Stalin collaborated with capitalists elites, condemning the peoples struggle from the start. Stalin is the personification of the death of socialism, which is born from and gains all its power from the popular struggle, not the party bureaucracy.

RE: the Puerto Rico question. I understand what you are trying to say in that context. However, if the struggle is specifically for PR independence from the US and an end to the defacto colonial relationship, then chanting for PR self determination makes sense. You wouldn’t go to such a demonstration and only chant for Palestinian self determination. You have to work with people where they are at and people aren’t often prepared to make that ideological jump from the start, so you start from where they are at, where they identify, and the real radical politics come in when you help people see the bigger picture. You can’t just expect them to see it first, you can’t make this a condition for participation, otherwise you’d be out there by yourself every time chanting for the self-determination of all peoples and no one will understand what you are saying. You have to get to people from where they are at. If you are in an Arab/Palestinian community, you start on that issue with the hopes to use that struggle to expand understanding, even if only in minute ways. The PR struggle for independence is one of the greatest examples of popular struggle that is often and easily related to other struggles as well, but we have to be willing to help draw out and make these connections, not disengage if the movement is not yet where we are yet.

In terms of the capitalism v. socialism thing, I’m going to write my piece, maybe someone will be inspired to write a response. I am sure the math people would focus merely on the economic side, which can be argued, but would ultimately ignore some much deeper and IMO more important implications.





Mid-America, by this I think you mean the social creation referred to as the “middle-class”

No, not at all a social creation: real, geographic.. Mid America is the South and Midwest, mostly; the Southwest.
New England and the W. Coast are fairly progressive, the other areas are not progressive with the exception of bubble communities such as Austin, Boulder, Madison.. a few others. Being a teenager and provincial, had thought the world aside from the third world was similar to the upper Eastern Seaboard, something along the lines of Boston, NYC. In ‘76 ventured out west and saw that progressive notions depended on where.

you’d be out there by yourself every time chanting for the self-determination of all peoples and no one will understand what you are saying. You have to get to people from where they are at.

What if where they are at is a cliquish place- that is to say it is not that no one will understand, it is they only care for their own people, esp—naturally—their families. It would be underestimating the masses to write they don’t understand.

with the hopes to use that struggle to expand understanding, even if only in minute ways

Minute is correct, quite insignificant so far. The Russian Revolution was 96 yrs ago yet social progress has consisted of rather minute changes, virtually all changes flowing from technical changes. What are we doing right now?: communicating via the Web—a technical change. To put an off the wall number on it there’s been 95 percent technical change, 5 percent social change (however being petit bourgeois and grasping, am thankful for the small favor of five percent, be it rather insignificant).

Socialism in one country is an absurd policy.

The masses were not ready for world revolution when Stalin came to power in 1929 and are not ready today. But perhaps in 2029? We shall see.

 





@ wcstrong..

“I thought about deleting my comment above because it may come off as too harsh, but I wont, so ya’ll can feel free to read it and continue the personal attacks.”

Indeed, don’t and this is not harsh.. Integrity breeds respect!

Concerning Liberals and Liberalism and Neo-Liberalism(?), (Social Democrats?) I “feel” these are a more dangerous and insidious species than either Libertarians or conservatives - for at least these show their true colours. I would place myself left of centre.. standing at least two arms lengths from any nearby Liberal.

Libertarian Socialism? An Oxymoron? Labels smabels.. I see an issue and make a stand, issue by issue, dilemma by dilemma - keep your flags! Informed democracy trumps even socialism?

Also, as hinted at in my previous comments, I feel the Libertarian is far closer to Kris’ ideology for anarchism than a Liberal will ever be? The Libertarian takes personal responsibility as seriously as any socialist?

Socialism.. well, and don’t take this as a personal attack wcstrong! .. it needs more work. We have as much chance of Global socialism this side of 2050 as Buddhism rising up to unify the world. What will it take for socialism to supplant capitalism? Global war, catastrophic poverty, famine and suffering - you decide?

 

 





Hey, so i just want to addresss the whole “we are far from socialism” or the whole “that could take to long”, thing. I mean it appears as if we are, but it’s as Lenin said, in some decades nothing happens, and in some weeks decades happen. I’d say we are a lot closer now than we were before Occupy, even with all its problems. People are talking about some core issues and seem to have more interest in mass action. So don’t be so eager to dismiss history in this regard without understanding that things can change in an instant. The ground has been shaken a lot over the past few years.





@cygnus - neoliberalism refers to the rebirth of liberal “free market” economics during the 1970s and 80s (Reagan era). This is not the equivalent of social democrats, they are very different. All those you list above draw roots back to liberalism.

As per Libertarian socialism and that paragraph, well ideology, how we think about and see the world, informs how we respond to things that happen in it. Libertarian socialism refers to a society based upon principles of socialized production combined with grassroots democratic controls in contrast to state/party controlled dictatorial states. These are all things I plan to address in specific pieces soon.





Only puzzlement is how anyone could think Obama is doing anything other than playing along with imperialists—what is he supposed to do? take personal control of the US Airforce to bomb warmongers’ offices, houses and factories? what exactly would one do if one was in his shoes? Run? run back to Chicago with his tail between his legs?





Obama must be playing along with imperialists because we all know that he’s secretly a socialist. Just like George W. Bush. I mean all our presidents are radical and stuff just like those radical forefathers that were forced to accept slavery as necessary, but really wanted to get rid of it altogether. It’s not like they really share any political positions with the ruling class, they just are just pretending, just like drone pilots pretend to fly airplanes when we all know its really just a videogame.

Talk about inventing a reality to feed your own purposes.





The “world machine” is bigger than any “one” man, (president, prime minister, emperor, etc), can deal with - because Humans are “too small minded”, (small brains vs big dilemmas).

The solution for incre"mental” change is to take issues with the small to help tackle the big.. (ie; ethics of war, imperialism, economics and social conscience), and implementing direct democratic “delegation” and “real” referendum on matters social, material, ethical and socioeconomic.

We still need “Real Leaders” to inspire and motivate, not just science, and labs and workshops full of engineers and technicians. We still need bodies and “minds” to concentrate on the holistic picture and future, and collate data on progress past to present, (world spirit), and on into the future?

However, the “hierarchy”, (pseudo meritocracy), need be the “administrators” and “consultants” and “engineers” of change, but are incompetent at the “implementation” of change - for this greater powers and larger mass/body is required - “the people”?

We have all become lazy and apathetic, have been “programmed” to become lazy and apathetic. Apathy is the world’s worst enemy, and orchestrated apathy is the present day “evil” personified?

Jeeezz.. this makes me sound like a socialist?


Have a think before responding with, “but that’s the way it’s always been”, or “Lesser minds, greater mass are too stupid to reason any or all of the above”.. it is not useful?





The “world machine” is capitalism. It is not bigger than “one man”. Plenty government leaders have challenged it. Of course, in order to get into power in the US, you must prove that you wont.

Humans have plenty of mind power to tackle these “big issues”. We have on numerous occassions done so. The question is not about mental resources, but political ones, questions of power and oppression. The problems of human society are NOT biological in origin, but rather ENTIRELY political. This could not be demonstrated more clearly in the current power relationships between the ruling class and the two-party oligarchy that dominates this country.

The “hierarchy” you refer to (including administrators, consultants, engineers, etc.) is funcitonally the same intelligencia Lenin called for which morphed into Stalinism and state-bureaucratic capitalism with the intelligencia and military becoming the defacto ruling class. Your suggestion is would replicate in very mush the same way.

This whole “lazy and apathetic” thing is something I have seen in numerous comments on my pieces (and I’ve only written 3 so far). This clearly demonstrates how out of touch with working people the proponenets of this argument are. People are not apathetic, they aren’t given a purpose or reason to fight. This was especially the case before Occupy and the activism of the past 3 years (chicago teachers strike, other labor actions, Wisconsin, Michigan, and so much more). For over 30 years those in position to provide some political direction to the working class (Labor movement leaders) have cozied up with the democrats, abandonned their membership, and de-mobilized their bases. People haven’t had anything major to look at and be inspired from. People have been suffering to such a degree while labor has largely sat silent that many people in this country are now rabidly critical of labor (with do cause). Labor is a fossil and people have to look to other places for leadership and direction/inspiration on how to respond to events and crises. We haven’t been “programmed” or “brainwashed” per se, that is to say that it is not just the fault of the media in this regard who play at best a complementary role to the inactive working class leadership who are willingly selling working people to the democrats despite the rabid attitude the democrats have had towards working people (see free trade agreements). Labor leaders do this because they are imperialists as well and believe that what’s good for american business is good for american labor, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We have been through a substantial period of withdrawal, but there is nothing that prevents us from advancing, certainly not a “programmed apathy” and certainly not ANY biological factors.

I also want to note that I have noticed that some folks on this site have an incredible disdain for working people. They say we are too stupid/don’t have the mental capacity for freedom. They say we need specialized intelligencia to lead us to freedom or some sort of advanced AI. This is entirely patronizing, privileged, classist, and really not much different from the current power structure. We have the power to free ourselves through political struggle, we don’t need anything else but our lived experiences, especially those of people who have suffered the most.

We don’t need leaders to make this world better, We don’t need someone to hand us down our freedom, we need to rise up and take it.





@ wcstrong

Your reply is rather hypocritical..

“The “world machine” is capitalism. It is not bigger than “one man”.

Speechless!


“People are not apathetic, they aren’t given a purpose or reason to fight. This was especially the case before Occupy and the activism of the past 3 years (chicago teachers strike, other labor actions, Wisconsin, Michigan, and so much more). For over 30 years those in position to provide some political direction to the working class (Labor movement leaders) have cozied up with the democrats, abandonned their membership, and de-mobilized their bases. People haven’t had anything major to look at and be inspired from. People have been suffering to such a degree while labor has largely sat silent that many people in this country are now rabidly critical of labor (with do cause).”


And you don’t see this as apathy? Come on?

Well here, (in the UK), Unions have been systematically devalued through deconstruction of industry and the labor market, (demise of factories, nationalised industries), and successfully, throughout and since the 1980’s by Thatcherite Neo-Liberalism, (Thatcher on the coat tails of Reaganomics). This methodology is again raising it’s ugly head, with the attack on the final and most precious national social institution the UK has remaining - the National Health Service. Support for the NHS by “people” during this recent “employment” of Conservative/weak Liberal coalition govt has been dire? Apathy in action! Folks don’t care, because they don’t understand the consequences ahead of them.. misdirection, strategy to appropriate misleading representation, aided by the media, is feeding this apathy towards “Social Healthcare”, (and at a time Obama has made promises to align to a healthcare model not unlike the NHS? Coincidence.. I think not!)

In short, I see apathy and indifference every day of the week, (weak), in every face I see. The US may be different, but I would be surprised if it was? Indeed Occupy seem to be the only bodies motivated to continued activism. Unions are now required to adhere to stringent legalisation regarding protest, strikes and demonstration - this is to limit support, increase costs, and prevent flash strikes and protest.

The Unions here have never recovered from deconstruction of nationalised industry, and albeit “One” have largely become toothless bureaucracies, the leaders of which are paid the customary £145 K per annum, to sit on their fat butts, and raise their heads every once so often to ensure the media has not forgotten who they are?

Membership is dismal and declining, support for workers is confused, fragmented, disorganised. The skills and wisdom that supported strength in the past has disappeared, (all but few individuals). Apathy.. seethes and permeates the minds of individuals. Not surprising that folks are quick to submit and recede where they see little or no support?

Then we have the “Orchestrated apathy” applied with great efficiency upon the proletariat, (and non-working alike). Entertainment, media, Smart phones, cheap booze, all designed to misdirect and divide … simple, the art of war is to supplant doubt, (in success/ability), destroy confidence, dismantle personal power and to divide the Heart and Mind - using available recreational technologies, free apps and free time, (unemployment).

“I also want to note that I have noticed that some folks on this site have an incredible disdain for working people. They say we are too stupid/don’t have the mental capacity for freedom.”


Indeed, there is some comment, (even some articles), here that self-replicates and supports personal hubris presented as delusions of superiority over “fellow man”; relegated as ignorant and stupid. It is worth condemning and highlighting yes.. there is no “them” and “us”, and this rhetoric should not be entertained or given credence if debates concerning changing the future are to be constructive and valuable. Tis’ certainly another reason why the comments and participating audience here is in short supply?

“We don’t need leaders to make this world better, We don’t need someone to hand us down our freedom, we need to rise up and take it.”

We do!



Smiling, because it’s easy!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2013/jun/26/osborne-spending-review-2013-live





Unions have not recovered from neoliberalism because they chose not to fight from the start. They welcomed it (at least here in the US) from the start and were largely passive. IN other nations its ties with the CP and failures of the left that led to bureaucratic unionism which made these organizations less able to relate to unorganized masses (also a problem here, but the labor leadership in the US more importantly was entirely passive towards neoliberalism, with a few minor exceptions). You can always break laws if you have enough popular support and sometimes you have to break them regardless. There are restrictions on union strikes in most capitalist nations, but unions need to fight against them and do the right thing by challenging on critical political points that shape the daily lives of working people. This is where they have largely failed (in the US) for the most part, and why they are not relevant to most workers. Some form of working-class based organization must be able to fight for working people and resonate with their daily lived experience if we hope to challenge for power.

There IS a “them” and “us”, that is a ruling class(es) that governs systems of power, workplaces, markets, etc. and those who suffer under their systems of oppression. Unity with this class requires adherence to their politics of death and destruction, which hardly offers any hope for the future. Also, you may be referring to the separation b/w the “intelligencia” and the proletariat. The intelligencia/academia is a byproduct of liberalism, a manufactured separation of though and ideology from working people, designed with intention to limit working class thought to what is fed to them by “working class” leaders. Academia is its own mess and would best serve a revolutionary moment by getting out of its way, not trying to take power over it. I know form experience how messed up and oppressive academics/academia can be.





“Some form of working-class based organization must be able to fight for working people and resonate with their daily lived experience if we hope to challenge for power.”

Then you’d better start such an organisation yourself, as it doesn’t look as if anyone wants to take the responsibility. People tell me “let’s get involved”, but when they are taken up on it they back off, saying,

*I’ve got kids, you know*

And grandkids. Kids and grandkids to be sent to the better schools so they don’t have to be workers. The better the schools, the farther kids ‘n grandkids are from workers, peasants. Wes, workers are more interested in football, baseball, soccer, basketball, alcohol and tobacco,  than progress. This live-for-now way of life is not entirely irrational (as you probably know). Besides, workers are not the only oppressed in existence: also peasants and technicians. Am not writing it is hopeless; am writing you will have to take on the responsibility yourself—which is a great burden (as you well know by now). I was a worker for 15 yrs, couldn’t wait to get away from it, mostly the attitude of:

“you are doing a job that needs to be done- just glad I do not have to see my kids become workers.”

Workers need guidance, but v. few are giving them good advice.
At any rate we’ve got to prioritise; preventing the GOP from electing another political abortion for POTUS (the Conventions are 3 summers from now) is priority #1 IMO, because the near future will be controlled by people stuck so far in the past, we are—apparently—merely going through the motions of social change. That is what it feels like today. There are, for brevity’s sake: peace, progress and justice. The first two are attainable; justice is not—and neither is virtue. Because there are no parameters except possibly ‘doing in private what one would do if one were being watched’. One can pursue justice and virtue, no more.

To go on-topic again, can only repeat SHaGGGz’ first question: how is it inherently counterproductive to replace natural systems with ones we’ve engineered?





Peasants and “technicians” ARE workers.

Higher Education does not make someone part of the ruling class.

Democrats are just as responsible for attacks on workers and the collapse of the left as republicans, we should be spending time talking about and building alternatives/revolution instead of worrying about the next capitalist to elect. Politicians are elected by ruling classes, we choose between who they offer us. Our true power lies not in the election booths, but in the streets.

RE: what the working class cares about - see my previous comments. You obviously have had some bad experience that makes you think all working people are monolithic and don’t care about politics. Having spent a great amount of time with working people of various sorts and backgrounds, this couldn’t be further form the truth. Refer to my discussion in previous comment to hear my argument about the “apathy” misdiagnosis. In reality, a lot of folks say that the working class is “apathetic” so that they don’t have to deal with the fucked-up nature of working class leadership (unions) as guided by Democratic Party politics (because confronting this issue means they’d have to break with the Democrats, something MANY comfortable privileged liberals, just don’t want to do).

Replacing natural systems (replacing being the operative word) with geoengineered ones makes it incredibly easy (especially under capitalism) for certain classes to hold humanity hostage through their political and economic control of such systems. Such systems would likely be government contracts, and we’ve all seen what capital does with government contracts. At least the people feel a need to defend natural systems while they could easily be prevented from combating the power structures imposed geoengineered technologies. The use of technology is NEVER neutral, it is dependent upon the powers that use it and for what purposes it is used. You completely disregard any notion of the relationships power structures have towards technology and science, making an assumption that technology and science are neutral, that their uses are inherently good, which is very far from the truth, especially under systems of oppression.





Diversity at IEET: Summerpeaker the anarchist; Henry Bowers the Catholic; you the socialist. A rich mix.
There is something Workers World (WWP) did that made sense then- as now. Andy Stapp—Diedre Griswold’s husband—tried to organise soldiers into a union, or unions. However it was only a year after conscription was ended, so he had little luck.
Yet it is something to keep in mind for the future: unionising soldiers.





@Cygnus: “Entertainment, media, Smart phones, cheap booze, all designed to misdirect and divide”

This sounds very similar to the kind of simplistic conspiratorial mindset that sees a sinister invisible hand guiding from above, when the reality is very likely a far messier chaotic process. The “powers that be” engineered smartphones, knowing their ramifications ahead of time, to distract us from political activity? Really? Booze is intentionally cheap to keep us down? Then why not subsidize it to make it even cheaper, why have age and advertising restrictions, why have other drugs illegal at all, when they’d be even more conducive to engineered apathy? Free Soma for everyone!

@wcstrong: “Replacing natural systems (replacing being the operative word) with geoengineered ones makes it incredibly easy (especially under capitalism) for certain classes to hold humanity hostage through their political and economic control of such systems. Such systems would likely be government contracts, and we’ve all seen what capital does with government contracts.”

I’m very surprised to see you make this argument, as it far more supports my view while undermining yours. You are suggesting that replacing natural systems with engineered ones necessarily implies retaining the existing proprietary structures of control, which is precisely my argument: we cannot achieve the organizational complexity requisite for the kind of STEM-compressing technologies we need, if we are to continue our technological trajectory without collapsing (which would inevitably doom us as a species), without these proprietary structures of control. The market is definitely a poor organizational principle for many sectors of society, but the one that it is most appropriate for, the one where efficiency and speed of innovation is crucial, is the high tech sector, precisely the sector that increasingly seems to be the only viable option we have for digging ourselves out of this suffocating hole we’ve dug ourselves into - and the window of opportunity is closing pretty fast. You decry the use of government contracts, which is largely a valid point, but what do you think would replace it in your preferred socialist scenario? Are the people not the government?

“At least the people feel a need to defend natural systems while they could easily be prevented from combating the power structures imposed geoengineered technologies.”

This inherent need to defend natural systems is not necessarily a good thing. Having the naturalistic fallacy be the guiding principle, which is essentially what is going on if we accept the premise that natural systems are inherently preferable to engineered ones, has already led to some quite poor outcomes, such as opposition to GMO foods based on quite suspect science, even though our increasing reliance on such an engineered system is pretty much guaranteed, given population trends.





@ SHaGGGz..

Simple indeed, did I not state it was simple… misdirection, division, mis-representation.. tell a lie, a falsehood a million times, and people will naturally believe it to be truth? Osmosis. It’s not conspiracy it is conspired.

But really, come on.. you don’t see the orchestrated apathy and misdirection.. It’s not worth debating further.

Students are deemed/esteemed as most “educated” and the most “active”, and this is usually true, (check your local protest/riots for confirmation). However, even they are tied into gross and lengthy mobile phone contracts.. “No one” is free from the slavery of need of money. No radical is as “free” as we would imagine ourselves to be?

ps. Have you turned off your mobile NSA tracking device this morning? Or is it on charge?





@Cygnus: I see plenty of evidence of engineered debt peonage, though the apathy seems to be more of a byproduct/emergent phenomenon of the sheer overload of everything else.

No, I can’t remember the last time it was more than a meter away from me.





You seem to think that there is a grand conspiracy to control people via media, cell phones, etc. While it is true that the NSA (and others) collect cell phone data and that the ruling class uses the media and other institutions (education for example) to promote their interests, this does NOT mean that they have ultimate control over us. History bears this true. Similar all encompassing systems of control were present prior to the bourgeois revolutions, yet those revolutions still came to pass, largely because the burgeoning merchant class gathered their collective wealth and political will to carry them to fruition.

Also, there are plenty of people who aren’t formally educated who participate in social justice work/community activism. If you don’t get this point, try engaging with people who do work in poor communities and you’ll see it. You are making some pretty big blanket assumptions here that often seem very classist and degrading to those who suffer the most.

The use of geoengineering technologies under capitalism would likely be done by a handful of large corporations with the capital to finance such massive projects. If it is left to individuals purchasing for their homes and the like, the poor would never have access to these technologies. The work would likely be commissioned or financed in some way by the government, though the real power would be in the hands of the operating corporation(s). We could compare this to the privatization of power companies over the past few decades which in all cases has directly resulted in greater losses during storms due to lack of system upkeep. The motive is profit, not providing a stable living environment for people. Centralizing the functions of natural systems into the hands of corporations guided by the profit motive will only give more power to these institutions of oppression in the first place. The current system is designed to disempower working people, their voice is filtered and controlled on many stages. Under a system based on socialism from below, the people would have greater control, greater information / less or no secrecy, and be able to make decisions based on what they want and what is relative to them and their collective struggles.

Natural systems require little upkeep and naturally balance themselves out. Geoengineered technologies (and technology and science in general) are a system where failure is an accepted principle (it is important to the scientific method). Failure of systems on which people rely on for life preservation is not acceptable, and should never be acceptable. A combination of the power imbalance and the need to preserve life is paramount in this case. I am not saying that we stop working on these technologies, however it would be ignorant to think that natural systems are not technologies as well/that we should replace them altogether. If we are to use geoengineered technologies, they should be used to supplement the rebuilding of natural systems and barriers that have evolved to sustain life over millenia. Ideally, we could strike a balance between advanced technologies and natural ones that could be symbiotic and develop a society that is not based solely on one or the other.

The biggest crisis at the moment is rehabbing natural technologies/systems that capitalism has destroyed through the course of doing business. There is no inherent guarantee that geoengineering technologies would stop climate change. It snot just about the technology, but the power systems through which it gets distributed. If we build a system based solely on geoengineered technologies, what happens if there is a cascade failure? We should prepare for that by also rebuilding natural systems, which are the most at-risk part of tackling climate change.

We also need to ask ourselves why we want to counter climate change. Do we want to stop it altogether? DO we want to develop technologies and systems so that business as usual can continue? Are we interested in the thoughts/feelings of those who suffer the most from climate change? What is our reasoning?

Lastly, I don’t care if the NSA is tracking me. I know I have a federal intelligence file, just like many of my comrades, but that doesn’t bother us. We need to have the courage to do the right thing regardless and not be spooked by a massive sweeping catalog of cell phone records, social media profiles, etc. They will always have access to your life if they want it. What scares me more is the future of capitalism and its impact on poor communities throughout the world. People have gone on debt strikes before, people can (and likely will) do it again. Debt can be an individual prison, but a collective response can be extremely liberating.





What about shall we call it exo-engineering- stopping asteroids before they strike the Earth. Surely you don’t think exo-engineering will be co-opted by the ruling class?





@ wcstrong

“You seem to think that there is a grand conspiracy to control people via media, cell phones, etc. While it is true that the NSA (and others) collect cell phone data and that the ruling class uses the media and other institutions (education for example) to promote
their interests, this does NOT mean that they have ultimate control over us. History bears this true. Similar all encompassing systems of control were present prior to the bourgeois revolutions, yet those revolutions still came to pass, largely because the burgeoning merchant class gathered their collective wealth and political will to carry them to fruition.”


Whilst the quip regarding the NSA and mobile phones was meant lightheartedly, it is still serious issue! And yes, most in the West are now addicted and tied into lengthy cell phone contracts, broadband services etc. None of these we can live without now, and why should we? This IS a form of control, but it’s an easy and subtle and naturally endemic form of control?

It used to be movies and TV and video games, before that music and booze and dance, before that Bread & Circuses, now it’s all of the above. Even the Pharaoh’s kept their slaves misdirected after work with energy foods and alcoholic drinks and recreation time before bed - this is not rocket science?

However, you are correct, knowing all of this should not, and need not dissuade from purpose. Laws against organised protest and removal of labor need to be contested and broken. Laws are not set in stone, and should be questioned for redundancy always - else we would have a zillion stupid, irrelevant laws by now?

 





@ cygnus - yes, and from there the question becomes how do we challenge those laws? The only way we can effectively do so, mass organization, mass action, and building systems of true democracy to collectively build our movement.

@Intomorrow - This is already happening. Space exploration in the future will almost entirely be based on planet mining. Asteroid mining is going to be a proof of concept in a few years when NASA plans on capturing an asteroid to be mined. Halliburton is currently in the running for this as they are already in position to being mining the moon. Some asteroids (and many planets) contain precious metals that will return great profits if the concept works. Who will be doing the work to mine those asteroids? It may be done by robotics, but working people will make, program, and operate them and the company owners and leaders will make the profits, likely to use some amount of that to explore military uses of this concept. You are trying to pose an example where business would be interested in saving everyone (including working people), but you seem to miss the point. You can’t separate from systems of power. Class interests are involved in every part and aspect of society. The ruling class would not stop an asteroid to save working people (at least not as their first reason - some might actually be compelled in such a situation to possibly care about people that they consider beneath them). The ruling class’s motives behind asteroid capturing is solely for mining purpose, with the secondary function being the preservation of markets for the sale of their products. This is a bad example to make that argument, especially if you are not aware of plans already in motion to do such mining on extraterrestrial bodies.





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