Monday, July 19, 2010

Brilliant -- David Harvey, The Crises of Capitalism Animation

It's really, really hard for many supposed "progressives" to understand this Endless Recession and to contemplate the kind of economic restructuring that is necessary to... end it instead of perpetuating it.

The United States has pretty much turned into Japan economically, only with far more wealth flowing far faster away from wages, production and services and to the financial sector, where, for now anyway, it just sits.

No one who has any influence wants to stand in the way.

Certainly not Our Rulers. Heaven forfend.

Harvey can explain it, but he doesn't know what to do about it. Well, I think he does. He just doesn't want to say so.

Guillotines, anyone?

(Saw the clip over at dKos; there are lots of others at the YouTube site. Click on the video to go there and explore more...)


  1. And who will man the guillotines, Che Pasa? The next crop of power-hungry, ruthless dominators whipping up the predatory instincts of the Mob to lift themselves to the top of the heap of rolling heads.

    Yes, I am all for a revolution to a socialist democratic system, but I do think your punchline reduces Revolution to an incredibly irresponsible gibe.

    Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre and the vengeful Mob are not the role models I think we need to follow to blood soaked blades and piles of rolling heads. So easy to toss off a cliche, Che, and I am telling you from experience in a combat zone that just such shallow, vicious jokes have the power to shape action in the heat of the moment - I've watched the rage that fuels the brutal fun slide us all over the edge - just another revolution of the wheels of violence and revenge that keep killing for generations, the suicide of thinking and compassion that rolls those heads up and down new heaps of power and greed.

    From what I know of your writing so far, this post is an exception to the constructive rage and hard thinking on this blog that I've already come to value.

    Helen Gerhardt,
    Iraq Vet For Human Rights

  2. Helen, IVFHR,

    "Guillotines" is a metaphor.

    As is the question: "Who should be first against the wall when the Revolution comes?"

    We don't practice Revolution that way anymore -- at least so they tell us -- but the images of previous Revolutions remain -- something like Che's image that's still marketed world-wide to rapturous and willing consumers who would never take up a gun or a jungle hideout for one last battle with the Forces of Evil.

    Discommoding the Powerful -- to the point where they MUST yield -- is the point of the metaphors.

    At one time, that literally meant the Blade or the Wall, for they could not be compelled to yield any other way. A Revolution had to be hip-deep in Aristo-blood. Otherwise what was the point?

    But we've seen something surprising in recent history: Revolutions can proceed -- and succeed -- without much, or in a few cases, any, bloodshed at all.

    Quite the contrast with the March of Empire, don't you think?

    Of course, we live in an ahistorical period, and what happened even a few days or weeks ago is all but forgotten, and no one but a few of us malcontents bothers to read Thucydides, but the fact is that in recent times, an entire totalitarian imperial surveillance state was literally shattered and crumbled to dust before our very eyes, and it happened with barely a drop of blood shed. Those in charge were nevertheless made to face the fact that they HAD to yield.

    It wasn't just the Soviet Empire, either. Much the same sort of popular movement brought down vicious dictatorships elsewhere, mostly, though not entirely, without the use of the bloody tools of dictatorship to do it.

    The Guillotine and the Wall are metaphors for compulsion. Our present day Masters must come to realize they have no choice, they MUST yield.

    How we -- and they -- get to that point is still the unanswered question.

    What we can agree on is that violence for its own sake is not the answer.


  3. Che Pasa, I'm a mighty lover of metaphors, but your intent was certainly not clear here to me, and I believe that such an image could be taken quite literally by some of the angry people here in the streets of Pittsburgh where black high school student Jordan Miles was this year beaten to a pulp by a jump squad of police officers who wore no uniform, who have not been held to account by a deeply flawed system. (

    Our local Alliance for Police Accountability is directly confronting that system, attempting to support re-form to the more responsible and effective model of checks, balances, transparent reporting, and official accountability systems under the consent decree that used to provide far more protection of the the brown, the Muslim, and the poor here in the 'Burgh.

    Those people's well-justified anger makes even the most responsible cops, those who have consistently and responsibly upheld the rule of law, very afraid. Your image of the guillotine has been translated by some of the angriest voices into the gun that could well be used to justify killing the White Cop that represents The Man - such metaphors as yours could well be used by some of those who have been most brutalized to justify or rationalize the revenge-killing that would only lead to far more brutal repression for those who most need to understand HOW to Discommode the Powerful through nonviolent means. Human rage and desperation regularly twist and inflate and distort metaphors that have such literal power to energize and structure action into murder, war, or group suicide - or into peaceful and effective nonviolent compulsion for justice.

    I and many others would deeply appreciate hearing about the practical details of Discommoding that you meant to embody in your metaphor. You write: "Much the same sort of popular movement brought down vicious dictatorships elsewhere, mostly, though not entirely, without the use of the bloody tools of dictatorship to do it." I most surely need to hear about those models of success and I need to skim your archives for what we might adapt here on the local level to act more effectively.

    Thanks for your work, Che Pasa.

    Helen Gerhardt
    Iraq Vet For Human Rights

  4. Helen,

    such an image could be taken quite literally by some of the angry people here in the streets of Pittsburgh

    I'm really curious about a level of anger anywhere in the country that would actually affect the comfort and convenience of Our Rulers.

    I don't see it.

    There is anger, plenty of it. And plenty of unfocused rage at... something.

    But an impending uprising that would overthrow the Powers That Be?

    Not likely.

    If it does happen, it will come from the Rightist mobs that are semi-organized into the TeaBaggers and their associated militias. Not from anywhere on the Left or among the discarded and disenfranchised masses.

    Nevertheless, I run into a surprising amount of fear of Revolutionary imagery and rhetoric.

    If you listen to the Jerry Rubin video down below, you will hear him call openly for the overthrow of the US Government, no qualms at all, and Phil Donahue, for his part, is more concerned with Jerry's appearance and demeanor than he is with his call to Revolution. In addition, Jerry says that what success the Movement has had has come from the blood shed in the streets (this was 1970, so there had been a lot of it) and from the "fire" -- of riots and sabotage and revolutionary action. Donahue hardly bats an eye.

    And he says further -- and very presciently -- that the war in Vietnam would end when the troops either put down their weapons or turned them on their officers.

    These are the words and acts of real Revolutionaries actually taking risks for what they believe in. Many died -- murdered, assassinated -- were imprisoned, or were forced underground.

    Some, like Jerry Rubin, found other outlets for their talents, energy and rage (in Jerry's case, he went from Yippie to Yuppie).

    But there is nothing like that sense of Revolutionary -- or even pre-Revolutionary -- fervor today. Not even on the Right.

    I know what can happen when Authority doesn't deal appropriately with its own misbehavior, and there could be an explosion of rage almost anywhere that the cops are running wild, for example. But that's not a Revolution against the power structure, Our Rulers, or their Owners. Far from it.

    As for the alternatives to violent overthrow, I've written some things about it, mostly in comments elsewhere. But even those alternatives -- like a general strike -- are considered way too radical (and potentially risky/effective) by most on the "progressive" side. So ultimately, nothing is done.

    Except continuing the arguments.

    It's frustrating, but it is the zeitgeist, and until that changes, we're stuck in neutral.