18 December 2012

The Perfect Christmas Gift?

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 9:11 am

From the Denver Post:

This weekend set a record for all single-day background check submittals in Colorado for potential gun purchases, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation officials.

The first day after news of one of the worst mass shootings in America, when a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., requests to buy guns in Colorado surged.

A total of 4,154 background checks were submitted on Saturday, said CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina. Those figures topped the previous greatest number of background checks on Black Friday this year, when 4,028 were processed.

The surge after the massacre surprised CBI officials, who said the office wasn’t adequately staffed to deal with demand. The situation soon created a backlog and increasingly long wait times for potential gun buyers waiting for check results.

So many background checks were submitted the process that normally usually takes minutes turned into wait times of more than 15 hours… By Sunday, the wait for a processed background check grew to 18 hours, Medina said. By Monday afternoon, it took longer than 21 hours for a check to be processed.

Richard Taylor, manager of Firing Line — which bills itself as Colorado’s largest gun shop and has been active since the mid-1980s — said the store had never been as busy as it was over the weekend, and times for a background check to be processed proved it.

“It’s just been crazy,” he said. “I’m surprised the system didn’t crash, it’s been so busy.”

The rush began Friday afternoon after news of the Sandy Hook shootings broke, Taylor said. Customers coming to the store speculated on how laws could change in the aftermath while browsing the store’s selections, he said.

Assault-style rifles were the most popular gun over the weekend, Taylor said.




  1. It’s weird that something can be totally unsurprising and yet at the same time completely blow my mind.


    Comment by Asher Kay — 18 December 2012 @ 9:46 am

  2. And it’s not like Colorado has been immune to mass-murder shooting sprees…


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 December 2012 @ 9:51 am

  3. It’s weird that something can be totally unsurprising and yet at the same time completely blow my mind.”

    Not sure why. I was on my way out when NYTimes just had a ‘breaking news’ line, I noticed the single difference (age of victims) immediately, but indeed these mass shootings have become too common for them to surprising. But how’s it not going to blow your mind? It’s not like you get used to it.

    This came out the same day. THIS was surprising, as well as a few other childkilling cases in China documented at the end of the article. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/world/asia/man-stabs-22-children-in-china.html?_r=1&

    Either yesterday or Sunday there was also an article about how ‘China calls on U.S. to ban assault weapons’ or close to that. But if you’re mad enough, seems you can use something besides a gun.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 18 December 2012 @ 10:36 am

  4. You could use something besides a gun, but it’s a lot easier to kill people with a gun than with a knife, as presumably the Chinese guy found out, and it’s a lot easier to kill a lot of people quickly with an automatic weapon like these assault rifles than with a single-shot gun. At the bottom of the linked Denver Post article there are some interesting graphs. A gun was the weapon used in 67% of US homicides; there’s at least one gun in 45% of US households; the percentage of Americans favoring stricter gun control has dropped from 78% in 1990 to 43% in 2011.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 December 2012 @ 10:55 am

  5. Yes, aware of all that, and the thrust to actually do something about gun control seems to be hot for a few days, and the matter of the politics creeps in after the funerals. I don’t know whether it will be different this time. Probably, but no idea how much. Josh Marshall has had very good coverage of all this at TPM, and the first day mentioned that in the South you have the most intense gun culture, but that most of the extreme mass murders of recent years didn’t take place there. Probably coincidence, as the various massacres don’t seem to have any direct relation to each other, just easy availability of guns in most or all cases.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 18 December 2012 @ 11:00 am

  6. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/12/cerberus_capital_bushmaster_guns.php?ref=fpblg

    Cerberus said ‘watershed’, maybe it is. We’ll see how long it lasts. So, with the Denver checks and these other quick developments, do you remember if, after any of the other mass murders, this much was done this quickly? (I don’t mean that much has been done; this was first time I read the numbers of owners in U.S., etc.) or this (mainly first paragraph, ‘before it really gets started’?



    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 18 December 2012 @ 11:19 am

  7. It does seem that a call for gun control is the trigger reaction to a horrific shooting like this. It’s my reaction too. I’d forgotten about the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, passed by Congress and signed by Clinton in 1994. I don’t recall what if any awful event prompted that political action. The law sunsetted in 2004, with GW as prez and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. According to wiki the ban had minimal effect on reducing gun violence, partly because the type of weapons banned by the law weren’t often used in crimes, and also because there were always ways of circumventing the prohibition if you really wanted to get your hands on an assault weapon. The random mass shootings were less lethal during that 10-year span, with the notable exception of Columbine in 1999.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 December 2012 @ 11:51 am

  8. Yes, I thought Asher might have meant ‘mind-blown’ about the rush to get guns. But it’s actually a sign of how powerful this particular massacre was in the public imagination. Also, most of the people just want a gun and although I support gun control as much as you, few of them are murderers. My brother-in-law once offered me his gun in the zombi summer, somebody drunk was constantly beating on the house I was staying in, not just at the door either, at the windows, it was freaky, but I decided not to. Now I remember he’d given it to me once before, and I would never touch it even unloaded. That time I was way out in the country and a car had stopped for a good long time and stared into our house. I was alone there after my father’s death, but I just used all the outside lights to flood the whole area. But we didn’t have super-secure locks and alarms out there, and it’s a sizable house that my sister now lives in. Now that I think of it, I think I would want a gun if I did live there, although I don’t want one here; just before I was staying there that 5 weeks, someone had tried to break in a window, and there was the most minimal of locks.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 18 December 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  9. “Yes, I thought Asher might have meant ‘mind-blown’ about the rush to get guns.”

    Yeah, that’s the part that blew my mind. We have a ton of mass killings. This one was particularly chilling because of the very young children.


    Comment by Asher Kay — 18 December 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  10. “it’s actually a sign of how powerful this particular massacre was in the public imagination”

    The reactions are strong in both directions: impassioned pleas for gun control, combined with a surge in demand for guns in anticipation of new legislation restricting supply, like the cars lining up at the pumps when the Deepwater oil well blew out. If I had a gun in my possession I’d be afraid that someday I’d want to use it.

    One of the first times I visited Anne’s family we were chatting away in the living room when my mother-in-law-to-be, whose chair was facing out the window toward the back forty, jumped up from her chair and strode to the hall closet. She pulled a shotgun off the shelf, stepped out the back door, and fired it into the middle distance. Calmly she came back in the house, replaced the gun in the closet, and sat down again. “Damn groundhogs,” she said.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 December 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  11. People take this one the most personally and rawest, although there are a number of ways in which the Norway massacre was worse. Breivik should have killed himself and didn’t. And, even if you’re not for capital punishment (I’m not), he still gets to hope that his ‘containment’ will just be 21 years, and he probably sits around thinking he’s a great hero. It’s like that in Switzerland, 20 years max for even pre-meditated murder, some guy got out while I was there. My friend said ‘don’t you think life imprisonment is a bit extreme?’

    These spoiled Northern Europeans are totally fucked-up that way. Of course they should get life imprisonment.

    I used to go hunting, but I never liked it, even though I did shoot a squirrel, and my mother fried it. I had always thought that was backwoods shit-food, but it was delicious.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 18 December 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  12. By today, it does look like it’s going to stick, I don’t know to what degree. With no election, gun rights money doesn’t matter to Obama, and he probably has more power now than he did in his first two years therefore, even with Dem House and Senate–that period when he did all that bipartisan number. With his announcement today, it seems he knows people aren’t going to forget this one. In the matter of this ‘more power’ he’s got by now, it’s interesting to see Boehner falling apart this week as well. It’s not quite as much fun as watching Karl Rove fall apart, because Boehner’s not so much hateful, just wooden-Republican. But I hadn’t thought that maybe Obama really has more leverage now than he did in his first two years. I don’t remember seeing things like how ‘Nancy Pelosi is watching the White House’ and a new article on how Dems ‘should speak out against Obama’s Chained CPI concession’, maybe there were. But the Republicans are so weak compared to their summer, 2011, performance, which was nothing short of amazing. Obama wasn’t talking about doing things like ‘vetoing Plan B’ back then. I really can’t believe the Bush-era tax cuts, even with the Republican-agreed $1000000 +. are actually going to expire–any of them. As recently as that 2011 horror, there was still this sense of a spell that Bush/Cheney had that could never be broken, and they sure did give every aspect of American life their best shot at paralyzing it. Romney would have been able to solidify this.

    I hadn’t read the full details of the shootings till just now. That’s another reason this one has freaked everybody out to such a degree–most happened in two rooms, and the ingenuity of various teachers and kids alike at escaping, down to the 6-year-oid who played dead. It’s a near-impossible hallucination to even bear imagining. I’d read about the multiple shootings of every victim, but with but one teacher in each room to shield children, it can’t have been very difficult, since he killed the teachers and then the children couldn’t fight him or the lucky few got away. I think I did read about Breivik’s rampage at the time, horrific with the 69 (I think that’s right) murdered, but it does seem possible that the two tight rooms full of this is too powerful an image not to get results. I did notice on the same day that it had already made people feel so helpless that they didn’t even spend as much time as usual (at least in the media) with the grieving, and were talking about gun control within the hour, and a lot. So it does seem possible Obama may have that rare chance to actually govern in some ways, not just half-govern, half-appease and -campaign.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 19 December 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  13. There’s already a Wikipedia entry on the Sandy Hook shooting. The teachers and staff must have been quite successful at hiding kids, since the shooter was there for a long time with plenty of ammo before the first responders arrived. It’s hard to know how systematic he was about wreaking mayhem; maybe he’d had enough after the second classroom.

    I see that a shrink in France has been sentenced for failing to take appropriate action on a patient who killed someone. But this guy in CT, while evidently strange, seemingly didn’t reveal dangerous pathology to anyone except maybe his mother. I’d think it would be nearly impossible to profile potential random shooters before the fact.

    We’ll see what Obama and the Dems come up with for gun control. Restricting these automatic weapons will almost certainly happen. They’re talking about more stringent background checks, which would have had no effect in this case. Last year there were 251K background checks in CO, with 245K of them approved — that’s almost 98%. I suppose the check does also deter those who know they’ll not pass. Convicted felons automatically fail — I wonder what percentage of gun-related crimes are committed by perps with prior felonies who managed to get a gun anyhow. This seems like another loophole to close: more stringent prosecution of people illegally supplying guns. Yesterday some guy in Longmont CO, the next town up the road from Boulder, got out of jail (sentenced for domestic abuse) and immediately gunned down his girlfriend, her sister, and the sister’s husband before shooting himself. He left the packaging for his gun at the scene, so almost surely he had bought it after getting out of jail, almost surely without having passed a background check. Whoever sold him that gun should go to jail for an extended stay.


    Comment by ktismatics — 19 December 2012 @ 9:13 pm

  14. Did you see this? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/world/asia/details-of-stabbings-revive-chinese-school-security-questions.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

    There’s a link to the video, but the stills are probably clearer except the children defending with broomsticks. Started in 2010. Article is interesting, since the media is truly fucked up in China, all of it. Man said he might as well go kill some children since he’d ‘already killed a person’ (she didn’t die), but I’ve sometimes wondered if this happens very often, that once the first one is done, it’s like some fever taking over, must be like that.

    Anyway, weird sniplets of Chinese policy and then statements, like this: Mr. Murong said the only way to alleviate that was to establish a fair legal system and to “achieve real justice in society, so that the people won’t be mired in despair.”

    Wonderful idea, and always easier done than said. Doesn’ everybody get around to it at some point? I mean, not miring people in despair? There was a lot of other weird bullshit, like “I have to eat first!”


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 23 December 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  15. “So it does seem possible Obama may have that rare chance to actually govern in some ways, not just half-govern, half-appease and -campaign.”

    Yes, he did have that chance, and he didn’t do it. Republicans are right to think he does nothing but ‘tough posture’ at this point. He had nothing to lose, and still rolled over. These are both good:



    Scheiber is exactly right here: “Instead, the emerging deal will reinforce the convictions that have made the GOP such a toxic presence in Washington. If Obama will cave even when he’s got all the leverage, when won’t he cave? Never, the Republicans will assume. If Obama’s too scared to stop bargaining and let the public decide who’s right in this instance, when the polls appear to back him, then he must think our position is more popular than he lets on. Suffice it to say, these are not sentiments you want at the front of Republicans’ mind as they prepare to shake him down over the debt limit in another two months.”

    Josh Marshall linked Scheiber, and mostly agreed with him, but said that it really is just that Obama ‘really wanted a deal’. But if he can’t wait a few fucking days when he’s got the leverage, and the ‘fiscal cliff’ was definitely going to be quickly reparable, then we’ve got two months of more attempts to pretend he didn’t totally lose the first debate. Just a couple of days ago, some of the ‘non-negotiable’ and ‘hanging tough’ poses did already seem merely that, I thought. But I still didn’t know. This is bad. What the Republicans didn’t get tonight, they can probably get back in no time at all. Earlier today, they’d offered 3 months for the sequester, to the Dems desired full year, and by the ‘deal’, it was already reduced to 2. A pretty pitiful performance, and so there will be a big chunk of public that thinks that getting the deal by Jan. 1 or 2 or 3 is an achievement in itself, Obama knows it’s not all that great, and the Repubs. definitely do. I think one of the TPM people actually did say that he believes…yes, but that was Marshall too: “The President says he will under no circumstances negotiate with congressional Republicans over a new debt limit extension. Not under any circumstances. I believe he means it, even feels passionately about it. ”

    That was before he’d read Scheiber’s article, which is probably closer to what will happen. Under the circumstances of being in an incredibly weak position, it was a Republican victory. They’re probably guffawing-drunk and -farting at their clubs right now.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 31 December 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  16. http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/cantor-opposes-fiscal-cliff-deal?ref=fpb

    I don’t know, this was totally unexpected. If the Republicans do this, I don’t see how it can do anything but backfire on them, so could be desirable. I hadn’t even heard from the Cantor freak for some time, but Tea Party definitely weakened. Maybe they’ll manage to kill themselves in this process, since they’ll be directly responsible for the bad p.r. that dumping into the ‘cliff’ will be. Even if they wanted Obama to hang tough and ‘do fiscal cliff’, hard to see people loving Cantor for doing it.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 1 January 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  17. Probably just a signal that the Republicans plan to make noise about cutting domestic programs in the sequester. It’s grotesque that the Dems agreed to bumping up doctors’ Medicare reimbursement rate, offsetting this additional payment to already-rich physicians with cuts in Medicare benefits and eligibility. I agree that the compromise is an overall win for the 1%.


    Comment by ktismatics — 1 January 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  18. You were right.


    This photo of Cantor as he is today delighted me. Usually a mere dentist, he now has the big ass that so becomes him.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 1 January 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  19. -“I agree that the compromise is an overall win for the 1%.”

    Ha ha, clever, but I didn’t say that, and I don’t think it. Just for starters, the estate tax is not popular as is tax on high earners. Also, the Bush tax cuts that did continue (those below $450,000, including quite un-wealthy), are NOT a victory for the 1%. I had said ‘victory for Republicans’, and it wasn’t even completely that, it just gives them leverage. Boehner could have ended New Year’s Day with being a ‘nice bad guy’ by fucking Cantor’s ass, and in a sense did anyway, even with the idiocy of perversely delaying Hurricane Sandy relief.

    My famous ‘hostess’ will rejoice at the minor estate tax increase, as will her husband if his parents will ever perish, but he himself is in the ‘increased wage-earner’ category as a surgeon, and has to pay. I’m delighted. It’s not just the numbers in this matter, and people should have said more about it, it really IS the bullshit of letting high earners pay so little, and that is not a win for the 1 %. These ‘friends’ of mine are not in the famed and talked-about 0.01%, but they are definitely more than the 1%, they are in the 0.1%, which is fucking rich and multi-millionaire.

    The problem is more political and about Obama’s weakness, in which case it’s still more about Tea Party bullshit. Brian Beutler (also of TPM) doesn’t agree with you that it’s just ‘noise’ about the sequester, and I think he could be right, but I don’t know. Cantor, in voting ‘no’ when the House finally decided Boehner couldn’t push it any further down the Tea Party’s love of deep-throating and got sense, really meant ‘NO’. Marshall said he was just doing his ‘lay-away plan’ toward his own leadership. It’s hard to think of anybody lower than Cantor, but I do think Beutler is right that he was testing the waters and seeing if he couldn’t already do what you said he would be doing in the next two months. My ‘conviction’ that it ‘really matters’ to Obama is about the only real thing that has changed. Dems both forced him to concede and others were ‘incredulous’ that he allowed even less revenue that even Boehner had agreed to.

    But I had said a ‘Republican victory’, not a ‘1% victory’. I didn’t say that, and I only think it’s partially true.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 2 January 2013 @ 10:34 pm

  20. You’re right. Restoring the top income tax rate to Clinton-era levels is a success, despite Obama’s failure to extend it down as far as he said he would when he had the leverage to do so, as you point out. Restoring the 20% long-term capital gains tax rate is an even bigger success, since that’s where most of the 1% make their money. There should be at least some shift in corporate strategy away from maximizing short-term stock price increase at the expense of long-term growth in revenue; that strategic shift could translate into spending some of the record corporate profits on jobs rather than stock buy-backs.

    Extending tax rate cuts for lower brackets is a win only if the austerity freaks lose the next round on holding the debt ceiling. We’ll see if Obama and the Dems hold firmer this next round. Even mainstream Republican analysts agree that austerity on debt would trigger even worse recession. It’s a dilemma for the corporate owners. Raising debt means more government spending, which keeps demand and prices up. It also waters down the money supply, which in effect lowers the wage rate. But expanding the money supply also reduces the buying power of existing dollars, which are held mostly by the 1%. Companies used to make money when they paid Americans to work, before cost-cutting through automation and outsourcing became such an obsession. Maybe restoring the capital gains tax rate will have the desired effect of forcing companies to increase domestic hiring/wages again.


    Comment by ktismatics — 3 January 2013 @ 7:20 am

  21. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/opinion/blow-cliff-after-cliff.html?ref=global-home&_r=0

    Charles Blow is good today. He got the right word all right: “So we will be soon be pushed back into a state of panic because Republican members of Congress demand a state of paralysis (emphasis mine, and I am glad to hear it, because I don’t remember anything before these summer, 2011, and just-finished fiscal cliff thing, that actually give you the same taut, somewhat always-alarmed sensation that most of us reserve for close, scary prez elections like the one just passed by, or 2008 stock market collapses, and forcing bailout re-dos, etc.

    Marshall was good today about how the GOP operates, in an article about how Boehner will do no more one-to-ones with Obama: There’s still something very hard to figure to me about just how Eric Cantor managed to end up as the pro-Sandy aid guy and Boehner the anti-. On a host of different levels, the whole thing just doesn’t fit. The best I’ve been able to figure is that Boehner himself and his caucus were just so amped up into a mood of excitement and delirium that they just couldn’t face the Sandy vote and — significantly — simply didn’t grasp what blowback there would be. Again, government by crisis and acting out has become so pervasive that actually government, actual legislation came to seem almost alien..

    Inherent in these profiles of the inner workings of the GOP is that the beauty contest between these two asses not only more important than the needed storm aid legislation, but that even the ‘pro-Sandy’ one just did a tit for tat with Boehner, since he’d be glad to do the hostage number any old time. As if Cantor gave a shit about the storm aid, except to cut it if he could figure out how. So it’s true that it’s anybody’s guess how they got to choose which ‘good guy’ they were going to impersonate that day.

    Incidentally, the anti-gun-control lobbies will have noticed how this distracted from the Connecticut tragedy, of course.

    It’s definitely better facing that this is the new normal, though, than pretending it’s not, or believing that Obama really ‘won’t negotiate’. Who’d believe it? He seems masochistic in some ways, because too much tough posturing about this is not going to look good for someone as vain as Obama, even if he doesn’t have to face re-election. He’s more thin-skinned than Bush, who really didn’t give much of a shit about anything.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 3 January 2013 @ 11:21 am

  22. The Urban Futures posts have been put up again as of Jan. 7, although they go back to around the election. I believe you mentioned to me that you’d read some of these, in which much more rightist commenters are there (although not all.) I just skimmed the ones, including one quoting someone who said that Election Day was ‘a day that will live in infamy’. I hadn’t read any of these, since the ‘deep space’ things, and those and the old ones have all comments removed.

    He is merely anti-State, and even uses ‘ccru’ in one comment about ‘feminist revolution’ instead of ‘nickland’, which he usually does. He says that and other ‘dissident groups’ were all pro-State.

    There’s a fairly interesting one about the reality of Social Darwinism, although it’s just construed as having been perverted by Leftist Singularity,. and how the total collapse of the U.S. is now assured. I don’t even care if I misquote these people,. it’s so luridly wishful.

    BUT: The main interest is that he did not keep on and show any reaction after the 2008 Obama victory. These new ones are invaluable in that he and his cronies have done so, it’s as if a fucking bomb hit. I never saw such a ridiculous spectacle since the 9/11 truthers on the other ass-end of nowhere.

    So, now Nick Land has ‘come out’. He really is so totally and maniacally American Republican while failing to drum up any interest (not that he hasn’t tried) in China’s ‘ascendancy’ (everything economic is the answer, of course). That there’s not a thing cryptic about him any more, none at all, is quite a relief, as there’s not any ambiguity, no mystery. He’s got what you might call a ‘petrified flexibility’.

    But this really is a nice and major difference in how he must be perceived. The response to the Obama 2nd election is quite extraordinary, it’s almost unfathomable.

    I’m glad personally, of course, since none of these new articles (always ‘posted by Urbanatomy’ now, even though it’s always discussed in comments that it’s ‘nickland’ writing them), because any desire to comment there is long gone the MINUTE you read any single one of the threads posted after the election. I think he or someone says ‘Romney wouldn’t have been so great’, but it was the ‘Obama victory’ that is so scandalous and more or less proclaims THE END.

    It is really much worse than I will now say. But I find it utterly delightful that none of the posts has any ‘make-squirm potential’ although they want it back desperately, in the name of ‘reality’, of course. It doesn’t even entertain that Social Darwinism might take different routes from the old versions, and of course, everything is Darwinist, but it wishes it could still be the 19th century version. IN other words, the posts and comments themselves wouid seem to be ‘a-squirm’ were they not written by someone who actually seems to think it’s a lot of fun to live in Communist China, and I guess, listen to fucking sinopop.

    Except for the basic agreement about a vague reality of Social Darwinism, I was mainly surprised at how none of it was even remotely convincing, magnetic, charismatic. I didn’t even noticed the famed ‘sharp pen’ anymore. I guess he’d call it the ‘victimization of himself and the other Moldbugians by the Cathedralists and Left Singulitarians’, and therefore is ‘in touch with the reality of his defeat’.

    Really strange. I would have thought he’d have made a stealthy exit as he did in 2008 at Hyperstition. Although it’s possible that this series of 7 or 8 just reposted yesterday are all that will be put there. Had you read any of these?


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 8 January 2013 @ 2:55 pm

  23. There was one phrase I especially liked: Instead of ‘like sand through the hourglass…’, he may now write ‘Like mould in a petri dish, these are the days of our lives’.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 8 January 2013 @ 3:07 pm

  24. The old Urbanotomy link doesn’t work, but I suspect I read one or two of the posts you mention here before the site went down. I couldn’t tell if he was anti-statist or just anti-Keynesian. At one point he heaped scorn on the libertarians, so apparently it’s not individualistic capitalism that he advocates. He seemed to be calling for some sort of economic alliance of the elite, but that’s already in place, isn’t it? Maybe he’s found a rich patron to sponsor his citizenship in one of those tax-free capitalist utopian islands where the rich people and their retinues will find refuge from the enraged working classes.

    I’ve been out of touch blogwise since the Mayan apocalypse — maybe I’ll write a chatty update.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 January 2013 @ 5:43 pm

  25. Goofy response is piss-perfect–puts into perspective as the minor thing it is.

    But what that is, as I always forget, is that he’s not American Republican, he sees John Boehner as a leftist, although Cantor not so much (somebody was saying, in their deep pain at the election, that ‘redneckistan’ was looking more and more attractive–whether it’s Cantor who does olive branch honours or the Ku Klux Klan is anybody’s guess.) I tend to forget this even though he’s said it a lot, because it’s exactly like the hard Marxists thinking all Dems, horrible as most are, are exactly like Cantor.

    So that that was the only striking thing about the posts and comments: even American Republicans hadn’t registered that Obama’s victory was another Hiroshima to the soul. Why, even Karl Rove didn’t manage it.

    But then there are lots of ways to go crazy.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 8 January 2013 @ 6:24 pm

  26. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/opinion/krugman-the-big-deal.html?hp&_r=1&

    I think this puts things into realistic perspective in such a way that leftists can momentarily shutup the usual bullshit and rightists are just gagged. Krugman is bright.

    Urban Futures, by the way, has started up again, and the only good paragraph is filligree about how ‘the postmodernists and Keynesians’ have ‘won’ and ‘in the interests of polite conversation’ and not ‘irascibility’, etc., etc., Now, we have ‘death to all the signs of reality’. If it matters so fucking much, why not just kill yourself, since ‘apocalypse outlasted ‘Doomsday’, and other incredibly silly formulations. Unfortunately, he’s not satisfied with getting a good paragraph to exert itself, but since he’s kept writing this time, it’s a pleasure to see yet another right-winger extremist have even greater shell-shock at the Romney loss than even the Romney camp itself! And there was much talk about how they really did not have this shell shock. I think they did. Karl Rove could not possibly fake that in front of Fox News live. I think there was lots of talk about how RomneyFolk really knew all along that it wasn’t looking good for them, but I do not now believe it. The commentators at UF, as well as their Eagle Scout, all seemed to be in the deepest of shock.

    Now he even tried to parody ‘getting things done’, as if that wasn’t even desirable. He claims ‘Paul Krugman was vindicated’, and this is true, but what is so disagreeable about the fact that even a curmudgeon like Krugman will take a look at the horizon, if only briefly, and admit, yes, a few things have been improved. It’s ridiculous to pretend it’s not better than under Bush/Cheney.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 21 January 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  27. I googled Urban Futures, looked at the first page of blogs search output, and found a group blog named Urban Futures headed by… John Doyle! It’s the project of an architectural firm in Melbourne. I cannot, however, find the Nick Land blog — do you have a link?

    As you know, I think Obamacare sucks, but I’ve probably written enough about my objections. You and I are in agreement about the Dems finally shifting more tax bite to the upper income tier. I’ve not looked into the financial sector regulations so I can’t comment. It’s my understanding that Obama was espousing a more firm liberal agenda for his second term, which would be great. I’ll have to read the transcript.


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 January 2013 @ 6:05 pm

  28. http://www.thatsmags.com/shanghai/blog/view/12165


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 21 January 2013 @ 6:17 pm

  29. “Apocalypse, stripped of Armageddon, is normalized. It can now demand undistracted recognition as ‘the system’, the way of the world, feeding upon the spectacle of permanent crisis through the Media-Apocalypse Complex. As (Fukuyama-final) Liberal Democratic politics adjusts to a chronic state of emergency,”

    This sounds like the Shock Doctrine, already adopted by Fukuyama and fellow neocons and their one-percenter clientele as the premise for getting things done. Maybe if people stopped fearing the Apocalypse then the doomsday-venders wouldn’t have so much success promoting financial industry bailouts and fiscal cliff austerity measures. I don’t remember if Land was counting down to Year Zero, or if we’ve already zeroed out and are embarked on the New Millennium. I was pleased to be reminded of the Scriptural passages in Isaiah 34 and Revelation 6 about the sky rolling up like a scroll. It brings to mind a dream I posted about awhile back in which the walls opened up like a jack-in-the-box. Also, this rolling up the sky idea fits with something I intend to add to the already-in-the-can seventh book in my series, where Genesis 1 becomes backstory for the extended fiction that is the Bible, the universe itself written on a scroll. I also see that Land cites the Saussurean “arbitrary nature of the sign,” which is the referent for the title of my Absalom Absalom excerpt: the floating signifiers of remembrances, cut loose from the events which they commemorate, having no power to represent the past in the present. But it’s preposterous to contend that Saussurean structuralism constitutes “the fundamental mantra of the contemporary human sciences” — that really is an arbitrary sign disconnected from the reality of how science is actually practiced.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 January 2013 @ 6:19 am

  30. Apropos the latest Urban Futures post, here is a bit of shtick from The Courier that I just re-edited, in which the titular character explores the ideology of “the Homeless Army” with one of the Army’s “agents”:

    Though the Courier found the Agent’s explanation intelligible, he couldn’t quite see. Who was the enemy? What would constitute victory? Under what threat would the Homeless Army deploy itself as either an offensive or a defensive force? The Agent informed him that the Army was perpetually deployed but that offense and defense were archaic terms. The enemy seemed organized but it wasn’t really — or rather its organization spelled its doom because organization was the enemy of chaos and only chaos could win in the end. The Courier asked her again: what would constitute victory for the Homeless Army? There could be no victory, she told him. There could only be the defeat of defeat, a rupture of the surfaces of the world into the Nihilistic Singularity through which the Real would explode like Armageddon.

    “I’m sorry, but that just sounds ridiculous.”

    The Agent smiled. “You might make a passable agent,” she told the Courier as she turned on the windshield wipers – it was the first rain he had seen since he’d gotten in his now-stolen car and headed west, and this rain looked like it wasn’t going to last long. He’d heard that around here thunder didn’t mean rain; it meant lightning, and lightning meant brush fires.

    “You mean that was just bullshit about the Singularity?” he asked her. “A kind of test?”

    “A group of Pilgrim renegades showed up at camp one day, called themselves a platoon. Once they started nodding along with the Nihilistic Singularity we sent them packing.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 January 2013 @ 11:28 am

  31. Very interesting. Nick has said something about ‘since it’s insanity it can’t last forever’, something like that. So there’s that parallel of ‘defeat of defeat’ and here it’s the homeless who can’t figure out the enemy, in his thesis it’s the right-wing populace whose defeat has brought about insanity and ‘irrealism’. I noticed he used more philosophy-specific terms in this piece than he ever has before. ‘Semiotic’ is not something you’d find there.

    I remember we both thought the Year Zero that never existed was one of the impressive, or to you, ‘entertaining’, posts. Maybe that’s all any of those are. I no .longer care about ‘year counting’,. and his rhapsodies about Y2K are merely irritating. Even in the fanciest paragraph, in which he cops out so as to continue existing amid the ‘Leftist Singularity’ ruins, he says ‘reality has lost all its signs’. What the fuck is that? Also, he says in one of those in late fall, early December, something about Leftist Singularity by 2025, but here again mentions Technological Singularity of Kurzweil and others, and on the old Hyperstition he didn’t think 2029 was too early a period to wait for it. So which is it? Neither, probably, so in sympathizing with something about the Homeless Army, you’ve got not going on too much about Singularity as one of the job interview litmusisms.

    I begin to think it’s a freewheeling wheeler-dealer number that he’s definitely guilty of that he thinks this ‘Cathedral’ as represented by Romney’s defeat means for him,. and that he might now be a philosopher known to be hiding in plain sight. That won’t do, now will it? Because you want to hang around with other online right-wingers, and this is how you feel free, that along with moving ever more quickly to the all high-tech world, in which such phenomena as homelessness and Medicaid (which does get expanded in Obamacare unless the states refuse it–some have wanted to, of course) are to dealt with as mere slum clearance. The paragraph I did like,. the concession to the Keynesians and ‘postmodernists’ is good for that very sly wheeler-dealering. Meaning he has exaggerated all along, perhaps because certain items would have been more available under a Top Nation run by an asshole like Romney. Think about it: It wasn’t really all that sure that things would move away from Reagan’s near-Copernican turn of the world until Obama won twice. I agree with Krugman that the political reality made Obamacare the best that can at least be started with. A lot of leftists think something that isn’t good enough is not even at least a start. Obama’s failings are more in hiring the same Wall Street types Bush and the others used, Geithner, etc., I think more than Obamacare, which is definitely a turn in the right direction.

    What his real gripe may be is that it won’t be entertaining enough a world to watch as does the ruthlessness of the Republicans. Yet, one might ask (and I don’t ask him anything anymore, he just contradicts himself whenever it’s the whim), who cares what happens to the U.S. and how can its elections matter, if what really matters is China’s economic ascendancy. Isn’t all power and all glory going to be realizable as a result? Where would he find something desirable with this kind of gibberishy talk? And he also complains that the Chinese are becoming to leftish with their p.c. bullshit. I haven’t noticed that you have to do all that much, except not use the rough words in the wrong places. It doesn’t matter what the hard leftists think about what you do in private, they have no control. Maybe your refusal to give Obamacare any credit at all to speak of is like the Homeless Army continuing to fight on without knowing precisely what their disorganized enemy is all about.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 23 January 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  32. Certainly the Nihilistic Singularity owes its inspiration to M Land; the negation of negation is Zizek’s eternally returning riff on Hegel. The Homeless Army don’t discuss healthcare, but if they did they might argue that Obamacare could be transformed from corporate enablement into a progressive success with one simple addition: tight price controls for all components of the private healthcare industry, which through government mandate no longer need to concern themselves about people refusing to buy because the price isn’t worth the value of the product. Didn’t Hillarycare include price controls? someone would ask. Damn right it did, would be the reply. Now that I think about it I did perform a short fictional intervention about Obamacare as a blogpost — “Plasma for Everyone”

    Speaking of right-wing astonishment at the accuracy of statistically sound voter polling techniques, I see that Netanyahu was surprised not to receive as strong a mandate as he’d hoped/expected. Both the White House and the Palestinians are using the unexpected surge in the moderate vote to call for reopening peace negotiations.


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 January 2013 @ 5:57 pm

  33. Well, I think your Homeless Army and its resume prerequisites is most witty.

    Nick just put up another one this ‘morning’. It looks as if the Obama victory has turned the ‘neocamerlisms’ into little internecine warfare bitches. Nick doesn’t want a ‘man on a white horse’, and does certainly put an undistinguished photo of a bore on a horse. Definitely seems to be losing it in this one. I couldn’t take it seriously.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 23 January 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  34. Ambiguity permeates the fiction I find myself writing, partly because I often find myself attracted to diametrically opposed ideas. So despite the snide remarks my characters make about the Nihilistic Singularity and the negation of negation, they inevitably will find themselves sucked into that vortex, and willingly, before the end of the series.

    I read the first part of Nick’s new post and want to come back to it later. It makes sense based on other recent posts that he would commend the corporate state. He singles out Singapore, and as best I understand it China has largely followed that precedent in becoming a kind of national corporation, with monopolistic control at home and deep enough pockets to compete anywhere else in the world. The idea of nations being owned by shareholders is an intriguing premise for futuristic fiction. Ron Paul moves in this direction when he calls for big privately-held banks to replace the Fed, each selling its own brand of money and competing for buyers. I’m certainly not averse to state-owned oil industry or the state acting as the citizens’ purchasing agent in, say, negotiating a tough deal with private healthcare providers. Corporate nations needn’t be owned by the 1% — they could still be egalitarian, with one share per citizen.


    Comment by ktismatics — 24 January 2013 @ 10:23 am

  35. I’m sure you’re not talking about the same thing he is. He ridicules ‘social freedoms’ and ‘rights’, and so it has to be the 1%, since it’s based on ‘royalism’, but without family–rather some kind of meritocracy, I guess.

    “The explosive expansion of spending and regulation represents a collapse of discipline within the ruling elite.”

    That was from someone he quoted, I think, and I don’t know exactly what ‘decades’ he means, I guess the ones beginning with Reagan.

    “Corporate nations needn’t be owned by the 1% — they could still be egalitarian, with one share per citizen.”

    He’s definitely not talking about this.

    So Singapore, eh? Sounds like purest heaven. Why not call fairness unfair it that’s what the ideal is. But, you know, the whole thrust which began with his stuff years ago, this ‘surging beyond the human’ is at least consistent (isn’t that the name of your blogpost on him a few years ago?), although nothing much else is. If you read it closely, you’ll find that there is always a deep belief in the punitive, even though the ‘triumph of Keynes’, etc., is ‘punitive’ to the right. But we’ve been through that before.

    I definitely have gone beyond the old ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’, insofar as its both possible to have a non-foolish consistency (and is necessary) and also to be quite inconsistent (he mostly is) and still have a little mind.

    He’s talking about ‘The Diamond Age’ by Stephenson and praising it as he always has, here bombastically calling it ‘astoundingly important’. Matter of taste? No such thing exists, of course, or it’s not important.

    It’s a hideous book, and I read it at his behest in 2006, I think.

    What remains as ignominiously inconsistent is that, since everything ‘old’ is worthless, then why should you care about your ‘family’ and your ‘children’ (I mean the flesh and blood ones), since with this attitude they’re going to find out in no time how obsolete YOU are.

    The obsolete nature of ‘the mellow’, in particular, is not because it is actually valueless, but because one has no capacity for it. As time goes by, his telling me that ‘happiness is babies’ is more and more appalling. It doesn’t really say anything good about babies, and it does say that it’s nothing an adult should ever be concerned with. But still one must have babies, the more the better.

    Practical considerations make one eliminate all sorts of human sensibilities. Nick Land seems simply uniquely placed to be able to rid himself of most of them while remaining ‘collegial-toned’ when talking on the net (and wherever else, I assume.) He may well be well-off, and hence that becomes the aesthetic in a purely economic society (to such degree you see that as the only truth), although I don’t know why have a job at Urbanatomy. Maybe just working his way up the corporate ladder.

    And I do admit that appeals to millions of people who don’t have any talent for much else. The almost-totally-mechanized slips in everywhere, and is probably the rather dull star to hitch your wagon to, if you can stomach it. With him, it has to do with the tipping point, the point at which you decide that the post-human is now dominant over the human. Which would have been quite a leap for anyone, and the ‘collegial’ tone attempts to cover up the ruthlessness. And that’s all that’s really treasured as an aesthetic–without, of course, being one in any traditional sense, and proud of it.

    So we all make compromises, but every one of them has one thing in common: To be least painful to the one having to make them. Could be he thinks what is traditionally ‘pain’ and ‘uncomfortablism’ is just lovely. Katie Roiphe has been called an ‘uncomfortablist’, but I don’t think she’s even in the running, she doesn’t have any idea what being ‘non-human’ would be.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 24 January 2013 @ 11:55 am

  36. No, the ‘decades’ didn’t begin with the Reagan juggernaut, acc. to a little googling on Moldbug: When he says that the statist takeover of America took place in 1933, he displays, in the manner of a European intellectual, a frozen conceptualism that separates itself from reality, that refuses to look at reality. It is not true that the statist takeover of America took place in 1933. The statist takeover of America has been an ongoing process. Obamacare would turn America into a statist society in a sense infinitely worse than any statism we’ve had before this. But because, in his frozen, vain conceptualism, he believes that the statism is already fully in place, he devotes his mental energies to mocking those who are seeking to repeal Obamacare.

    I now find the whole scene horrible, and thought somebody might tattle on Moldbug’s real name. One says he knows it for sure, but ‘these people have to be protected’. Apparently lives in San Francisco.

    I guess it’s some fraternal order of Derbyshire, Nick, Moldbug and all Moldbugian followers on the order of Alcoholics Anonymous. I can’t stand any of it anymore. Just reread the neocameralism business, and don’t even know what he meant by the ‘man on the white horse’, unless that represented a knight or something. The one in the picture was just anybody. Really dispiriting, but at least breaks the whole rest of the spell I once ‘did time’ on, and christ, was that wasted time. I suppose a robot would have all the ‘romantic-cliche’ buttons at his disposal.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 25 January 2013 @ 10:25 am

  37. Here’s a bit more, from 2blowhards.com: “The personal details first: He goes by the complete handle Mencius Moldbug. Having made a score in a recent dot-com boom — though “I only made out like a thief, not like a bandit,” he writes — he has been treating himself to a sabbatical, reading, thinking, and writing. He confesses that his monthly book bill is around $500. In his own words: Mencius Moldbug lives in San Francisco, where he is temporarily retired from the software industry. His principal occupations are feeding ravens, reading old books, and working on his programming language, which will be done any year now.”

    That was interesting, and definitely hard to figure which part of the 1%. Also found out on one of Nick’s posts that Singapore was voted ‘most emotionless country in the world’. How laudable. I don’t care what the quote came from, I’m sure it was trustworthy, since quoted by Fan of Singapore. Talk about COMING OUT, what a glut of shit so as to make it unmistakable, who’d even care about sexual persuasions under such ‘safely ugly’ auspices.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 25 January 2013 @ 4:46 pm

  38. Finishing Land’s article now, in which he’s exploring Moldbug’s “neocameralism,” or the state as a corporation the shares of which correspond to property ownership within the geographic boundaries of the state. Says Nick:

    “Property is essentially marketable. It cannot exist unless it can be alienated through negotiation. A prince who cannot trade away his territory does not ‘own’ it in any sense that matters.”

    That assertion seems to come out of nowhere, with no logic or evidence to support it. Land asserts the primacy of “natural law,” by which he means laws of property ownership that are somehow intrinsic to the material world. I understand that “property” is a social construct based on an agreement that certain people can “own” things. But Land is arguing that this construct called “property” precedes and determines the material things that are subsumed under the social agreement. Certainly serfs and slaves never have the possibility of negotiating the purchase even of themselves from their owners, let alone the ability to purchase the land they work. The social contract decrees who can be owners and by what means ownership can be preserved, achieved, or ceded within the bounds of that contract. The possibility of slaves owning themselves can be achieved only through a change in the social agreements as to how ownership operates, or by seizing self-ownership through individual or collective revolt against the established social order.

    I guess the “pretender on a white horse” refers to the post-feudal king who sets up the neocameral arrangement after the existing socio-politico-economic order collapses under its own weight. The white horse scenario seems built on a sort of right-wing dialectical materialism, an inevitable course of historical development that won’t require any major revolutionary intervention to accomplish. It seems that Land regards the white-horse rider as carrying in his saddlebags the new neocameral order, as if he, this Ayn-Randian heroic CEO rather than so-called natural law is the foundation for neocameralism. Nick writes:

    “When properly understood, or articulated, natural law cannot possibly be violated. Putting your hand into a fire, and being burnt, does not defy the natural law that temperatures beyond a certain range cause tissue damage and pain. Similarly, suppressing private property, and producing economic cataclysm, does not defy the natural law that human economic behavior is sensitive to incentives. Positive law, as created by legislators, takes the form: do (or don’t do) this. Violations will be punished. Natural law, as discovered by any rational being, takes the form: do what thou wilt and accept the consequences. Rewards and punishments are intrinsic to it. It cannot be defied, but only misunderstood. It is therefore absolutely sovereign (Deus sive Natura). Like any other being, governments, however powerful, can only comply with it, either through intelligent adaptation and flourishing, or through ignorance, incompetence, degeneration, and death. To God-or-Nature it matters not at all. Natural law is indistinguishable from the true sovereign power which really decides what can work, and what doesn’t, which can then – ‘secondarily’ — be learnt by rational beings, or not.”

    Evidently Nick thinks that the neocameral order is an outgrowth of natural law rather than executive fiat, and that the national CEO will ascend and fall through the usual marketplace apparatus: if he is maximizing profits for the shareholders, he stays; if not, he goes. The implication, evidently, is that the aftermath of the collapse of democracy-socialism-fascism will be assembled not by the singular hero riding in on a white horse but by the existing property owners riding in as a cavalry, spontaneously organizing themselves into the new neocameral order.

    But now put this together with the preceding article, in which NIck seems to acknowledge that an Apocalypse isn’t imminent, that the existing liberal-democratic social order will continue to preserve itself through all crises. If so, then Moldbug’s stage two — the collapse — won’t happen spontaneously. Doesn’t the disappearance of the Apoclypse, the collapse of Collapse, imply that the property owners are going to have to force a collapse, i.e. through aggressive means, in order to establish the new world order predicated on “natural” law? I.e., isn’t he calling for some sort of collective rising-up of the propertied class to seize the reins of the state horses?


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 January 2013 @ 8:22 am

  39. Thanks for all this, it was a lot and it explains a lot. I think I see what they’re up to now, and it really talks too much about ‘reality’ for its own good–given that it has so little to do with reality and has so much to do with internet nerds and the continuation of Hyperstition and its kinds of constructs. It’s that appeal of games which those are involved with that subsumes and supersedes reality, not unlike the old Karl Rove / Ron Suskind 2004 article about the ‘reality-based community’. So you find unreality and claim that that is reality. You just have to keep doing it over and over, and not that many listen. Moldbug is probably an entertaining eccentric, which is why he’s more famous than the others. I think one of the google searches brought up something in which he did some stand-up comedy but kept his mask on. That’s about all I need of that, so thanks for taking the time. The Moldbugians are just too nauseating, even though it’s better that they’re expressing increased fury rather than satisfaction. Reading any of it is to feel robbed.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 January 2013 @ 3:01 pm

  40. I hated having to go to the trouble of looking this one up, but finally was able: As polarization intensifies – which it does – the essential is expressed through the extremes, and the alternatives are simplified. Which is it to be: politics or economics? There can be no sustainable co-existence. One must utterly eradicate the other.Either politics, or economics, deserves to be completely destroyed — politics for its incontinent lust for absolute power, or economics for its icy indifference to public concerns.

    That’s from some of the ones after the election but before Christmas. And, you know, he’s also written one much earlier, when we were still on speaking terms (I still email him occasionally if he manages a musical phrase, but he’d never respond to anything sophisticated, being a self-styled barbarian, somehow reconciling this to all his attraction to Jewishness), about ‘rights of anti-sociables’, as he seemed to be referring to himself and others. While I have no sympathy for the Marxist refusal to admit that there is black racism and misandry, since there certainly is, it really is a bit much to expect being ‘anti-social’ to be understood as something to be tolerant toward by the very people to whom one is being ‘icy’ and contemptuous. But the belief in economy as ‘greatest value in itself is what is so, not only tedious, but fucking stupid. Money as an aesthetic in itself does seem to be something many assholes have managed to espouse, but just how? Its whole singular nature means it’s for other things, not ‘itself’. So, is it supposed to be the ‘smart economic man’,. as Kaj used to call is (himself a brilliant professional economist, but hardly some cold sexless thing like these Singapore freaks. Kaj was constantly out cruising, even though he definitely liked numbers, the literal sort…These are NOT ‘smart economic men’,. they have just rid themselves of sensibilities, because it’s fashionable among such nerds to thing the ‘human is over’. Unbelievably silly, if for no other reason (and there are many other reasons, of course) that they do not practice it at al themselves, and just think the only game in town is to become the RICHEST. Hateful and just as idiot as the Arpegians.

    But why an ‘anti-sociable’ expects to get ‘liberties’ and ‘freedoms’ and rights from those considered contemptible and worthy of ‘icy indifference to public concern’ is so fucking idiotic. If you hate people, they are certainly not going to love you for it. And this was just a ‘best example’ of this belief in economics as THE good. The disdain for social services, medical or otherwise–now that Nick has gone all the way out in the open about it, it’s truly satisfying to watch Moldbugians squirm. Other followers, whose masochism will remain nameless, are simply unbelievable: Their masters would as lief see them dead, nay, it would give them Agamben I.G. Farben pleasure.

    And then, of course, the hard Marxists play right into their hands. Traxus’s posts about ‘centrists’ from 2oo9 or so, are ridiculous, since at least some kind of centrism is the only thing that ever gets anything done. How anyone can think that ‘beautiful theory’ which only criticizes the right and ‘fake centrism’ is beyond me. But they do. And you know for what sake? The sake of blogging fraternity. These people are even stupider.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 27 January 2013 @ 5:18 pm

  41. I presume that the insistence on a “natural” law of property rights is related to the idea that Southern “crackers” are genetically prone to violence, that races and ethnic groups “naturally” get the cultures they deserve. It reminds me of Aristotle insisting that the barbarians’ natural position in the world was that of the slave; that of the Greek, the master. One of the Moldbuggery posts to which Nick linked commended the Wild West ethos as predicated on natural moral suasion at the point of a gun against rustlers and other thieves and brigands, extending beyond the only moderately long arm of artificial governmental law. There’s no discussion of the alliance of the Wild West bullies who consolidated power by forcing settlers off their land, rustling their cattle, and so on.

    Nick’s assertions about politics and economics seem based on nothing tangible. Certainly there are extreme practitioners, but for intellectual disciplines and praxes to have “lust” or “indifference” seems like anthropomorphizing. Maybe this is a kind of Deleuzian hermeticism, with politics and economics being sort of demiurgic immanent forces that channel themselves through mere humans.

    You mean that the Marxists play into their hands by making economics the sole human consideration — two sides of the same coin as it were? I agree.


    Comment by ktismatics — 27 January 2013 @ 7:55 pm

  42. Jodi Dean linked to a post describing a variant of state-run capitalism owned by the citizenry here. Briefly, the proposed transition from here to there is for the state to buy up all privately-held stocks, at current market value, in exchange for interest-bearing deposits in the nationally-owned central bank. Of course the rich stockholders make a one-time killing in this deal, but on a go-forward their wealth increases are limited to interest payments on loans issued by the bank. But future corporate profits and value per share increases would accrue to workers and the citizenry, who together own all the shares of all the stocks. I like it.

    The fourth quarter decline in US GDP will make it unlikely that the Republicans will push hard for cuts in government spending. Au contraire: they’ll no doubt rattle their swords against cutting the military spend as much as the Dems might advocate.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 January 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  43. Marxist critique of the proposed state-run capitalism scheme here. Ross argues that, while state-owned capitalism socializes capitalist profits, it fails to socialize the means of production:
    Private appropriation of surplus is not the central feature of capitalism, although this permits a capitalist class to exist independently in political terms. Rather, its central feature is coercing working people to work on means of production not held in common, means that are used for the purposes of accumulation for its own sake. Even if one were to have a 100% tax on profit, and nationalization of banks, hedge funds, and pension funds, as Ackerman’s proposals seem to reduce to, this would be a left social-democratic version of capitalism, perhaps a radically egalitarian capitalism: but a capitalism nonetheless. It would be nothing to sneeze at, but not achieve his aim of an actually socialist society; with capitalist production left intact, so is exploitation, the alienation of working people, and the politics of growth for its own sake.

    The reason for this is that, as Marx pointed out, the root of exploitation under capitalism is not insufficient wages per se, or the depredations of finance, but the theft of alien labor time. Not only is labor under capitalism alienated from the means of production and is the worker alienated from society’s general interests, but more importantly, the process of exploitation under capitalism necessarily implies that for accumulation to take place on one end, the worker must be paid less than the value of her labor-time on the other. The more capitalist production expands, the less time the worker has for herself. This is why so much of the history of socialist activism does not revolve around higher taxes on the wealthy or the nationalization of the commanding heights, but about reducing the share of their total lifetime workers are forced to produce for the reproduction and expansion of capitalist society – for example through pensions and social security, or overtime laws.

    The struggle over exploitation is fundamentally the question of whether the worker has the time to fully develop her intellectual, social, and creative powers, or must devote this time instead to the reproduction of a hostile, alien, and benumbing society, with no time to call her own.
    I suppose so. If the common weal is enhanced by profits accrued by specific companies, and those profits accrue to the investors, i.e. to the state as collective, then the workers in the profitable company are being underpaid. But if companies remain privately run, then there’s no reason why these companies’ management couldn’t distribute some of their profits to workers in the form of higher wages. For that matter, the profitable company’s management could opt instead to shorten the workday, affording the profitable company’s workers more time to read novels or to watch little Jimmy’s basketball practice without suffering a cut in pay.


    Comment by ktismatics — 31 January 2013 @ 7:24 am

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