(cross posted at The Montana Maven )
Or so Dimitri Orlov would like us to ponder. It's not a new idea, but it is an idea that doesn't get much play in the media and in our discussions with neighbors. We are told over and over that voting is the patriotic thing to do. People died for the right to vote. We get little flag stickers to put on our coats like the purple fingers of Iraqi voters. That the conventional wisdom. So why do so many Americans sit the elections out? And at the same time, if Americans do participate why do we hear over and over from pundits and comments on the blogs that those folks in Kansas and other reddish places just don't get it. "Why do they vote against their own self interests? " progressives ask. The wags note that these voters are like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders. But on the other hand, vast numbers of people including women and minorities vote for the blue team and get nothing substantial out of that too. So what's up? And yes, why do they even vote at all?
Orlov is a linguist and an engineer who has a blog called Club Orlov. He has also written several books, one of which, "Reinventing Collapse", I am reading for advice on how to survive such a collapse besides our two month's supply of Nalley's Chili and two generators. He emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-Seventies and made several trips back to Russia during the Soviet rule and then after the Soviet collapse. He believes that there are many lessons we in the U.S. can learn from the collapse of the other late 20th century super power. That there are more similarities than differences between the two super powers, as Orlov describes them, gave me pause. It's always interesting to look at a common question through a different set of glasses.
Both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. derived their identities from being either capitalist or communist and the "extreme adherence to one or the other" as opposed to healthier countries that mix it up is what Orlov believes led to the doom of one and the coming doom of the other. Ideologies are all well and good, he says, if they actually work. But when it becomes clear that the average working citizen is not doing so well, the legitimacy of the rigid system begins to unravel and finally collapse. He points out that Albert Camus made the observation that the two superpowers were more alike than not back in the 1950s. Camus said that a specific failure of both systems was their inability "to provide creative, meaningful work." This Orlov says leads to mass depression. Read more about Don't Feed the Animals. Why People Who Don't Vote Could Be the Smart Ones and the Real Rebels
I stumbled across this book, by John Holloway, entitled Crack Capitalism. No, it doesn't have anything to do with crack cocaine - it has to do with looking at the world completely differently, something that I've recently started to do. I'm so very, very tired of all the pointing fingers and daily atrocities. I'm posting pp. Read more about Crack Capitalism
Grassroots Economic Organizing has published a very interesting interview with John Curl, author of For All the People, published by PM Press. Worthwhile reading ... it covers a lot of ground and draws parallels between the events leading up to the foundation of the Populist Party in the late 19th century and the events that we will be facing in the decades to come. Read more about Worker Co-operatives
Secession is often derided by liberals as some kind of cock-a-mammy right wing nut idea from Texas. But the idea of being free to leave an organization or union or union of states should not be dismissed out of hand. In modern times, thoughtful people have come up with pretty solid theories to support this kind of freedom that both right and left should think about. Read more about Pulling Up Stakes: Secession? Seriously.
Rage. Almost every adolescent feels at one time or another or most of the time a feeling of suffocation and expresses that feeling with rage. David Graeber in his on line essays on revolutionary social movements called “Revolutions in Reverse” , focuses on this alienation. Why were so many American teenagers “entranced” by Raoul Vaneigem’s book “The Revolution of Everyday Life ?” he asked himself. Then he answers his own question. “It must be the highest theoretical expression of the feelings of rage, boredom, and revulsion that almost any adolescent at some point feels when confronted with the middle class existence.” The young see before them mind-numbing unimaginative work and it freaks them out. Read more about University of Occupy - Majoring in Freedom
Anthropologist and activist, David Graeber wrote 6 essays between 2004 and 2010 and they are now compiled under the title “Revolutions in Reverse”. We here in the United States have been told there is no alternative to markets and capitalism, but in these essays he comes up with some observations about how to go about re-imagining lives that have meaning and purpose. His idea of freedom lies somewhere in the region between Somalia and Pandora. He was there at the beginning of Occupy Wall Street and his ideas have taken root in many Occupies. What follows are some of those ideas that beat new neural paths in my brain and repaved some old ones. Read more about Grappling with Graeber - Alternatives to Kamikaze Capitalism
HOW WE LOST AMERICA :: A Brief History in Ten Points (Linked Version)
Copyright (c) 2010 Bruce Arnold. Republication with attribution permitted. Read more about HOW WE LOST AMERICA :: A Brief History in Ten Points (Linked Version)
I'm fascinated by the ways in which internet technologies introduce people to each other and to ideas that they perhaps never would have met without the tubes. There have always been marginals and people who have no interest in "running the rat race" in our country; from anarchists to end-time religious, some have always felt like there is little point to pursuing the American Dream. To me, that Dream has always been inclusive of these kinds of people, and the freedom that allows them to opt out. Read more about Homeless Blogging