Dear cj, I am somewhat at a loss about what to be posting these days. Things are happening so fast. The potential from Seattle is TREMENDOUS for all of the following: -democratic resurgance -fascist suppression -overall confusion I've got about a dozen things that seem important to post. There are useful forwards from many sources; there are thoughtful pieces that readers have sent in; there are things I'd like to say. Or I may just retire for a while and get something ready for print publication. Perhaps you guys could send me some feedback about whether you want to see lots of stuff, or certain kinds of stuff or whatever. Below is an essay someone who is not a subscriber sent in to me personally. I'm calling this person "X" and sending them a Bcc: copy. X put some good thinking into this and you may find it of value. --- Let me say this about Seattle. The gestapo police behavior - in my humble opinion - was completely orchestrated beforehand. Not by the mayor & not by the police chief - they were pawns just like everyone else. I don't have theories about how these kinds of things are managed - there are too many obvious and simple ways it could have been done. The point is to observe what transpired and what it implies for the future. They used more violence and more indiscriminantly than at any time in the anti-Vietnam or civil-rights movements - and with considerably less provocation. As I think back over historical precedents my mind goes to the Nazi storm-troopers of the 1920s and 1930s. People who are theorizing and writing about "After Seattle" better start taking this into account. I hope you all noticed in our previous posting (#1036, re- Amnesty International) about the possibility of non-lethal nerve gas being used. If this sounds extreme to you, consider the use of depleted uranium on a massive scale in Iraq and Yugoslavia. This was inhuman not only for the intended targets, but also for the Western troops who were exposed. Whoever is making these kinds of decisions has the same kind of mentality as those who built gas chambers. rkm ============================================================================ Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 18:52:44 -0600 (CST) From: X To: •••@••.••• Subject: rkm: "What to do about the WTO" MIME-Version: 1.0 Hi, Richard Moore, somehow your cyberspeech about the issue of the WTO and the battle of Seattle has reached me. I have not much knowledge of economic, not much real and solid anyway, to give an opinion. I have read "Small is Beautiful" by Schumacher, some John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Samuelson, and that is about it. Anyhow, my perspective comes more from the humanities than everything else, and politics has not been my favorite subject, although I realize is unavoidable for anyone who cares minimally for freedom. Anyhow, I want to be slightly more personal, so that you understand where I am coming from. First of all, I live in the US, and I am aware of some of the things you say, like slave-labor in prisons. I don't have a first hand experience, because this society has despite its avowed tradition of openness, a certain opaqueness, a certain unreality which is hard to convey, and which I don't know to what extent it has creeped up in Europe. I don't believe in the NY Times, even when it says something which is factually, but partially, true. I wonder whether another possible way of understanding things would be the idea that media itself has some intrinsic properties, that is properties that go beyond the evil or good intentions of those who own them and fill them with content. ["The Medium is the Message".- McLuhan]. Also, in relation to this strange opaqueness of society, this sensation of being an insect, without power, of not truly belonging, of having no say and no identity, and yet of being comfortable, I think it is a condition that many people are in right now. YOu are right when you say there is no conspiracy, no X-files type of conspiracy anyway. Everything is out in the open, for anyone who has the strength and patience to research as Chomsky says. Still I am pretty uncomfortable about all this. Baudrillard speaks of the "transparency of evil", this evil which is not hidden from us, which is in the TV screens in the form of wars, natural catastrophes, hunger, etc. and which by mere repetition becomes inocuous. Paradoxically the transparency becomes opaqueness in a society that is so complex and overloaded with information and contradic- tory accounts of reality, that one doesn't know what to belief. Everything is a show. I think Seattle was a great comeback, the biggest since the sixties, that drew masses, well-organized masses to its affirmation in the political arena. Clinton could not ignore, and actually he obtained some political dividends out of it. HOwever, I cannot lose sight of the fact that being in the media, the event becomes part of the society of the espectacle. The depiction of pluralistic media perverts the very spirit of the movement. So many stories are run about everything that the only answer people find is indifference. Everything tends to sameness. Anyhow, I don't want to be pessimistic. Pessimism is actually a form of cowardice, especially when the pessimist is comfortable and wants to hide its lack of commitment under a pessimistic discourse. Pessimism is a legitimate attitude only for those who are truly desperate. Nevertheless, I am not willing to relinquish my critical faculties. I believe in a self-managed, small scale organizing of society, but I am aware at the same time that to know what are authentic, humane values is a pretty complex thing. There is no single truth, but a variety of truths, depending on one's own situation in the world. We are condemned to negativity. We can repeat the old leftist error of searching for JUSTICE and TRUTH, but instead we must strive for unpretentious little truths, and little just arrangements that minimize suffering and empower people again, from the dignity and power we are being stripped off. The problem in poor countries is dire poverty; the problem in rich countries is fattening abundance and objectification of human beings. Which doesn't mean that the only problems the poor face are material. Not just that, there is also a loss of dignity, a loss of self-respect and ability to control their own fate. The question now I want to ask you or suggest to you is the following: you seem to say that the logic of capitalists, the ones from the biggest corporations is that since GROWTH is the only way capitalism can be sustained, now growth must be achieved at any cost through the depredation of natural resources and at the same time with the maintenance of the power and prosperity of the elites, even if at the cost of the relative prosperity that the middle classes have nowadays. Don't you think that this is a way of saying that the logic of growth and economy is autonomous, that there is no accountability at all? Somebody (Habermas) said that the problem lies in that technological, instrumental reason has become an end in itself, that it has emancipated itself from the need to dialogue and come about decisions in a democratic way. (McLuhan had said that democracy is for the age of the telegraph and printing press; in the retribalized age of TV, it is out of place). Even some people that pose as democrats really believe that governments run more smoothly if they are treated with the criteria of management instead than as parliamentary systems. Fascism is really the most honest way of running a capitalist society, and I think we are already living in an age of corporate fascism, which disguises itself so incredibly as democracy. But still my question lingers on: do you really believe there is people on the top that just care for their own mean interests? Don't you think the system itself has reached such level of impersonality that it can maintain itself just through the force of ideology, independent of individual intentions? What type of totalitarian system would be more dreadful, a personal or an impersonal one? One that shows its true face or one that smiles at you and gives you candy? The picture you paint is actually somehow apocalyptic, and I was alarmed a little bit. I used to take the millenarian fears merely as a cultural phenomenon, extraordinary but deceitful at the same time. I don't quite believe that now. You see, I think hyperreality is the mode of existence for that 1% of the world population that owns a computer or that 30%-something? that owns a TV. Reality hits hard on many people nowadays; wars are far more devastating and cruel; hunger is ever more absurd. Nevertheless, the people that live in the mode of hiperreality, whether is a middle-class dude or an insensitive bureaucratic manager are the ones who live at the "center" of the world, despite the fact that there is a trend towards decentralization. Ok, I have written too much. I just wanted to share my concerns and doubts. Hope you get something out of it. Best regards, X ============== Dear X, There is lots of debate about whether 'agency' or 'structuralism' is the source of our problems. 'Agency' says there people or groups who make decisions that make a difference. 'Structuralism' says things happen somewhat autonomously. One branch of structuralism blames everything on corporations and absentee ownership of stock. Marx was a structuralist and he blamed capitalism. I've written a chapter on this topic which I can re-post if there is interest. Basically, my analysis is that capitalism & elite-control have co-evolved. Here's how... Capitalism - structurally - always runs out of growth room under any particular societal 'regime'. When that happens, then either capitalism must collapse (major depressions etc) or else the regime must be changed. The adoption of Keynsian economics was an example of a 'regime change'. The adoption of neoliberalism (Reagan & Thatcher) was a 'regime change'. Embarking on wars and imperialist expansion are 'regime changes'. All of these 'regime changes' create new growth vehicles for capitalism. There have been many regime changes like this over the past couple centuries in the USA and the rest of the West. What's happened is that the making of 'regime changes' has itself evolved into a science. That is to say: one of the consequences of capitalism's STRUCTURAL evolution has been the emergence of ELITE AGENCY. It is a matter of historical fact - not theory of any kind - that small elites now covertly control the course of world history. Take a look at my book-in-progress and see what you think... http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri/gri.html rkm ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Richard K Moore Wexford, Irleand Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance •••@••.••• http://cyberjournal.org Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one.