communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Month: April, 2015

From Baltimore

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 8.02.45 PM

(via sicjournal.org)

Im heading home in two days.

There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.

Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making.

The black youth of Baltimore have been conditioned to view themselves as the problem. Every socio-economic issue that arises is somehow the result of their behavior. They hear this not only from the white cops, the filipina teachers, the korean liquor store owners, but also from too many of the blacks who attended Coppin or Morgan and secured decent jobs and decided that the reason the police still profile them, or their home values dont rise, or they didnt get that pay raise, is because “the niggas” moved out the county, or they are still robbing each other, or they make “the rest of us” look bad.

The structure of America has shifted to ensure that there is no place for these young people. The movements of today will not echo the struggles of the sixties. Today there is no protracted post-war economic boom, no high paying jobs for low skilled workers, no attempt to further integrate impoverished blacks into the productive process. Decades of deindustrialization halted the economys attempt to integrate low-income blacks into the workforce, and the exponential expansion of the prison system over the past four decades signals a return to the slave system as a means of managing black America. What we are witnessing in Ferguson, Baltimore, and soon in black neighborhoods across America, is a present-day slave rebellion.

Today, there is no legitimate black leadership. If anything the ascension of a handful of blacks into positions of power has demonstrated the structural impossibility of finding a place for the majority of blacks in America. A black mayor, a black police chief, a black president, and Baltimore still burns.

This is not a hopeful situation. It is fully possible that there can be no resolution to these problems. I can only hope that the people who designed this architecture of black misery, this meat-grinder of black flesh, will soon feel the weight of the teeth and nails on the backs of their own necks.

April 29, 2015

Advertisements

The Purge: Baltimore

Streets in Baltimore looked like a war zone early Tuesday after a night of riots

image image

The incident stemmed from a flier that circulated widely among city school students via social media about a “purge” to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on the film “The Purge,” about what would happen if all laws were suspended. The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.

image image

Hours later, on the city’s bitter streets, looting erupted at an East Baltimore shopping center called Church Square. Throngs of looters, mostly teenagers and young men, dashed into stores with an air of celebration and emerged with boxes of sneakers and armfuls of clothing. “We are going to riot until we die,” one shouted. LA Times

image image

“When a pair of police cruisers tried to enter the area, young men threw bottles. Several of the men wore surgical masks. Some carried baseball bats, others carried pipes. While several people held signs that said “Stop the war,” protesting peacefully, the rising chaos surrounded them: a broken-down BMW sat empty in the middle of the street, shards of glass from convenience store windows lay on the pavement and a young man carrying bolt cutters walked by.” NYT

imageimage

“The result is that for the first time in long time, Americans have reason to worry about what used to be called a “long, hot summer” — with violence of the kind seen in west Baltimore begetting more violence.” FT

image image

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves. The Atlantic

image image

Autofac

by Philip K Dick, 1955

Tension hung over the three waiting men. They smoked, paced back and forth, kicked aimlessly at weeds growing by the side of the road. A hot noonday sun glared down on brown fields, rows of neat plastic houses, the distant line of mountains to the west.

“Almost time,” Earl Ferine said, knotting his skinny hands together. “It varies according to the load, a half second for every additional pound.”

Bitterly, Morrison answered, “You’ve got it plotted? You’re as bad as it is. Let’s pretend it just happens to be late.”

The third man said nothing. O’Neill was visiting from another settlement; he didn’t know Ferine and Morrison well enough to argue with them. Instead, he crouched down and arranged the papers clipped to his aluminum check-board. In the blazing sun, O’Neill’s arms were tanned, furry, glistening with sweat. Wiry, with tangled gray hair, horn-rimmed glasses, he was older than the other two. He wore slacks, a sports shirt and crepe-soled shoes. Between his fingers, his fountain pen glittered, metallic and efficient.

“What’re you writing?” Ferine grumbled.

“I’m laying out the procedure we’re going to employ,” O’Neill said mildly. “Better to systemize it now, instead of trying at random. We want to know what we tried and what didn’t work. Otherwise we’ll go around in a circle. The problem we have here is one of communication; that’s how I see it.”

“Communication,” Morrison agreed in his deep, chesty voice. “Yes, we can’t get in touch with the damn thing. It comes, leaves off its load and goes on — there’s no contact between us and it.”

“It’s a machine,” Ferine said excitedly. “It’s dead — blind and deaf.”

“But it’s in contact with the outside world,” O’Neill pointed out. “There has to be some way to get to it. Specific semantic signals are meaningful to it; all we have to do is find those signals. Rediscover, actually. Maybe half a dozen out of a billion possibilities.”

A low rumble interrupted the three men. They glanced up, wary and alert. The time had come.

“Here it is,” Ferine said. “Okay, wise guy, let’s see you make one single change in its routine.”

The truck was massive, rumbling under its tightly packed load. In many ways, it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception — there was no driver’s cabin. The horizontal surface was a loading stage, and the part that would normally be the headlights and radiator grill was a fibrous spongelike mass of receptors, the limited sensory apparatus of this mobile utility extension.

Aware of the three men, the truck slowed to a halt, shifted gears and pulled on its emergency brake. A moment passed as relays moved into action; then a portion of the loading surface tilted and a cascade of heavy cartons spilled down onto the roadway. With the objects fluttered a detailed inventory sheet.

“You know what to do,” O’Neill said rapidly. “Hurry up, before it gets out of here.”

Expertly, grimly, the three men grabbed up the deposited cartons and ripped the protective wrappers from them. Objects gleamed: a binocular microscope, a portable radio, heaps of plastic dishes, medical supplies, razor blades, clothing, food. Most of the shipment, as usual, was food. The three men systematically began smashing objects. In a few minutes, there was nothing but a chaos of debris littered around them.

“That’s that,” O’Neill panted, stepping back. He fumbled for his check-sheet. “Now let’s see what it does.”

The truck had begun to move away; abruptly it stopped and backed toward them. Its receptors had taken in the fact that the three men had demolished the dropped-off portion of the load. It spun in a grinding half circle and came around to face its receptor bank in their direction. Up went its antenna; it had begun communicating with the factory. Instructions were on the way.

A second, identical load was tilted and shoved off the truck.

“We failed,” Ferine groaned as a duplicate inventory sheet fluttered after the new load. “We destroyed all that stuff for nothing.”

“What now?” Morrison asked O’Neill. “What’s the next strategem on our board?”

“Give me a hand.” O’Neill grabbed up a carton and lugged it back to the truck. Sliding the carton onto the platform, he turned for another. The other two men followed clumsily after him. They put the load back onto the truck. As the truck started forward, the last square box was again in place.

The truck hesitated. Its receptors registered the return of its load. From within its works came a low sustained buzzing.

“This may drive it crazy,” O’Neill commented, sweating. “It went through its operation and accomplished nothing.”

The truck made a short, abortive move toward going on. Then it swung purposefully around and, in a blur of speed, again dumped the load onto the road.

“Get them!” O’Neill yelled. The three men grabbed up the cartons and feverishly reloaded them. But as fast as the cartons were shoved back on the horizontal stage, the truck’s grapples tilted them down its far-side ramps and onto the road.

“No use,” Morrison said, breathing hard. “Water through a sieve.”

“We’re licked,” Ferine gasped in wretched agreement, “like always. We humans lose every time.”

The truck regarded them calmly, its receptors blank and impassive. It was doing its job. The planetwide network of automatic factories was smoothly performing the task imposed on it five years before, in the early days of the Total Global Conflict.

Read the rest of this entry »

Berlin lizards impede Lenin’s resurrection

The head of Berlin’s largest statue of Lenin is about to be dug up after almost a quarter of a century – if a local colony of lizards cooperates. David Crossland reports from Berlin.

image

Lenin has lain in a sandpit at the southeastern edge of Berlin since 1991 when the city, desperate to rid itself of the painful reminders of its division, cut the 19-meter (62-foot) statue into more than a hundred pieces and buried them.

Now, after administrative battles with reluctant authorities and grumbling from Berliners who thought they had got rid of the old communist forever, a museum plans to resurrect the 3.5-ton, 1.70-meter head this summer for a planned museum of disgraced monuments from the city’s tumultuous history.

There’s just one little problem left to solve before it can finally glimpse the light of day: lizards. Sand lizards, to be precise, strictly protected by European wildlife conservation rules.

Read the rest of this entry »

Anti-film

New blog, one line ultra-political reviews of contemporary films, every few months:

image

antifilm.wordpress.com

Film is a cemetery littered with the carcasses of failed revolutions. Rotten bodies stuffed with audio-visual souls haunt billions of minds day and night like a plague upon the earth. More than food or sex, film satisfies our most biological needs for survival. Through film we kill, die, fuck, shit, fly, and survive the hell that is our daily life. In crowded air-conditioned temporary zones of spectacular consumption we meet other proles and share non-stories of our lives by looking together in parallel rows at raw emotions that we’ve never felt. Together not-together we laugh, cry, smile, and feel human in a perfectly safe environment with an organized schedule managed by the collective mind of rational animals calculating exactly how to turn a tear into a profit. Concentrated in the production line of seats we produce our shared impotence in front of sublime images of power. Film raises the dead and lets them roam the earth as the zombies we must kill before we can abolish ourselves. To get there first, we must descend into the inferno of cinema. There is no abolition of cinema without its realization. Welcome to our torture.

We, the Undead

undead

Communist Round-Up

the-great-wheel-seattle

The Great Wheel by Phil Neel

Fuck freedom, I concluded. Fuck having to choose between a variety of identically vacuous options and identically fucked futures and then being forced on top of it to enjoy them because they were, after all, my choice. I didn’t want freedom, I didn’t want choice. I wanted the raw, impersonal logic of sheer chance. No systems, no skills, no betting high, no bluffing, no holding aces, no revolver in the back pocket, just the one wheel—red or black, the ball spinning like the dead thing that it is and landing wherever for no reason and that complete absence of reason determining whether I make or lose a hundred dollars, two hundred, a week’s pay even, the win or the loss without any work or myths about how much I earned it or how badly I invested. No self-help books. No inspirational stories and no cautionary tales. Just democracy by lot. Absolute equality in the most unequal of times.

asmallkeycanopenalargedoor-cover-web-731x1024

Defending Rojava by AM Gittlitz

The time is right to redraw the map, former US lieutenant colonel and Fox News talking head Ralph Peters argues, with a Free Kurdistan as the New Middle East’s crown. “Stretching from Diyarbakir through Tabriz, it will be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan,” he says, continuing a century-long tradition of treating the Kurdish people as a talking point in negotiating borders, disciplining Turkey or invading Syria or Iraq. As the most effective fighting force against ISIS and the faction most likely to set up a stable secular democracy, Western hawks like Peters are once again championing the Kurdish cause, so long as it fits the daily agenda. Often equally instrumentalizing, the Western left has taken a newfound interest in the allegedly revolutionary situation in the Kurdish-majority region of Rojava in northern Syria. There, a new system of stateless governance has formed and their rhetoric against patriarchy, neo-liberalism, and the nation-state quickly lead to both enthusiasm from those who see the embattled Kobane as the new Catalonia, and scorn from those who see it breeding short-sighted and faux-revolutionary nationalism.

adolph-reed

Interview with Adolph L. Reed, Jr.

I think anti-racism is beyond useless as a politics. It is now an artifact of neoliberalism and has been for quite some time. Its inadequacies even for making sense of the carceral state are made clear by contrast with Marie Gottschalk’s new book, Caught, some of the key themes of which she articulates in a recent interview. As Gottschalk notes, even if all the racial disparities in criminal justice were eliminated, for example, the United States probably would still lead the world in carceralization. Anti-racism—along with anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, etc., as well as diversity as the affirmative statement of them all—is a species of a genus of social and economic justice that is utterly compatible with neoliberalism: parity in the distribution of costs and benefits among groups defined by essentialized ascriptive identities. That is what is commonly referred to as identity politics. Despite the chatter among its proponents about group celebration and recognition, the substantive ideal of identity politics is a condition in which costs and benefits and potential individual winners and losers are sorted in rough proportion to their representation in the society. A “Left” committed to this metric, in addition to identifying outrages, focuses on cleansing opportunity structures of invidious and unjust discrimination along identitarian lines within what remains a regime of increasingly ruthless upward redistribution. That is a vision that marks the ultimate triumph of Gary Becker’s utopia.

coal-plant

The Anthropocene Myth by Andreas Malm

A single average US citizen emits more than 500 citizens of Ethiopia, Chad, Afghanistan, Mali, or Burundi; how much an average US millionaire emits — and how much more than an average US or Cambodian worker — remains to be counted. But a person’s imprint on the atmosphere varies tremendously depending on where she is born. Humanity, as a result, is far too slender an abstraction to carry the burden of culpability. Ours is the geological epoch not of humanity, but of capital. Of course, a fossil economy does not necessarily have to be capitalist: the Soviet Union and its satellite states had their own growth mechanisms connected to coal, oil, and gas. They were no less dirty, sooty, or emissions-intensive — perhaps rather more — than their Cold War adversaries. So why focus on capital? What reason is there to delve into the destructiveness of capital, when the Communist states performed at least as abysmally?

varoufakis finger

60 Days Older and Deeper in Debt by TPTG

Only a new insurrectionary, self-reflective proletarian movement that will manage to impose the needs and interests of the proletariat on the capitalist state on a European level can subvert both austerity and moral panics ideology. Surely not a left government which prevailed on the basis of the retreat, the defeat or the recuperation of previous class and social struggles and which moreover is not willing to sacrifice its practical eurocentrism over its theoretical left keynesianism. Neither any faction of the Greek ruling class. The latter has been entangled into an unresolvable contradiction: on the one hand, by submitting itself to the protection of the hegemonic neoliberal/neomercantilist powers in the Eurozone it managed to submit the working class to labour and wage discipline. On the other hand, the ridiculous ideology of “expansionary contraction” in the EU, i.e. the policy of permanent austerity, especially as it has been implemented in its extreme version in Greece, has led to a disastrous devaluation of total social capital and contractionary effects on private domestic demand and GDP from which there seems to be no exit.

California Dreamin’

DROUGHTjp7-master1050

LOS ANGELES — For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty. It was the cutting-edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards.

But now a punishing drought — and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption — is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature.

The 25 percent cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises fundamental questions about what life in California will be like in the years ahead, and even whether this state faces the prospect of people leaving for wetter climates — assuming, as Mr. Brown and other state leaders do, that this marks a permanent change in the climate, rather than a particularly severe cyclical drought.

This state has survived many a catastrophe before — and defied the doomsayers who have regularly proclaimed the death of the California dream — as it emerged, often stronger, from the challenges of earthquakes, an energy crisis and, most recently, a budgetary collapse that forced years of devastating cuts in spending. These days, the economy is thriving, the population is growing, the state budget is in surplus, and development is exploding from Silicon Valley to San Diego; the evidence of it can be seen in the construction cranes dotting the skylines of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But even California’s biggest advocates are wondering if the severity of this drought, now in its fourth year, is going to force a change in the way the state does business.

Can Los Angeles continue to dominate as the country’s capital of entertainment and glamour, and Silicon Valley as the center of high tech, if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists worry about coming? Will businesses continue their expansion in places like San Francisco and Venice?

5
A home swimming pool in Rancho Mirage. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times 

“Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here,” said Kevin Starr, a historian at the University of Southern California who has written extensively about this state. “This is literally a culture that since the 1880s has progressively invented, invented and reinvented itself. At what point does this invention begin to hit limits?”

Read the rest of this entry »

meanwhile..

couple

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

For Passover

image

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

serves 6
For the matzo balls:
2 cups matzo meal (I prefer to buy unsalted crackers and pulse in the food processor)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon truffle salt (if you don’t have truffle salt, it’s okay, just use regular)
4 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter (you could use shmaltz, if you are not vegetarian)
1/4 cup seltzer water

For the soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, roughly diced
4 small carrots or 2 large, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sherry or white wine
2 quarts Imagine “No Chicken” broth or homemade vegetable stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried dill
Fresh dill for garnish

Matzo balls:
Pulse the matzo crackers in a food processor until an imperfect powder is formed. A few bigger pieces are fine. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the matzo meal, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, butter and seltzer water. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until evenly incorporated. Refrigerate mixture for about an hour (or up to 6 hours).

Heat a large stockpot of water and bring to a boil. Wet your hands a little and round matzo mixture the size of golf balls. Handle the mixture as little as possible. The lighter the touch, the lighter the matzo ball! The matzo balls will expand as you cook them.

When all matzo balls are formed and water is boiling, carefully drop each one into the boiling water. Cover and do not lift the lid for 25 minutes. (Another matzo tradition is to never check on the dumplings while they’re cooking or that will cause them to be tough and heavy.) After 25 minutes, cut one ball in half and make sure it is cooked. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes more, in total 30 minutes with one lifting of the lid.

Soup:
In another soup pot, get your stock going. Heat the olive oil on medium and saute the onions, carrot and celery for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are beginning to soften. Add sherry (or white wine) and cook for another 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock, garlic, bay leaves, dill and simmer for about 30 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.

Add matzo balls to the stock about 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, gently warming the soup (the matzo balls will absorb some of the great stock flavor, so don’t skimp on this step). Garnish with fresh dill sprigs.

Boring

image

Let’s Disappear, an excerpt from To our Friends by the Invisible Committee, Oct 2014