Complicity

13 jan 2018

John Davis’ article, Mud Slide, on CounterPunch this weekend, talks about a pretty pertinent question when he asks:

Can we do good within a corrupt system with which we are complicit? Or, as Adrian Parr notes, in her startling new book, Birth of a New Earth – The Radical Politics of Environmentalism, 2017, “political awareness arises from the realization that” (quoting Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari) “the reality I see is never ‘whole’ – not because a large part of it eludes me, but because it contains a stain, a blind spot which indicates my inclusion in it.”

The idea of complicity or “blind spots” got me to wondering about the moment(s) when I had an inkling of the socio-cultural straight jacket into which I had been born. The “stain”, if you will. The log in my own eye.

Was it the moment when, still toddling around in diapers, I decided to make my way down the back few stairs, push open the screen door of our row house, wander out into the back yard, wriggle out of my diapers, and pee freely in the sunshine (a wonderful feeling). Our Polish babysitter remarked from the doorway (probably in Polish, which I had come to understand), “Well now, master Stephen thinks he lives on a farm!”

Or was it five or six years later, as my father and I were torching an infestation of tent caterpillars in the winter pear trees, when I asked him why a Russian farmer would want to fight an American farmer, as I looked to the northwest from which I figured a Russian missile would come?

Was it during a winter storm, watching the snow whip by my cracked open bedroom window, weighted down by multiple layers of wool Hudson blankets, that I dreamed of being a tree, or joining a band of migratory Indians, padding their way through eternal autumns and springs?

Maybe it was towards the end of high school in the mid-sixties, when I remarked to a group of friends that I figured men had to be liberated before we could talk about liberating women. Or about the same time I decided that reading history through the lens of battles won or lost between some feuding families was less interesting than the lives of most of humanity living through those times. It was about that time I gave up reading newspapers and magazines, watching television.

Was it the moment I dove into the unknown January waters of the Calanques east of Marseille at two in the morning? Or the time I decided to be an agricultural worker, working for food and living in a tent by a river in la Drôme and reading Giono?

Or the time I refused a tenure-track position at a French university because I felt I was too young to retire from the world?

Or rolling my eyes when future naval officers in Saudi Arabia wanted nothing more than to talk about Madonna and Michael Jackson?

Or listening to the taxi driver in Istanbul talking about the true meaning of “jihad” as I let him drive me here and there, having never been there before, as I nursed a half bottle of raki?

Or agreeing to deliver a sailboat from Turkey to Greece and discovering I had just smuggled fifty kilos of gold?

Or describing my mid-life adopted home town to some journalists from National Geographic Traveler as a “speculator’s paradise”?

Or when I sold or gave everything away so I could leave the US with what I could carry?

Or that time, later on, in Morocco, when a taxi driver who was taking me to an area of illegally built seaside houses east of Rabat, after asking me what I was doing in Morocco, calmly explained that the US had no sense of history, was always in a hurry, and because of that, the patience of the majority of Moroccans would eventually outlast the senseless activity of the West, and, putting his right hand on my left arm as I was about to get out of his car, said that I should, in spite of the expected hilarity of my hosts, listen to the children.

When Davis writes:

When I turned the key in my car’s ignition recently to flee the Thomas Fire, California’s largest and almost certainly exacerbated by global warming, I was both victim and perpetrator, caught in the ouroboric moment of the snake eating its own tail.

… I could only think of the times of my own complicity in the crimes against the less fortunate, of the crimes against Mother Earth.

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Want the Skinny on Iran?

A must read report by Paris-based Irani journalist Ramin Mazaheri on the demonstrations in his home country.

http://thesaker.is/iran-protests-western-salivation-agitation-desperation/

Compare Mazaheri’s article to the one I found on CommonDreams, which seems to be veering more and more into NPR (National Propaganda Radio) territory.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/01/01/theres-something-different-about-these-iran-protests

 

 

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Snake Oil in Paris: Obama smiles his way through his tired “Hopey Changey” branding effort.

3 dec 2017

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/usa/presidentielle/investiture-d-obama/visite-d-obama-a-paris-le-public-de-sa-conference-conquis_2496087.html

Too many French still believe in the Tooth Fairy. The proof? Smooth-talking former president (and war criminal) Obama stopped briefly in Paris yesterday (2 dec 2017) to give yet another of his obscenely hypocritical speeches, and Paris, true to its reputation as one of the world fashion capitals, was captivated more by the form of his delivery, the style if you will, than by what he actually said, demonstrating, yet again, the power of the suspension of disbelief.

I had just put a piece of cod in the oven and turned on the evening news (France 2) for my daily dose of “info intox” just to see what line the French elite were pushing.

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/usa/presidentielle/investiture-d-obama/climat-il-y-a-actuellement-une-absence-de-representation-americaine-sur-ce-sujet-regrette-barack-obama_2495929.html

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/usa/presidentielle/investiture-d-obama/barack-obama-envoute-son-public-a-paris_2496011.html

I didn’t know Obama was in Paris, but when this story came up, and I saw how it was being covered, I had to turn off the TV as well as the oven, my disgust at Obama’s presence at this marketing event, sponsored by les Napoléons, having chased any thoughts about dinner. I went out for walk along the Seine to try to clear away the sick-making spectacle.

Considering The Napoléons is another one of those private clubs like le Siécle, the Bilderburg, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what’s going on. What’s interesting is that this particular club is only two years old and was founded by a couple of marketing guys, and in the true tradition of all marketing, they adopted the name, The Napoléons, because, as the link above states,

Le choix rend hommage à ce “grand innovateur”, génie militaire et organisateur hors pair qu’était Bonaparte, il y a un peu plus de deux siècles. “L’imagination dirige le monde”, a d’ailleurs clamé le tyran, avant de tout perdre. Le nom a aussi le mérite d’être mondialement connu. “Dans le monde entier, s’il y a une personnalité qui incarne une forme d’audace à la française, c’est Napoléon”, selon un des organisateurs cité par “Le Monde”.

Translation: The choice honors the “grand innovator”, military genius, and unequalled organizer, Napoléon, of more than two centuries ago. “Imagination rules the world” the tyrant claimed, before losing everything. The name has the merit of being known worldwide. “In the entire world, if there is a personality who incarnates French audacity, it’s Napoléon”, according to one of the organizers quoted by Le Monde.

Only a couple of cynical illusion salesmen could come up with such a retrograde rebranding. But like the award- winning Obama campaign, it’s not surprising that, with enough money and media exposure, you can pretty much “create your own reality”. It was fitting that Obama’s $400,000 fee was paid by Orange (though Orange claims there were other contributors), the French telecom giant (I hate to admit that we use Orange, but choices are limited here as they are pretty much everywhere these days).

Audacity and innovation, that old Hopey-Changey Obama slogan, invoking a lost empire is, ironically, pretty much par for the course for a couple of marketers, and Obama is the perfect “empty suit” to croon about how the US is the exceptional nation that espouses human rights, equality, the rule of law, and all the rest while he went about doing the exact opposite. Not unlike most of his predecessors.

But the Obama Brand worked in the US, and the French elite wanted a private lesson in his “delivery”. They, like oligarchs worldwide, couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the climate, Obama’s dreadful wars, or anything else that really matters. They simply wanted a demonstration of how to “appear” to be sincere so as to better “appeal” to their consumers, regardless of the toxicity of what they sell, be it poisoned food, the importance of the European Union, or their own racist, rapacious, neo-colonial wars.

These Obama groupies know that “branding” works. It’s so patently obvious that my wife asked me why I was even writing this. She’s probably correct.

Seems as though people like Obama get trotted out on these PR missions to see who will attend in order to judge how firmly the hook has been planted. Or to see who has not attended, who is not buying the snake oil and why.

https://www.lci.fr/societe/qui-sont-les-napoleons-ce-club-qui-s-est-offert-barack-obama-pour-une-conference-a-paris-2071810.html

https://business.lesechos.fr/entrepreneurs/aides-reseaux/les-napoleons-la-communaute-des-entrepreneurs-audacieux-106112.php

http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/barack-obama-a-paris-qui-sont-les-napoleons-02-12-2017-2176803_23.php

Les Napoléons, c’est le bébé de deux hommes, Mondher Abdennadher et Olivier Moulierac. Issus du secteur de la communication, ils se sont rencontrés chez Euro RSCG, agence désormais englobée par Havas. Leur projet, porté par leur société Momentum, a été lancé en 2014. D’autres noms de la communication apportent leur pierre à l’édifice, comme Anne Méaux, patronne de l’agence Image 7, qui conseille les plus gros patrons français. « Je les ai aidés à améliorer leur programme, à avoir des intervenants, à gagner en crédibilité, à gagner un peu de temps », explique-t-elle au Monde

My translation: The Napoléons is the baby of two men, Mondher Abdennadher and Olivier Moulierac. Products of the communication industry, they met at Euro RSGC, a subsidiary of Havas. Their project (Les Napoléons), organized by their company, Momentum, started in 2014. Other big names in the communication industry supported them, such as Anne Méaux, CEO of Image 7, advisor to some of the largest French firms. “I helped them improve their progam, invite people of interest, improve their credibility, push their agenda” she explained to Le Monde.

*

http://www.lemonde.fr/m-actu/article/2017/11/24/barack-obama-a-paris-joli-coup-de-pub-pour-les-napoleons_5219977_4497186.html

Article Clé?

So there you have it. Watching US vassals in Paris clapping up Wall Street’s Uncle Tom, and that the French media was able to have elected their Jupiterian Trojan Horse (Macron) was proof enough for me that the European project, as envisioned by the US, is continuing along its (hopefully self-destructive) path to complete domination, subjugation of Europe west of the Russian border.

Note. I’d suggest Julian Vigo’s article on DissidentVoice for a more in-depth study on this form over content phenomenon.

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Snipers Confess? and Other Stuff

Note:  info on the snipers during the Ukraine “uprising” is at the end of this post.

 

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/24/from-an-open-internet-back-to-the-dark-ages-2/

Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations. – Jonathan Cook

I haven’t even finished the above linked article (okay, I finished it, but it doesn’t change my basic argument), but if we, on what is called “the left”, want to fight (a losing battle?) with the mega corporations who are running things these days, we might think about giving up all our little toys that are enabling the oligarchs to combine with the surveillance state to stifle our dissent.

That could serve as the final blow to the left and its ability to make its voice heard in the public square. – JC

The Left as subservient to our oligarchs? Does the Left have no more imagination than that? Does the Left really need the gatekeeping boy wonders of the Internet to make its message heard? Lefty web sites still who use stuff like FB, Twitter, PayPal, Amazon, Google, or any of the other neo-oligarchic portals to sell their goods, solicit funds, or supposedly encourage debate should be shamed out of contributions from their echo chamber readers. I still visit sites who use Amazon to sell their books, FB for their comments, PayPal to collect donations, but if you think I use any of those billionnaires’ companies to buy anything or support them, you’d be wrong.

If you like what some web site does, send it a check or cash. Or if you’re rich, and agree with them, visit them personally, ask some pertinent questions, then do or do not make your contribution. I know people who have flown cross-country to attend a concert, but do they invest that kind of money, or interest, into what has become our means of communication?

So, okay, the internet, as we know it, has become another tool in the facist toolbox. There exist workarounds, and while being relatively ignorant as to all that stuff, I do know that they exist. There are other operating systems, other search engines that will get you, more or less, where you want to go.

We just have to stop shopping at the WallMarts of the internet. Is that so difficult?

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/24/men-in-power-abusing-women-what-a-surprise/

Yeah. But what about psychopaths like la Clinton, who aspire to this same untouchable status? Bill may have been able to actually “seduce” a few here and there (who really knows?), but I have my doubts about his “wife”. Who would want to even get near her? If that was the case, then I guess her cackling about Ghadaffi’s murder might provide a clue.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/24/slaves-and-bulldozers-plutocrats-and-widgets/

This link goes right back to the top link.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/11/our-national-madness.html

Succinct description of US madness.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/11/addictions-social-media-mobile-phones-fall-grace.html

When you have a sick society, addictions like this become almost inevitable. Narcissism anyone?

http://www.thepolemicist.net/2017/10/sticks-and-stones-free-speech-and.html#more

This article by The Polemicist is the perfect antidote to the Twitter-addicted. He takes the time necessary to make an argument. For too many out there, articles like this are too much because they are too long, too detailed, too nuanced, too honest. That’s part of the problem.

*

Breaking.

For those of you who might tip toe outside the edges of the MSM, you might have noticed that the lies dutifully transmitted by same concerning the Ukraine are quickly approaching their sell-by date. Take a look here, here, and here.

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The World Series and Other Stuff

2 nov 2017

Jeux

The Astros (or maybe I should say Springer) jumped all over Darvish in the first two innings to win the deciding game of the World Series. Why LA offered up Darvish for the crucial game has me wondering if the fix was in. Not that I really care. Baseball has changed so much since I played, that it’s probably out of habit that I even check the scores. I’m even losing interest in my beloved Tigers whose management seems about as self-destructive as US foreign policy. At least Verlander, seemingly rejuvenated by the prospect of playing in, and winning, a World Series, did a pretty good job for the Astros and got to live The Dream. Not that 28 million a year isn’t a dream for most people in our money-obssessed society, but being gifted that much money in a city like Detroit and a team like the Tigers, must have weighed a bit on his conscience, given the direction in which the Tigers were headed. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during the trade negotiations. Houston’s gamble seems to have paid off. If the Tigers can can unload Miggy, Zimmerman, Kinsler, and any of the other stupid contracts they signed and resign themselves to being a small market team in a third world city, playing their part in the fading American Spectacle of professional sports, then so much the better. But that’s assuming the existence of a bit of common sense which seems to be absent in the US these days.

I don’t know how much longer I can continue reading ICH. Tom’s lineup of articles this morning was one of the most depressing I’ve read. Not that there’s anything really new. It’s just that the evil intentions of DC have become so apparent that it’s no wonder people are depressed. Christ, I’m depressed, and knowing that the Europeans are going along with this insanity only makes it worse.

For instance, the only real visible resistance to The Empire’s thrashing about, threatening economic or physical war, come from capitalist interests. Are we supposed to support Capital in Europe simply because it’s tugging a bit on the US chain? US policies (sanctions and bombs) are hurting German, French, and Italian business interests, but are those interests any different, really, from US business interests?

The Germans allow the US to have military and espionage bases on their territory. So do the Italians. The French have an ex-bankster as president. Does anyone see any real change here? Are we supposed to espouse the German sweatshop export model simply because they can’t sell their shit to Russia, China, or Iran? Or support the Italians who seem to be willing to accept a portion of the world’s toxic waste and dump it wherever so they can export a few luxury items and write some small deals for their own petro-chemical industries? Or so the French can re-establish their old colonies in Africa or their energy interests in the Middle East?

I see a glaring example of, and comparison to, what is happening in the US. The Democrats, and their cult-like zombie followers, supposed defenders of The People, are so obssessed with the Russiagate charade (in order to camouflage their own corruption) that they’re teaming up with the very forces who have brought us precariously close to (if we aren’t already there) pretty much the real end of history, at least in human terms. And whatever remains of the Left in the US seems more concerned with arguments about identity politics or the true intentions of AntiFa, than trying to incubate a cross-sectional general recognition of, and push-back against, the elitist theatre of the absurd. All these internecine cat fights suck the oxygen from the formation of any real, cohesive, albeit heterogeneous, resistance.

For those of us who are really sick and tired and outraged by the exponential growth of war, pollution, climate change, the criminal behavior of our elite, we need to get over petty differences and put a stop to this mortal nonsense.

Or is it all just tilting at windmills? All sound and fury, signifying nothing? If I’m to believe Robert Hunziker’s articles, some of the newsletters I receive from the alternative health people here in France, comments from a vegan friend in the States, it’s pretty much too late. Modern medicine and big pharma are doing their best to make sure we all become drug addicts or by the means of mandated innoculations, autistic vegetables. Cosmetics and personal care products are so full of nano-plastics and other toxic nightmares, we may as well simply wash ourselves in pure acetone (something I actually saw while part of the crew building a boat, American Promise, for Dodge Morgan at Ted Hood’s boatyard in Marblehead back in the 80s). Thanks to people like Bill Gates and his devotion to the old, and now totally discredited Green Revolution in agriculture, this front man for outfits like Monsanto (a weird Newspeak latinization and distortion of “my health”), not only content to collude with our spy agencies, who may or may not be reading this as I type, is a willing, albeit tax-free, participant in the impoverishment and poisoning of agricutlure workers, the land they till and plant, and the people who are forced to eat the “fruits” of this labor worldwide. The Gates Foundation is no different from the Clinton Foundation. They’re just fronts for massive corruption of everything they touch. It guarantees them the same kind of immunity that our own home-grown and carefully “cultivated” politicians enjoy as they destroy pretty much everything they touch. Especially from a safe distance, sending their own “economic refugees”, various mercenaries, and chronically confused and terrorized young people the world over to do the cynical biddings of the people who put the afore-mentioned idiots (little Eichmanns as per Ward Churchill) into power in the first place.

Need I continue? As Hunziker points out, our planet is literally dripping with toxic chemicals, is experiencing, most likely, an irreversible change of climate due to a psychopathic desire for Profit. Various voices down through the ages, whether they come from science, politics, or the various forms of art, have been warning us of this, and we have paid little or no attention.

I’m sitting here (yes, sitting, not on my feet or in our old van driving around to various protests) in this mostly (there are a few commuters) agricultural hamlet in Burgundy (that’s in France for the geographically challenged) watching the three or four so-called “farmers” pass by in their giant tractors (probably tiny by American standards) to work their parcels scattered here and there, and most probably adding their bit to the poisoning of the planet. In spite of the peace and quiet, the fact that we have enough land to have two chemical-free vegetable gardens, two working wells, though I don’t know what’s percolating down into our water table.

I look over at Grisou, a neighbor’s cat, comfortably curled up in a wicker chair next to the wood stove, probably waiting for lunch. He showed up early this morning, after a relatively long absence, and darted in as I went out to get the necessary to restart the woodstove. I gave him a bit of tinned mackerel in tomato sauce, one of his favorites, that I planned on having for lunch anyway along with some roquette, chives, and a tomato from the garden.

Yeah, this morning sounds idyllic. Like most days here. It’s like being drugged. You leave Paris on fast comfortable trains, watch the world outside the windows change from the drab, car-infested greyness of the city to the geometric, weed-free fields of the country, the small villages here and there, and think “everything just be all right” (to quote a line from a novel written by a friend of mine) as you get off the train and take that first breath of relatively clean country air. But it’s all an illusion. Those gentle, rolling, weed-free hills are probably part of the problem, and if so, part of the illusion. I cannot really believe that the French, of all people, would allow a Disneyland on their territory. But then, prostitution is legal here (no opinion on that), and the political elite practice it every day (my excuses to real working independent prostitutes of whatever stripe, no matter my opinion). And that they allow Qatar, among other petro-state, retrograde gulf regimes, to buy up so much of the country.

The total obedience of the EU to US diktats is truly sickening. But that’s why the EU was formed in the first place. To make sure that those nasty socialists and communists couldn’t have much of a say as to how we were going to find a way to live in peace. That the idea of “nationalism”, an idea that one could have a love of one’s own country without being a “fascist” was transformed, because of Hitler’s “nationalism”, into something “bad”. Even the Left’s beloved Chomsky, generative linguist extraordinaire, might have a hard time trying to explain all that, in spite of all his “manufacturing consent” advertisements.

Typical of the US mindset, everything is binary. There is no nuance, no accepting of another point of view. It’s kind of like an algorythmic attack on the mind, using corrupted semi-religious signals to enslave.

The game is as old as recorded history. And we haven’t, in spite of all our science, all our technology (or maybe because of it), been able to escape from the mind set that has brought us to this totally stupid, and really unnecessary, point.

There are lots of lefties out there citing texts from ages past, and that may be a good thing. We need to know history, as they say, so as not to repeat it. But to argue about the finer points of Marxism or whatever, when we have an In-Your-Face takeover of the planet by people who could care less about all that and, in fact would just as soon have us spend our time arguing, as they pointed out to Ron Suskind, about the reality they just created and, while doing that, they’ll just go ahead and create another false reality that will occupy us while they create another one, and so on, ad infinitum. Pretty good mouse trap, that. And everyone seems to fall for the same old cheese every time.

What we need is a generalized BDS movement directed at The System to simply shut things down for a while. The people running things are so few, and yes, their minions are many, but many of them are our neighbors, our co-workers, people with whom we have daily contact. Yeah, they may think that kneeling instead of standing for the national anthem is “bad”. That making fun of Nascar fans or WalMart shoppers is demeaning and elitist. I’ll tell you this. You remove all Hillary’s cosmetic aids, her expensive clothes, her meds, her coaches, the entire machine that keeps that bitch on her feet and presentable to the media, and what will you find? A person no less ridiculous than the WalMart shoppers that are the darlings of the internet low fruit pickers.

Why any woman, who had any sense of self-esteem, would choose la Clinton as someone to be emulated or sent to the Whore White House, is beyond me. And, on the other hand, I can understand why certain women voted for The Donald. They knew that all his misogyny was just the defense of a guy unsure of himself, and more or less laughed it off. Who gives a shit? Most politicians are nothing more than Daddy’s boys or girls anyway. Whatever. Women voted Trump because they couldn’t stand his opponent. La Clinton was an out and out affront to their sexuality, for one thing. And I won’t go any further.

Note.  Sorry about the lack of links.  I’m in a place where, for the moment, that isn’t possible.

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Thinking Stool

27 oct 2017

New links from CP

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/sticks-and-stones-free-speech-and-punching-politics/

Polemicist. Bridging gaps à la DJ.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/26/the-simulacra-democracy/ Steppling. Clear, concise. We know it, but need to be reminded. Constantly.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/rolling-back-the-tide-of-pesticide-poison-corruption-and-looming-mass-extinction/ Hunziker ? Todhunter ? Talk more to our local farmers.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/does-anyone-want-my-european-passport/ The Irish guy

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/in-organic-farming-rules-are-not-made-to-be-broken/ Goodman. Should put him in touch with the Bios over here.

*

Il y a du pain sur la planche. “There’s bread to cut”, as they say over here when there’s a lot of work to do, a lot to discuss. As in, Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts, as they used to say in my motorhead days. Another way of saying, before “political correctness” became the “rule of thumb” (another now outdated expression dating from the time when things were made by hand, mostly by thoughtful artisans), Let’s do away with all the white noise, all the distractions of the MSM, all the memes and screams of Here I Am, twittered and facebooked and youtubed to and from all those electronic personal assistant devices, otherwise known as an addiction without needles.

As The Polemicist (https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/sticks-and-stones-free-speech-and-punching-politics/ ) so painstakingly points out, simply identifying oneself as “antifacist” does not give one the right to go around punching people. Any sober, deliberate, even-handed analysis of our present day situation demands that we look more than once at our screens (or, for that matter, pay them a lot less attention), that we venture outside our own little narcissistic echo chambers of predictable comfort, and actually “engage” with the rest of humanity that exists outside our screen-filled, meme-filled lives.

That means disengaging from the claptrap coming from this ever-present onslaught of information, taking a break, and spending a little time thinking for ourselves. If we can still do that.

Years ago, when I was studying naval architecture, I decided to pay a visit to one of the real “deans” of small boatbuilding, John Gardner (and here). This is a photo of the kind of place in which he liked to work. I don’t know if that was where I met him, but it sure looks like it. At any rate, at one point in our conversation, he said that one of the most important tools a boatbuilder could have was a thinking stool. Granted, said stool was only valuable if the person using it was serious about building a boat, because it could be seen as a means of not really doing anyting. He made that pretty clear.

But sitting and thinking about what you’re doing, if you really want to do it, is important and necessary. Maybe that’s why I was attracted to building boats, even if I wasn’t all that good at it. Not that I wanted an excuse to pretend, sitting on my thinking stool, that I was getting all that much done, but that the idea of trying to see through to the end of a project did, in fact, take time.

A project, any project, doesn’t just happen. If it’s a small personal project, like painting the topsides of your old wooden boat, for example, there are basically two solutions. You call your local boatshop and ask for a quote (if your boat is in their boatyard). Or you do it yourself. Not having the means to pay the outrageous prices of a boatshop in a very gentrified Great Lakes-side resort, but having a certain relationship with the local boat yard, I was able to paint my own boat.

Having painted a few boats, a couple of them my own, I started thinking about all the inconveniences of painting a boat in a boatyard when all the other boat owners were doing whatever, driving in and out of the marina, whatever. And then there were the boat owners who weren’t there, those who could pay the boatyard to do the nasty and toxic jobs that had to be done so their boats looked brand new every summer. In essence, when everyone was running around getting boats ready for the season, what with all the dust and early season bugs, I figured it was not a good time to try painting my boat.

So, during February, if it was one of those clear, quiet, sunny days I’d go down to the boat and run my hand along the port side (the east-facing side) to see, or imagine, if I could paint in temperatures like that (usually between 15 and 30 degrees F), and found that, since the paint was black, it was probably warm enough to accept a coat of paint. This was an encouraging thought.

If I could paint the topsides before all the bugs and tourists showed up, I’d have a nice paint job, free of bugs and dust.

I began shovelling the waist-deep snow away from where I’d have to work, knowing that, inevitably, before I got around to painting, there would be a couple of storms, but at least I would be ahead of the game on that account. And as I shovelled, I sanded the hull at first with steel wool, then a scotch-brite pad, to diminish the scratches of the steel wool.

March arrived, and I waited for what I knew would be the perfect time to paint: clear skies, little wind. And it happened. In two days I was able to paint the entire hull, east side in the morning, west side in the afternoon. A few people came by out of curiosity, asking wasn’t it a bit early to be painting a boat?, In the snow?, and I replied that it might very well be, but at least I was alone in the boatyard, no bugs, no dust. A couple of sailboat friends stopped by to examine the technique and the results, and had to admit that painting a boat in the snow was a rather unique way of doing things, and didn’t look all that bad. We all decided to wait and see and headed downtown for drinks.

In fact, it turned out beautifully. Not a single bug, no dust. And no drips, or “hollywoods”, as we called them.

All this to say that if we could just all calm down a bit, take a few bearings on where we really want to go while sitting on our thinking stools, maybe contemplating a sunrise rather than a twitter feed, and thinking our own, hopefully informed, thoughts, we might just be able to work our way out of this “clusterfuck”, as Kunstler calls it, before, if that is possible, it’s too late to do anything more than bite a bullet.

Seeing as how I prefer boats to politics, I’m not optimistic.

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Here We Go Again

Here we go again. CounterPunch publishes an article by Diana Johnstone which questions the role of the AntiFa movement and is excoriated a week later by Amitai Ben-Abba in an article that strangely resembles the treatment Caitlin Johnstone, an Australian blogger (no relation that I know of), got from a couple of Cpunch contributors (one of which is here) when she tried to plea for a less than binary, absolutist approach to the Right. I’m now waiting for the pile-on to Jim Kavanagh’s recent piece on Cpunch, suggesting that the Left leave some of its ideological purity aside and start “thinking” about stuff outside their intellectual circle jerks. Like the whole idea of “rights” in the first place, and how those “rights” have everything to do with class struggle and oppression by Capital, something with which the Left claims to be concerned. See the previous post or the links below.

There are so many questions involved in these intellectual shoot-outs that you’d probably have to write a book about it. There are probably lots of them out there. I don’t spend my time searching out the arcania of all these disputes because I have a garden and on old stone house to take care of and, by the time I’m finished with a day’s work, and have my dose of José Saramago (this time, L’autre comme moi ), I’m pretty ragged out, and content myself with a reading of a few alternative sites, CounterPunch included.

Which brings me to a point I wanted to make earlier. On the one hand, you have to hand it to CP for publishing stuff from different points of view. I think that’s what makes it a good resource for trying to figure out what’s going on these days. On the other hand, some of their rebuttal articles, like the ones cited above, coming from some of their frequent contributors, seem to have been written by an adolescent whose invitation to the prom to a popular girl was summarily dismissed, and then who badmouths proms as bourgeois narcissisim. Or, as Louis Proyect once called me, “a dickwad” (whatever that means). I haven’t forgotten all my English, so I assume it’s sexual in nature, and I’m not into sexual identity cat fights. Or “identity” cat fights of any kind.

And it’s not a matter of “Why can’t we all just get along?” Although, to my mind, it’s a perfectly legitimate, albeit, pretty naïve question. Naïve in the sense that any of our collective impulses have been atomized into this thing they call “identity politics”, which seems to have resulted from the uber-importance of social media like Facebook and Twitter, both owned by billionaires, the very ones enslaving us.

I can understand all the “good little Eichmanns” (always a hats off to Ward Churchill) out there wanting to belong to or be associated with the latest trends because education in the US is anything but, so all these “followers”, whether they be left, right, or somewhere else of what’s left of a political spectrum, have to find their own herd, virtual or not, so as to have this sense of identity (much like many of the Bernie supporters who were goat-herded back into la Clinton’s own swamp of corruption) instead of having the tools, which a decent “education”, rather than “formation” could possibly provide, for thinking for themselves, so as to recognize that they’re all being pushed and pulled this way and that. Manuel Garcia Jr, in a recent post, talked about a lack of culture. I agree with him on that. The same kind of chaos socially, that the US uses militarily to destroy the few remaining countries that refuse to bend over to US rape, predation, call it what you will.

These kinds of internecine fights are counter-productive. They only serve the rule of “divide to conquer”, and the Left is just as guilty as the Right. Those who oppose a reaching out, a conversation with those who may have ideas a bit different are just as oppressive as the powers we are are trying to overcome.

Links:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/16/the-nimpe-critique-of-antifa/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/28/enough-nonsense-the-left-does-not-collaborate-with-fascists/

https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/lefties-need-to-stop-being-shy-about-working-with-the-anti-establishment-right-40c27a9dc98e

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/09/antifa-in-theory-and-in-practice/

http://www.thepolemicist.net/2017/10/the-rifle-on-wall-left-argument-for-gun.html

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