Distributism and the Health Care System: I’m no expert on the American health-care system; what I know is a matter of first-hand experience, anecdotal matters from those within the system, and some reading on the subject. That said, Médaille’s ideas here seem quite sound: the current system is deeply flawed, with profits and power flowing towards the top- whether state or corporate or both- with costs heavily distributed along the bottom. It is also a system in which both workers and consumers are marginalized despite their immense importance. Médaille hits on two of the biggest problems in sustaining this system: monopolization and lack of genuine workers’ control, both of which are propped up by the State and the powerful (and vocal) interests that wish for the continuation of the system. Of course, the central problem with Médaille’s analysis is one common to many radical critiques: the system is deeply entrenched, as are the mentalities that support it, both among those at the top and those spread out along the bottom.

White House Admits Some Medical Value to Marijuana: But of course, said medical value would be doled out by a State-approved company, employing a monopoly privilege that would industrialize medical marijuana and drive small-holders under.

Illegal Gardening in Detroit: One that’s been making the rounds of the internet. A reminder that even small acts of resistance- like planting your yard with vegetables instead of monoculture grass- can bring the fist of the state down…

The Great Generational Threat: To say the American public has been sold- is being continually sold- a bill of goods does not go far enough.

How Taft-Hartley Restricts Labor Rights: A nice run-down of some of the ways in which the American state’s appropriation of the labor struggle robbed it of much of its fire and potency. ‘In the 1930s organized labor, largely led by the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations), fought back through sit down and wildcat strikes. A wildcat strike is an unofficial strike, usually called in response to mistreatment of a co-worker. In essence, workers refuse to return until management agrees to their demands. Because slowdowns and wildcat and sit down strikes are illegal under the Taft Hartley Act, American unions face steep fines for engaging in them.  In 2011, if a worker is bullied, harassed or illegally fired by an employer, his only option is to file a grievance through the National Labor Relations Board, a process that can drag out for months or years. Because there are no real sanctions against employers, workplace bullying and harassment are incredibly common in the US.’

Libertarianism: Left or Right?: ‘Libertarians also showed their Left colors by opposing imperialism, war, and the accompanying violations of civil liberties, such as conscription and arbitrary detention. (See, for example, the writings of Bastiat, Cobden, and Bright.) Indeed, they didn’t simply condemn war as misguided; they also identified it as a key method by which the ruling class exploits the domestic industrious classes (not to mention the foreign victims) for its own wealth and glorification. Libertarianism and the anti-war movement went hand in hand from the start.’

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Yes, It is a Police State: ‘Since 9/11 the biggest threat to the American people is not radical Muslim terrorists, nor deranged domestic terrorists, but the terrorists with the blue uniforms, badges, and body armor. Their weapons of mass destruction are not bombs, but state-approved guns, latex-gloved hands, and a profound disregard for our rights. Until we stand up and say, “Enough!”these terrorists will keep winning and our rights will continue to be lost.’

A Trojan Horse in ‘Higher Education’: Nothing terribly new here, but still good analysis with considerable justified heat: ‘higher ed’ as we know it has long been a racket, the dual streams of state and big capital flowing in and out of the academy, leaving it in ruins.

Prison Break: ‘Certainly the incarceration of people who have violated no rights is an important part of America’s prison problem. But I don’t think that covers all of it. There are also moral problems, I think, with the incarceration of rights-violators — which means that high incarceration rates are going to be something worth complaining about even when the prisoners are guilty as hell.’

‘Public Service?’ I’m Taking my Business Elsewhere: It’s not the sort of service anyone needs; it’s certainly not indispensable as our progressive friends seem to think.

U.S. Special Ops Troops Deployed in Mexico, Leaked Briefing Confirms: Not really all that surprising.

When Only the ‘Crazies’ See the Bank Bailout for What it Is: A good leftist review of one of the American State’s most spectacular interventions on behalf of financial ‘capital’ (one hesitates to call it capital, which implies something substantial…): ‘From the outset in 2009, the Obama Plan has been to re-inflate the Bubble Economy by providing yet more credit (that is, debt) to bid housing and commercial real estate prices back up to pre-crash levels, not to bring debts down to the economy’s ability to pay. The result is debt deflation for the economy at large and rising unemployment – but enrichment of the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population as economies have become even more financialized.’

I‘m starting today what I’d like to be a weekly feature of this blog, though we’ll see how long  I keep it up… I don’t do a lot of link posting here anymore, having largely relegated that to my Facebook feed. However, Facebook does not allow for much analysis, nor can I group a cluster of links together at once, so I thought I’d start putting together some links to articles dealing with politics/economics/radical type stuff, on a weekly basis, along with some of my market-anarchist flavoured analysis. Enjoy.

Groves of Luxury and Idleness?: Roderick Long’s response to this article. ‘It’s true, of course, that professors have much more control of their time than is the case in most other jobs. (Actually it ought to be the case in a lot of those other jobs too.) But having more control of your worktime doesn’t mean it’s not worktime.’

Food Safety for Whom?: In sum: The take-over of agriculture by centralized entities is not a result of free markets, despite the rhetoric of neoliberalism; rather, as with so much of the corporatized global economy, it has been facilitated by a regime of rules, regulations, and other forms of government support, often hiding under the label of ‘food safety.’ Big capital and big government are working together across the planet to finish off smallholders, fully centralize markets, destroy independent producers, and concentrate profits and power in fewer hands. The process is partially directed by the ‘hidden’ mechanisms of state power; it is also- even in the early twenty-first century- supported by the direct and brutal application of force against recalcitrant peasantry:

Land Grabbing in Peru: ‘Years later, in 1974, the Law on Native Communities recognized the right of indigenous peoples in Peru’s Amazon region to collective ownership of their territories, although this was limited to the lands immediately surrounding established settlements. In 1977, however, the Forestry and Wildlife Law prohibited the titling of land designated as “suited to forestry” within the area of indigenous communities; this land would instead be transferred to state ownership. This measure totally undermined the rights of Amazon indigenous communities, since practically all of the land in the vast forested plain of the Amazon basin is “suited to forestry” and consequently, the indigenous peoples living there would be denied access to the forest, on which they largely depend for their livelihoods.’

And: Lengthy Prison Terms and Heavy Fines for Baihutou Village Chief and Land Rights Activist: ‘Xu, Gao, and Zhang were active in resisting the local government’s requisition of village land. Villagers believe that their prosecution is an act of revenge by the local authorities in Baihutou Village.’

U.S. Drug-War Policy Planting the Seeds of Civil-Society Destruction: ‘The rising death toll, more than 40,000 lives to date, in Mexico’s drug war has clearly been inflamed by President Felipe Calderon’s U.S.-appeasing militaristic policies, but many of the weapons fueling that war were put on the ground years ago via the vast quantities of arms shipped into Mexico and Central America, often covertly, during the civil and proxy wars waged in Latin America during the Cold War.’

How to Lower the Price of Prescription Drugs: A still somewhat statist, but headed in the right direction approach to liberating a crucial part of the medical industry. If drugs were released into a genuinely free market, people the world over would suddenly find health care affordable and accessible without state or corporate healthcare intervention. Which is why, naturally, it hasn’t happened…

An Interview With Eric Miles Williamson: ‘Being “educated” has never in human history been a “right.” Being minimally educated, since the onset of the industrial revolution, has been a requirement. Industrialized nations needed to have a minimally competent work force, and a work force that was civically loyal. Hence, public education, sponsored by the state. Not great education, but public education. The idea that public education should do anything more than produce responsible and competent citizens sounds like something that would come out of the mouth of a hippy.’

A few posts back I discussed the disturbing trend in some parts of the American political landscape to categorize all “right-wingers” as being in some way inherently dangerous and violent. The more radical “liberal” voices in America have called for surveillance, pre-emptive arrests, and other measures that only a few months ago they would have decried. But a few months ago the other Party was in power. Now their Party is in power, and that makes all the things Bush et al did completely kosher. Because one’s own Party can do no wrong.

But I digress. Going back to the subject at hand, part of this trend to vilify “conservative” or “right-wing” elements includes such glorious acts of legislation as the “Hate Crimes Bill” that Alexander Cockburn has rightly condemned for its brazen assaults on free speech, as well as erasing the whole idea of equality before the law. Some animals are more equal than others. Measures like “hate crime” legislation, as well as the whole cultural milieu that reeks with disgust and loathing for lesser Americans- that is, conservative, right-wing, rural, uneducated, excessively religious, and so on; Americans who do not share the cultural, religious, and moral norms of the American elite and their followers. Many of the “wrong sort” of Americans are in the South, and many of them are lower-middle class or poorer whites, but not all. African-American Pentecostals in northern urban areas are just as frightening to the Great and the Good, though harder to attack and loathe due to their membership in one of the ostensibly “protected” groups.

But the usual target, or intended target anyway, of elite loathing and disgust is probably white, probably lower-middle class, somewhat educated perhaps (but not sufficiently in any case), “reactionary,” and dangerous. Particularly when they have guns- and God knows a bunch of them have guns. Sometimes their guns and their Bibles meet, and that’s a perfect storm of scariness, as in this weekend’s (rather bizarre to be sure) Kentucky guns in the church-house event. Everything about the situation is incomprehensible and frightening to many other Americans- the liberal elite, the “creative classes,” the Great and the Good in general. Read the comments at the New York Times article- the readers hailing from the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest maybe, but mostly the urban, elite, and educated seaboards- to gauge the levels of fear and disgust. The basic drift: these people are dangerous. They have guns, they have Bibles, they are not like us.

It follows then that these people, these backwards, Bible-toting and deer-killing crackers, need, at the very least, regulating, controlling. Some of their actions- whether it’s “hate speech” or gun-toting or child-raising- must be criminalized. Some of them need to be locked up, whether it’s as part of the war on hate or the war on guns or whatever.

Criminalizing vast swathes of the American population is of course nothing new. Many of the inhabitants of our inner cities and our outer rural hinterlands are part of a vast criminalized class as part of the war on drugs; occasional stabs at “reform” are occasionally made, to be sure, and some states are trying to reel back the extent of their criminalization of so much of society, but only because of rising costs and declining revenues. No one is particularly worried about the fact that we have consigned so many people to be perpetual “criminals,” always subject to the violence of the State and the violence of the drug-market and all its related evils, from broken households to prostitution to unstable inner-city economies. No one is worried because the inhabitants of this criminal class are also the wrong sort of people, are unattractive people, and, crucially, right and left pretty much agree on this. The left might moderate its language and sometimes its actions with weak calls to “reform” or greater emphasis on “rehabilitation,” but that’s about it. Undocumented immigrants comprise another “criminal class,” but their criminalization is at least somewhat more controversial, probably because many “illegal immigrants” are, after all, rather hard to condemn: hard workers, thrifty, family-oriented, and perhaps even physically attractive (certainly more so than, say, an inner city hooker or meth addict).

But to the already existing criminalized classes, some in this country would very much like to add another: the gun-toters, Bible-thumpers, intolerant hicks, however you want to label them. And at least some of the gears are in motion, certainly the ideological.Will the effort to create a new criminalized class succeed? Perhaps. But at the same time it could well overburden the system: there will increasingly be few people left in America who have not been criminalized, as whole states are in effect consigned to the outer darkness, their inhabitants condemned by the Great and the Good for any number of infractions. And the newly criminalized are unlikely to just lay down their guns- literally and metaphorically- and accept their lot; even more unlikely are they to reform their thoughts and accept their legislated proper behaviour. Rather, one should expect “blowback,” just as our meddling and cultural imperialism in other parts of the world have had less than pleasant consequences. Treat anyone like a colonial subject and he will react; if you continuously inject violence into a situation do not be surprised at the results. The strain of criminalizing so many in so much of American could perhaps prove to be too much for the system to bear- how many people can one nation realistically lock up? How much of the population can the State directly antagonize before it loses its ability to control and coerce all of them? How long before blowback, violent or otherwise? To be clear, I do not want to suggest that we will face, say, vast swathes of rural Southern America producing terrorists or something, anymore than most Muslims have become raging jihadis after years of American provocation. Nor is it likely- though I may be wrong- that the criminalization of “right-wingers” will ever reach the extent of the criminalization associated with the drug-war.  But in the event of any ongoing campaign for mass criminalization, the results will not be pretty, and will certainly not contribute to a more decent and more just society.